Tuesday, February 28, 2006

They're Here

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More pix here: BadBlood Chips


For anyone who’s been part of the online gaming scene, the cheating that’s been recently uncovered shouldn’t be too much of a surprise.  There are some interesting parallels to the cheating that occurs in first-person-shooter (FPS) games such as Counter-Strike.

Take a look at the wikipedia article “Cheating in Counter-Strike” and you’ll see some similarities to the current state of affairs in online poker.

Hacked executables, bots, and client/server trustworthiness are all covered.  One thing to note is that while the cheating was very commonplace, there was little to no money involved as an incentive.  Add the huge sums of money involved in online poker to the picture and you can see how the cheats suddenly become very motivated to succeed.

Whenever you have a game architecture with a remote client communicating over the Internet with a remote server, you’re going to have issues with respect to cheating.  It’s unavoidable.  The best you can hope for is that the companies in charge of the game in question do their best to protect the honest clients.

I don’t have any inside information on any of these companies, but I still choose to play solely at Pokerstars and FullTilt Poker.  While I have no ironclad guarantees, I feel that both sites care enough about the player’s experience to devote significant resources to combat cheating.  If this issue gains momentum, cheat prevention will become a significant differentiator in determining which sites survive and which sites don’t.

I’m sure I don’t have anything to worry about at the stakes I play, but I’d like to think that as I eventually move up in limits, I’ll be greeted by better players, not by better cheaters.

Monday, February 27, 2006

At What Cost

Because I have readers who aren’t familiar with the story, here’s a brief recap.  Two high-profile Internet players were recently banned from both Party Poker and Pokerstars for cheating.  They both had multiple accounts and had managed to enter tournaments multiple times under different user id’s.  While having multiple accounts certainly violates the terms and conditions set forth by each poker site, I don’t believe it’s cheating as long as only one account is played at any one time.  However, playing multiple accounts in the same tournament or same ring game is most certainly cheating for a variety of reasons.

Not knowing either individual personally, I wonder what it was that made them decide on their course of action.  Certainly, we’ve been witness to other forms of cheating in other walks of life, professional sports most notably.  In the aftermath of such scandals, it always seems like the guilty party offered one of two reasons.  Either they felt that they had to even the playing field because everyone else was doing it, or it was their drive to be the absolute best at any cost.  Neither argument holds any water in the poker world.

I have to think that the amount of money involved played some factor.  The sum of money confiscated in each case was over six figures, and to many of us, that represents a year or more of salary.  It brings me back to one of the first thoughts I had upon embarking on the journey of becoming a better poker player.  Why did I play?  Was it for the money?  Of course the money is important; without it, we’d never be able to pressure our opponents into making sub-optimal decisions.  But for me, that’s not the reason I play.

Poker, in its infinite combination of possibilities, represents to me the ultimate mental challenge.  I am truly driven by the goal of being able to outthink my opponents in any situation more often than not.  Being better at putting opponents on their hole cards, making bets that offer incorrect odds to be called, and knowing a blind-steal situation when it manifests itself are all areas in which I hope to have an edge.

I’d never cheat to gain that edge.  For any amount of money.

For whatever reason, if I were to win a tournament or cash big in a ring game due to an unfair advantage gained through cheating, I’d feel empty.  It would be a hollow victory.  The rules of poker define the playing field.  The guilty parties mentioned above expanded their playing field to include the infrastructure of online poker.  The holes in that infrastructure allowed them to gain their edge.

One of the players indicated that having other accounts allowed him to remain anonymous.  His main online persona had developed a reputation and other players knowing his style began to play back at him.  So rather than develop the skills required to adjust to those who’ve adjusted to him, he simply created a new account that enabled him to reap the rewards of his main playing style.  That, to me, is the easy way out.  It indicates to me that poker became a moneymaking endeavor rather than an opportunity to become truly world-class.  That’s not to say this player was unskilled.  Quite the contrary.  But I feel he lost an opportunity to become even better by relying on the crutch of multiple account names.

Frankly, I’m a little bit saddened (but not surprised) by the events.  Online poker was gaining momentum, making inroads to the already established B&M tournament scene.  Million dollar prize pools have become almost commonplace, rivaling the live poker scene from a decade ago.  And it was growing fast.

In one sense, I’m satisfied with the resulting course of action.  After an investigation, the guilty parties were banned and funds were confiscated.  On the other hand, I’m disappointed that this was handled reactively than proactively.  I have to ask, hopefully not rhetorically, why this cheating wasn’t discovered internally.  I’m sure the technical details are complicated, but two players having the same IP address/unique machine ID playing in the same tournament or same ring game should simply not be possible.  The fact that it is/was is disturbing to me.

This episode indicates how far online poker still has to go; after all, it’s still in its infancy.  Unfortunately, the incident has the makings of being the tipping point from which the legality issue will be determined.  Russ Fox has written about the possibility of the mainstream media picking up on this issue and its implications.  With the impending bill to ban online gambling gaining exposure, we’re in for some interesting times.

I hope online poker improves and learns from these growing pains.  And I hope that the players who feel the need to cheat in order to win have the capability to look inside themselves and realize that what they’re doing is wrong.  If you’re playing only because you want to win money at all costs, you should look for another game.  Don’t pollute the beauty of the game with your greed.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Words out of My Mouth

Bill Rini has made an excellent post regarding the ZeeJustin situation. I am in 100% agreement with Bill, props to him for a clear cut analysis of the situation.

New Banner

Special thanks to Otis for the new banner atop the page.

In a few hours, it's off to Charlotte to the Falstaff Invitational. Seems much of G-Vegas is heading out in that direction. Looks to be big fun.

Friday, February 24, 2006

A Tale of Two Laydowns

The G-Vegas medium game was on last night, this time at casa de G-Rob.  I imagine at this point, G-Rob is hastily writing a post documenting the curse of hosting a poker game and how it’s impossible to post a winning session when everyone is at your house.

This post is aimed mainly at looking at a couple of different laydowns that I made during the night.  Each was different in that the action and thought processes that made me fold came from different points in the hand.  Basically, one laydown was made on past action and one made on future actions.

We’ll go to the past first.

I was dealt pocket K’s in MP and raised the $1 blind to $6 since two people had limped in prior to me acting.  Sadly, there were 4 callers and about $25 in the pot.  The flop appeared to be a reasonable one:  T72, rainbow.  Checked to me, I threw out a $20 continuation bet, hoping to get some weak Aces to fold.  Everyone folded back to the Rocket who went on to checkraise me to $40.  At this point, my decision space was two-fold:  either I was already beat, or the Rocket was putting me on overcards and felt that the flop missed me.  I called his $20 raise.  The turn was another rag, yet another undercard to my Kings.  The Rocket pushed all in for about $90 more.  It was at this point that my decision space was narrowed down to one thing; I was beat.  Either Rocket made a very speculative call pre-flop with T7 and flopped two-pair, or most likely, limped with a pocket pair and caught his set.  It was upon reviewing the pre-flop action that I determined it was a set and folded my K’s face up.  Easy laydown?  Maybe.  But it was truly the review of the action to that point that got me to fold.

Back to the future.

I was in a multi-way limped pot with KQo.  The flop came Q35 rainbow and Rankster bet out his consistent $3 probe bet into a $6 pot.  MattyC called without much delay and I knew I had to find out where I was in this hand.  Calling doesn’t do that, so I raised the $3 bet to $13.  FranktheTank, acting behind me, smooth called.  It was at that point that I suspected something was up.  What hands smooth call right there?  Rankster folded and MattyC called.  Now there was close to $50 in the pot.  The turn came and paired the 3.  MattyC checked.  I checked too determining that I was going to see how Frank played his hand.  He bet out $20 and MattyC reluctantly folded claiming he was making a tough laydown.  I looked over at Frank’s stack and figured he had about $50 behind.  With the pot at $70, I didn’t have much room to outplay him since his $50 behind wasn’t all that much compared to the pot, especially if I were to call.  It was his smooth call of my post-flop raise that sold me on the fact that he had a better hand.  I just couldn’t fathom calling off an additional $50 that he was sure to bet on the river with top pair, King kicker.  The pot was unraised pre-flop and the only hand I could put him on was a set that had just boated up.  So I folded, again face up.  Frank was surprised at my laydown and claimed to have a pocket pair lower than Queens.  He said he simply did not believe that I had a Queen, even though I represented one via my post-flop raise.  I chose to fold mainly based on the thought of potentially having to call his all-in bet that I predicted he’d make.  Again, it was the future, anticipated action that cemented my decision.  Even though it turned out to be the incorrect one, I’m satisfied with the fold on that hand.


Upon coming home from that game, I received a pleasantly surprising email that said my chips were due to arrive on 2/28.  That’s next Tuesday.  I had to change my pants immediately upon closing out of my email client.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Wrong Coast

It’s times like these when programming FORTRAN seems pale.  Just so you know, I recently added capability for a 4th turbine stage to much of the code I work with.  

So big deal Wil Wheaton survived day 1 of the WPT Invitational, busting no-name poker hacks like John Juanda.

So big deal Dr. Pauly is again making his mark on the professional poker tournament coverage scene and nearly nailing B-list actresses.

I, BadBlood, have the capability to manipulate blade row model maps.  Yeah, that’s right.  No need to get jealous folks.  Today I embark on a journey to manipulate compressor extraction flows through heat exchangers prior to reentering the gas turbine flow path.  Gotta cool them blades, baby!

Don’t try to hide it, I can see you’re green with envy from here.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006


With the rules in place, I came home Tuesday from work with a plan.  First, congratulations were in order for my daughter who scored a 91 on her fractions test in 1st grade.  The reason it made me proud was because she had some difficulty with the concepts involved, so I gave her a bit of tutoring a couple of nights last week in preparation for her test.  When I made up my own problems, including a few tricky ones, and she got them all right, I knew she grokked it.  That’s a great feeling to see the light bulb go off in your child’s head.

Secondly, the Mrs and I agreed to watch some TiVo’d episodes of House.  Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know.  But to be honest, I was looking forward to just hanging out.  Seriously.  However, after settling in after dinner, she mentioned that the women’s ice skating was on the Olympics tonight and she would rather watch that.  “Would that be OK with you?”  “You mean watching women athletes whose chosen sport requires that they have fantastic legs and buttocks?  Yeah, I guess.”  I only really said one of those sentences...

Then I remembered rule 1.

“If I bring down the laptop, would you mind if I played in a tournament while we watched?”  “Sure, that’s fine.”

It was an honest answer.


To me the WWdN tourneys on Stars are a total blast.  They’re cheap, the people that play are uber-cool, and sometimes I even get lucky and win some coinage.

I can’t share much poker insight based on last night’s play.  I got some decent cards and managed to use them effectively.  I won a race with AK vs. JJ where I spiked a King on the river that propelled me near the chip leaders in the second hour.  Then I sucked out on Mourn hard when my A4 ran into his AJ.  I was the SB and he was the BB and it folded around to me.  My M was 7 or so, and I figured odds were such that he wouldn’t have a hand he could call his stack off with.  I was wrong, but flopped a four.

Then it became time for opportunistic poker where recognizing the situation rather than requiring the cards becomes paramount.  I hung around and watched some eliminations and survived to the top three.

My undoing was A8o in the SB.  WWonka, the eventual champ (who earlier prognosticated we’d meet at the final table), folded his button and I raised 3x.  The remaining player (forget who) re-raised me 2/3rds of my remaining stack.  I went into the tank.  I couldn’t just call, that was for sure.  Eventually, I decided that my stack would be unplayable if I folded, so I pushed.  It turned out to be the proper move when my opponent tabled pocket 4’s.  I didn’t improve, but them’s the breaks.

I had heavy railbird support from the Good Dr., Spaceman, and Al which was super-cool.  It’s nice to have anyone in your corner, let alone the aforementioned blogging legends.  Thanks again guys.


No poker tonight, G-Vegas homegame on Thursday.  Rules are rules.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Eight Simple Rules

I rarely watch sitcoms any more.  Few are good enough to warrant my time.  I will make exceptions every now and then.  A couple of years ago, I made an exception to the oddly titled John Ritter vehicle.  I wasn’t a huge fan of Mr. Ritter’s comedic blend, especially after finding out he was the voice behind Clifford the Big Red Dog.  However, for the above-mentioned show, I watched.  Two words:  Kaley Cuoco.


When I first moved to South Carolina, I was shopping for a washer/dryer combo in a local Lowes, the South’s version of Home Depot.  (Not that we don’t have Home Depot down here, but I hate Home Depot.)  My daughter Morgan was, at the time, nine months old.  Blessed with the looks of her mommy (and perhaps some guy in Sweden named Lars), she had the classic combination of blonde hair and blue eyes.  Just like Kaley.

Down South, it’s odd.  Strangers are a bit more friendly and friends are a bit more strange than what I was accustomed to from my days as a Yankee.  A local approached me as I was strolling my 1st born through rows of white appliances.

“Is that your daughter?”  (Remember, I’m in the South.)

“Yes sir,” I responded.

“Blonde hair, blue eyes?” he muttered.  “Gonna need a shotgun for when she gets older.”


That sitcom never really got into what those rules were for dating your daughter.  Nor did it mention which daughter; the show had two.  I’m not going to buy a shotgun, however; I’d rather mangle Morgan’s suitors with my bare hands.  But I will have rules.


The Mrs and I had a talk about new rules too.  Rules for playing poker.  It turns out that I need them more than she does, if not for my betterment as a player, but for my betterment as a person overall.

Rule 1 – The Live Home Game Rule
  • If I want to play live, I’ll ask.  MrsBlood is required to answer honestly, even if it means she wants me to stay home and watch House, American Idol, or her 6 hours of Bon Jovi footage.  The implications of this rule are that I may miss a couple of homegames now and again.  But that’s OK.  In order for me to do well, I want, no I NEED to have the piece of mind that there will be no domestic price to pay later.

Rule 2 – The Online Poker Rule
  • In order to play seriously, I need to play without distractions.  I’m pretty sure I made that clear in my last post, but this cements it.  I want to get better, and in order to do so requires focus.  The implications of this rule are that I will most likely play less online poker.  But, and it’s a big but (I like big butts and I cannot lie), it means that my playing time will be more effective.  I’ll be the first to admit that forcing online play during non-ideal times is not always constructive.  The result is that I will play only when everyone is either asleep or out of the house.

These rules are simple, and I hope to stick to them.  Because I do take this game seriously.  Too seriously?  Perhaps.  But that’s the path I’m choosing -  renewed focus without distractions.  Less playing time, but more effective playing time.


My daughter turns 8 next month.  She’s already talking about boys in her class as being cute.  I may amend my rules to restrict her dating age until she’s 30.

Monday, February 20, 2006


Entering into the Sunday 750k tournament, I was focused.  I resolved to enjoy myself because I normally wouldn’t buy into such a tournament based on the current bankroll.  I only spent $22 getting into it, so even cashing would represent a decent profit and based on the early play, I didn’t feel that going deep was out of the realm of possibility.

I did misplay a hand or two, but all-in-all I still felt comfortable.  Even when the blinds began to eat at my stack, I wasn’t worried.  But my attitude did begin to deteriorate when the privacy of the room I was playing in was broken with distractions.  Sadly, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to devote my full mental capacity to playing online poker while anybody else is in the house.  It’s a realization that I finally had to make.

Playing live, it’s just me.  Whether at a casino or a home game, I am never sidetracked by anything else except table chatter.  And that’s part of the game.  But when kids or spouses burst into the room when I’m totally engrossed in the game at hand, my concentration gets shattered into a million little pieces.

Combine my rapidly deteriorating mental state with the way I went out (AK vs KQ) and the rest of my Sunday was spent in a total funk.

Disappointment set in.  In a big way.  I’ll confess that I had high expectations for this event.  This was the largest tourney I’d played in to this point in my poker career and to me, it represented another opportunity to prove to myself that I had some game in me.  Of course, the ego boost to doing well in one of these and then blogging about it also carried some weight in my motivations to do well; but I think anybody who blogs about their poker exploits who doesn’t feel that way would be lying just a little.

After the disappointment set in, on came the guilt.  The guilt stems from spending a large chunk of the weekend trying to qualify instead of spending time with the kids.  That truly weighs on me heavily any time I feel that I play too much.  Mix in to the above psychological cocktail the losses accrued in the previous few days and you have a poker player who wonders yet again why he does what he does.

Objectively, the bankroll is fine, and I am still in the black for the year.  But I’ve allowed myself to invest more than money into that single tournament entry.  I invested some self-worth and precious time into an endeavor that left me holding an empty bag.  Even after I told myself I would avoid doing just that.

On one level, I am disappointed in the results.  On another level, I’m disappointed with myself for letting myself get disappointed.  Does that make sense?  In a nutshell, it’s just another piece of evidence that I take this game way too seriously at times.  When I’m doing well, I really have nothing to show for it except a larger bankroll.  When I do poorly, I have something to show for it, and I wear it around for everyone to see – and that’s a really shitty attitude.

So I’m thinking I’m going to make a withdrawal from the poker roll.  Not a huge withdrawal, but one that will let me buy something to show for the times I did well. It will be a physical reminder that at times, I know how to play the game.  Because I’ll need it when the game reminds me that I don’t always know how to play myself.

Perhaps the success I’ve had has led me astray.  Winning makes you think that you can eventually play at any level given enough time.  I just don’t know if that’s true any longer, and I certainly don’t know if I’ll be able to give myself that elusive “enough time” based on everything else that goes along with the life I have.  I may just have to scale the pace of my progress back a little bit in order to enjoy the time I do get to spend playing poker a little bit more.

Damn, I sure wish I won that PowerBall drawing.   Seriously.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Live Blogging the 750k

4:31 – Took my seat, and no offending avatars to put me on tilt.  Sweet.  Otis, Al, and my co-worker Random101 are IM’ing me some luck vibes.

4:32 – Two empty seats and 3 sitting out.  WTF?  And then I’m moved.  Because 7 people are out already.  Wow.

4:35 – Folding like a maniac.  A ten is the highest card I’ve seen in my 5 hands.  Coroner is on my iPod – “Reborn Through Hate.”

4:37 – Stole the blinds.  I am officially bad-ass.

4:42 – Limped with 45c, flopped two-pair and won a T740 pot.  T2940.  FYI, I officially overplay suited connectors.

4:44 – Metal Shop’s “Stripper Girl” plays on iTunes.  It’s an Omen.  “….came over and put your hand in my pants…”

4:53 – AK in the SB, just where I hate it.  Made it T100 to go (15/30 level) got 3 callers.  K-high flop with two hearts.  Continuation bet got called by 1 person.  No heart on the turn, bet ½ the pot and took it.  Man, the flop was KJx and I was figuring some asshat limper with KJ was gonna take it.  T3310.  Oh yeah – “Master of Puppets.”

5:03 – Got nuthin’ ‘cept The Haunted – Godpuppet

5:16 – H.F.M.   Human folding machine.

5:19 – Someone limped with AK.  God.  I had A6 in the BB.  The board read AQ55x and I figured I was good.  He was a short stack and just called all my bets.  T1885.  Not very happy.

5:23 – 99.  Raised got 1 caller and an all undercard board.  Bet out.  Called.  Fuck you I say in my mind.  Turn is another undercard and I push because my push is pot-sized.  He folds.  T2585.

5:27 – KK in two consecutive hands.  1st time it was UTG and I limped.  No damn raisers.  4 people see an AKx flop.  I bet out ½ the pot hoping some jackhole has an Ace.  No callers.  Second time was in the BB, raised 3.5x and got one caller to a board of T44.  If he has a 4 good for him.  I bet the pot and he folds.  T3235.

5:30 – Then I go and waste T700 by raising in late position with A9.  When my continuation bet is called, I’m done with the hand since the turn paired the Q that came on the flop.  T2535.  I am donk-tastic with that one.

5:33 – Survived break number one.  T2535, avg. is T3563.  Almost 1800 gone. Da-hamn.

5:45 – Had to switch from iTunes to iPod.  For the love of all that’s holy, why does nobody understand that when I say “I need to concentrate” that I mean “I need to concentrate?”  Raised with AJo, got min-reraised then folded to a missed flop.  T1560.

5:54 – My m is 4.  Did I mention that I suck yet?  No?  Well, I do.

5:57 – I’m out.  AK UTG and I push, KQ calls me.  Q-hi flop, is all she wrote.


A co-worker of mine and I agreed on Friday afternoon to shoot for an entry into Stars' 750k guaranteed tournament on Sunday. On Saturday afternoon, Random101 took down a 500FPP MTT where the top 9 earned an entry. He waded through about 350 people I think to get there, putting the pressure on me.

At midnight, I popped open an $11 double shootout after about 2.5 hours of play at the 1/2 NL tables. I had lost a buy-in pretty quickly and spent the next 2 hours winning it back and then some.

A couple of weeks ago, I saw G-Rob bubble out of a double shootout in 3rd (2 pay), and was hopeful that wouldn't happen to me. At 3:30 am, 3 1/2 hours later, it was over; and I'll be joining Random101 at 4:30pm.

Otis predicts nearly 6000 players which is crazygonuts. My iPod is fully charged, the fridge is stocked, and MrsBlood comes home at 2pm or so to handle the minis. Recipe for success. I'm going to go shave my head for some more good luck.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

G-Vegas Tourney Series

We had the second installment of the G-Vegas tourney series last night at theMark's. The results are getting tracked here:

G-Vegas Home Tourney Series

Falstaff still leads the standings by virtue of his New Year's Day Victory, but Mrs_All_In made a big move up the ladder last night.

More to come.

Friday, February 17, 2006

LA Classic Coverage

We have two of our own blogging this WPT event. The esteemed Dr. Pauly and the Spaceman from Tennesse. Please check out their hard work at the following sites:

Jason at Bluff: Bluff Magazine

And Dr. Pauly at Tao of Poker

Now blogging

from the
LA PokerClassic

Commerce Casino

Thursday, February 16, 2006


There are many ways to play a poker hand.  It’s hard to argue with conventional play, like raising pre-flop with AK in late position, but there are times when going against the grain will pay dividends.

A few years ago, people marveled at the success Gus Hanson had in tournaments.  When we caught a glimpse into his madness via the hole card cams, traditional poker theorists were aghast.  How could someone playing what many considered to be garbage cards do so well?  Not just a few people relegated his success to simply being lucky, but in my opinion, what he was doing was exploiting predictable, traditional play.

A co-worker once brought up an analogy, which I think holds up well.  It’s like the maniacal driver on the highway.  Ninety-five percent of the people driving are doing so in a relatively safe manner, yet there’s always one jackhole weaving in and out of traffic at presumably unsafe speeds.  The only way that maniac can get away with such behavior is if he knows most of the people drive in the more traditional, safe manner.  If everyone drove like he did, there would be no way he’d get around as quickly.

(Irrelevant aside:  I’m listening to my iPod right now and AC/DC’s “Givin’ the Dog a Bone” is on.  I love that song.  ObSklansky: “Do you see why?”)

Back on track.  Playing against standard philosophy has obvious risks, like catching second best or simply misreading your opponent’s hand.  This is where secondary poker skills like reading your opponent become more important.

Reconsidering the earlier example of raising with AK pre-flop in late position, one of the sacrifices you make by raising is hinting at the strength of your hand.  Lately online, I’ve seen an abnormal amount of limping with AK and in certain cases, it’s paid off for the player employing that strategy.  Another example of countering accepted strategy is leading out when you flop trips.  Few people believe you have them because the traditional play is to slow play them and check.

So next time you’re in a hand, give a second thought to the non-traditional play.  It can be a gamble, but depending on the circumstances, it could be a gamble that pays off well.

Besides, what fun it is being predictable?

(Irrelevant aside revisited:  On comes Jackyl’s “Down on Me”.  Coincidence?)

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

South Carolina "Education" Lottery

A co-worker went to buy some Powerball tickets today at lunch.  We have a group of ten people who’ve each contributed $5 towards the cause.  Add last week’s meager $7 in winnings and you have $57 worth of quick picks.

The transaction went something like this:

Co-worker:  Yes, I’d like fifty-seven quick picks please.

Cashier:  Wow, that’s gonna be like, sixty dollars.

Co-worker:  Actually, it will be fifty-seven dollars.

Cashier pauses, types information into lottery machine, and in a surprised voice says: “You’re right!”

Reading is Fundamental

Tournament play can be quite discouraging.  But it can also be more rewarding than any ring game.  Obviously the intensity is higher since each decision can be make or break.  As is my general policy, I’ll post about the bad just as much as I’ll post about the good.

The situation was the weekly WWdN game on Pokerstars.  Things were pretty uneventful the first hour.  I had chipped up, then chipped down thanks to a well-played flopped boat from the Colonoscopy Kid.  I then managed to basically double up after the break three times in a row.  I won a race with AK vs QQ, I dominated said kid’s AQs with pocket Aces, then busted WWonka on a flopped set of Jacks that I too slowplayed.  Chip leader had my name all over it.

As we approached the money, I was sitting pretty in 5th with 14 left.  My comfort level wasn’t high however, we had just entered the 200/400/25 level and my M, although average, was in the 6-7 range.  That’s when I made my read.  My really, really bad read.

I’m in the BB with A2o and it’s folded all the way around to the SB who makes a 3x raise to T600.  I think “Hey, that’s just a steal attempt.”  I push.  Unfortunately, my opponent was not Wil Wheaton and I could not bust his pocket Kings.  Out in 13th.  On a really, really bad read.  Did I mention how bad the read was?

Still, I have to feel that my tournament play has improved in the past few months.  While certainly no LuckBox, I have managed to cash in the triple digits three times so far this year for about $700 in total.  Sadly, my NL ring game has progressed in an equal but opposite direction and I’m left pondering the subtleties of tournament vs. ring game play.

I’ll probably make a longer post sometime, but to me, the crux of the difference lies in fold equity.  In all of my tourney cashes, I’ve risked my many of my chips on plays where I was relatively confident that my opponent could not call.  In fact, it’s in the late stages of a tournament where all the money is made.  It’s the experience of surviving late into MTT’s that has enabled me to make proper laydowns early on in a tournament.

Case in point:  I had been dealt pocket Queens in MP and raised.  Two callers saw a flop of 699.  I made a strong continuation bet, but was check-raised all-in.  Even though the tourney was filled with less-than-stellar players at this point in the game, I still folded.  I could have been good, but in the early stages, survival was most important.  My stack was down to T1200, but the pot I just gave up would be a pittance compared to the pots I’d be stealing later on with fold equity.

Tourney play is nearly all situational and has little to do with the cards you’re dealt.  It’s all about position, being first to enter, the stack sizes of your opponents left to act.  Put all those variables together and you can make many properly aggressive plays to earn chips towards the ultimate goal.

And absolutely none of that has anything to do with cash games.  None.  Fold equity is near zero with the thought of rebuying in your opponent’s mind.  I will say that there are some opportunities to use fold equity to your benefit in a cash game, but those situations are far more rare.

After my dreams of repeating as champ were dashed, I had thoughts of entering a quick SNG but then quickly decided against it.  I had just played for two hours with nothing to show for it and felt myself creep into the mindset of “I’ll just quickly win my buy-in back.”  Those thoughts have led to disaster before, so I called it a night enduring only a very small flesh wound to the bankroll.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

V-Day, D-Day

Like every American male, I procrastinated.  I don’t go shopping for mundane things very often, so there is little opportunity for me to buy Valentine’s Day cards early.  Yesterday after work, I went to the nearest CVS figuring to get the dastardly deed done with as little pain as possible.  It was about 6:00pm and the place was packed.



I hate crowds in unexpected places.

I found my way to the wall of cards and it was three deep with people.  Making matters worse was the young female standing in front of the cards I needed to look at reading every single one.  While moderately hot, she was apparently not moderately intelligent.  She was taking forever to get through the hackneyed prose each American Greeting had to offer her.

I took my jacket off because I began to heat up and sweat.  Fantastic.  Finally, I asserted myself and politely said “Excuse me, can I get through here?”  I was on a mission of sorts.  Not only did I need a card for the Mrs., I needed one for my daughter and one my son could give to his mom.

Once I made it to the wall of cards, I nailed it.  Three cards, three minutes.  Bam, outta there.  I like to get cards with little to no text.  It’s easier to write my own thoughts.  Rarely does a pre-crafted card manage to hit on key points in my relationship with Mrs_Blood, so I normally choose to do it myself.

All the while I thought to myself what a ridiculous holiday this Valentine’s Day has turned out to me.  It’s horrible.  It is manufactured, stale, and tiring.

It’s no surprise that the retaliatory Steak and Blowjob day arose.  It’s also no surprise that there are those who justifiably feel it should be a week-long celebration.  Hell, I’d be satisfied with meatloaf and 5 minutes with my favorite Briana Banks porn.  But I digress.

With all that said, I have a recommendation.  Trust me, this works.  To really celebrate your significant other, do it when it’s least expected.  Here’s one way to come up with a random day.  Roll two dice.  The result will be the month of the year.  (I know you’ll never get January, but we’re done with January, K?)  Then open a calendar to the month in question and throw a dart at it.  There’s your day.

On that random day, come home with your S.O.’s favorite flowers and perhaps bring home a nice meal or even cook one yourself.  It doesn’t even have to be that extravagant; the fact that it’s a surprise means the entire world to them.  Even though I can’t figure out women 95% of the time, the remaining 5% is easily handled with random acts of kindness.

ObPokerContent:  Played a 6-handed $35+3 SNG.  I won.    

Monday, February 13, 2006

Choose Your Own Destiny (Free)

Following in the steps of those who’ve already posted this, please head on over to the WPBT Winter Classic Champion StudioGlyphic’s page for information on how you may be able to help someone in need.

In a similar vein, checkout this forum on FullTilt for another opportunity to contribute to a worthy cause.


Not much poker to talk about this weekend, so move along if that’s what you came here for.  Otherwise, you can learn how Axeman and I went down to Columbia, SC for free to see Motley Crue.

It certainly wasn’t a concert I’d pay to see, mainly because I’d seen them before and a trip to Columbia on Sunday night isn’t my idea of mainlining fun.  But, since it was free, we went.

During the bus trip down, we were notified that one of the sponsors of the trip, a guy named Mike who owned a local “Jersey Mike’s” sub-shop, used to play guitar in Saigon Kick.  I told him that I had a song from his band on my iPod and he rolled his eyes and said “Love is On the Way?”  I affirmed his guess and we had a quick conversation about life in the Glam Metal Years.

When we arrived, we had some time to kill, so the Axeman and I walked a few blocks to a local restaurant.  We wondered up to the bar for a few drinks, and then realizing we had a boatload of time, we ordered some small appetizers.

A quick dial-a-shot later and our food was delivered.  It wasn’t bad, but there was a problem.  Our bartender decided to completely ignore us after we asked for our check.  He kept walking by, giving about 7-8 other patrons their checks, but not ours.  Since we had a concert to get to, and because the guy was pretty much a dick, Axeman and I decided to dine and dash.

How immature is that?  I’ll answer for you.  Very.  But you know what?  Too bad.  There’s bad service, there’s horrible service, but completely ignoring repeated requests for our check so we can actually pay our bill is not the best way to do business.  Don’t hold it against me.  I’ll confess, it was fun.  We were just making sure our trip remained completely free afterall.

(Side note to those in the service industry who may be offended:  I am a big tipper.  Huge in fact.  I love giving larger than normal tips because I know how hard many people work in that line of work.  So don’t come over the top of me for this little episode – drastic times call for drastic measures.)

So we hit the concert arena and find that our seats aren’t too bad.  Unfortunately, the sound system is mixed horribly wrong and all we can hear is Mick Mars’ guitar.  I like Mick, but Joe Satriani he is not.  During the 3rd song, some bozo tossed a water bottle up on stage and nailed Vince in the face.  He walked off the stage, confirming his pah-HU-say status among over-the-hill glam band lead singers.  Axeman and I were laughing only because this concert was free.  If I had to pay the $75 for these tickets, I’d have been ripped.  But then again, I wouldn’t have gone either.

They finally came back out and played an obviously shortened set.  No matter.  Free is free.

Next concert should be much better, perhaps infinitely so.  In Flames and Devildriver on Friday the 24th.  I will be paying to see that.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Change of Pace

Nine players showed up last night at Dr. Alan Shaw’s domicile for G-Vegas’ first implementation of the medium game.  I say medium game because it’s the first time our group has played a NLHE ring game with .50/$1 blinds.  The big game label is still reserved for the $2/$5 game at TheRick’s.  So why did we move up in limits?

Poker is funny sometimes.  It’s always a blend of many things.  In the pure tactical sense, poker is a combination of luck and skill.  You can make structural changes to your game or tournament to sway the percentages towards one element.  For example, in a cash game, as the max buy-in decreases in relation to the big blind, the luck factor increases.  I once played in a $1/$2 - $50 max game.  Mainly luck.  If you make a pre-flop raise and continuation bet, odds are you’re pot-committed.  In a tournament, if you make the starting stacks smaller and decrease the time between level changes, again you’re taking much of the skill element out of the game.

Well, G-Vegas doesn’t roll that way.  Well, it tries to actually, but not when I have anything to say about it.  I’m all in favor of the 100xBB ring game and a tournament structure that favors solid play.  To me, it’s just more fun when the mental challenge is significant.  I like to believe I have at least a small edge over the average guy if the conditions are such.  Trust me, there are plenty of other G-Vegas games that I simply don’t go to.  It’s mainly because I’m not a gambler per se.  If I were an action junkie, I’d play with TheMark at the $5/$10 $200 max buy-in game that he went to last week.  Craps with cards is what I call it.  Poker is more than that.

The luck/skill factor isn’t the only way poker is divided.  You also have the social/competitive classifications too.  And just like the luck/skill split, there are many facets to the game that control how each of those elements is distributed.

Many of the G-Vegas regulars have moved to the medium to higher limits online.  Offline, we’ve been stuck at the $50 buy-in level for over a year.  With those stakes being relatively small to many of the players, the game has evolved (or perhaps devolved) into more of a social gathering with poker play taking a back seat.  And I have to confess that for me, it’s been less than enjoyable.

Last night, with the increased buy-in, the game was orders of magnitude better.  The new limits made people think twice before making random donkey plays, although there were a few late-night exceptions.  But primarily, I thought more “real” poker was played and it was refreshing.

Now don’t get me wrong.  The social aspect of poker certainly has its place.  But I’d rather know that going into the game rather than have the game unravel around me into a donk-fest like it has for the past few months.

It’s a fine balance to maintain both a good game and an enjoyable environment.  There is a decent chance that the increase in limits will make some of the regulars think twice about playing.  I hope that doesn’t happen, but from my perspective, I simply enjoy a more serious game of poker.  And if I have any say in the game’s structure, I’m going to do what I can to make it more enjoyable for me.  After all, anybody can host their own game with their own rules, right?

Thursday, February 09, 2006

In Thoughts

It seems there is a bunch o’ crap going down for a few of our blogging brethren and my thoughts go out to each and every one of them.  I won’t reiterate their plights here, but it does take no small amount of courage to share their painful and trying times with the rest of us chuckleheads.

So I can only say “thanks.”  Because by sharing, you enlighten.  You all make it easier for me to look at all of life’s positives rather than all the negatives.  The negatives are so much easier to acknowledge, many times we lose sight of what’s truly important.

Friends, family, health.  Not having Aces cracked. (I kid.)

Here’s hoping that better times for you guys lie ahead.  If G-Vegas can help in any way, let us know.


In poker news, G-Vegas has upped the limits of the NL ring game.  What used to be a regular .25/.50 blind structure has now doubled.  The change has attracted back some players who were looking for higher stakes, but also most likely has detracted others from attending.  Time will tell what the increase will do to the state of the game.

Last Friday I finalized my order for the custom chips.  Hopefully they’ll arrive in the next few weeks, at which point I’ll have another BBSOP event to commemorate their arrival.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006


If you'd like to contribute to help BG with his medical bills, please see Pauly's site for details.

Word to the wise: Do not drink buckets of melted ice at the Bait Shack.

Monday, February 06, 2006


The Mrs. was out and about this past Saturday which meant yours truly got to sign up for an MTT and play with fewer distractions.  Not zero mind you, but fewer.

I signed up for the FullTilt $6k guaranteed based solely on its timing.  After 1 hour, I’d played perhaps 3 hands and stood below average at about T2100.  As is standard fare, half the field of 350 players was already gone.  With the blinds increasing as they are prone to do, I became M-limited and looked for pushing opportunities.

My first opportunity came with ATs.  I was called by pocket 5’s, hit two-pair on the flop and boated up on the turn.  I was then berated by the person who called me.  He asked me if I ever wondered how I got so short-stacked.  I didn’t reply, because I never wonder about getting short-stacked.  With 10-minute levels and a propensity to wait for good cards, most people wouldn’t find themselves surprised.  At least not me.

Fast forward a couple of hours and after winning one more race, I found myself at the final table.  I played situational tournament poker, mainly paying attention to stack sizes and positions more so than my actual holdings.  With six players left, the following hand arose.

I was in 5th chip position, with the short-stack to my left.  The play was folded around to me in the small blind, and with QJo, I pushed.  My thought was that I would only get called by a monster.  My opponent’s definition of monster was A6s.  I caught a Q on both the turn and river to eliminate him.  On came the berating.  I was a donkey, his hand was better, and I sucked out.

My cohorts in crime stood up for my play in the chatbox:  (The Bracelet, BiggestRon, Mourn, GeeknProud, Shane-O-Mac Nickerblog, StB).  A finer set of railbirds could not be had.  Pretty sure BG was there too.

I finished 5th for a $588 cash, after which BiggestRon claimed that PokerGeek would have a post up shortly about him finishing 4th.  (Mild guffaw)


In the playing poker with distractions department comes the following:

I’m in a hand.  It’s a big pot.  The door to the poker playing office opens and it’s MrsBlood with a handful of laundry.

“Smell this, just smell this!” she exclaims as she inserts a stack of my own underwear directly into my face.

Luckily, it was just cleaned and smelled fresh in a clean-air-breeze kind of way.

“I can do wonders with laundry, just so you know.”

I thanked her profusely but asked her to please move away from the monitor because I was in the middle of something right at the moment.

Her eyes did the MrsBlood roll and she said simply “Oh.”

I lost the pot, but all is not lost.

I have clean underwear.    

Friday, February 03, 2006

An Aftertaste So Bitter

Wrestled on it’s back
The ego shows its face. – Dark Tranquility

Egoism dictates human relations. – In Flames

By the turn, you have a hand.  Not a great one, but a hand nonetheless.  You’re in early position, you’ve been the aggressor the whole hand, and now you’ve just been raised.

In the back of your mind you’re weighing your options.  You can fold because there’s something in your read that tells you that you’re behind.  Or you can check-call provided your opponent doesn’t make a big bet on the river.  Or you can re-raise because you think the other guy is bluffing.

How do you decide?

Online, you don’t have much other than betting patterns to tell you.  In a live game, perhaps you have some more information and you can use it to improve your read.

After some consideration, you have a strong feeling you’re behind.  Maybe way behind.  Still, you refuse to give up the hand.  Why?

It’s that damn ego getting in the way.  Can someone tell me what else it could be that makes you continue with a hand when you know you’re beat?  Some stubbornness perhaps, but most likely it’s ego.  Literature on hold ‘em everywhere talks about the required aggression needed to win.  Folding is not aggression.  You can’t let the table see you bail out of a hand at the first sign of resistance.  And that raise?  That’s some kind of personal attack on me and I cannot sit idly by.

But folding is not a crime.  I know it brought a bunch of laughs, but the list that Steve Dannenmann’s brought out at the final table of the 2005 WSOP did have one gem:  “Folding to a raise is only a small mistake.”

Letting go of a hand is just as important as getting proper value from your monster hand.  Making a few small mistakes is better than making one giant one.

The ego drama unfolds.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Live Blogging Mania

8:15 – I get out of the car and make my way towards the building where I work.  The simple act of walking gets my insides propped and ready.

8:19 – The rumblings from last night’s protein shake make themselves known.  Vanilla protein powder + orange-flavored cilium = crazy delicious.

8:30 – With my morning bagel and hardboiled eggs in my system, I’m ready for the worst.

9:30 – I take my hand-held WSOP poker game with me to my “second” office.

9:31 – I scout the area for an open stall.  We have 5 to choose from, but the second one has a broken door that tends to open when others leave or enter the stalls next to it.  There’s nothing like an unexpected “hello” to tighten up the sphincter beyond the point of no return.  Can’t lose that window of opportunity.

9:32 – I choose stall #4.  It’s roomy.  I furiously wipe down the seat with some balled up toilet paper.  For whatever reason, the thought of my butt cheeks sitting down where another co-worker’s ass has been kinda skeeves me out.  (Why does MS-Word not recognize skeeve?)

9:33 – I fire up the hand-held poker game and ponder life.

9:37 – The stalls around me slowly become occupied.  I can’t avert my gaze and see random people’s shoes and bunched up pants rolled down to their ankles.  It ain’t pretty, but then again, neither is the task at hand.

9:40 – I get rivered in the damn hand-held game by a two outer.  Electronic poker is rigged!  I’m on dump-tilt.

9:41 – Recent eliminations:
  • Yesterday’s salad I had at lunch.

  • Last night’s chicken dinner.

  • Pretty sure I had corn.  Yes I had corn.

9:45 – Last five co-workers I took a crap next to:
  1. Guy who obviously had Mexican the day before.

  2. Another guy playing some game on his cell phone.

  3. The grunter.

  4. Some crazy dude who talks to himself in whispers.  I look to see if I can see his badge so I know who to avoid when he inevitably goes postal.

  5. Stage fright man.  He’s actually just peeing in the stall to avoid using the urinals.

9:50 – Cleanup, flush, and run.

9:51 – I use about twelve dabs of soap and scrub my hands like I’m in ER prep.

Live blogging is hard.  So is live logging.