Thursday, March 30, 2006

Out of the Darkness, into the Light

BB's to go: 278 or $11.12

Welcome to the swings of poker, I guess. Tuesday was awful. I was either card dead, missed flops, was oblivious to the fact that I was beat, or was drawn out on. I went on tilt, big time, which usually isn't a problem for me.

It was so bad, at one point I said "fuck it, I'm donking away my buy-ins." That's eight dollars total, a crucial hit to my 'roll and my move-up goal. Lunacy began creeping into my game.

Yet, after about an hour, I settled down, and slowly gained control over the careening stagecoach my game had become. I caught some cards and reacquainted myself with the "fold" button.

Did I have a good night? Clearly not. But it ended a damn sight better than it had been in the middle. I learned that I can work through a tilt. What I'd rather do, though, is learn how to step away from the table when I'm steaming, instead of trying to power through.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Blood Bath

BB's to go: 313.75 or $12.55 Nuff said

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

My Poker Goals/Why I Spend My Time Seeing Flops

I'm going to start keeping a running log of my progress towards my bankroll goal of $30 (300BB's at .05-.10.) Giggle if you want at the small stakes, I couldn't care less.

BB's to go: 275 or 11 dollars.

I enjoy poker for a few reasons. I can access it every day, it's inexpensive, and I can partake even if I have less than an hour to myself. It's a mental challenge and I enjoy how it forces me to think in a thorough and analytical manner. It definitely meets my needs for competition.

Mostly, I enjoy it because I can teach myself to become better. Being self-taught and successful is appealing, which has led me to some of my past hobbies like golf and writing. I can see the improvement in my poker game, simply from reading and experience. It's been a steep learning curve because I started without the general mindset of the betting man- I realize it's going to flatten out and I'll have to put more effort into study, etc.

My main goal is to become as good as I can at poker. That's why I'm playing at a lower limit than I can afford. I want to do it right, put in the time, pay the dues, whatever. I'm not going to try the quick route, get pillaged, and abandon poker out of frustration. I'll know when I'm ready to move up- my bankroll and my playing log will let me know.

With success, I will realize my second goal: a steady side income. I'm not looking to sit down at a 200/400 table, I'm not looking to make the final table at the WSOP main event (although I wouldn't pass up a chance to play in it.) I want to be that anonymous guy at the 2/4 or 5/10 table who's quietly grinding out a few big bets per hour. I want to be able to sit down at a table in AC, have fun and not be scared money.

I'm a social worker. One or two hundy a month would answer a lot of questions in the Russo home. If I have to take things slow to increase my chances of making my goals happen, I'm willing to do it.

And I will do it. The game is starting to make more sense to me. I can be disciplined and attentive enough to win. I'm confident in my ability to manage my 'roll and I'm not scared of losing money.

I would bust my grandmother if she sat at my table.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Back to Earth

I believe the run is over. Only two winning sessions out of the past five. Still, the 'roll has been pumped up and I'm only 250 big bets from a bump up in levels. It sounds like a lot, but if I hit a rush of cards I could clear that in a week or so.

I'm toying with the idea of sitting down at a micro-blind no-limit table with a minimum buy-in. The plan would be to play super tight and try to double up the buy-in then skate out. I can use the profits as 'mad money' for SNG's or tables/games where I might not usually play, but where I think the situation is +EV. Anyway, it sounds like fun to try.

I'm reading Sklansky's Theory of Poker as well as his book Hold'em for the Advanced Player, with Mason Malmuth, so I'll probably be providing some worthwhile content soon.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

First Blogger Tournament

Played in my first blogger tournament, Mookie's Bird Flu O Waffles Tournament. Crapped out in 17th place out of 26 or so. Frankly, I was pretty intimidated, despite some encouraging words from Surflexus.

First, it was pretty expensive in bankroll terms. I've never played at that high a level of buy-in, and I was scared money. As far as strategy I did two major things wrong:

1. I played a limit strategy. In other words, I fought back when I had top pair with a decent kicker, calling or re-re-reraising instead of folding. This was exacerbated by

2. Not realizing that my opponents, who are better than the fellow schlubs I play in the Pokerstar .10 MTT's, were playing more straightforward than I thought. I thought I was getting bluffed and dipsy-doodled when I should have realized that a re-raise generally meant what it usually means- he/she's got the goods. This affected me in other ways as well. I was being too cute- slow playing the second-nut straight in one hand only to let my opponent draw into a full house. Later, I tried trapping someone else with my own boat, and ended up having it checked down for little profit.

Oh well. There were some good moments, too. I took a few pots with bluffs. I crippled someone at my table, first by sucking out trips against his bottom two pair. Later, I took a large pot from the same person with my two pair. And really, I usually end up a little better than half the field in SNG's anyway, so this wasn't so far from my normal result.

It was great fun, an adrenaline rush. Unfortunately, my 'roll and my tourney skills are not to the point where I'll be able to play many of these. Now, if I could get some interest in a micro-limit cash game...

Monday, March 20, 2006

Just some Odds and Ends

I'm probably going to do another information based post in a little bit, but I'm not very motivated at the time being. I'm in the midst of a roll and just riding the wave at the moment. I've won close to 100BB's over the past week and my 'roll's over the half way point towards the goal I need to reach before I move up. I'm back to playing two tables at once. I'm able to keep my concentration at an adequate level so I think it's the right time to try to maximize my success. So far so good.


I'm working on THE most important part of my game now- the chip riffle. I'm making progress. I just know my live game is going to improve when I master this essential skill.


I found a new way to track my general success at limit hold'em on Dutch Boyd's blog:

"If you are a good limit holdem player, you'll win around 60% of your sessions..."

Hey, that's simple. Perhaps not universally accepted, but it doesn't sound that outrageous. Boyd says that he currently wins about 55% of his sessions.

My winning percentage? Well, not to brag, but it's 60%. Okay, Okay. I'm obviously not playing at the same limits as Boyd is, and he probably plays several thousand hands more per day than I have in the past four months, but still, it's nice to get a different perspective on how I'm doing.


I watched Rounders last night. I'm a bit hesitant admitting that. I mean, is it too cliche to say you've watched that movie at this point?


How's this for a kick in the pants? I was just informed by the Chairman of the Russo family Vacation Committee that, not only will she be heading to Reno to help her sister with her new baby in July, but that she will also be going to Vegas in 2007 to help a friend celebrate her 40th birthday.

Will I get to go on either trip? No! Does my wife even gamble? Hell no!

I had a funny conversation with my wife about the Reno trip. She said she wanted to try some slots while she was there. I told her she'd be there to help her sister, not for that kind of fun. She said she would hope her sister and the baby would come along.

"To a casino!?"

She thought for a minute and said "No, I meant at the supermarket."


The poker game I'm putting together in shaping up. There's about eight people in so far, possibly will get a few more for this game and probably a few more at the second game in May/June. It's a mixed group of co-workers, family, neighbors, and our friends. I'm hoping there's a big enough nucleus for a regular game.

Got me some quality chips, a tabletop, and some canceled casino playing cards. Can't wait for April.


I watched most of the first episode of Poker Superstars III the other day and here's my only comment: If Jennifer Tilly and Cyndi Violette are going to be seated at the same table, there's got to be some sort of rule that says they have to soul kiss after each hand.

I'm watching as long as Jennifer's in it and she's wearing that skimpy top she had on, and they let her talk so I can hear that sexy voice of hers.

I could so beat up Phil Laak!

Friday, March 17, 2006

F***k Poker Star's SNG's!

Goddamned sit-n-gos! Got hosed in two of them today. Never again. No no no! I'm sticking with the .10 cheapskate tourneys or the freerolls. First, went all in with top two pair against a pair of K's. Hit runner runner deuces and I'm out (Sure, he had about nine realistic outs, but come on, can't a brother get a break) Next one, I go all in early with a pair of aces with a king kicker. Get called by someone with AQ. Turn, blank. River-wait for it!- yes, a Q. So I lost more money in half an hour than I made in two days at the limit tables. To top it off, blogspot won't even let me hit return so I can put this post into proper paragraphs! Boo hoo!

Thursday, March 16, 2006

A Million Thanks...

...go out to Dugglebogey, both for the banner and the excellent help on getting it on my blog. Shockingly, I got it working the first time. I predict, with my site's new look, that I'll soon break into the rarefied air of 200 hits. Total, that is.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Counting Hidden Outs

First, let just say that I'm on a roll at the limit tables. I'm just in a zone where I'm counting outs well and being aggressive enough with good to marginal hands. I really didn't have any monster or even dominant hands last night and ten pots were folded to me, which I think shows that I was putting my opponents in tough situations.

What I'm hoping is that this isn't just variance being kind but an actual improvement in my game. The only real gauge I have is my 'roll, which has trended upwards overall.


Okay, so I want to write today about counting hidden outs. Again, let me make some things clear:

1. I'm not trying to teach anyone- I'm not good enough for that. I'm trying to make sense of what I'm reading and 'lock it in' my head, so to speak. Please, if you see anything incorrect, let me know! I want to learn and improve, and I need to know when I'm mistaken.

2. This is not my work! This is my re-telling of material from "Small Stakes Holdem" by David Sklansky, Martin Malmuth, and David Miller.

Accurately counting outs is important in limit holdem in order to decide whether to continue with a hand is profitable or not. Often, outs cannot be counted as "full outs" and it is important to take these partial outs into consideration.


Generally, overcards are devalued by the number of higher cards that could come and beat them. For example, I have QJ offsuit on a rainbow board of 7 3 10. Because an ace or a king will put the potential of a higher pair on the board, and because a single pair often loses, the unaccounted-for queens and jacks (three each) can't be counted as full outs. Sklansky et al recommends counting each as a half an out. So, the two overcards in this example are worth three outs total.

While it isn't mention in "Small Stakes," I personally wouldn't give small overcards that much weight. An 8 or 9 as an overcard isn't going to win many times if you hit a pair, so I probably would only give each one out a piece. (for what it's worth.)

Backdoor Draws:

Weak, three card straight and flush draws also should be taken into account. Generally, they are not worth many outs however. A backdoor flush or draw has about the same 22-23:1 chance of coming in by the river and are usually only one out each.

Specifically, Sklansky counts backdoor flush draws as 1.5 outs. No-gap backdoor straight draws (8-9-10) are also counted as 1.5 outs. One gappers (7-9-10) are worth 1 out, and two gappers are worth one out.

Pocket: QJd

Board: 7c-4h- 10d

Outs: Overcards: 3 total (1.5 for the Q's, 1.5 for the J's)
Backdoor Draws: 3 total (1.5 each for the flush and no-gap straight draws)

Total: six outs.

As an aside, one thing to remember when you have a small number of outs is the likelihood of being confronted with a raise. Say you have two outs, and are getting pot odds for one bet. If you have an aggressive player to your left who is likely to make a raise, you need to know in advance if you will continue to have pot odds after the raise. If not, it might be better to fold (or check) rather than calling or betting.

Again, any rants, corrections or comments welcome.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Where to go with this thing?

I'm trying to decide what I want to do with this blog. I'm not interested in a running update on how I'm up x number of big blinds today, and down x number next week, etc. Boring to write, even more boring to read (should someone get lost and find this page.)

I think what I'm going to do is use this space as a way to help me noodle through some of the poker theory I'm reading in Malmuth and Sklansky's book on small stakes limit holdem. I'm slowly but surely picking up a piece at a time but there's plenty that I don't understand. In school, I found it helpful to write on a particular subject. Having to explain something coherently helps cement it in my head.

Publishing this here gives me the added benefit of having more knowledgeable players point out mistakes on my part and expand on important points I've overlooked.

A word of warning: a lot of what I write will undoubtedly seem pretty obvious to experience players. Please understand I'm not pontificating to anyone, just trying to expand my own knowledge.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Conversation with a Four Year Old

I and the four year old in question are in the backyard. She is intently (intensity is a trade-mark of this particular yound lady) stomping her feet on a flagstone.

4yrold: I'm stepping on ants.

Me: Why honey?

4yrold: I don't like them. I'm stepping on them. Demonstrates additional stomping with added emphasis.

Me: Hon, if you step on them, they'll die and they won't be alive anymore. You don't want to do that, do you?

4yrold: Where's my chalk?

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Our Guest for Tonight's Program is...

Want an ego stroke? Get interviewed.

My interview at was great! A lot of good questions and a polite bunch. I've never been interviewed before and it was definitely a unique experience.

Another cool thing, the moderator, Renee Barnes, set up the chat so that people who left were instantly sent to the Chimeraworld 3 page at I wonder if there were any sales last night? I know there'll be at least two, since I gave a copy away as a door prize and I'm going to use the opportunity to buy a copy for myself, which I've been putting off due to laziness.


Had a short, but great night at the tables. Played a half hour of limit before Lost came on.

(By the way, Lost could end up being the best show of all-time, in my book. Well, nothing can beat Seinfeld. Let's say tied for the best. Pray the writers don't jump the shark.)

But I digress.

Flopped big broadway- hey it's PokerStars, that happens about every fifty hands or so-and had two oblivious players who apparently wanted visual proof that I had it. Won two more hands and escaped with 27 big bets. Thats 64BB/hr.

Talk about playing like a Champion. I should go pro. (LOL)


Speaking about the Chumpion, I caught the first three or four hands of the Chicks v. The Champ tournament.

I think his skills were summed up in the first hand: It was folded to him in the small blind. He folded to the big blind. The person in the big blind hadn't shown up yet, so, instead of calling and winning the blinds, he folded and lost to an empty seat!

I made this mistake once, in the first tourney I played. That was enough of a lesson for me not to make it again.

Good luck going pro, brother. I think you're going to do just fine.