Friday, November 15, 2013

First Post of 2013! It's Time To Resurrect This Blog

Well, hello there. 

I found my old blog here when I was roaming around Google's new "one ID for everything" bullshit and I noticed that I hadn't posted in over a year.  Well, I think it's time to get back to whining on the internet for all to see.  Well, sort of.  I don't want to whine and cry about poker, I want to share my feelings and maybe make some improvements.

Where've I been?  Well, mostly working and playing.  The opening of the Horseshoe Cleveland caused me to become even more obsessed with poker than before.  I've spent the past year + obsessively playing $3/6 limit (with the sometimes $1/2 game).  I've also been working a lot.  I'm still tracking my play, and I am happy to report that I am on pace to do twice as well as I did last year at poker.  That is, I've only lost half what I did last year.


Oh yeah, overall I am still a losing player, but this year the amount is marginal.  I've played thousands upon thousands of live hands and (I think) gotten a firm grasp on the game of limit poker.  I know, it's $3/6 not $20/40, but I like the idea that I have gotten BETTER!  Sadly, my only profitable game this past year has been $1/2, but I rarely play it because I still can't handle the swings. 

So, once again I am planning on making this blog a weekly habit.  I will begin semi-promoting it on Facebook, if that annoys you I apologize and will try to keep it to a minimum.  Starting Monday (probably) I will begin doing a weekend recap of my poker play, with the occasional rant on non poker topics. 

Welcome back, old friends. 

Friday, March 09, 2012

Poker Is Like Mike Tyson's Punchout

Yes, you read that correctly.

Mike Tyson's Punchout! was a game for the NES console.  If you don't know what that is then (a) I feel sorry for you, and (b) you suck.  If you had a NES and didn't play Punchout! then you probably won't get what this post is about. 

In the game, as with poker, you start off as an inexperienced fighter looking to make a name for yourself.  In your first few matches you get your ass handed to you.  They beat the shit out of you and laugh about it afterwards.  After you play with them for a while, you begin to notice their tells.  When you see a tell from them, you pounce on them and take the chance to kick their asses.  With time and experience, you become the best in your league and decide to take a shot at a higher level.

Guess what happens?

Yup, you get your ass kicked again.  If you get beat bad enough you have to step back down to your old level and work your way back again.  Eventually in this higher level you start to learn your way around these guys (who are, of course, much tougher) and you start whooping ass.  Once you've conquered this bunch of assholes it's time to step up again.

As you work your way up to being a world class player, you start to run into the guys who you were playing when you first started out.  These guys have evolved their games, too, and you have to re-learn how to beat them.  With time, practice, and training you finally become one of the best in the world.

Then you meet Mike Tyson and he obliterates you.

For those of you who had trouble downloading or streaming the latest podcast I have to apologize.  We've had nothing but issues with Podbean and their hosting since it started.  I don't understand how these huge podcasts churn out an episode a day on there without issue but we have trouble with our little twice a month operation.

Anyway, it's all fixed now and you should be able to enjoy it.  If anyone wants hard copies on disc or flash drive email me and we can work something out.

Friday, December 02, 2011

Oh Give Me A Home Where The Cashalo Roam

(this post dedicated to the creative stylings of Matt G who did not write nor endorse this post)

Dusk was nearly upon them.  Their horses were thirsty and tired.  The trod along slowly, taking in the scenery.  It had been another long, lonely day roaming the plains of the mighty Cuyahoga, herding and protecting their charges. 

Ole Grayday stopped and gazed at the spot where a fence was being erected.  He heaved a long sigh.  He was a grizzled old veteran, his skin sunbleached and weathered like the leather hat that sat haphazardly on his head.  He looked over at his partner. 

"Damn shame, that is..." he said, motioning toward the fence.

"Yup.  Remember when you couldn't have put a fence there 'cause there was so many cashalo around here?  It'd be trampled near instantly". 

His partner Matt G was younger but just as battle weary.  He had a scar on his face from his first week on the job, a large and unwieldy cashalo charged him and bashed him up pretty bad.  He had considered quitting right there but Ole Grayday convinced him otherwise.  He shifted his weight on his horse.

"C'mon, let's take this old war horses over to McCarthy's Creek and wet 'em down" said Matt.


They steered their horses over to the creek and gazed out at Nautica Ranch.  Once, years ago, the ranch had been teeming with cashalo (Cash Buffalo).  There were so many wandering around you couldn't keep track.  Then the hunters came, killing more and more cashalo without letting any of them recover or letting them reproduce.  After years of non stop killing, the cashalo had all but vanished.  The few that remained were not very desirable.  They were tough to kill and there wasn't much meat on them.  The hunters had started turning on each other, fighting over the few cashalo that were worth killing.

Ole Grayday mused out loud.

"I remember when this place was PACKED.  ALL cashalo, as far as you could see.  We could eat like kings for days courtesy of one large cashalo.  We'd take our time, make sure we did it gently.  We'd spend hours cooking the meat and storing it away.  Now they strip them like pirhana.  Savages..."

Work was drying up for professional cashalo rustlers like Matt and Ole Grayday. 

"Hey Grayday, you ever think of heading over to one of the tuffalo ranches?"  Tuffalo (Tournament Buffalo) were looked down upon by the cashalo hunters.  Tuffalo tended to be much smaller, harder to strip clean.  It took forever to deplete a tuffalo.  Cashalo hunters wanted big game and large hauls, not small packets. 

"Fuck that" he said.  "I'll go to fuckin' Rivers first". 

Rivers was the last of the golden hunting grounds that was anywhere near where they were.  Matt and Grayday often spent weeks up there chasing game.  Even there the hunting was getting tough and the scores getting smaller. 

The tuffalo ranches were thriving though.  They had plenty of meat, it was just smaller and less filling.  You had to slaughter a lot more tuffalo to eat the same as you could have before.  Matt wished the hunters had been more patient, had taken the time to help young cashalo grow and prosper rather then slather them with steak sauce as soon as they got big enough.  No one wanted to nuture a cashalo.  Even other cashalo hated their young.  Whenever a calf would wander too close to the big game they would be beaten or shocked into running away. 

The horses finished drinking and the two old sage ranchers looked at each other. 

"Want to head over to Myers Ranch?"  asked Ole Grayday.

"I guess."

The two horses trotted off toward Ridge Road.  The faint voices of the two veterans could be heard on the breeze as they swapped stories of days gone by.

"That fuckin' bull hit a two outer on me!"

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Adventures In Civic Duty

SPOILER:  There is NO poker content in this blog post.  It also a very long post about my jury duty experience.  If you're easily bored then I suggest heading over to Grayday's blog for a bit. 

So, as most of you are aware I was pressed into jury service a couple of weeks ago.  I've been called before for various municipalities but never even had to show up before.  I blew it off once, taking a 90 day postponement because I had to work and summer is busy time.  Since I was "between jobs" I decided not to postpone again and just showed up.  I had heard that I'd likely get cut loose by Wednesday since it probably wouldn't be busy.

For those of you that have never had the pleasure, anyone who is a licensed driver OR registered voter is a potential juror for the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas.  They tell you on the summons that service is minimum 5 days.  I had no idea whatsoever what I was getting into, so I showed up day one with 209 other upstanding residents of our county with only my iPod and $5 in my pocket.  We got hustled into a room where we had to scan our summons in, show ID, and get our pamphlet explaining just how much bullshit you were in for.  Then you get herded across the hall into the jury holding pen (AKA "The Pit").  You're allowed to roam and graze but you cannot leave the penned in area lest you be poached.

After a half hour of sitting around we were treated to a badly shot video from the late 80's about how jury service works.  We also got to talk to an actual judge (who came down from up on high to speak to us common folk in our own language - how quaint!).  I decided that it was a mistake not to have a book, iPhone charger, newspaper, etc to keep me entertained.  After an hour of drudgery they began calling names.  The process is pretty simple - they call roughly double the jurors they need and march you up to the courtroom's jury deliberation room.  You wait there until they muster you and march you into the courtroom.  Sometimes the cases settle and you just sit there until they release you back to The Pit.  Lucky me, our case was a go.  Luckier me, I was in the first 12.  This meant I got to sit in the jury box and not the gallery.

Our group got marched into the courtroom of Judge McGinty and were seated in the box.  The next step in the process is the "voir dire (french for 'speak the truth')" .  During voir dire, the lawyers for the prosecution and defense list their witnesses and go over the charges, and they ask the jury questions to make sure you don't know anyone involved in the case.  Our case turned out to be a pretty big one.  The defendant was a 49 year old guy from Lakewood who met a 17 year old mentally handicapped girl online and ended up inviting himself over to her house repeatedly and coercing her into sex.  I was pretty sure I would get excused from the jury, as I mentioned during the questioning that I knew someone who is currently serving time for something similar.  The judge brought up that we would be shown videos that the defendant made of the encounters he had with the girl.  A few people were visibly rattled by this, one kid was excused after saying he thought the defendant was disgusting.  Several of the women waffled on being able to watch the videos but the judge was reluctant to excuse people.  The defense and prosecutors took turns excusing jurors until we got a break around 4PM.  During the break, one of the alternates decided he was done and left.  When we got back up the courtroom he got called and wasn't there.  They couldn't skip over him, so the judge excused us for the night.  Instead of getting jury selection done in one day we had to come back.  We were all admonished not to dicuss details with anyone and then we were cut loose.

Day two I decided to bring some stuff to amuse me since I was expecting to be excused.  I had my phone, charger, a deck of cards, newspaper, etc.  We were supposed to be there by 9AM to be called up to finish jury selection.  We were called up at 9 and had to wait until 10 to get into the courtroom.  The lawyers excused all the alternates we had, so 6 more people were called up.  (We originally had 22 people to fill 15 seats - 12 jurors and three alternates).  We cycled through all of them until the lawyers ran out of challenges and we were down to 15.  Oddly, I made the jury.  After lunch we were given notebooks and the prosection opened.  Trial is nothing like on TV.  The courtroom was surprisingly small and stuffy and the testimony was droll.  Questions were asked over and over, the amount of repetition is mind numbing. 

The first witness we saw was the victim.  She was definitely "off", you could tell something wasn't right with her.  She broke down crying at one point and we had to take a break.  The crux of the case was that she was too impaired to understand she was being taken advantage of.  The defense cross was very weak, they didn't want to attack her and make the defendant look like more of a scumbag.  After a few more witnesses we got excused for the day again.  Day 3 was probably the most boring of all.  We had to listen to cop after cop testify to the same exact things - where they served the search warrant, what they seized, what their training was, etc etc.  I was so bored I had to drink copious amounts of coffee to stay awake. 

Day 4 was the most "controversial" day of all.  That was the day we got the meat of the testimony from the main detective on the case.  They showed us a power point presentation listing the videos the idiot defendant had made of himself.  Each video was broken down for us and we were only shown key points.  The judge and lawyers had decided not to make us sit through all 90 minutes of it and instead we got "bullet points".  Then we were treated to the defendant's wedding video (he forced the victim to marry him when the cops got involved because he thought she wouldn't be able to testify against him at trial).  We also got to see a video of his police interview where he babbled on and on about how he knew she was hanicapped but he didn't think he was doing anything wrong.  There was an expert witness that testified as to how the girl was exceedingly naive and vulnerable to control.  I made a point of paying little attention to the videos.  I knew the other jurors were taking a ton of notes and I felt it was more important to watch the reactions of the defendant, the witnesses, etc as the videos played.  People give you their most honest reactions when they don't feel like they are being watched and every set of eyes except mine was on the video presentations.  The defendant at time rolled his eyes, had a smirk on his face, or was otherwise not reacting like someone who believed he was in some serious shit.  After the dog and pony show we were released for the night.  The judge promised us we would have the case by Friday to start deliberating.

Day 5 (Friday) was supposed to go quick.  The defense was not planning on actually putting on a defense, so we should've been getting the closing arguments fairly quickly.  Instead we sat around until almost noon waiting to be called in.  When we finally were marched in, we sat down and the defense rested it's case.  Then we were immediately dismissed for lunch.  We were in the courtroom less than 5 minutes in four hours.  After lunch the closings began.  The prosecution got to do the first and last closings.  They opened with one prosecutor basically babbling for five minutes and resting.  This was a dodge on their part - they gave the defense nothing good to rebut in their presentation.  The defense was relatively short - they were gambling that the state simply hadn't proved it's case well enough.  The defense rested and the final prosecution presentation started.  This was much more polished, with another power point display and some theatrics on the part of the attorney.  Finally we got to jury instructions, which was two and a half hours of the judge reading all 45 charges and the applicable laws and definitions to us.  At 5 we were sent to pick a foreman before they would let us leave.  Everyone wanted the school teacher on our panel to do it since she had been on a jury before but she refused.  I finally volunteered and we broke for the night.  Monday was a holiday so we had to come back Tuesday to deliberate.

On Tuesday I expected this to go quick.  We all agreed on about half the charges - child porn (he had clearly made videos while she was underaged), tampering with evidence (when the police arrived to serve the warrant the criminal mastermind pried his hard drive out with a screwdriver and threw it out the window), and endangering a child (goes with the child porn).  The sticking point turned out to be the rape and imposition charges - in order for him to be guilty we had to all agree the girl was too impaired to realize what she was doing.  10 of us agreed, 2 did not.  One guy felt she wasn't that impaired and had "lured" the guy in.  One of them was so spaced out she wasn't sure who did what and was confused about everything.  We finally decided as a group to watch every video all the way through to see how she acted the whole time.  After doing so the other two were convinced and we convicted him on all 45 counts.  Once the verdict was read in court we were told we had to return for one more day but we weren't told why. 

On Wednesday (Day 8) we arrived at 1PM and got called in.  Since we had convicted the defendant was had to now decide if he was a violent sexual predator.  We finally got told his criminal history - he had previous felony convictions for molesting an 8 year old boy, had dozens of arrests for indecent exposure, etc.  We deliberated less than an hour and decided he was.  Once everything was decided we were excused and got to meet the judge in his office.  He told us about why the trial had been delayed and thanked us all for our service.  We left confident we had done the right thing.

A week later the defendant was sentenced to 100 years to life in prison. 

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

"For a guy like DP, taking a shot is playing the $1/1 at Terry's because he's been hitting" - Colin (at Adam's $4/8 O8 game).


It's a poker player's worst enemy. Ego causes more bad poker decisions than reading Harrington on Hold'em. A year ago, that comment by Colin would've pissed me off. A year ago I was still clinging to the delusion that I could play as good as anyone else in the group. I thought that when I was sharp I could outplay anyone else. I mean, you have to believe that, right? Why the fuck would anyone sit at a cash table knowing they were going to get owned? Yet, I did it over and over and over. For years.

One of the biggest stumbling blocks in my poker development has been my generous ego. Win a few pots off Colin or Brian and I feel like Mike McD in Rounders, ready to go blow my load on Teddy KGB. Then I'd go and get crushed a few times and curse my bad luck. After all, I couldn't have been outplayed right? I wasn't outmatched was I? Of course not! Oh, wait, yes I was.

It takes a lot out of a poker player to admit that he simply sucks at a game.  For me, that part of poker that I am terrible at is NLHE cash games.  I've told myself every excuse available to soothe my damaged ego.  Look back into the past two years of my blog, they're all in there.  I had convinced myself that I simply ran bad for three years.  How is that even possible?  I was sure it was because I was at times severely under bankrolled for games.  The problem with that excuse is that I played equally bad when I was flush with bankroll.  I just didn't notice all the losses until they tapped me.  One of the things that has helped me with my cash game decisions is the Poker Journal app for the iPhone.  After installing it, I was finally able to see just how fucking horrible I was.  Not only that, but PJ breaks down for me what games I am getting trounced at.  Guess which ones?  Yes, NLHE cash.  I would play NL for a while, sometimes bank a few wins, then spew it all off.  Then I'd crawl back to LHE and grind up a roll and do it all over again.  My only profitable games are the ones that most everyone agrees I am best at - Limit HE and mix games. 

So, why don't I just play the games I'm best at?  Sounds simple enough, doesn't it?  From a strictly statistical point of view, that's the smartest thing to do.  An investor on Wall Street wouldn't continue to dump money into a stock that he KNEW was a long term loser.  So, why would I dump money in such a manner?  I used to marvel at John (Mr. Data) and the discipline he showed by never playing NLHE cash with us.  He knew it wasn't a profitable game for him, and simply wouldn't play it.  Instead of marveling at him, I should've taken the hint. 


I wanted to beat the better guys.  I wanted to be the one doing the owning.  Over the course of the past few months, I have reached a turning point.  I am very serious about pursuing poker as not just a leisure but a source of income.  I just need to overcome my ego.  I have to be able to admit that I am not (by a longshot) the best NLHE cash player in the group.  In fact, I am probably one of the worst.  I always thought that given a large enough roll I could outplay anyone else.  There's been a few things that have happened that have convinced me of how wrong I was.

First, I read a book.  This particular book expounded at length about how willing stupid people are to sit and get cleaned out by "pro" players.  The author was amazed that otherwise smart people would volunteer to sit with pros and lose money to them happily just to say they played with someone that good.  I realized that part of the reason I continued to play with the best players we have is just to maintain that illusion that I was as good as them.  They'd all invite me to games first because I was easy money to them.  The second thing was my lack of bankroll in the past few months.  I'd had to dip into it to clear bills, buy things for the kids, and pay my own expenses.  It was left pretty decimated.  This actually forced my hand - with a bankroll of only a few hundred dollars I simply CAN'T play any NLHE cash games.  I can't afford it.  I had to play limit games - and suddenly I was grinding out a profit.  Consistently.  Add some mix games (except for my bad weekend two weeks ago where I had no business even playing) and I'm actually turning my Poker Journal needle around.

I'm one of the few people in the group that can admit that I am a losing player.  Not that it's a secret, mind you.  I am down overall for the past two years.  90% of it is NLHE cash.  Ask any five people from our group, and all five will tell you they're ahead for the year.  I know a few people (I won't mention names but if you play regularly you can fill in the blanks) who seem to never have a losing session.  They are never down.  They always manage to dig back out when they are stuck.  Every time I ask how they did I hear them say they're up (even when other people at the table agree they were massively stuck).  I understand it though.  No one wants to say they're a loser.  No one wants to face the idea of being a bad player.  It's like the guy who never makes a bad play or never makes a bad call.  Everyone else knows he's full of shit, but he feels like he has to justify his stupid call or he'll lose face.  What more of image do I have to lose?  Everyone agrees (usually behind my back but lately even to my face) that I am a bad player.  So, what will be saved by me continuing to delude myself?  Nothing.

So, I am refocusing.  With my personal situation changing, I have more freedom than ever before in my life.  I am able to take off when I feel like it and go play.  I can take the car and point it at Rivers when the mood strikes me to and play $4/8 all weekend.  I can sniff out the good mix games and festivals and grind them out.  Will I make $1000 at a sitting playing low limit?  No.  Will I finally get my shit together and become a winning player?  I hope so.

Otherwise, what's the point in playing?  Ego?

The Poker Player's Christmas

So, everyone in our area that enjoys poker LOVES Labor Day weekend. It's an extra day off to play poker, AND the area is jammed with local church festivals that have poker games going. I had a full weekend of poker booked, starting with Data's Poker After Dark. The day of the game (around 2PM) he lets me know the A/C doesn't work. So, me being an A/C mechanic, I head there after the game and get it running. I buy in and leave, running home for a shower and wardrobe change. I should've stayed home.

The first hand I play is AA. It folds to the SB (to my right, a new guy named John I think). He limps, I raise. He calls. Flop Q-10-2. He checks, I bet, he quickly calls. Q on the turn. Ruh roh. He checks, and I decide to see where I'm at. I bet and he quickly calls again. Shit, he has a Q. River is a brick and he checks a third time. I roll over AA and he slaps QJ down and scoops the pot. After last weekend's horrible run I seriously consider just leaving at that point. I can see I'm going to be running bad and I'm already demoralized and stuck. I stick around for another couple hours, winning only a few small pots. I finally bleed down to nearly nothing and shove 7BB with pocket 3's. Colin calls with A8 and I am drawing dead preflop. Sure enough, A on the flop. Ugh.

Saturday I had decided I wasn't going to play, until Ryan Rufe (proprietor of Rufebert's Poker Room) decided to host a single table $40 SNG. I headed over and we ended up 8 handed. Jack had asked if we could do a single emergency rebuy and Ryan agreed if you busted before the first break. I was running bad early and kept raising into better hands or getting trapped. I reshipped my stack with A5h against Jimmy's 10's and he reluctantly called, busting me. I rebought and went on a heater. I began making hands and good reads. I busted Yosh and his friend and built up the #2 stack at the table. Jack went out on the bubble and it was me vs. Jimmy heads up. I doubled up early with Q2 against his 99 (Q on flop). I started chipping away at him until I had a slight lead, then I finished him. I shoved preflop (blinds at this point had me with 15BB and chip lead) with 78c. He snap calls with AA, and I flop a straight and flush draw. River 6 locks it up for me and I win.

With that win (and a bankroll again) I decided to hit the St. Elias charity festival. Most of my CPMG friends were heading to St. Rocco's to play NL because their games were notoriously soft. I wanted to play limit, and from what I heard it was a zoo trying to get in at St. Rocco's so I went to Brooklyn instead. I bought in at $3/6 and got sat at a table of absolute morons. There were only two other people who knew how to play and we took turns beating up the fish. I ground out a $175 profit (at $3/6 this is a huge win) and left. I was up, I left with a profit, and fuck it all I felt good! I stopped at the main tent while I was waiting for the rain to die down and watched the arab girls belly dancing.

Sunday I decided to go make another withdrawal at St. Elias. I got there at 1:05 (doors open at 1) and got waitlisted for $3/6. I was about to sit at $1/2 when someone got up to move to $1/2. I took the limit seat and was steady grinding for a few hours. I was up $110 when the cards turned on me. I got rivered in a few big pots. I made a few iffy calls and they didn't work out. I was back to about dead even when I went on the sickest low limit run I've had in over a year. First I get dealt 33 in a kill pot (the limits are doubled for one hand). I flop 3's full and get paid. Then I win the next pot with 96 off from the button (flopped a 6, turned trips and cracked AA). Kill again. I get A-10, raise and get one callers. Flop A-4-5 get called all the way by QQ. Kill again. (These are consecutive hands). Get dealt 8-6 off and get into the biggest hand of the day at the table. One limper for $6, guy at other end makes it $12. Three callers to me. I already have $6 in or I wouldn't but fuck it, right? I call and lady behind me calls. Flop K-10-8 two clubs. From nowhere the lady inexplicably leads for $6 into the raiser. call-call-call to me. Hmph. I call. Turn, 6h. Bink! She leads for $12, call-call-fold to me. I bump it to $24. She snap calls, as does original raiser. Angry arab guy who had been tagging along gets mad and slams hand into the muck. River 2d. Check check to me. I lead for $12 as I am sure I have the best hand. Call-call. Angry arab who folded is having convulsions. Lady shows A-10 for a pair of 10's, original raiser has QQ for Q's, and I show my two pair and scoop a monstrous pot. Arab guy explodes, calling me horrible for raising him off his pocket 2's that would've won. Aw, sorry. I scoop it and post another kill which I take down by raising to $12 with 67d and getting no callers. Finally I post one last kill and fold 4-8 preflop to a raise. In that short span I went from even to +$402. I take a pic and send it to Kirsten who pleads with me to get up and leave. Data (who was on the rail) agrees I should leave. I play one more orbit, folding to the blinds again before getting up and banking my win. I mean, how much more can I reasonably expect to make?

Excited and happy, I walk out +$577 for two days work at $3/6. Sometimes, I really love this game.
I Run Bad (My tardy "Weekend of 8-27/28 report")

So, as you might have noticed, my blog about two weeks ago is conspicuously absent. "Why didn't he post about his trip to PA?" you might be asking. More likely you are asking "Why do I keep reading this shit blog?". Probably to see if I'm going to trash anyone from the group.

Anyway, so I went to Rivers last Saturday to play more $4/8. I had been invited to play $3/6 HORSE+Triple Draw at Colin's but the guest list included someone who I personally despise and did not want to be around, so I decided to go to PA. Rivers has sent me a set of free parking passes for the entire football season. I know enough to know I don't want to get there late on a football day, so we leave at 3:30 knowing the game is at 7. Well, fuck. From the bottom of the off ramp to the parking garage at Rivers (normally 30 seconds) takes almost an hour. We were re-routed around the casino and around a highway detour and back. Note to self: Go early or don't go.

Inside I sat at $4/8. There was only one table and it wasn't full. I figured it would fill out after the game so I wasn't worried. I bought in $400 and proceeded to play awful for the next 10 or so hours. I was stuck $120 early merely from calling and bricking flops and missing draws. At one point I switched seats because there's a blind guy (no shit, he's 94% blind as he will tell you repeatedly) sitting to my right who gets up and leans over me every hand to see the board. He's a nice guy but it drives me nuts so I move. I go on a heater, winning three pots and am actually UP $3. Sad as it is, I consider leaving as I am feeling impatient and tired and am not hitting hands. Instead of doing the smart thing I stay too long and end up spewing off $200. I decided to get up when the table started breaking and sat down at a $1/3NL. I received 0 playable hands for almost 2 hours before going broke on a draw heavy board that I bricked twice. Tired, pissed off, and fairly broke I decided to shuffle back to Cleveland. That two hour drive home seems like 10 hours when you're stuck. Fortunately, I learned a long time ago to leave gas, toll, and food money in the car in case the session doesn't go well.

The next day I wanted to play the $4/8 O8 at Adam's but was having a liquidity problem with my cash flow (the well ran dry). I tapped another player for a buy-in and sat in the game. I ran really well for a while, building the $150 up to $270 before I had to leave for 45 minutes to run an errand. Upon my return I proceeded to miss everything, play too many hands, and spew off the stack. I borrowed another $100 which I managed to run myself almost back to even with, but Adam called the game before I could get completely unstuck. I ended up -$30 and embarrassed that I didn't leave when I was +$120.

The lesson to be learned here is: Stop playing when I'm so tired, and get up when I get up.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Common Mistakes I See At Limit Hold'em Tables (Or, it's slow at work and I'm bored so here's a bonus blog entry)

I play a lot of Limit Hold'em. I do this for several reasons. First, most LHE players in casinos are AWFUL. They are inexperienced, they have the most obvious tells, and generally are easy to read and control. Second, LHE offers me a chance to limit my variance by being able to control pot size and betting. It's virtually impossible to get stacked in LHE on one hand, someone with a lot of experience can make a decent profit by grinding. LHE offers me a chance to build my bankroll without the risk of losing my entire stack to a two outer on the river. True, you don't generally make as much as you would playing NL but you also don't generally lose as much.

Most LHE players make the same mistakes over and over again, and they generally won't learn from the failures or don't understand them. I present to you a small list of common mistakes I see and how you can avoid doing the same and also capitalize on them yourself. In these examples I am referencing $4/8 limit but it applies to whatever you're playing.

1.) Buying In Too Short
This is the most common mistake I see. People often buy in to a limit table for the minimum or close to it. I don't understand why I see people put $100 on the table, lose it, and buy another $100 over and over. Why not just buy $200-$300? You simply cannot focus on playing good poker when you're this low. At NL short stacking is popular, but at limit it's just dumb. At limit tables I like to buy for a MINIMUM of 50BB (so, if you're playing $4/8 with $2/4 blinds, that'd be $200). I personally prefer to have closer to 100BB when I sit down. This gives me plenty of room to make mistakes and tight calls and still have enough chips to avoid feeling pressure.

2.) Checking Down Too Many Hands
I can't tell you how aggravating it is to see people check monstrous hands like full houses, flushes, etc on the river. WHY? If I have a full house and you're check/calling me I will let you go up to the window and get more chips to put in. I know a lot of locals at the table will try to play "friendly" with other locals and check down big hands, but I often see people check bottom full house because they are scared of quads or something stupid like this. You absolutely MUST squeeze every bet you can out of the suckers in the hand with you, ESPECIALLY at lower limits. If you miss 10 value river bets a night you're giving up $80 in profit at $4/8. That's retarded! Am I sometimes betting into quads? Sure, but if you're any good you should be able to limit the damage in spots like this.

3.) Calling People Too Light
Idiot: "I thought he was bluffing!"
Me: "At $4/8? That's a suicide run."
Idiot: "He done bluffed me once in 1956 with four aces on the board"
Me: "It's $4/ know what, nevermind. Good call with 22 on a board of AKQJJ."

Nothing drains your stack quicker than bottom pair/no kicker in limit. People think "Ah, it's just a couple of bets" to run someone down and see what they had. Why? I can sometimes justify a call on the flop if you're in position and no one's going to raise. If you don't turn help (like two pair or trips) the hand should be jettisoned. Bleeding $4 at a time adds up over a night. 10 saved flop bets is still $40. I would like $40. Give it to me and I'll slap you. Same idea.

4.) Playing Too Passively/Not Raising

People (often broke NL players trying to rebuild their stacks) will whine that you can't protect your hand at limit hold'em. Sure you can. I played 6-1/2 hours of $4/8 at Rivers last weekend and there were exactly two times the betting was three bet preflop and both times it was me needling a bad player (see last week's blogisodes). This is unacceptable. In late position with anything mildly playable I am raising. Even if only one idiot folds I am still bettering my odds. True, people WILL run you down in limit more often than NL. You need to adjust your game for this though. If I raise with AK (which I do every time) and the flop is 4-5-7 and the guy across from me wets his pants then I can check. Oh well, lost two bets. Ask yourself this - if it's limped to me, would I call two bets with this hand? If the answer is yes, RAISE. Maybe you miss (and you often will) but you will build a bigger pot and win more if you continue to raise. Playing too passively alerts people when you DO have a big hand because if you're a nit you never raise otherwise. Nits at LHE are doomed to be perpetual losers. If I see a table full of nits limping I will pound them to loosen it up. Just be sure you can take your foot off the gas if you're missing too many flops or getting run down a lot.

Hope you've learned a few things. Limit hold'em can be a gold mine for players like us. The people are easy to read, hands easy to figure out, and the money can be good if your hands hold up. Be prepared to take a ton of beats (limit is like paying $4 a hand to be kicked in the balls) but the pots you do win will make up for it. Control your emotion, exploit theirs.

Full weekend report will be posted Monday(ish).

Monday, August 22, 2011

Poker Is A Game Of Skill, Or Is It?

(Part II of my special two part "you probably are getting sick of the length of my blog posts" series - make sure you read Part I below first)

Remember how I felt good and poker liked me back? Yeah, that didn't last. I was all jazzed up about playing at Terry's. Up to this point the weekend had been going well and I felt like I could win. I bought into the $100 deepstack and decided to snug up my play. I have been adjusting my tournament play including keeping a journal with notes on my play, strategy against certain players, tells, etc. I started off slow and it got even slower. I received precious few playable starting hands and the ones I did play either missed completely or won me small pots. I couldn't get a stack going and never once was above my starting amount. I folded round after round of Q3, J2, K3, etc etc. I was literally blinding to death. I finally got down low and open raised with AJ. Data shipped it in from the button. Caveman anguishes and folds JJ, and Data shows 99. After I busted I got a seat in the cash game. I was hesitant to play this game for two reasons: (a) this was a $1/1 but I knew it would play like a $2/5 or worse, and (b) these guys typically eat me alive. They're all overly aggressive and I have trouble beating them. I thought since I had been hitting it would be OK to take a shot. My first buy I was down $50 just from blinds and calling small raises and missing flops. I ended up stacking off to Ang when I flopped a set and she turned a straight. I didn't even see the straight, which should've been my signal to leave. Instead I lit fire to another buy-in. I got dealt aces and decided to slow play it. On a flop of Q-8-7 two diamonds I get my stack all-in against Krazy Mike who promptly turns a one out Q to get the rest. At that point I couldn't justify another buy-in, it wasn't likely I would make it back and the max buy was too low to chase. Instead I left.

Sunday I decided to take a trip to Pittsburgh and play some $4/8 at Rivers. I could've went to Nautica, but the limit tables there are so rife with cheating and angle shooters that I'd rather drive two hours away to play. I bought in and started playing and on hand three turned quad 5's with my 35h. I made about $30 that hand and spent the next five and half hours swinging up and down. I was up $40, then stuck $110. I would get ahead and then lose to some calling station who couldn't let go of a draw. Fortunately, there was a guy at the table whom I've played with before and he's AWFUL. He looks (and plays) like a former CPMGer who has trouble keeping track of the bank. When I got there he was running the table over, raising every bet and pushing. When he would get called he would refuse to table his hand until he saw yours. I knew immediately I wanted this guy in every hand with me. Every time I got stuck, he would come through and try to run me over. He had $300 in front him when I sat down, after an hour he was rebuying. I counted six rebuys at $100 each (why he didn't just put a few hundred on the table at once I don't understand). At one point, he took a break after a beat and left to go smoke. When he returned he was calm and started playing better. I couldn't have that, so I decided to needle him. I started raising every time he was a blind. About the 3rd time I did it I had AJc and he was getting steamed. He three bet me and I capped him immediately. The flop came K-K-J. He immediately leads and I raise, he three bets and I cap. On the turn he fires again and I consider the outside chance he has a K. I just call the turn and the river is another J. He bets, I raise and he calls. I flip over the AJ and he is MAD. He starts whining about how lucky I got. I tell him "Look, you don't seem to get it. I am never, ever folding a hand to you". After that, the table caught on to him and began calling him down with ace high and bottom pair (all of which were good). He spewed off another couple hundred and left. In the last hour I caught fire. I made a diamond flush to take a good pot, then bet on the come with a spade flush draw against two people who had flopped straights. My spade came on the turn and I dragged a monstrous pot (almost $300 in a $4/8!) I finished way up and decided to leave at 10:30.

So, despite my awful outing at Terry's my weekend finished off on an UP note. Next weekend is a plethora of CPMG limit mix games (my specialty) so I will hopefully be posting another positive blog entry next weekend. BTW, if you have the chance to play Terry's house I recommend it. He has a wonderful place and he and wife are awesome hosts.

Poker Is A Game Of Skill. Or Is It?

(Part I of a special two part blogisode since it would've been way to much to digest as one long post)

I started this poker weekend with a much better outlook. After last week's seizure inducing chip vomiting I knew I had to improve my concentration, get my frustration under control, and stop making stupid calls. I played at Pyxis' $40 Friday tournament first. Only once was I above my starting stack of $10k. The first hand I played was QQ from the SB. Randy limped for $50, I raised to $150, Jamie reluctantly calls and so does Randy. Flop is 5-6-7 two diamonds. Guess which Q I don't have? I lead for $450, two calls. Turn is a 3. I fire barrel #2 hoping shitty two pair would go away, but it calls and then Randy raises. Awesome, he has to have a 4. I show Tuttle my QQ and fold. Jamie folds his 6-7 and Randy shows A4. Nice hand sir. A few hands later I raise from the cutoff with 88. Pyxis and Randy call. Flop A-4-7. They check, I bet. She hesitates and calls, Randy folds. I put her on diamonds. Turn 4. She checks, I fire out half my stack. She tanks and finally folds an A. Whew! Only hand I played well all night. I gave most of it back to her a round later when I raised from the button with 45h. Flop 3-4-T. She checks, I bet, she calls. Turn Qh putting flush draw out. She shoves. Damn, I didn't see how short she was. I call, she has JJ and I brick. First hand after the break I get AK and raise. Randy three bets me and I shove. He snap calls and rolls over AA. Ooops. I am out.

From there I decided it was too early to go home so I headed down to Nautica. The limit list was insane so I took a $1/2 seat and bought in for $160. First orbit I get 67h in the cutoff and make it $10. Three callers. Flop is J-6-3 two diamonds. Checks to me, I fire $40. Aggro guy shoves all in over the top. It's $127 back to me, I decide he's on a flush draw and call. Two bricks come out, he says "You got me" and shows K9d. I show the 6 and everyone is muttering about my call. Fuck it, I have to show these kids I'm not afraid to stack off to their retarded bets. After that the avoid me like the plague, only three betting or pushing with made hands. One of the super tight players raises preflop, I call in position with J7c. Flop K-9-2 two clubs. I check/call him. Turn 3c. Bink! I open/shove. I was sure he would call, but he tanks. Finally he shows a set of kings and folds. I laugh and tell him I had K9 and thought he was bluffing. He was pretty rattled after that. My stack is around $300 when the table starts breaking and it's close to closing time. I get dealt A5d on the button. I limp, guy on my left just lost a huge pot and is spewing. He makes it $15 to go. Lady to my right calls, I call. Flop 9-7-2 two diamonds. I check, Spewy fires off $25, lady calls. I raise to $80, Spewy angrily folds, lady calls for less and shows me a 9. Turn brick, river A. Ship it! I cash out $388 total. Not bad at all.

Emboldened (and hitting) I return Saturday at opening time for more Nautica. I buy in $200 and in the first hand get AA. No callers. Up $3, tempted to book a win. All of a sudden I remember how to play. I am reading people awesome, making good calls, hands are holding up. For a minute, I felt like Colin. I couldn't miss. People were paying me off. I hit three different gutters, two flushses, two sets, and got a LAG-tard to overplay AJ against my KK for his stack. I roll out of there with $480, and am freerolling for TK's $100 tournament tonight. For once, I felt like I enjoyed the game and the game liked me back a little and might want to meet after school to fool around.