Sunday, April 30, 2006

Dead Man Walking

The irony is pretty deep that my first blogger tourney win is in Stud. Insanely deep.

1st, I think stud might be my 6th best game after NLHE, OPL, O8, Razz and Triple Draw (which is not to say I am particularly good at any but the first).

2nd, I almost didn't play this because of the 1st thing and the fact that it started so late.

Perhaps not unrelated to the 1st thing, I got CJ-level luck at several spots.

Extra sweet as it capped a very good Sunday at the FT NL 100 tables, pushing me over the top today recovering from yesterday's beating and capping my best month since last September. Although as I said to Mrs. SoxLover, it wasn't about the cash, it was about the glory.

It was a blast, thanks especially to Mrs. SoxLover, my Auzzie railbird, and Flux for their moral support at the end.

Good timing to Katitude for getting my awesome new banner up just in time for I hope a few extra hits brought about by this fluke.
See the flop...

Katitude Upgrades Fish Soup

Bruce Banner, incredible Hulk.

Sox Banner, incredible work.

Woohoo thanks Kat!
See the flop...

Monday, April 24, 2006

Dear Soxlover

My usual search results come from people looking for recipes. This one was for advice.

I'm thinking first night.
See the flop...

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Sunday Lovely Sunday

Meant to write a post about Jordan's game on Friday, but events overtook it so I'll get that out of the way first.

After leaving work at 6:30, I had 3 hours to kill before the game, so I figured I'd fill it in by playing poker. Went to the club, dink and donked, pulled of one sweet bluff pushing someone off his pair of aces weak kicker, actually won a showdown or two, managed to book a small-but-I'll take it 125 win before heading downtown to the lair of Mr. High. When I got there, maybe five minutes late, I was surprised to see 6 guys already waiting--rare that people are so punctual but I think I was walking into a crack-den and they were jonesing to get their product.

Other than the host, the line-up included Kid Dynamite (whom I'd invited), Hoyazo, Drewspop, various and sundry Mikes that are friends with Jordan, and, arriving 15 minutes late as her perrogative when upping the average class factor of a get-together so much, the lovely Mrs. SoxLover.

She blended right in once Kid Dynamite got over his intial shyness at meeting her and went straight to his David Williams-eats-the-ass-of-some-old-chick story. What is it about my wife that brings out the best in my poker blogger friends? I guess they figure if she can put up with me, she must be pretty tolerant. Okay, that's a pretty good read.

Anyhoo, condense Friday night was me busting out in the first hand of the sit and go when the flush draw that I had been so donkishly chasing down Drewspop with actually got there. Unfortunately, he had the nut flush. Thing that threw me was that he was not betting the hand like a draw. This is perhaps because in addition to flopping a nut flush draw, he had flopped top pair and turned two pair. I was thoroughly powned from the start to the end of the hand.

I dealt the game for awhile, cheering Mrs. Sox on as she worked her way through the field. We then got enough players out to start a 0.50-1.00 (50 max) NL table with 5 and I left the dealing to the players. Sadly, Mrs. Sox bubbled but as usual vastly out performed her worse half.

In the cash game I think my game was pretty on. Helped in the beginning that the deck exploded as I kept on getting pocket pairs. Things took a turn to the south though as Drewspop proved he could beat from behind as well as ahead, cracking my big slick all in with his king jack offsuit. Yes, that's right, be bludgeoned me with the Donkey. He didn't stack me as I had him covered, but I had to rebuild my stack until Jordan showed up.

I had a good run taking chips from Mikey Aps, against whom I found position to be vital. Jordan, however, I played myself into a coffin against. Tricky tricky combination bluffs and semi-bluffs all in one hand with a scary board and big bets. Small problem in the plan was that he had flopped a set of queens and turned quads. Had to be queens of course.

I had to rebuild again, which I was able to, finally cashing out exactly even on the cash table, down my 60 buying at the tourney but at least up for the night.

Not before seeing Mikey Aps lay an absolutely terrible beat on my sweet wife (still wish he had done it to me instead). While talking to Jordan about how she needs to learn to bluff more, she looks at her cards and quickly grows quiet. With 26 behind, she opens the pot UTG to 4. Mikey smooth calls her immediately, something he was doing all night. Jordan and I both laugh as it's clear she had a big hand.

Flop comes 269 rainbow and after calculating, she bets out 6. Mikey raises her 10, and she pushes all in over the top. He calls the remaining bet and they flip over. She has the fishhooks. He has Doyle Brunson. Offsuit. Yes, he made these moves with ten-deuce offsuit. Anyone care to guess what card the river was? Hint: it was not a ten.

"I thought she had overs" was said. That ended the night.

Still, we had a blast, Jordan was a great host (especially as he cleaned up taking 1st in the tourney and getting me to pay him off in the cash game).

Fast forward through yesterday, which included less poker as we actually went out and did something non-poker related.

This morning, a little groggy from aforementioned night out, I slipped into the Sunday satellite for the 200+15 with Weak Player (I would link, but his last post was on the ARPANET). That went well as with Weak's urging, I was able to resist the urge to play QQ against a raise late in the tourney with a stack that he (correctly) deemed big enough to fold into the money--in these tourneys, the strategic play in the end is largely governed by the fact that all winners receive the same prize regardless of place. After winning, I immediately unregistered from the tourney, yielding T dollars on Stars that you can use for any tournament.

Took a break, and then we decided to play something else. Hadn't had much luck with the 20+2 180s, with 16 sessions only yielding two cashes, and each of those the minimum, but figured what the hell, it was a mostly harmless use of a Sunday afternoon that I was already up over 200 on.

So I played. Never really had to come from behind except once on the final table, when I raised 4x preflop from the button with TT, got called by the big blind, flopped 89J with two spades, got it all in and found out my opponent had called with QT suited and had flopped a straight. I had him covered but was facing a severe crippling. Then I got runner runner for flush. I had absolutely no sympathy for the guy.

We had some real head cases at the final table but I managed to double up on a few coin tosses and trap a couple of maniacs to grow from the second shortest stack with 8 to go to the second biggest with four to go. Then I got beaten up a bit when my KK fell at A4 all in preflop, and became short stack for a little while until I clawed my way back in it. By this time, I had a great cheering section of Weak Player, Garthmeister and Flux, all chatting away on Skype. My railbirds (which also included Weak's and my wives) got thicker when out of nowhere Surflexus popped up in the table chat. I guess all the support helped--thank you all so much:

I was for a few moments pretty disappointed not to take it down as I got heads up with a 2:1 deficit against a psychopath and at one point trapped him into giving me the lead. In the end, I probably lost patience (he was min-raising literally every hand) and got my chips in with second pair against his flopped top pair. I'll take it.

Thank to all the railbirds (even the jackass Yankee fan that was trying to put me on tilt with the high brow ribbing one comes to expect from fans of the Bombers).
See the flop...

I think this guy plays on Full Tilt

Something about this play seems familiar.
See the flop...

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Return to Serious S+Gs

I wrote a long post yesterday that blogger ate. Pissed me off and I didn't know when I'd have the heart to write another.

Tonight I had one of those things in poker that happens occasionally and just makes you smile from ear to ear. It also inspired me to take another shot at a post so here I am.

First, here is the lost post reconstructed as best I can. I was writing that I had stabilized my game in March for a small profit and no losses in April. Not huge at all as I am still far from destroying the game as felt I once was, but especially promising after a godawful February (even worse if you discount the uptick I had in the last 3 days of it), and personally more heartening as it was the first month in awhile I didn't play live very much. I say that because my live play results have been steadily better than online, which depressed me as the state of live NY poker has found me more and more pushing electronic chips.

A trend I had spotted however was that whereas I had definitely gotten back to winning poker in cash games ($12/hour 99% NL holdem on Full Tilt, thanks sponsor, and Ultimate Bet, in each 95% 100NL), my tourney play has been a tremendous drain, with a $26/hour loss rate (fortunately, I spent a lot more hours playing cash games). I was having trouble figuring out the cause.

I then read about this site, and figured I'd look myself up.

It confirmed that was far from successful in tourneys, at least at Stars (my normal tourney site, sorry Full Tilt but I hate your blind structures with a passion and sponsorship can't make me say otherwise). My average ROI (before this week) was -2%. Basically, that meant I was breaking even/slightly up against the players and paying Stars off. Not good. But the graphs were more revealing.

First was a reminder that I used to be much, much more successful (the last uptick is after I ran this last week):

This was reassuring in that it reminded me that I didn't always suck at tourneys, and disheartening as it underlined that my overall stats masked just how bad I'd been running in the last few months at these.

But then I noticed the second graph:

This was reinforced by this graph:

Interesting. I really really sucked at low (10-30) buyins. But I did not suck at bigger buyins. At all it seems. Ok, part of this is because once I went on a bad streak, I banished myself to lower stakes. But was any of it that my game was best suited up a little? I know this is theoretically silly (Iggy's voice calling me an idiot echoes) but let's break it down. Lower stakes means more calling stations. Lower stakes means aggression less important--patience more important. Is my inner poker player patient or aggro? For those that have played with me, that's a rhetorical question.

What about focus? Do I focus more when the money is bigger? Yes and no and very much yes. Yes because to some extent we all do. No because I am very competitive and usually care just as much no matter the stakes. Very much yes because I play a lot of donk tourneys with bloggers. Alcolol is occasionally involved. Neither of these is plus EV. Not enough to explain the magnitude of the bad stats, but not inconsequential either.

So what to do? One answer, develop patience at lower limits to win there consistently too. Ok, that's a good idea. Resolution: do that.

Second answer, use new rediscovered confidence at cash games and take a shot back at bigger stakes, at least 1 table sit and goes. Not ready to get back into 100+9s. That's outside of my new bankroll guidelines. So how about 50+5s?

That's what I've done this week, and so far, it's been pretty damn promising, albeit lacking data. In six 50+5s since Sunday, my ROI has been over 70% as I've had 2 firsts and 1 second.

Tonight was the best however, at least emotionally. Started out like shit. After dinner and watching Scrubs on Tivo with Mrs. Sox, I fired one up. Two bad moves, 1 "bad fold" (it was a reasonable fold to a very good bluff), 1 bad beat and 20 minutes later, I busted 9th of 9 (it was a somewhat tight table).

Fired up another, and it was even worse. Played my game, tight aggro. Made what I felt was a great move:

Poker Stars, No Limit Holdem Tournament, Blinds: t25/t50, 8 players, Converter

Stack sizes:
UTG: t3730
UTG+1: t1815
MP1: t1710
MP2: t1155
CO: t1305
SoxLover: t1675

SB: t1455
BB: t655

Pre-flop: (8 players) SoxLover is Button with T♥ 9♥
UTG raises to t150, 4 folds, SoxLover calls t150 (pot was t225), 2 folds.
Flop: 6♣ 2♣ 8♠ (t375, 2 players)
UTG bets t150, SoxLover calls t150 (pot was t525).
Turn: J♠ (t675, 2 players)
UTG bets t350, SoxLover calls t350 (pot was t1025).
River: K♣ (t1375, 2 players)
UTG bets t200, SoxLover raises to t650, UTG calls t450 (pot was t2225).

UTG showed As Jd, takes down final pot of t2675 with a pair of Jacks.

I actually think I played this hand well enough except I underestimated my opponents ability to fold. I mean, the smooth calls should have represented a made hand like a set, a flush draw, or at least overs. The river bet was significant but designed to look like it wanted to be called (wonder if it would have worked if I had pushed). I guess I outplayed myself there. At least I know he would have paid off my straight. OK, arguably I'm the donkey in this hand. Sue me.

I was crippled like shit, down to 375, at risk of busting out 8th after just busting out 9th. Crap. I then got a little lucky, getting rockets to stand up against 9s to double up. Life support for several more orbits as we lost 2 players. Then a big "suckout" as a got someone with A8 to call my KQ all in reraise and I came from a little behind. Far from a big stack, but average and well off the mat. Then I got revenge on the big stack idiot who had called my bluff, smooth calling his utg raise on the big blind with slick, pushing when a king hit and loving his call of a 1500 bet into a 650 pot with KT.

Good to have chips again, even better the source. Got a good run of cards, won several coin tosses, lost some money when popped on an ill timed bluff, stole a lot of blinds. Stole even more blinds.

Busted a few players, including my nemesis on coinflips or when I was a bit behind (though twice in a cruel way where the flop brought put them way ahead but runner runners runned them over).

Finally, I was heads up with the player who I'd marked as the best at the table. We jousted, but I think he was not quite the heads up player that he was full and short handed. I got cards, played aggressive and tricky as I could (I managed to take down 3 straight hands with 25 off, once with a flopped pair improved to turned straight and twice with bluffs), and suddenly there I was. From 375 to all the chips. That felt great.

It's only 6 sessions, but I'm encouraged for now.

Tomorrow night, home game at Jordan's.
See the flop...

Thursday, April 13, 2006

One more Donkey Hand

Just for kicks:

Ultimate Bet
No Limit Holdem Ring game
Blinds: $0.50./$1.
10 players

Stack sizes:
Fishiswa: $149.40
UTG+1: $61.35
UTG+2: $41.45
MP1: $54.20
MP2: $57.55
MP3: $30.80
CO: $109.65
Button: $118.75
SB: $111.60
BB: $86.35

Pre-flop: (10 players) Fishiswa is UTG with A♠ A♦
Fishiswa raises to $3.5, UTG+1 folds, UTG+2 calls, 7 folds.

Flop: K♠ Q♠ A♣ ($8.5, 2 players)
Fishiswa bets $8.5, UTG+2 calls.

Turn: Q♦ ($25.5, 2 players)
Fishiswa checks, UTG+2 bets $25.5, Fishiswa raises to $102, UTG+2 calls all-in $29.45.
Uncalled bets: $47.05 returned to Fishiswa.

River: 3♠ ($135.4, 1 player + 1 all-in - Main pot: $135.4)

Final pot: $135.4

UTG+2 shows K♦J♠

Thought at the end as I called--if he has quads, God hates me.
See the flop...

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Why I write this blog

As I was writing my last post and thinking about the use of hand histories, I recalled that I had a drafted and never published a post back in December about what this blog is intended to do. I never published it then, but I think I might as well now.

So many people have served up such great stories about the WPBT Winter Classic, far more than I experienced (or can remember) as I largely focused on the poker. Iggy pointed it out to me: "maybe next time you'll hang more and play less". I see his point and think it's a wise one. There are a lot of great people in this community and it is certainly a huge overlay to get to meet and spend time with many of them. Indeed in the game of life rather than poker (apologies for the pomposity of the phrase), it was probably minus EV for me to spend so much time and energy on one at the expense of the other.

Bobby Bracelet observed the same thing about my blog itself, noting that it might benefit from an occasional retreat from poker content.

But honestly for me personally, my blog and my blogger activity is primarily about the poker itself. I know it's dull and even selfish. I try to write reasonably well and lace in humor to make the package a little less dry, but in the end I blog about poker as a means of keeping myself honest and thoughtful about my game, with the goal of improving it. It is the process of remembering and analyzing hands by writing them out, highlighting thought processes and plays that worked and those that didn't, that I hope helps me with my game.

I freely admit to focusing on the trees over the forest.

Moreover, I understand that a lot of people don't really want to read through a yet another poker hand (not to mention a bad beat story), and that by focusing so narrowly on the poker I am limiting my audience. This is not to say I don't want many readers and comments--I do--but just that I am aware that the focus makes this not so interesting to many, in particular because I am not that good of a player so that even if you are looking for pure poker content there are many better sources.

So I'll continue slogging away for my own benefit and for those few that like to come along on the trip through my such as it is poker brain.
See the flop...

That's why I call it the Donkey

Two nights in a row, I had two tabled at Full Tilt 100NL games.

Two nights in a row, early in my session I had either suffered a bad beat or made a poor play early on and had spent the time gradually regaining some of my lost chips.

Two nights in a row, I planned to end my session shortly, accepting that I'd be booking a small loss for the night.

Two nights in a row, so resigned to my fate, I was dealt a difficult hand, pocket tens.

Two nights in a row, I feasted on donkey.

Full Tilt Poker, No Limit Holdem Ring game, Blinds: $0.50/$1, 9 players

Stack sizes:
UTG: $97
UTG+1: $296
MP1: $77.90
Fishiswa: $135.30
MP3: $47.20
CO: $90.35
Button: $155.60
SB: $331.70
BB: $31.50

Pre-flop: (9 players) Fishiswa is MP2 with T♥ T♣
3 folds, Fishiswa raises to $3.5, MP3 folds, CO calls, Button folds, SB calls, BB folds.

Flop: 8♥ Q♠ T♦ ($11.5, 3 players)
SB checks, Fishiswa bets $11.5, CO calls, SB folds.

Turn: Q♣ ($34.5, 2 players)
Fishiswa checks, CO bets $25, Fishiswa raises all-in $120.3, CO calls all-in $50.35.
Uncalled bets: $44.95 returned to Fishiswa.

River: 7♠ ($185.2, 0 player + 2 all-in - Main pot: $185.2)

Final pot: $185.2

CO showed K♥J♠

Full Tilt Poker, No Limit Holdem Ring game, Blinds: $0.50/$1, 8 players

Stack sizes:
UTG: $122.15
Fishiswa: $112.90
MP1: $139.15
MP2: $152.50
CO: $257.20
Button: $110.85
SB: $39.50
BB: $132.75

Pre-flop: (8 players) Fishiswa is UTG+1 with T♠ T♦
UTG folds, Fishiswa raises to $3.5, MP1 calls, MP2 calls, 4 folds.

Flop: 2♦ J♣ T♥ ($12, 3 players)
Fishiswa checks, MP1 checks, MP2 bets $4, Fishiswa calls, MP1 folds.

Turn: 4♠ ($20, 2 players)
Fishiswa checks, MP2 bets $6, Fishiswa raises to $38, MP2 calls.

River: 5♦ ($96, 2 players)
Fishiswa is all-in $67.4, MP2 calls.

Final pot: $230.8

MP2 mucks J♠ K♣

What is it about KJ that makes donkeys play like, well, Überdonkeys? The first particular, is a fascinating display of insanity.

Note on hand histories:
Some people hate them on blogs. Fair enough. I like to discuss hands frequently and will often narrate them. That's one of the main things this blog does and it will continue to do as long as I get some pleasure, knowledge, catharsis or whatever out of it. That being said, I generally try to narrate the hands rather than just post them. When for whatever reason I want to post a direct hand history--generally speed or because, as above, the hands speak for themselves--I will use a hand converter.

I highly recommend this as it makes it easier to read and thus more illustrative. The one linked above, neildewhurst, seems pretty good--this one is good too but doesn't support Full Tilt. I do think it's worth taking a little extra time to tweak the html they produce--for one thing the code ads a break at the end of every line, which in blogger results in a double space.
See the flop...

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Really Really Exhausted

I was pretty stoked to play the WSOP satellite last night--even managed to win my buy-in plus a little sweetener at the ring game tables at FT (100 NL full ring has become my new grind game, nothing specaturlar but steady profits for the past month or so).

I was in for a bit of a surprise however when I got to my table and found myself with 5,000 chips and 30 minute blind levels. It definitely would have paid to read the fine print. Don't get me wrong, I very much prefer deep stack tourneys--they give you a chance to spread your wings and play some poker. No push fest there, very thoughtful play required for success. This is a great structure, particularly good for a blogger tourney that people were unusually serious about. Right off the top, thank you Iggy for organizing this plus even more donating the prize pool top off to make sure we had 2 seats as we were so close.

Unfortunately, having it a 9:00 pm on a Monday night made it pretty awful life -EV for me. I quickly realized I was facing one of 3 fates:

A) most likely: busting out early--while not favoring push monkeying, the top 2 payout only definitely argued for extra aggression as chip accumulation was paramount but made a relatively realy exit more likely.

B) less likely, but most awful: cruel survival, seeing my aggessive strategy pay off with a few good cards and suckout magic when needed, getting a good enough stack to play deep into the night, but not quite deep enough to bubble with no prize and no sleep.

C) Extemely unlikely: success, joy, glory, still no sleep but I could float through the next day.

Without a doubt, C>A>B.

As you probably guessed by now, I fell smack into B, finishing 7th out of 93rd which was good for exactly $0 and 3 hours of sleep. I couldn't even bag it this morning as I was interviewing a potential future colleague first thing at my boss's request.

At any rate, having slogged through a morning of conference calls, a relatively slow afternoon left me with a choice between writing this post and passing out over my keyboard. I started to write up key hands, but good grief, there were so many, so many many hands. Long story short I played 522 hands, mostly like a rabid rodent on crack. The key seemed to be a balance between not really minding if I busted out with a healthy dose of competiveness that kept me from wanting to bust out in a dumb way (though a few times I must say I really tried, ask Garth).

A few general notes:

I am scared of Maigrey. Yikes. Especially in the beginning, we tangled. A lot. We both ripped a few flesh wounds in the other; luckily I sucked out on others as well so we both survived.

If GCox raises preflop, you better have a hand if you want to play on. (Condolences man, making 3rd was a huge accomplishment but must have sucked royally.)

If Hoyazo raises preflop, he may have two cards (may also apply to myself).

SoxLover's guide to beating S.T.B.: get your chips in behind and hope you get lucky. I've yet to figure out how to do it the other way.

When reading Poker Champ's chat...realize you're really getting played. I'm not going to claim anything near immunity to tilt, but immediately after I busted (at someone else's hands helped by myself) he suggested that "check out his site to improve my game". This at 3:45 in the morning after busting out following almost seven hours of play resulting in bubkis. Grrrrrrr.

In a weird way I'm kind of proud to have been one of his last victims.

Well played whomever you are. Bastard.
See the flop...