Monday, March 28, 2005

PartyPoker Makes Me Weak/Tight

The last week wasn't a stellar week of poker playing on my part. You'd have to be living under a rock to have not heard about the cancellation of the rake back program at PokerNow. I was unfortunately caught up in that and have missed the money. I realize it wasn't PokerNow's fault as Party was cracking down on its skins in anticipation of its IPO. It still sucked though so I haven't played there since.

I had signed up for the rake back program through PSO and they were kind enough to offer everyone that was caught up in the fiasco an opportunity to switch over to a PartyPoker rake back program. The only stipulation was that you couldn't have signed up for Party through PSO in the past. This wasn't a problem for me so I cancelled my Party account and three days later reopened it under a rake back program.

I'm showing an overall profit at Absolute, UltimateBet, and Full Tilt at 3/6. At Party I managed to lose enough that after my 1,050 raked hands to clear the bonus my account only had a $20 profit. I can't seem to find the right tables for my play right now. When I do find a good table I can't get anything going and the river beats were taking their toll on my playing ability. I finished the entire week down 45BB's. I was lucky to clear enough bonus money that my bankroll only suffered a 10BB drop.

As soon as the Party bonus cleared I moved on to Absolute and UltimateBet for last night. It took me a while to overcome my weakitus. Combine this with a 2 orbit tilt session that cost me 40BB and I thought for sure my night was just going to be another red line in PokerTracker.

I wouldn't call it meditation but I did say, "don't chase" several times out loud. This snapped me out of my funk and I fought my way back to only a 4BB loss on the night. I cleared that and about $10 more in bonus money so I did get to increase the bankroll a bit.

I kept wondering what I would have been able to accomplish if only I hadn't tilted for that 10-15 minutes. I had reason to be upset as my trip A's were cracked by a gutshot straight on the river but I've got to exhibit better control.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Part Trois

I should have known better than to mention the word variance in my last post. Right after posting I was visited by 3 down sessions. I have since recovered though and am looking a little better than break even for the week so far.

Your not here to read about that though, you want to hear about my Ameristar Casino adventure. So let’s get started.

I arrived at the casino at 4:30 pm on Tuesday the 15th. My only real live play experience to this point was the CardPlayer Cruise so I was a little nervous when I approached the card room. They run a Tuesday night Limit Tournament and I wanted to get signed up but the guy in line right in front of me got the last seat. The policy on alternates was changed apparently the week before so I couldn’t get on a waiting list. At any rate I purchased my chips and headed to my first casino table.

When I was on the cruise I found the games to be very much like the online games in terms of player types and betting so I was expecting the same. Was I in for a rude awakening. It is possible on PartyPoker to find tables were 6 to 7 players will see a flop every hand but they take some hunting. Here that was the rule and not the exception. I was amazed after the first few hands at how many people will stay till the river hoping to hit something. I was playing my normal online game and that was just not going to cut it here. I’m used to being able to raise not only for value, but also to somewhat thin the herd. Here a raise was an invitation for everyone to join in. I heard from players on numerous occasions, “Now I have the odds to call”. With so many players seeing the flop and sticking around after the flop almost any two cards were good preflop. After the flop they took on the mentality that since they were already in the hand the odds no longer applied. They had invested in the pot and they were seeing it to the end.

This is a great situation if your hands hold up. Mine didn’t. In the first 2 hours of being at the table I saw many flop worthy hands but nothing would materialize. I dropped $89 dollars and decided to check out the restaurants. We did have a mildly amusing player join our table about a ½ hour before I left for dinner. He sat at the table complete with hat and sunglasses and announced on his arrival that he had never played live poker but watched it a lot on TV. Of course no one believed him until he started playing. He saw every hand and when he was in a pot the shades would go on. It would have been a lot funnier if he hadn’t blown his bankroll in that ½ hour.

After enjoying a nice meal in what was a very cool sports bar & grill (complete with touch screen TV’s in the booths) I headed back into battle. I knew I had to change my game up if I was going to survive these tables and I did a fairly decent job of it. I removed most preflop raising from my game. If it wasn’t a big pocket pair or AK it just wasn’t worth the investment. I had to jam the pots postflop if I hit, not preflop. The new table I was seated at had a regular player of retired age. He sat with a chip stack of around $600 in front of him and he kept going on and on about how the cards were hitting him. He was correct and I saw him take down many a pot when I first arrived. I tried to stay out of everyone’s way for a while but with a kill pot (all the games were 3/6 with a kill) I found A6 suited on the button. I had to call the unraised five-way pot and made my set of sixes on the flop. The turn shown my full house and the river brought me my fourth six. Mister $600 called my raises all the way to the end. After the table cheered at my four of a kind Mr. $600 grumbled that I had taken a chunk out of his stack. I replied that I’d be happy when he had to break into his black chips. It was meant in fun but I don’t think he took it that way.

By the time midnight rolled around I had managed to take back my earlier $89 loss and put a $60 profit ontop of it. The table was full of fun people and I got to see one woman make a Queen high straight flush to win the high hand of the day. The table broke up and that’s when I should have gone home. But that would be a boring story so I decided to stay and was moved to another table. The new table had a very different make up of players including three young guns . Young gun one was weak/tight and easy to push off hands, Young gun two actually knew what he was doing and how to beat this game, Young gun three was misplaced aggression. The three knew each other and sat at one end of the table constantly talking about the other players and what they thought they had. It became very annoying, very quickly, especially when the aggressive one actually started hitting his crap hands. To take down quite a few pots. My play became uninspired as the hours began to wear on me. At 4:30 am they finally closed the place and I had to go. I gave back most of my earlier winnings and left with an overall loss of $72.

I paid 1BB an hour for the privilege of playing at the casino. I did get to see a drunk guy get escorted out by security after getting into a confrontation with another player and then the floor man. So at least I got some entertainment for my money.

I left without any real desire to go back since I can make money at home and I don’t have to deal with the personalities or the smoke. The card room was smoke free but all the players would go stand at the entrance and puff away. I of course was seated near the entrance for most of my play so I was able to add a headache to the money loss.

I was lured back on Saturday night as a friend of mine was coming up from Wichita and he wanted to hit the casino. I was originally scheduled to work but things changed and I joined him after my day shift. I only had four hours to play since the wife works on weekend nights and I have to be home with the kids. The place was packed and my 15 minute wait ended as they opened up a new table.

The new table was a smaller one that only sat nine players and the auto shuffler was broken so our hand/hour rate went down quite a bit. I tried to apply what I had learned form my previous outing and managed to leave with a $37 profit. Still down overall for my two visits but I’m confident I could make money in the long run.

My big hand of the night involved another kill pot like the visit before. I was again on the button and called one raise with my KQ of diamonds. The flop came QKQ and although I’ve never used the expression ever in my life I distinctly remember thinking “Oh Snap!” when the flop came up. It almost made me chuckle out loud but I managed to contain myself as two players called my flop raise and one stuck around through the river to pay me off.

The other big hand of the night involved a new casino player who played on the internet and an old lady regular. It was a kill pot and the new kid raised it preflop. I got out of the way but grandma called the additional $6 as she was on the kill button. The flop came down 22Q. They raised each other back and forth. The Turn was another Q. Again some raising back and forth. The river was a blank and it went down with only one bet each. At the conclusion the young guy showed his AA and the grandma showed her 72 offsuit. The table erupted and everyone in the room thought we had hit the bad beat jackpot. Grandma just kept saying “I already had $6 in the pot, I had to call!”

Had to call indeed.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Part Duex

First off I’d like to thank those of you that stopped by and left a comment on the last post. April mentioned my post in her blog and my readership improved by over 100% because of it, so a special thanks to her for sending some people my way.

Now back to poker goodness. I left off with my tournament win and the mention that my bankroll was bolstered enough to head back to the 3/6 tables. In fact, I was bankrolled for 5/10 but I want to get a few months of proven 3/6 under my belt before venturing upward. That and I withdrew some money for a down payment on a car and to hit the casino for some live play.

My online play since the win has been above and beyond what is normal. In the last few weeks my win rate at 3/6 has been 6.35/100. That’s pretty high so I’m expecting variance to move back in at some point. I’ve been spreading my play around between Absolute, Poker Stars, and Full Tilt. I’m clearing bonuses at each place so I’m moving to each site every few days. Unfortunately Full Tilt was very slow on cashouts this week and I didn’t get enough money together to take advantage of Ultimate Bets reload bonus. I started my play there and I’m eager to see what the action is like nowadays. I’ve found that for play during the day and weekends Poker Stars has the better tables. On weeknights I like Absolute unless there aren’t enough players, then I head over to Full Tilt. The bonus is slow to clear at Full Tilt even at 3/6 so I’m not concentrating on that site right now even though I like the interface.

I tried to make the blogger HORSE tourney but my family and I went to Omaha to visit the zoo and I didn’t get back to the hotel in time. I thought the tournament started at 8:30 when it actually started at 8:00. DOH! It was the first blogger tournament I’ve missed since starting this blog almost a year ago. Aside from the Vegas tournament that is. I was rather distraught about missing it and it prompted some concern from my wife about my poker playing. (Will have to save that for another post.)

This past Friday night I did encounter a hiccup at the tables as I couldn’t get anything going and finished my limit play down $69. I was playing at Absolute and I like their tournament structure so I checked out what was coming up. They have a few tournaments each week that you can buy into using your player points and one such event was getting ready to start. I look at these as freerolls since you don’t have to use actual cash and I have so many points with nothing to spend them on. The play that is encountered is not like a typical freeroll where you have all-in fests. The other players usually take these seriously, even though the prize pools are small. For this tournament it was $250.

We had 301 entrants and after 5 hours of play I found myself with my second tournament win in as many weeks. The first place share of the prize was $70 and I had turned my loss into a $6 win by the end of the night. My win rate was abysmal though as I spent about 6.5 hours total at the site to get that $6. It’s better than a kick in the head though and I’ll take it.

With my online play on fire I was able to head to a local casino twice this week. The players at The Ameristar welcomed me with some of the worst play I’ve ever seen. I’ve come to some conclusions about how I’m going to incorporate live play into my rotation and since the “hammer” is so “in” right now, I even have an amazing live play hammer story that the entire table couldn’t believe. (and no, it wasn’t my play) All that and more in the next edition.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

My Name In Lights

No grind for me, only sweet profitable goodness. It's been two weeks since I last updated and I've had so much going on poker wise that I really should have been updating every few days. I'll start from the top and work my way down so you can feel all warm and fuzzy about sharing in my poker goodness.

Our little story begins on Saturday the 12th as I ponied up the $33 entry fee along with 239 of my closest friends for the $6,000 guarantee no-limit tournament at Absolute Poker. Tournament play has been difficult lately as I haven't managed a money finish in quite some time. Since reaching a recent breakthrough in limit play I figured I'd try to translate that into the tournament and see what transpired. Resolving to take it easy in the beginning I found a nice run of cards and kept my stack size above average all the way to the bubble.

It is at the bubble that I encountered what would be the most pivotal hand of the tournament. It seemed rather inconsequential at the time but it reaped rewards in so many other ways. At my table we had a rather eclectic group of players and the chip stack sizes varied greatly. Among this group was the lowest chip stack in the tourney. He proceeded to use his maximum time allowed for every hand for about 10 minutes before we reached the bubble. He was pissing me off because although I was in no danger of going out he was robbing me of the opportunity to build my stack up. While others were playing two hands we were playing one. Absolute never kicked in with a hand for hand format so his stall tactics were working for him.

When it happened everyone folded around to me. Looking at the cards I found the hammer staring back at me. Now I'm not one to normally play the often worshipped combination of 7 2 offsuit but I was on the button. The small blind was a medium stack who folded everything and the big blind was mister stall tactic. I was supremely confident that these two would fold so I made the minimum raise and waited. Small blind folded as expected and then the big blind went into his routine. He didn't have enough chips left to even call my raise so I was very surprised when just as his time was expiring he called. The Absolute interface flipped our cards and when his pocket Queens were revealed I figured I had just given him enough ammo to get in the money. The flop came with no help but the turn and river brought the miracle in the form of running two's.

Mister stall tactic went ballistic and berated me for what seemed like about five minutes. Unfortunately he stalled just long enough to make the last money position so not everything was roses in my world. The odd thing about the hand is that the other players, instead of looking at the hammer play as being valid in that position, because it was, they viewed it as me being a loose player who would play anything. I received a lot of play off that. Everyone called when I was in a pot for a while and this allowed me to be in second chip position when we made the final table.

The final table was a thing of beauty. We all jockeyed back and forth for the first 15 minutes or so but I managed to eliminate the first player. Then I eliminated the next, and the next, and the next. I was on a roll and with my chip stack continuing to rise the other players went into hiding whenever I was in a pot. I sent every player at the final table packing and when we were down to three my stack size was so overwhelmingly disproportionate to the other players that they never really had a chance. When heads up my opponent did manage to double up twice before being eliminated but the writing was on the wall well before we got there. The win gave me a much needed boost to the bankroll in the tune of $1980.

This win put to rest any bankroll issues I was having and with my recent success at the limit tables I was now more than ready to go back to the 3/6 waters. A nice side affect of the win was my username being mentioned in the Absolute newsletter. It wasn't quite my name in lights but I can now lay claim to being mentioned in a "publication read by people all over the world" :)

This post looks to be longer than expected so we'll dive into my continued limit play in the next one.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Loosey Goosey

I've been asked to expound on my trouble hands. I will get to that in the next post or so when I can write and have Poker Tracker up at the same time. Since I'm currently at work I want to write about some trouble I ran into last night that I believe needs some blog time.

I reacquainted myself with an old hole in my game last night that may be very easy for others to succumb to. As stated in the past I generally try to find the tables with the highest average pots and join them. This table makeup often times has the loosest players and can in turn lead to some nice profits. Since finding some problems with the way I've been handling my starting cards I've been doing very well at the 1/2 party tables. Using my table selection criteria the tables at this level generally have an overall VP$IP% of around the high twenties to the mid thirties. Since I've moved back up to 2/4 I've found the percentages increasing to the high 30's to the low 40's. The play is much looser and last night I ran into the maniac of maniacs.

This player was seated to my immediate left and to his left was a close cousin of his in the Tasmanian Devil family. The VP$IP% on this table was in the mid 40's. This particular player was an odd sort and his VP$IP% was 95. He never folded a single hand preflop that I could recall. His preflop style of play was if the table limped, he limped, if anyone raised he would re-raise automatically. His cards were of no consequence and he capped it once with 10,3 offsuit. He would also rarely release a hand before the river often calling down with no pair. His caveat was that when he lucked out and caught a hand or actually had a monster on the flop no one would relinquish the pot to him. He was always building pots and it was common to have about every third of fourth pot over 35BB's.

I had the best of this situation since he was on my immediate left. The proper way to play a player who could have anything is to do a lot of folding. Let them have the small pots early because you want the big pots when you know you have the best hand. My downfall came from my realization of his preflop strategy (or lack thereof). Since he was like an automatic reraise button. I was able to isolate him from the rest of the table by using his own play. If I was in a situation where I had good starting cards and it was folded or only one limper had come along when the action got to me, I would raise. Using his auto reraise this would drive everyone else out a majority of the time and leave me heads up. Now all I had to do was worry about being able to beat two random cards. Sometimes his cousin on the left would come along as well and this would just sweeten the deal. Within about 45 minutes I had managed to amass a 45BB profit on the table due to the large pot sizes.

This sounds all wine and roses but the problem in fact didn't come from this table, but my reaction to the table. To further realize the impact the maniac table had on my play we need to switch to the second table I was playing. This table was of the type I have been recently thriving on. The table preflop average was steady at the low thirties. Straight forward play was all that was required to win. My dealings with the maniac was delivering a cause and effect impact to me physically as well as mentally. The large size of the pots and the furious play was giving me an adrenaline boost. This led to quick snap decisions and since I was aware that often times I was against crap cards I was able to loosen up a little myself enjoying my big lead. The lead wasn't on both tables but the reaction to one had caused a change in play on the other. At this other table I quickly took upon myself the moniker of table maniac. It didn't help matters that it was the time when the true maniac decided to start catching big hands. As I saw my chip stack start to dwindle the catchup monster sat perched upon my shoulder egging me on. By the end of the night I had left the maniac table with only a 2BB profit. My true downfall though had been the effect of play on the other table where I left with a 33BB loss.

I've written before about how important discipline is. Others have touched upon this as well but when the action monkey comes for a visit it's very hard to send him packing. He's cute and cuddly at first but when he leaves behind broken items and walls covered in shit you really have to wonder why you keep letting him back in.