Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Equity of Losing

Well, the Thanksgiving holiday certainly torpedoed my chances at the post-a-day proclamation I made a while back. I suppose you can sue me.

Last night was the game at Gucci Rick's which has managed to survive the reopening of an underground game, at least for the time being. I posted a small loss, but left rather content with my overall play. There were really zero opportunities for me to come out a winner based on the hands I was dealt. Luckily, I didn't fall into the trap of trying to do too much with too little. That "strategy" has cost me big in the past.

Sometimes folding is the optimum play. Even if you have to do it over and over again.

I made no sets, no straights, no flushes, nada. But still, I played my cards as well as I could have. Although it's certainly not very glamorous, using your "skill" at poker to avoid losing more than you should is a very important aspect of any good player's game. The meta-game skill of avoiding frustration is something I very much needed to work on, and last night's game was a step in the right direction.

There was another thing I noticed too. It was brought to my attention by another player actually. This other player may figure out who he is, I know he reads this. During one game this month, this otherwise very solid player showed up with every intention of drinking and having a grand old time. Very rarely did this person drink heavily during a session, perhaps only a beer or two every now and then. However on this night, as this player became more and more affected by the alcohol, his play rapidly and noticeably deteriorated.

He posted a larger loss than I'd seen him post in quite some time. I saw a little bit of me in that evening. Someone who for whatever reason threw caution to the wind and played a very sub-optimal game while drinking it up and having a good time. There's nothing wrong with having a good time while playing. Nothing at all. However, against the current crop of players who are left playing on Monday nights, it's simply not a winning strategy.

Last night, I only had a couple of beers at the table. I made a conscious effort to keep my focus up and my awareness heightened, even while out of the hands. It bordered on work. Mainly because it is. Playing well nowadays requires work. It requires a near-constant mental acuity that apparently I've not brought to the table in quite a while.

Sure, I can go on about the bad beats killing my bottom line this year. But I sure as hell also need to take some responsibility for the bad play that I've been guilty of. The environmental factors that contributed to my bad play can easily be eliminated if I choose to do it. Right now, there's no reason not to choose that option. It's almost like I lost the respect for the effort required to do well at these games. I felt somewhat entitled to a continuation of last year's winning ways.

I took an honest look back at what I thought were the differences between last year and this year. Last year I was enthralled with the game. I was enthusiastic about the strategic options each hand of poker offered. I lost that appreciation this year for the game's challenge.

Well, last night I lost the feeling of entitlement. I welcomed the work required to get back to where I was. I took that first step back up the ladder. Even though the rungs are slippery, I've traversed them before.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Tonight is a rare Wednesday in which I won't have to work the following day. So I say one thing:


That is of course if I can stay awake that long.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

With sixteen days to go, I've had to make a choice. Between now and Vegas, I have to avoid some of the local 1/2 home games in order to preserve my bankroll. Yes, I've been sucking that hard. At some point during an extended losing streak, too much extraneous information clouds the decision making process. After last night's horrible performance, there's really no other answer than to just take a step back for a while. What I'm doing now is very broken and simply playing my way through it is obviously not the right move.

I've been too concerned with too many poker-related issues that have nothing to do with playing the game strategy-wise. I'm using up too much energy wondering when the next game is going to be, wondering if a home game will remain viable, wondering if enough players will show up the night of a game, wondering....

I'm not focusing my resources on playing well. And has it ever shown.

In essence, I'm taking a step down in stakes. Just saying it, even typing it, is rather difficult. There is most definitely some pride involved. Swallowing it is tough, but it's a bitter pill that I must force down if I ever want to get back to my old self.

The break should at least help my enthusiasm in time for Vegas. I'm really at a loss at what else to do. I'm going to have to re-tool everything in my game. The glass case that I held it in has been shattered into a million pieces and a spot light shines on an empty pedestal that once held the talent I thought I had.

The question is was it ever there to begin with or just a mirage created by self-delusion.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Tour Guide

Seventeen days to go and this guide never gets old:

Bloggers Invading Las Vegas

I'm pretty sure everyone who reads this site reads Dr. Pauly too. But pimping legends never gets old. I'll never forget the random meeting we had in December '04 at the Bellagio. It's odd how certain events stay lodged in your brain, always bringing a smile when you think about them. That night was one of them.

Here's to making more of those moments in a few weeks.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

This Goes To Eleven

No, not the volume control on my amp.

My losing streak in turbo SNG's. Wow is this run awful. Of course most of it is after I move up to $33+3's. At least I'm consistent. Win, move up, lose, move down, keep losing for a bit. I post this because I'd hate for anyone to think I was always winning.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

For A Saturday

I got nothing for Saturday, except perhaps the following:

Latest song to crush thy enemies to: D.N.R. - Testament, from the album The Gathering.

Insane riff.

As if I didn't need to say it, First Strike Still Deadly.

Friday, November 16, 2007

I am seriously sucking on the post a day thing, but even so, I'm more successful than I thought I'd be.

Last night was an odd confluence of events with respect to my current and future live poker playing plans. Due to my stubbornness and basic rock-headedness, I continue to try and establish a viable home game on Thursday nights. Unfortunately for me, one of the underground games that had been on hiatus has reopened. The unfortunate part is two-fold. First, I can't and won't go play in the underground games. Under any circumstances. Recent readers will know why. I'm simply too risk averse to chance an arrest, a robbery, or worst of all, pissing off the wife to previously unheard of levels. It turns out that my enthusiasm for playing the game does have a line which I won't cross.

The second reason for it being unfortunate is that enough of the players that were willing to play at the recently re-established home games will go back to the underground game. I don't begrudge them that choice; many of the players are not in the same place in life as I am. Were I a different person than I am now with no family who relies on me, the lure of a regular live game would tempt me to go back. But I'm not that person.

So in order to still be able to play live, I needed to find additional players.

Enter the old crew. The old Thursday night regulars. You might recall some of the names, you might not. Teddy Ballgame, The Rocket, MattyC. After I had left that game in pursuit of greener (higher stakes, more serious play) pastures last year, the game remained strong and grew. They began to alternate weeks of dealer's choice games with a weeks of NLHE ring games. The blinds are the same (1/2) but the max buy-in is only $100. I would prefer a bit higher, but if that's what the old group is comfortable with, then count me in.

Part of me is conflicted, but that happens when things change. It was a fun night of poker for sure, even getting sucked out on twice by Teddy. Part of me will miss the challenge of the higher stakes games, with some of the better players in the area. But the cost of taking that challenge is too high a price for me.

My hunch is that I'm just now finally coming to the realization that the live G-Vegas poker scene was a luxury borne in favorable circumstances. And now, other circumstances have arisen to just as abruptly take it away. I took the games and the opportunities to play so often for granted. I was spoiled a bit.

But now I go back to the games from which I came. I'm just thankful that the player base will have me back. Strange as it seems, part of me misses when Teddy says "Aw hell, I'd rather watch a monkey fuck a basketball."

I imagine players in New York may feel the same way. That scene has been under siege as well with several highly publicized busts and an even more unfortunate shooting that took someone's life. It's sad to think that playing this game can cost someone their life. To those who will take the risks I wish you the best of luck. Not the luck of the cards, but the luck of avoidance. I hope you all understand my decision. It's the right one for me only, I don't pretend that it's right for everyone.


These last few months have forced me to rethink what it is that I want out of poker. Deep down there is a piece of my being that will never give up the game. I just don't know if that piece was birthed from the seed of addiction, competitiveness, greed, passion, or something as yet unknown. If I can figure it out, I'll probably be a better person for it.

I think the thing that frightens me the most is that I wouldn't know what to fill the void poker's wake would leave in me if I were to give it up.

I'm pretty sure it ain't kickball though. ;)

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


So I've moved up to the $33+3 turbos, and have found little initial success. On my first 10 tries, I had three 2nd's and a craptastic ROI. Small sample, variance, you get the picture. Still, I hate to lose under any circumstances, even though this time my roll is well funded for this level.

I got home Wednesday (after a kick-ass workout, I'm SHREDDING!) and immediately got kicked out of the family room so that the kids could finish studying with the wife. Hey, I have no problem with that. Off to the pokery machine.

After starting up an SNG with hopes of finishing before the clan moved upstairs; I got down to the final 3, which is pretty common in 6-max turbos, and in popped the wife's head.

"How you doing?" she queried.

"I was planning on winning," I replied; a subtle dig to her well-documented jinx-like nature. Emphasis on the word "was."

Undeterred, she sat down beside me.

"I talked to your mother today," she sighed.

What's your play, dear reader?


Option A) Resign the fact that you're doomed to lose this SNG and mollify the wife as she spills her feelings about her mother-in-law.

Option B) Risk a reign of terror and tell her to "Get out of the room until I'm done."


Due to my initial failures at the $33+3 level, I chose option B. Dumb, yet smart at the same time. I won the turbo, making my ROI at this level slightly less mega-fishy. But then the hard part: get back into the good graces of the Mrs.

It took a while (a bit longer than normal) but I managed it. That's two wins, two, for the price of one.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Played some live games on Friday and Monday and it was basically a wash. Played pretty well and won Friday night, played slightly less better on Monday and lost. I had two two-outers on the river kill my chances Monday. One was self-inflicted, i.e. free card, and one was my last hand of the night when I was all-in on the flop. It was too demoralizing to continue so I went home early for a slight change of pace.

My Pokerstars iPod came in on Monday which is cool. I uploaded every digital song, video and still image that I had on my PC and still have 130Gigs free space. Obviously I need more porn.

The Monday holiday was nice as I spent most of it with the wife, got in a workout and then played cards. Not sure how close to an ideal a day it was, but only a measurement error would indicate that it wasn't close. I suppose winning on Monday would have been nice, but that's out of my control.

My online roll is at a new post-UIGEA-panic-withdrawal high thanks to some decent play, but more importantly due to a renewed discipline in non-titly behavior. I can't tell you how many times a bad beat would lead me to the aw-fuck-it stage of poker play wherein I'd log onto a table or register for a tournament beyond my means. I have not done that for the past two months, even catching myself as thoughts of doing so sprouted from the seeds of the standard, inane beats we all take. Quite a leak to have plugged.

My live leak has been worked on too. I'm quite positive that my weakest phase of my live game play is on the river. The river is where the bets and pots are the largest and thus those decisions you make at that point in the hand are the most relevant to your bottom line. I've been paying off way too many hands on the river where deep down I knew I was beat. It's not even like I'm picking off any bluffs, I'm just paying off value far too often. Sure, I'll get bluffed more often now with many of my opponents reading this, but I'll take more time to hopefully replay the hand and make the right call or fold. There have been several hands were I've figured out the final piece of evidence that dictates how the hand should be played well after I've actually made my decision. I've been rushing and acting too quickly. That will stop.

Monday, November 12, 2007

I missed a day and don't have much either tonight. So here's a stat dump.

Finished off the $22+2 Turbo's, this time, they were 6-handed. Here are the stats:

Number: 100
ITM: 50%
ROI: 34.2%
2nd's: 27
1st's: 23
Profit: $820.80

I beat the $11+1 numbers in overall profit, but not ROI. That was somewhat expected. Now, it's off to the $33+3 where I should approach my Peter Principle level of incompetence. Unless I can keep up the pace set by my 1st SNG:

Number: 1
ITM: 100%
ROI: 92.5%
Profit: $33.30

Basically, extrapolating those results to 100 should be feasible. Gugh.

Friday, November 09, 2007

I followed through with my intentions and played the Riverchasers tournament last night. I'd forgotten how interesting and fun these tournaments could be. On one hand, you have some solid tournament players and on the other, you have some who are there to just donk around. The trick is identifying who is who.

I'll relay one interesting hand which drew some criticism from the rail, but I'm not 100% sure to whom it was directed, me or my opponent. The blind level was 25/50 and I had about T2700, opponent had me covered. I open raised from the button with AcKc and my opponent in the big blind simply pushed all-in.

What do you put him on and what is your action? I ended up calling mainly because I couldn't really put someone on a hand at that level on an overpush. I was happy to take my chances. The rail mentioned something about the willingness to take coinflips so early in a doublestack tournament which is certainly a valid point. But from my perspective, I just didn't understand the tactics behind the all-in move at that stage. Still, I am easily confused.


I have the luxury of a three day weekend coming up. It was actually a bonus day because at the beginning of the year we weren't scheduled to get Veteran's Day off. Even better, the kids have to go to school. I'm planning a brunch with the wife and then some early holiday shopping. My son is dying for Guitar Hero III for the Wii. Here's the sucky part. We have it in the house and I can't give it to him yet. I want to play the damn thing so bad, but noooooo. Gotta be Mr. Dad and wait until Christmas.

FYI: If anyone can point me to a website/store where I can get a second guitar controller for the Wii without buying a second copy of the game, I'd appreciate it a ton. I took a look at redoctane.com as suggested by TheMark, but couldn't find anything. Hopefully there will be something available in the next six weeks or so. Our house is a house that requires two controllers. It's that simple.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

There's no live poker game this Thursday night for me, so there is a slim chance that I may find myself in the Riverchasers tournament tonight. I wish I could spend more time playing in some of the BBTwo events since the grand prize package is so kickass. Everyone else has said it so I might as well too, even though I haven't played in one - Thanks to ACH for doing the legwork. Regardless of who wins, it will be fun to watch a blogger head down under and compete with the big boys.

Speaking of blogger tournaments, this December's Winter Classic will be my 5th attempt at cashing in a live blogger event. I'm enthusiastic about this one, being at the Venetian and having a good structure. Quite the opposite from the debacle at the Orleans.

As far as what else I may do in Vegas that weekend, it looks like Metal Skool isn't playing that Thursday which is a human tragedy beyond all proportions. I guess I feel genuinely lucky to have seen them that one time back in June. I'm pretty sure that upon touchdown Thursday the 6th, Otis and I will head straight for PF Chang's, followed up with some pokery things at an as yet to be determined card room. Friday procedure anyone?

Looking forward to meeting some new friends and hanging with some old ones too. Can I segue that into a pimp of sorts? Sure, why not? PokerProf just sent me a couple of links that you might find interesting. Joe's about as old-school poker blogger as you can get, he and his father are great guys and always fun to catch up with.

The Las Vegas poker Room Directory
Poker tournaments directory

I'll close this post out with this very pertinent sports-related issue: Since I'm a card-carrying Boston sports fan, I think it's time we really started talking about the possibility of an undefeated season. The Celtics are 3-0.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Unconventional Bad Beats

Back in the hey day of The Depot, I used to arrive a bit early. Being a good friend of the proprietor allowed me certain benefits that I was happy to take advantage of. One such benefit was access to the good alcohol. Riding Dirty is always a precursor to a good night of poker, and I had no problem making myself (and Otis if he was there) a nice Grey Goose martini prior to the card slinging.

One night, I opened the cabinet under the bar to fish around for the tall bottle of Goose only to find that it had perhaps only a shot and a half left. Not to worry, that would be plenty. Of course I'd only be having one drink that night now; but often times, the first drink is the best drink.

I took a clean mixer from the side of the sink and filled it with ice. I poured the contents of the Goose bottle into the mixer along with an appropriate amount of olive brine. I find a two to one ratio works rather well.

I found a nice martini glass (The Depot was all class, baby!) and poured some Dry Vermouth into it. I swirled it around the inside of the glass, letting it coat its entire surface area and then dumped the remainder in the sink. It's a trick I once saw a bartender at Chang's perform.

I closed the mixer and shook, feeling the outside of it chill as the ice inside did its job. I opened the top and poured the contents into the martini glass.

And then I saw something unusual. Suds. Tons and tons of suds followed the alcohol out the top of the mixer into the glass. I am used to bubbles. Any time you shake something as vigorously as I do, there's going to be tiny air bubbles in the concoction. But suds? Something was amiss.

Undeterred, I tasted it anyway. Blech. I spit it out immediately afterwards. Sadly, the mixer, while clean, had not been rinsed. At all.

Grey Goose. Olive brine. Vermouth. And Palmolive. Riding Dirty became Riding Clean.

I had no martini that night. Poker bad beat equivalent: You've flopped two pair against someone's overpair. Turn and river are running 3's.


If you follow the rules of The Procedure and your poker game starts in the 8pm time frame, then you will find yourself a purveyor of "The Afternoon Shift." There's not much to say about it that hasn't already been expounded upon by the likes of the Good Doctor, but it's safe to say that it's a different environment than your average midnight scene.

Generally, the girls are the same group who day after day make what they can before they leave the premises as the more business-like ladies come in. Business-like. That's not a quality I enjoy in a female entertainer. "You want a dance?" "No." And they move on in rapid succession from one customer to the next. The afternoon shift will actually talk to you; and while the conversation is usually as meaningless as what they're wearing at the moment, it's at least a more friendly approach to doing business.

So, like I said, if you follow the rules of The Procedure, you're going to probably encounter the same people each time you go.

Perhaps you even have a favorite employee, one who's nicer than the rest, more willing to make the experience worthwhile. It had been a long time since I performed a Procedure. A very long time. I'm not sure what my problem was, but it had lost some luster. I got busy with life and neglected The Afternoon Shift.

Then one day, I went back. One of the more familiar faces approached me, lamenting my long absence, claiming to have missed me. I believed her, because seriously, who wouldn't miss me? I miss me sometimes. But that's neither here nor there.

For it was then, yet again, that I saw something unusual. Sure the hair color went from completely blonde to completely black. But that wasn't it. Certain body parts were bigger, but not in an unnatural way. Just as I figured it out, she blurted it out.

"I'm five months pregnant." She told me about the biological father and completely destroyed any chance of me further supporting her endeavors on The Afternoon Shift.

Poker bad beat equivalent: You flopped a set against a flush draw and it gets there.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

House Keeping

Based on Maudie's post, I decided to clean up my blogroll and basically put a link down for each entry in my bloglines subscription. So, as it were, if you and your blog somehow got left off the list (definitely possible) please shoot me a comment so I can fix it ex-post-haste-o or whatever means quickly in Latin.

I also broke down and purchased me (South-Carolinian for "bought") one of them shiny MacBooks I'd been drooling over. I went with the smaller model, not the Pro, mainly due to budgetary constraints and the fact that the larger models are simply too large for my tastes. I guess I'm turning into somewhat of an Apple fan boy after playing with my iPod Touch for a while.

Poker on the Mac works very well so far, with the Full Tilt native client and the Pokerstars windows client running under the Crossover software from Codeweavers. Anyone want a 5-year old Toshiba Satellite?

Live poker continues to painfully remind me that I was probably running well over expectation last year. Lately it seems that the only thing I can do is avoid losing money by making proper plays, and even then, I'm not always doing that successfully. It's tough playing a 5-hour session wherein there was simply no opportunity for me to make a decision smart enough to win me the pot rather than lose it. It's a time where the skill factor isn't going to win me anything, it's just possibly going to give me an opportunity to lose less. And that's not exactly fun.

I can raise UTG with pocket T's, get one caller behind, flop top set and lead out as fishy as I possibly can, only to see my opponent fold (you know who you are). Meanwhile, others are flopping sets, busting AA, and hauling in $600 pots. Blah. Still, I play.

Online, I hope to complete my next set of 100 turbos in the next couple of weeks and post those results. So far, things are going well at that level and if things continue, I can move up to the 33+3's. Data forthcoming.

In other random news, since there's only 30 days left until I head out, I may try to post at least once a day regardless of length and content just to make myself do it. My blog's been "rusty" of late and perhaps I can brute force my way into a quality post somewhere along the line.

Monday, November 05, 2007


I can't stop talking like Kenny Tran. I'm taking mundane situations at work and home and pretending it's the WSOP.

"I fix that bug like no other. I so sick with that bug fix."

"Nobody cook steak like that. Genius! I genius at cooking steak."

This is perhaps funny only to me.

I fine with that.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Tales of the Great Reconstruction

"I just booked my trip to Vegas," I said to my co-worker Random101.

A singular eyebrow was raised in Spock-like fashion as he replied, "Don't you need a bankroll for a trip like that?"


"Good point," is all I could muster.


My live game bankroll took a nosedive in the months of August, September and October. And by nosedive, I mean wings-off-the-plane, engine-failing, pilot-already-dead nosedive. Proper bankroll management dictates that twenty buy-ins is sufficient padding to theoretically survive the variance encountered by those who espouse the never-ending "all one session" philosophy.

However, for me, in the live games here in G-Vegas, there are a couple of problems with that.

Problem 1: When your bankroll drops, you're supposed to drop down in limits in order to recover. Well, for me, there are no lower limit games to play in. It's not as simple as dropping from $200NL to $100NL with the click of a mouse. G-Vegas homegames are most likely going to always remain $1/$2 blinds.

Problem 2: During my time online, I've seen swings of +/-10-15 buy-ins happen quite frequently. If you read the forums at 2+2, there are many successful long-term players who suffer downswings of that variety. It's not really too uncommon. However, for me in the live games, the 15 buy-in downswing with nowhere to go to regroup was just a jackhammer to my poker psyche, wearing it away chip by chip until there wasn't much left. Of course, my play suffered which compounded the issue.


What was the solution? It hurt, but I had to make a decision. I hamstrung myself by putting away nearly all of last year's winnings, leaving myself no cushion for any downswing of this size. If I was going to continue to play, I'd have to reload the live game cash roll by making a withdrawal. I hated doing it. It still rubs me the wrong way just thinking about it. But if I wanted to continue playing in the few home games that I do, and if I wanted to go to Vegas in December with enough cash to play in the variety of games that I enjoy; then I had to do it.

The check game on Tuesday.


If I don't learn from this, then I'm not the player I think I am and I'll never become the player I want to be. Fifteen buy-in downswings can happen. While some of it is due to bad luck and bad play, the bottom line is that I need to take measures to ensure that if and when it happens again, I'll have the cushion I need to keep playing the game the way I need to play it in order to make that rebound happen without making another withdrawal.

My ability to play well depends on a clear mind. It depends on not having thoughts that I could go broke if things continue. It depends on a big enough buffer of cash such that downswings don't impact my decision-making process.

I'll hopefully get back on the winning track. And when I do, I'll keep a 50 buy-in roll before I sock any of it away again. Because if I end up losing 50 buy-ins, then the decision to continue or not will be oh so painfully easy.