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New Poker Year's Resolutions

1. Play more online.

I don't play enough online. It's a great tool to see a lot of hands. It's a great way to play using the math and work on a lot of the skills I need to improve. Forget that it's so frustrating. Sometimes you can make huge folds because players broadcast the strength of their hands live, online not so much. Get over it.

Sub-resolutions

Improve pattern recognition. Work on identifying betting patterns, timing patterns and pick up general online truisms. Develop my instincts similar to my live instincts.

Work on patience when playing online and eliminate distractions. Mute the cell phone and turn of the TV. Half of which I do already, sorry folks who call me and don't get an answer I might be on stars.

Don't register for a tournament I don't have time to complete or to devote my full attention to.

Get poker tracker. Or some sort of program.

Sweat friends more and have them sweat me.

Solicit advice.

Be open to advice.

Accept the swings of MTTs and sin…

Poker: Flop a Set... get away from it? Part IV

What are those ranges.

Flush draw... 109, 10j of spades? Backdoor straight draw maybe?

Hmmm. The guy is friends with a kid I played with all day. They've talked conspiratorially during breaks in the action as my former table mate was on the rail sweating the action. I don't know much about my opponent as the final table was the first table we shared. His friend was a different story. That guy was wild but in a good way. He had carefully cultivated the right image to get action and hammered his opponents for big pots, or he'd fold when our tight table would reveal the strength of their hands by playing back at him. Would they share the same poker strategy though?

He also knew how to get away from a hand and though he was aggressive he had different speeds for different opponents. After I found a spot to "value-check" on him he accorded me new respect and general avoided pots I got involved in. Value Check? Meaning, he wouldn't call a bet from me, but if I check 9…

Poker: Flop a Set... get away from it? Part III

In this similar vein of thought pertaining to luck, timing and critical junctures live poker players probably experience opportunities to make laydowns that have to take into account the game dynamics in front of them. Perhaps, the way to get around these moments is to not embrace them. Surely, there has to be some sort of metric to balance when to gamble when to not?

Let’s say you are at a Texas Hold 'Em poker final table and the other players are atrocious and you have reads on all of them . You have a healthy chip stack and the blinds are never going to put you in danger? Do you take chip stack coin flips or just wait for your spots. I’d argue if you are willing to flip coins you suffer from an inability to strategize. Poker strategy is often time simply picking your fights. Discretion is the better part of valor… is the clich├ęd response you should give anybody that challenges your “gamble” in those situations. It doesn't matter if it is online poker or live poker you make m…

Poker: Flop a Set... Get away from it? Part II

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I’m sure you can track career arcs of players how hit their big hands at critical spots in tournaments and the ones that didn't. Some become poker super-stars some become also rans. I read on some poker forums where people talk about the biggest hands of their lives and I’ve seen how one suck-out can propel an individual into a career in the game and how one bad beat can cripple a man and end his profession.

This is where luck is undeniably an element of the game. What poker player wouldn’t put his roll on the table if he just had to sweat a one outer. Course one outers come, and when they do they make somebody really happy and they make somebody else really upset. I’ve never had to accept losing such a huge pot for a big piece of my bankroll, but I find I generally make bad decisions when too much of my roll is on the line with a lot of cards to come. There has to be better poker strategy than that? Surely, there is.

Everybody takes shots, but let’s say you move up to a table whe…

Flop a Set... Get away from it? Part 1

Finally scratched my name into the cashes at the Bayou Challenge in perhaps the least possible way. I min-cashed a min-tournament for the minimum amount against nearly the minimum amount of competitors. I’m making minimum wage or should I say I’m paying nearly maximum rake considering I had a “result.”

Of course that nightly Texas Hold 'Em poker tournament was the one event my aces held. That was fun. Had them twice and took me from a tiny short stack warrior to average in chips. Just in time to overtly attack the bubble, with the image of me folding for four hours fresh in my table mates heads.

I can't seem to get my decent hands to do anything for me in a meaningful tournament but they sure come fast and furious and act like the Incredible Hulk in the lesser buy-ins. ReidG and I have discussed this important aspect of poker, more importantly live poker, and luck isn’t about winning your big hands, it’s all about winning them in the proper context.

Let's take a lifetime of p…

Harrahs Poker Tournaments Part5

Now the guys eyeballing me again still not sure if he's going to call the "2k" raise."

"That's $500, $1500, that makes $3000, that makes the 35... that makes $4000. Right?'

She basically rolls her eyes not listening to me. Let's just say I was a little pissed.

She decides she'll count it down again, for me, the idiot in seat 9. "One thousa... oh..." and from this point she's genuinely apologetic. Oblivious to all the ways she's affected action prior to miscounting, but tuned into how gross a mistake her latest was, so at a minimum, her contrition bought her some sympathy from me. Not much but some.

"It's $4000!" She announces again aggressively.

Now Humberto Brenes wannabe who was wracking his brains trying to decide to call a $2k pot quickly picks up two thousand more. At this point, he went from probably deciding he could call 2 thousand, to immediately deciding he can call double the bet. He barely even considers ho…

Harrahs Poker Tournaments Part4

What got me correcting dealers was this hand from a bust out in an earlier poker tournament. I had played snug all morning and never shown anything down but big cards. I got so short I called with a small pocket pair from the blinds and it held but that was the only borderline hand selection the table had seen.

Anyway, this crazy guy limps from under the gun, another two limpers including a crazy woman, neither of whom I wanted to play with for too big a pot. They'd play any draw and it was just a question of whether they'd hit or not. They certainly needed to brush up on their poker strategy.

I look at Arag suited. I know it's a bad hand but it's definitely the best hand here based on the players. I have ten times the limp ($400) in my stack. Which is about 1/3rd to 1/2 the cray guys stack.

He's mulling it over. He says I have a straight draw. At this point I figure I'm racing as a big favorite and am willing for him to come in and let the cards do the talking.…

Harrahs Poker Tournaments Part 3

However, after reading that post, this is not something I do without trying to determine if the poker dealer is quick or slow, and if they are the type to recognize it as being helpful. So, in essence I wait til they get into the routine and deal a couple of hands before starting. This girl thanked me and things picked up.

She finished and another girl sat down. They had the same body type but looked nothing alike. That girl promptly f'd things up. Me and the guy to my left had hundreds. She picked up the 25s from the two guys to our left and made change, then she switched to the other side of the table and then came back and asked the guy to my right for his 50.

He was in swell mood already and I think was talking to somebody. "I put it up."

Me and an older gentleman tried to explain that she had already made change with his ante.

Then the guy, turned to me angrily and said, "If you would stop screwing her up by making
change we wouldn't have this problem." We…

Harrahs Poker Tournaments Part 2

With the poker table open for poaching I got to chip accumulating. One problem, the girl took most of the chips with her. Then I recognized Summer4All, a cagey online poker regular from Houma, was in seat two. Guy knows how to bob when you weave, and zag when you zig. So, I can't say the entire table was passive weak.

He mostly avoided me. He was quiet and locked in with his sunnies on, steadfast and determined. I doubt he even heard me say "What up," or "Nice Pot" or "Nice Hand," because he had such laser focus on the table that he wouldn't reply. I stopped trying because really when a conversation is that one sided you might as well have it in your head.

I did get some recognition from him when I called a guy down with second pair after the spade draw missed. I stewed, and put him on what he had. I called and he had ace high. When I showed the pair of 9s, Summer4All said "Now we are playing some poker." When I play online poker or live …

Harrahs Poker Tournaments Part I.

So, I've had mixed results in the Bayou Poker Challenge. It's been a challenge. In one of the tournaments I played I thought my starting table was as tough as any starting table I've had in the last two years. Just seemed there were no weak spots at the table. Sure, I exploited a loose player's tendencies, to generate money without a hand, and knowing he'd recognize I was playing pretty snug early but other than that money was hard to come by.

We eviscerated two bad players early on and then dance around each other until the table broke. I played Kings pretty well, inducing the bad player to go all in with the right bet size. There was a bet and three calls including the bad player. I look at KK in the big blind. One of my favorite Texas Hold 'Em poker hands.

I bet about 1/3rd of the bad player's remaining stack. This guy had shown he would push if he thought there was any window to get a guy off a hand. I thought I was giving him that window. What surpris…

Squandered Opportunity in Multi-Table Poker Tournament Part 2

At some point Monkey got moved to my left. Perhaps, it's merely a consequence of going fairly deep a lot, recently, but I can't seem to play a tournament without some Monkey table time. The monkey dial was on charm today, and the rest of the table was enjoying the repartee. One guy folded twice saying he didn't want to bust him and become blog fodder for sucking out on him.

I've said it before, and Will claims it's not a tactic, so I'll call it a gift, but his table banter is dispersed with surgical precision and gets him pots unchallenged. Must make live vs. online Texas Hold 'Em a lot easier. Perhaps this is a big edge for him in live poker and a hurdle he has to clear with online poker where there is just as chatbox. I don't care what anybody says (anonymous bashers on his blog) the guy is as skilled as they come at navigating these types of live fields. There is certainly a talent to slither through danger, to apply pressure when necessary and to d…

Squandered Opportunity in Multi-Table Poker Tournament Part 1

Played in event 1 at harrahs. I think there were 212 runners or so. The format and structure, again, left plenty of room for ample play. I found myself second best a couple of times early and missed two mega draws where had I shoved my opponent would have had to call and busted me.

Sometimes in tournaments you just have a feeling it's going to be your day. This feeling hits you early in an online poker tournament. When you play poker tournaments online you can be hitting everything and chipping up and it's obvious... or you can just get in the groove and feel like you will steadily improve and outlast the competition. True running great when you play poker online or live is more fun, but being in the groove can almost be relaxing in a zen like way. In long live tournaments I find the groove more often leads to success. When you are comfortable with your table image in an online poker tournament and you have spots you can attack being settled down is the key to patience.

Then the…

Dead Money Poker Satellite Table

We played our local dead money satellite poker table in Houma and in Lafayette, LA this past weekend. This satellite puts a player in the World Series of Poker Main Event, and while it isn't wrapped up or resolved as quickly as an online qualifer to something like the Aussie Millions, it's a fun thing to be able to sweat a representative of all of us.

We've had a couple of winners already qualify for the final table, with a Table Captain David Anderson performing his magic again coming into heads up play with huge chip disadvantage and going all the way to the title at the Lafayette table and a good player taking it down in NYC.

In Houma last night GeneD and Dinger got the action started and we had a good game. The Houma table was a battle as The Pool and HotTub King of Houma Robert Dinger dished out the bad beats like they were jacuzzis during a cold snap. 6-4 o/s got him in and out of trouble a few times.

John Price "is Right" and Tim Thompson also battled t…

Addressing my own leaks in poker part 2

I scanned the board. There were some bad straight draws but with the action they didn't make sense . Did he have an overpair the entire time and was stringing me along? I couldn't figure out how I was beat, but I felt beat. Such is poker sometimes. He looked very confident and then he started jabbering... he foolishly said, "I didn't think you had a jack, if you had a jack you would have paid me off by now." Paid... me... off... by... now...

This wasn't some complicated level, I thought it was just an unfiltered genuine sentiment. Everything said I was beat. I flashed the jack to the players next to me and folded. He turned over a rivered set of 8s. I groaned. He told me again I didn't fold a jack. Impossible to fold a jack there. I said, "a lot players would have folded it faster than I did."

And with that fold, I promptly went on tilt. It was the sixth or seventh such lay down. It was exacerbated because in trying to build the pot I got the guy …

Addressing my own leaks in poker part I

Online poker perhaps because of the speed of it, is maybe a better crucible to self-examine your leaks. In live poker some of them manifest in different ways but when I see some of my online poker weaknesses extend to the real felt I need to take stock again of my game.

After going over some of my hands, I was surprised to see a facet of my game I do better on the Internet than I do live. I thought it'd be just the opposite, but I think this is a little bit of anamoly, albeit true for a lot of Texas Hold 'Em players. However, I also think when the leak exposes itself when I'm playing poker online it's more dangerous. I'm being kind of vague sorry...

The leak is making good folds after good folds. I think all of us wannabe players have a limit on how many times we can lay down good hands. And I think this seperates the truly great players from the rest of us. They don't have a limit on making the correct play. I think that limit, at least for me, differs on a live…

Question and some poker strategy advice...

This is an email from another friend of mine... when did I become principal of poker school.? I'd welcome some differing insight, as I'm sure there are probably other ways to look at this

So another hand I was going to tell you about from my last cash session and one I felt like I was playing well and playing poorly within the hand, street by street. Guy in the 8 seat just won a few nice pots and is racking his chips but he's still technically at the table, even though he is standing up. He gets two cards from early position, maybe even UTG and raises to 12 after barely looking at them.

From the 2 seat, I look at AJ off and make the call. The BB shoves all in for roughly 35 total. 8 seat calls, I call. Nice little pot developing and we're now heads up for a side pot. Flop comes out A high and 8 seat leads out with a pretty big bet, maybe 50 or 55. I stew and come to the conclusion that he has hit the ace and is trying to push me out of the pot and get heads up with the s…

Coaching Update and more

The gentleman I've been working with has been very kind in his praise of what we've worked with. He's also told me about some huge pots he's won where he's applied some little things we've discussed. And he's been running great. You want to feel like a successful poker teacher when starting a poker school have students that run great after your coaching sessions.

He had an over 2k day yesterday on 1-2 and scooped a giant $1100 pot and later a $600 pot off a guy he got a read on using one of my strategies. Wow, that makes me feel really good. That's a great day for 1 -2 especially considering without the donkley poker tournament yesterday there were mostly just your daily nits. The biggest thing was he trusted his read, believed in it, and let the other guy dig his own hole. Early on he picked up some information on the guy--when he had a big hand and when he didn't.

On one hand he looked down at aces (poker is easy) but picked off a tell of strength f…

Donkley Poker Tournament--A mega? part II

I was extolling the virtues of amassing big chip stacks to go the final table of a tournament with to lessen your disadvantage when playing 8 more skilled players. Or the Darvin Moon formula. You can do that a couple of ways, by taking more risks than your opponents and letting chance be more of a factor (thus lessening your disadvantage because there is less opportunity for you to be outplayed), or by getting big hands and getting them to hold (Darvin Moon did both).

You can control one of those strategies and the other is up to the fate of the cards that are about to be pitched. The same is true but in the reverse for a mega. If you are a skilled player (with enough chips that blinds aren't a factor) why agree to take coin-flips and get entrenched in hands with lesser players when you don't have to win all the chips? Your poker strategy should exploit your advantage not minimize it.

Chris Ferguson won the World Series of Poker Main Event over TJ Cloutier in heads up act…

Donkley Poker Tournament--A mega? part I

I've dealt or blogged about this before... where I've made lay-downs in the Donkley that are definitely sub-optimal for standard poker tournament strategy but for that structure are probably (?) the right move. Here's why...

Well, the Donkley is a Texas No Limit Hold Em' Poker Tournament, however, it doesn't play like a true tournament. Sure, it's a freeze out where the objective is to play down to one player and like a tournament all the big money is in positions 1,2, and 3. But the Chop factor changes the dynamics significantly. In essence it is more a mega than a typical tournament.

In "mega" tournaments it may be right to lay down AA preflop on the bubble. Why? Because in a mega satellite everybody wins the same amount (usually a seat into a bigger buy-in event). All you have do is survive to the money and you get the same prize as the big stack. In that format, protecting your chip stack, ie survival is paramount. There is no incentive to become th…

Weekly Donkley Poker Tournament Thanksgiving Week

Some notable hands from the Donkley poker tournament to follow: I won a big pot with AK. A fairly tight guy with a big stack raised from early position. He was your typical middle aged white poker player. ABC. I was on the button and called. The flop came A high with three clubs. He led out a pot sized bet.

I stewed. It looked like a protection bet to me. In case he was semi-bluffing with a club draw I decided my best option was to shove. With action back to him, he deliberated forever and called me with AQ and had no club in his hand. Don't know what I'd do in his position. I think I would have folded. I think I bet enough to get an Ace with a club to fold, at least that was my intention. Obviously, I didn't have a club either. My hand held. That right there is the frustrating thing about these low buy-in tournaments, it’s so hard to protect a hand against players that will call anything. It’s hard to not be at the whimsy of the deck.

Earlier in the tourna…

Caller's Remorse... I should have folded at the Poker Table...

Recently, I play online poker and got into with a player I have a history with. I've played several large pots with this guy and he's usually come out on top. He just seems to have my number. When I decide to play poker online I usually try to avoid the guys that frankly own me, unfortunately I was into a juicy table when this guy appeared on my right. Okay, I'll have position on him, and most of my losses came when he basically had me coolered and had position on me.

I had my standard set-up I put together when the wife and baby are in bed and I decide to play online poker into the wee hours of the night. Water bottle, snack, and place to put my feet up. I also had a couple of tables open.

The water bottle is great because I can do a spit take when I am surprised. Can't do that in a casino. Lost some monitors and laptops by being too emphatic in my surprise—so funny or not spit-takes can be dangerous. Okay, I'm lying. I've never spit on my laptop or monitor and …

A few other things...

Recently, I got to play with Yarddog, the frequent online poker commentator on Monkey's poker blog, or should I say the frequent humorous commentator on Monkey's blog. I just had to give him a shout out, because he sat down at my table and promptly scooped two 150 to 200 pots with outrageous bluffs showing hole cards lower than the board. He tells me he's had some success playing online poker and I can see why, guy is fearless.

There are times when I've played that style usually with a lot of passive nits that I try to exploit, but it's just so so hard on some of these tables. Some of the players can only see the card in their hand matching the top card on the board and call no matter what, some will do so with second pair, and some with just ace high. I got to give the guy credit, without a read on the table, or perhaps with a preexisting one, he quickly put everybody to shame and stole some pots.

We both had an incredibly profitable down, and it came after one of t…

Coaching part ii

Cont.

How do I teach that?

Turns out, there is a lot of information that I've read that I've also digested and processed. It's on display at the poker table everyday and I utilize it even if I don't think about it. Kind of like typing on a keyboard after you've learned to type. You push the "I" button without thinking about which finger goes where, however, if you slow down and think about you know it's your right thumb (just kidding).

The guy I'm working with, I'm hesistant to call him a student because I think he's a great poker player who regularly wins online and goes deep in tournaments in live play, is open and receptive to all those little kernels I've picked up. I don't profess to be a better poker player than my peers, in fact, I can name a ton of players locally that I think have an edge on me, and there are probably countless others playing in stakes I don't play at.

I do have some modicum of success in live play rel…

Coaching part i

Perhaps inspired by the guys over at Poker Immersion or Jonathan Little coaching Steve Begleiter at the Main Event, I agreed to do some coaching the last couple of weeks. I have to say it's been a great experience. Maybe one day I'll open a poker school. The person I'm working with is already one of the top players, in my opinion, locally and I think I am able to learn quite a bit from him. Teacher is the student?

Well, he approached me because he recognized a skill set that I possess and one that he wants to add to his game. He's a voracious reader and he's already burned through a book I thought could help him out. It's interesting because I had some trepidation in starting this process. This wasn't anything like hand selection, aggression, or any of a myriad of poker skills that he already possessed, though we do discuss those things, no this was about reads.

He's played with me and seen me make some tough calls and has been very flattering about my a…

Lessons Learned

In the previous post I discussed two hands I got to play with Captain Tom and Mark Wilds. I was fortunate enough to eliminate them and also granted an opportunity to learn another poker lesson from them both.

This kind of ties into a pet peeve of mine. I hate it when players bitch about the stakes of the tournament they are in. You might hear, "I can't take it seriously this is only a $300 or $500 buy-in," and while I understand where they are coming from I think it's bad form and hurts their game. They are basically assuring themselves of pissing away $500.

The same is true in cash, I notice a lot of 2-5 players will sit down at a 1-2 table and play like the stakes are beneath them. They raise like mad, as though they can turn the table into a higher limit game. Same thing at a 2-5 table when players sit down waiting for a bigger game, or sit down pissed there isn't a bigger game.

I love it when they do. Essentially, their mindset starts them off on tilt. T…