This week in poker

I haven’t been playing a lot of poker lately, mostly because I don’t really ever find the time to set aside a couple of hours (at least) where I can free myself from distraction. The worst thing that I can do when playing a tournament online is to not set aside enough time to do it, or to not sufficiently take away other distractions and leave myself not really paying attention. While not having enough time leads to having to bow out -usually right about when the tournament reaches the money-, playing distracted often leads to some bad plays late in an attempt to make up for not winning the small pots early.

When I jumped onto Pokerstars on Monday, I saw that the weekly MATH tournament was just about to start. At the time I decided to sign up for it, there were only 15 people already entered. I figured that with the aggressive play in these blogger tournaments, it would probably only take an hour or an hour and a half for this one to end. I was wrong. So with other obligations later which could force me to exit early, I decided to give it a shot anyway (Monday is one of only two nights that I am at home with my wife, which is the biggest reason that I don’t enter this one more regularly.).

I managed to play pretty well for the first hour, with the exception of making a pretty questionable call with an A-9o that went on to 4-flush a win. In that instance I really thought he wasn’t holding an ace, but since we both checked it on the river, I think it is fair to assume that neither of us was all that sure of our hands. I got a big double up early when I was holding an A-Q and smooth called a 3x raise pf. When the flop hit AQx, the other guy bet the pot, I min-raised it and he pushed with AK. Hard to put me on AQ there since I had limped, but (IIRC) I was UTG and not too happy with AQo at a full table. When I called the pf raise, I did so knowing that unless I flopped two pair, trips, or a straight I was going to fold it. My stack got padded a bit more when someone pushed UTG (who wasn’t really a short stack) and I happened to have pocket aces, and they actually held up!

After the first hour, there were still ten people left. One of them was gone on the first hand after the break. I made another bad decision preflop shortly after that. I was holding an A-Jo and raised into an open pot from position. When the big blind re-raised it, I was putting him on a re-steal so I called it. Had I been paying a bit more attention, I would have noticed that calling it there was the wrong thing to do. His raise was enough that it pot commited me, I should have either raised or folded. So when the flop came out with three rags I had to push, and he, in turn, had too many chips in the pot not to call. He had AQ but lost to a rivered (I think) jack. While I don’t normally like to play AJo in big pots, the only thing that I don’t like about my play on that hand was smooth calling the re-raise; I had read his raise as a re-steal, I needed to re-raise him there to try to push him out. He probably had enough invested in it that he would have called it anyway, and knowing that he was holding AQ, I don’t think he would have layed it down anyway, but I didn’t give him the option of laying it down pf if he was holding a garbage hand. I’m probably lucky that he wasn’t in it on a re-steal, I could just see my call of the pf raise giving his 37o a chance to hit two pair on the flop.

When it was down to five of us, the play got tight. There were entire orbits without seeing a flop, as everyone folded to whoever raised the pot first. At some point, the chips were nearly evenly distributed, with everyone seemingly waiting for someone else to make a mistake rather than to risk their chips to make a move. It took a tptk vs. flopped set to get us down to 4. Now officially on the bubble, I certainly didn’t want to be the one to make a mistake. I stole the blinds a bunch of times (as did everyone left), and even got to show the hammer on a steal. The next time I looked at the lobby, it was nearly two hours since the start of it. Dinner had long since grown cold, and the wife just stopped by to tell me that she was going to bed. I was pushing with any two cards until I busted now, which wouldn’t take long. The first hand after that, I pushed a qjo into a pot that had already been raised and found myself against aces. Making it the second consecutive time that I have bubbled the MATH (that being the last two times I have played, not the last two calendar weeks). Which is a bit frustrating. I played well, and I really think that if I didn’t have to leave so abruptly I could probably have held on for another dozen hands, and I was only a double up from second place… Yeah, I need to quit playing this one unless I can set aside a bit more time for it.

As for any other poker over the last week or so, well, I just happen to have screenshots of the other three games that I played:

And I forgot to take a screenshot of the leaderboard at the end of this last one, which was another two table sng, so I only have this one:

I’m not playing in huge stakes tournamnets here, but any time I can play in three sngs and win two, finishing second in the third, I’ll take it. Also, if you looked at the pictures, they date from February 1st through last night. These are not selective pictures of only my wins, I have only entered four events (including the MATH) over that span of time. Isn’t it the way of things that now that I can actually put myself in position to actually take down events when I enter, I simply can’t set aside the time to do so…

Oh, and that $1.36 that I started playing stud with a couple of months ago, that is a little over $185 now.

No Limit cash: A tale of two hands

Having enjoyed some success playing stud cash games in all forms (doing exceptionally well in Razz of late), I decided to take another crack at NLHE cash. Because stud games are all played in some form of limit, the amount that you can win or lose on any single hand is minimized. So it was my thinking that if I played a solid NLHE game, I would be able to double my money a lot faster. Well that is true, but I can also stack myself a lot faster.

My cash game got off to a fast start with what is far and away my largest single hand win to date:

And how bad must that have sucked for the other guy?

Unfortunately, that was followed almost immediately by my largest single hand loss to date. I was in the big blind on this hand, and there were two limpers prior to the button. The button put in a raise that made it $1.50 to go (.25/.50 blinds), and was immediately called by the small blind. That put the pot at $4.50, and with a suited 78, I was willing to call a buck to see the flop. The flop gave me every draw known to man, as well as top pair. I bet the pot, which got all but the pf raiser to fold, he went all in. I had him covered (the bet was about $40), but barely, and the huge overbet was just what I would expect from someone with an overpair who knew that there were too many draws on the board. I made the call as a pretty significant favorite, although he did have a better hand when the chips went in.  As often happens in these situations on PokerStars, I was staring at the screen mouth agape and forgot to screenshot it. This pic from a calculator though does nicely since it shows the odds:

A call that I really have to make with an OESFD. Any 4, 7, 8, 9, or heart and I win the hand. A quick look at the math shows that I had two shots at roughly 20 outs, and I managed to miss every one of them.

NLHE: The woman who beats me, but I always come crawling back

Several weeks ago I made mention of my quest to turn my $1.36 on pokerstars into some serious cash. Admittedly, I thought the odds of doing it were pretty grim, but with the future of online gambling (money transfers specifically) currently up in the air, I wasn’t about to transfer any more funds into it (in fact I had transferred my money out of all sites but pokerstars and full tilt prior to this).

When I started trying to build up my buck, it was exclusively in stud hi-lo, simply because winning there (at micro levels) was fairly simple. It took a couple of weeks, but I was able to build the initial $1.36 to over $50 in low limit stud. At that point I started risking portions of it on NLHE tournaments. There is just something about the atmosphere of the NLHE tournament that just isn’t there in a cash stud game. Of course I was still playing those at low levels as well, with just enough success to keep the bankroll slowly going up.

Last week I also bought into the MATH and WWDN tournaments, which have a combined buy-in of just over half of my total bankroll. I managed to donk out of the MATH early after making simply a horrible call that I don’t want to discuss (the short story is just because someone is playing like a maniac and raising every hand doesn’t mean that they don’t have the cards to back it up -at least some of the time). The WWDN went notably better. I was playing well and getting some cards when I needed to. I managed to also donk out of that one after min-raising from UTG with AKo. It got a call from the big blind, who also happened to have a King, but when the flop was a King and two rags I never put him on an 8 to make two pair. Should have raised it more to push him out preflop. Noted. That cash (sixth place I think) put me right back at 50 bucks.

I am still playing the stud for a while each day, and I am still winning overall, but I am having more losing sessions than I used to, and after an entire week of nothing but stud I am only up about 4 bucks. So I needed to switch gears. Too much of anything can be detremental to my game (as evidenced by my play in NLHE when I was playing it daily). So I decided it was time to try out some HORSE.

I am pretty good at Hold ‘Em (hey, it’s my story), I can hold my own at Omaha, and Stud Hi-Lo has always been my best game. That leaves only Razz and Stud Hi to try to fake my way through, right? Well it turns out that I am not nearly as good as I thought at Hold ‘Em (see, it’s limit Hold ‘Em, a completely different game), and Razz likes to deal me an A23 every hand only to deal four consecutive kings afterwards. Omaha has quickly become my strongest game, and I just try to avoid getting into the hands at all in Stud hi. I have done pretty well so far. In four HORSE games (single table sng), I have finished on the bubble twice, second once, and third once -noting that the bubbles were back to back, followed by third, then second.

So I am having success -at least in the form of not losing any money- at every form of poker except NLHE. So all of the meager winnings from the other forms of poker end up going back to buy ins in NLHE. I do this even knowing that I will need at least a few premium hands, I will need to play solid poker for a couple of hours, and I will have to get lucky at least three times (luck in the form of winning coinflips, though suckouts help too) to have a cash finish. It takes a lot more work, a lot more time, and certainly a lot more money to play in them, but it is so much more gratifying to do well in a NLHE tournament than to stack someone in a stud cash game. Why? You got me.

But all the stud play over the last few weeks has afforded me the ability to play in the MATH yet again. This time I was able to make some plays when I needed to, pick up some cards in good position a couple of times, and, yes, even get lucky a few times. It took two hours to finish the game (I think there were 16 entrants), and I only came in second, but the $84 payday puts my current bankroll at just over $112.

$1.36 to $112 in just over a month. Now if I can just keep increasing it 80x every month I should be golden with a year…

…And the poker gods were angered

Since returning to work, I have been playing a lot less poker. At first I thought this was going to cause my play to suffer since I wouldn’t have endless amounts of time to hone my skills (making the same mistakes over and over again isn’t exactly honing your skills though, is it?). The truth is that I have been playing far less often, but have been playing far better poker (at least that’s the story I’m going with today).

I have been playing far fewer MTT’s, since time simply doesn’t allow for putting aside three hours to play more than once or so a week. My MTT play isn’t that bad when I do play, my last two -both 180 SnG’s- resulted in a final table and a bubble. The final table was my first such appearance at a final table in a field of over 100 people, and the run could have continued if not for a rare set over set flop; I simply couldn’t have guessed that he had pocket 7’s (the only over card to my flopped set of 3’s), so I am not beating myself up over that one.

As a result of the time constraints, I have gone back to playing in single table SnG’s, which really is what got me started in the first place. I have found that, much contrary to what I had convinced myself after playing so many blogger events, I am actually pretty good at them. I have played in about a dozen of them over the last week, and I am in the positive as far as bankroll goes. Sure that isn’t exactly going to send me off to retirement, but at a single table SnG first place is only 4x (roughly) the buy-in. And, more importantly, I am winning them with far less than premium cards. One in particular I won with my best starting hand (aside from a pair of aces where it was folded around) being a pair of tens. In that particular game, my stats showed that I won just over 10% of all hands dealt without a showdown. Since I wasn’t getting decent starting cards, and I certainly wasn’t nailing any flops, that means that I was winning pots with the worst hand at least some of the time, and that is something that I really need to be able to do more often if I want to win -regardless of the size of the field.

Unfortunately I don’t have any screenshots of my slow progression in skill. What I do have a screenshot of is from a SnG that I ultimately bubbled. This is a hand where the poker gods were obviously making ammends for some of the sick beats they have thrown on me over the last couple of months. Also, it could be a clinic on how not to play a big hand -particularly when a shortstack is on the chopping block.

Blinds are at 15/30, I am on the button with an AQo. The big blind has just been beaten badly and has only 70 chips left, 30 of which are already in the pot. It comes to me with two limpers, who I would like to get out of the hand, knowing that the big blind is going to call with literally any two cards since he already has half his remaining chips in the pot. I raise to 120, which is slightly larger than any pf raise I have put in thus far in the game, but which I thought would work to isolate the blind -at least it would have if anyone had been paying attention to my betting patterns. Instead, both of the pf limpers call the bet, as well as the big blind. So now we have four to the flop with the short stack positionally forced into it.

The flop is 77Q, giving me TpTk, which I figure to be a lock over the other two pf limp/callers, but I am perfectly content to just check it down since I know that the blind could have anything, and that anything could include a 7. Unfortunately, Clowny McAsshat in the bottom right didn’t want to check it down, he wanted to bet out just under half the pot. In our brief time at the table together, I have seen all of Clowny McAsshat’s game, it goes something like this: call, call, call, fold, call, call, fold, call, fold, All-in pf (which leads to a fold-around), show his big hand, call, call, call, fold, All-in pf (which leads to a fold-around), show his big hand, call, fold…You get the idea. If he had a pair of anything he would have gone to his All-in pf move, so I am giving him credit for a queen here, but with an ace kicker I am sure that I have him dominated. I can’t put him or the other caller on a 7, since I don’t see calling a 4x pf raise with it. I can, however, put the short stack on a 7, since he had to call regardless of his cards. Since Clowny McAsshat wanted to bet out with a hand that I was certainly dominating, I decided not to pussyfoot around: I pushed. He instacalled. What was he holding? If you guessed limped Aces, give yourself a lollipop. It seems that Clowny McAsshat was beginning to understand that his call, call, call, All-in pattern was a bit too predictable, but had yet to grasp the subtle nuances of the pf re-raise.

So I was actually dominated. Damn. But this time the poker gods decided to teach someone a lesson about limping aces pre-flop. And boy did they ever teach him:

Nice to be on the other end of one of those for a change.


My aforementioned stud quest has been going pretty well. So well in fact that I have had turned my initial $1.36 into over $50. I have to be honest though, playing at the .10/.20 levels is so easy it almost feels wrong. Sort of like beating up a cripple or something. Unfortunately my bankroll was just getting to a point where I felt comfortable moving up in levels when I decided to waste 60% of it on a couple of buy-ins.

My work schedule makes it so that the only blogger tournaments that I am home to possibly play in are the MATH and the WWDN. This week I decided to take a shot at the MATH after not having played a tournament in probably four weeks or so. My finish was really a bit misleading, or at least I think it was, considering I think I made a few really tough calls laydowns along the way.

The first one was on the very first hand of the MATH tournament. I was dealt pocket kings in late position and it came to unraised with one limper. Wes is the one that had limped into it, and I was putting his range on basically any two cards since it had come to him unraised. I raised him 3x his bet, which he thought about for a while before smooth calling. At this point I am assigning him a range of cards that would be a pocket pair, a strong ace, or possible some suited connectors -though I thought the suited connectors to be pretty unlikely. The flop came out a 7-8-9 rainbow, which was a pretty horrible flop for me, but I still though I likely had the best hand. I bet out the pot and he again waited for a bit before making the call. At this point I have just narrowed his likely holdings down significantly. For him to call both my pf bet and the bet on the flop, I figure he has to have either an overpair or a 7, 8, or 9 to make trips. It is still possible that he is on an Ace, but for him to make the call on the flop with an ace, I have to assume that he is holding either a 10 or a jack to give him the straight draw.

The turn brings a 10. So now I have pocket kings with the board showing 7-8-9-10. Great. This is where I think I really misplayed the hand (though I have thought about it, and it is probably possible that if I had pushed on the flop I could have forced him to fold). This time he bet out for 200, which was just under half the pot. I just called him here and I am not sure why I even did that. The range of hands I have narrowed him to is a pair of anything from 7-Ace, or an A-10 or A-J. Of those ten hands, the only one that I am currently ahead of is pocket queens. When he pushed on the river (another 8) I had to lay it down (and probably should have layed it down on the turn). He asked if I had an overpair, and said that he did have jacks, so it was a good laydown, but it sucks to get a premium hand early on and have to fold it after already committing almost a third of my stack to it.

Later in the game I was dealt pocket jacks. This time it came to me with a 3x bet already put onto it. Again, it was Wes that was giving the action. I raised his bet by 3x really hoping that he would just lay it down. Of course he instead pushed his chips in. He was in position on this hand, so it is entirely possible that the push was a pure bluff, but I wasn’t ready to find out. His first raise was positional and probably would have been the same regardless of what he was holding. Reraising me all in, though, was either a good hand or an excellent read that I wouldn’t want to gamble that hand. I don’t like to call with jacks because I generally always end up against a higher pocket pair or an A-K or A-Q, either of which is barely an underdog to jacks. Of course when I eventually busted later (I pushed with garbage, I think it was a suited 3-10) I would convince myself that this was where I needed to take my shot.

So I played in the WWDN the next day hoping to avenge myself. And it was more of the same. This time though I really misplayed it. Pocket queens -poison, I tell you. why does anyone play them? I raised it preflop and got one caller, who was a shorter stack at the table. Flop came out K-J-x. I absolutely knew that he wasn’t holding a king. My logic there was that if he was holding a king it would have to be A-K or he would have folded pf since he acted after me and didnt have any money in the pot, and I just felt he would have raised me if he had been holding A-K. I led out with a pot sized bet, which was well over half his remaining stack, and he called it. So now I know that he is either holding A-J -which I really think he folds there- or A-Q which would give him a straight draw. When the 10 comes on the turn, because of course there has to be a 10 for me to lose, I put him all in just because it was only a couple hundred chips and it was still possible that he hadn’t made the straight that I absolutely knew he had made. This, of course, crippled me.

Now on a short stack, I actually managed to steal a few blinds and win another pot, but I was still desperately short. When a pot came to me with only a small raise from Guin, I decided to take a coinflip with a suited 8-J. I don’t know how I knew it, but I knew that Guin was in it with a small pair, 2’s-7’s I figured. It turned out to be 5’s, so it really was just a coinflip, but one that I figured I had to make with the blinds going up and needing to either double up or call it a night. I somehow managed to not suck out on that hand. Probably the first time I have ever failed to suck out in a preflop all in situation with him. All I can figure is that I was too near even on that one. Usually I suck out when he is at least a 4:1 favorite.

I think I played okay. Well, I think I played a lot of the hands okay, though some of them obviously should have been played differently. I like that I was able to lay down the pocket kings, but I don’t like that I went ahead and called a bet on it after I already knew I was beat. I also don’t like that I was in the same situation the very next tournament and I did exactly the same thing, but with queens, and I all but busted myself even after I told myself that I was beat. Someday perhaps I will learn to trust my damn reads.

Wednesday morning, I bought into a $4, 180 sit and go. I made my way through it without ever falling from the top 20. I actually got more aggressive near the bubble and knocked a few guys out along the way. I played a solid game and would have been a lock for the final table if not for a Hoy-esque recockubeat where my flopped set lost to a runner-runner boat (lord that pissed me off). But even with that I managed to finish in the money and feeling that I played well. I know that the competition at lower levels isn’t exactly WSOP quality, but sometimes I have to jump into one just to find out if I really lost the ability to do well in an MTT. ‘Cause a couple of blogger tournies can really make a guy think that.

Now it is back to the .10/.20 stud tables to try to earn back enough money to take a shot at the MATH next week.

My stud quest

When the anti-gambling legislation was going through the house a couple of weeks ago, I pulled the majority of my meager bankroll from all the poker sites except for full tilt (I left some in full tilt because they very openly stated that they weren’t going to let this sham legislation put them out of business -which is true for now, but in a few months, who knows). It was actually pretty good timing for me anyway, as I recently started a new job and haven’t been playing a lot anyway. Then there is the horrific run of luck I have been having in Hold Em tournaments -don’t get me started on that.

I recently logged back in to pokerstars to check the results of a tournament that I didn’t play in (and with my work schedule there is really only one blogger tourney that I am home to play in anyway), and found that I had somehow managed to leave $1.36 in my account when I pulled out. So just for fun, I decided to see if I could double that up in a cash game. Of course NLHE was out of the question, as I am simply not a good enough cash player to do well there, even at micro levels, so I sat down to a .04/.08 Stud Hi-Lo table to see how far I could go on a buck and change. After playing for about an hour, I had tripled my initial balance and was sitting on a cool fiver.

I was actually having a lot of fun in this endeavor, as I really only had a buck on the line, so I was more willing to draw than I would have been under normal circumstances. The next day I continued on at the .04/.08 table for another hour or so, and managed to make a couple more bucks (technically, I lost my buy-in once when I failed to give a guy credit for a full house when I was betting hard on a flush. But I rebought and came out a couple bucks ahead for the night). Once I was up to about 7 bucks, I started playing the .10/.20 table -that’s big money! After playing the .10/.20 tables for a while, I managed to get to where I was hovering around 13 bucks for three days or so. It would go up and down, of course, and once got below 9 bucks, but it tended to stay right around 13 for several days. So that’s 10x my initial bankroll (if only it would have been more than a buck).

I tend to play these games when I get home from work. That is about 2am my time, but it is 5am on the east coast, so there are never many tables open. In fact the limits that I am playing are usually dictated by which ones are open at all. Sometimes there aren’t any .10/.20’s open so I have to play the lower limit ones, as there never seem to be any .25/.50 ones open either, and with only ten bucks or so, the .25/.50 would kill me quickly anyway.

Last night (well, early this morning really) when I got home from work, there weren’t any .04/.08 or .10/.20 tables going at all. There was a .25/.50 table running, which I watched for twenty minutes or so while trying to decide whether or not I wanted to take a stab at it with my miniscule bank. After observing two of the larger stacks playing extremely loose the whole time, I finally decided to give it a shot. I bought in for 10 bucks, leaving myself only 3 to start over if I managed to stack myself. But I didn’t stack myself, although I came pretty close to it when I was dealt A23 on the second hand. I bet hard until I found myself at sixth street without another low card dropping and everything else failing to pair. That left me with about 5 bucks, which I would put on the line abour four hands later.

I was dealt 456 diamonds, with the six showing. While I don’t remember the exact betting per round, I do know that I was all in by fifth street, and three other guys were there as well. Fourth street brought me the eight of diamonds, and fifth was an offsuit 7 to give me the straight. That was the point when the last of my money hit the pot. There was only 1 other guy with a possible low, which would have been 8 high as well, but it would have required him to hit well or already have two low cards. One other guy had an open pair of aces, and the third guy was showing all spades. Sixth street paired my 8, and seventh gave me the 7 of diamonds for the straight flush (which was actually my second straight flush in two days. The other one coming in a .04/.08 game, clubs 8-Q). It was extremely fortunate that I hit that card too, as I needed every bit of it to take down the main pot. It turns out that I was the only one with a playable low. The one guy who was in it on a low draw folded on seventh street. The guy who was showing aces had made a boat with aces and 3s, and the other guy had been riding a king high flush since fifth street. Just over 20 bucks slid back over to me on that hand.

Of course I logged in this morning to play a bit more, but back down at the .10/.20 table, and I managed to donk off 4 bucks in about ten minutes, but I am still sitting at 20 bucks. I want to see just how much I can turn that initial 1.36 into. I am going to continue playing the lower level tables until I reach some as yet undetermined amount and then try to move up in stakes as long as I am able to remain profitable. I can usually win 4 or 5 bucks during a winning session at the .10/.20 limits (with about 3 of 5 being winning sessions, the other two usually ending near even or down just a bit -though I do get stacked occasionally), so I figure I should be able to get to fifty within a week or so, at which point I will probably try the .25/.50 limits for a while. Regardless of how much I make, or even if I blank myself, I am having a heck of a lot of fun on that 1.36!

The Mookie

I spent a long time debating whether or not to sign up for The Mookie last night. Why? The new episode of South Park that was on last night was about World of Warcraft. See, my wife and I have an addiction to a very similar game, and I absolutely had to watch it with her. So when I signed up, I knew I needed to be done in two hours -hell making it two hours in a blogger tourney is a pretty impressive feat.

I actually did pretty well, and was still around as it was nearing the second hour. I was about the middle of the pack with 15 or so remaining when the episode of South Park started, so I was between the bedroom and the pc trying to watch it and play my hands. Eventually I just called a couple of pushes (one with A-7 one with K-5) and busted out in 12th. With the people still remaining in the tournament it was going to take some ideal play, mixed with lucky cards to make it to the money anyway. I am really happy with my play overall, and next week maybe I can set aside more than two hours, just in case I happen to get deep again.

Anyway, I got into a hand fairly early on that led Alcanthang to call me a donkey, so I just wanted to throw it up here and see if I can get an opinion or two on how donkey-ish my play was.

I am in early position with K-Jo. I am going to try to limp into the pot with K-Jo most of the time anyway, maybe I raise if I am on the button and no one is in it, but in this situation limping from EP is my choice. It folds to Al, who is on the button, and he limps as well. Since he limped from the button, I am not putting him on much of a hand here, possibly king or queen high or a suited two gapper. Flop comes up Q-10-6 rainbow, giving me the OESD. I want to take another card for sure, barring an insanely large bet, so I check it. If I was on the button here, and it was checked around to me, I would bet it. In this case I checked because I wanted to see the next card as cheaply as possible. With the range of hands I was putting Al on, I figured he could have paired any card on the board so I was fairly sure he was going to bet. Had I bet, he would likely have raised, and with a drawing hand I am not sure if I call a raise. Al makes a pot-sized bet (210 at the time) which I call. I figure his best hand right now is a Q-x, meaning that any Ace, nine, or king puts me ahead. I call the bet with what I believe to be 11 outs (15 if he had limped with a low PP that didn’t connect). If I don’t hit, I am going to have to lay them down on the turn. The turn card is an ace, giving me the straight. But I figure he has me on a drawing hand so if I bet into it he may fold. I check to him and he bets 600 (pot being 630). I reraise him my last 490, he calls and flips over QJo. I take down the hand. Then he calls me donkey.

He goes on to say that my call was foolish because he was 2-1 on the flop. Now even if I knew what he was holding, which I obviously didn’t, though I did figure he had paired either the Queen or the 10, I don’t think he was nearly that far ahead. Even if I did know what he was holding, with 11 outs and 2 cards to come, I think I make that call on the flop. If I had missed it on the turn and he bet 600, I would have probably layed it down, but on the flop with a two way straight draw and a lot of outs, I don’t see how you can lay that hand down. shows the odds on the flop to look like this:

So, was my call of the pot-sized (210) bet on the flop a donkey call? Honestly I would like to know if it was. I don’t think I will quit making that call even if it was, but I am curious to know if it was really such a bad call. And for those of you who get all hot and squishy when you see hand histories, here is that as well:

Full Tilt Poker Game #1067991210: The Mookie – DuggleMoney (7197813), Table 5 – 30/60 – No Limit Hold’em – 22:37:53 ET – 2006/10/04
Seat 1: Patchmaster (2,625)
Seat 2: garthmeister (2,140)
Seat 3: AlCantHang (2,490)
Seat 4: on_thg (1,880)
Seat 5: jjok (1,360)
Seat 6: SurfKiller (3,230)
Seat 7: shadowtwin (1,360)
Seat 8: DontKnow (3,185)
Seat 9: RoccoBoxer (2,425)
on_thg posts the small blind of 30
jjok posts the big blind of 60
The button is in seat #3
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to shadowtwin [Ks Jd]
SurfKiller folds
shadowtwin calls 60
DontKnow folds
RoccoBoxer folds
Patchmaster folds
garthmeister folds
AlCantHang calls 60
on_thg folds
jjok checks
*** FLOP *** [Ts 6d Qh]
jjok checks
shadowtwin checks
AlCantHang bets 210
jjok folds
shadowtwin calls 210
*** TURN *** [Ts 6d Qh] [Ac]
shadowtwin checks
AlCantHang bets 600
shadowtwin raises to 1,090, and is all in
AlCantHang calls 490
shadowtwin shows [Ks Jd]
AlCantHang shows [Js Qc]
*** RIVER *** [Ts 6d Qh Ac] [8c]
shadowtwin shows a straight, Ace high
AlCantHang shows a pair of Queens
AlCantHang: donkey
shadowtwin wins the pot (2,810) with a straight, Ace high
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot 2,810 | Rake 0
Board: [Ts 6d Qh Ac 8c]
Seat 1: Patchmaster didn’t bet (folded)
Seat 2: garthmeister didn’t bet (folded)
Seat 3: AlCantHang (button) showed [Js Qc] and lost with a pair of Queens
Seat 4: on_thg (small blind) folded before the Flop
Seat 5: jjok (big blind) folded on the Flop
Seat 6: SurfKiller didn’t bet (folded)
Seat 7: shadowtwin showed [Ks Jd] and won (2,810) with a straight, Ace high
Seat 8: DontKnow didn’t bet (folded)
Seat 9: RoccoBoxer didn’t bet (folded)

Caution: Uninformed political rambling. Do not read.

You know, just to put it out there, is it just me or do the powers that be seem to be passing a whole lot of legislation based on their inability to control their own actions? Seriously. Whenever someone stands up to champion the cause of getting pornography banned from the internet, it is only a matter of time before his hard drive is found to contain tons of porn, and generally the kind that already is illegal. Sort of like the priests that cry foul when a strip club opens near the church, all the while they are in the rectory ass raping an altar boy.

It is on that note that I question the timing of sneaking the gambling controls into a bill that passed last week. The religious zealots had been trying to get this thing passed for a long time, no doubt because they are gambling addicts, but for this to happen just when yet another Republican is found to be a pedophile… Let’s just say that I think the powers that be were aware that the internet would be abuzz with talk about the gambling law and it would take attention away from the ever more perverse and degenerate cult that is the Republican Party.

Maybe it would be easier if we just tried to pick out the Republicans that aren’t involved in unlawful and immoral behavior. I’m just saying… Might save some time.

The gambling law though. Yeah, it sucks that it went through, but the House, Senate, and President all lost touch with what the people actually wanted years ago. In fact I will be a bit surprised if the next Republican to run for president doesn’t lose by a margin of at least 30%. The democrats could probably nominate someone who is currently in prison and still take it down with the reputation the Republicans have at this point.

How many tens are in this deck?

I jumped into the Mondays at the Hoy (MATHTM) tournament at the last minute last night. I believe this would be the third time I have bought into this one, and since Wil had pimped the tournament on Cardsquad, I was expecting it to be a large field. And it was. More than thirty of the best poker players I know of were there, and with a top prize of well over $200, I think it is fair to say that most of them were taking it fairly seriously (though I think Bone Daddy busted early with a hammer, ’cause it is was a blogger event, and you just gotta play it. What’s up with the blog btw?).

I hadn’t entered a Hold ‘Em tournament (not counting the FTP 20k) since my recent win in the WWDN:Not, and have been trying to limit my exposure to NLHE in general. I have found that I have more success -purely from a financial standpoint- at Pot Limit Omaha Hi/Lo and Stud Hi/Lo and have been focusing on the cash game in those. The rush of putting it all on the line and doubling up on a single play will always keep me taking shots at NLHE though, especially since I think that I am to the point where I really don’t make a lot of mistakes and if I can just win some races -notably the ones where I am a huge favorite- I can realistically play with all these guys.

Early in the tournament, I was able to chip up a bit at the expense of Iakaris. Once on a hand where he had to lay down a low pocket pair when I bet on an ace high flop (if you’re wondering, Iak, I did have the AK on that one), and again a bit later on one I wasn’t sure I was winning but called on the river with KJs on a jack high board. My only mistake on the night was also in a hand with Iakaris. I had 5’s in late position and limped, then called his 3x bet from the big blind. The flop came out with two overs, and Iak bet at it, but I was putting him on two high cards and reraised him. After a bit of thinking, and noting in the chat “no raise preflop?”, Iak pushed. Of course now I knew he had an overpair, but at that point it was 210 to call into a pot of 1900, and I couldn’t see laying it down. If he had had a larger stack at the time, probably just 90 more chips to make the reraise 300, I walk away from that one.

I tightened up considerably after that bad call, not that I was exactly loose prior to it. I was the third caller on an all-in between Wes and Hoy, but with an AKo in my hand, and Wes on a really short stack, I figured both of them to be playing far less than premium hands, and I was right. AK took it down, but not before scaring me with a board that was one away from a 3-way split with a 5 high straight. I played good, smart, if a bit tight, poker last night. With the exception of the one bad call early against Iakaris, I really didn’t make any mistakes. My game was solid.

Shortly after the first break, I found myself at the wrong end of the leaderboard with about 1100 in chips. I had another AKo, this time in late position. I put in a 3x raise, which essentially pot-committed me, but I was going to take this one to bat if anyone called it anyway. I got not only a call, but a re-raise from NewinNov. Frankly, I was giddy that he had called it. This was only the second pre-flop raise I had put in all night, and I kind of expected my tight play to mean everyone was going to fold to a bet. When he pushed his chips in, I was all smiles. Iak noted to me on the girly chat that I was good, see, ’cause he knew this was only my second preflop raise of the night and that I must have the cards to back it up. I thought I was going to be in a race against a high pocket pair, probably 10s through Queens, instead he flipped over an A-10o. Well, I missed the screenshots, so I will post the hand history, it will describe the action far better than I can:

PokerStars Game #6501502915: Tournament #32984225, $20+$2 Hold’em No Limit – Level V (75/150) – 2006/10/02 – 23:10:49 (ET)
Table ‘32984225 1’ 9-max Seat #6 is the button
Seat 1: Astin (2389 in chips)
Seat 3: SoxLover (10128 in chips)
Seat 4: Columbo777 (1803 in chips)
Seat 5: shadowtwin (1095 in chips)
Seat 6: NewinNov (3393 in chips)
Seat 7: Wil Wheaton (1010 in chips)
Seat 8: PhinCity (3812 in chips)
Wil Wheaton: posts small blind 75
PhinCity: posts big blind 150
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to shadowtwin [Kd Ac]
Columbo777 said, “gg”
Wil Wheaton said, “thanks for hosting, sir =]”
NewinNov said, “gg hoy, silly rabbit, you can’t win the MATH”
Astin: folds
SoxLover: folds
Columbo777: folds
shadowtwin: raises 300 to 450
NewinNov: raises 2943 to 3393 and is all-in
Wil Wheaton: folds
PhinCity: folds
EK921 is connected
shadowtwin: calls 645 and is all-in
SoxLover said, “cold deck”
Wil Wheaton said, “yeah, vnh, sox.”
*** FLOP *** [Th 8s 8h]
Astin said, “ruh oh”
Wil Wheaton said, “oh man”
*** TURN *** [Th 8s 8h] [Tc]
Wil Wheaton said, “oh MAN”
*** RIVER *** [Th 8s 8h Tc] [Td]
NewinNov said, “suck suck”
Astin said, “knew that was coming”
shadowtwin said, “lol”
SoxLover said, “lol”
Wil Wheaton said, “OH MAN!”
Astin said, “WOOOO”
*** SHOW DOWN ***
shadowtwin: shows [Kd Ac] (a full house, Tens full of Eights)
NewinNov: shows [Ts Ad] (four of a kind, Tens)
Columbo777 said, “DQB”
NewinNov collected 2415 from pot
Astin said, “didn’t know that was coming :)”
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot 2415 Rake 0
Board [Th 8s 8h Tc Td]
Seat 1: Astin folded before Flop (didn’t bet)
Seat 3: SoxLover folded before Flop (didn’t bet)
Seat 4: Columbo777 folded before Flop (didn’t bet)
Seat 5: shadowtwin showed [Kd Ac] and lost with a full house, Tens full of Eights
Seat 6: NewinNov (button) showed [Ts Ad] and won (2415) with four of a kind, Tens
Seat 7: Wil Wheaton (small blind) folded before Flop
Seat 8: PhinCity (big blind) folded before Flop

If my calculations are right, my AK was about a 70% favorite over his A-10 preflop. But sometimes you can get them in way ahead only to watch the other guy flop a pair, turn trips, and river quads. Whatcha gonna do? Like I say, I am happy with my play, and I made the right call here. I can see why he made the reraise, given my relative stack size and table position. I am happy that he made the call, and I can only pray that I am up against an A-10 every time I am in with an AK. Unfortunately the cards just didn’t fall in my favor this time -in a big, big way.

I gleaned the following quote from Iakaris’site, and have been itching to use it. It seems so fitting right now:

For me, I think the most realistic goal is to try to make the best decisions I can based on holdings, position and read – then hope that I am correct and that I have minimized the role of luck. After that, you just need to be able to stomach the brutal truth underlying poker and life – usually you’re screwed before you even begin.

And for a slightly less defeatist outlook, I have to remember what I myself left in a comment to one of Kat’s posts:

Poker really is like life; the best laid plans and most carefully thought out decisions are often rendered irrelevant by things that are beyond your control. In poker, as in life, all you can do is make good decisions that you can look back on and be happy about. When you do make a mistake, learn from it and try not to repeat it. Sooner or later good decisions will lead to good things. As long as you remain confident and never doubt your own abilities you will win, be it in life or in poker. To call it “just a game” trivializes all the time and effort spent at bettering yourself. Sometimes luck may not be on your side, but it is most certainly never “just a game”.

I suppose I really have to listen to my own damn advice. There is no sense being bitter about losing a hand that I really think I should have won; it serves no purpose. Luck wasn’t on my side last night, but I played well in a field of people that I both respect and fear at the poker table. I played my cards well and gave myself the best possible chance to win, in this game that is the best that anyone can hope to do.

Success of sorts

Well, it seems that pokerstars must have a guy whose full-time job requires him to do nothing but bounce around and read the websites of its players. During his daily routine he must have happened upon my site and saw that I was near walking away because I actually managed to pick up a couple of pairs, win a couple of races, and even suck out huge once in the WWDN:Not tournament last night (though with 17 players it really felt more like a SnG). As you would imagine, picking up a couple of pairs, particularly late, combined with winning my races in every case but one, took me a long way in this one.

I folded nearly every hand for the first forty-five minutes or so, as I was hanging on just above average in FTP 20k about that time, as well as watching Iak and Smokkee at their respective tables. With so many windows open, I had made up my mind to only play premium hands, something that I really should do anyway, and I almost did too. At Smokkee’s table in the 20k, I saw him lose nearly his entire stack (think it was about 6k at the time) when he got in preflop with A-K and some Uberdonk called him with a 39o. A frikking 39o. The poker gods like to reward bad calls though, so there were two 3s on the flop. I had been plugging along in it, not getting all in unless I had the nuts, but as half the field was gone the play was getting more aggressive and I found myself in a position where I was hoping to bust our resident short stack, then things went all screwy.

I picked up 10s UTG and raised it to 4x (blinds at 100/200) thinking I would be able to induce shorty to push at me, and to hopefully isolate him along the way. Unfortunately, we picked up two callers along the way so by the time he raised, as I expected he would, the pot was big enough that a couple other guys were actually getting pretty good odds to call. By the time it got back to me, the pot was at 6500, 800 of which was mine. I had about 3k left, and calling was going to cost me 2500. Now I have never read any of those fancy books, but seeing that pot at 6500, knowing that the first pusher was the short stack, and the second push was getting favorable odds to call it, I thought about this one for as long as I could. I knew that my 10s were going to be ahead preflop, and if they held up I would be sitting on nearly 10k in chips. I crossed my fingers and made the call figuring that I would need a bit of luck, but knowing that with half the field gone I was running out of opportunities to go from 3k to 10k. I assumed I would probably be facing A-J and K-Q, you know, every possible overcard. I was actually up against A-7 and A-J, but of course the flop had an ace in it and I never improved. I managed to double up once more before eventually busting when I pushed A-9o UTG and got called by 10-J s00ted and A-Q. I figure if I didn’t play that hand with the 10s, I could probably have hung around for at least another half an hour, but I likely wouldn’t have picked up anything better than that along the way anyway. You have to win your races if you hope to make it deep in one of those things, someday I will win a few at the right time.

I think folding so much for the first hour of the Not might have worked to my advantage; I wasn’t sitting out since I wanted to be able to play aces if I happened to pick them up, so I had voluntarily folded nearly every hand through the first break. When I actually started playing some hands over there, I was getting far more respect than I deserved. I only made one pure bluff and that was on one of the scariest boards, with an Ace and a King in it. I was holding a Jack and a rag after having been in the BB to get into it, but thought a minbet on the flop looked weak and made my first push of the night. I was sweating that one something awful. Thankfully chip preservation seemed to override his bullshit meter, and he let me have the pot. I made note of how long it took him to lay it down; I got the feeling he was calling me next time, regardless of what he was holding.

When it was down to six players, I noted to Guin that I was in perfect position to bubble. And I really was, first and second had about 3x my stack, while fifth and sixth had less than half, barring anything screwy, it was looking like a bubble or a lucky 3rd for me. Then I made my one horrible read of the night. Nomad1539 was UTG and low on chips and pushed. I had him covered by about 1k with only the blinds left to come. I had picked up A-Jo, and figured I was probably ahead to a desperate push (but why so desperate from UTG? He certainly had enough chips to post a few more blinds) so, after a long pause, I made the call. His cards: A-K diamonds. How’s that for a read, eh? Down to 944 in chips and getting pretty damn desperate.

So I did what desperate people do: I pushed damn near every hand that came to me unraised. Some chips had traded places leaving two guys about tied for the lead at around 7500 in chips, but there were also three guys with between 25 and 3500. Since one of the big stacks was to my right, I stayed out of anything that he got into, and pushed into anything that he didn’t call or raise. The guys after me certainly didn’t want to risk calling my 944 chips when they were jockeying for position and if they lose, they are going to be squarely in last place themselves. I pushed twice and got no callers, chipping myself up to 1244 after having to pay a set of blinds. I noted to Guin in the Girlie Chat that someone was going to call the next one, and the third push is always a monster. The third push was indeed a monster: A-K. I was in the small blind and pushed when it came to me unraised, unfortunately LOK1 had picked up a real monster in the big blind, and called me with kings. I typed “gg” in the chat, ready to leave the table, when the flop came out with not one, but two aces. I’m all for sucking out from time to time, but man that was pretty brutal.

With 2000 in chips, I would pick up 77 two hands later. I raised 3x and got a taker. The flop had my 7, but it also had 3 spades in it. I pushed them in again and managed to double once more, getting me up to 4700 in chips and certainly back in this thing. This is the type of thing that usually happens to everyone I ever play against, not me. But who am I to doubt the Poker Gods when they decide to throw me a bone?

I’ll spare you all a lot of the details from the rest of the game. I’ll just say that I had the cards to back up almost every one of my raises, and after having won three called all-ins in a row, people were kind of staying away from me anyway. I was at about 2500 in chips when it got to three handed, while both opponents had over 11000. I got lucky again when I had a K-9 suck out against Budohorseman‘s A-6. From there my cards caught fire and there was really no looking back.

All in all it took two pretty huge suckouts, and a nice rush of cards short handed, but I managed to take this one down. More than that, I am happy with the way I played. The only glaring mistake I made was when I called with A-J to what I thought was a desperation push, but when looking back on it there was no reason for him to be pushing out of desperation in that position. The suckouts were a product of being short and having to play any ace or king, last night they went my may, many nights they don’t. As they say, that’s poker. This win has given me enough cash to enter a few more events and who knows, maybe I can do well in a larger field with bigger payouts somewhere down the line. Stranger things have happened.