Monday, May 29, 2006

Swinging Badly At Both Games

So, yeah folks, still can't hit a golf ball consistantly well. I'm learning a lot about the golf swing these days however.

An interesting thing happened this weekend at the club...

Young kid approaches me near the 10th tee this wearing typical golf attire -- he couldn't have been more than 7 years old. He looks up, points in the direction of the tee blocks and says "Is that Tiger Woods?". I looked up to see Matty "NoSkillz" launching one down the fairway. I patted the kid on the head and said, "Yes son, yes it is".

He's that f'in good folks! Go read his blog and be dazzled by how a luckbox rule bending hack can turn the golf world on its head and make a run for the PGA Tour. Well, maybe just the local mens golf circuit but hey thats not bad for a luckbox getting on in years. That luckbox has won $58 off me this month on the tables so i'm not too happy.

Poker's been swinging up and down too. Up to $550, then bam bam bam suckout stream at $50NL and im back to limit for a while. Limit's so damn predictable at these pathetic limits it's almost worth it to avoid the tilt factor. It swings hard for sure (6-max) but not like when you lose 4-5 buyins at NL on a 10-buyin BankRoll.

Anyways, i'm back at a comfortable spot so hopefully i'll get the hell out of these podunk limits in a near future post.

Harry mentioned this weekend that he loves reading my blog posts and has a good laugh due to my goofy style. I salute you Harry, I think you're the only sad sonofabitch that reads this piece of shit and you even admitted it.

Coming soon to Golf + Poker, a world exclusive series:

Sweater Vests: For Secret Handshaking MotherFuckers Only?

As part of our crack reporting team, we will interview the single largest consumer of Sweater Vests in North America, Mr. Matty "NoSkillz".

When I was a kid I used to beat up kids who dressed like Matty does now so it will be interesting to hear what he has to say.

I like tacos.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

PokerStars Blogger Tournament

Online Poker

I have registered to play in the PokerStars World Blogger Championship of Online Poker!

This Online Poker Tournament is a No Limit Texas Holdem event exclusive to Bloggers.

Registration code: 7330476


Call me The Grinder

No, i'm not Mike Mizrachi (sp?), he wouldn't play limits this low and crappy.

Golf this weekend consisted of a couple of awful rounds at my regular club. There's something fundamental about my golf swing that's wrong right now. I think most of it can be fixed with tempo but my setup and everything feels different every time. Might have to take a lesson or at least bring a camera out and tape it so I can see whats really up. The driver is O.K. but the irons are junky. I'm hitting a lot of balls fat, particularly out of the rough (which is crazy long). My handicap is going up up up and deserves to be.

On the other hand, my poker game has been picking up again. I'm playing 1/2 6-max limit right now trying to build up a bankroll. I'll likely flip back to NL shortly but for the moment the games seem easy enough. Took a shot at 2/4 6-max yesterday though I am far, far under bankrolled for it currently. I didn't feel outclassed but the swings of 6-max scared me back until i've got a bit more cash.

2-tabled 1/2 6m last night for a few hours. After starting well, i went on a downswing that was just nuts. Couple of fish at the table who play a huge number of hands went on a string of catching when I had big cards. At one point I was down 40BB (keep in mind i'm playing with a 220BB b/r right now) but grinded it back to finish down $1 after ~500 hands. That feels like a win after the beats I took and that's motivating to me.

I've GOT to get out of these limits, UGH! It feels crappy to be concerned about being down a hundo because I'm too arrogant to load my account with my own money.

I suppose i've always been of the mind with poker that the bad players should build my bankroll rather than supplying it from my real bank account. I think that keeps me back from what I really should be focusing on -- winning more money.

I will continue to take shots at higher games with smaller bankrolls because frankly I'm playing well below where I should be. Will likely move to NL to lower the variance as I do this -- something like a 10Buy-in bankroll should do. I refuse to play that 25NL game anymore tho... won't change games till i'm playing higher.

Onward and upward, folks.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Not the best weekend in G+P history...

Friday I played 9 holes with Matty and Gerry at the club. It was smooth sailing and a good time in general though I did not hit the ball particularly well. Following that we grabbed a bite to eat, and he decided that he would like to go to the casino. Of course, I never turn down the opportunity to play poker with people I actually know (though i have no interest in taking his money like I do the other schmucks at the tables). We head over to Fallsview which is typically higher limit than i've played before. They're spreading 3/6, 6/12, 5/5nl, 5/10nl, and 10/20nl. Since I wasnt carrying 5k cash on me, I put my name on 3/6, 6/12 and the interest list for 1/2nl. Matty's not a nl cash fan since he's been beaten like a red headed stepchild ever since he started but I tried to convince him to join. Nope. I sat a dealer, lost a whopping $30 and we decided to head over to Niagara since its no fun to go play cards and only have one of us playing.

At Niagara, it was busy as hell -- all 12 tables going and a list. Fortunately, most of the list were callins and we got seated at a 1/2nl table together. I told him he had to play 1/2 because 2/4 wasnt acceptable and they werent spreading 3/6. I guess all the morons like the all-in thing too much and don't appreciate the beauty which is limit hold'em. 2/4 is like hitting yourself in the forehead with a baseball bat repeatedly just for shits and giggles. Anyways, he buys for $80 and i tell him to cut it down to $50 since he's somewhat concerned about losing a buy-in in a single hand. Short stack strategy biatch. He does so, and I take my money from fallsview (all 73 remaining and sit down with it). I proceed to get sweet dandy f**k all for the whole night. Matty flopped a set and had a guy raise him with a J-high FD so he pushed and got a call. The other guy's 7 clean outs didnt come through and he actually made a hundo on the night. I on the other hand lost a whopping 85 bucks.

We leave there at 2:30, I get to sleep at 3:10 and get up Saturday morning for golf at 7am. Hmm, this is not so good an idea in hindsight. I need 7 hours or i'm screwed.

I guess the fact that I hit ONE green in reg (and 3-putted it) tells the story. Shot an 85 with one double. I guess that means I got up and down 6 times around the greens in 18 holes but 85 makes me feel like I should pick a new game to waste my time at.

Oh well, i'm sure i'll work that out. In the meantime i'm still down a whopping 6 buyins at stars and so i'm not doing well in either golf or poker. I guess them's the breaks.


Friday, May 12, 2006

Goofy Weekend Upcoming

Well, mother's day weekend typically cuts short my golf on Sunday as my family tends to get together at the yacht club for brunch after starting the morning with Caesars at my aunt's condo. Oh I feel so rich and famous... oh buffy... so yeah I think Sunday i'll be lucky to squeeze in 9 holes in the AM with the boys.

Today (Friday) and Saturday were supposed to suck weather-wise but it seems fine so far. Let's cross the fingers and hope I can get a bit of golf in.

On the poker front, one of my clients has been in contact with me about getting a private game going. Something like a $50 or $100 tournament, or perhaps some low stakes 'get drunk and have fun' poker. Hopefully I can get a few interested parties for one of those events in the relatively near future.

In the technology arena, yours truly has a brand spanking new Macbook Pro for work purposes. This lets me rededicate my dell notebook to almost exclusively poker playing. That is, unless I drop the rest of my online money shortly which looks relatively likely. Down 6 buyins at 25NL... hmm... i've got to wonder...

Flip flopping these days between 25nl 6-max and 1/2 6-max limit online. Goofy fun either way, but i'm getting tired of playing these piddly limits. Might have to open up the bank account and load some cash back into online poker before the 5-way flops drive me to drink.

If the weather blows, i'll go play some live poker this weekend we'll see.

Monday, May 08, 2006

This Weekend in Golf and Poker - May 6,7 2006

Saturday was dead for golf as there was opening day on at the golf club so the boys and I couldn't have our normal Sat game.

In line with my previous blog post about getting back into poker, I decided to take some cash down to Casino Niagara and try to catch a game around noon. Sat down at a 1/2, whipped out a redbird ($5er) expecting to pay time when I noticed that they STOPPED TAKING TIME at 1/2 and changed it to $2 flop and 10% to max $5. Hmm... this is good. Against the loosies at 1/2NL here I'm usually apt to play the good cards and dump the crap anyways, so not paying rake when I'm not catching cards is seriously a good thing.

Sat there for around 4 hours, raised PF with some good hands, missed the flop, c/b'd and got pushed on a few times and had to fold em. Hmm... good way to burn money but when the cards don't fall your way what the heck can you do? I'm down to $55 of my original $100 and pretty bored to boot. It's raised to $8, two calls, I call in CO with 5c6c and take 5-way flop. Flop is 6-4-6 and show tunes go off in my head as Vince Van Patten would say. The PF raiser leads for $20 into a now $40 pot. Folded to me and I consider flat-calling but figure he can't lay down for another $25 on top of this with any overpair so I jam. He calls and shows QQ and my hand holds up. I'm up $40 and proceed to see cheap flops and pay blinds but can't connect with any other board but that one. I get my victory chocolate milkshake on the way home and am generally happy that i'm back into poker again.

Sunday at the golf course was TOUGH but I kept a good attitude. I could NOT keep the ball in the fairway (or out of trees for that matter) and had a whopping, awful, 5 double bogeys on the front. I kid you not. Could not play worse... It's impossible. Then, of course, I play OK on the back and bogey the last two for 38. 48/38. Yeah, i'm good. 4 handicap my ass.

On the weight-loss front, I'm still sticking to my diet which is getting far easier now. For me, i'm a portion control guy. When i start eating big, i keep eating big. But, now that i've cut down portions considerably I don't get hungry often and it's generally for the right sorts of foods. 11 or 12 lbs in the last 3 weeks is pretty good in my books. The nice thing about being able to eat decent portions is you can technically eat whatever the hell you want without having trouble. This morning my scale says 220-221 (can't tell) and I think it's 5 heavy (its from denver colorado if that makes a difference -- adjustment due to altitude) so i'm likely 215-216. Still too heavy but very much on my way to where I want to be (195-200 sounds about right given my build).

That's it folks. Oh, joke I heard at the tables on Saturday. Old guy to my right tells it to a female Toronto lawyer two to my left.

q. Why do women get belly button rings?
a. So they'll have some place to hang their air freshener.

ba dum bump cheeee.

Friday, May 05, 2006

New Beginnings

Poker's been part of my life for a few years now. Originally, my interest in the game was sparked by my dad mentioning that it's a game which fits my personality and mind. Intrigued that someone actually thought "hey that's a game meant for Toast" I thought it was worth my while to give it a look.

I don't know if it shows through in my writing on this site, but the Toastman tends to be a thinker rather than a do-er. Give me the parameters of a business deal and I'll sit back and ponder before formulating an opinion. It's not that I'm slow -- I'm just deliberate and hate making mistakes. In speaking to people I might initially come off as too quiet but really i'm just trying to figure out their personality so I can converse with them. After I get to know a person I really won't shut up though :)

Being an analyst rather than an actions-before-words guy has definate drawbacks. I first really understood this after taking an entrepreneur personality test with a company I joined back in 2001. Turns out our executives (I was one of them at the time) were full of analysts and no action guys. It didn't work out.

After going through the basics of poker, reading Lee Jones' book Winning Low Limit Hold'em, then graduating to 2+2 Small Stakes Limit and reading Small Stakes Hold'em by Ed Miller I was frustrated by the huge swings that limit poker online tends to have. Though I was starting to really understand the strategy and math behind the game it felt slow. I suppose the fact that I started with just $100 online and a couple hundred in the casinos made it a grind at this point in my evolution but there was none of the bluffing and not even putting people on hands at the time. Low limit poker was just grinding bets out of players who didn't understand the game as well as I did at the time. Forcing mistakes and exploiting them. I made profits, but not at the pace I wanted to.

The transition to no limit cash hold'em forced a change away from the tight-aggressive grind that was small stakes limit and opened my eyes. Suddenly I could double-through with a good hand and lose all my money when I misplay one. And, amazingly, the variance went down. There were far less crazy swings it seemed, and though it always sucked to lose a stack there was less negative energy in the game for me.

No Limit Cash turned what was a very small bankroll into a reasonable one. In the past year I spent most of my time at the tables trying to get a deeper understanding of other players and in doing so forced myself to learn to trust my gut instincts moreso than before. Toast could now make some decisions based on gut and not just analysis -- and it was good.

Then I cashed out. Pretty much all of it as of right now. I want to spend more time working on business things. Poker's just a game after all and I've got to focus on making my life better in the long-run. I've worked a lot in the past two months between my two companies that I work for and my own personal business. I'm happy that I could turn off poker now when I wanted to -- it doesn't nag at me anymore to get more hands in and I'd rather play golf when the sun's out.

I've only got $150 in online poker again these days. That's all i've left myself. Last night I played two hundred hands with Matty "NoSkillz" at 1/2 limit and had a good time 3-betting donks and generally being aggressive. I could read the players, I got action due to my playing style, and I almost got even after a few suckouts against me (down $2.75 I believe).

Poker was a lot of fun again -- and that's what it was supposed to be all about -- fun.

Nixon said:

The Chinese use two brush strokes to write the word 'crisis.' One brush stroke stands for danger; the other for opportunity. In a crisis, be aware of the danger - but recognize the opportunity.

That pretty much sums up what poker has taught me, though I had to learn the hard way. You're always under pressure on the poker table and you ability to act under that pressure determines whether an opportunity will be seized or lost.

And in the end, I've got $147 give or take to rebuild my online empire. This is a new beginning for a poker player less addicted to winning and more seasoned in life.

See you across the felt, if you dare.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Doh! Your Hero Has Fallen

Well, i'm busto. And I'm not even upset about it.

Here's why.

Degree Poker last year was a battle. The blinds were moving, the pressure was on, but it was poker. I took flops with low pocket pairs, I took flops with suited connectors, I bluffed. That's poker folks. This year, they forgot that a poker tournament should be playing poker.

Have you ever watched Poker Superstars Invitational on tv? It's got all the stars but all they ever do is push all-in and decide whether or not to call it (and look bored to death doing it). This is what people think poker is ... ALL IN! If i wanted to pull the arm on a slot machine i'd play them, guessing pre-flop about the strength of your hand only is NOT poker.

As you can probably guess, they screwed the blind structure up. And not just a little bit. Here's the details.

Starting Stacks: $2000
Each level: 20 minutes
Level 1: 25/50
Level 2: 50/100
Level 3: 100/200 w 25 ante
Level 4: 200/400 w 50 ante
Level 5: 400/800 w 75 ante

Figured out where I'm going with this yet? Let's look at this a bit more. Harrington defines the relationship of stack size to the blinds and antes as M. I believe this was Paul Magriel who came up with the concept but i dont remember for sure. Anyways, if the blinds are 25/50 and your stack is 1500, your M = 1500 / (25+50) = 10

At a M=10 you have some flexibility to make decisions, though are definately not comfortable and must keep moving. At M <= 5 you're looking for spots to push basically.

We'll look at my stack tonight in our examples:

2000 chips at 25/50 is an M = 26 (that's good! we can take flops and play poker at this level)
2150 chips at 50/100 is M = 14.3 (still got room baby)
2400 chips at 100/200 w 25 ante is M = 4.36 (that's a pushing zone)
2000 chips at 200/400 w 50 ante is M = 1.82 (thats super-life-support)

Dealer was great -- we had to be doing a 40 hands per hour rate. First hand I got involed in was a blinds battle which I won. Then, I raised on the button at 50/100 and the BB defended. I continuation-bet the flop and won. Did that twice actually. Basically, I didn't get many cards and used position to keep my stack going. I won every pot I played and I played some real crap.

Then we got to 100/200 +25a and the short stacks started pushing. I can't get involved with crap cards against a push. Then we got to 200/400 w 50 ante. I'm on super-life-support already with these stupid-big blinds and I jam with A7o in LP (one out of the cutoff). Big stack in SB finds AQ and i'm sent packing.

I'm NOT complaining about how I played this hand or how bad my luck is not to get cards. My complaint is that the tournament went from poker to crapshoot so that they could cram more people into it.

What you'll see in the next few rounds and into the final tables are not players who can play, but players who got lucky.

This isn't a slot tournament, it's supposed to be a test of luck AND skill -- that's what poker really is.

I'd like to thank Unilever, TSN, and Niagara Fallsview for putting this thing on again. It's sorta fun yeah, but if it wasnt a 15 minute drive from my house to Fallsview casino it would be a serious waste of time. Some crazies flew in from BC and Northwest Territories I understand -- what a waste.

Will I try and get in next year? Yeah probably! But only online. It's not worth killing a few hours of my day at the walk-up draw to get into a crapshoot.

If you can't take a flop for less than all your chips past 40 minutes in a tournament when you've won every hand you played so far... It Isn't Poker. Sorry.

I'm Back In The Saddle, Baby!

Waking up this morning, today seemed like every other one for me lately. Sun shining, birds chirping, and I've got to go sit in my office while people with better jobs go play golf. At least I threw on my golf clothes so I could go after work.

Upon getting in the car to drive in, I was startled to realize it is May 3rd, Day 1 of the Degree Poker Championship. You'll remember my exploits in last year's championship:

Here's where I got in

Here's a tournament recap

I won a walk-up seat that morning (just 100 seats drawn) and made it to the second last day of play and got my ugly mug on TV to boot. Sweet.

Where was I? Oh yes, so I decide on the way into the office that i'm going to duck over to Fallsview for the draw again. I hear this year they've got more players and are doing draws for 4 seperate days for some seats (which is cool).

Arriving I was a bit nervous. I never win anything and to ask for a draw to hit for me 2 years in a row... no way. Got my ticket, #8713. Ticket after ticket they pulled and the closest they came to me was 8711 which got my heart beating a bit but alas it was not to be. Drawing 125 seats for 350 people or so today made my chances pretty reasonable of getting in on paper, but luck is not my thing usually.

However, on the 89th pull from the drum... ta-freaking-da they called my number. I signed in, got my wristband, headed back to the office to make sure they're fine and had to come back to register my seat.

So, tonight I'll be playing the degree poker tournament day 1 for the second year, and I'm really hoping it goes well but as I said last year I think the chances are a bit slim that i'll make it past today. There's just too much luck involved with the blinds they're playing -- moreso than normal poker at least.

In the past year i've learned a lot more about NL hold'em (I knew almost nothing last year, was a limit player). I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing as it might make me too prone to trying to bowl over players. Probably can't play LAG today so i'll stick trying to play my cards for what they're worth.

Wish me luck. I'll report back after it's done with.