Sunday, January 30, 2005

Saturday 2/4 At The Casino - Slooooowwww....

Last night was one of those 'dead' games at the table. First off, I waited for 2 hours for my 2/4 spot. Usually this would piss me off, but they have really cushy leather chairs and copies of CardPlayer at the room so it really makes it not too bad. Upon seating myself with a rack, I instantly identified the regular locals who I've seen multiple times before. Especially interesting was that we had 4, count em, 4 women at the table.

The night started off slowly, letting the blinds pass me 3 times before playing a hand makes the people around you (who play almost every hand) a little suspicious. The guy to my right actually asked "How many hands have you played so far?". None, i replied. "I started off slow too, but i played some hands just to see the flop" said the dude. I grinned inside.

The woman to my left had an attitude and a bitchy demeanour. She played literally 90% of hands. If she caught ANY part of the flop, she bet. At least 3 times in the hundred or so hands she played with me, she bluffed by betting and raising all the way to the river, finally having to show her "9-3 offsuit with nothing on the board". Funny thing was, once in a while she caught, and that brought her stack right back up since nobody gave her any respect. LAG at its best... Maniac even.

On one interesting hand, I held KQs UTG and limped. 5 to the flop. Flop comes down 5-2-Q. I bet, called around. Turn was J. I bet, call fold fold, raise! I called the raise and instantly had to wonder what the loose player had, since all i had was TP solid kicker. Figured she had to hold two pair -- knowing she played shit most of the time -- i was behind. River was a blank.

Then, i made a totally amateur stupid mistake. The girl LITERALLY fingered her chips, looked at me, looked at her chips, and checked. Now, if anyone is reading this who knows anything about poker, the situation should have made my move clear... a breakdown:

1. Good sized pot.
2. Turn-raise indicated a set or two-pair.
3. She actually fingered her chips, giving them a handjob before checking.

How stupid was I to say to myself, hey, maybe she was just bluffing like previously, I'm holding presumably TPTK so put that bet in. And i bet. Of course, she raised, had two pair (the very quality J-2 offsuit starting hand), and i lost the pot.

What pisses me off is not that a LAG caught two pair with shitty cards. This is to be expected. What pisses me off is that I was stupid enough to throw two whole big bets away when all the indicators pointed to her having me beaten. That's amateur, stupid shit and I was pissed at myself for a good 20 minutes over it. The money isnt the problem it's the fact that I ignored what was in front of me and what my gut said. That's just a recipe for losing money, or definately not maximizing profits.

Anyways, I was never down more than 6BB or up more than 4BB all night. It was a dogfight and I got serious respect on my raises for the most part. On at least 3 hands, I never had to show the cards since the play never passed the turn. Usually at a 2-4 that's unheard of. Unfortunately, i never took the opportunity to bluff to make some cash off of this image, but it's pretty interesting to see people lay down at this game. Both times i had the best hand though, so it definately didnt make me any money.

An interesting observation, when the number two hits the board, a seven is always close behind. I always see 7's and 2's together.. perhaps its just that i notice it often.

Looking forward to the monday night 1/2 tomorrow... i really need to crush a game to feel better about my game right now. I think my tight-agressive game is really coming together and i'm making good plays, but the cards have not been with me lately. Will report back afterwards.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

4-tabling online

Recently, i've found poker to be a little bit slow if i'm playing micro-limits online as i'm used to. I have opened 3-tables before and had a reasonable time of it, but for some reason 4-tabling was always too much to handle. Last night, i changed that. In a little bit under 2 hours I played around 450 hands at stars and played reasonable poker. I think i missed a few bets and a few folds, but my brain enjoyed the workout of making moves so quickly and always having something to think about.

The patience required to play a tight pre-flop game can be the cause of boredom easily. Especially in 10 player ring games, my 17%-18% VPIP causes more than a few dead times, but NOT WITH 4-TABLES! I'm constantly involved in a hand it seems, my only trouble comes in when I have 3+ going at the same time, i tend to be a thinker at the table and this gets me the 15 seconds warning from the software often. I suppose as I progress through a few more hundred thousand hands of poker these decisions will get easier, but I can't imagine how these guys playing 12 tables at one time are handling it.

I'll keep working on it and see how it effects my win rate... in the meantime, the bankroll is slightly down as i took a few forays into $0.5/$1 high speed 6-max. Different game, i really enjoy it... but i got sucked out on a few times in a row (rivered) and it took me for the cash wanted to play with there -- back to my 10-max for now.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Emulating "good" players...

My poker education is never-ending. I learned early on that the 'way you want to play' is known as Tight-Agressive. As a newbie, that meant nothing to me, but sounded sort of cool.

Now, after many many thousands of hands of poker, i'm starting to appreciate why this is important. Obviously, quality pre-flop starting hands are an easy way for a new player to stop losing big quickly, but what comes after the flop is more important, and i've found that to be the hard part to understand.

Looking at a sklansky opening hands chart makes the first easy for anyone, if they care to memorize it. But, given i'm a poor small/micro stakes player, most of the people i play against arent worth folding KQ in early position to a preflop raiser in LP. It took a bit to learn to loosen up off of the pre-flop list to play today's small stakes games, but i'm getting there in picking my spots.

On my most recent week import of Stars hands, PokerTracker has finally re-rated me. At first when i started playing on Party Poker 0.5/1, PT had me rated a Calling Station, and i WAS one - hehe. I wouldn't raise pre-flop, wouldnt raise but i would BET post-flop, and would often times call down. This was working against me, and after a brief boost forward in BRoll, i lost it all in short progression. Enter SSH (email me if you dont know what that means), and my ptracker (on fresh data) said i'm a ROCK. What? I'm A ROCK? Yeppers, pre-flop raise was around 2%, Agression Factor was around 1.2, and VPIP was sub-18%. Today, i'm a T-A in ptracker (eagle icon). I think i'm finally starting to 'get' hold-em a bit. My thinking is coming more in line with 2+2 hand reviews, and my profits are growing.

Does Toast actually mean to say that he's a good player? No way, far from it. In my poker education, i'm a 2/10 right now with each step getting exponentially more difficult. I'm just starting to grok the whole deal, and thats pretty cool. What's also nice is that people around me who arent very good at the game think they are... and that's profitable.

Back to work...

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

OffTopic: Damn you 24!

Seeing the snow pour down, I know golf isnt an option for me quite yet this year. Poker is certainly the #1 way i spend my off-work hours these days, but i've found a new, thankfully temporary diversion. It's called 24.

At the recommendation of a few friends, I picked up the first two seasons of the show... and... well... it's just awesome. The first season gripped me so tightly that I literally wasted the hours of 5:30pm (after work) till 2am watching it for two days straight. That's sick. Fortunately, I had the poker games this weekend and didnt dig into season 2 yet... well that all changed last night. Another marathon session of 24 season 2 was in order, and I ended up watching the first 11 hours of Jack's day. (They only take 42 minutes each without the TV commercials it seems). The show weaves a few plotlines together seamlessly to form one full day of Jack's life for each season, and outside from a few weak family/relationship plots (like I give a shit -- clearly this is to draw in SOME sort of female audience) it's flawless ludlum meets clancy action drama. If you want to waste an entire weekend, rent a season. That's the way it works.

I havent watched any episodes past where i'm at even though they're on the dish right now, I like to experience these things in order. The good thing is that 24 has a limit to how long it can take up my time. Unlike poker and golf, which are all consuming pursuits to me, I wont be going back to re-watch episodes...

Still, I recommend any guy (who enjoys spy or action movies) to watch it... it's worth the step away from the poker table for a few nights.

Made 20BB last night on stars in short order and quit. The `roll is growing a bit, which is good. I'll give details in a later post.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

The Usual Monday Night Game

A few months back, a golf buddy of mine and fellow poker student decided to host a weekly poker game on Monday nights. Actually, the nice thing about it is that now I no longer dread Mondays. Anyways, we play a 6-8 person 1/2 limit game along with $5 SNG's.

Personally, I find the blind structure to move way too fast causing people to either fold or go all-in. There is very little chipping away at stacks. Starting at 1500 in chips, blinds go 25/50, 50/100, 100/200, 200/400, 400/600, 600/1200, 800/1600 and so on. Problem is, they move 9 minutes at first, then 8... 7... 6... and in the end heads up it really comes down to sheer luck on shitty cards like Q-7 v 5-8. Still, I do ok in the game... placed 2nd ($0 down 10), split 1st ($10/$20 up $5), 1st (up $20), and 4th (down $5).

Also made a whopping $6 at the limit game.

I just dont know what to say... right now i'm finding the B&M 2/4 a little slow, the monday night game is fun but again, a little slow, and 3-tabling micro-limits on stars (0.25/0.50) is a little too easy. Really enjoy SNG's online along with low-buyin tourneys, but i dont play them often as I dont want to have to reload soon. My concern really should be building a large online bankroll, but I think i have to jump a limit to make anything worthwhile.

Hmm... i think i'm rambling about stuff nobody cares about now... braindump. :)

Monday, January 24, 2005

NL Tourneys & 2/4 @ the B&M

So, recently i've been playing a lot more small NL hold-em tourneys. Played friday night 3x$10's in 6-person tourneys and 1x$20 in a 5 person tourney. Split (T-1) every game except the 3rd, ended up a whopping $40 for the night. Basically, i'm improving on reading people and hands and that's really my only goal here.

Was down 17BB in a 5 hour session at the casino (2/4) on saturday, rough cards... it happens. I'm starting to understand why you really have to crush the casino game in order to beat the rake and tips though... One particularly interesting hand I was holding KJo. There was a preflop raiser in seat 4, i was on seat 10, he was UTG. Flop was x-J-x, he bet, I raised and we cleared out most of the callers. Turn was a brick, river was a K making my top two pair. He bets, i thought about it for a second and raised, he reraised and I called it. Of course, he had KK, but I still think it was the right play to raise top two pair when i rivered it. I'll post this at 2+2 to see what the good players think.

Played a $5+0.50 SNG at stars tonight, i do this once in a while when i make $10+ at the ring limits quickly. First time i've actually won one though, as I usually take an early beating. I think i'm finally starting to play well after the flop which is letting me ease up on the pre-flop card requirements. We'll see how I develop in small tourneys from now on.

Really enjoying the poker blogs lately... Oh.. and was reminded yesterday that golf season is really only 3 months away... weeeee.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Boredom Overcome

I've been a golfer since I was 7 or 8 years old, meaning, i've been at it a long time. Golf has taught me many things - primarily humility and patience - but especially a sense of self-competition. As any golfer who has carried their clubs on their back down an empty golf course can tell you, golf is a game played against one's self first, and once in a while you match scores for dollars or honour (or beers) what have you with other golfers. In the end, every hole becomes a challenge to control one's emotions, thoughts, and finest muscle movements in quest of bettering yourself.

Enough of the philosophical stuff, what i'm trying to say is that I have a second hobby which I love, and happily they are complimentary as far as weather goes, meaning i dont have to drop one for the other. Poker is a game i have played since my earliest days of high school, though not until recently has it become the same sort of obsession as golf. Again, a game played alone... there must be some conclusion we could take from this about my personality, but again thats a bit too deep to delve into.

Hold-em is now part of my life, hopefully one which will keep me as interested as golf has. I tend to be a person who obsesses over the things i'm interested in, and forgetful of those things i'm not. I take a beating well (thanks to golf for showing me that good can turn bad in a few seconds), have a brain that's pretty good with numbers (thanks dad), and a fierce drive to constantly improve on those things that interest me.

Anyways, I think you'll see more poker posts than golf during the winter, and more golf posts than poker during the summer, but that's normal for me. In either case i'm going to play it hard and give it my best - just like William Hung.