Sunday, May 30, 2010

The State of Online Poker and the Game in General Part V

Sure, there is an element of luck to poker (thank god if you are a professional for that or else you wouldn’t have a profession) and that keeps them coming back. But luck only lasts for so long.

When poker turns a corner, that being when the casual player has an easier time gambling against the house in blackjack and Roulette and Pit games, (and I’d argue that time has already come), there will only be a finite amount of new money in the sport. Why keep sitting down to be the sucker at a table? Where’s the fun in that?

So, that leaves the pros grinding against the pros and the gamblers heading to the casinos. Eventually, the money gets grinded away to the lowest possible sieve, so now it’s only the best playing the best. Look at the nosebleed games. Do the players have an edge against one another? Hansen loses millions in a couple of months then wins it back. Dwan does the same. As does Antonius. Meanwhile (sponsorships and backing arrangements being ignored for the sake of simplicity) the only person or place making any money is the House.

What a breath of fresh air it was, and a feeding frenzy ensued when a new player at the highest stakes brought new money to the game. Isildur1 killed the European sites and brought all that money to the Americans. He promptly went broke a couple of times, when he ran into the new breed of datamining geeks that used his play against him.

Currently, the game is getting closer and closer to this moment where the bottom falls out of the poker economy. There level of skill has increased so much that new money is being chased away. Old money is changing hands with a piece of it falling to the house in every transaction. If everybody had a business on Ebay the same concept would be at work. Eventually only Ebay would be making any money and eventually even their business would dry up.

So, like any Ponzi scheme on its last legs there is a relentless chase of new markets and new money. Live and online Poker is cannibalizing itself with overlapping tournaments and instead of squeezing the juicy fruit of bad players, they are now squeezing the coconuts that are good players. One day those coconuts will bust.

I hate to be so melodramatic and dour, but I’m not completely suggesting our game will die. Because in truth, the LONGTERM future of poker will be a boom and bust cycle, just as it always has been. The game will never die, as good players leave the game to chase more lucrative careers, new bad players will have better opportunities to not discover too quickly how bad they are and for a time chance once again will rule… but only as long as it takes for the good players to come back.

Don’t think so? Think I’ve oversimplified things? If you look closely at the history of poker, the booms and busts of the game are there for anybody to see just over the last 100 years or so. Sure not on a scale the size of the Moneymaker Boom and our current path to a bust but it’s there. The evidence is as bright as day in your local microcosm too. Used to play in a home game and then it disappeared? Why did it go away? You were probably beating it too often. The bad players got tired of losing. Same is true on the macrocosm.

Fear not, the fishies of Europe, South America and Asia will be available to America soon enough. Though don’t think they aren’t improving rapidly. The Ponzi Scheme that is poker isn’t dead yet and likely there are a few more good years to conquer the game if you have the chops for it, but don’t count on it always being milk and honey—even if the legal obstacles go away.

Friday, May 28, 2010

The State of Online Poker and the Game in General Part IV

I don’t think I have to give up my Krispy Kremes until I pack on a few more pounds and that's a choice I should be able to make on my own. Okay, it's a choice I've already made, but just because I don't eat Krispy Kremes anymore doesn't mean you can't. Right now the hurdles addicted gamblers have to clear to lose their house, wealth, and life aren’t very high. In truth, a (regulated) poker site like will at least try to monitor problem gamblers whereas a bookie who is a phone call or click away will try to soak them dry.

There are no compelling arguments against legalizing online poker. None. Gambling is evil and should be outlawed everywhere? Come on, if you are reading this blog you know for some poker isn’t gambling.

What happens if they do legalize it? Here’s where I may surprise you. A poker boom, probably not as grand as the Moneymaker effect, but definitely a boom, will hit but just as quickly as the last one faded, if not faster, the boom will disappear.
Here’s why. Think of poker as a series of sieves and grinders.

What’s wrong with the game is money pours into the sport like pebbles into the sieves and grinders. Players on the first level capture some of the bigger fishes and hold on to that money, eventually though, the folks they are better than disappear and the new influx of money is gone. Players that lose to everybody quit because they discover they suck or believe they got cheated but the stop putting money into a game they rarely pull money away from.

Talk to live players and see how many of them will tell you a story about why they stopped playing on the Internet. Invariably, it ends in them getting cheated or the game being rigged. In truth, for those that are any good they may simply not having the patience to outlast the variance or they may have terrible bankroll management skills. The ones that are bad are simply bad.

Back, to the grinders and sieves, the influx of poker money is gone, and the top level of grinders (dual meaning there intended) push the money back and forth grinding it down. Some of it is released in a dust with it falling through all the sieves in the form of rake to the empty pit that is the House, but some of that money is grounded to the next sieve. This is simply players in search of new games take that money up a level or players in search of easier games go down a level, beat the game and bring that money to the next level of grinders and sieves. The rising popularity for Omaha right now is a symptom of players looking for new places where they have bigger edges.

You can follow the image I’m sure. Obviously, money comes in at every level of play, but new money has a limit at any level. Eventually, if you play it out all money goes to the house when there is a rake. The best players feel it last, but without an influx of money the poker economy fails and fails pretty quickly. (Rakefree poker site has even more value when you think about it as it’s the only way to save the game in the LONG, LONG, run). Basically, poker works like a ponzi scheme when you sit back and look at it in a big picture.

People that rely on the game for their living, are subject to the whims, and economic circumstances of their opponents or “victims.” Live pros have long understood that players that play recreationally fund the game. Guess what, as the level of prowess has risen (and the general knowledge of an average poker player is light years ahead of what it was 10 years ago) so, too has the chances of the casual player diminished.

To be continued (yes, I'm not done yet, but almost :))...

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The State of Online Poker and the Game in General Part III

Unfortunately for those of that play Hold'em online the people that make our laws don't understand the world as it is today. I think part of the attraction of young people to Barack Obama was that he at least sold that he related better to young people (I'm not going to get into whether he did or not) whereas most of the old guard don't even bother trying to relate and those that try fail badly.

Unfortunately, Congress is mostly unaware and out of touch, there are realities that they just don’t understand, can’t be made to understand, and will refuse to understand. Problem is are country is run by a group of people that time has passed by. This is an old lament every generation makes, but in today's age it's far more true than ever. Those that make the laws and decide where to advertise don't even know what the new digita world is about. I wasted my breath and energy trying to justify the game to gentleman of that ilk (entirely likeable except the way they snorted in derision at my “fantasies” about poker) at my friend's wedding.

I compared the very best in poker to Wall Street traders except instead of trying to beat the nebulous market they merely have to outthink the fools at the table. I use the familiar law school story about two first year law students in the woods with a bear stalking them. One guy puts on tennis shoes, the other laughs at the folly of trying to outrun a grizzly, that guy responds to the laugher, "I don’t have to outrun the bear I just have to outrun you." This is no more true than on a poker table where the Bear is the Casino’s rake and the other players are the shoeless law students you have to outwit.

They laughed off that analogy and responded with how it was purely a game of chance. I told them I’d play them for any amount they wished and I was pretty sure my friends would loan me the money to play at their stakes, and I’d prove it wasn’t a game of chance. They responded anybody that confident must be cheating, nor was it the time or place, and even it was they weren't the sort to stoop to petty gambling.

Unfortunately, despite these guys being smart, they are just over-the-hill and misinformed. It’s not that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, you can, it’s that you have to convince the old dog it’s worth learning the new trick and dogs don't listen too well. Spend any time with your grandparents and you’ll see their views are inelastic, no matter the change that is immediate, overreaching, and in their very face. As poker players we are trying to sell a game that is vastly different than even five years ago and it’s not the fault of the older generation don’t recognize what it has become.

Poker prodigies are Internet wunderkinds that are math whizzes and students in search of optimal play. Jonathan Little, one of GCP’s poker bloggers, has gone on record as saying Sit and go poker tournamentsat the highest stakes have been solved. The only money to be made playing against other players that know the solution is breaking even and winning on the rakeback. Many of the online players are kids are attacking the game with innovative strategies that formerly successful live players wouldn’t even begin to contemplate.

Going back to our legislators, the guys on the hill that advertise their chasing of a flush as effectively as they try to hide their chasing of a secretary can’t comprehend this. Or maybe, they have dabbled in the game and are so arrogant they are sure they only way they could be beaten, since they are so smart, is for the other guy to be cheating.

They’ve probably been beaten a lot, because as I’ve learned there is no bigger mark in a poker game than a smug, successful surgeon, politician, or genius that believes with self-satisfied arrogance their raw intelligence will prove superior enough for them to beat a poker game with no study or experience. Oh, to play in country club games everyday.

I don't know the drawbacks to legalizing poker, yes, it will enable some people to lose a lot of money quickly to guys that are their betters in the understanding of the game, but they should have the freedom of choice to take that risk. Sure, for some it might make it easier for addicted gamblers to lose everything, but those people already have a thousand avenues to lose it all anyway—what’s one more. That argument is like outlawing Krispy Kremes... I can’t eat a donut anymore because the rest of America is obese?

To be continued...

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The State of Online Poker and the Game in General Part II

Having lived in DC, I met some magnificent intellectuals who worked on the Hill that really did the thinking for the guys that could get elected. The guys that could get elected... could get elected… but you didn't want them divvying up the check at the end of dinner. The guys that could figure out a tip for the most part couldn’t get elected. I know of some dirty things about politicians from ten years ago, but I also know of far dirtier things about the guys behind the scenes.

So the crux of the problem for Texas Hold em online, poker in its most popular and arguably easiest form, is trying to get people set in their ways, who aren't savvy enough to learn about the new state of things, to understand things realities have changed.

GeneD has run into this with sales, and told me stories of trying to convince the decision-maker, too dumb for their own good, how the product Gene is hawking would be beneficial to their company. Of course there is no easy way to say, you are too dumb to see the obvious, and most people that can't see the obvious are either blinded by stupidity or misinformation. It's a no win. It's like telling a smart friend how to play poker and they've decided they already know better.

Of course, for those entrepreneurial types (and don’t think I haven’t mulled over this idea, I just don’t have the massive monetary backing to make it happen) why not offer legal poker on the Internet. Don’t charge a rake. I wonder why this free Internet business model hasn’t arisen yet: Advertising based Internet Poker (no rake). That’s got to be legal right?

Typically, anybody trying to make a buck off content on the Internet can’t beat the people offering the same product for free (usually at a loss--which is a problem for my grand concept lol). Most people still are trying to figure out ways to make money off the Internet. Though with the right backing you can, forget about rake just plaster the games with advertising. Or allow opt-in rake pay. You don’t want the advertising? You pay a minimal amount over 10,000 hands or so to keep your screen pristine. This is the business model that would terrify me if I were an online casino. I suspect the only reason they don’t allow table advertising right now is because they don’t want to open that Pandora’s Box and give anybody ideas.

Though, you could argue nobody wants to put their product in front of millions of users everyday and there aren’t the advertisers to make it profitable. Remember too the decision makers taht are too stupid for their own good. There is some truth to that, for some reason the corporate world is light years behind the general public on poker. Perhaps, it will take another generational shift, when the younger, future executives get promoted to positions that make advertising decisions, that understand poker is no longer thought of as some game of crooks, card cheats, and degenerates (though it certainly still has its fair share of those) before we will see mainstream advertising and endorsements of the game.

I was at a friend’s wedding and got embroiled in a conversation about poker. I say conversation but in truth a few short years ago, I was left defending the game to a couple barons and captains of industry that basically assailed my waste of intellect and my desertion of morals. My friends father was more than a highroller, descendents of the uppercrust in the Four Hundred, his friends were likewise in that class of wealth few of us will ever sniff, and those guys after a pleseant conversation were literally kind of making sport of me. They were dumbfounded and disbelieving that you could make any real money in, or around, poker and derided my interest in the game.

No matter what I said, they were set in believing poker is a game played by and run by outlaws. Legalized stealing, at best, and they questioned the legality of it at all. Amazing how even the incredibly intelligent and successful can be so blind and naive. Don’t forget these are the same people that still own single-function devices like watches for that single function. These days if you are under 50 you most likely own a watch for bling purposes not to tell time. We live in a digital age, the time is everywhere. The world is vastly different than what the old men that run the country perceive it to be. Granted, I’m in my 30s and already I’m way behind the curve.

To be Continued...

Monday, May 24, 2010

The State of Online Poker and the Game in General Part I

Since the end of the Bayou Classic, I've been a bit strapped for time and have only been able to play a little Texas Hold em online. I played in a bloggers freeroll and got smoked being completely impatient. There is a major difference between live tournaments and online games. If I have to make the effort to drive to the casino and am locked in for the day I can wait for the proper moment as necessary, online if I lose I can get stuff done.

My baby is a room away, the chores that have piled up are just outside my window, and I have a hundred other things to do if my top pair with middle kicker is no good. So invariably, I’ll get it in bad and quickly X out the window when I bust—especially in the micro-stakes and freerolls—and move on to stuff I should have been doing anyway. A lot of times I won’t even feel guilty about it. I guess that makes me a fish. Fellow bloggers… exploit me! I'm the guy that looks like he didn't learn how to play poker.

Bare with me as I’m about to blog for four posts on Internet Poker and the state of the game in general. I started off going in one direction and discovered quite to my surprise I ended up somewhere else.

I'm so eager for U.S. government to pull their collective heads out of their asses and legalize poker on the Internet. I really hate only having a couple of options and I resent that I'm locked out from the “supposed” easy games of European and Asian sites. I’m surprised there haven’t been lawsuits made by players stating that the Federal Government is repressing their right to make a living. Billy Baxter’s suit against the IRS was a landmark case for poker pros and it’s about time somebody steps up and makes a claim for online poker pros.

We need somebody like Tom “Durrrr” Dwan to hire a lawyer (and become even more loved by his minions at 2+2 (who posted that picture)) and sue for the right to play. Okay, since Dwan is now a sponsored pro he has no dog in this fight, it’ll have to be a free agent Internet name to get it done.

It's unbelievable there is only one activity that you can legally do anywhere in our country except on the Internet. Think about that. Poker is legal in every corner of our country in the live version--sure sometimes there are very specific boundaries or rules around it--but almost without exception you can't play it legally on the Internet.

What other hobby, activity, profession, or pasttime fits that criteria. When you boil it down to just that, it shows you just how backassward our country really is. Listening to the PokerBeat podcast somebody mentioned legislators ears perked up when they heard that they are potentially missing out on BILLIONS of revenue when talking about regulating online poker.

It’s news to them that gambling enterprises rake a ton of money? Wow. After watching the Celebrity Apprentice for a couple of episodes earlier in the year and seeing just how dunderheaded former Illinois governor Rod Blagovich is I can't say I'm surprise. It's fairly clear an inappropriate amount of our elected officials are social animals with little between the ears.

Rod could glad hand with anybody but he couldn't even send an email. “That's what his staff is for” seemed to be his embarrassed rebuttal for not being able to use a cell phone either. These guys are the ones making the decisions for us?

To be continued...

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Harrahs Bayou Poker Classic Continued..

As bad as the cards went, the end of the week got worse. The one exception being the poker online tournaments but I'll get to that. On Friday night I freerolled into the nightly with a cash win. I at least balanced my tournament binks with some solid tight cash sessions to lessen the damage to my bankroll. I didn’t play a single satellite or any of the Sit'n go tournaments which is unusual for me and I’m not even sure why.

In reflection, I wish I had. In events passed I won plenty of buy-ins chips in those satellites and really only suffered minimal bankroll damage. This go round the cash games weren’t quite matching the tournament buy-ins. In fact some of the cash games ended as losses. I used to prefer the smaller megas that gave away $500 chips with all the rebuys and madness yet for some reason they’ve done away with those.

So, back to the table, I like my spot, again, and inexplicably after amassing some chips tried an outright bluff on the only decent player at the table. Board came out paired two to a flush. I checked having missed my overs, he bet, and I throw out a third of my chips to take it down there representing trips. After a moment he shoves. I have to fold. I berate myself in my head. No need whatsoever to make that play.

I thought I could take down the pot and just went for it. I don’t mind following my gut and making mistakes but I do when perhaps discretion is the better play. I easily could have waited and I had no need to make a stab at that pot. The table dynamic wasn’t like the donkey slaughter of the noon tournaments it was one caller to the flop and there were soft spots.

A few more ill timed c-bets with air and I find myself nursing a short stack without the full options of a standard poker game. I’m back to waiting for hands. I’m not getting any either. Then I start getting these piercing pains in my calf. It’s like an bullet exploding in my left calf. It last for a few seconds and then disappears. It happens while I’m in hands and when I’m not.

Standing up and walking around does me no favors either. Nor does massaging it. In fact, touch seems to stimulate the pain and set off another explosive bout of agony. I’m looking for any excuse to fold hands and am just focusing on these weird calf explosions. I’ve since read about them and their reasons for happening are similar to cramps (though they feel far different and more intense than cramps). At the time I almost wanted to ask for my buy-in back and just leave.

Soon enough I got knocked out. I ran into similarly knocked out players Davey and Parfait and we walked to Slice to get some pizza. The walk seemed to abate the explosions. The little I eat and I drink during the week have to had something to do with the pain. Eating and drinking must have helped out.

Kind of symbolic pain I felt for this past week and a half of tournaments. It was the nipping at my flesh by the idiot donkeys that made bad play after bad play only to get rewarded for it. On the whole, I can’t complain, I found myself in nooners getting run down multiple times, and yet it took hours for me to get eliminated. I kept getting coolered and making solid folds where in other tournaments I’d be married to the hands. The structures were an A plus.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Soft Spots? Maybe me... Harrahs Bayou Classic continued...

Where was I? The Harrahs Bayou classic and the interesting poker of a couple of lunchboxes. You know the betting now what were the hands? Interested, so was the table and so was I, now we’ll finally get to see some Texas Holdem poker hands from these two lunchboxes.

Hitch turns over a pair of sevens. Idiot number two 98. Process that.
So basically, I’m waiting to catch a hand with these two and just value bet them large every time. They apparently can’t stop themselves from calling. Of course they start to feed the rest of the table their chips and I can’t catch a hand against them. That’s even more aggravating. There are all kinds of other bad plays that I just can’t wrap my head around far worse than when I poker tournaments online.

I talk to Alex Wood, who cashed in the first event, at one of the breaks seeking suggestions for how to handle a table that calls any raise, especially when I can get hit to c-bet and I’m usually playing four or five players. He suggests betting really big, I point out that 25x and 16x are being called fairly regularly with nothing. AK and AQ are good to open but if your opponent can’t fold bottom pair you basically just have to hit.

In that one daily tournament I got knocked out when I looked down at a low pair from the big blind. I had a little over 3k. Four people limp. I know the first two are going to insta-fold when I finally wake up with some aggression. They do. Idiot number two is stewing over a hand. The small blind indicates out of turn he’s mucking, though unlike the Beau I don’t think that influenced the decision of the the deliberator. I could feel myself getting looked up and down.

By this point, I know my hand is going to be a small favorite. Usually, I’m putting a semi-capable player on Ace 10, Ace Jack, Ace nine, King Jack, King Ten, maybe even King 9, Queen Jack, Queen 10, and sometimes Jack 10, with most of those hands folding. I look at idiot number two’s chip stack and see my shove represents about 80% of the stack. As the stewing goes even longer, I see that ESP movie play out in my head. What terrible hand am I going to get called down with, what terrible hand is going to surprisingly be in a 50/50 spot with me, and what terrible hand is going to run me down and send me to the rail.

I start thinking it’s going to be a middle ace which will surprise the table as having two overs. As it goes even longer I think of some of the bad beats I’ve suffered at the hands of people in the Harrahs tournaments. I recall k4 against my KJ shove where it of course came 44. I remember KJ calling my AA and getting a KKx flop in the money with three tables to go and us two the big stacks at the table, him the bigger stack. They all echo through my head.

I remind myself, I don’t have many chips so I can’t bitch about the call down when it happens (though isn’t that what I’m doing right now) but I also can’t believe the nitwit is about to call off most of their chips. The hand? Finally, I get the call, the small blind insta-mucks and it’s hello Q6.

I hear “What did he call him with?” “Q6?” Yeah it’s Queen six. I see the standard eyerolls that accompany any of idiot number two’s decision and then I watch the six pair on the flop. I see the and strengthen with a queen on the turn and head for the exit after a blank on the river.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Bad Spots in Poker Tournaments...

After the success of the IP tournament I once again ran like the stuff at the bottom of my son's diaper at the Harrahs Bayou Poker Classic. For some reason no matter the game I play Texas Hold'em poker, Omaha, or Seven Card Stud, I can't get seem to play well or run well.

I had one or torrid streaks in the nightlys but despite the head start I got on my chip lead I found myself blinding down as the "turbo" caught up to me. They were called turbos but they really played more like a standard poker tournament for hours and then all of a sudden everybody was shortish. I think I'd rather it be a turbo all the way through than to be given so many chips that it only becomes a turbo right on the money bubble and the final tables. If only for the fact, that there is an illusion of patience early on that suddenly disappears when everybody is facing two branches of a decision. Jam or fold.

In the daily poker tournaments, I kept finding myself at great tables yet never seemed to get any traction. It's like I forgot to wear my Off! Donkey spray and got trampled by all the idiots at the table. I sat down at one table and watched one of my tablemates make mindnumbing poker play after mindnumbing poker play. Blinds 100-200 why not raise to 2500 then when the whole table folds show pocket kings. Why not do it twice!

You know those players that everybody at the table is making eyes at one another with any play that they make? Well, this person was one of those. Everybody at the table, even the other bad players would just shake their heads, roll their eyes, and express confusion with every play.

I watched this one player get locked into a hand with another turnip and I got tilted just from being on the periphery. Blinds were 50-100. The first player, decked out in WSOP gear, opened the action preflop with a bet, and put a hitch in their toss. You know when players are about to flip their chips out, kind of stop themselves with their wrists bouncing just short of the betting line, and then flick them out.

For some reason that tilts me a little bit, and for whatever reason, every person that I run into that does that with any regularity kind of blows as a player. They are certainly as a type, all about poker, dressed to the nines in mail order World Series of Poker gear, and though their ernestness is somewhat commendable, in general they seem to be the type of person that tries too hard. Somebody makes an aggravating poker joke for the 1000th time, (like the dead stack just sitting there is a tight player, not very talkative, yada yada yada) and this person man or woman will cackle with laughter.

So two of these types were going heads up, the first with the hitch in their pitch threw out a bet to 1000. The second player raises to 3800. We started with 9000 in chips. They both have more than the starting stacks. Hitch calls.

Flop comes jq8. Hitch bets 200. Idiot number two calls. Turn is 3. No flush draw. Hitch bets 1700. Idiot number two calls. River is K. Hitch leads out for 700. Idiot number two raises to 1400. Hitch stews forever and calls. Okay… that betting was crazy first off.

Second off, I’ve yet to see any hands these fools have shown so I don’t know what they hell they are doing. Crazy? Clearly. Crazy like a fox? I don’t know yet.

To be continued...

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Harrahs Bayou Poker Classic

Poker is back in New Orleans. True it never really left, but the buzz that comes with a big time tournaments is back. There is a feel in the casino that hasn't really been there since maybe the last time the Main Event was a 10k buy-in. The feel has been like the feel you get on sundays when you play internet poker.

When there are 500+ people signing up for a tournament (most of the time to get to that number you have to play poker tournaments online, when the cash games have a list so long nobody can get on a table without "knowing" somebody, and there is an electricity coming from the Theater, the poker room, and all points in between it's hard not to enjoy the event--even if you are not winning anything.

Once again, Steve Frezer and the Circuit staff have outdone themselves. The structures have universally been hailed as player friendly and there are few if any spots to blame eliminations on escalating blinds. The $340s start with 9000 in chips. The antes don't kick in until the $150-$300 level. Many tournaments don't even have this level, these tournaments have it twice. Lots of times it goes 100-200, 100-200 25, 200-400 50. Here it's 100-200, 150-300, 150-300 25, 200-400 25. That is a huge difference.

The nightly "Turbos" follow the same structure only with 20 minute levels. These turbos play better than many tournaments. 7000 in chips gives you plenty of time to lose a pot or two before things get dicey. Many weekly tournaments on the coast give you fewer chips and faster structures. If only the Harrahs weekly (aka the Donkley) would take note of Circuit structures. I realize they want to be done early and get the tournament players into the cash games but adding a 20 minute level or two will only extend the tournament by 20 or 40 minutes and give the players a little more time to amass chips before blinds force decisions.

Individually, I’ve played several events. I’ve not done much, but I never felt like I was forced out because of a bad structure. In two events, I got starting tables that had so many weak spots I’d gladly start with either every time I ever played. On both, I’d see hands like two pair get counterfeited by straights, turned sets, and other bad beats I’ll spare you the details of but was so good about the structure and the opposition was even though my stack dwindled I still felt like I was a favorite. I could lose a few hands and still feel confident I’d get it in good with great odds to go deep.

The first tournament I didn’t. I’d watch my table limp fold to reraises (seemingly for everybody but me), so I bided my time and waited for hands to steal with. Finally that moment came when it was folded to the button. He limped and the small blind completed. I told myself I was shoving it the small blind completed regardless of my hand.

I did the fake look, caught sight of a queen, which wasn’t terrible, and I shoved.
To my surprise, even though my stack was half the size of the button, he basically insta-called. He had been folding to reraises all day, and I didn’t figure him for a trapper or a guy that might called with Ax thinking he’d be beating many of my hands. He turned over Queens, almost expecting them to be second best. “That’s not good I said.” I turned over a rag and though I picked up a gutterball it was not to be.

I was hoping to get backed for a couple of the nooners to limit some of the risk but things did not work out. Still, crossing my fingers maybe I can get bought into a mega or two and play for some real money for my possible backer and me in the main event.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Running on Ice the IP Poker Series part quatro

After the break and when BJ called me a NIT for not double adding on (stuck to my game plan) the hand that killed me came up. I look down at AJ suited in mid-position. Besides the Jacks and AK I had basically been card dead so it looked a little bit like poker room hotness. Maybe when I Texas Hold'em poker online I'm less apt to play AJ because there is no such thing as poker room hotness. In live poker, any woman that walks into the poker room by virture of being the only woman there goes up about two points in poker room hotness. They aren’t hot in real life but they are passably hot in the poker room.

When you go card-dead it has the same effect on crappy starting hands like AJ. Suddenly they look like Aces. The guy to my immediate right had been limping all day, and all day I had been going over the top of him. This is the hand I teased in an earlier post. He had done it yet again. I felt I should raise here and see where I was against the rest of the field, but for some stupid reason I thought he might play back at me, and even though I was looking at AJ like it was poker room hot, I still knew all I had was measely Ace Jack.

I attributed that poor line of thought, thinking he would make a move on me, to the tiredness. No way that guy was making a move on me. He was probably in his mind clicking the box to Auto-fold again and cursing me as he saw me considering the raise. For some reason I decide to just limp.

The field mostly exits but the small blind joins in and the big blind checks.

Okay. What do I want to hit here? Two jacks would be nice, huh?

How about the nut flush draw. There it was king of clubs and four of clubs. The small blind checked and action got to me. I like to be my draws but I sometimes do it to the detriment of my position. I thought about that as I was acting. Why when you hold position on everybody not take a free card.

Did I mention I was tired. Sometimes, I’ll do this because it disguises the hand, and builds the pot for you if you hit later, or just takes it down there so you don’t have to hit, but it also opens the door to the check raise.

I met Mr. C.R. shortly after betting my draw as the small blind greased things with a large bet. Action got back to me. With two overs I should have probably just shoved but he only bet two thirds of my stack. Possibly he’d let me see the river for free with a check and I could even fold if I didn’t improve, so I don’t hate that move even if it’s passive. I also know that if he shoves the turn I have to call off because I’m pot stuck.

Here’s where my mind left me again. I’ve given no consideration to what he has so once again I've thrown poker strategy out the window. It’s unlikely he’d checkraise a bare king. So, my Ace is not giving me extra outs. Nor is it likely I have to overcards to say middle pair of fours. What hands are likely are four-two, four-four, two-two, or King-four/two suited. All hands that are just smacking the tar out of me.

The four comes on the turn and I don’t even process it. I just see him shove and follow suit. He turns over four-deuce for the unbeatable full house and I turn over my rags. I don’t even catch anything on the river to make me feel better for playing like such a moron. A couple of all-ins later and that was all she wrote for me.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Running on Ice The IP Poker Series Part Trey

Where in our tale did I leave you loyal poker blog reader? Oh yes... she called. We were in the middle of one of the hands I played badly. I play hundreds of hand badly when I play online poker but a few less, I like to think when I play live. This was one of the bad ones. Anyway, back to it.

The river was an almost a brick but a back door club draw got there. She opened shove for about the size of the pot. If I folded I’d have a little over 5k left but half my stack was in there. She started just staring at me. It was an odd stare though. Sometimes people angrily stare at you to get them out of their pot and are weak, but this felt different. It wasn’t intimidating at all it was like she was staring to stare.

I played with her in Harrahs, in a similar situation and the stare came on during the cash game. I recall maybe playing a Sit and go with her too but I wasn't sure. In the cash game, in the face of the stare, I eventually called with a decent hand and she had the goods. How was I beat here, I asked myself. She didn’t shove the flush for value. So A10? Still, what if I just backdoored the flush on her. That’s so impetuous. Plus, the shove is so weak. What is she afraid of?

Clearly, there were a lot of things going back and forth in my head. Captain Ron once told me about the three good reasons to fold. If you can think of three good reasons to fold, fold. I think he said Chris Ferguson said that. In this spot, I was about up to three. Her weird stare made me want to pitch. The way the hand played out made me want to pitch, though she wasn’t really protecting herself from draws. Any weaker ace could have improved to two pair on the turn or river.

I looked at my chips and knew I was willing to fire two more bullets in the event so a double rebuy would actually give me more chips than I was sitting on if I folded. That eventually made me do a crying call. Her A10 for two pair was about what I expected.

Here is where my mistake was so bad. I could just fold and wait til the break for the double add on. Sure I had pissed some chips into the pot, but I was only getting two to one, not the four or five to one that mitigated the call with the smaller stack earlier against BJ. Since I had only planned on firing two more bullets better to add them to 5k than to start from zero. Just fold there.
We had an awkward conversation about the hand.

I said "A10 that was what I was afraid of. I knew you didn’t have the backdoor flush." She responded, “That’s what I wanted you to think.” I said, “You wanted me to think you had the flush.” “yeah.” “So…. You wanted me to fold?” I let my frustration at myself leak out into my tone and then just backed away from her now silence. “Nice hand.” I said.

In retrospect, maybe she wanted me to think, she was bluff shoving the backdoor flush so I’d call and her two pair would win. Maybe... I just misunderstood her. Just as I was coming to that very conclusion at the table, that lady later made an odd, odd, odd play. A new guy to the table came into a pot with half her chips. If I were ever to spot chip-dumping it’d be in a hand like this because he showed strength, pre-flop and post flop. He shoved after the flop and she called with Ace high nine kicker. With the board nowhere connected to her. The dude had pocket queens and doubled up through her.

She wasn’t drawing dead but she called off a good portion of her stack with just Ace high no draws, or redraws… just odd. Then I cursed myself even more for giving her chips in that previous spot

Friday, May 07, 2010

Running on Ice at the IP Poker Series Part Deuce

Where was I? Oh, hitting you over the head with some garbage sentences. Okay , let me restate. I couldn't get a read on these people's logic for their decisions. One moment they’d be playing mostly passive. The next they’d be calling off with second pair. I don't know how to play Texas Hold'em poker against this lot. Just when you’d think they were ready to get steamrolled they’d get it in real bad against one another and you’d think what the Frick?

The reluctance to just hit the accelerator and cruise would later prove to be my downfall in one ugly near elimination hand. I’ll get to that later, probably in another post.

Early on I got jacks three times. I won a big pot when I hit top set. AQ paid me off when it shouldn’t have and I don’t even thing the guy rebought. Later against BJ I got JJ again and on a board of all babies he folded to my bet. I showed the jacks and he said he too had AQ.

The third time was the most interesting. I got jack-jack yet again. There were some limpers, this was one of many times I’d raise and they’d give up, but this time I got called by BJ. I forget what position he had. It was either his big blind or he was the button (pretty important difference I realize) but the hand played out on the flop. I bet pretty large committing half my stack to another three babies. He went over the top.

I thought for a while. The board was 9 high. I just had him on QQ or 1010. I knew I was going to call when I made my bet as I was pot-stuck, but he knew that too. Thus, I felt like I had to give him a better hand than what was on the board. KK and AA just didn’t fit with the way the preflop action went or BJ’s seemingly genuine hemming and hawing. QQ or 1010 did. One I was crushed and one crushed me. Maybe he had a lower set and was hollywooding but again his indecision before acting seemed genuine.

Crushing or crushed. That's not the feeling you want when you play poker tournaments. Finally, I realized that if I rebought I’d have almost the exact same amount of chips as he was leaving me with if I folded. Seems even more obvious I had to call (told you I was tired) with the pot now swollen. BJ actually left me with about 600 chips left, so I put them in blind on the turn.

He called and we were a little slow turning over the cards. I think I forgot that he formally called me at the end. He later said he wasn’t going to make me put the last of my chips in. It didn’t matter. As a straight hit the board for 1010 I turned over my Jacks thinking I was beat either way. He showed a pair of jacks himself. Oh nice hand. That was one of my better moments.

Two hands did me in. The first was one that I bet out after a couple of limpers had entered the pot. This lady on the button who I played with once in a Harrahs cash game came with me. The others dropped by the way side. She was in the small blind I think.

Flop came out A10x two spades. She checked. I watched her watch the flop and she didn’t offer up much. When I bet and she called, I figured she hit something. By the way I was sitting on AK. King of Spades. The turn was a club, now putting two clubs on the board. She checked again and I bet just because of the draws. She called.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Running on Ice at the IP Poker Series

Whether or not you are playing a Texas Hold'em onlineonline turbo poker tournament or playing in a live one like the freeroll the IP offered it’s a bit like running on an ice covered lake when spring hits. Once mis-step and it’s all over. Sometimes you can hear it cracking, sometimes it gets thin, sometimes it breaks behind you but is safe before you. And you can’t stop sprinting. There is no time to catch your breath or to jog it out, it’s full throttle all the way.

You stop sprinting and putting those chips in the middle you are done. You have to catch cards and your hands have to both hold up and catch up. So I was glad to see a good live player like Bert won one of the seats, because you gotta wonder in some of those events if some luckbox will just card catch all day. I got little to no sleep, playing late into the night/morning at the Hard Rock’s cash games. Just the proper way to prepare for a poker tournament, play a cash game all night, which is completely different from a tournament, and get as little sleep as possible.

I fluctuated between profit and loss all night. I couldn’t get over a $200 profit even though I had to go three buy-ins deep over the course of the night. Too many soft spots to not rebuild quickly but then I kept getting my hand jammed into places it shouldn’t be. I ended up just about even. Time well spent (heavy sarcasm).

I remember a guy just sat down and he check-raised me on the flop. I’d played a huge pot with him before in Biloxi and got him off a huge hand with air by applying all kinds of pressure. I popped him back. He stewed forever and then said the words I didn’t want to hear. All-in. The weird thing was I repopping with air all night and only in that hand was I nervous.

He even studied me for a while before acting as though he got a read on me. Which made me want to muck even less. Eventually, I had too but I was aching to know what kind of hand he made a move on me with. Then I watched him fold for three hours and questioned how dumb I was to make a move on that guy, and how lucky I must have gotten the last time I did it. It also was an ominous precursor to the way things would go on Sunday.

So eventually my friend from Baton Rouge and I left the Hard Rock at daylight and went back for about two and half hours of sleep. The freeroll was a blur and though I ran on ice fueled by coffee I didn’t run well enough to notice the 5k chip obstacle before me.

The Super Satellite later that day played like it was on thicker ice, or at least the temperature hadn’t risen to balmy spring like heights so there was some action. And the rebuys in that felt more like safety nets then fuel to burn off. I found myself on BJ McBrayer’s table and made a note to avoid him when possible. Course I kept getting hands on his big blind so oh well.

The other players were decent. One guy I made a final table with who I respected but felt he played a little too passively. In fact, I felt most of my table played a little too passively and I wanted at any point to just start exploiting them like I do when I’m in a zone in a cash game, but they were an odd mix of random decision making matrixes. What an unwieldy sentence, especially that second half, I'll explain it better in my next post....

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

IP Poker Tournament End of Series Personal Play Part I

Wish I played as well as they ran things at the end of the series. My end to the tournament series was marked by tired bad play. In the Texas Holdem freeroll we came back from break and I had a healthy chip stack with little invested into the tournament. I missed some hands were I whalloped the flop and there was of course plenty of action and I determined to see more flops. When I did, I mostly just scooped from position. Then the add ons.

Around the table there were mostly short stacks of yellows (1k chips) and nobody seemed to really get out too far ahead. I didn’t think too much of it. We played a couple of hands and I hit the big blind with A10 suited. Three limpers, the button joined and so too the small blind.

Alright, I’ll just take it down here. I fired out a healthy raise and all but the button folded. I looked at his stack and it seemed to about 3k in a mish-mash of greens blacks, a red and a couple of yellows. I had 9k left. I hit the ten and decided we were going to play for his stack with nothing but two littles to go with it. If he out flopped me, so be it.

I take and throw out 4 chips which I thought had him pretty easily covered. They bounce with conviction and linger. I’m expecting him to fold and move on.
Then to my surprise I hear him ask how much I have left.

What? He’s bouncing a 5k chip from who knows where next to his stack, which I guess they gave in the color up. I didn’t see it before, and I feel like it was behind his stack, but in fairness it easily could have been on top of it and I mistook it for a smaller chip. Though, if I still felt like it wasn’t visible during the hand. Guess I could have called over the floor. Especially as my dealer was from the cash tables downstairs to meet the demand.


He shoves all in. Okay. I’m probably beat and I probably should lay down. I remark I wouldn’t have bet that much if I knew how much he had left. I had some room to play with our stack sizes and I didn’t need to bully him off of overs.
Now, I have to decide if I’m going to call for most of my chips. He could have K10 I tell myself... even though I don’t believe it. I’ve seen him show some mediocre holdings some I’m expecting some odd two pair. I think there was two to the flush on board too but I’m not sure about that now.

Alright, I begrudgingly call and he shows pocket jacks. Hmmm. Not what I expected but crushing me nonetheless. Not exactly what I would call a poker bad beat either.

Next hand I can’t even pay the small blind. Get five way action. Then somebody gives me some protection with a largish bet. We turn over the cards and he’s got two overcards and a draw I think. Wow. I have a gutshot and two live cards. I hit the gutter ball and it’s over.

I’m almost healthy. I see an epic World Series of Poker Main Event interview with Norman Chad playing in my head as the new version of Jeffrey Pollack gives me my bling, “So, you couldn’t even pay your blind in the freeroll just to win a seat to get here, then you came all the way back won the seat, and then won the main event. What a play, what a player, what a…” daydream. The very next hand I hit part of the flop, got all my poker chips to the middle, but did not hit enough of it and soon I was hoofing it.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

IP Poker Tournament Series Wrap Up

Once again another local poker tournament series has come and gone. There was a wide variety of poker games spread including partner and team events. Wanted to play in those but couldn’t. There was some Omaha, some Horse and a ton of Texas Hold’em Poker.

On the front poker news page that is gulf coast poker.NET the hypothetical IP poker Player of the Series was debated. Senor Monkey aka Will Souther had probably the most cashes and final tables. In most events you had to make a final table to cash, and some you had to make the top three. So he had a great series as usual and did so over a variety of events including Omaha poker.

He takes a lot of flack on his blog but it is hard to argue with the guys record as a live tournament player. He may make some moves that online poker players might scoff at, but he seems to know how to work the accelerator in these events as good as anybody. Why push small edges when he knows he can get his opponents to lay down later.

I'd guess Captain Tom had the most big cashes and probably was the biggest money winner especially if you count his 10k seat as part of his winnings. We play for the monies right? So edge to Captain Tom in that respect. He was in thick of things in every big prize pool and was orbiting around the rest of us like he was Major Tom. I watched him catch a couple of needed turn and river cards in one stretch in Event two when he won the seat, so even the best of us need some run-good to do good.

In the fictional IP Poker Series top ten, somewhere in there is Pamela Cobb from Panama City, myself, Rickey King, Rusty Moorer and some others. We got almost all the results on the front poker news page, and I’d imagine I might just make 10th. The dealer from St. Louis, Kim also would be in contention and probably gets the ladies crown for the same reason Captain Tom would get the overall title.

Wish this wasn’t hypothetical because, I love it when a tournament keeps track of performances like that, and really thought they might have gotten far more action if they gave a free seat to the top overall performer. I certainly would have carved out time for more poker events especially starting two for two.

At the same time there were a lot of faces that I didn’t see there. The buy-ins were too small I’m sure so without those guys it was a bit of a minor league baseball playoff. We did good but who knows if some of the “ballas” from the coast showed up.

Once again, I thought PTC Poker Tournament Consultants did a bang up job with the event.

When they nearly packed in 400 people to the freeroll you could tell people were willing to travel for freebies. You could also tell the staff were ready for the unexpected. Even as more and more players filed in and the chorus of “Rebuys” rang out through the room, they kept things in check and moving.

If I might make a suggestion to Jimmy Sommerfeld and it would be to perhaps do that freeroll on a Saturday, back it up with a 100 to 200 event (which most people would stay for) and then have your standard satellites on Sunday. That's if you have the same package deal available. I think people would stick around at the IP, book a room and play an inexpensive morning satellite too the next day.

Anyway, I thought the dealers did great and the floor staff as usual settled disputes with little fanfare and good old fashioned common sense. Great job everybody.