…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 government in action

Since I have to go out and vote tomorrow, I decided to go ahead and take a peek (at the wife’s urging) at the propositions that I am going to be voting “no” to. I like to take part in the democratic process after all, but I rarely take more than a couple of seconds to familiarize myself with any of the specific propositions that I am voting on. This might seem like a bad idea, but in reality it is exactly the opposite. Virtually all of the propositions that make their way to the public ballot are going to be of huge benefit to a very few people, and usually cost everyone in the state. There are exceptions to this, of course, and many don’t technically cost anything since they are just changing the way the government’s budget is allocated. While voting “yes” to a proposition could have a horrific impact on you and your family, voting “no” will keep things the way they are now. And if you have seen some of the propositions that have passed in Arizona over the last few years, you would understand that the status quo is far from perfect, but it is still better than having such ridiculous propositions passing. Personally, I am going to vote “no” to all but one of the propositions on the ballot.

I am not going to pretend that I know a great deal about the propositions, but there are three of them that got my mind fired up enough that I decided to sit down here and write out a couple of opinions. Unfortunately I don’t know what the particular numbers of them are, and I am not going to waste the time to look them up since it isn’t as if anyone is reading my site for objective political information and advice anyway.

The first proposition that I want to talk about pisses me off just because it doesn’t make a lick of sense. It seems that there isn’t enough funding in the state for pre-school. I am not going to argue with that, as it could be true; I wouldn’t know, as I never attended a pre-school. I am not sure how pre-schools are run these days, but when I was a child they were voluntary and the childrens’ parents had to cover 100% of the costs of the daycare -I don’t think pre-school can really be considered anything other than baby-sitting since the children who attend pre-school don’t reach grammar school with any knowledge or skills that children in the care of baby-sitters do.

I don’t want to argue about whether or not there should be public funding for such institutions though, since I just don’t know enough about it. What I do want to argue is how they are currently trying to fund them: Tobacco.

Arizona currently has three separate taxes on the sale of tobacco products. Each of the taxes funds a different program, but each of them goes to a program that deals directly with problems caused by tobacco, such as healthcare. The current proposition wants to put an additional tax of 80 cents per pack on cigarettes, which they estimate would raise about 180 million in the first year, with the proceeds going directly to pre-schools. Why? The taxes already in place on tobacco are already raising hundreds of millions per year, money which goes directly to the people (insurance companies, hospitals, etc.) who are affected by the use of tobacco. How do you justify taxing only people who use tobacco and using the money to fund programs that have nothing to do with it? It just doesn’t make any sense. If you want to raise money to fund pre-schools, why not put a tax on the sale of SUV’s and mini-vans? That would be forcing the people who are benefiting from the tax to also be the ones who foot the bill, which would make a hell of a lot more sense. Failing that, a tax on non-food merchandise statewide would only have to be thousandths of a penny per dollar to raise the same amount, and it would spread the tax over everyone. As I say, I have nothing against public funding for the pre-schools, but placing a tax on tobacco is not the right way to do it.

The other two propositions that I have to bring up are both regarding pay increases. I honestly wouldn’t have even thought twice about either of them if it hadn’t been for my local PBS stations. They had the same person argue for one and against the other, and it just irritated me.

The first one is to raise the statewide minimum wage. I am not 100% sure on this, but I think that it has been the same since 1990 (I know from living here that it has been the same at least since 1994). The current minimum wage is 5.15/hour, and even that has exemptions for “tipped positions”, such that a waiter will make a base of 2.13/hour (some employers do pay them minimum wage in addition to tips). So if you were working full time at minimum wage, you would be making roughly 11,000 a year. That is just not enough to survive on. The average rent on a home has doubled where I live since the last time minimum wage was increased, in fact with an average 3 bed, 2 bath home renting for about 800 a month, that would basically be the entire annual salary of a minimum wage employee. That is simply unacceptable.

This proposition would raise the statewide minimum to 6.75/hour. Hardly a huge increase, but it would be enough that it could take young couples from near poverty and government assistance to self-sufficiency. I have not actually read the entire proposition (quality reading time in the voting booth, baby!), but there are supposed to be some exemptions to it which will allow small businesses a time to adjust. I also would not be opposed to there being an age stipulation which would keep high school kids at the old rate. Inflation is estimated at 3% per year, and this increase would almost cover the 3% per year since the last time minimum wage was raised. This is the one proposition that I am going to vote for. I just don’t think that you should be able to work full time and still be in poverty.

Which leads nicely into the third proposition that I am going to bitch about. This one would raise the salary of our state legislators by 50%! That’s right folks, the very people who have voted against a minimum wage increase at least four separate times over the last decade are trying to get their own salaries increased by 50%. The increase would be from 24,000 to 36,000 a year, and I am voting no to that one for sure. Mind you, I really think that they should be making more than they are, but they are trying to take way too big of a chunk there -especially since they have refused to raise the minimum wage every time it has come to a vote. Funny thing is, I bet they would get their increase if they would have just raised the minimum wage the last time they had the chance.

Anyway, the reason that I decided to write this at all was because one of the people that they interviewed on PBS was arguing for raising the legislator’s salaries by 50%, yet arguing against raising the minimum wage by a buck and change. She said, and I am paraphrasing “raising the minimum wage will result in thousands of lost jobs statewide, and it will put small companies out of business” when she was arguing against the minimum wage increase, then said “the state legislators are barely above the poverty level” when arguing for that proposition. And it just pissed me off to see someone argue that millions of people should remain below the poverty level (based only on speculation as there is no way to know if it will actually cost jobs; do you really think McDonald’s is going to quit selling burgers if minimum wage goes up?), and in the same breath argue that a select group -who is making way more than double that- needs to be paid more. Yes, I know that comparing a job at McDonald’s with a job in congress is apples and oranges (you have to have some intelligence and god-given skill to land a job at McDonald’s), but it is a microcosm of government today: Even at the state level those in charge are so oblivious to the needs of the people they represent that it seems logical to raise their own pay while forcing millions to remain destitute.

Get out there and vote, and remember when in doubt vote “NO”.