Thursday, June 23, 2005

Lived A Fantasy This Week

I've only been playing poker seriously for a year now. In that year, i've watched a LOT of poker on TV. WPT, WSOP, EPT, even the freaking celebrity shows. Awful!

As reported previously, I won a walk-up seat into the Degree Poker Championship on Monday morning. That's luck right there folks.

Monday:

I played nut-peddling poker mostly, and threw in some bluffs that paid off. Didn't lose a serious hand, and built my stack into $45k, then cruised through.

A Notable Monday Hand:
I have 55 in the BB, and tightie UTG raises to 3xBB (200/400 I think), I call. I put him on KK, AA, QQ, JJ, AK -- tight. I flop a set and check to him. He bets $5k, i raise to $15k. He pushes and I call. Busted his KK and sent him home.

Busted a few people, and made it to the top 20 of the starting 250... yay.

Tuesday:

I don't know what it is about me at the poker table, but people always think i'm full of it. I must have that optimum bluffing frequency down because they have no clue. Busted a lot of people, including two women, one of which got back into the tournament by draw. She's got fingernails like freddy kreuger.

I cruised through getting my stack up to around 65k. As big stack at the table in the BB in the 2000/4000 level with 200 antes, the SB raised me all-in for 17k when I was BB. I don't think this was wise on his part as there were only 5 players left to be eliminated, but so be it. I checked my hole cards and found big slick unsuited. Hmm. At 65k chips I was in cruising mode, and had no interest in getting into some big volleys with players. At the same time, busting people put me closer to the money and it was only 13k to call. I figured AT-AK for him, or a pocket pair to risk his tournament. He seemed like a pretty solid player too. He seemed to get a little nervous when I didn't auto-fold, so that made me happy. I finally decided to call as the ante's and blinds made it a decent bet.

Me: AK
Him: 88

His pair held up. He thanked me later for doubling him up and letting him stick around the tournament. I don't hate the play.

I made it to the top 20 of todays 80!!! Round 3 baby.

Then the staff mentioned that each round 3 playoff game was going to be a full TV table. While they had handhelds out a bit for the round 2 action, and it didnt bother me, I was sort of stunned at the thought. Hmm... I'm going to be on TV playing poker. I'M GOING TO BE ON TV PLAYING POKER!!!!!!

I would like to say, in all honesty, that this tournament was a class act top to bottom. Upon passing round 2, we were photographed, invited to dinner at the high-end Noir 17 in fallsview along with TSN and the sponsors, and given a 3-night hotel stay at the casino itself. That was nice of them, and totally unnecessary. Huge kudos to all the companies who made this happen.

Wednesday:

Since i've never played a TV table before, I had to go down and see the setup while Playoff 1 was on. TSN filled the whole ballroom with fog to make it appear smoky, I assume to give soft edges to the photos. This tournament was being broadcast in HD after all (yow). The TV table was typical, with a lit-rail and hole-cams. Each player was mic'd to the table. They had a stationary camera (the sort of ones that hockey/football are shot with), a boom cam, and two mobiles capturing every action. Wow.

Honestly, the cameras didn't bother me. I must be confident enough in my poker game now, that I don't feel like i'm going to look like an ass in front of a few million people too often... either that or it doesnt bother me to look like an ass... hmm. After being mic'd to the table, they had us test our hole-cam card views, then we got going. $10k in chips each, winner advances to the finals.

One player in 5, Fernando, was raising wildly and playing aggressively. His raises were large and bold and the table was rock-like to begin. Unfortunately, my cards were... lacklustre. I went a full two laps of the table (which put us into round 3o of blinds) without playing a thing. Rob at the end of the table actually looked at me and said "PLAY!". I couldnt. I had low-aces in EP, nothing suited, 92o, 72o, nothing. Unless I wanted to bluff-re-raise Fernando and risk all my chips, there wasn't a lot I could do. I prefer to be the first raiser in if i'm going raise with crap cards.

Here's how my big hand went:

I have 33 in BB (200/400). Fernando raises from the button (one player out already) to 1200 or so. I call, figuring if i hit a set, i might get him to bluff off some chips on me, and if I didn't I had bluff potential myself as I hadn't played a hand in two laps of the button -- tight image. Flop came down A-9-6 (or close to that for the small cards). Since Fernando had been raising wildly and this was my first hand, I bet out $1k to represent the big ace. He called. At this point i'm putting him on a draw, possibly a small ace. Turn was a blank, I bet out $2k to make was appears like a value bet and give some poor drawing odds. He took 15 seconds and called that one too. At this point i'm suspecting a trap for my "big ace". River comes down, I grab my chips and briefly consider whether I should take a final poke at the pot, but decide to check. He pushes, I fold. I'm down to $5k of my starting stack.

Next time around, I made a questionable play. I had Q9s in the BB and called a raise for 800 more from a semi-loose raiser (this was one of my best hands today). Flop comes down K-9-x. I check, he bets $1k into a $2500 pot, and I call. Turn is a blank, I check, he checks behind. River is a blank, I check, he checks behind. Then immediately he says "I should have bet this" and flips over KQ or KJ. I guess I had him afraid... I should have folded this, I did have 5k before the hand pretty much, and burned 2k in it.

Down to 2500 and i'm feeling the blinds and antes now ($400/800 in 1 minute and i'm in the BB at $200/400). Still getting crap cards. Finally, in BB, UTG, a relatively weak player, raised to $1200. Folded around to me, and I pushed with 9Ts (figured him for picture cards or an ace so I wasn't dominated, and needed some luck anyways to stay in). I didn't want to lose another 1200 from my stack and be blinded into oblivion -- would have had ZERO folding equity at that point as well. He did some weird jedi-thing... I kid you not. I hope this is on TSN because this guy was really playing it up. Finally, he called. Flips over KJo.

Flop comes down with a J-9-x and i've got hope, turn is a blank, river is a K and i'm done.

I'm disappointed that thing's didnt go so well, but I feel like I tried to make the best of a bad situation when I ran my "perceived" good hand into a better one early. I'm sitting here at work, trying to focus on this, but I can't take my mind off what might have been had I been given something to fight with.

I hope I didnt sound whiney on my exit interview with TSN, I really had no cards but that's no excuse. I played that Q9s hand badly (shouldnt have played it at all) and $5k had a lot more folding equity than $2500 does. Bah. That one is going to grate at me for a bit.

Thanks to Unilever (Degree), TSN, and Fallsview for putting on a hell of a freeroll. I hope I make it back next year.

GO EAST!

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Survival Of The Fattest

Yes, I, Toast, did survive the Day 1 of the Degree Poker tourney. All chipcounts start over for tomorrow, Day 2, so my total today is irrelevent, but it was around average with 20 people left from our original 250.

Day 2 will be 80 people whittled down to 20. I'd give myself a better shot at this than I would have getting past the idiot-fest that was today. Couple good players, nobody i'm afraid of though, unless they get a huge chipstack going.

I'll give a full report when possible.

Monday, June 20, 2005

I actually won something for once!

Wow, what a day. I'm here at work and can't sit still because for once, I actually won something.

What you ask? A seat into the Degree Poker championship at Fallsview hotel in Niagara Falls, Canada. This morning on the way out of my house for the office I decided to drive to fallsview and put in a ballot for their 10:15am draw for seats into the tournament. Standing there among between 500 and 1000 poker-nuts -- who took the morning off work for this -- as they called out numbers from the box, I thought, hey, you never win anything, but something felt right. Around half way through, they called my magic number, 1802 and I was IN. Admittedly it's a stupid freeroll so the play has got to be bad early (which makes it way more dangerous for me). I expect the phrase of the day will be "All In" but who knows. I'll try and pick on some passives for the first few levels to surivive the idiots and see how it goes. Im my 'heat', i've got to make top 20 of 250 to move on to tomorrow's day. I'd put my chances at around 5:1 to get through today just due to the HUGE suckout factor. I figure the next few days will be filled with better players.

Anyways, a freeroll for $100,000 is pretty damn cool (along with a seat to the WSOP). This is a winner-take all tournament, with an early crapshoot format followed by some shootouts then the final table. Second place gets nothing at all.

Now, moving on to other things. This weekend was a tough one from a poker point of view, as I lost quite a few BB to suckouts. No tilt, just went to watch the US Open and chill out. Golf was good. I won my match with very crappy play on Sunday, and picked up a $110 skin ($90 profit) for a nice 5-iron to a foot and a half on number four. Almost thought I made that one.

Wish me luck at surviving the idiots early, either way it's exciting to be my first real live Multi-Table Tourney and certainly my first one-winner-take-all freeroll so that will change the game quite a bit.

I'll be back with an update later tonight or tomorrow.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Golf and Poker -- I must like stress or something

Just noticed that iggy linked me, that was nice of him. Welcome to all of you who are first-time readers of this brain-dump from a golf and poker obsessed idiot. You would think I enjoy putting myself through the wringer or something...

Lets get down to the real core of it, i'm basically an idiot. Most people leave the office, go home, watch tv, play with their kids, chill out, drink a beer, maybe even play a few cards online for fun. Me, No. I like to get beat up, then i come back for more. If it doesn't kill me, it will make me stronger... yadda yadda whatever.

At least with poker there is some financial benefit for pounding my head against the table as some maniac caps his J3o against my pocket aces, provided they don't get the best of you more often than you get the best of them. Golf is rediculous, in that i'm actually paying the MOST money for the courses that will beat me up the worst. Still, i play them, and I live a life that's never easy because of it.

There certainly is a temptation to go to the dark side, and stop playing these games, but in the end there is something gratifying about making each step ahead, even if a bad bounce or bad card kicks you back again.

I lost a lot of BB's last night to suckouts, and maniacs who i called down where possibly not advised -- they do catch cards once in a while. Things arent really with me at either game at the moment actually.

Still, I'd do anything to not be sitting here in the office right now.

And now, a random picture:

Monday, June 13, 2005

I hate this heat wave crap...

Well, I suppose I already knew I'm not a hot-weather guy. I tend to be able to sleep in the freezing cold far better than sweltering heat, but this past week or so of hot, sticky, nasty weather in the area is really bringing me down.

There's something wrong when I have to consume 5 bottles of water on the golf course and don't have to piss afterwards -- this was Sunday. NoSkillz said something similar about Saturday being way hotter, and I believe that, but i'm not meant for dripping sweat just from walking around a golf course. At least there could be some freaking wind. DAMN THIS WEATHER.

Down to business. I played a bit of both this weekend. Beer golf on friday at Whirlpool, then poker on Saturday during the day, and then golf and poker Sunday as per normal. Golf scores were garbage again... i wonder why i play this game.

Got around 750 hands of cards in yesterday, and ended up down 16BB. Got back to 4-tabling for a large section of my day, but my cards were very weak. So weak in fact that I only played 13.5% of the hands, and raised less than 7% of those. That's BAD considering my average numbers are around 18.5/10. Lots of suckouts, evil evil stuff. Oh well.

Handicap is up to 5 now... that's scary bad.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Swingy Cards

I feel like i'm playing good cards. I'm letting the bad beats roll off without much of a care, but it's getting sort of funny. I'll admit, as cool a customer as I usually am I've gotten upset by a few bad beats here or there i've suffered in the past 2700 hands at party.

Last night I got beat twice by quads over my nut flush, one time rivered, the other turned. In a span of 670 hands, that's pretty wild. I spewed off gibberish and swear words into NoSkillz' MSN window and moved on. Once in a while i'm catching a great draw and hitting, and often i'm getting sucked out... such is the nature of the beast.

I don't really know what the purpose of this post is. In one way it's a good way to get it off my chest and acknowledge that the beats can get to me still, in another it's a way for me to express that PARTY IS NOT RIGGED and things just arent quite coming together yet -- it happens and this is a VERY short sample of play. My numbers look decent, except my W$WSF but that's to be expected.

Overall, I'd encourage each and every one of you to go sign up at party and toss in GOLFPOKER as a sign up code... because i'm a huge, huge whore for referral bonuses. Hey, at least I admit it.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Weekends aren't meant for sleeping...

Well, since I didn't make the WPBT event in Vegas this week, I played some Golf n' Poker. Surprise.

At the golf course, shot a 78 and 79. My game is STARTING to come together, but I couldn't tie it up and shoot a good score. No, 78 is not a good score for me. Anyways, I missed qualifying for the Niagara Cup by a stroke (for a tie) so that wasn't the highlight of the weekend.

Now, online poker i've played for many moons now, but never seriously -- lately... that's different. For some reason I feel challenged to move up online, to start making reasonable bucks on other people's money, and it's fun! I stayed up until 3am Friday night, 2am Saturday night, and 2:30am last night playing micro limits. And i'm nowhere near crushing the game at the moment either. Ahead a mere $40 in 2k hands, that's a whopping 2BB/100 winrate which is pretty typical. The problem is, I feel like i'm grinding to get there. I think the cards have been relatively bad for me lately and it's not coming easily for that reason.

The goal is to move up to 1/2 immediately upon getting to $600 in this account. From there, it's to hit 2/4 upon getting to $1,200. And so on. I would like to get to online 5/10 by the end of the year and see how that goes.

I've received a few books lately, and have another to come:

Theory of Poker - Sklansky - theoretical fundamentals of poker in general
Weighing the Odds in Hold'em Poker - King Yao

And i'm still waiting on the unreleased but bound to be great Harrington On Hold'em 2. Gotta work up my NLHE game a bit.

I'm planning to purchase the new Ed Miller NLHE book which is more cash-game based, but it's not near release yet afaik.

Even though i'm playing the petty limits and can't apply a lot of this advanced theory yet, it never hurts to understand the game. I'm starting to really cruise through a lot of hand posts on 2+2 as well... definately "getting it".

The poker library is now becoming half a shelf... how cool/sick is that.

Friday, June 03, 2005

6-max swings online

It's no surprise that in moving to $0.50/$1 I found the 6-max tables to be more interesting than the full ring. Though, I think I might be a better full ring table right now :)

I tend to be an aggressive player at hold-em these days. 6-max is like taking meth-amphetamine aggression-wise and I'm having real trouble keeping it in line sometimes. For some reason once in a while I get it in my head that I can outplay people at these tables. YOU CANT OUTPLAY SOMEONE WHO CANT FOLD. Now that is not to say that stars' $0.5/$1 6-max tables are full of HORRIBLE players, but there are still too many loosies to be trying to blow them out all the time.

In the last two nights i swung up 70BB then yesterday down 75BB. Just under 500 hands in each session. I know in the overall game picture it means nothing, but it's a block I'm working to get past. I really enjoy 6-max for its high # of hands... I can play two tables of it and be pretty satisfied whereas I need to play 3 or 4 of full ring to keep busy.

Getting outdrawn sucks. :)

Anyways, I think the golf swing has a serious shot at coming together. This weekend will be interesting as it's qualifying for my club team. Don't know if it's meant to be for me this year. My tempo yesterday finally set its mark on my swing again and after the first 4 holes I was smooth sailing and making beautiful contact with the ball. We'll see if I can bring it together for the first time this year, this weekend.

In the meantime... I have another party skin account, going to see if I can run my way up into the bigger limits this time. I've spent the last 6 months working on poker and I think it's time to apply some theory and play more raw hands. I would like to get around 15k hands in a month, so we'll see.