Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Day 1 Nears End

Rub. I'll admit that upon first glance, I wasn't thrilled to be eating BBQ. Obviously had there been an "N Tug" appended to the name, I'd have sprinted to get there. I wasn't too far removed from my lunch, so I intended to eat light. Ha. Eat light. At Rub. The portions are pretty damned big. I ordered the smoked turkey, coleslaw and shredded onion rings because that's what people trying to get shredded do. If I were a connoisseur (did I just use that word?) of BBQ food, my opinion on the meal may have carried more weight. However, even still, based on what everyone else ordered, and the quality of the meat, I'll give it a thumbs up. Price tag was about $30 per person, give or take.

Interesting side note. AlCantHang turned down prop-bet money to eat the remaining 9 pieces of bacon he ordered. Yeah, I just outed you.

After dinner, the gang from media row went back to work, thinking there'd be another six or seven hours of play until the Noviembre Nueve were established. Sick bilingualism right there. Especially with the French word used 2 paragraphs ago. I'll pause here so you can digest it sufficiently. There.

I went back to the Rio poker room and sat my outclassed self at the 1-3 game. Even though I was outmatched at the 2-5 game that was still running, I nonetheless found that the 1-3 game continued to be easy and boring. I cashed out because when I looked at the LCD showing the available games, I saw something pretty inspiring. PLO. I bolted for the open seat.

I didn't win or lose much, but I had a ton of fun. It was the first B&M PLO experience for me, having only played it live at local home games. There was, and I kid you not, a blonde guy named Lars from Sweden raising every pot. Just like online. Unfortunately for him, he wasn't very good. At showdown, when his opponent tabled top two pair, he showed his 4 hole cards thinking he'd win the pot. AAJJ, with neither of those ranks on board. "I have a higher two-pair," he said. When he finally went bust (he had about $900 in front when I sat down), and I didn't get any of it, the game lost some of its flair.

Then, to pretty much every one's surprise, the Main Event was over before 11pm local time. That only meant one thing, off to the Hooker Bar and -EV games at the Gold Coast.

Monday, July 27, 2009

More Day 1

If you've ever listened to Bart Hanson's "Cash Plays" poker podcast, you'd be aware of one of his common themes while talking about playing no-limit hold 'em. Value. Every action you take, every bet, should be designed to earn you some value. I happen to agree with this concept and think that nowhere in the course of a hand is value more important than on the river.

The pots are bigger on the river. The decisions are therefore more important, especially when you are playing deep stacked. When I sat down at the 2/5 table at the Rio and bought in for $500, I committed mistake number one. While I certainly covered most players, there were two others with nearly $2000 in chips and $100 bills positioned in front of them. Both players were extremely aggressive, but the play of one of them stood out to me for the reason mentioned above. He was the best player I'd ever played with when extracting value on the river against his opponents.

He raised very frequently, opening for $20 if folded to him. Continuation bets were the norm and even when his opponents played back at him post flop or on the turn, he seemed to know exactly where he was in relation to their holdings. He must have made over $1000 on river bets alone in the time I sat there. Nearly each time he'd fire out a river bet, I was praying for his opponent to call because I was sure he was effectively bluffing. But each time he'd get called, flip up middle pair, 9-kicker, his opponent would simply muck. It was amazing, and I'll admit, a bit inspiring.

Meanwhile, I was sitting there making more mistakes.

I lost half my stack with AQ suited all-in preflop against a short stack who I felt was shoving out of frustration. Turns out he had Queens and I failed to suck out. The rest of my stack went away when I flopped top two pair against middle set. No 2-outer for me and I reloaded. I then just watched and learned since I was card dead and couldn't do much against the two aggressive players without putting my entire newly reloaded stack at risk.


Thankfully, I got the text from Otis that they were going on dinner break and eating at a place called Rub. Rather than dwell further on my miscues, I took the opportunity to join them. Missing out on eating with friends is one mistake I didn't want to make.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Preamble - Day 1

Day 1 as it were. The travel began early, I was up at 4:30 am to catch a 6:00 am flight out of friendly GSP. Thankfully, by the time I'd reach Las Vegas, absolutely nothing of note happened. I like that. No complications. I was travelling alone with a backpack and a carry-on and figured my free room hookup, otherwise known as Otis, would not yet be awake. After all, it was about 11:00am and when I boarded the plane back in Greenville, I was reading tweets from Pokerati and Pauly about some late night/early morning bowling. Surprisingly, Otis was awake and managed to beat me to the check-in line at Harrah's. With the room all taken care of, we ventured back to the Rio wherein the final day of the Main Event was progressing from 27 to 9 players.

Media row was pretty far removed from the action, but due to flat panel displays and relays from those close to the action, they could still keep tabs on the action. They were all there. Pauly, Al, Otis and his co-workers Stephen and Howard, Mean Gene, F-Train, Change100 and Jen. I hung out for a bit with no real rush to do anything. With the past year that I've gone through at work, just sitting around and relaxing was something I wasn't used to doing. What a welcome change that was.

Sensing that most everyone needed to get back to work at some point, I slithered away with plans to meet up later. I made a quick phone call to my grandmother who turned 97 that day. It's the small things that people appreciate and she certainly did enjoy talking to me from back in Florida. She wished me luck, I accepted it, and then I went to grab some grub at the All American Bar and Grille. First gambling of the trip was the video poker machine at the bar. Down a quick $20 with a steady drain of nothing cards. I sighed inside, but not too loudly. I did earn two free Heinekens. Like I said. The small things.

I found my way to the Rio poker room, a room I'd actually never played in. My only Rio poker play prior to this trip had been in the Amazon room. However, with just the Main Event going on, all poker action was relegated back to the normal, year-round location. I put my name on the 1/2 and 2/5 lists and waited.

I truly hate waiting. I am the worst at being patient when I have a pocket full of bills and a head full of monster pot daydreams. I couldn't sit down fast enough. And then when I did finally grab a seat at the 1/2 table, my anxiousness didn't go away. You see, the players at the 1/2 table I sat at were horrible. I can't describe to you how bad, but if you'll trust me enough, just understand that there was really no poker being played at the table. Mistake after mistake after mistake. I just sat there, not doing much of anything, except watching all the players make bet size and positional mistakes that would make you cringe.

Within the first orbit I was already up over $100. "That was easy," I thought, envisioning me pressing G-Rob's tilt-inducing Staples button. In fact, it might have been too easy. It bored me. I gazed over to the corner where the 2/5 game was playing and saw a seat open. My name got called, and I decided to rack up from the "boring" and "easy" game and sit at the 2/5 game.

Did I mention word mistake yet? Oh yes, just a few sentences ago. Luckily, I'm a pretty self-observant type of guy. I see myself making mistakes all the time. Even when I don't make mistakes, I over compensate and attribute them to myself anyway. Switching tables was a mistake. A big one. Word to the wise: Never play in the biggest game a poker room has to offer during mid-afternoon on a Wednesday. I failed miserably at table selection.

More to come...

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


I have a trip report to write. Suffice to say, it was an "ultimate" good time.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Spock's Brain

It's a conundrum of sorts. If you're out to make the best decisions, you need access to the correct data and a process to filter it, manipulate it, and correctly choose from a well-defined set of options. You don't want to guess. Guessing involves hope. Guessing is a conscious effort to ignore some of the data. Why would you ignore valid data? Because it leads you to a conclusion you simply don't want to be true.

Spock would be a great limit poker player. Decision after decision based purely on his logic-driven conclusions. No-limit? He might be pretty good at that as well. He wouldn't tilt, that's certain. His success would be based on his ability to read other players and their emotions while hiding his own. We know he can do the latter, but only the true Trekkie would know about the former. After all, he's no Troi.

I battle with myself each poker session. I make an attempt to train myself to ignore emotionally-driven feelings at the poker table. The lament of a crushing bad beat. The disappointment of a 5th straight losing session. The martyrdom of inevitably getting it in bad and not sucking out like your luckbox opponents seem to always do. All of those things, if they occupy any of your mental energy, detract from your ability to make the best decision.

Lately, I sure as hell know what the worst decision is.


It's horrible. In theory, I want a smooth call by yours truly to frighten my opponents. But lately I've been calling too much and you can't scare everyone with a call when your frequency is so high.

Back to the conundrum. When can you take emotion completely out of your game? For one, by lowering the stakes. If you play at stakes far below your norm, your interest in the results go down. You've eliminated the negative emotions associated with losing when the magnitude is irrelevent.

But unfortunately, you've also eliminated the positive emotions of winning. And there's the catch. Why do you play? Do you play to win, or simply be right? Because you can be right and lose. A lot. So if you get no satisfaction from being right, then you're going to run into situations where the reason you're playing gets lost and the negativity of the results has no positive counterbalance.

Each action at the poker table is like a question on a test. What's the right answer? Can you figure it out? Why are you taking the test? To get a good score, or because it's an opportunity to learn?

Poker for me is a dichotomy of searching for that satisfaction of being right which requires me playing at stakes that mean something and the quelling of emotions that cloud my ability to make the best decision.

I need risk to feel the reward, but I don't want the feel of the risk to effect my ability to earn that reward.

Crazy game.