Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Ready for the WSOP

PokerStars Tournament #18846312, No Limit Hold'em
Buy-In: $1.00/$0.10
2158 players
Total Prize Pool: $2158.00
Tournament started - 2006/01/30 - 21:02:00 (ET)
Dear bluto392,
You finished the tournament in 297th place.
A $1.94 award has been credited to your Real Money account.

Thank you for participating.

Whew! That was work! Bought thirteen pots and won 77% of my showdowns and never made it past 7k in chips. Noticing a trend- tight, passive tables are relatively easy to thrive in. The trade off is that it's hard to build schtack.

Again, I played tight, aggressive and it payed off. I don't like the fact that I'm at the mercy of the deck with this strategy, and it's obviously not going to get me to a final table any time soon. However, until I can gain some experience and learn to play marginal hands profitably, I'm going to have to go with business as usual.

What did I do with my 75 cent profit? Donked it in a 18 player SNG. Out in level II.

Tonight's the WTPT tourney at San Carlo's. Gonna play tight and be patient.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Weekend Wrapup

Played the Hardware Bar tourney and redeemed myself. Built up a healthy shtack and made it to within spitting distance of the final table. Hit some nice cards and luck. One a hand with king high, drew out on someone else who gave me free cards until the river king that gave me top pair.

I played very well for me in terms of mistakes. Folded big slick twice, once pre-flop, and was the better for it. There were many times I folded pretty good hands that were proven to be losers by the end of the hand.

With the exception of a very costly mistake, which I'll get to later, the only misplays I made were:

1. Not being aggressive enough;

2. I was shuffling the second deck and I accidentally pushed my cards into the muck. I would've hit two pair and won the hand.

My decline started when I had pocket aces, two opponents (one all-in,) and a huge pot. The aces were cracked by a set of eights on the river.

Then came my donk-move. Had a pair of sevens in the pocket and went heads-up in position with the big stack, who had at least three times my chips. The board was xQT and the big stack puts out a large bet to me. Of course, I go all-in.

I'm sorry, did you say all-in? Are you nuts? You can't bluff him off the hand, he's not afraid of the board, do you THINK he's afraid of pocket 7's?

To be honest, I wasn't thinking at all. I was tired, wound-up, and happy to have a pocket pair. He called right away showed me his AQs. Didn't hit my two-time 22-to-1 shot and was excused from the table.

I was upset with myself, but still pretty pleased with the evening in general. I had a blast, which is the most important thing. I learned some things, especially that I need to work on keeping focused. Also, I noticed that I'm starting to remember things about certain players, as I've faced them a few times now. Which reminds me: another good thing about Friday was that I had some of the really good players at my table and out lasted them. So I must be doing something right.

Clearly, tight is right in this caliber of tournament. While there were a few hands that were folded to the raiser, the vast majority of hands see a flop. Usually there's someone who'll call you down as well. Aggression is also key- you can make serious hay when you have the edge and there's people willing to pay off.

So, it's back to the World Tavern Poker Tour on Tuesday. Hopefully, I'll earn some points and get a ranking that gives me a fighting chance to move on to the next level.

As far as online, I'm back to my old SNG luck. Played only once and was out quite early. The limits was up and down. Went up a dollar in about forty-five minutes in the afternoon, but was down almost that much by the end of the evening. I'm not skilled enough in math or enough of a statisitics wonk to work out my standard deviation to see what my swings are like. I want to know if looking at my daily results can give me an idea if my play shows the effects of good skills limiting natural random results, or if I'm just a donk at the whims of fate. Can anyone give me advice on this?

Friday, January 27, 2006

Off the Snide

Was feeling really upbeat about playing yesterday and had a rewarding and instructive 18 player, turbo SNG on Poker Stars. Finished 7th, but I played aggressively and was in the money for quite awhile. Of the seven-ten pots I won, the vast majority were pots that I bought. The first table was tight-passive and I worked it hard. I won a pot early and that was it, people didn't want any part of me. I think, though, I'm playing too many hands once I get a larger stack. I'm going to try to be more selective, but just as aggressive on the hands I play in these situations. The good thing is that I'm feeling more positive and enjoying tourneys more: I think that bodes well for the future.

FINALLY had a winning session at the limit tables! I did it in a probably unadviseable way- I moved up a level (.05-.10). It was exciting to see the larger pots and I think the added cost helped me focus better on what my opponents were doing. Playing one game at a time also helped. I think I played pretty well- I don't believe I made too many mistakes. I know what that means however: I made more mistakes than I think! One I didn't make, and I'm proud of this is that I quit when I was ahead. I was tempted to play a few more hands, but I was disciplined enough to realize I wasn't getting any help from the deck and that it would be prudent to lock in my wins.

The good news is that I don't believe the competition is necessarily any stiffer at that level. In fact, I owe my winning to a quite obliging call machine. I'm NOT staying at this level, however. I really want to improve my game the right way, so I'm going to go back to the .02-.04 grind. I'm sticking with one game at a time, too. I need to practice the observation and interpretation parts of the game, and I just can't do that playing two handed.



My weight is going in the wrong direction, so I didn't exactly earn any live poker this week. Yet, I have petitioned the Gaming Commissioner and she's been merciful in her bounty. Since I have my surgery next week and won't be up for playing live for a while, I was granted permission to play tonight in the dreaded York Hardware Bar Tournament.

My readers (if any) will recognize that tourney as the one that turns me into a stupid donkey anti-luckbox. I am determined to play longer tonight. I'm going to be relaxed and not worry about making a big stack in the first orbit. Part of the problem last time was the table I was at. No one was friendly or likeable, and one of the players was involved in some drama that was carried over from the previous week. Basically, it was a mother and son who play together and a drunk asshole grabbed the mom's booty and called her a bitch. The son confronted the guy the following week and popped him in the mouth. Everyone was tense at our table because of this.

I'm also in negotiations to be allowed to play this Tuesday. One more finish in the points should at least put me in the conversation for a seat at the regional finals.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Leaky 'Roll

This weekend has started a losing stretch at the limit tables. I had the stomach flu and my kidney stone woke up again at about the same time, and I've been playing tired. It's harder to make necessary folds when I'm tired, I find and I can't pay attention to how everyone's playing their hands.

It's frustrating, because I've been rolling over the donks in the .02-.04 games pretty much since I've started. I'm going to play only one game at a time for a while, until I get my focus back.

My SNG play is still awful, although I did finish 14th and bubbled out in 9th place. Playing aggressively is definitely the way to go, although I still bust out early a lot. I guess the point is that I'm building bigger stacks and giving myself more of a shot to do well a little more often than before. Either way, my tourney 'roll will be gone in about two weeks if I don't money soon.

Didn't make weight last week. One upside of the stomach flu is that it's put me within striking distance this week. I'm chomping at the bit to play the World Tavern Poker Tour again- I think I can finish in the points most of the time I play.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Phat Tuesday

During current Hold'em session you were dealt 88 hands and saw flop:
- 3 out of 10 times while in big blind (30%)
- 2 out of 9 times while in small blind (22%)
- 20 out of 69 times in other positions (28%)
- a total of 25 out of 88 (28%)
Pots won at showdown - 6 of 6 (100%)
Pots won without showdown - 6

Two .02-.04 limit tables
Playing time: 1 hr.
Total winnings: $2.69 67.25BB/hr.

I was messing around for an hour prior to going to a World Tavern Poker Tour event, trying to burn off some nervous energy. I had low expectations, was ready to lose a bit. Instead, I hit the best rush of my short career. I was flopping full houses, drawing to the best hand, even bluffing people off pots. It didn't hurt that I was playing some very generous people. I even pulled off a trick to get a free card for my flush draw-missed the draw but hit a winning two pair.

A session like that points out the good and bad of my game. The good is that I'm doing well with reading boards and calculating outs and I'm very disciplined pre-flop. I kept to my strategy even though everything I touched seem to turn to gold and the temptation was there to play many marginal hands. On the other hand, I was flying by the seat of my pants some of the time- playing draws even though I didn't necessarily have good pot odds, acting on instinct instead of trying to place my opponents on a range of hands (which is a skill I really need to work on.)

I did okay at the live event later on. I think I only won three or four hands all night. I played tight early on and made some tough calls that paid off. Got complimented on slow-playing a pair of aces and getting my opponent to call me down with king high.

Still, I was pretty short stacked by the time we reached twenty people. I should have been more aggressive at this point, but this is tough for me to do, especially since the bonus points go up with every place after 20th. Also, I had really nothing to push with- my cards were pretty weak on the whole all night. I finally went all-in when I was down to 2.5XBB with pocket deuces. Unfortunately, this was the best hand I'd had for about an hour. As you might expect, someone made a better pair and I was history.

Still, I earned more points-I'm "in the points" two out of two times so far. I also learned that the rankings are based not on total points, but the average of my three best finishes. This is great for me, because there's no way I'm going to be able to play more than once a week. Another gratifying thing was that I got the impression that the table I was playing at took me seriously, which is the first time that's happened.


In other news, Chimeraworld 3, edited by Michael Philbin, has been released. It contains my story "Key Man." Go buy it at amazon.com- I get paid by the copy! I think this will be the last hurrah for my writing career for the time being and I can't wait to order a copy for myself.

Friday, January 13, 2006

20 Minutes

So...is it bad to bust out before the first orbit's completed? Or when people at your table say "Why did you call? I never would've called with that."

I'll save the blow by blow (too painful) and give the most salient details:

Hero: Big Slick

Flop: JJK

SB pushes and I call, he pushes and I call, I push, he re-raises, I call

Showdown: SB has a J


If I'd been playing online, I know I wouldn't have called that hand down like an idiot. I was so keyed up to be playing live, I lost my head.

No, I didn' t tear my clothes off and run around the room gibbering. Maybe I should have- I might have saved some face.

I'm off to compound the agony in a PokerStars tournament

Permission Granted

Last week's weight: 270.8
This week's weight: 269.8

Congratulations! You have earned your seat in two live poker events this week!

I'm not exactly sure how this is possible, but I was three pounds lighter this morning than I was last night. Not that I'm complaining!

Had another kick ass day on the Poker Stars limit tables. Just cleaned up- ended up over two dollars! I think the great cards I got and the donks at the tables negating some poor decisions I was making, although I think I was doing better than the day before. Still, too many bets lost in hands that I know are beaten. Why can't I make myself fold, even when my mind screams at me to do so?

At any rate, I've decided there is no feeling like having the nuts and watching someone raise and re-raise into you, then watching a huge pot slide over to your chair.

Tonight, my goal is to last at least an hour in the Hardware Bar tournament. If I do go out early on a bad beat again, my goal will be to not run around babbling and tearing off my clothes.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Wish I had been playing $10-$20

During current Hold'em session you were dealt 284 hands and saw flop:
- 26 out of 34 times while in big blind (76%)
- 8 out of 37 times while in small blind (21%)
- 37 out of 213 times in other positions (17%)
- a total of 71 out of 284 (25%)
Pots won at showdown - 14 of 26 (53%)
Pots won without showdown - 6

Playing time: 3.75 hrs
2 Games of .02-.04 limit on Pokerstars
Total winnings: $1.54- 10.3BB/hr

I've decided to quit my job and go pro. Then, I'm going to use my millions to build a rocket ship and start my own colony on Mars!

I would've done better, but I seem to start each session losing money. At some point, I have to remind myself to put more thought into each situation and actually count outs and pot odds, then the losing slows down and I start winning more pots. Also, it takes me some time to relax playing two tables at once.

Finally, I noticed I improved my post-flop decision making abilities as time went on. Continuing on with hands I suspect are beaten is still my biggest weakness. I'm trying not to be too concerned about whether I would've won or not. Actually, playing two tables helps with this, because when I make a tough fold, I can switch to the other game and ignore the outcome of the first one.

It's funny, I seem to hit the same hands at the same time when playing two tables. For example, I hit QT on one game, then hit it on the other game as the first hand was wrapping up. That's a 1 in 168 chance. Also, the cards died on me at about the same time (I literally fought sleep for about twenty minutes as I clicked "fold" over and over again.) Then I went on a rush on both sites at the same time. I don't necessarily think the game is rigged, but it is odd, especially the same hand thing.

Anyway, I feel pretty confident playing two tables. The issues with my game are the same and aren't necessarily made worse by an added game. My winnings, at least yesterday, were certainly amplified with the extra action. I can see playing three games at some point, but I'm going to consciously resist the temptation, as I don't really want to risk getting in over my head and taking an unnecessarily big hit to the 'roll.

WTPT Final Table

Made it to another final table at a World Tavern Poker Tour event last night! Finished up 8th when I was forced to go all-in in the BB and my pocket threes were outdrawn by A7. Can't wait to see what I earned in points.

Not that I'll be able to play enough to make it to the top ten and earn a spot in the regional championship. If I haven't mentioned it yet, my live play is contingent on whether or not I lose weight. Any loss means I can play of Friday, and losing more than a pound means I can play on Tuesday. I may be able to switch that order, I'll have to check with the boss.

The Tuesday game has a higher EV than the Friday one. I've made it to the final table in 2 out of 3 tourneys. It's smaller and the competition doesn't seem to be all that good. Even though there's no money involved, the prize structure is better also, with Friday's game a winner take all event. The Friday game is for money, though. The regional champion gets a buy-in to a tournament in Atlantic City, but that's too far off and unlikely to take into account. I guess it doesn't really matter- this isn't my job.


Here's a politically incorrect observation: there are some hot chicks playing poker. Sure there's a healthy representation of women who look like a healthy part of their income comes from giving hummers in the parking lot and most of said income goes towards imbalming themselves in Jack Daniels, but there's also quite a few young, middle-class women who are knock down hot and can play well. I'm not sure where I'm going with this, except that its a pleasant surprise when most of the people I see playing are men, many of whom look and act like they're playing because their social schedules aren't cluttered up with things like dating or family life and that's the way they like it.

I ask your forgiveness for the previous paragraph, I'm on four hours sleep.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Nice Weekend

Had a good weekend on the limit tables. I'm not sure how accurate a gauge of my skill this is (I understand I'm not good, I've been playing for $$$ for only two weeks) but I played on a Poker Stars table where it seemed I was the man amongst boys. Finished up an amazing (for me) 51.5 BBs, including a large $1.06 pot (this is .02-.04 limit, remember.)

On Sunday I finished down 6 cents. I'm actually pleased with this, as I was down about a buck and was getting frustrated, but kept my composure and stuck to the plan.

I'm still miserable at the SNG's. I've played about ten so far and finished in the money only the one time. It's like there's a glass ceiling at 16th place. No matter what kind of stack I have, I seem to crap out at 17th place.

What's that? Live poker last Friday? Well, yes, I did play-for about half an hour. I won't bore you with the card by card. Let's just say I had a set of 3's that got out drawn on the river. Second time in a row in the Hardware Bar tourney that I've gone into an all-in showdown with the best hand, only to lose on the river.

My next shot at live poker's this Tuesday at another York bar. It's part of the World Tavern Poker Tour. No money prizes, but a point system to qualify for regional and national tournaments. Just the kind of thing my OCD personality loves keeping track of.

A question: How do I know when I'm ready to play two limit tables at the same time? I understand the key to winning (besides skill) is to play lots of hands, but I'm wondering if I'm skilled enough to be able to give enough attention to two tables at once. Right now, my-limited- playing history shows mostly positive results, with the dips into negative territory much shallower and shorter lived than my winning sessions. I don't really want to mess that up, but I like the appeal of getting more shots at building my fledgling 'roll.

I should probably just try it and see what happens after a week. It's not life and death, for God's sake. Besides, I'm folding between 75-85% of my hands anyway, most of the time I won't have to divide my attention between two played hands.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Sklansky, Melmuth, Miller-My New Gods

I'm reading and applying Sklansky's, Melmuth's and Miller's book on small stakes poker and have been doing pretty well over the past two days. I've only really digested the pre-flop section (and not completely, either) but I think it's helped me improve my game from "hopeless donk" to "average donk." What it's done for me:

1. Got me to start evaluating the table and the players, trying to find weakness and poor play.

2. Made me stop cold calling. I didn't even know this was a bad thing. This was a major leak for me that's now plugged up.

3. Helped me become more disciplined with folding A-rag, J-t, and other unprofitable hands.

I can't wait to start digging into the post-flop portion of the book.

I still hold onto hands way too long, and I find myself forgeting to work out pot odds after the flop (pretty smart when playing limit poker, huh?) But, I guess that's why people say "practice makes perfect."


On the writing front, the last few weeks have been moribund. I've gotten a lot of rejections and haven't done one bit of writing. Not a word. I made it to the quarter finals in the fourth quarter of the 2005 L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future Contest, which apparently is the top 10-15%. I'm not entirely sure if I should be pleased with that or not.

One bright spot is that Chimeraworld #3 will be out on January 16th. I'll be able to see my story in an actual book. It can be bought at www.lulu.com. Also, I'll have another story out in April or May of this year called The Liquid Laughter Project: Medicine Show.

I'm not sure if I'm just burnt out or if I've truly dropped this hobby. That's how I am regarding hobbies- a passionate serial monogamist. Hot fires burn fast, as they say. Here's list of my hobbies over the past ten years. Keep in mind that each one consumed my life and I devoted all my free time (and money, in some cases) to pursuing it, only to eventually drop each one and have no further interest in it whatsoever.

1. Brewing Beer (actually became a brewer, which turned out poorly)
2. Panning for Gold (Don't ask)
3. Golf
4. Fishing
5. Writing (most successful and satisfying hobby so far)

The only bright spot about my abandonment of writing is that I can see myself returning to it someday. My imagination hasn't gone away- I think the tank is dry and I'm loathing the daily grind that needs to be done to write successfully. The question is- how long will poker last? At least as long as I'm winning!


More kidney stone news: I'm going in for more surgery in February. This is the invasive procedure that involves, well...it involves insertion of a long tube through the logical orifice, through the bladder, and up the uretor almost to my kidney. The doctor was happy to give me the following qualifications as well.

1. It may not be successful and may have to be repeated.
2. I'll have to have a stent in my uretor, successful or not, for a few days. There's a string that will come out of my little buddy, which they will use to remove the stent. "Uh, doctor, I will be put under for that, right?"
3. After assuring me that I could have an epidural instead of general anesthesia, to avoid the disaster that happened the last time, he started hedging, saying that it would be up to the anesthetist. He said he didn't think there would be any problems this time, however. I'm glad he's so confident.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Playing for Real

Opened a cash account at Poker Stars! I've played six $1+.20 SNG's and placed second in one, which was good for ten bucks.

I'm also up about 27BB's at the .02-.04 limit tables. Okay, that's only $1.08, but hey, it's on the positive side. Was home for work yesterday and played ALL day, ending up down over a dollar. Oh well, you win some, you lose some.

I'm probably going to play live this Friday AND Tuesday! Woo hoo!