Friday, January 28, 2005

I haven't written about my own play in a while so here it goes. I'd like to first point out that the tag line to the blog has changed. I have removed the word "new" from before the "poker player" because, well, I'm not new anymore. I also removed the word "micro" from describing my limits because I now play 3/6 and can officially declare myself a low limit player.

Upon my return from the trip I continued to multi-table 2/4 and found myself playing on autopilot and getting bored. Boredom brought on loose incorrect play which in turn led to a bleeding bankroll.

Wanting to get back to basics and correct the problem meant for me getting back to one table. 2/4 didn't lend itself to the risk/reward ratio I needed to maintain interest so I made the move to 3/6. The competition here is not all that different but there are a few items that I think you may find useful when moving to this level.

Where 2/4 was full of calling stations meaning you better have the best hand, 3/6 can be full of over betting pots and bluffing. Aggression is the number one issue you will find at this level. The key is that the aggression is often misplaced. I see players all the time laying down what I believe will be the winning hands because another player is willing to raise, or reraise on the turn. With observation it really doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out the players on both ends of this situation. Poker Tracker and Gametime+ can help speed the player evaluation process and it is important to make these distinctions. It may even be in your best interest to push back on the aggressive players when you have nothing more than second pair. This will let them know that you won't be pushed around and that your capable of reading their play. In return this type of player may now lay down to you when you have nothing because he knows you know he probably has nothing. Now that I'm writing this down it seems like a lot of overthinking, but I swear it works.

Table selection has also become more of an issue at this level. I prefer a table with large average pots and thus the high aggression factor I mentioned. It is also possible to find tables full of rocks and these tables will kill my earn rate faster than anything. As a result I find myself table hopping with much more frequency than I had in the past. It would be in the best interest of my growth as a well rounded player to seek these types of tables out once in a while. Perhaps I will in the future. I know that I should just adapt my game to the tendencies of the "Rock". It's just that when it's quick and easy to find a game that already matches my prefered style, I just don't.

Of course why should you even listen to me or consider my advice valid. Yes, I'm a winning player and have been fortunate in that respect, but so what. There are lots of winning players.

Many bloggers write of the poker books they read and which ones are the best. I've read a whole one and half poker books. That's right, a half, I couldn't even finish the second one. I'm not the study a book kinda player. I prefer to observe my opponents and try to get a read on their tendencies. I'd estimate 75% of my poker knowledge comes from table time. The rest is from reading other blogs and reviewing my own play in PokerTracker.

I'd like to say I spend the time to scope things out and do serious research like Poker Chiq does. I've recently been reading her blog since she commented on mine and I'm impressed. But again, that's not me.

I'm also not an entertaining writer, perhaps not even a good one so I'm sure Pauly doesn't read me. :) All that I can hope is to bestow a little knowledge and perhaps a little diversion from the daily grind.

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Sunday, January 23, 2005

In the never thought I'd see that department: I found several copies of All In magazine at a local grocery store today. It is the January/February edition. I didn't know that they had made it past the first issue. Just goes to show you that just when you thought it couldn't get any bigger. . . .

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Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Cruise Report: Day 3 No-Limit Tourney.

Day three was going to prove to be one the most fun filled days of the whole trip. After another battle with a fabric challenged robe and a room service breakfast I headed down to take my seat in the $100 No-Limit tournament. This was the second of three tournaments being played on the ship and all PSO cruise winners were fortunate enough to have PSO pay our entry fees into this event.

I drew table 14 seat 2 and was given my allotment of starting chips as the field of 120 filled in the surrounding tables. The first thing I noticed after being seated was that all the tables were now 9 seated instead of 10. This helped to alleviate some of the crowding problems we had been experiencing but more changes were going to be needed to cure it. After winning two of the first three hands played, uncontested, I knew this was going to be a long drawn out process as no one wanted to get involved early. By the time we had completed our first orbit the tournament director was stopping play on our table and splitting us up. As our table was the closest to the entrance of the room I guess it made sense to split us up but nobody had been busted out and our table was full.

I was moved to a table against one of the walls and found myself seated in position 6 to the immediate left of a WPT winner. I didn't know it at the time, I'm not even sure if the episode had aired yet but I had taped it and watched it when I returned home. She looked unassuming and aside from the large rocks adorning several of her fingers her appearance was that of a quiet unassuming girl. I am of course referring to Isabelle Mercier. One of the dealers asked her if she was still "attached to that casino in Paris" but nobody else seemed to recognize her or throw any special attention her way. She also looked younger in person than on TV but she has an unmistakable taste in clothing and she performed ad nauseum the same chip tricks as she did in the Ladies Night edition of the WPT. I saw her later in the week with who I am assuming was her mother, and she was wearing this hot pink fur coat thing with fuzzy pink boots. She definitely appears to have a wild side that wasn't evident in the room.

Aside from the player in seat 9 everyone had about the same size chip stacks, well everyone but the 8 seat who had lost a big one to 9. After a few orbits and some loud shouting from other tables as players were eliminated on big hands I began to get a read on my table mates. Most came across as Rocks, including Mercier. On an interesting side note the 8 seat was also from Kansas. I never would have thought I would run into somebody from Kansas, much less someone who only lived about 20 minutes away from me. We struck up conversation and along with the lady in between us we were having a good time chatting in between hands.

As time went by it was becoming easy to steal blinds and if I was met with any resistance I knew I was beat. I managed to hold my own and at the first, and I believe only, break I had more than doubled by starting stack and we were down about half the field. There was no record kept of placings so no one ever knew what position they were in or how many players were left. There was also no structure to breaks. They made it clear they didn't want to have any if possible and the 16 min blind increases were moving the tournament along.

I believe about 5 members of the PSO team were still in it including myself. I wasn't the biggest stack left from our group but I wasn't the shortest either so I felt pretty good about my standing at the time. Upon our return to the tables things began to heat up and the short stacks began falling. Isabelle was trying to put some pressure on a few players at this point but she was running into real hands and was eliminated. After we had lost a few more players I was joined by fellow PSO'er David. He was down quite a bit but doing a good job of holding on. I didn't want to be the one to eliminate him but as fate would have it I took out the only PSO'er left besides myself.

I continued on for a little while but in order to tell you about the hand that I was eliminated on, I have to tell you about this hand first. I was not involved in this hand and the 8 seat raised it from early position. It folded around to the 3 seat who reraised. The 8 seat was still occupied by my fellow Kansan and as he was now short stacked so he rereaisd all-in. The 3 seat called and they showed their hands. The 3 seat had A's and the 8 held 8's. Kansas was dominated but an 8 came on the turn and he doubled up. The 3 seat went into tilt mode and made it very evident that he was peeved.

Fast forward two hands and I'm on the button. I'm chatting with Kansas (mistake one) and when the action gets to me I look around the table in front of me. I don't see any cards on the table so I go for the blind steal (mistake two). I normally make a standard 3 BB raise but since I only had about 6 x the BB at this point I went all in knowing the blinds would fold. They did and I looked to the dealer to push my chips towards me. Instead the 3 seat chimes in "You really stepped in it this time." He pushes his chips in and tosses a pair of A's onto the felt. I know this guy was on tilt and I swear his hands had to be concealing his cards when I looked around the table. At any rate I only held a Kh4h and I got no help from the board. I was eliminated when there were 4 tables still in play so I finished somewhere in between 27th and 36th. This was my first "live" tournament and considering these were card players I believe I did very well. It was a stupid mental mistake that ended my run and I know that sometimes it only takes one mistake, in my case I committed two in one hand.

Later in the night I returned to the card room and along with the rest of the PSO crew we managed to get a 4/8 table started by ourselves. This was a good time but I dropped about $27 by the time we broke up. I then moved back to my stomping grounds in the 2/4 arena and began what would be a journey into stupidity.

At around 9 that night we had assembled a cast of characters that was ripe for the shenanigans that would soon ensue. We managed to band together for the rest of the cruise and spent several late nights playing and closing the cardroom at 3am. The table of foolishness consisted of myself, DuggleBogey, Krager, The "Prosecutor" (a prosecutor from San Diego), and Ray (a former NFL Wide Receiver). Others joined us on various nights but we were the core group. It all started innocently enough, we were playing serious poker and Duggle had just taken down a decent pot. The difference this time was that he held the "hammer" and showed it. Now I know the hammer has gotten quite a bit of "face time" in the blogs recently and I was out of the loop when all this was going on. I don't have a comment on it but in this case it served a very good purpose. It broke the ice. A few hands later the board comes 772. We talk about Duggle's 72 and guess what he was holding. That's right, 72 yet again. At this point we all joined in the craziness and nothing and no one got any respect for the rest of the night. We were no longer playing poker, we were playing cards. It was now a social event and I've never had more fun losing $85 in my life. If they hadn't kicked us out I'm sure dawn would have come with us still slinging chips and any 72o that came our way.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Cruise Report: Day 2

Ahhhh, our first full day at sea. With room service due to deliver breakfast at 8 am I arose at 7:50 and donned the one-size-fits-all robe provided by Holland America. Now the term one-size-fits-all should represent just that, but it doesn't. Apparently there is the petite one-size-fits-all and the normal one-size-fits-all. Our cabin steward thought I would look better in the petite version. I can honestly report that this is not the case. I'm a large guy and this thing barely covered the essentials. When room service knocked on the door I had so seek refuge under the covers to spare myself what I'm sure would be embarrassing cooler talk by the ship's crew.

After breakfast and a little lazy time I headed to the cardroom. Today Cardplayer was hosting it's first of three tournaments during the cruise. This event was a $100 limit hold-em tourney and I chose not to participate as I don't care for limit tournaments. This tournament like all those that followed, used every table in the room. As players were eliminated they would open up live games. As luck would have it I arrived at just the right time and was seated after a short wait.

I was destined to enjoy myself on this trip and my fellow players made sure that would happen. Being seated with some of the same players as the night before I began to pick up on their idiosyncrasies and was taking advantage of it. The deck was also doing it's part and my big hand of the afternoon was another full house, K's full just like the night before. This time however I had the lead from the time the cards were dealt and I scooped a nice pot. I finished the afternoon session up $113 and feeling quite pleased with myself.

Ending on a very good note I went in search of my wife. She had found her own oasis of bliss in the form of the spa. A very nice layout with saunas, massages, workout equipment, everything you'd expect from a spa on land. We had also managed to meet a couple just a little younger than ourselves during the boarding process the night before so my wife had someone to hang out with during my hours of absence.

The dinner was again amazing and after countless desserts we retired to the Vermeer Lounge for a Broadway Review performed by the Ryndam Dancers. It wasn't exactly on par with Broadway but you get what you get when your in the middle of nowhere off the coast of Mexico. It was very obvious that the male dancers were much more talented than the women which seemed just a bit odd. All in all though it was enjoyable and afterward I found my sealegs carrying me back to the cardroom.

I managed to be seated with a player who I had sat with every time thus far. He was almost old enough to be my father and he was there with his parents. In fact his mom was seated at our table. This player had a name in common with a very famous TV deputy so I'll refer to him as deputy from here on out. I wanted to call him deputy on the ship but I wasn't sure he'd find it that humorous.

Anyway this guy was a tilt waiting to happen. Many players throughout the week complained about him but I loved playing with this guy. He was predictable and was more than willing to lay down a winner to the proper aggression, especially if he was already on tilt. Another bonus was that he had a bad habit of telling people what he thought you held on occasion. He had paid enough attention to know that I have tight starting requirements but failed to think that I may change those requirements once I knew he had figured this out. This was a habit many players would mistakenly fall into. (you reading this duggle)

Moving on I was able to use that to my advantage and logged another winning session. Midnight was approaching and I had to be in the cardroom by nine for the no-limit tournament in the morning. I was riding a high with 3 winning sessions and I felt like only good things were going to happen in the morning.

More to Come.....

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Cruise Report: Day 1

What do jellyfish stings, over-crowded seating, and being silly till 3am get you? One amazingly enjoyable Cardplayer Cruise that's what. This was our first cruise ever and it was one helluva good time. I have decided that I could live as a passenger on a cruise ship for the rest of my life.

It all started innocently enough as we awoke at 4am on Saturday the 4th to go to the airport. Ofcourse we didn't finish packing until 1am so the entire time in the air was spent sleeping. Upon arrival the chilly, meaning colder than it was in Kansas City when we left, San Diego air was quite a surprise. Our cab ride to the pier was a short 10 minutes and after clumsily working our way through the preboarding process we were on board at 11:30am. Since the stateroom, ie. closet doubling as sleeping quarters, wouldn't be ready until 1pm we were left to explore the ship. I wouldn't describe the ship as a floating city as we were on a smaller vessel that only held 1,300 passengers, but it was definitely a floating 5-star hotel. The MS Ryndam had all the bases covered with bars, nightclubs, theater, casino, pools, and more.

After getting settled into the room we left for the introductory cocktail party being hosted by Cardplayer. As previously agreed upon my wife and I wore our polo shirts so we could find our group and meet everyone. Cardplayer Cruises provided us with some nice welcome aboard gifts including a t-shirt, a nametag/money holder to wear around your neck, and a small waterproof container to hold items while on shore excursions. Each item was very useful during the trip. The actual Cardplayer Cruise constituent numbered around 400 of the overall 1,300 passengers on board. The PokerSourceOnline group comprised of the company owners Mike and Peter as well as Peter's dad Steve and grandfather Nelson. The "players" were myself, DuggleBogey and his wife, Krager, John, and David along with his girlfriend.

Linda Johnson of CardPlayer and WPT fame gave a brief talk about what to expect on the cruise and informed us that hold 'em and omaha would be spread with limits ranging from 2/4 up to 10/20. We were also told that they would accommodate the players and spread any other games wanted but I found out later on that this was not the case.

The ship left port during the cocktail party and afterwards we headed straight to dinner. Since all members of the poker cruise were given the same dining time we were able to eat dinner every night with the PokerSourceOnline group. This proved to be a most entertaining and fun group of people. I truly hope we can all stay in touch in the future.

I don't remember the specifics of most meals on board but the food was generally very good and I remember eating steak for most of them. It in fact became quite a topic of conversation towards the end of the trip as some people were amazed at just how much steak I could eat in a weeks time.

I had no intention of playing cards on the first night but with the wifes permission I ventured to the card room after taking in a comedy show at the ships Vermeer Lounge. The wait list was surprisingly small but the room was jam packed. The "board" was a dry erase board on an easel located at the entrance to the converted conference room, now poker room. I would have thought the poker room would be part of the ships casino but apparently they don't play poker in ship's casinos. You learn something new every day. The Poker room itself wasn't all that big and I didn't get an accurate count of the tables crammed into the room, but if memory serves it was around 19 with 10 seats each. This led to very crowded conditions. You couldn't move in your seat without hitting the person next to you or behind you. My 10 minute wait for a seat was eased by the buffet style spread of snacks that was laid out whenever the card room was open. We were truly treated very well.

Much to my surprise a majority of the players could be classified in the senior citizen category. Since my bankroll for the cruise was going to limit my play to mostly 2-4 I found myself at tables full of mostly older women during daytime and evening hours. This didn't turn out to be as bad as it may sound since most were very friendly and very weak. My game required no adjustment as the tables played very similar to the Party Poker tables I was used to. This meant several callers preflop and action to the end. Most players paid no attention to your play and those that did were usually vocal which really helped out as the week went on.

After displacing half the players in the room just to get to my seat, I sat down very nervously at my first real live poker table. I didn't want to look like an idiot, I'd save that for later, so I was very quiet and tried to stay below the radar on my first night. I did a lot of folding for most of it and was going to finish down about $20 when I found a pair of K's staring at me. My raise sent no one out and others decided to bump it up. We were capped preflop with 4 players and the flop paired the board with a blank. This brought another flurry of betting and we only lost one player. The turn was much more subdued as it was only one bet each. The river brought me a third K for the full house and after capping the river I found that I had dealt out my first bad beat of the cruise as one player had pocket A's and the other had trips. I folded a few more times and decided to call it a night with a profit of $23.

I know $23 is nothing to get excited over but this was my first time playing live in a poker room environment and I had survived. Not only survived but learned a lot. As my week of playing would go on I'd learn that playing live is actually much easier than playing online. Opponents will give away so much and if you press the right buttons without them knowing it, you can really increase your advantage. You lose these nuances online because there isn't that human connection. I walked away with a much greater appreciation, and yearning, for the live game.

I've scribbled on long enough about day one. Day two to come....

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

I have loaded Hblogger onto my new toy, the PalmOne Treo 600, so I'm writing this to test the upload process. If all goes well, Part I of the CardPlayer cruise report will show up in the morning.

I know I've been offline for a very long time....Work has been busy since were in the middle of a regime change and any freetime I've had at home has been spent playing instead of writing.

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