Friday, July 31, 2009

Poker Player In Training

It's funny, I've played poker now for a long time -- have read every well reviewed book, I read the forums, I read everything when it comes to poker. For reasons discussed a few times over the years in my blog, I've never moved up into mid stakes but always keep cashing out and staying at the low limits.

Obviously the game has become more difficult to beat since UIGEA came in. I've still beaten it handily but these ain't the days of Party Poker's glory anymore. The opponents were starting to get better even at the lower stakes, lots of TAG's (though bad still, they were tight). You know, it's kind hard to switch gears between playing a pot with a monkey and one who is actually thinking about the game. I'm finding it difficult to give the 'right' amount of credit to people's thinking at these limits.

For example, if I raise AQ OOP and the flop is Q72, against an awful calling station I'll try and extract 3 streets of value with my TPTK. However, if a reasonably thinking player calls my flop c-bet, i have to give him SOME credit for having a hand, and have to wonder if betting the next two streets has value for me since what will he call with that I beat? Weaker queen... what else?

Anyway, enough of the bs strategy stuff, the point is I'm having some trouble these days and a lot of it is, in my opinion, a form of tilt. Yes, I'm stacking the bad players like crazy as normal, yes I'm stealing from the TAG's a bit, but about 3 times a session I do something really, really stupid. Usually it costs me a stack.

This month I've broke even... to make up for my stupid plays I've had to focus on really extracting value from good/great hands when I have the opportunity and as such I believe I'm improving THAT aspect of my game. I'm improving but my 'leaks' are costing me all of that profit.

So, I consider myself in training now. Breaking even / losing is a pretty HUGE thing for me at this game and has motivated me to really work harder at it. It's frustrating to know what not to do and do it anyway.

In one of my next posts, I'll be reviewing my month of July poker results and what I'm doing in order to improve them. It's been a long, rough month.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Chinese Poker, New Golf Shoes & Langley Cup Action

The week before last I taught Matt how to play Chinese over lunch. Chinese is a pretty simple very luck-prone game where you split 13 cards into 3 poker hands, 5 in the back, 5 in the middle and 3 to the front. It's a game played for points and not chips which is nice over lunch naturally. There's also zero bluffing. Anyway, we've played two sessions of Chinese and I can honestly say it's a really fun game. I'm slightly ahead on the overall but we play for peanuts anyway. :) I did have Matt on tilt on Friday though as I cleaned his clock, he was ranting and I was laughing hysterically. The other 19th hole regulars who play a bastardized version of Gin would have thought us crazy, had they been in their usual seats.

Saturday I went to the golf course hoping to play OK and figure out whatever is wrong with my game in time for my Langley Cup match vs. Matt. I shot a 79, it wasn't pretty and I made almost no putts at all. That's not good.

The funniest part about this round happened on the 15th hole (it was just Harry and I and we played the back 9 first). I hit my drive as usual and start walking down the fairway when I hear flapping and something feels odd with my right foot. I look down and lo and behold the sole of my old golf shoes has started to come right off. It didn't take long for that to come all the way off and so there I am walking around in just the leather/plastic boot of the shoes with no sole and only a stub of sole on my heel from a few spikes that decided to stay attached. It was... messed up. See, my 'new' golf shoes are in for replacement by Nike due to them leaking already (1 year old, 2 year warranty). I don't know when I'm getting those back so I was using my old shoes... well, not anymore I guess.

I ended up purchasing a pair of these (above), the new Nike TW 2009's for a nice discount -- love me a discount :)

So Sunday I'm to play Matt for the Langley Cup 2nd round. That's a crap draw for both of us as we're usually pretty competitive in this tournament but whatever, luck is luck.

So off we go (back nine first) and early on I get myself two down -- neither of us are playing especially well though! I got back to even eventually and held it by making a ridiculous pitch shot on #17 from on top of the hill, crappy lie, under some trees and over a bunker -- the shot actually checked, imagine that. Eventually I get to 1 up after 9.

I dropped a shot on 1 after heroically punching a shot thru and under large trees and skipping it over the green 150 yards away then failing to make my putt after a great pitch shot. We basically traded bad holes for the rest of the round -- poo flinging. I birdie #6 to go 2 up and #7 I missed the green to the left left and my chip came up short. My par putt missed as well leaving me 3 feet uphill but Matt's birdie putt came up 3+ feet short as well. He missed his par putt and said "pick it up" in a moment of, well... probably tilt. I picked that coin up fast as fast could be and took a 2 up dormie lead to #8 where I get a stroke -- the match is basically history given #8 is easy.

Well, I seem to have a knack of making easy things hard. My 3rd shot on #8 is just a wedge from 100yds to a front pin. My wedge dug right under that damn ball and I took a lot more turf than ball on that stroke. It came up just into the fairway on the far side of the creek. My pitch came up on the fringe of the green and I miss the par putt. Meanwhile Matt hits his 2nd over near the green and hits a great pitch shot about 12 feet past. Naturally he makes that so the match is STILL going.

I hit my drive long up the middle on #9 and hit a 4i to 15 feet from 195, nice swings both of them. Matt got into some trouble on the left and had 250 in with a tree near his follow thru. He couldn't squeeze out a birdie and I took the match.

All in all, it was some ugly golf. It's too bad neither of us played well, but such is golf. Here's a graphic created to visually describe how our match went:

Monday, July 20, 2009

Out of Bounds

Further to my last post, Phil Ivey, the best 'known' poker player in the world today did indeed make the November 9 at the WSOP. That's pretty sick.

This weekend in golf was better. I did fix my golf swing a bit by changing my setup position. Legs are more bent, body less upright so i've opened up more space between my arms and body. My ball striking as a result has been excellent though my short game is a bit sketchy. I fired a 76 at the club this weekend, not great but not bad given I hit a lot of greens and missed a lot of up and downs/putts in general. Lots of lips.

Sunday was the Twenty Valley tournament. Well, that went about as well as I thought it would. I HATE that golf course, it just sets up wrong for my game and has some stupid holes. After parring the first two easily I hit a driver slightly right down the 3rd, OB of course. My 2nd attempt went left (the natural result of being afraid to hit another OB) and near some trees. My 4th shot was a punch around those trees to the other side of the creek but that ran thru the fairway, thru the 5 yards of rough and OB again. RELOAD, my next attempt at this actually worked and I pitched on, missed the putt and made a 9 on the par 4. I made a birdie on the next hole, a crapload of pars, and basically was 6 over after 9 (5 from that one hole alone). The back nine I played fine too ( good ball striking helps ) but made a few stupid 3-putts along with missing some up and ins to shoot 83. Oh how I hate that stupid golf course. It's like playing #16 at my club over and over and over again, and i fucking hate #16 at my golf course as I've probably mentioned before.

Poker has still been meh. I've identified some leaks but am still overall running fairly bad. I'm not really losing though, just sort of treading water and paying Full Tilt a mortgage payment worth of rake every month. ;)

Kudos to Harry for surviving his 3.5 week Greek Islands vacation, that had to be ROUGH. He came back with a decent 79 yesterday as well on little sleep, so I seriously have to give him props there.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Ivey FTW - WSOP Railtard Post

I'm a nerd in many ways, but I'm particularly a big fat poker nerd.

I'm so sick of watching unknowns with hardly any poker experience win the WSOP Main Event. I mean, yes, it's a donkament but it would be nice to see the most skilled players (pros) win the damn thing for once. It's a skill game after all.

So, I'm absolutely psyched that Phil Ivey is running deep this year, still in with 64 to go. Antonio Esfandiari is also still there. I really like his game from watching High Stakes Poker, the guy is active and not a cash game donkey. Also notable is last year's november 9 chipleader Dennis Phillips. For a donkey of that magnitude (and lets be clear, he WAS a donkey last year (AK v AQ lol)) to run deep TWICE is pretty gross. Joe Sebok, Greenstein's kid is still in too.

So yeah, I'll be rooting for Ivey to take it down but Antonio would be great too. Actually Dennis Phillips would probably be best for the game overall as he's the ultimate 'everyman'. And who doesn't want a bunch of amateur donkey 'everymen' populating their poker tables. I know I do!


Monday, July 13, 2009

This Past Week Could Have Been Better

I don't know what it was about last week. Seriously... something was very wrong with last week and I'm glad its over now. I'll explain.

As my regular readers know (Hi Matt, I think its just you buddy), I've been on a bit of a downswing in poker lately. My stats look pretty good, but I'm losing showdowns like crazy. That started to turn around at the end of last week as I crawled out of my losing/breakeven streak to get into the green but then Friday and Saturday happened. Friday I shed 8, nearly 9 buyins and chased it Saturday night with another 5. This was over a sample of about 3k hands, so no big deal in the overall scheme but damn is it frustrating to lose showdowns this much. I'm just expecting coolers and such. That's not to say I'm playing perfectly, I've done some stupid stuff too but generally those aren't common compared to the old runner runner suckouts. It stinks, I'll stick it out, but yeah, bad week in poker.

On to golf. My golf swing has been a little bit off lately as evidenced by my sweet 84/78 weekend last week. This saturday we only got 9 holes in but I had to be no better than 42 so was glad for the rain to come. Sunday I started on the back nine with a birdie but it went downhill from there as the bogey train came about. After 9 I was 7 over, after 11 I was 9 over. I birdied #3 when my tempo improved due to generally giving up I suppose, and rode that tempo to go even par until #8 and #9 which I bogeyd. It was... ugly. 82. Awful.

Fortunately, I have a tour event next weekend and club championships after that. Also I've got to play Matt in the Langley. None of these I'm looking forward to given how badly I'm swinging at the moment. Perhaps practice on the range is in order to get my tempo smoothed out?

Also last week my Uncle's brother died of cancer. He was a really great guy and left us too early.

So yeah, what a shitty week, nothing worked out. I certainly expect and hope things get better shortly :)

Monday, July 06, 2009

G&P First Weekend of July 2009 Update

So, I've been running breakeven in poker for the last 10k hands. That's mainly after my bankroll downfall posted about a few weeks ago. So, clearly I'm either doing something VERY wrong now, or I'm just running bad. I actually know the running bad part is true, but the doing something wrong part I THINK might be true. Yeah, I'm a donkey, so what.

The WSOP main event is now running. I have to link to this video of Phil Helmuth doing his usual fanfare entrance. I am pretty entertained by Phil H. entering the circus as Caesar, even he seems a bit embarrassed by it. I give him credit, love the guy or hate the guy he IS something to talk about.

In other news, I was mixed this weekend shooting 84 (Boooooo) and yet another 78. Fortunately I did use that 78 to beat Andy in the Langley cup. Unfortunately I now have to play Matt which is bound to be a bitch since he's a bastard to beat at match play at the best of times. I can't draw well forever I suppose. Should be a good match if we're both playing ok at least.

Oh, and this week we made the trip to St. Thomas again. Last time we got rained out, and this time was no different except we got a few holes in (6 to be exact). They also are VERY sensitive about water on the course, so any chance of rain = instant closure it seems. MENTAL NOTE: Don't drive 2+ hours to St. F'ing Thomas if there is any possible way that it might rain.

Here's a picture (or two) of what appears to be a very beautiful course which is for some reason so clearly evil and cursed that I'll probably never get a round in there.