Sunday, December 31, 2006

End Result

Today I transferred G-Rob some money to his Stars account. Yeah, I know what you're thinking. The problem is that I didn't know what I was thinking when I made the bet.

I didn't pay him because I just couldn't stop myself from playing. Deep down, I know I could have stopped playing if I felt it were truly harmful for me to keep it up. Frankly, I just wanted to play.

I you go look at G-Rob's latest post, he's 100% correct. I was giving up something that I really enjoy doing while he was trying to quit a bad habit. Sure, I talked trash and gave solid reasons why he'd fold before me. But the bottom line is that his motivation to win far outweighed mine. And that was the key.

Besides, I did learn a few things about myself during said "hiatus." I'll post about that later, but for now, I hope my paying up doesn't take away G-Rob's current motivation to quit. I can't afford to keep paying him.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Irrational Utilities

In the meantime, while I await G-Rob's inevitable resumption of smoking, I will be reading the new book The Mathematics of Poker. I haven't began yet, but I've been reading reviews and they've for the most part been very favorable. There is some game theory in the book as well which reminds me of a recent conversation here at work.

Assume the following: Person X has $200 to give away to two people, Persons A and B. Person A gets to determine how the $200 is split among A and B (assume whole dollar increments). However, Person A can only make one offer. If Person B vetoes, nobody gets any money.

The theoretical optimal split works out to be Person A offers Person B $1 and then keeps $199. Why? Person B gets $1 and knows that either he can accept that offer, or get $0. Person B's equity is also maximized too, getting most of the $200 available.

Sounds easy, right?

In theory, yes. In practice, no. Apparently (I don't have references, but I do believe this happened), the average value of the accepted deal split was somewhere around $60. Why is that?

Here's my opinion: Assume for a minute that you're Person B. You know there is $200 to split, but Person A has only offered you $1. You think it's hardly fair, even though you'd get $0 if you refused. So you veto, depriving Person A of receiving any money because he made such a stingy offer that you considered insulting.

What you've basically done is assign value or utility where none should exist. Persons A and B are complete strangers. So what if he's only offered you $1. $1 is greater than $0. But you're human. You're insulted. Fuck the other guy. You'd gladly sacrifice that $1 for the knowledge that Person A would get $0, even though Person A was only trying to maximize his utility.

So my question, which I hope is answered in the book, is how much irrational value are you placing on negative equity situations? I think I'm seeing it all the time at the poker table. Look at G-Rob's latest post. He's taking negative equity situations and gambling it up because he's assigned future value (tilt-implied-odds) to his decision.

Famous players that are targets in tournaments face the same thing. They could be making optimal bets at all times based on every variable in their analysis, but all that goes to shit when some donkey calls off all his chips for the "value" of claiming he busted a former bracelet winner.

I'm hoping to read this book with one eye on the math and one eye on how applicable it is in various situations. I'll keep you "posted," as they say.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

The Wager

It all began with an innocent discussion during a midnight showing of Rocky Balboa. G-Rob and I sat alone in the empty theatre, talking about poker. The discussion drifted towards the new location of the Gaelic Game and how prone it was to a possible bust. G-Rob eventually offered up the gem, "Yeah, I don't think I'm going to be playing there until they get a new locale."

Fast-forward to Christmas Day. It's evening time, I'm beat to hell after a long day, and I had just put the kids to bed. (There's nothing better than to hear your kids say they got everything they wanted for Christmas as they hit their pillows on the night of the 25th. Nothing.) G-Rob buzzez into my IM about how he's just about to go loony based on the insanity at his house. So much so, that he says he'll be playing at the Gaelic Game tonight at its new location.

"So, the threat of being busted is currently outweighed by your current post-Christmas delirium?" I asked.

"That's right," he typed in a Putty-like way.

I responded with my thoughts comparing his poker playing to smoking and how he'd never give up either. I told him I could give up going to Platinum sooner than he could give up smoking. Not quite apples to apples, but he got the picture.

He cleverly responded, "I bet I could quit smoking longer than you could go without online poker."

Quite a parry, that one. I thought about it and realized that it would be quite a test for me and that the bet would be a fair and even one. With some discussion to the wager-size behind us, we eventually agreed. Starting this morning, the wager is on. BadBlood - no online poker. G-Rob - no smoking, of ANY kind.

Cast your votes in the comments, it's an even money proposition. Our stakes are medium in size so as to avoid unnecessary compromises to friendship, but it's a bet that should hurt a little to pay off. Especially considering the ration of shit the winner will give the loser.

I predict a draw. G-Rob will call me after a few days saying the bet is killing him. I'll agree after being unable to quell my Jones for online poker. The result will be G-Rob driving to my house and lighting up a smoke on my porch right as I log onto Pokerstars and play.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Why I Blog

Brief prelude to the post at hand…

Had an almost great time last night hosting what was probably my final home game for the year.  We had a full table of ten for most of the night, getting a bunch of locals and even one out of town blogger to stop by.  We exchanged dial-a-call-my-money-off’s with TheRooster, text-message-a-shots with the Good Doctor, and simulated posedowns with his brother.

If I didn’t have to fold all night, it would have been a blast.


As I look back upon this year, it’s easy to claim progress in the world of poker.  Profit is higher, for the most part I play a better game than I did last year, and there’s no real reason to think that I can’t continue to make more improvements in ’07.

But, as I often do, I go back a year with this blog and read entries that I wrote in an attempt to determine how my mindset has changed over the previous 12 months.  Some entries are “interesting” with respect to strategy and I laugh at myself for thinking what I thought way back when.

Yet other entries are bothersome.  Not because of their content, but because they are eerily familiar with entries I’ve hesitated to make this year.  The posts I make during downswings are exactly the same thoughts I had a year ago during similar downswings.

And that’s not progress.

It’s that martyrdom creeping into my thoughts.  The “why me” attitude when the suckouts hit.  The “I deserved to win” mentality that’s wholly inappropriate for a truly accomplished player.

I’m dissatisfied with myself for not overcoming that predictable mental state.  I’m bothered by being bothered, if that makes sense.  To me, the Holy Grail of Poker is being able to make the right decision every time, to not allow stray thoughts into your mind such that it corrupts you from making the correct analysis.  Whether you’re winning, losing, or folding the night away, the right decision is still the right decision.  You just have to be able to get to it.  But sometimes, external, unrelated thoughts get in the way.  That’s what I need to eliminate.

The ironic part of all the above is that even if you succeed, you may still lose.  Poker players need to understand that.  They need to know that being right is not always rewarded.  That fundamental concept goes against everything we’re taught as we grow up.  Whether it’s a parent or a teacher or anyone else, we’ve been conditioned to believe that being right and doing the right thing earn their just rewards.  But not in poker.  For me, that’s so hard to overcome, as the need to be “right” is one of my personality flaws.  The negative feedback of losing to the stimulus of making the correct decision is almost abusive in nature to those conditioned to expect the opposite.  This game has proven to be psychological warfare, and I’m waging the war against myself.  I’m often left wondering if it’s a battle I can win.


Certainly, the best part of this blog has been the people I’ve met because of it. The other important part is being able to go back in time and see where I was on this long journey into the realm of poker.  I can’t really see with any clarity where the trip is taking me, but thanks to chronicling my journey, I can at least see where I’ve been.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

G-Vegas Final Player of The Year Standings

The Final year-end tournament took place nearly 3 weeks ago, but that's how long it takes for TheMark to email me the results. Anyway, it was a fun filled year, except for me and my horrible live tourney performance. Still, it was fun organizing the points and standings and I'll be doing it again for 2007.

In the end, what I feel are the three best local tournament players finished in the top 3.

At number 3, MrsAllIn had the lead for much of the year and played in most of the 11 tournaments on the schedule. Unfortunately, in the final tournament, she pulled a BadBlood and got zero points. While disappointing, she can still take solace that she's an extremely solid player and an even better cook.

Long time blogger and online tourney savant, Otis weighs in at number 2. No surprises there really. One wonders had he more time to play in more local events, would he have taken first place. Of the six he played, he cashed in the last 5.

Finally, at number one, it's the prodigy - Wolverine. Backed by the doubling of points in the last tournament, Wolverine took down the finals and player of the year rankings. He earns the cash prize built up from extra $1's taken out of the prize pools during the year. He can grab his prize at the first tourney of '07, the 3rd annual New Year's Day Tourney.

Final standings can be found here:

Final Standings

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Going South

Nah, not the taking money off the table south...just heading down to the sunshine state for a pre-holiday get together with the family. Tonight I'll be packing up the minivan, the vehicle that comes with a free castration, and then at about 3am tomorrow I'll load up the sleeping family and begin the drive.

It's only 778.3 miles of fun. It's somewhat sad that I'll be packing up the GameCube so the kids can play during the ride. But it's either listen to Mario gobble a power up or the fingernails-on-a-chalkboard-like arguing of the mini's. Life's all about choices. I have a loud family.


Speaking of choices, I made the decision to drop down in online limits and play a statistically significant 20,000 hands to reassess my game. Good fucking gravy, I don't think I can put up with it much longer. About 2500 hands into my penance, I've discovered that two-tabling the full 9-handed ring games are the epitome of grinding. Over the course of those hands, I've run into maybe two morans looking to give their money away. Other than that, it's tightbox central. Where did everyone go?

If you combine my live and online bankrolls, then I should just man-up and play the limits that I've shown success at. It would mean transferring some of the live roll to online, and for whatever reason, I'm loathe to do just that. It's just a mental block that I have, a personal pride in not ever having to reload personal cash into the online poker machine since I started this blog in 2004.


I'm reading all the Vegas trip reports with a combination of melancholy, jealousy, and hatred. I kid, but sure wish I had gone. With an ever increasing frequency, I find myself divided by the facets of my life that continually oppose each other. It's similar to the battle fought by relationship-George and single-George.

On one hand, you have family man: the responsible adult who needs to set a good example for his kids and the husband who needs to make sure his wife has everything she needs and wants.

On the other, you have the poker/drinker/socializer: the person who wants to play live poker at least twice a week, the person who wants to head downtown and shoot the shizzle over his gay-tinis with a few friends.

The buildup of tension between these two people will culminate on April 21st, 2008. Because I've decided that for my 40th birthday, I will be in Vegas come hell or high water.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Boot To The Head

This just in from the kicking a man while he's down department:

The scene is GucciRick's Monday night game, once known as the G-Vegas big game back in days of yore when our bankrolls were but a fraction of their current states. One regular player who likes to call himself Tight Passive Tim, sometimes justifiably so, won the first two pots of the night with aggressive check-raises.

"Where's Tight Passive Tim tonight?" I queried into the smoke-filled air above GucciRick's 5-car garage.

"I brought Money-Making Tim tonight boys," he replied with a smile as he stacked his chips.

Fast-forward an orbit or two. Rhett, acting from under the gun, raises Money Making Tim's (MMT) $5 straddle to $20. It's folded around and we hear the words "re-raise."

"All in," says MMT.

Rhett goes into the tank; and since he's to my direct right, allows me to see his hole cards. King Jack of diamonds - hardly worth an all in to many players. But not Rhett who vocally declares, "I think you're on a straight steal."

"How much more is it?" Rhett inquires. MMT had over $200, easily covering Rhett who'd lost a few pots early.

This would be quite a read to put someone on an all-in steal in a cash game, but is the read worth his entire stack? Apparently it is.

MMT tables his pocket Tens and I congratulate Rhett on an amazing call, even though we all know better.

The flop is KJx. The turn brings another K and MMT's stack built on early aggression takes a major hit. You could see the steam come pouring out of MTT's eyeballs. Welcome to Tiltville, population: You.

Undeterred, the very next hand MMT raises pre-flop to $10 and gets called in late position by another player who's name would remind you of the 1974 National League Player who stole 118 bases that year.

The flop comes Jack high and MMT checks. Brock leads out for $20 and MTT pushes leading to one of the funniest lines I'd heard at a poker table in a long time.

Brock asks just as did Rhett one hand earlier, "How much more is it?"

Enter G-Rob, in pure dead pan voice, "Not as much as last time."

Monday, December 11, 2006


Having stayed home this weekend, I managed to get a few things done. You may want to sit down when you read this because hot damn if it ain't exciting shit. Friday after work, I took my son to his basketball practice. He's 6 and has inherited his old man's vertical leap, but doesn't know it yet. Ignorance is bliss. And there's still time to work on his calves. Then afterwards, I went drinking. With the wife of all people. We just hung out at a local restuarant/bar chillin' since we had some free babysitting.

Saturday I was Mr. Fix-it. The basketball hoop, once tilting like a poker player after a one-outer, now stands perfectly vertical and at the appropriate height. Also, I re-screened the trampoline in the back yard. The old one had ripped and was currently unsafe for use. The kids reported it as being more springy after the fact. The wife congratulated me on fixing both things without once cursing or swearing. I actually surprised myself.

Played some online poker too. Yay.

Oh yeah, forgot to mention, had my cell phone ready all weekend. It remained dormant with nary a dial-a-shot. So screw you guys. Yeah you heard me.

I'm still waiting for TheMark to email me the G-Vegas '06 Championship results. Once done, you'll find out who the Player of the Year is. Which reminds me, the 3rd Annual New Year's Day tourney is a go if anyone is around. Should be fun for most everyone but me. Details will eventually migrate out via email. If you're not on the email list, and want to be, just ask. If you're on the list and want off? Well, TFB.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

miniBlood Knows My Game

I was playing in a double shootout, figuring what the heck, last day to qualify for the PCA. I was still in round one, when miniBlood challenges me to a double shootout of his own: Street 3 on the Gamecube, then one on one outside in the driveway. I told him he'd have to wait until this tournament was over.

He replies simply, "Bluff. Go all in with 7-2."

Friday, December 08, 2006


With success comes enthusiasm.

With enthusiasm comes proficiency.

With proficiency come expectations.

With expectations comes frustration.

With frustration come questions.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Coulda, Shoulda, Woulda

Way to bring your online game here to Rick’s – G-Rob

Yeah, it’s sad that I’m leading off another post with a quote from G-Rob.  But quite frankly, I haven’t played much poker with him the last month or so.  It was good to have him back at the Monday game at GucciRick’s.

Alas, ‘twas one of those nights.  I believe I played rather well, in fact, I believe I had the most money put into the pot while ahead last night than I have in a long time.  Turns out I finished up a loser.  Not a big one, less than one buy-in, but a loser nonetheless.  And things started out so well…

On hand #3, after one pre-flop raiser and a caller, I find pocket Queens.  I re-raise and GucciRick goes into the tank his brother has made so famous.  He ends up calling and it folds all around.  The flop is 8-high rainbow, so I bet out.  Rick pushes and I insta-call, putting him on a smaller pocket pair above 8’s, but below Queens.  Tens fit the bill, and he didn’t 2-outer me, so I had a quick double up.

Very next hand.  Very.  More raising, more calling, and I find pocket Kings.  Re-raise!  The original pre-flop raiser from UTG re-raises me and I employ my new found psychic ability to determine he doesn’t have Aces.  So I push.  He calls with AKs.  “I folded an Ace,” comes a comment from one of the folders.  Super.  River.  Suckout.  Stack size:  $200.  Stack size shoulda been:  $600.

Not soon after, and I mean within probably one orbit, I get dealt pocket Tens UTG in a straddled pot.  Raise.  GucciRick calls and G-Rob puts him immediately on Ax, as did I.  The flop was Ten-high with two clubs.  I bet out, but on the weak side, hoping to induce a raise.  I got one.  I pushed.  GucciRick called with his A8 of clubs.  Super. Turn.  Suckout.  River doesn’t pair the board.  Rebuy.  Stack size:  $0.  Stack size shoulda been:  $800.

We’re still in the first hour here.  And yet again, there’s a pre-flop raise from TheMark and I look down to find pocket Queens.  Re-raise, again.  Mark calls.  The flop is 8-high, all spades.  It goes check-check.  Turn is a Ten, I bet close to the pot.  Call.  Super.  River.  Suckout.  Ten.  Check-check.  Mark tables AT, no spades.  I had the Queen of spades.  I gave him the turn card for free, such that he was then drawing to a 3-outer.  Stack size:  $300 (I had won some other pots).  Stack size shoulda been:  $1000.

Later in the evening, I got dealt pocket Kings again, but folded on the turn when the board read AQQx.  Nice board there.  I had pocket Jacks, but folded on a AQTx board.  The last time I had pocket Jacks, I was up against AK.  The flop was K-high.

Still, I only came out of there down less than one buy-in.  But man, to have $1k at that table would have made the whole night a helluva lot more fun.  There would have been so many opportunities to play some big-stack poker, but alas, it just wasn’t meant to be.  On those three suckouts, I did not put one single dime of money into the pot behind.  And for that, I came away feeling that I played better than the final results showed.

Deposits to the equity bank suck.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Lords of Discipline

There are a bunch of definitions for discipline out there.  Here’s mine:  Doing something you don’t want to do, even though you know it’s the right thing to do.

For me personally, discipline is turning down the Krispy Kreme offered to me at breakfast during my daughter’s early morning soccer game.  Discipline is hitting the gym on a Thursday after a late Wednesday night session at the Spring Hotel.  Discipline is folding AJo in EP to a pre-flop re-raise in the early stages of a tournament (fucked up on that one this past Saturday).

And now, discipline for me means dropping down in limits when I play online poker.  Ugh.  I still feel I’m playing well, but I’m getting drawn out on like nobody’s business.  My online bankroll has paid the heavy price and has done its best impersonation of George Contanza’s privates in a pool of chilly water.

It’s no small amount of swallowing pride here.  I worked pretty hard for a long period of time to build the bankroll to support playing in mid-limit NL ring games.  I have made withdrawals to outside investment accounts, and left myself with the requisite twenty buy-ins.  But after the last few weeks, I simply can’t justify playing at those levels without incurring a much higher risk of ruin.

So I’m taking a step down in stakes.  I don’t like it.  In fact, I hate it.  But I know it’s the smart thing to do if I wish to continue to play poker online without supplementing that bankroll with the fruits of my live one.

You read quite often stories of pros that went broke several times before they hit a big enough score to finally keep them permanently afloat.  When I read those stories, I attribute that behavior to the inherent gambling personalities that many of them have.  To be honest, I don’t consider myself much of a gambler.  I’m a bit more calculating and conservative.  It’s that conservatism that will hopefully prevent me from going broke.  But it also may prevent me from that big jump in stakes that many others before me have made.

And that’s OK.


Sadly, I’ll be missing all the bloggery goodness this weekend in Vegas.  I don’t have enough vacation time remaining to make the trip thanks to having to drive to Florida the week after for a parental visit.  Vegas would be a nice way to donk off my swelling live game roll, but I guess that will have to wait.

I will probably be in Tunica in January when the New Year brings back my vacation day supply.  Until then, I hope everyone has a safe, memorable trip.  Take many pics please.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Divided and Conquered

The Saturday before Thanksgiving, Otis and I made our way to the Gaelic game without our G-Vegas comrades G-Rob and TheMark.  During the course of the evening, each of us took turns doubling each other up.  While each pot in question was close to $600, neither of us showed any profit in taking on the other.  Of course, the house rake made out pretty well during our shove-fest.  Pointless chip redistribution among good players is simply the friction that fuels the house fires.  For us players, it’s as Jimmy Johnson would say, “Duh-umb.”

This week, the group was divided.  Otis and G-Rob took on the Tuesday night Gaelic game while TheMark and myself waited until Wednesday to tackle the denizens of The Spring Hotel.  While this divide and conquer strategy may have some long-term benefits to each of our bankrolls, in the short term, it’s most certainly less fun.

What’s also interesting to note too is that the player base is shifting.  No longer will you find the recreational husband and wife team short-buying for their night’s enjoyment.  Some of the “slow” folk and clueless wonders who are more than happy to chase their dominated hands as far as it takes to suckout haven’t been seen in a while.

Some of the regulars who’ve been playing in G-Vegas underground games for far longer than I have were speaking of the “old times.”  They referred to a juicy, downtown $2/$5 game that was run to the ground by both obnoxious and more talented players.  The game used to be populated by the rich, recreational fish players – doctors, lawyers, etc. – who were looking to have some fun.  Their fun and most likely their expendable cash had been taken away and the game died.

I’m hoping it’s just end-of-the-year syndrome where the holidays traditionally put a crunch on everyone’s discretionary budget.  Because all four of us have noticed that the games are getting a bit tighter and the players are getting a bit better.  This week, G-Rob saw two people correctly fold QQ pre-flop.  I saw someone correctly fold TT pre-flop to my early position re-raise.  Also, many of the players currently rounding out the tables are veterans of $400NL and $600NL online games.

The talent level is rising.  Hopefully the new year will bring back the old crowd.

Monday, November 27, 2006

In Place of a Real Post

A true hero would blog about losing too. – G-Rob

No posts in a while, mainly because I haven’t had much to say. If you want to read about my suckage online of late continue on. Otherwise, wait for another day when I may have something interesting. Today, I don’t.

Every four months or so, they come around. It’s obviously cyclical and only occurs when I’m at all-time highs in bankroll. Even though this is probably the fourth or fifth time crap like this happens, it’s still annoying as all hell.

Flop the second nut flush, pot-sized bets, 4th spade on the river. Payoff wizard – activate!
Flop top-two, money goes in, runner-runner flush.
Pocket K’s. Pocket Q’s. Q on turn. Payoff wizard – activate!
Flop a set of K’s. 64d loves his hand draw enough to put me all in. River = diamond.

There are more, but I can’t afford all the $1 I now owe y’all.

It got so bad that on Sunday this hand came up. But first, let me remind you about my lovely bride, MrsBlood, and her perpetual curse on my poker playing ability. I still love her though. I just need her to be in a different zip code in order to have the cards fall my way. Lucky in love, blah, blah, fucking blah.

Pocket Kings. MrsBlood says, “See, I am good luck.” Cue music from Jaws.

I raise and get two callers. The flop is TJQ, two diamonds. EP guy leads out and bets pot. What do I do?


Yep, that’s right, I just folded the hand right there. My two opponents got it all in on the flop. The sad part is that I was ahead, way ahead. I was up against AQo and KTo. I only needed to dodge 5 outs cumulatively. Any Queen (2), and Ten (2) and the case King. Other than that, I can’t lose.

Some of the better cash game players would say, “Jeez Blood, bad fold right there.”

When the Ten hit the river and I didn’t lose a 3 buy-in pot, I knew right then and there that I had just become psychic. And as anyone who’s played for a while knows, you cannot beat a psychic.

Now comes the really hard part: Using my powers for good and not evil.


Meaningless dream sequence with no relation to poker whatsoever, but I thought summed up my last few days of poker bad luck:

It’s the days before I’m married. At least I hope. I’m in the process of negotiating a threesome with two random hot chicks. I’m in some hotel room away from home and I’m not even really pushing that hard for them to partake. Maybe in this dream I’m a little gay.

So anyway, I like to think that I’m using the no-pressure approach, one that will coax them into agreeing without seeming so desperate for it. You know, kind of like a bluff.

Much to my surprise, they both eventually said OK. But they had to do some girly girl stuff first. Not sure what that is, but they had to leave for a moment. They said they’d come back soon.

For whatever reason, the door to my hotel room was open. For the purposes of this dream story, let’s call the software product that I work on professionally “XYZ Software.” All of the sudden, two random co-workers who now work in offsite locations see me inside my hotel room. What better time to barge right in and start asking extremely unimportant questions about “XYZ?”

“Hey, can I do this with XYZ?”

“Hey, it would be great if XYZ had this feature.”

Out of the corner of my eye, I see the two random hot chicks come back from their interlude of girly-girl pre-ménage a troi things, whatever they may be.

As soon as they see me talking shop with two random fucktards, they leave. Never to be seen again.

Bad beat. Even in my subconscious.

Friday, November 17, 2006


Every now and again, it’s good to take a step back and enjoy things for what they are.  If you’ve read these pages regularly, you’d know about how the G-Vegas home game, once a flourishing weekly event, had nearly died a slow, painful death.  What started as a $30 max buy-in game had grown to $50 and then to $100.  As the buy-in grew, the player base shrank.  The attempt to make the game more serious to some players made the game inaccessible to others.  The dispersion of player-types had been accelerated by the growth in stakes, and by the summer of 2006, the game was for all intents and purposes dead.

The Gaelic Game and The Spring Hotel Game provided the much sought after action to some of the successful regulars.  Occasionally, one or two players from the former crowd would take a shot at the $200 games around town, but not frequently enough to be considered a regular.

Harkening back to the game of a year ago, last night was the first .25/.50 blind game played in G-Vegas for quite some time at Casa de G-Rob.  And you know what?  It was fun.

It was fun to have TeamScottSmith back at the table.  It was fun seeing Shep Tiltstein again.  Even Random101 made an appearance, cashing out the big winner.  Nine players – we haven’t had nine players at a home game in ages.

Sure the stakes were less than what G-Rob and I have been playing lately.  Still, we took the game seriously and had a good time.  The positive EV of having good company at the poker table is often overlooked.  Last night I was reminded of that.

Thursday, November 16, 2006


Quoting myself from nearly two years ago:

Then it happened. I’ll never forget it. Reading through, I noticed a text add placed by a poker blogging site: I clicked on over to Iggy’s site and began to read.

To say what would follow in the years and months to come was not life changing would be lying to myself.  It has been, in many subtle and not-so-subtle ways.


Each time I’ve met Iggy, he’s surprised me; but not until much after the fact.  He doesn’t like to share much about himself, but if you listen closely enough, you may be able to glean something significant about the man that remains shrouded under the legend of being impossibly uber and diminutive at the same time.

One of my own characteristics that has lead me to do fairly well in poker and in life is to operate under the default behavior of giving other people respect.  I don’t walk around with the attitude that someone has to earn my respect.  I either let them keep it from the beginning or lose it later on down the line.  Same thing at the poker table.  I’ll give a table of unknowns credit for being competent; that is, until they prove otherwise.

So when I met Iggy for the first time, we got to chat a bit at the now legendary Sherwood Forest Bar at the Excalibur.  I can’t honestly tell you how long the conversation lasted, but during that time, Iggy kept my respect.  Just as he’s done each subsequent meeting.


Actions speak louder than words.  Last January, while in Tunica, I had just chopped a satellite to the $1k WSOP Circuit event that was scheduled for the next day.  I had in my possession a $500 lammer.  Unfortunately for me, I would have preferred the cash.

I sat down at a $4/$8 table watching Iggy methodically and with deadly precision tilt the entire table.  Especially Tuscaloosa Johnny.  But also during that time, after he heard of my chop, Iggy offered to stake me the second $500 required to play in the event.  I politely declined, feeling that it was a waste of his money to do so.  But that was the first time anyone has made such an offer to me.  I was taken aback.  After I told him about preferring the cash, Iggy simply pulled out $500 and purchased the lammer from me.

I would only learn later that he had already bought into the $1k event and really had no need for the pink WSOP chip.  He was really just helping me out.  Just another poker player traveling the same road he’s already been down.  I won’t forget that gesture.  Ever.


I’m not sure anyone but Iggy knows what’s going to happen to Guinness and Poker.  But let’s not mourn the passing.  Collectively, we all owe something to that site and the man behind it.  And with each of us who’ve fostered our own group of readers and found our own voice in the ‘sphere, we can keep the torch burning.  And even if we choose not to, you can rest assured someone will.

Life happens in cycles.  Even in our own small virtual world of poker blogging, we see it.  Blogs appear, blogs disappear, and every now and then a new group of talent takes the lead at the helm.  The New Wave of Poker Bloggers, like Hoyazo, Jordan, CC, and many others who offer giant wads of content, will pick up any slack that appears when one of the Old Guard shuts it down or loses interest.


A hoist, then, of one final Guinness to Ignatious J. Reilly.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Live Action Post-Mortem

With respect to my manliness, or lack thereof, regarding my pre-pokering drink of choice, I had to make a change. The comments have finally got to me. My shield, my armor, they have been eroded by the steady, unyielding onslaught of comments by my fellow bloggers, G-Vegas-ites, and random passersby. The gay-tini was no more.

What took its place, you ask? Well, PFChang’s has something called the Szechuan Mary. It’s a rather spicy Bloody Mary and comes laden with green olives and chilly peppers. I was calling it the Bloody Szechuan, which unfortunately sounds too similar to a dirty Sanchez. So Szechuan Mary it is. Now go make fun of Otis, he had a dirty Grey Goose. It was skanky in fact. I wish I were man enough to drink one.


The G-Vegas 4 were short one member last night. To find out why, head on over here. Surely just a bump in the road for him, G-Rob will be back sooner than even he thinks. As an aside, during his Spring/Summer heater, I was convinced G-Rob’s game had transcended everyone else’s. Like all poker players, I have a poker ego. I was content to put it aside, however, and just sit back and learn. He was simply that good. Hopefully, I’ll have a chance to return the favor, as the changes to my game based on watching G-Rob this summer have really turned things around for me.

TheMark, late as usual, regaled us with tales of another local higher stakes game that he played in last week. A $5/$10 uncapped game. He was there last week and casually mentioned that at least $25k was on the table at one time. I smiled, thinking that someday, if I get lucky enough, I could one day join him. For now, my bankroll says $1/$2 or $2/$5. As soon as TheMark mentioned that he purchased on X-Box 360, Otis interrupted what was sure to be a dork-filled conversation by saying, “Let’s go play some poker.” So we did.

When we sat down at the Gaelic Game, we were notified that this game too was now uncapped. Amusingly, nobody bought in for more that $200. Things started off well when on hand #2, I stacked a short-buyer when my KK held over his JJ. It’s usually hard for me to win early and maintain focus. Last night was no exception.


I took a beat early. And at first I was upset. I had pocket Tens in the big blind. With what seemed like 18 limpers, I raised the pot to $20 pre-flop. I got one caller. The flop was 287, and I bet over half the remaining stack of my opponent. He pushed with 97o and caught running 5,6. Like I said, I was a bit upset. But as I looked at my opponent, I felt a hint of pity.

There’s no room for pity at the poker tables. But this guy, judging from his behavior and his overall demeanor, just had “loser” written all over him. He wasn’t going to be winning money any other way than to get his money in behind and suckout. In fact, he destroyed someone else when he called all-in, yes called all-in, for over $300 on an open-ended straight draw. The other player with pocket Kings never had a chance. Inside, I smiled, knowing that he was a player that fueled the game. A player that got lucky every now and then. A player, that when he did get lucky, most likely thought he played well that night. It’s a love/hate relationship with these players. We loan them money in brief spurts so that they will continue to donate over the long term.

I was upset to see those Kings get cracked, because the guy who lost with them left, taking his slutty-looking girlfriend with him. There’s nothing like having a crack-whore parade around in a cutoff shirt with her back tattoo exposed.


Sometimes, at these games, people steam. I have, I will again. It is unfortunate though when you see someone steam, get lucky, and then get paid off. WitchProject was one such player. Normally, he’s solid, if a bit predictable. But last night, after blowing through two buy-ins rather quickly, he caught an inside straight draw on the turn and took a buy-in from Otis.

And that pissed me off a bit too. Otis was directly to my left. His mood throughout the evening was more positive than I’d seen in a while. We were having fun. That suckout seemed to take some of the wind out of his sails and he left earlier than anticipated.


In the category of playing the player, I limped with T9o and flopped trips. Against savvy opponents, I’d probably bet out. But against a field of donkeys, slow-playing is still a very viable option. We checked around on the flop. The turn brought a 9 and I had the nuts. I smooth called a $20 lead out and one player behind came along as well. The river brought an 8, completing both a flush and a straight draw. I still had the nuts. The player who led the turn, led the river for $40. I raised to $140 and after one fold, the EP player pushed. Easy call. He had pocket 8’s.


I’m still a loser at the Gaelic Game. But last night certainly helped. What’s even better, I didn’t have to rely on the Procedure to win.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The Genius of Silence

The scene is a $50NL 2-7TD table on Stars. I had already more than doubled my buy-in and was just waiting around for some decent cards to play. Of course, Triple Draw hands can take a bit of time so I'm doing some light non-pr0n browsing while I wait.

Another player at the table had just won a pot to bring his stack up to about $75. During the hand that just finished, said player stood pat for the final two draws; and when it came time for showdown, he typed into the chat box "You lose" to his opponent prior to his hand being shown.

He was correct. His opponent who had been drawing one the last two rounds paired his five on the last draw. The trash-talker felt quite content with his A2346. "Hmmm," I thought to myself, "This jackass has no idea that Aces are high."

The other player who bricked up with his pair pulled perhaps one of the wisest moves I've ever seen online. He simply replied to the idiot by typing, "Nice hand, bro." Wow. Nobody else at the table said anything either. I began to drool just a little.

Two hands later, I'm dealt a pat 76532. It's the number 3, in 2-7 speak. Ace High Idiot pre-flop raises and I re-raise, honestly expecting a fold. He calls and draws two. I overbet the pot. He calls. And then stands pat. With one draw to go, I put him all in. He calls. And then stands pat.

His A2569 was no good.

Like I told G-Rob last night, this 2-7TD is free money at this point. Get in before the players get good. My unsustainable, insane +66.7 PTBB/100 hands can't last. Can it?

Monday, November 13, 2006


Update: I just noticed what happened to Pauly's Tao of Poker site. He got hi-jacked by some Absolute Poker affiliate and at this point nobody from Absolute Poker is helping out. I'd like to hope Absolute will make things right with him, but until then, I'd recommend avoiding giving them any business. You just don't mess around with the good Dr.


As is customary, I did not cash in the G-Vegas HORSE event. With 5k in starting chips, I never saw 6k. I did last longer than Otis though. But that's only because he took a sick beat when he flopped a set of Queens. His opponent flopped top two with AQ and an Ace hit the river. Stupid limit poker....stupid*.

I managed to tilt myself hard afterward by trying to round up a cash game. Managed to get four players after extreme coercion of one reluctant guy. Then I proceeded to get rivered twice for big pots and then half the players kept getting up to go watch the end of the Florida - Carolina game. So, I had to simply leave. Wasn't feelin' it. The tilt was magnified by the fact that my daughter decided to score her first goal of the soccer season during today's game, the one that I missed to play HORSE. Hello Mr. Guilt-trip, I'd like a one way ticket to Shootmyself.

I had thoughts of heading to the Gaelic Game and meeting up with G-Rob there, but the whole "not feelin' it" vibe kept lingering around. So I stayed home with the Mrs., even though she and the kids went to bed early. I hung around online playing the new PL2-7 triple draw on stars. I'm up a few buy-ins already, and it's already a fun and interesting new game. I'm sure half the fun is me being up.


It's funny. As a cash game player, there aren't really many watershed moments. A tournament player will have those big cashes to celebrate, but the cash game player just hopefully makes steady progress. Sometimes you can't see how well you're doing without looking very far back to see where you were months ago.

That's why setting long-term goals is so important. You can chart progress that way, and even during the down-swings, you can properly assess their overall impact towards hitting your goal. So I'm officially going to jinx myself right here.

My yearly goal (which has been the same each year) of doubling last year's winnings has been officially met. Amazingly, I'm closer to tripling last year's winnings; with a little luck in the last month and a half, I will.

Stay tuned for coming posts wherein I lament my momentary lapse of taunting the poker gods with tales of success. I would guess that post will come as early as tomorrow, but we'll see.

* That's a reference to one Mr. Mo Vaughn, who during one interview on Boston radio forgot he was still mic'd. His famous quote was "Stupid Boston fans....stupid."

Friday, November 10, 2006

Saturday in G-Vegas

With HORSE being the new hold 'em, G-Vegas had to finally adapt. On Saturday, TheMark will be hosting a HORSE tourney, the first of its kind here in the land of palmettos. TheMark will be using his new Bellagio-replica ceramic chips that arrived last weekend.

Should be fun.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The Oddities of a Solo Rage

I ended up folding. The play of the villain stank of the $25NL games I used to play in regularly. Passive play, limping, and if you eventually managed to hit the nuts, JAM. In the end, I figured I was beat. The villain had no concept of a value bet, because I would have paid off a pot-sized bet on the river. Easily. I got most of his money later.


So it was Election Tuesday, and the G-Vegas 4 were not to play together for the first time in weeks. Still, as is BadBlood's wont, a poker night is not to be wasted. It was with little anticipation that I made my way to Chang's, flying solo. It was rainy, as it seems to always be, and I walked into the bar. Prior to sitting down, I hit up the restroom, and when I finally got to an empty seat at the bar, a dirty Grey Goose martini was waiting for me.


Still early, the bar was not crowded. The waitress asked me if I wanted to put my order in for lettuce wraps; I told her I was going with the Hot 'n Sour soup instead. "Good choice," she replied and my evening was off to a fine start. There was one other patron sitting next to me. We exchanged small talk, both of us upset at the news of K-Fed's impending loss of access to what was at one point the finest ass in show business. Sucks to be him.

The bartendress refilled my drink as the talk shifted to Outback Steakhouse's parent company selling its business. Apparently, they own Carabas and other fine establishments. I told whomever was listening about the Bonita Spring's Carabas in Florida and their 5pm Happy Hour. Two-for-one drinks. A wink and a nod later, and my Chang's bill was absent one martini.


It was still too early to head to the game, and I was done with my Chang's experience. At the Gaelic game, I'm currently a loser - five sessions and only once on the plus side. I needed to remedy the situation. I called upon The Procedure. With apologies to Chris Jericho, I've never....EVER...lost at poker when following The Procedure. I don't know why, but I don't care either. It just works. With that plan in mind, I made my way to the land of two dollar bills.

I don't need to spend much time nor much money there. A simple, standard dance will do. As I was double fisting some Coors Light, I felt a tap on my shoulder. Much to my surprise, it was my fellow PF Chang's bar mate who I'd met an hour earlier. Great minds apparently think alike. His excuse was that traffic was too busy to even consider a drive back to his home town near Charlotte. My excuse was that I needed to win at poker. "Hugh" and I continued the small talk, made even smaller by the approach of two entertainers. Satisfying my criteria, I partook of the offer made to me; The Procedure was in full effect.

Two nameless songs later, I left and drove the rainy drive down to the Gaelic Game. I sat at the main table, with the Spring Hotel Steel Lady fan dealer. Meg brought me a Red Bull and Vodka without any prompting.


I played an OK game, winning and losing pots with bluffs. The cards were dry. I won the blinds with Aces. I had Kings once and my re-raise pre-flop got Crispin to lay down pocket Jacks face up, apparently tired of losing pots to me. Jeff was there too. He played normally, oddly enough, at least for a while. He became bored and lapsed into Jeff-mode, placing $50 into the pot pre-deal. I was UTG and woke up with Queens. I limped.

Folded to the player on Jeff's left, he called for $50. I pushed. Jeff called blind and the other guy wilted under my pressure. Jeff had T3o. Even though he turned a ten, I found a way to not lose the hand. And that's basically all the poker I can remember. I had nothing, zip, nada. Still, I walked out of there near 2am with an extra $262 in my pocket.

The Procedure remains flawless. Long live The Procedure.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

What's Your Move?

Information about villian: He bought in short to the table and played what I would call a weak/passive game. Small bets at orphan pots, seldom re-raising pre-flop.

I called the pre-flop re-raise hoping for a smooth call from UTG and that's what I got. I also hit my set. I don't understand the smooth call of my turn raise. He either has KK, QQ, AT or a complete bluff. At least that's what I put him on. QQ makes the most sense - it fits a pre-flop re-raise and a check on the K-high flop. The raise I made on the turn may be regarded as a bluff, so calling with QQ there isn't a bad play either. It hit the "TIME" button on this one. I'll post next with what I did.

The taunting for me to call was certainly an influence on my action.

PokerStars Game #6903198019: Hold'em No Limit ($2/$4) - 2006/11/05 - 11:02:26 (ET)
Table 'Mensa IV' 6-max Seat #6 is the button
Seat 2: villain ($495.50 in chips)
Seat 3: badblood44 ($721.45 in chips)
Seat 5: UTG($393.80 in chips)
Seat 6: UTG+1 ($79.80 in chips)
villian: posts small blind $2
badblood44: posts big blind $4
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to badblood44 [7d 7s]
vinho1: folds
UTG: raises $8 to $12
villian: raises $8 to $20
badblood44: calls $16
UTG: calls $8
*** FLOP *** [Kd 7h 3d]
villian: checks
badblood44: checks
UTG: checks
*** TURN *** [Kd 7h 3d] [Jc]
villain: bets $12
badblood44: raises $28 to $40
UTG: folds
villain: calls $28
*** RIVER *** [Kd 7h 3d Jc] [Qh]
villain: bets $435.50 and is all-in
villain said, "no luck."
villain said, ":)"
villain said, "I bluf"
badblood44 said, "you hit QQ?"
villain said, "aha :)"
villain said, "no 23"
villain said, ":)"
villain said, "play"
villain said, ":)"

Friday, November 03, 2006

Inquiring Minds

Inquiring minds, inquiring minds…..

The policy at the Spring Hotel states that 80% of the jackpot is given to the player and 20% is reserved for seeding the next one.  When I walked into the game on Wednesday, the dry erase board on the refrigerator said “1803.”  As there were two tables running, that number was slightly outdated.  When all was said and done, I received 1498 play money chips.  I tipped the Steel Lady fan $50 and kept the rest in play.  Because I could.


One side item.  When I won the jackpot, I have to say that I was incredibly pumped.  Otis did not lie in the comments below the previous post.  But the thing that really made the event for me was my three friends high-fiving me in a genuine display of congratulatory enthusiasm for my win.  We’re all poker players, to be sure.  But even more than that, we’re all good friends first and foremost.  There was no jealousy or envy, just genuine smiles and cheering on my behalf.  It’s hard to describe, but that memory will surely stay with me more than any other.  I wish I had a can of Bud Light handy so I could say in quite an unmanly tone….”Sniff…I love you guys!”


When things finally calmed down, I still had work to do.  Crispin, after having been dealt such a cruel blow to his chip stack, took things incredibly well.  He complimented me for two things.  First, he was actually glad I didn’t slow play him.  He’s seen cases where jackpot winners have given the remaining players in the hand a break by not betting because they were happy with just the jackpot.  I confided that I thought my push was my way of letting him off easy, because I figured he’d fold.  But still, a poker player’s code of ethics dictates winning as much as you can, and Crispin could appreciate that.  He also commented about keeping all of the jackpot money in play.  I told him that it would be silly not to.  Why not take full advantage of a big stack?

Deep down, in my poker brain, I still said to myself “Hey, you’re still down.  If it weren’t for the jackpot, you’d still be down about $300.”  So, it became my mission to use the jackpot stash to build my way back to being profitable.


And build it I did.  When you have $1800 in front, and most everyone else is hovering around $200-400, you have quite a hammer.  You can put people to the test if you’re good at reading people.  G-Rob is a master at this.  He will take risks early to build a stack then use it to crush the table.  The success of that strategy all hinges on being able to build that stack and lately it’s been hit or miss for him.  But still, that’s his forte and I like to think that I’ve learned a small bit of that strategy simply from watching him work his magic this past summer.

One thing you do have to look out for are players who have your stack targeted for doubling up.  That’s how I usually operate when I’m the small stack.  The big stacks become the prey.  Sadly, at the Spring Hotel, few people even consider this at all.  Otis, however, knew all about this and was waiting for me to get just a bit too big for my britches.  Gladly, I knew he knew, and after he check-raised me when I had air, I was forced to stay out of pots with him.  But that’s Otis, as you all know.

Still, because the table was still populated with enough of the “other” types of players, I was able to bully a few people out of pots and build my stack even further.  It takes money to make money, as they say.  The beauty of the massive stack is that nobody can put pressure on you.  Their fold equity against you is diminished; that is, if you’re the type of player who doesn’t nurse a profit.  I like to think that I don’t.  In fact, I’m perhaps one of the greediest bastards at the table that you’ll ever meet.  I don’t show it on the outside, but I am constantly looking for opportunities to take all the money available.  It’s a constant balance between bludgeoning others with a big stack and being wary enough to know when others are setting you up.  It’s a completely different brand of poker.  I don’t often get the chance to play with stacks like that, but every now and then it takes things to a whole other level.

So much so, that whenever I have a huge stack to work with, I try to memorize the mindset I’m in.  The total confidence that the stack gives you should be something I can call upon when I’m losing and forced to play a different style of poker.  It’s an amazing contrast between the two levels of confidence that I feel at the table.  I am of the opinion that the confidence factor should be constant and not simply determined by your current session’s profit level.  In reality, mine isn’t and I’d like to eventually get to where it is.

Thursday, November 02, 2006


I was playing rather poorly.  I wasn’t on tilt, I was just playing my cards to ensure maximum damage to my stack.  After donating a little more than 2 ½ buy-ins, I was sitting with a lowly $150 in seat three.  My spirits weren’t bad; after all, I was here with the Big4 of G-Vegas.  It was another well-planned Wednesday, where after a few drinks at a local watering hole complete with a session of “Playing Pool With Morons”, we all hit the black felt at the Spring Hotel together.  “Oh well,” I thought to myself, “can’t win every time.”

I was in early-ish position, perhaps UTG+2.  I still believe that if you want to play a pot, it’s best to come in for a raise than limp.  I still had close to a buy-in in front of me, so when I looked to see 89d for my hole cards, I made it $11 to go.  The semi-solid player to my left, named Crispin, called as did one other late position player.

The flop came.  It was 6dTdQc.  If you’re like me, you love that flop.  I’ve got an incredibly well concealed double belly buster straight draw as well as a flush draw.  I was of the belief that the flop hit me pretty well.  So I led out for $20 and Crispin smooth called.  LP folded and the turn came.  It was the 3 of clubs.  Whoosh.  That was the sound of me missing my draw.

I hated to, but I checked the turn.  Time to see if Crispin was made.  Apparently, he wasn’t.  He checked the turn too and I got to see the river for free.  There it was.  The seven.  Of diamonds.

I wish I could see my own face when it hit, to see if I gave anything away.  I figured Crispin for a fold, but based on other circumstances, I didn’t care to extract any more value from him on this hand.  I pushed my remaining $125 or so into the pot and he insta-called.  Poor bastard.  He had AJd for the nut flush.

Debate ensued as to whether you can call the Ace-high flush the nut flush when there’s a straight flush that beats it.  There are two schools of thought.  First, a straight flush is a better flush than the Ace high and should be called the nut flush.  However, others claim that the straight flush is a separate hand in and of itself, beating a full house and quads – something a normal flush cannot do.

I didn’t give a rat’s ass.  Sure I doubled up and won a nice pot.  But I didn’t care about that either.  Why?

Because at the Spring Hotel, there’s not only rake taken out of the pot, but also an additional dollar.  For the jackpot.  Which is triggered any time someone hits a straight flush to the Ten or higher.

Like I just did.

Next up:  BSP – Big Stack Poker

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

More Cash Game Musings

In the last three months, my NL cash game has made some measurable improvements.  I’m playing live tonight, and I’m sure I’ll regret posting some of the new tactics that have helped me out.  Not because anybody reading this will care or use it against me, but because I’m bound to have bad results.  You know how it goes, get all high and mighty about improving your game and have a bad session to bring you back down.  But screw it; I’m posting anyway.


As we all know, poker is a game of incomplete information.  Gathering information about your opponents holding is the goal of the game.  This data helps you make the proper decisions and yada, yada, yada.  But how much value is there to providing your opponent with mis-information?  Tons.

Thanks to implied odds and being relatively deep stacked, if you’re holding any two playable cards, you might as well come in for a raise if you have position and are first into the pot.  By playable, I mean two cards working together.  This even applies to suited gappers.  The beauty is that if you miss your flop, it’s very easy to lay these hands down.  I’d rather play 23s from the button than A7o.  And by play, I mean raise.

Case in point.  I’m on the button with 74s.  It’s folded to me, so I raise.  Both blinds call.  The flop is 942 rainbow and it gets checked to me.  Often times, it’s correct to make a continuation bet in a cash game.  I chose to take a free card this time, mainly because I can’t call a check-raise and also because while that flop looks innocuous, it could have easily hit either of my two opponents.

The turn is an 8 and the SB bets out.  The BB folds and I call.  I call because the player in the SB is aggressive and I’m guessing he’s putting me on missing the flop, at least at this juncture.  I said in the last paragraph that the flop could have hit my opponents.  But with one folding and the fact that the one leading out has been very aggressive, I can open up the possibility that he’s just floating with two over cards.

The river is a 7 giving me two-pair.  At this point, the SB pushes and I call, cracking his pocket Kings.  He had no idea what I was holding, I’ll grant you that.  I’ll also grant that I got lucky and hit my river card.  But the crux of the matter is him pushing all-in with no real clue as to my holding.


When your opponent is aggressive, many players will lapse into passive play hoping to lure in the maniac by slow-playing strong hands.  But good aggressive players understand that and know how to fold when played back at.  Bad aggressive players, however, have trouble with opponents who play back at them by showing even more aggression.  They’re used to dictating action and when they can’t, their game crumbles.

I was pretty sure I put my opponent on tilt when I cracked his Kings.  He even typed “I bet $20 on the turn, tard” into the chat box.  I cheered for him simply by replying “Yay,” because nobody ever bluffs in hold ‘em.  So when I was dealt pocket Jacks, I let him dig his own grave.  On a ten-high flop, aggro-man bets half his stack and I raise him all in.  His KTo doesn’t hold up and he bolts from the table.

There are live players we play with who are the same way.  Top pair is gold and they’re willing to go to the well with it.  But as soon as you play back with a raise, they get confused and wonder where they went wrong.  Their smashmouth game of poker locks them into one gear and they just don’t know how to slow down.


I think every poker player needs to know how powerful position is.  It may be the most powerful of game conditions – more powerful than starting cards, more powerful than bet size.  The accumulation of information that position provides you is invaluable.

Early position renders strong hands like AK and AQ nearly unplayable.  That’s a bit strong to say, but if you raise in the SB with AKo, get 3 callers and miss the flop (as you will more often than not), where do you go?  Again, it’s a tough hand to play.  But on the button, things change drastically.

Two nights ago, I was dealt pocket Kings on the button.  The cutoff raised 4x the BB and I just called.  Smooth called.  Why?  Because I had position.  I don’t need to give my opponent a feel for the strength of my hand at this point.  My hand strength is huge and my position is unbeatable, why squander the opportunity to feed my opponent mis-information or at least hold some back?

We’re two to the flop and it’s King-high with two clubs.  For whatever reason, I’m putting my opponent on a big pocket pair, which means I don’t have to worry about the flush draw yet.   I call the continuation bet, again yielding no information whatsoever about my hand.  The turn is the Jack of clubs.  I don’t have the King of clubs so I’m cautious now.  However, I again just decide to call my opponents turn bet.  I am seriously thinking of laying the hand down if the board 4-flushes, but at this point, I’m gambling a bit by just calling.

The river is a non-club and my opponent leads out for 2/3rds his stack.  I raise him all in and he calls with pocket Jacks.  I’m not sure I win as big of a pot if I re-raise pre-flop which I normally would if I were out of position.  It might turn out that way though because he turned his set.  But the point I’m trying to make is that my hand was so huge because of position that I didn’t need to augment its strength by re-raising pre-flop.  I felt that I was giving too much away by doing so.


Of course, these hands all had good results and I’m trying not to let that sway my view.  But to be fair, I’ve used these concepts on a consistent basis the last three months and the overall results show that my game has either made measurable improvements or I’m just running uber-lucky (last Tuesday not withstanding).  

Bottom line is that I’ll take either.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Saturday Afternoon In the Drunk Tank

It was an odd gathering of circumstances that led me to play in Saturday’s freeroll.  In the morning, I logged onto Stars and played a few hands of $200NL while I drank my coffee.  My daughter had a soccer game at 1:15 and I was just killing time before I had to go shower.  Out of nowhere, I wondered when the monthly freeroll for VIP members was scheduled.  A few clicks and then, “Hey, it’s today!”

The registration didn’t open up until an hour prior to starting, and at first glance, I thought the maximum number of registrants was only 1000.  I figured if I hurried back from the soccer game, I could register in time.  I had nothing planned for the evening since most of my friends were up camping in the mountains of North Carolina.  Note to readers:  I am not a camper.  Blood need couch, TV, shower and access to pr0n.  Ugh.

After a successful viewing of my daughter’s soccer game where I had to sit in a beach chair on the sidelines and strenuously cheer for her success, I got back home in time to register.  Not soon after, I realized that the max entrees was 10,000 not 1000.  Then I realized that the pay level started at 243 with a whopping $3.  Anything short of the final table was going to be a monumental waste of time.  But rather than be pessimistic, I took the opportunity to work on my struggling tournament game.

My first hand of the tournament, I was dealt pocket Kings.  Nice start.  Well, maybe.  The classic pocket magnets attracted the Ace high flop.  But I managed to win a medium-sized pot when my opponent bluffed the river.  His check on the turn told me he didn’t have an Ace.  I was right and we were off.

Now, the important stuff.  In hour number one, my alcoholic beverage of choice was a Bloody Mary, recipe courtesy of Shep Tiltstein.  It uses a clamato juice base rather than straight tomato juice.  Go ahead, say clamato out loud.  My wife hates the sound of it.  It seems almost menstrual.  But it tastes damn good.  Add in some Lawry’s seasoning, Chalula sauce, Worcester, garlic salt and pepper and I’m in spicy heaven.  It’s no wonder I finished hour number one as the chip leader.

I took the lead thanks to the freeroll moron.  You know the type.  Push nearly every hand and obtain a massive chip lead.  He doubled me up when my pocket 9’s overcame his 74s.  Then, he tripled me up when his A2 failed to suck out on my AK.  A poor bastard with pocket Jacks called two all-ins, but didn’t hold.

Hour number two beverage of choice?  A glass of Shiraz.  I like wine.  Sue me.  I especially like how you can mispronounce Shiraz.  “I like the way Shiraz tastes on my tongue.”  See, that’s funny shit to me.  But the alcoholic content was somewhat diluted because after hour number two, I was in 15th position.

Hour number three saw me open a bottle of Diet Heineken.  It tastes decently enough like regular Heineken, but the reduced caloric content allows me to maintain my current notch on my belt.  Sometimes though, I feel bloated after drinking it.

During the third break, I really, really, really had to go to the bathroom.  So much so, that I didn’t have time to make my signature Grey Goose dirty martini.  I was going to finish off this sucker with my pinky extended, sipping out of my thin-stemmed beverage wear.  Sadly, I had to redo hour number three’s beverage and go with Diet beer from Holland.

I survived the fourth hour and we were at the final table, only five handed.  I had come into the final table as chip leader, but the average stack size was dwindling to M-values of ten or less.  But luckily, during the break, I was able to shake up my Grey Goose concoction and sip that thing to victory.  There’s not much more manly about poker than sipping a drink and pushing virtual chips into the pot.  Nothing.

And so hours later, I took home a very legally obtained $468 because I had not wagered a cent.  Suck it Frist!

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Lol, donkaments

I am your October Silverstar VIP monthly freeroll CHAMPION!!!

That's right up there with me being the 3rd weekly August of 2002 Mr. Solaris down in Cancun. Except I had to beat more donkeys in the tournament.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Failure Response

There’s something inside me that cannot stomach failure whether it’s through being unprepared or through being simply outmatched.  I can’t explain it very well, but I have such extremely high expectations of myself in any endeavor that I take seriously, that failure motivates me to find a way to succeed.  Somehow.

Some people are hyper-competitive with others.  I’m hyper-competitive with myself.  Poker and weightlifting are the only activities that have survived my ever-decreasing free time lifestyle consolidation.  Each is a solo activity wherein you measure success against your own personal goals and aspirations.  A perfect fit.


Each new instance of poker tilt to me represents failure.  Tuesday night was one of my worst, if not THE worst, failures I’ve had.

My reaction?  I want to get right back on the horse and succeed.  Once I’m able to regroup, I hope once again to overcome the hurdle I’ve placed in front of myself.

And succeed.  Until of course, the next time I fail.


I wrote the above on Wednesday after my horrible session on Tuesday.  We played $200NL at Gucci Rick’s last night and I recouped ¾ of my losses.  I feel much better about my play, only making what I’d call two marginal mistakes – loose calls on the river.

It’s nice to be able to recover so soon after that debacle.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Resonant Frequency

When random events occur in certain sequences, I find myself unable to make proper mental adjustments.  Let me give you an example.  Take your average, run-of-the-mill, pair vs. pair confrontation where the odds of you winning pre-flop are 4:1.

If my results occur in this type of manner, WWLWWLWWWWWLWWW, I can handle it.  If my results occur this way instead, WWWWWWWWLLLWWWW, the string of 3 consecutive losses is amplified.  It makes me ignore the 8 previous wins and dulls the redemption of the 4 subsequent ones.  I hate streaks.


From late July through the first week of October, I had my yearly rush.  I managed to eclipse my year-end goal by October.  Some G-Vegas-ites would say G-Rob handed it off to me as he came off of his.  Maybe that’s true.  Otis wrote about wanting it back for he’s gone the longest without it.  Well, I hope he has enough quickness to dive on the ball, because in the last week, I’ve fumbled.


Last night, at the Gaelic Game (Underground Game 2), it was a series of events that transpired that left me unable to play poker any longer.  I actually left the game before 10pm, down four buy-ins in an embarrassing display of shit-tastic poker.

1.  There’s a certain player in G-Vegas, not a blogger in case you were wondering, who plays tournament poker during a cash game.  He short buys, and then limps, and if it’s raised, he decides he has to push.  Heaven forbid he play post-flop poker.  He’s done this time and time again, and last night his zero-implied-odds strategy forced me to fold what would have been a winning hand.  Sure I need to adjust to that level of donkey-ism, but for whatever reason, his play irked me.

2.  There’s another player, who everyone will let sit down at the table when he arrives, even if it means playing 11-handed.  He’s a player who will just plop his $200 buy-in pre-deal.  Yes, that’s right pre-deal.  He wants to give his money away.  I’ve managed to win a healthy dose of it before.  I’ve seen him drop 7 buy-ins within an hour before.  Last night, I wasn’t even in the hand, but he tripled up by flopping a flush with Q5d.  Let me repeat, I wasn’t even in the hand and that put me on tilt.

3.  Then I decide to pay off that same player with an unimproved AK.  His KJo was good.  Hello darkness my good friend.

4.  I go broke the second time to him when my nut straight with no flush draws on the turn gets rivered when the board paired.  I figured him for just trips and put all my money in drawing dead.

5.  Then I pay off TheMark who decides to call my pre-flop bet out of position with Q2h.  He flopped two-pair, I flopped middle pair and a flush draw and missed.  He was up, winning and enjoying himself.  I was wondering which wall I would end up putting my fist through.

6.  Later on, I flop a set of 8’s on an 89T board.  Someone bets, G-Rob raises 4x and I smooth call figuring I’m good.  Unfortunately someone else who happens to be wearing a fucking corduroy jacket calls off a sizeable raise with a gutshot draw.  When the J hits the turn, he pushes.  I just don’t think someone in a corduroy jacket would be chasing a gutshot.  I figure him for two-pair, and even if I’m wrong, I have 10 outs.  He does indeed have KQ for the nuts and the river misses me.

7.  I find myself pushing with top pair, 8 kicker into someone’s flopped two pair and then get up to leave.


I manage my bankroll pretty well.  I feel it is a skill that can go underappreciated.  I’ve been called a pussy for not putting more of it at risk during the past year, but I have decided to invest a good chunk of my winnings rather than have a large bankroll sitting in my dresser drawer.

My bankroll management is the only thing that keeps nights like last night from breaking me.  It also dampens my growth rate and I’m fine with that.  Had I not made any investments, I’d be rolled for $3/$6.  But I don’t need to be playing $3/$6 right now.

I’ve told friends that my biggest fear is getting left behind.  There are $2/$5 games and $5/$10 games going on that are starting to pique the interest of some G-Vegas veterans.  I’m not there yet.  I may get there, but it will be more slowly than everyone else due to the choices I’ve made.

And if I get left behind, well, I get left behind.

Monday, October 16, 2006


I almost lost my poker machine this weekend.  After an apparently unsuccessful update, my PC went into an endless cycle of rebooting.  At first, I thought it was the hard drive, but I did manage to get it to boot by doing an OS repair.  Unfortunately, after the repair, the registry was so hacked, I couldn’t update to service pack 2.

So, it came down to a reformat/reinstall.  Luckily, I’ve been in the practice of partitioning my OS separately from my programs and data.  One reinstall and 39 updates later, I was back in business.  But I lost about 3 hours of my life that I’ll never get back.


I believe the influx of Party players to Stars is in full swing.  Here’s a hand where I’m not even going to tell you what I had because frankly, it doesn’t matter.

I’m in late position and open raise to 3.5x the big blind.  An early position player calls from the blinds with AJo, you know, a monster.  The flop is 336.  He checks, I bet 3/4ths the pot.  He calls.  Hmm…OK.  The turn is an 8, and he checks again.  I bet pot.

He calls.  And that confused the shit out of me sufficiently for me to bluff the river when an Ace came.  You can spout off all you want about reads and bluffing, but AJo out of position could not be more poorly played.  In my opinion.  But the guy won a nice pot.  One of us was a huge donkey on that hand.  And I’m not yet ready to say it was me.


I would normally handle this internally, but I’ve decided to post this for the WORLD to see.

If you’ve read the blog recently, you’re probably more than aware of my fondness for rounding up the guys and heading out for some drinking and pokering.  I’ve been doing that for a few months now.  I figured the people attending were having just as good a time as I on these jaunts.  As such, I don’t ever go to a poker game without inviting my peeps.

Then yesterday, I get this email:

Last night there were two waitresses at Undergound Game 2.

Both were employees at Platinum Plus.

They served drinks topless.

It was somewhat distracting...but quite entertaining.

Thought you'd like to know.

I was not invited nor notified.

Monday, October 09, 2006

WSOP Bloggers

Finally did some video conversions from my TiVo, De-muxed the "encryption," cut the file size, and then converted to iPod format. Luckily youtube accepts that format.

Ryan Busts Jesus

And One LuckBox Deserves Another

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Stupid is as Stupid Does

I apologize for the hand history, but this was possibly the dumbest thing I've seen online in a while.

PokerStars Game #6561402717: Hold'em No Limit ($1/$2) - 2006/10/08 - 11:17:11 (ET)
Table 'Ra-Shalom' 6-max Seat #2 is the button
Seat 1: Ghisi ($311.65 in chips)
Seat 2: betedeouf ($191.50 in chips)
Seat 3: JackBrooks ($84.20 in chips)
Seat 4: sk8wodie ($127.35 in chips)
Seat 5: badblood44 ($194.50 in chips)
Seat 6: Gnallingen ($86.10 in chips)
JackBrooks: posts small blind $1
sk8wodie: posts big blind $2
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to badblood44 [Ac Tc]
badblood44: raises $5 to $7
Gnallingen: folds
Ghisi: calls $7
betedeouf: calls $7
JackBrooks: folds
sk8wodie: calls $5
*** FLOP *** [Jc Js Jh]
sk8wodie: checks
badblood44: bets $10
Ghisi: folds
betedeouf: calls $10
sk8wodie: folds
*** TURN *** [Jc Js Jh] [3s]
badblood44: checks
betedeouf: checks
*** RIVER *** [Jc Js Jh 3s] [Jd]
badblood44: bets $20
betedeouf: raises $154.50 to $174.50 and is all-in
badblood44: calls $154.50
*** SHOW DOWN ***
betedeouf: shows [9h 9s] (four of a kind, Jacks)
badblood44: shows [Ac Tc] (four of a kind, Jacks - Ace kicker)
badblood44 collected $395 from pot
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot $398 | Rake $3
Board [Jc Js Jh 3s Jd]
Seat 1: Ghisi folded on the Flop
Seat 2: betedeouf (button) showed [9h 9s] and lost with four of a kind, Jacks
Seat 3: JackBrooks (small blind) folded before Flop
Seat 4: sk8wodie (big blind) folded on the Flop
Seat 5: badblood44 showed [Ac Tc] and won ($395) with four of a kind, Jacks
Seat 6: Gnallingen folded before Flop (didn't bet)

Thursday, October 05, 2006

The Art of Suck

How do you feel after you’ve been rivered by a two-outer?  I’ve tried to numb the negative feelings when it happens to me and have had varied levels of success.  But now the real question, how do you feel when you’re the one doing the rivering?


It was another fun night out with the G-Vegas crew.  Otis, G-Rob, TheMark and I met at our local over-priced watering hole and shot the shit for 90 minutes talking about all things poker and non-poker related.  We weren’t sure, but it may have been Otis’ first venture outside the house in two weeks judging from his Grizzly Adams look.

We discussed the possibility of this being the last time the four of us all go play on the same night.  Granted, we were only half-joking, but for a few of us, it’s reached a point where trading chips with each other isn’t the most financially sound decision.  Like I’ve mentioned before, it’s a trade-off between EV and good company.

When the cards finally hit the table at the Spring Hotel, there were the four of us, two house players, and two other regulars, one of whom only plays Aces or Kings.  Still, none of us had the ability to stay out of the other’s pots.  Chips went flying.


Last Friday, I saw perhaps the most brutal of suck outs occur.  I think the worst, mathematically, is when you need to consecutively catch your remaining two outs in a runner-runner fashion, a 989:1 shot.  But in the category of suck, re-suck, re-suck, last Friday’s hand takes the cake.

One player flopped a set of fours.  The other player turned his set of tens and all the money went in.  The case four on the river titled the guy with tens.  The dealer, respecting the recent turn of events, said nothing and readied himself for the next hand.

Last night though, he did confide in me that he does find a certain level of enjoyment dealing hands like that.  Were I in his shoes, I might feel the same way, in a morbid kind of way.


We were winding down, twenty minutes past the time I told everyone I’d be leaving.  In a straddled pot I limped with J8c and five players saw the flop.  It was JT2.  Checked to me, I led out with top pair to see where I was.  TheMark called in late position as did Earl, one of the local regulars from the blind.  The turn was an 8, giving me two pair.  I thought I was good.  For about a second.

Again, it’s checked to me, and I bet $25.  TheMark made it $50 and then Earl re-raised to $125.  Two colossal mis-reads later, and I decide I’m going to push.  Interestingly, I put TheMark on T8 for two-pair, and based on his reaction after my push, really thought I was correct.  Still, he called.  I had a fleeting hope that Earl was over-valuing something like AJ.

However, when Earl pushed all-in on top of TheMark it was quite obvious to me that he had a straight.  Oh well, I thought, TheMark should realize this too and fold, giving me four outs to hit my boat.  But TheMark didn’t fold.  He called.


Poor Earl.  He tabled 97 for the turned gutshot.  TheMark began questioning me about my hand as I kept it face down.  Flush draw?  No.  Set?  No.  I flashed him two-fingers to indicate two pair and he gave me a nod and said, “You’re behind.”

“Great,” I said, “Do I need a Jack then?”

“A Jack gives me a boat””Ooof, so you’ve got top two?  Jack-Ten?”


“I guess I need an eight.”


I tipped our dealer, a die-hard Iron Maiden fan, $10 when he shipped me the $776 pot.   Perhaps, just as on Friday, he had some small morbid amount of pleasure spiking that two-outer for me.

Did I feel the same?  No, not really.  I played the hand about as horribly as possible as the ghost of Dmitri Nobles looked on.  In isolation, I don’t like winning that way.  Justifying it as payback for a host of similar beats put on me over the years diminishes that feeling, but I’m rarely happy to win via poor play.

Without a doubt, I’ll take the pot.  But the way I played it is a wakeup call of some sorts, effectively telling me not to get too cocky.  Sometimes going on a rush obscures your true playing level.

But sometimes, the penalty for playing horribly is a monster pot.  Morbid indeed.