Friday, August 31, 2007

The Nit I've Become

I'll be honest. I think that I've fallen into the trap of playing too cautiously. I'm trying to avoid losses rather than maximizing wins and in doing so, I'm leaving money on the table.

I confess, I've become a bit gun shy. Of the pots I've been all-in on where I'm greater than a 90% favorite to win, I've won only 1 out of my last 5. And that gets to me. Still. And that's bad.

Because when the odds shift back into my favor, I'll not have as much money in the pot as I should.

Case in point: Wednesday night, impromptu rake-free game at the Depot. Player Appreciation Night, if you will.

I'm in the big blind with a monster, 83o. Funny how these no-name hands tend to win you the most. Funny how? Like a clown?

Anyway, I see a free flop and it's the classic flop bottom two-pair on a flush draw board - T83 with two hearts. With about six players in the pot, I lead out for $10 and get called in 3 spots. OK, should be easy to put people on hands here. There's at least one flush draw and some guy has a ten, more than likely.

Turn is another 8, giving me 8's over 3's. Again, I lead out, this time for $30. I get one caller to my immediate left and then get raised to $80. As it's folded around to me, I take a peak at the raiser's stack. We're playing similar sized stacks of about $400. The player to my direct left who simply called would be all-in if he called the $50 raise.

I hesitated. I didn't know what to do just yet. Was I beat? Did the guy have T8 for a cooler? Frankly, I kind of thought so. But at this point, I justified my smooth call by trying to get the guy to my left all-in too.

That's right. I sacrificed a potential $400 double-up to win an already committed $45.

The river brought a King and completed the flush draw. I made what's called a Vaj-tastic, blocking, value, SCARED POKER bet of $100. The guy just smooth called, obviously afraid of the flush.

Afraid of the flush. Because he only had trip 8's holding A8.

Granted, I dodged a 3-outer. I figure I have about 36 more of those to win before the stats even out. However, I left about $300 on the table by not pushing on the turn.

I asked the player if he'd have called my all-in bet.

"Yes." Trips with Ace kicker, of course he would. I've seen him do it before for more money.

And so I won a pot and came to the realization that I've been playing like a cautious nit lately and decided that I won't be doing that any longer.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The Face of All Your Fears

I'd have to go back and check some old posts, but I would imagine that I've been playing in some of the local underground cardrooms for over a year now. My initial fears in playing at some of these places were quelled with time and a desensitization that naturally occurs with repeated visits. The more conservative folks I told about the games always said, "The cops are gonna bust that place up" or "That game will get robbed." Deep down, I shared those thoughts, but of course looked past them with the eyes of someone blinded by a desire to play cards.

On Sunday, my daughter's 4pm soccer game got rained out by a passing thunderstorm. As I walked back into my house that day, an idea popped into my head ever so briefly that maybe I'd go play some Sunday afternoon cards. I'd done it only once before, back in May when the family was out of town for the long weekend. The Black Stallion game ran that day and easily filled two tables.

For whatever reason, the thought left my mind as easily as it entered. Which was a real good thing. Up for Poker has already linked to this story and now so will I.


Of the two evils (getting arrested or robbed), this is obviously the worse. I've played in four locations here in G-Vegas. Of those four, I'd have to say that two were in locations with little to no options for security. Thankfully, The Depot has the tightest security, and is of course where I play most frequently. The setup is not perfect, but it's orders of magnitude better than anything the other rooms have. And of course, it will get better based on the events of this weekend.

I'm both sad and disappointed. Sad for the people involved who had to go through that experience. And disappointed that the environment for playing cards has to be so potentially dangerous.

There's a middle ground somewhere for a game's popularity and size. If it gets too big, it attracts unwanted attention. If it remains too small, it becomes unsustainable. Reality has sunk in and it's not pretty. I'm not sure what the future holds. But I do know that business was down last night at The Depot, most likely based on news from the previous evening.

Poker junkies don't really think rationally when there's a chance to play cards, so I imagine that within weeks, it will be business as usual. My kids' seasonal sports have just started back up and as such I wouldn't have been able to play in the Black Stallion game for months anyway. But my kids' future depends on my health and my continued ability to earn a living.

Home game anyone?

Monday, August 27, 2007

Very Far From

Ok, I absolutely kid you not.

My big fortune 5 company that I work for, in an effort to save 13 cents, decided that shutting off the AC in my building over the weekend is a freaking great way to save cash. This morning, it was 101° in my office.

When I rest my forearms on my desk, it's hot to the touch.

The fact that it's Monday was bad enough. Oh yeah, poker. Hey, flopped a set of Jacks on a J92 rainbow board. A guy with J7o put me all in. So I called and lost.

Christ, now I'm sweating just typing this. I think it would be unwise for me to even think about venturing into the men's bathroom. Not wise. Very far from wise.

Friday, August 17, 2007

It's On

Interesting situation last night at the Black Stallion game.

Here's what I know. It's wrong to slow roll. It's also wrong to target a particular player at the table, mainly because you'll probably end up going broke to someone else while doing so.


It's on.

There's a player for whom I'm not even going to come up with a creative pseudonym that slow rolled on three consecutive hands last week. I have to believe it wasn't carelessness, but rather performed out of malice.

Here's a quick example. The pot is perhaps $300. Player A, a good guy, tables his hand and states two-pair - they happened to be King's up. Slow roller picks his cards up off the table and looks at them, holding them in front of himself gazing at them.

Now, count to, oh let's say seven. Go ahead.



Now the player tables his hand and doesn't say a word. The pot was this close to getting shipped to Player A. Slowroller had Aces up, drug the pot and said nothing.

This happened three consecutive hands.

So last night happens.

I'm sitting on my last orbit with about $640 in my stack. Slowroller is to my direct right. I can't find anything to play unfortunately, so I cash out right as it's my big blind. This conversation ensues.

"That's right, you better cash out."

"Huh?" I ask.

"If you want to keep those chips, leaving's a good idea."

"Are you for real?"

"I'm tellin' ya, I'll take all that money if you stay."

Wow, I thought to myself. Guy's talking shit to me. As much as I wanted to stay, I still left. Which is fine, because I was up a bit and had no interest in swinging dicks with this guy at one in the morning.

That's not to say, however, that there won't come a time when I will have such interest. And then, it will be on. So fucking on.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Life Is Rigged

I think we all know how dangerous it is to either post or make mention of a nice run of winning sessions in poker. You're just inviting disaster. Well, the same holds true in real life as well.

Last week I did a small dance in the office because I had just made some final payments on items that cropped up unexpectedly during the year. It began in January, the day before my trip to Tunica. I got a phone call - "Hey, the washer's broken." "Hey, buy a new one," I replied. So the Mrs. did. If Lowe's is going to offer you a no interest loan, I figure I'll take it. Still $500+ is not something I just have lying around the house. Well, I kind of do, but I'm sure as shit not dipping into poker money for house related items. Fuck that noise.

The washer was life's first salvo in the battle against me saving any real world money this year.

Next up came my wife's minivan 30,000 service call. Hey, sweet, another $500. Poof gone. Not long after, March's car tax bill showed up in the mail. Cool, I don't need $700. Oh, by the way, our termite contract with the exterminator company expired and they need to re-do their magic under the house. Awesome! Because $600 is burning holes in my pocket.

Let's not even mention that last year's 10th anniversary present to my wife took one year to pay for. Damn her for liking diamonds! Damn her!

Last thing was our mid-July vacation. St. Augustine, Florida isn't cheap when you're eating out every night. While worth it, it pained me to receive the credit card bill for the trip.

So when I clicked send on the final payment for just about everything I was nearly ecstatic. I was going to free up close to $500 a month, not to mention the Mrs. going back to work in August meant some unaccounted for income. It was like I was rolling in dough.

But. As I said. Life is rigged.

Not thirty minutes after the last payment was sent, our dryer broke. That's just great. Back to Lowe's, and back to 0% interest.

It took a while, maybe a couple of days, but I got over it. I wasn't going to let life tilt me too much.

Then this morning happened. I pulled into my work's parking lot and bottomed out going over one of the speed bumps. WTF? Of course, flat front left tire. And on and on it goes.

Anybody want to wager what's next? It's gotta be my TV next. Gotta be.


There's some iPod meme going on where you post the first line or two of the first 20 songs your iPod plays on shuffle. Here's mine.

1. I've found tricks. That I use when I know that I've been beat.
2. Never again. On your forcefed illusions to choke.
3. Drones since the dawn of time. Compelled to live your sheltered lives.
4. Coming down the mountain. One of many children. (A gimme for everyone)
5. Born with eyes. But they are not to see.
6. Takers of humanity, elders paranoid.
Down south soldier,Third world soldier. My vengeance will be swift and terrible.
You gotta be crazy, you gotta have a real need. (A gimme for G-Rob)
9. White coats to bind me, out of control. I live alone inside my mind. (A gimme for Al, StB)
10. By the last breath of the fourth winds blow. Better raise your ears.
11. I will bid farewell, sever the ties.
12. As I aim for that bright white day. Conflict serum is my aura. (One of my all time favorites)
13. A play on words, or words on play. Last chapter, verse in the final act.
Empty and sweating. Head lying in your hands.
15. Wallow in darkness. And ever lasting pain.
You're workin in bars, ridin in cars. Never gonna give it for free.
17. So, so you think you can tell Heaven from Hell.
18. Divine queen of evil. Sowing her seeds of hate.
19. Every man will ask the questions. And every man will suffer blame and loss.
20. Hate is on the march. Hence the kiss of death.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

The Meta Skill

I recently had a conversation with my manager who just recently came aboard our team at work. One of the things I told him was how I could never be a manager, mainly because of my inability to see people as resources and manipulate them according to what's best for the team. I also told him that over the course of my seventeen year career (all at the same company), I've been ranked at the bottom of the spectrum, the top of the spectrum, and many places in between. The only thing that's been consistent during that duration was me and my job performance. So why the disparity? Because the person doing the ranking has changed.

This year's poker results (in case you haven't been reading) haven't quite been what I'd anticipated. So the question is, has my poker playing ability changed all that much to warrant such a disparity?

If I'm being honest with myself, then I guess I'd really have to say no. In fact, I believe I'm playing better this year than I have in any other. If I didn't believe that, then frankly I should just give up right now. Sure I still make my share of mistakes, but overall, I think my decision making has been better overall this year than it was last year. I think I know more about the game, have more experience with better players, and am seeing things better at the table than I have in the past.

But to look solely upon myself in a constantly changing poker environment would only be part of the story. One must look elsewhere to find out where the differences in results lie.

For one thing, the local player base is on average much better than it was a year to 18 months ago. If I could rewind time a bit and take a look at who played the games way back when, then I'd find that many of the games donators are no longer showing up. G-Rob + Spring Hotel = profit vacuum.

I recently played a game at another location. It wasn't The Depot, it wasn't the Gaelic Game. It was a game filled with opponents that I felt were a good two steps below your average G-Vegas card slinger. That night, thanks to some cards, and a couple of good plays, I won as Eddie would say, half a g-bar. And that was without ever being put to a decision for any significant number of chips.

(Side note: In fact, I had the luxury of getting two different people all in when they were drawing dead. That's zero outs. Can't suck out on me there.)

(Side, side note: Upon telling Random101 about opponents having zero outs, he responded by saying that at some point, the board will pair with an identical card, fouling the deck and making the hand dead. I had trouble disagreeing with that potential scenario given my run of luck.)

I think a lot of times, the desire to play with better players overrides the true goal of playing serious poker - making money. I'll admit that on the night that The Depot had a 5/10NL game going, part of me wanted to take a shot. But why? It's not good table selection to play with better players at higher stakes, especially given a proven track record of winning at the 1/2NL game. The only reason to play at that game would be ego-driven, not monetarily driven. I chose not to play, but for a time regretted not taking the chance.

Online, it's the same thing. I've used some table selection techniques and player tracking methods, that while not revolutionary to any online veteran, have proven to give me a better shot at winning money. I avoid people I know to be good players and knowingly choose to play against those I feel I have an edge.

I'll always have trouble grasping exactly how much variance there is in poker. And when the skill level between players gets smaller and smaller, it's that same variance that's going to become the overriding factor in determining who wins that day. So if I can help it, I'm going to continue to try to put my money in favorable situations. At least until I can be more comfortable with a bankroll that has been more stagnant than I want it to be.

Thursday, August 02, 2007


Deep in the bowels of the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry...

"Good morning class," Professor Snape mumbled, obviously pained to use such a cheery expression towards his otherwise dimwitted pupils. "Today in the Defense Against the Dark Arts class, we will be discussing this."

With a flick of his wand, a small, shiny obsidian box appeared before the class, levitating in front of them aglow with swirls of greenish, eldritch flame. Engraved on the box was a large letter "P" in old English script.

"Can anyone tell me what this is?"

Hermione Granger's hand shot up in an instant, but like he so often did, Snape waited longer to see if any other student could muster up a guess. Finally in one of Snape's more exasperated tones, he responded, "Yes, Ms. Granger?"

Proudly, Hermione stated, "It's the Pokerstars Random Number Generator."

"Yes, you are quite right. Ten points for Gryffindor if you can describe what it does," Snape continued.

Without pause, Hermione continued, "It's responsible for creating a random shuffle for a 52-card deck in the game Muggles call 'poker,' variations of which include the popular Texas Hold 'em."

"Excellent, 10 points for you and your House. You will need them later," he smirked.

"Would anyone like to try their hand at poker?" Snape asked.

One hand in the back of the classroom went up and as Snape pointed to him he said, "Yes, you. Are you a new student? You appear to be much too old to be a student at Hogwarts. What is your name?"


"Heh, sounds like MudBlood," Draco Malfoy scoffed. His Slytherin companions Crabbe and Goyle chuckled loudly. Hermione Granger shot them an evil look and their smiles diminished, but didn't disappear completely.

"Well then Mr. Blood, welcome to class. You will be wagering Gryffindor points in this next hand of Texas Hold 'em. Are you ready?"

"Sure," BadBlood responded.

"Well then, have at it."

The Pokerstars RNG began to slowly rotate. As it did, it spit out two cards towards Professor Snape and two cards to BadBlood in clockwise fashion. BadBlood looked down at what the RNG had to offer. A King and a ten. Since he would be making decisions after Snape made his, BadBlood felt compelled to bet.

"I wager 10 Gryffindor points," he said.

"Fine bet, I will call."

A card was then emitted from the obsidian box and then it erupted into flames. "Ah yes, the BURN. I love that part of the game," Snape smiled. Then three more cards flew from the smooth box and hovered in the air before the class room.

"Accio Nuts!" BadBlood spoke and waved his wand just before the three cards were flipped. They came Ace, Queen, Jack. He had flopped a broadway straight as they say in the Muggle world.

"I will check to you," Snape said calmly and BadBlood responded, "I wager 50 Gryffindor points."

"Another fine bet, I again will call."

The burn card came out again, erupting this time with unanticipated sparks and dazzlers. Snape threw an evil glance towards the now giggling Weasley twins who upon noticing Snape's glare immediately sat back up straight in their chairs.

The 4th community card came and it was the 8 of clubs, putting a second club on the board.

"Check," Snape flatly declared and still confident with his pre-flop incantation, BadBlood said aloud, "I wager 100 Gyrffindor points."

"Getting awfully confident, aren't we Mr. Blood? I call once more."

Finally the last card came out and it was yet another Queen, this too of clubs. BadBlood's heart sank a little bit, but he thought perhaps his hand was still good. He would no longer be betting Gryffindor points with the Nuts. His spell, while working perfectly on the flop, no longer held true.

"I wager two-thousand Slytherin points," Snape bellowed, becoming more animated and approaching BadBlood at the back of the room.

"What are you going to do now, Mr. Blood? Your hand is no longer the nuts, your pre-flop spell was worthless. Well? What are you going to do?"

"Expelleramus!" BadBlood shouted.

However, there was no immediate reaction from Snape.

Slowly, though, he began to smile. "Expelleramus? Do you expect me to muck my cards BadBlood? Do you expect me to let you win this hand on a technicality? You aren't playing with Muggles boy." Now, laughing quite hard, Snape said, "You must call or fold, your house is depending on you."

With a disheartened look, BadBlood waved his wand and his two cards vanished from in front of him, into the magical muck they went.

"Yes, I thought so. That was of course the proper fold, however you did lose 160 house points to Slytherin. So class, what did we learn today?"

"That you're a calling station?" quipped Ronald Weasley.

"Mr. Weasley, you've just cost your house twenty-five more points. Do you have anything more constructive to add?" Shaking his head, Ron looked sheepishly back down at his open "Dumbledore on Hold'em" book.

"Nobody? Well let me spell it out for you all then. Beware this poker game students! Give it your greatest respect. For among all the Dark Magic objects in existence today, none are completely defenseless. Except for this one!" Snape pointed to the black box Pokerstars RNG.

"If you remember anything from this class all year, remember this: There is no defense against the suckout."

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

The Cure

For every ailment, there is a cure.

Over the course of last two weeks, I implemented a new strategy to playing 6-max NL online. It potentially over-emphasizes position, but it was experimental. And it worked. I was finding that I was winning at a crazy rate, more than likely it was unsustainable. I posted 14 consecutive winning sessions for about 10-12 buy-ins. The only times I was losing was to cold decks and bad beats. But still the frequency with which those happened was small enough such that my stylistic changes more than compensated.

The ailment was winning.

The cure was moving up in stakes.

I took the same style to the new level. With the new level came better players whose re-raising range from out of position was much larger than those of the level previous. Still, I thought that my new style change would compensate.

It would have. Except the fact that the cold deck and bad beat frequency rose with the level change. Nice way to undo all I did.


The general malaise plaguing my last post was an ailment. The cure was getting the family back in town and getting back to the gym. As much as I love (am addicted to) poker, I will quit it before I ever quit hitting the gym. Nothing beats a good work out for me.


The scarcity of home games in G-Vegas was ailing the community. The cure is hosting a low stakes Saturday night festival of donkey poker. There will be much drinking. And some of the old guard is coming out to play.


FYI: I hate the Cure. The band anyway.

...."Show me, show me, show me".....GUNSHOT