Friday, August 27, 2004

An Odd Evening

I fried my template...AAARRRGGGHH!
Anyway normal post below

Things started out pretty well as I played a SNG at Absolute and managed a third place finish. I was card dead through most of the late rounds and I decided to push in with a flush draw on the flop as an attempt to steal the pot. The chip leader folded but the other player had a higher flush draw and called. No flush came but it wouldn't have mattered anyway. I took my small winnings and headed to Party for some limit play.

When I sat down at the table I was recognized for the first time by someone because of this blog. It was flattering yet stressful at the same time. I may have played other players who have read the blog before but no one has ever said anything to me. I instantly felt like I had to play an "A" game or I would be revealed as a complete fraud. I had never considered being recognized before. I don't keep my ID a secret and I always secretly wanted to be noticed. (yeah the ego factor) I just never really thought it would happen. A few short weeks ago I was only getting about 6 hits a day but my readership has more than doubled in the last few weeks so I suppose it may happen more often now. Fortunately for me I was hitting everything I played and I was just about to double my buy-in when things went sour. I was still playing well it was just that the flops were missing me or others were completing their draws. When the table broke I was still up 8 BB's and feeling good.

Finding another table I sat down with no less than two maniac players. These guys were playing everything to the river, raising with nothing, and either paying big or hitting big. I really wanted a piece of the action but in the 40 minutes I sat at the table I found one, yes one, playable hand. I was getting complete crap and couldn't risk the loss with speculative hands. The playable hand I had was AKo. I had to fold it on the river when a straight came and I left the table down 5 BB's. I really wanted to stick it out but my eyelids wouldn't cooperate. These late nights of poker when I have to get the kids up in the morning for school are starting to take their toll.

It was logged as a win for the day but I'm not happy with it. Two winning sessions have been strung together at the limit tables but I'll need a few more before I can declare my bad run officially over. With the big Monty Memorial Tournament this weekend I'm going to get in some more multi-table tourney play tonight. I'll probably take Saturday night off so my mind will be clear. (I must center my Chi before battle)

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

A Hunting I Will Go

With the Monty Memorial Poker Blogger Tournament back from the abyss I shall hunt down all of my prey and hang their heads on the wall as trophies. In further preparation for my inevitable victory I played a $5 No-Limit Hold'em Tourney at Absolute Poker. The field consisted of 86 of the top pros in the poker world today. (well maybe not but on the internet everyone is anonymous so you never know) My first victim was felled on the very first hand of the event. I held KJs and flopped the top two pair. I didn't slow play it but bet small enough to ensure callers. As I so skillfully knew I would, I had a player call me to the river where we ended up all in. The first trophy was dominated as he only held a pair of Kings. With the chip lead I again took out another as my pair of 5's flopped a set. An additional two victims at once were retired when my straight came on the river. All this before the first break and I was on fire.

As often happens in these long hunting expeditions the prey became aware of my existence and did their best to avoid me. Only those with a keen sense of danger dared venture into my sights. With the massive chip stack before me blocking my vision, I decided to disperse it to my quarry. (OK, that's just a nice way of saying I was starting to let the power go to my head. It was like I was giving it away though.) At the first break my chip count stood at 3,260 up from the original 1,500.

Half way through the second round is when I made a nearly fatal mistake. Holding AK preflop I decided to push the issue when all low cards came on the flop. I had the feeling I was against a set but ignored my instincts and forced an all-in call. Escaping with his life and most of my chips the hunter had now become the hunted. Using my finely honed survival skills the second break came with 13 players remaining. My chip stack stood at 7,510.

When we came back from the break the software in it's infinite wisdom placed all the large stacks on one table and all the shorter stacks on another. I went from being a big fish in a small pond to the smallest fish in what was a very big pond. I managed to survive but with the larger stacks able to stalk me I was barely able to hold on till the final table. When the dust settled I found myself out in 9th place but in the money.

Aside from a few key mistakes that stemmed from a lack of concentration on my part I feel I played flawlessly. I also managed a win in a SNG tourney so I continue to feel real good about this upcoming tournament on Sunday.

Speaking of the tournament my hat goes off to Pacific Poker. I don't know if they read my post on Monday but Pacific gave everyone $25 in their account which will pay the entry fee for the $20 tournament. In addition they are adding $500 dollars to the prize pool so they have recovered in the best way possible from the earlier mistake. Word has it that we will be playing with 1500 chips instead of the standard 800 that the site normally starts you with. This will make the tournament more about skill and less of a crapshoot. (that will probably work against me).

My limit game took another turn south as I managed to lose $35 last night. I'm still up for the week but I need to put several winning sessions together in a row before I feel good about my game again. Well I'm off for some target practice. See you in the jungle.

Monday, August 23, 2004

There's No Business Like Poker Business

As I'm sure most of you know there was no Monty Memorial Blogger Tournament last night. Pacific Poker claimed that technical difficulties were to blame but that has done little to appease the angry blogging community. I did rec. an email stating "I can assure you that this matter is being fully reviewed by our technical department, and you will be contacted by our Promotional department regarding this matter as soon as possible. We do appreciate that this has caused great inconvenience to yourself and the other players, and will be taking this into account." If their idea of taking the inconvenience into account translates to a freeroll with them putting up what would have been a $1500 prize pool then I'm sure all can be forgiven. If not I'm pretty sure no tournaments will be played there in the future.

In preparation for the tournament that was not I spent the entire weekend of poker playing in SNG NLHE tourneys. I'm still holding my own in these and did fairly well in the two table varieties at Pacific. As I did not play any limit poker over the weekend I capped off the week with 3 straight down weeks. The loss to the bankroll hasn't been to severe as the three losing weeks came to a total loss of only $109.77 . A solid week or two of play should have that wiped out easily. The question is when will that solid week or two come.

Since the tourney was a no-go I decided to empty out the Pacific Poker account and head back to Absolute to play a SNG for the challenge. (see sidebar for current challenge status). I was caught early and found myself short stacked but patience proved the better part of valor and I finished up in second place. ( I know it's "discretion" is the better part of valor but it's my blog and I'll change sayings if I want) I was eager to play in another but Pacific Poker was not the only site having "technical difficulties" last night. All of the tournament pages would no longer load so in an attempt to get back in the proverbial saddle that is limit poker I headed to Party Poker.

After about ten minutes of play I was questioning why I ever leave that site. In 65 minutes I doubled my $50 buy-in and have now nearly cut in half the 3 weeks of previous losses. Nothing like a good win to revitalize the poker libido. (that was an icky metaphor) I do believe the last few days spent playing no limit has helped me refocus on the limit style of play. I'm able to better differentiate the styles now and I am going to attempt to have continued success in both.

If the blogger tournament manages to get off the ground again I'll be there so make sure you get in on the next one.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

A Rut's A Rut (an exercise in whining)

Yeah that's right. My limit game is in a massive rut. I'm really starting to feel somewhat despondent about my limit play lately. I had a bad run back in early July but that was just a bad run. I recovered and went on a nice little run right afterwards. This time everything is different. I wish I could attribute this to a bad run, and maybe that's what it is, but its not acting like any I've had in the past. As I stated a week ago I went on tilt in a bad way. I was in the process of recovery, but the recovery is now marred in a massive tarpit and I don't have a line to pull myself out with. It seems that for every winning session I will have two down ones. The proverbial one step forward two steps back scenario.

In an attempt to shock myself out of this I'm going to quit playing limit games for the time being at Absolute Poker. The table selection is horrible and even though I've crushed the games there before it's just not happening this time around. I have funded my Pacific Poker account in anticipation of the blogger tourney this weekend so I'm going to move my base of operations there for the rest of the week. I haven't played there in a very long time and the venue change can't hurt me any. (famous last words)

(end whining)

On a positive note my single and multi table tournament play has continued to improve. I played another freeroll on Monday night and finished 35 of 1000. My best finish to date but I know I still have some things to work out. I find myself with to short of a stack in the endgame so I need to correct that before I can win one of these. After donating money to the limit tables last night I played two SNG tables and finished 2nd and 3rd. I was on track to win the first one but incredibly my headsup opponent made a straight and two full houses (he didn't even have pocket pair either time) on our final three all-in hands to take me out. I was just to tired to continue playing in the other one so I'm happy with the 3rd there.

I'm going to continue to play the freerolls and single table tournaments at Absolute but I'm going to look for greener pastures for my limit game. Sorry guys but you won't have me to kick around anymore. :)

P.S. for those of you who are interested my Pacific Poker handle is "hotlead". Say hi to me at the tourney!

Sunday, August 15, 2004

The Tournament Progress

I'm happy to report that my multi table tournament game is coming along very nicely. As I posted about my emotional crisis I have been trying to recover from a large self destruction. I managed to correct my limit game through the remainder of the week and although I ended with a small loss, it is leaps and bounds above where I stood on Tuesday. The flow of the game has come back to me and I posted solid albeit modest wins over the last three days played.

With the limit game being my bread and butter and I became really worried that I was making toast there for a while. With things appearing corrected though the limit tables took a back seat role this week to the multi freerolls. With the Monty Memorial Poker Blogger Tournament coming up I've been dilligently working on this aspect of my game. I entered 7 tournaments this week and my finish position improved with each one. (Barring PLO8 annomoly) The results and games played are:
NLHE - 463rd of 1000
NLHE - 461st of 800
NLHE - 439th of 1000
NLHE - 241st of 1000
PLO8 - 315th of 1000
NLHE - 179th of 1000
NLHE - 41st of 1000

As the results indicate I'm pretty happy with my progress. As well as the multi's I have played a few more SNG tables as well. I'm up in the challenge and I'm concentrating on winning not just placing. I still feel the "big sigh of relief" though when the 4th person is eliminated and I'm in the money. I suppose this feeling means I still need to work more on only shooting for the win but maybe not. Who knows?

Anyway head over to Iggy's and sign up for the blogger tourney. I don't have the fundage to offer a bounty on my head but I'll sing your praises in this blog if you knock me out.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

First Triple Play

Last night was my first night of the triple play. I fired up the ring game first and played a short 49 minute session. I would have played longer but Absolute locked up on me. I had to close the table window down and when I tried to rejoin my seat was already taken. Since the NLHE tourney was about to start I decided to call it quits and finished up 8.63BB.

The tourney started and I wanted to take notes so I could do my first tournament write up. The problem is I was card dead through 98% of the dang thing. At the first break I had dropped my stack down to t910 from the starting t1500 and the big blind was scheduled to be t100 when we resumed play. The only pair I rec. during the first hour was 5's and it only won a small pot. The big stack was pushing every chance he got and I had nothing to push back with. I was on the button when we started back up and when I went all in three hands later no one would call me. I sat through the blinds and when I was scheduled to be the CO the software moved me to a new table. The new seat was scheduled to be the BB next hand so I was royally screwed over as the blinds chopped me down to respirator level. Before the blinds came around the next time I was able to double up when my pocket 10's made 4 of a kind on the flop. When the BB got to me I went all in with AQs and was called by a big stack holding pocket 3's. I got no help and went out in 241st place out of 1000. Better than most but I never felt like I had a chance to play.

I then continued onto the SNG challenge and found my cards much better at the start. I hovered around 2 or 3 biggest stack for about an hour and then lost several hands in raised pots to make myself short. I ended out at 5th.

A small profit for the night but I wish I could have had a better finish in the SNG. A top 25% finish in the tourney but still not very satisfying. It was my 3rd highest finish percentage wise though so I should have something to build on. Hopefully tonight I can fare better and have a real writeup.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

An Emotional Crisis or How I Gave Up And Started To Have Fun

I haven't posted in a while and for that I apologize. Last week was a busy time in the personal life so I only played a few days. My oldest son had to go back to his mom's and subconsciously I wasn't in the right frame of mind to play. I thought I was unaffected emotionally but as I tend to internalize my feelings I played like complete crap for several days afterwards. My play has moved to Absolute Poker since they were handing out several reload bonuses. I thought I would find the same weak/tight tables I had experienced before and I was right. The problem was I kept coming up short with second best. Even when I had a full house I would lose to a bigger one. This wreaked havoc with my play and I quickly found myself pissing away a 1/4 of my bankroll in three days. Tilt doesn't begin to describe my play and bad cards can only account for so much. When I stated in the previous post that you create your own luck, I left out the chapter on creating your own bad luck. Truly a tilt worthy situation has the propensity to due just that.

As every story should have a happy ending I have been able to find a light at the end of the tunnel. In an effort to just play cards for fun I rediscovered the freeroll multi tourneys. I've been trying to play in a NLHE tourney and a PLO tourney when they are available to me. After dabbling a little at the Omaha8 play money tables I've discovered that I truly enjoy PLO. I haven't played any Omaha8 tourneys but the PLO's are great. A solid grasp of the game can get you far in these events and that certainly serves as a confidence boost. In staying with the tourney mentality I have also began to play the SNG tourneys. Since I devastated my bankroll I didn't want to commit any substantial amount to them but since Absolute offers $2+$.20 tables I have taken up the SNG challenge. I am refering to the challenge where you commit 10 buyins, and move up or down in levels in relation to the bankroll fluctuation. Since I only had to commit $22 to the endeavour it has been a nice break and I'm holding my own after 4 tourneys. I've been able to finish 1st and 2nd with two eighths thrown in. I'm adding a section on the right to track this progress as well as my normal limit progress.
With the new endeavor I'm trying to split my time between the limit games, freeroll multi's, and Sit-N-Go's. I don't know how long I'll be able to keep it up since I must eventually sleep. As long as I'm finding it fun though I'll stick with it. I'm also on a mission to at least break even at Absolute before moving my limit play back to Party. This may take a while unless I go on a tear but I'm dedicated to staying patient so no worries.
I also need to start posting more again. It seems the less I post the worse I play. Writing really does help my game. Now if I could just stop time I could also build this thing I've been thinking about and this other thing and....

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Luck In Poker: The Myth Revealed

According to our dear friends at Merriam-Webster the word "luck" can be utilized as either a noun, or a verb. The definitions for these uses are similar but enough of a difference exists so that the word may only relate to poker in one of it's forms, and then only slightly. The other is only used by misguided fools who shouldn't be near a Hold Em Poker table, let alone giving their money away at it. It is the former though that many of us derive a steady bankroll increase. It is to those players that we owe a hearty "Thank You, and Come Again".

For the purposes of this writing we refer only to community card games in which their is no draw or selection of cards. The reason for this distinction is because everything that happens in these games is preordained. The outcome, as far as the cards are concerned, has been decided before the first card is ever dealt. Once the deck is shuffled and dealing has begun their are no outside forces that may change the cards you will be playing with. This is what truly signifies the "Any Two Cards Can Win" philosophy. This is not the case when playing draw poker as the number of players past the opening round, and the cards they elect to take, will randomize your cards drawn. Also in stud games if someone folds during the betting rounds the cards you receive will change.

In order to differentiate the winners from the losers let's first delve into "luck" in it's improper form.
Function: intransitive verb
1 : to prosper or succeed especially through chance or good fortune -- usually used with out
2 : to come upon something desirable by chance -- usually used with out, on, onto, or into

The player that says "He lucked out" or "That was a lucky draw" does not fully understand the game of Texas Hold'em. While it is fashionable to say these things they rely on a perceived outside force that changed the cards dealt. As we know the cards cannot be changed so this is an incorrect assumption. With the thought of "luck" as an outside force playing havoc with the cards no one can beat the game in a long term struggle. In fact those that believe luck is a factor in the outcome of the game should never play the game. If one persons luck is stronger than another then the second can never win. If luck won't be on your side then why play. This player doesn't think in these terms though. The lucky player always believes, nay, has to believe, that luck will come his way. He knows that he will "luck out" often enough to stay in the game. This player will pay over and over to see the cards because the next one just might be the "lucky" one.

Now that we know luck as a mysterious outside power is not really in the game of poker, we can make our own luck.
Function: noun
1 a : a force that brings good fortune or adversity b : the events or circumstances that operate for or against an individual
2 : favoring chance
The first definition is the one that applies to the game of poker. To break it down the "force that brings good fortune or adversity" is yourself as a player. Your ability to "read" the other players can give you an edge. The ability to force your will upon a table allows you to bring your own luck. Forcing others to fold by bluffing also is a way of creating your own luck.
To aid in this cause we look at the "b" definition. "... events or circumstances that operate for or against an individual" is our betting. The act of placing chips into a pot are the "event" that can aid or hinder you as a player. In conjunction with your read of the table betting is what makes your luck happen. We can have no bluff without the bet, no control without the bet, without eachother one cannot survive. It is this symbiotic relationship that makes up the game of poker and allows you to create your own "luck".

If we expand this further the word luck becomes interchangeable with the word skill when looked at in its proper usage. My personal preference is not to use the word luck at all when thinking about the game of poker. It is a players skill, his abilities to maximize the situation in his favor. Knowing when he/she has the best of it, or getting out when they don't. Understanding your outs and the odds of achieving them. Although the cards have decided the outcome of the hand before the first one hits the felt it is the players skill that may determine the eventual winner. If you think the game of poker is just a game of "Lucky draws", and "Lucky players" then do yourself a favor and quit playing the game before it's too late. If you are willing to take the time to develop your "skill" then the game can be "lucky" for you. Just remember where the "luck" comes from and you'll prosper.

Sunday, August 01, 2004

Week Ending 07/31/04

What an up and down week this has been. I was all over the map this week and even though I played 5 nights, only one of those nights was spent playing from home. My adventures taught me a few things about playing while traveling.
1) Make sure you know your bandwidth limitations
2) Make sure you will stay in service
3) Make sure you are prepared for disconnects

And so the story goes..
Played while at my Mom's house. She has a cable modem with a wireless network and I cruised along nicely for a nice win.
54 minutes, 24.75BB, 63 hands, 39.29BB/100

Camping=no poker

Now hold the phone, er cellphone. We went camping from Mom's house so I had my laptop, cellphone, car charger adapter for laptop, cable to connect cellphone to laptop, and cell service. Everything I needed to play was available and I convinced my wife to let me climb in the van after everyone was asleep in the tent so I could play. I had never tried playing through a cellphone connection and I knew I was only going to get about 14.4kbps but I gave it the old college try. Much to my suprise I was able to connect to PartyPoker with very little lag. I'm so used to playing with poker tracker running and downloading hands, and using the game time window that I fired those up and tried to incorporate them. The problems started to arise when poker tracker went to check my pop 3 account. I hadn't checked my email in about 48 hours so I had over 400 messages. All but about 25 were spam and poker tracker wanted to scan through them. This sucked the bandwidth and before I knew it I was timing out at the table. This continued for what seemed like a millennia as each message scanned one at a time. I'd get a few hands in and then time out and miss a few.
I then got the bright idea to download the email into outlook so I could have a clean inbox for tracker to scan. I know, stupid, stupid, stupid, I was thinking I would only have to suffer the bandwidth loss once this way but it was taking so long it was ill conceived. Needless to say I began to get pissed at myself for the huge delays and missed hands. This led to an awful night of play.
73 minutes, -18.75BB, 58 hands, -32.33BB/100

Got some play in but then we received some bad news as my Mother-In-Law was going to have heart surgery Thursday morning. We drove all night and everything turned out ok.
134 minutes, -7.42BB, 132 hands, -5.62BB/100

No Poker

Found out my in-laws have DSL service and their modem doubles as a wireless router. After some setup I retired to the 5th-wheel trailer in the back yard. (My in-laws trailer where we were staying) All in all a good night of play.
86 minutes, 22.75BB, 66 hands, 34.47BB/100

Cellular experiment number two. After passing St. Louis on the way home to the Kansas City area I decided to try playing again while traveling. Verizon was supposed to have service through all of I-70 and the wife took the wheel for a while so I could play. It was working rather well. I learned my lesson from Tuesday and only had partypoker fired up. The 14.4 zipped right along with one table going and I was having a good time. My cards were not joining me in my jovial state though. I wasn't getting dealt much of anything. If I could see a flop it would miss me. The only two pair I rec. was 2's and 4's. Neither made trips on the flop. I tried to push a few players off of pots but was unsuccessful (I know, what was I thinking..but I wanted to win a hand damnit). I played for near 45 minutes before winning my first pot. I thought I was on the verge of a card turnaround when I was disconnected. I couldn't get back on and I found out that Verizon has the interstate covered but not necessarily with their own towers. Since I needed a Verizon tower to get on the internet through them I had to pack it in with a loss. It was enjoyable though and if I get the chance to do it again I will. I'll just make sure to verify the type of coverage in the area.
63 minutes, -14BB, 54 hands, -25.93BB/100

Despite the wild fluctuations during the week I still managed to finish up a little ahead.
6.83 hours, 7.34BB, 373 hands, 1.97BB/100

I meant to do it last week but with everything that went on I didn't have time so on Wed. I should have my write up on "luck in poker" posted to the site.