Thursday, January 27, 2011

Continuing the Beau Nightly at the Southern Poker Championship...

...Continued from previous post in the middle of Texas Holdem game hand where at first I was trying to get my opponent to find a call. Then, I just started to get this really bad feeling that she was going to outdraw me. Even if it she didn’t, the pot was already big why risk my tournament life (or most of it) on this hand, many of you might say I have a long way to go to learn poker with a statement like that.

Mid-stream I changed course. Yes, I was a big favorite but I didn’t need all her chips. So, I said to her “Ace Jack huh?” Yeah, suddenly I was strong enough to talk. She winced. I was pretty close.

“No! Is that what you have?” she asked. I said very confidently “No.” I had hoped I hit her hand and she wouldn’t want to call and show that I was right especially if there was the chance she was no good there. I could tell she was now leaning toward fold. Maybe I did hit her hand. She folded and at the break she suggested AQ but I think it was AJ.

A couple of hands later as she got shorter, she checked to me on a flop I bricked and I asked how many chips she had. She pounded them into the table to count them in a strong is weak move and I shoved. She folded.

Later, as we were much closer to the money and on a different table a massive pot that allowed me to coast came up. Again, I had A suited, I think it was a 9. Flop came out 10 high two of my suit. She checked I bet out. This time she asked me how much I had l left. I showed. She decided to just call. I thought weakness but she had to have something.

Then on the turn I said something and she gave me this fake smile. Typically a big sign of weakness, in retrospect I think she was luring me in. I think she picked up on my read of strong is weak before and was giving me a false tell of strong is weak. Artificial smile is that. Authentic smile is generally strong is strong. The river gave me the flush but paired 10s. She opened shoved and I called hoping I wasn’t coolered.

She just had A10 for trips. Definitely was going to be my day. I felt assured. Early Baton Rouge had worked out that 64k in chips was going to be enough to make the money. I got to about 70k with three tables left. We redrew at two tables and my chips went on lockdown as people got jettisoned. I got fortunate because my small blind would give me a walk every couple of levels.

Any time I considered trying to buy some blinds someone would beat me into the pot. I watched some craziness like the guy giving me walks, barely able to pay his ante, he had one more chip than that, wind up one of the chipleaders a rotation later. Incredibly, he was basically blinding out, then won all the antes utg. Then I found my first pocket pair of the entire tournament KK on the next hand (me utg) I put my first bet out into that table.

Baton Rouge was there and came with me, I sensed he was strong, but I was worried he thought I was making a play on the short stack. The short stack came as he committed the rest of his chips. Flop came out Queen high. I was content to check it down with Baton Rouge despite the side pot. Ace on the turn made me regret it but I was willing to fold if he had it. It went check check. Brick on the river two more checks.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Continuing the Beau Nightly at the Southern Poker Championship...

Things had changed quite drastically and I was enjoying it. Sometimes when you feel like you've been pounded into submission in say a Texas Holdem online tournament and then you just start winning every coin race and in a couple of laps you are back to where you started, well that's how I felt. It's a good thing. Having life when you thought you were dead usually makes you a lot more grateful to be alive.

That's Holdem poker for you. Even with all that being said, I still had some work with barely more than my starting stack, but I was in the 15 BB range. Now, I could shove over a limp or small raise and have fold equity. The good player who won the massive pot opened again, he had really started to open his range and lead into a lot of pots. I looked at KQ from the button and saw likely folds in the blinds and decided to shove. ...I thought I had fold equity.

The Blinds folded and then the good player thought for a while. I looked at his chip stack and saw he had way too much to find a fold even if he was opening with garbage. Perhaps, he might want to save face and not show that hand and could fold but it wasn’t to be. He reluctantly called with A10 thinking he might be crushed.

Nope. You know what though, I felt like the guy who gets in bad but was going to win the hand. Sho' nuff... Spa-dow! But... King ball on the flop, and I was off and running.

Sometimes when you scoop a lot of pots, even if you are showing down second best hand preflop, I think people just subconsciously accord you the same respect as if you are playing tight. Fear of the winner sets in. I hit the gas and quickly amassed some chips. Throughout the tournament I never had a pocket pair. Yes, not once. Well once when we were on the money bubble, but I’ll get to that. Before that, I certainly never got AA, KK, QQ, though I did suggest that, after people laid down and I don’t remember any other pair being in my hand.

Basically, this tournament became a bit of a freeroll for me because I was crippled twice, and recovered from a missed giant pot. After that just about every pot I scooped was a bluff or semi-bluff. C-bets were working, shoving on shorties was working, and I kept pulling in chips without getting called. At some point me and the other two good players, Baton Rouge, and the table-chip leader came to a game flow understanding (I think) and didn’t play hands with each other. We just picked on the other seats and stockpiled chips.

I will say that I three-bet the guy not from Baton Rouge a few times including when we switched tables and I was put immediately on his left. I just started to have a sense of when he was rasing out of line and he found folds. It was a good spot for me as I could tighten up and drag fewer pots but bigger pots.

I was literally repopping with hands like 10-4 o/s, J-3, 34 suited and taking pots down. I mixed it up with this nice older lady later who definitely relied on her reads to make a decisions. A guy opened she called and from the button I looked at A4 suited. I called. Flop came AK4. First guy checked she bet and action was to me. I shoved.

The guy folded and she went into the tank. She kept trying to decide whether or not to call. I went full on weakness acting mode as she studied me, sloppily drinking my water, gulping big swallows, and I could tell I was motivating a call. Then I had this weird premonition or feeling or something. Maybe it was all those times I coaxed people into calls and it didn't work out. Suddenly, I wanted to change course... manipulate her out of a call.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Continuing the Beau Nightly at the Southern Poker Championship... part 999

Where was I in this post thread that will never end about a small nightly I slap-chopped. Shame for you readers that I write this all out in word in one huge post one night after I play poker and then break it up into all these little posts. It's like two weeks later and I'm still talking about the same tournaments.

Oh the hand, I left you spellbound on... I came out third best. Wasn't even really a poker bad beat as I let second place get there and take the side pot. Baton Rouge held AK and the small blind AQ for two pair. He’d get Aces twice in big pots and they’d hold. Ironically, even with a big stack he still gave me walks.

On one hand a guy shoved on my big blind and I had garbage. Also, with the Harrahs incident fresh in my mind with Merle, I wasn’t going to commit any chips to the pot that I didn’t need to when we were playing for a chop. A strong player who was avoiding pots with me, and me him, flat called after eying me. I think he wanted me to call and check it down. Again, I ended up with a big card and a low card, which probably weren’t going to be live.

Also, I wasn’t entirely sure, the other guy might be trapping. What would I do if I partially hit the flop? Be committed to calling at least one more bet? Discretion is often the better part of valor and despite getting encouraging eyes from the strong player I folded.

He shook his head and whispered disappointment to Baron Whipple on his right loud enough for me to hear that I didn’t understand how to gang up on the short stacks in this situation. I let it go, because I wasn’t going to splash any chips I did’t have too. I already watched a couple of guys with big stacks get too cute and find themselves on the rail to know I didn’t need to get drawn into anything. Oddly, I thought my play was making me the most exploitable player at the table but nobody came after me. If anything it felt like that made them fear me. So weird. If I needed to go after blinds as some of them did, mine would have been first on the list.

I didn’t play another hand and agreed to an offer of a chop 13 or 14 handed. I was down to about 40k. The little stacks wisely bribed the big stacks by offering them money to take the chop. I didn’t quite have enough to bargain for that and the guy to my left who I had somewhat befriended was desperate for a chop, too.

I might have refused because the other table had at least one player on fumes bribing the big stacks that we could have eliminated but the guy to my left was jonesing for a chop. Plus, I’m not dick enough to do what I should do and say I’ll chop after we lose you. Also, I based the chop on a non-official payout that was closer to 1400 than what it really was.

People are so petty. A guy with a large stack demanded a certain amount and the little stacks made right with him. Baron Whipple went from a shorty to a big stack and was eying the little stack on the other table and resisted the chop. Quickly the two shorties offered him an extra hundred each. Before that I overheard the first big stack say to his table, “Now that guy’s complaining…”

What? When he did it was, I guess to him, negotiating when, Baron simply offered resistance he was “complaining.” How hypocritical and so sleazy to frame it that way on his table so they would get angry with Baron because now that he had the extra cash (and lost some chips too btw) why not paint Baron in a bad light. You got to look out for number one but have a little integrity. Anyway we chopped.

Catching up to the Beau tales..

So, I left you in the middle of the hand. The plot could not be any thicker, so I'll refrain from saying the plot thickens. A refresher though: I was playig in the nightly Texas Hold em poker
survivor tournament where top ten per cent get paid.
Course there I was i this poker tournament one hand away from busting and having the option to throw all my chips in the middle but I didn't.

Whatever the last guy had it was it was dead except for a four of a kind draw. And yeah, he also lacked clubs. Oh… I was live. I’d have to dodge a paired board and runner-runner clubs but a club would have been the gin card for me. I thought about the pot and saw that if I hit I’d have about 15k.

Awesome. At that point I would be sitting pretty just one hand after rebuying. With the weak spots at the table and us having a pretty good breaking order I could have coasted til deep in the tournament. When the club hit the turn I was cursing myself.

The board didn’t pair and another club didn’t hit and the good player at the table raked in a massive pot. Oddly, except for maybe one rebuy (that I might have missed), I think the order of the hands went from shortest to tallest stacks so no eliminations. I was in extreme interior tilt. Hard not to have chip envy with the guy across the table and to play that dangerous mental game “I should have this many chips…”.

Then I went inside and said to myself “You still got chips, the structure is slow enough that you still got play, and you have a good table image and a good table.” I blinded down to under 1200 not willing to make a stupid all-in blind steal with nothing. I kept finding good folds and not just angrily putting my chips in the middle. Then I shoved from the button with Q5 on an unopened pot. I told myself if the first card was Queen or better and nobody had raised I was shoving. The small blind was short and shoved. I didn’t like it but I was resigned to fate. Baton Rouge called us both.

Baton Rouge held Q8, the big blind 52 or something. Nice. Down to two cards or so, but I had this odd sense of serenity. I felt like because I had weathered the tilt and still played solid, things were going to go my way. Sure enough we ended up chopping when we hit a queen an three cards bigger than an eight rolled out. I took a small profit.

I shoved on the only stack smaller than me with AQ and ran into AA again, fun. Yet, still I had chips but again down to under 1500. I got lucky again when I shoved in the hijack with Q10 and found AK in the BB. Again, I felt during the hand I was going to be safe, though I might have stood up for good luck. Sometimes you know you are toast even if you have the best hand going into a flop and sometimes you know you are going to catch up.

I did, hitting a 10, though I was looking for a queen and almost missed it when it fell on the flop. I felt good and just had a sense things were going my way. I came to the Beau with a plan of winning at least 1200 and they announced the top 11 would get 1700. Not too shabby. More buy-ins if I could hold on. Sidenote for some reason the nightlies aren't important enough to make, I mean Brian is only covering three other tournaments why not walk clean across the room and give us some credit.

To be continued...

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Southern Poker Championship Nightly... cont.

Continued from previous post...

So after a few days I finally got over to the Beau Rivage to play Texas Hold'em pokerin the tournament everybody else has been playing in the last couple of weeks. Minus the guys who went to the Bahamas for the PCA, ad the guys that solely play poker tournaments online.

The tournament is a rebuy tournament (one rebuy or add-on in the first three levels). I must have built up a stack as he then got a big stack to bully the table wining those hands from me. I rebought after the AK hand. Here’s my hand of the new year, and considering I didn’t even see it to the river, it left a big impression on me.

The Baton Rouge player limped from EP (100-200 blinds), which was unusual for him as he usually came in with a 3.5x or larger raise. Then, a tight-ish player in middle position raised to 675. He was called by the other guy at the table who I thought was a good player (he and the Baton Rouge guy were the two I was keeping an eye on), then the person next to him called. I looked at 7-4 of clubs.

Granted I had just rebought but the odds were too juicey for me to find a fold there. I thought for sure the big blind was going to call, and was fairly confident UTG would call too. Big blind folded. UTG said “I wouldn’t fold 7-2 here” and called. I laughed to myself as I almost had that hand and figured I needed to smash this flop with some low cards.

Because I would have to hit the flop so precisely I checked in the dark wanting to act last (potentially). Also, my stack was so short and everybody else in the hand had so much that I knew I would have no fold equity when I did move in I would have to take a ride with what the table gave me.

I regretted it as soon as I saw the flop AJ10 two clubs (ace one of them). I had more than enough money in that pot to chase the club draw. Either miss or go home. Then the following occurred. Baton Rouge shoved. The tight-ish player who raised shoved. The other solid player shoved. The last player in the hand shoved. Action to me… Uh, what?

I stewed and laughed to myself. Did my check in the dark save me? I went over what the other four players could possibly have all shoving. I was pretty sure somebody had a higher club draw. I wanted to call, but was I even live. If I runner runner for trips likely I lose to a full house. If I hit my club I’m second best at best surely. Being the shortest stack I was in bad shape.

I really wanted to find a reason to call but couldn’t. So much so that I was cursing myself for not already having my chips in the pot and checking in the dark. Granted, I’d probably be drawing dead but what’s the point of calling off a quarter of my chips preflop without being willing to die by a flop giving me four to a flush.
So, I found a fold.

Here were the hands. Baton Rouge turns over Q9 with one club. I expected to see a lot more coming. The preflop bettor showed AA for top set (no clubs obviously). Nice hand. The next guy KQ for nut straight—no clubs. Aargh. The next player either had a set of jacks or Jack 10, I forget. I thought I was facing odds as improbable as a school like Butler winning the NCAA tournament. In reality, they were more like the odds against a franchise like the Saints winning the SuperBowl or the Red Sox winning the World Series.

You've probably guessed the inevitable conclusion to this hand but to know for sure you'll have to read it next time...

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Harrahs Weekly Poker Donkley 1.12.11 Wrap up And Beau Rivage Nightly

Continued from previous posts but I have a feeling you realize that. Anyway was talking about the final table at the No limit Texas Hold'em tournament at Harrahs I call the Donkley.

The chatter continued about me having to call there. I challenged the gentleman who didn’t want to chop a little bit. I regret it because I like him and he’s usually a nice easy going guy who takes his beats well and wins well too. Still, I reminded him that I didn’t have to call there because Merle had almost folded AQ earlier at the table, he had shoved UTG, and with King-Two many of the hands he shoves with from there crush that hand. Also, with the blinds what they were 4k was nothing to sniff at but I was't there to give out Texas Holdem poker tips.

Next hand, it gets folded to me in the small blind. I raise Merle and he calls. I think I have 86 suited (it was some sort of one gapper). I flop open ended. Check call Merle. Turn a brick, I check call again. River is another brick and I check fold showing Merle my draw he showed me a flopped set of fives.

Now, I had just given him about 17k in two hands and he was in good shape. The other short stack survived a couple of all ins and suddenly the entire table was about even in chips. We chopped it and I was fine with it. I decided it was basically a free roll for the Beau tournaments I was going to on weekend and it was actually more than what I set a goal of leaving with.

At the Beau nightly I played one of the stranger hands I’ve been involved with, was beating myself up o the inside about it, but didn’t let it affect my play. I couldn’t get there early enough on Friday to play the $350 so I decided to play the survivor tournament at 7.

I got out of New Orleans early but found myself getting to Gulfport with two hours to kill. I stopped into Barnes and Noble and read the first few chapters of Titanic Thompson, great read by the way, but reading the stories about a hustler card pro and poker cheat from the turn of the century, I entered the Beau thinking everybody with a long fingernail was marking the cards.

For the first couple of levels I was just looking for angle-shooters, collusion, mechanic dealers and all kinds of nonsense. Fortunately, I didn’t have to make too many decisions because of poor starting hands. I chipped up a good bit. Then I ran AK into a set of Aces and paid off the loosest player at the table but even as I called his river bet I just kind of felt beat me.

He’s a player from Baton Rouge I’ve played with ~fairly often who has enough patter and a distinctive look for me to file away a memory of him, even though I’m probably just a guy that looks vaguely familiar to him. He killed me “in the money” of a tournament at the IP a couple of years ago, but I’ve gotten him at the Harrahs tournament and in a couple of cash games since.

Definitely have learned how to play loose players a little better since the IP tournament. He’s a good player and on that day he definitely was getting the better of me. Earlier, I hit two pair on him on the river as he hit his flush card. I paid him off knowing it was the only flush card that could get me to pay.

He drove most of the action on our table and I've seen him make good laydowns, good bluffs, and a lot of good decisios so I was wary.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Harrahs Weekly Poker Donkley 1.12.11 Part Three

Continued from the previous two posts but you probably deduced that since this is titled part three...

We get to the final Texas Hold'em table and Merle Bourgeois gets seated to my left. I don’t know Merle well but he’s a funny and nice guy when we have talked, and enough people that I know pretty well really like him, so he's okay in my book. I took a snapshot of him for the GCP page because he was a good enough sport to do it after he chopped the tournament. If you need a visual go there. Ugh, that came out short of ickey. Let's just leave it at he knows how to play poker and move on.

In fairly short order, we knocked off two players to get into the money. Merle was a bit of a short stack at the time. They said an even chop would get us all $600. I had a goal of at least $500 so I was going to be willing to share. One gentleman refused it. He wanted Merle and another to get lost before divvying up the prize pool. I didn’t blame him, but from the payouts I deduced we’d only get $56 more losing one player and $68 for the next guy.

All of us were even in chips so seemed a lot to risk, almost third place money, to win $124 more. The real benefit for outlasting short stacks was going to be getting rid of 5th and 6th, I thought.

Still, the guy didn’t want to chop so fair was fair. I folded a lot because he tipped his hand he’d be willing to chop later and I had chips to spare. Then, Merle was under the gun and shoved, folded to me in the big blind. It was barely double the bet.

I was conflicted, part of me wanted to just give Merle a walk, but I didn’t want to collude or cheat the other players out of money by folding when I shouldn’t. Also, we were pretty open about our friendliness as we chatted at the table so I realized that even if I could rationalize a fold, there would be at least be the appearance of collusion. I felt compelled to call. So when I saw a deuce I hated it.

Especially as other big stacks had tried to eliminate the shorties. I flipped over a king next which was even worse. In that spot I’d much rather deuce three than deuce-ace or deuce-king because I’m so dominated by so many hands Merle shoves with under the gun.

Lots of players shove any two cards under the gun, because if they are so short they recognize the value of fighting against the blinds rather than being in the blinds and having to call off. I don’t know if Merle thinks that way, but I did know he has solid hand selection and was showing only premiums in the time I was there.

So, eventually I call not wanting to wrong the table. The weird thing was, I asked myself if I would call if it wasn’t Merle and I decided I might find a fold there. I was going to wait for the chop, so chips were precious at that point. If I were playing for the win, I call in a heartbeat. Still, I called because I thought the table would think I was up to no good by folding.

As soon as I did call, two or three players chastised me for taking so long, including the guy who didn’t want to chop. Merle turned over something like AQ. I don’t think the second card was quite as good as a Queen but it was irrelevant as it was much higher than my 2. Also it was within range of his Ace to get additional minimal odds for me to hit a king and him make a broadway straight. Merle survived the flop, turn, and river despite my live hand. I was happy for him, though a little pissed about donating.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Harrahs Weekly Poker Donkley 1.12.11 Part Two

Continued from previous post:

So at the Harrahs Donkley their weekly Wednesday Holdem poker tournament. Now that they have the Saturday tournament two I guess I'll have to come up with a name for that one too? The weekend Donkley? Doesn't roll off the tongue. Oh well, I'll put some thought into it.

Where was I? I just quizzed the kid to see if I had a shot at buying the pot with a third barrel bluff. I wasn’t quite prepared for the answer to the question (though I'm pocketing it for next time), but I read it for real strength. It wasn’t “Strong” is weak it was kind of like reluctant acceptance that he was tied to the hand. Maybe a quick assertive move could have gotten him to change his mind but maybe not. I finally, meekly, checked, which I hate to do but is sometimes the best poker strategy. He said “I got an Ace,” and turned over Ace rag. I nodded and mucked, knowing any hand he had beat me.

He told me during the break, he had decided on the turn he was definitely calling any river bet from me, so perhaps, my gambit would have failed anyway.
I rebuilt again. I played AA pretty badly and was rewarded for it. The same kid in early position opened for a 650 raise, blinds 1-2. On this table that was fairly large. I saw my Aces and knew he had been opening fairly light and I decided I was going to be willing to die with them. If he passed me with the community cards oh well, but we were going to take a flop together and I was going to give him an opportunity to bluff me or stack off.

I said I played them stupid, because I did. There were two calling stations in late position and one right in the blind. My call encourages those three to jump in. It did swell the pot (never a bad thing when you need chips) but now I was playing AA against four people. Not the best situation for rockets and a now dwindling stack. Should have put in a modest re-raise and played with the kid but didn’t. If I had paid attention to the table I would have known a call would only encourage the stations to jump in.

So we see the flop and I believe a 9, an 8, and maybe a 4 hit the board. I think it was rainbow. The blinds check, the kid checks, I eye one of the guys in late position amassing his chips and hold off on betting. Luckily he wasn’t running an angle (okay, not an angle but a fake-out is a better word) on me and that was his intention, he opened shoved. He didn’t have much. One of the other two stations got out of the way, the other called and then my friend flat called.

I looked at my stack and I had enough to put a hurting into both the callers stacks. After some time I shoved over the top. The first caller folded immediately, the kid who I couldn’t bluff earlier thought longer. He folded.
The guy that shoved had middle pair a redraw with a gut-shot (couldn’t have been 4 must have been a 5).

He said “I thought I had the best had,” when he turned it over. I was happy to see it. My Aces held and I ended up dragging a stack re-invigorating pot because I played them incorrectly. Granted I was willing to gamble with them but I didn’t think that meant gambling against four others. Btw another 9 hit the river and both the two people that called the flop but then folded to my re-raise claimed to have a 9. The kid rued not calling as he probably had the chips to spare

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Harrahs Weekly Poker Donkley 1.12.111 Part One

So it was a pretty good week for me in the poker world. Couldn’t get over to the Southern Poker Championship at the Beau soon enough, but I was able to claw out some time on Wedesday to head over to Harrahs for the weekly tournament. Really had that Texas Hold'em poker itch and it was nice to be able to scratch it.

I've had some fu and some modest success keeping my edge playig late night online poker tournaments but there is no substitute for live poker. I was delighted that it turns out they had started up the Wednesday tournament again (last week was the second week) and as usual when there is a tournament on the coast their numbers are down. I mentioned last week I either like it full or around 50. Think I’d like to amend that number to 49 or less.

If they have under 50 they only pay eight instead of ten. That was the case on Wednesday. I came in with a pretty clear intention in my mind. I wanted to win at least $500 and roll that over into a buy-in or two at the Beau. So, with that goal and purpose on my mind I played pretty solid.

Early on I had AK and flopped an A. I ran into a set of Aces (kind of a theme on the week) and paid off the other guy. I built back up. Later with about three tables left I tried to bluff off all my chips. It was the hand before the break, and a young kid, good player to my right, limped. I had only been showing premium hands and I thought he was good enough to lay-down to a bluff. I put in a raise, probably not stiff enough, to clear out the field and he called.

I say not stiff enough, because generally I try to keep my raises uniform, but I think that’s a flaw at the Harrahs weekly. Many players probably aren’t picking up and exploiting what the differences are in the size of my raises. If I had pounded the kid, I think he ditches his hand pre-flop, though he was somewhat “sticky.”

Anyway, we see a flop with Ace high and he checks to me. I think this looks like it hits my preflop raise a lot so I fire. He calls after some deliberation. The turn is a blank. He checks again and I put out a bet which was under half my stack size but close. He takes longer to think but still calls. The river paired the board. There was also a jack on there.

Now, that’s a bad card for me. If his weakness is a small Ace he knows only two Ace hands I have give me the pot Ace King and Ace Queen. Oh, sweet. I don’t like checking here but I feel like he’s calling any bet. I come up with the question, “How much can I bet that you will call?”

I’ve heard people ask that when they are fairly strong. It was less about the question and more about the reaction. He said, “I’ll call anything” and then looks at his chips like what else could he do. I guess had I been prepared for that answer I might have been able to shove to induce a fold. That might have looked strong enough for the kid to put me on a strong hand. As I said, I didn't do that...

To be continued in next post...

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

BCS Title Game, Southern Poker Championship, and other tidbits... part five

So, I write this before the BCS title game and it'll be published the day after the game, so bare with me for not discussing the winner or the loser. Obviously, I hope it's Auburn, but my head tells me Oregon might have an edge. Would love to be wrong on this one. I’m sure, if Auburn prevails I might have a summation of my experience but should they lose probably it’s just back to poker only content. Speaking of which the rest of this post is poker only content.

I’ve heard players are mostly pleased with the Texas Holdem poker structure at the Beau. There are some early inflection points where you are going have to take risks but apparently that is going to leave plenty of play “in the money” and at the final table. I have to say, if true, that I appreciate that more. I’ve cashed a couple of times at the Beau in past events and found the latter action to be too luck dependent.

I’ll have to see it for myself, as me and my source differ fundamentally on what a good structure is. I tend to side with Monkey’s player perspective, my source is a little more considerate of the dealers and the venue, and what it takes to keep good dealers in the box. I don’t discount what he says, but the fact remains, player friendly structures exist and the venues that offer them benefit from that.

Granted like the next guy, I like to get some play for my buck, and hate tournaments that I’m going have to push marginal hands early and take risks I wouldn’t normally, so hopefully, the Beau figured out the happy medium. You want people to come back so you need to give some early play, and you need people to be able to play when it’s most critical so you need late play, it’s like the middle has to force the action.

Clearly the Beau isn’t going to do what Steve Fraser and Jimmy Sommerfeld do for the WSOP Circuit and just make every tournament a long one. With play throughout, I like that best as a more NITish player, but if I had to choose when to have the blinds catch up to you it would be in the middle of a tournament. Last year at Harrahs I got into the swing of anticipating the inflection points of their weekly tournament and using my stack a level early for fold equity and chip accumulation than everybody else. Hopefully, I’d be able to read the structure sheet at the Beau and figure out when the right time would be to do just that.

Incidentally, I wonder if Harrahs has re-started their weekly. I like it when it’s running during tournaments on the coast. A lot of the younger players head to Biloxi and the field dwindles down to about 50 to the mid 60s, and those present are usually weaker casual players. Good value in scooping a top five place. Maybe I’ll go to Harrahs on Wednesday first if they’ve restarted. Oddly, I prefer the field to be in that 50 to 60 range or almost full at 100 to 120.

On one side it’s a lot easier to make the money in a small field, on the other side you are getting full value on your buy-in. I’m sure some math guy could tell my feelings are way off base on this, but I also feel more comfortable in either scenario which isn’t something you could measure tangibly. With the smaller fields I take less risks and can wait for hands and pick on some easier targets in critical spots.

In close to sell-outs I know that I have to take risks and can ramp up the speed of play. For whatever reason when the number is in between I have trouble with the pacing.

Monday, January 10, 2011

BCS Title Game, Southern Poker Championship, and other tidbits... part four


Obviously, with the PCA going on in the Bahamas and the Beau Rivage casino event just about next door there is a lot of poker for me to think about, and yet, I can't stop writing about the BCS game, it's like I'm stuck to a row of casino slots and can pull myself away. Early January, has clearly become the sweet spot for football in this country. No longer New Years day, the action is fast furious through 10 days of the first month of the year.

Talking about the BCS title game and I got a little side track talking about the Saints game this past weekend.

And by the way to stay on this tangent for a little bit longer, I find sportswriters using the Seahawks win justifying why the playoffs shouldn’t be revamped to be just stupid. Granted, in response to those that say the Seahawks shouldn’t have been allowed in, yes, they answered that (but they won their division of course they should be in), but to a lesser degree to counter the belief that things should be tweaked the Seahawks win did the opposite.

New Orleans was one game away from being the one seed and had to go on the road against a team with a far worse record.

There should be a simple, easy to employ rule, if you don’t have a winning season and you still win your division, you don’t get a home playoff game (exceptions obviously being if the wildcards have the same record or worse than you). Seattle won their division so deserves to be in the playoffs, they didn’t deserve to host a game, in front of a crowd that I mentioned last week might be a difference and it was one of them.

If anything their win validates why they shouldn’t have the deck stacked in their favor with the worst playoff record of any team in league history. And btw, winning doesn’t prove much of anything in the long run. This is the NFL any team can win any week especially with a hungry home crowd. There isn’t that much difference between the best team and the worst team.

Okay, tangent over, Oregon also has that underdog’s advantage that Seattle enjoyed. Granted some teams could be overwhelmed by the Cam Newton hype, the fact he dwarfs them in person, and mentally lose before taking the snap, but Oregon isn’t one of those teams. They’ll just be loose and ready. So, if it’s close I kind of like the ducks.

Oddly, I read how this is the hardest ticket to get a hold off in history of American sports. Guess who had the option to buy two at face value. I have a friend with a job in a spot that has access to the tickets. In advance of the SEC championship game I asked if I could get two, wanted to hook my parents up as they are Auburn Grads and Auburn football is about the only sport my mom has ever cared about. They have lived through 50 years of Alabama, or the voters, or probation spoiling any shot of an Auburn national title, so I wanted them to go. In many ways Auburn has been the Red Sox of college football.

Only problem, I was told I couldn’t sell the tickets if Auburn didn’t make it. My
parents are around their 70s and had no interest in an Oregon-TCU tilt. Me neither. Travel and my mother’s problems with her legs were going to make it a problem even if Auburn did win. So, I declined the tickets. Now, I’m seeing that ticket brokers are basically paying through the nose for seats and those same tickets I could have gotten for face value would have been worth thousands.

I regret that I didn’t just okay the tickets and force my parents into going, something I’m sure they would have thanked me for after the fact, despite the trouble it would have caused in the logistics of them getting to the game and getting around town.

Then in the back of my mind, I’m wondering why I didn’t just go. Then of course, I’m wondering why I didn’t just buy two tickets and then sell them anyway for a huge profit if my parents opted out. Oh yeah, I didn’t do that because I’m an honest guy. I gave my friend my word I wouldn’t, so of course I wouldn’t.

Still when I read articles like this it’s hard to wonder what it’d be like to be dishonest.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

BCS Title Game, Southern Poker Championship, and other tidbits... part three

My take it for what it is worth sports betting
advice on the big game is included somewhere down here in the post. You may have to read between the lines, like a guy on ESPN essentially telling you what to bet, but it's in there. Not like I'm trying to crack the code on Ice Hockey betting odds so I have some useful information but be aware. Personally, I wouldn't bet this game but if I had to I think there is better value with Oregon getting points in probably what is a pick'em. Oh, guess I won't be subtle about it.

In games, I watched both play including Oregon’s game against Stanford (who already proved they were no Stanfraud) and Auburn against Alabama, the defenses were done and the offenses ran them ragged. Read an article on Gus Malzahn the offensive co-coordinator for Auburn, or maybe it was Chip Kelly (they kind of run together) and whoever it was said this philosophy interestingly enough arose from coaching seventh grade basketball (so pretty sure it was Malzahn) where the fitness of his players and a breakneck early game pace allowed them to trounce their tired opposition late in the game.

Roy Williams, when he has a point guard that can protect the ball and push, employs this strategy in college basketball. As does Coach K, in a little bit different way, at Duke. Fitness of the players is the determining factor in many of their wins. So, it will come down to both teams meeting their match in fitness, and if that’s a push, it will go back to the fundamentals doing the little things that will make the difference. Obviously, protecting the ball is an easy stat to point to.

Let’s say both teams do protect the ball and neither one is able to get out in front, than yes, we could have the type of USC-Texas title bout everybody is so hopeful for. Auburn and Oregon could trade blows like a prize fighter. For some reason, I just don’t feel this is going to be a huge scoreline though. I’m not saying either team is going to scrap their tempo, I just think the two-minute drives both are famous for are going to be a little bit longer. They’ll both be rusty from the huge lay-off, and they’ll both have scouted the other one so intensely it’s not going to be as shocking as say a team facing them somewhat cold after only one week of practice.

I’d love to say Auburn is going to win this one, but that’s my heart talking. I like Oregon, especially with the extra points, (and really a line for this is meaningless) it could be a close game and one of these teams could still end up winning by 17 or 20. When you get two defensive teams playing you know the line is a big factor, three could be huge, when you get two offensive teams maybe you are better off taking the extra points but anything under 5 is like a pick’em in my opinion, so as a gambler why not go with the “dog” and the free points.
I think Stanford proved how tough they were and legitimized Oregon.

I like Oregon being an underdog and seeing nothing but Cam Newton hype, Nick Fairley hype, and everybody loving on Auburn and the SEC. In the same way I like Oregon, I was worried about the Saints this weekend. I thought the Saints faced a loaded shot-gun in the Seahawks and loved the dogs to cover the double-digit line and have a shot at winning.

Seattle had nothing to lose and played that way. Who on their roster cared that they were down ten twice… they were supposed to be. They were dismissed as an undeserving team but were playing at home. As one friend pointed out during the game, earlier in the year, Seattle played the Saints close in the dome. The scoreline didn’t reflect it because they scored field goals instead of touchdowns, but they moved the ball on New Orleans and found flaws in the defenses. This past weekend they finished those plays and turned them into TDs.

--To be continued

Saturday, January 08, 2011

BCS Title Game, Southern Poker Championship, and other tidbits... part two

I'm going to break down the BCS title game a little bit but first I wanted to mention who excited I am about the Acadiana Series of Poker (ASOP) as I think they are going to get a big turnout and hopefully get to the numbers they had a couple of years ago where everybody at the final table got big checks. The large one day Texas Hold em poker tournament should be fun to play in. I will definitely be there for that on the 28th of this month.

If you are coming bring some money for rebuys as the action will be fast and furious. There will be a lot people there with no idea how to play poker that are just supporting the cause and donating money. Don't be surprised to see five way all-ins in a lot of pots. It will play a little bit like PLO in that regard.

I keep hearing how the game is going to be over 80 points and the offenses will keep running until the clock runs out. Interestingly enough, I wonder if the officials have been doing intense cardio training in the 40 day run up to this event. Also, wonder as they get tired if they’ll get sloppy and make some terrible late calls.

Fatigue as any poker player knows really effects your judgment. My father worked with a guy who climbed the International soccer ladder to just missing out on reffing World Cup games. He did plenty of International events, which involved him dodging coins, bottles, spit, and angry spectators. He told my dad, the fitness standards to be a World Class, World Cup ref, were almost too high for any refs to meet.

No offense to the refs, and no offense to local poker play “Coach” Rodney Shows a retired CUSA ref, but I just don’t buy the college football refs being in that kind of shape. And if they are, I have to question why they run around with sausages stuff into their tight black and white shirts. The offenses of Oregon and Auburn will require the fittest guys on the field be the officiating crew as they never get a break.

All that being said, moreso due to the tempo than perhaps the actual scoring of both teams, I think this game will disappoint. Auburn and Oregon both proved this year no lead is safe against them, and no team can get too far out in front without either team catching the, but they’ve met their match. IF one or the other tightens up and turns the ball over a couple of times early, I project a two to three score lead 14, 17, 20 or 21 points will be enough for the other team to protect.

Neither team is going to slow up, and despite their tempos, they both have running games that can wind the clock. Usually, they score a staggering amount of under 2 minute drives for touchdowns, however, I think there will be some long running drives which could preserve the leads.

The key to the game will be who gets that lead, as the other will finally meet a team, that they just can’t outscore when they want to. A big part of both teams offense is running the other team hard for three quarters and then when they are gassed exploit them in the fourth quarter. That’s not by accident that Oregon and Auburn did this all year, that’s the point of the tempo.

BCS Title Game, Southern Poker Championship, and other tidbits... part one

This week I haven't been able to figure out my schedule at all as to when I’ll get over to the Beau Rivage to play some Texas Holdem poker. I believe I will be able to maybe play an event on Thursday or Friday. I have to get all my writing obligations done first, and get a babysitter or two. Didn’t have any help last week which was a busy one for me, so my apologies on my lack of communicating with any friends looking to catch up as I was jammed all week.

What else is on tap for this week besides a poker tournament or two, well, some time soon Google has upped my work load on the site. In doing some research to produce better search results I discovered Google’s requirements differ from our website format a little bit for being in their Newsfeed. Essentially, to be considered a newsfeed you either have to work like a blog (odd when you think about the friction between “news” sites and blogs) or have articles that appear with at least three consecutive numbers in the web-address.

Our archives section would function as that but there is only 1 to 2 numbers in their page address, so I have to change all the pages and the subsequent links. Probably will have to change the verbiage of “archives” to articles which should only confuse the new readers we get when the subsequent pages are old “news.” Should be fun (for people that can’t read tone that was sarcasm).

The pay-off is worth the work as we should get a lot more people checking in from afar. That and a scrubbing of the Front Page is in order. I don’t know how much we’d change the format (we might tweak it), but there are some bloggers up there who haven’t posted in a year or so. We’d certainly be better off moving them down, and as a result shortening the page (course archiving everything a little sooner would only help us with the Google Newsfeed requirements). Anyway, that’s going to be a ton of busy work. So, I have to carve out time to do all that, hope it doesn’t come at the expense of playing poker.

I’m all aquiver about the BCS title game and obviously won’t be getting anything done during that. Weirdly, as much as I am excited about it, I also feel like that comic bit about being Next in line. Forget who said it but "Next" is the best status to be, always. You have no one in front of you. Course when they do call you, you are no longer next, so the comic says I just let people go ahead so I'm still "next." Maybe it was Carlin (though it sounds a little beneath his genuis even if the truth is illuminated). Well, as the game approaches, Auburn has a shot at being National Champions, in a season, that's been the most exciting for me as a fan of any season, and I don't want it to end.

Sure, I want them to finish it off and win the championship. But what if they don't. Or, what if they do, but then the magic is over. Sure, I'll have the memories but nothing is more electric than knowing your team is in it to win it. It's like the buzz for sports gamblers, the final score just ends it that elation, whether it's a win or a loss. Besides Auburn's history is one of close calls and might have beens. Read this article in the Oregon Live for evidence of that.

Tonight, the dream year for Auburn is over. Win or lose, the only thing to come after tonight will just be bad news. Possible violations, possilbe probation, possible scandal, players going to the NFL, a return to average so to speak next year. Meanwhile, until the game is played none of those realities have to be dealt with. So yeah, I'm looking forward to the game, hoping it goes my way, but there is a part of me that hopes it just wouldn't happen, that Auburn would always be "Next."

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Pick'em Football Pool... Part two of two

Some other highlights, in the closet thing I come to in online betting on sports. After some consultation and understanding Pitt had something to play for and guessing the Browns might want to lay down to get Mangini out of there, I selected the Steelers earlier in the week. I couldn't decide which NFC East game to substitute the Steelers for, I liked the Boys and the Giants.

Basically I decided to drop the Boys covering vs. the Eagles because I didn't want to ride a third stringer. The Gmen had something to play for. (I loved the Redskins back door cover... sarcasm yum). If I had true mobile betting services I could have gone to CBS sports and slotted the Falcons in, like I did withe Steelers from my laptop earlier in the week.

I also loved how I never benefit from one of those but only suffer them. The Chargers threatened to give me hope going into the nightcap as my rivals all had them, but their opponents couldn't eke it out.

In our suicide pool every-year my partner and I always pick easy winners, but watch our rivals all survive by pulling out miracles week after week. Any time our pick is in danger we never get that miracle come-back but boy do we witness them every week help someone else out. Same thing in these pick'ems. Others just get that last minute back-door cover, I never do. Yes, I'm bitching. Cue fine for bad beat complaints.

With the drama out of the last game, I didn't care that I would have been right to substitute ATL for the Lambs. Though, I did recognize had I something to play for, I would have been through the roof on that terrible call in the first quarter that the game basically swung on. Two refs were mere yards away from a Ram, who clearly got both feet in on a third and long, but they ruled it a no-catch and stymied an early Rams drive.

An early Rams tying touchdown and I think things open up a little bit. Maybe Seattle would have continued to press more than they had to and St. Louis had something positive to build-on. Granted the catch only would have been a first down but it would have been in the red-zone. The Rams also made the field goal, but I think that was a big play for the Seahawks defense that ignited their stellar play the rest of the way.

Why no challenge, I don't know. Guys in the booth for St. Louis really blew it. Still don't know who that mustachioed f'er was at QB for the Seahawks, but can only imagine how much I would have hated him had the entire pool for me hinged on that game. I thought Hasselbeck being out would be too much, but you never, ever know with back-ups. The Vikings go to a third stringer and tag an L on Philly a week ago. Cowboys do the same thing Sunday. How can you anticipate what will happen with those unknowns.

What I didn’t initially account for was the fact Seattle was at home and that place, for a day, sounded like the Kingdome. I have tremendous respect for Seattle fans considering the way they’ve embraced their MLS team and turn out spirited crowds that rival European leagues. If they can get that noisy for soccer it’s going to be a lot tougher game than many Saints fans realize in the Wild Card tilt. Just makes me wonder how did those passionate sports fans lose the Sonics? Course when the Sonics were decent, just like the Blazers in Portland, the fans turned up and turned the arenas into the NBA’s version of the Cameron Crazies.

So, I was more right than wrong this week. Suffered a back door cover by the Dreadskins which stings even more because it was DC. The two games I lost were on my radar for substituting I just got unlucky not to. Oh well. Call it 5-2 and poor pick management. Nice to have a sweat on the last week. Kudos to the guy in first who went 4-1 in a big week to clinch and suffered the same back door cover by the Dreadskins I did.

Monday, January 03, 2011

Pick'em Football Pool... Part one of two

I'm in John "Price is Right" Price's pick'em league. Going into the last week, I was one game out of first. You have to pick five games against the spread each week so the betting odds are determined by the line.

Lines set on Wednesdays (which gives you some gimmes if you pay attention to line shifts like GB this week set at -5.5 even though by kick off it was ~double digits). So I figured I had to go 5-0 on the week to win. I solicited some betting tips from my friends to try and help me pull off perfection

Here's how Sunday played out.

Short answer, and all anybody probably wants to know: I went 3-2.

Had I gone 5-0 I would have tied for first (though as it turned out I shared a loss with a person that beat me, so I would have had to change my picks to tie... he was a game up on me and would have remained a game up on me). Prior to kick-offs I recognized ATL would crush the spineless Panthers on the heels of their disappointment to New Orleans. Falcons had a lot to play for, double motivated after losing to their rival last week and were at home, and the kitties quit on John Fox in the hangover after the super bowl loss (it's taken a few years to become obvious) so why would they show mettle in his swan song?

This thought process hit me Sunday morning, as I was on the way to Baton Rouge, to help move my sister-in-law’s final items into her new apartment. On the road, while driving, I did not have internet access to substitute them for St. Louis. I thought about calling JP but didn't want some weird shadiness appearing on the message board and any ensuing stink had I won. I also consoled myself with the losing strategy I share with my suicide pool partner in crime, in that you never substitute at the last minute once picks were in (last two years one of us has second guessed the other's year ending pick and were right to but we didn't change--hence a losing strategy).

Which by the way, I think is the ultimate Murphy's Law, you manipulate the outcome of a game as soon as you start to second guess. In effect, for those of you familiar with Schrödinger’s cat and quantum physics (which I will do a disservice to even in referencing it), the cat is both alive AND dead until you look into a box. In gambling second-guessing and changing/not changing you guarantee the exact opposite outcome no matter what you decided. Had I switched... ATL would not have covered and St. Louis would have.

I thought that game would be the difference as I saw ATL jump out 14-0. Oddly, a couple of my rivals took the Panthers... so I was still rooting for ATL, but any time you wonder what might have been, you almost want that team you were going to pick to lose. That's my first instinct at least. So I was conflicted when in the first half the Kitty's showed some fight and stuffed the Falcons twice on fourth down. I would cheer first and then realize no I needed ATL to pummel them and it was a bad thing.

A friend of mine knowing my situation sent a late missive urging me to take TB because New Orleans would see ATL crushing the Kittys, and basically capitulate. The second half of the game would be one team playing for something and the other for nothing. That's exactly what happened. I replied I'd love that for a second half line, if TB was still in the game, but I didn't want to pick a game that was basically dependent on another game. Course, had I gotten my ATL pick in, in my all or nothing situation, that kind of invalidates my logic. Also, truth be told I wanted to root for New Orleans

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Snippets of Conversation on and off the Poker Table part eight

As I stand there, I found myself in a moment familiar to being in the middle of a bluff in a Texas Holdem poker game. I can tell, she’s also processing whether or not I said I was from BasketBALLski. Now, she’s not so sure I am funny anymore and coming to grips with the fact that she is not really in on the joke. Unlike poker tournaments online you have to exist in this perpetual game of nonverbal communication. Will she call my bluff?

She looks blankly at me, but still trying to be polite, “We don’t have any basketballs but perhaps there is something specific to what we do have that you’d like, have you seen our jeweled eggs” I mull it over. Or at least gave the façade of mulling it over. To “mull” requires pursing your lips and squinting a bit. At least that’s how I decided to convey my mulling to her. I purse and squint, then scratch my chin. And while I am fake mulling, I am also really mulling over the wonderful opening she just gave me by asking if I’ve seen their jeweled eggs.

The wife is still on the edge of earshot and then I notice she is giving me the deathray look. I’ve never gotten past that look without amending the behavior that caused it, because I feel like if I ever don’t amend that behavior literal lasers will shoot out of her eyes and burn me to dust. I’m not kidding, in the moment, it’s that powerful a glare that under it’s application, I truly believe she has some sort of hidden cyborg deathray attached to her occipital lobe waiting to fire at me. So not wanting to die in that fashion, I decide to wrap it up.

“Well, I see you don’t have any fish for basketball so we’ll just have to keep looking… despite your jeweled eggs.” Yes, pure nonsense.

She nods, taking it in, maybe I am insane and her face shows abject confusion. In the moment, I think YES! Finally the veneer cracks, I’ve won. Utter confusion about the fish for basketball is contorted across her face. Then she goes back into undeterred saleswoman mold, but only for a moment. I watch as her face becomes a literal canvas of confusion, it’s like Bill Bixby as David Banner trying to keep the Hulk out and the mild-mannered good Samaritan in, is she going to turn green, I wonder.

If she does Hulk out, at least my wife has deathray-vision to save me. Then, then good wins out, her Avon training punches back in charge, much like a Navy seal under interrogation, the training is too deep-rooted to let her flail before a customer. As she comports herself, for a brief moment, I can tell she ponders going to engage my wife and to wrap up that sale, I see her eyes flitter to the floorplan as she starts to figure out an alternate route around me and through the glass trinkets. She shifts her weight toward one such route, then I indicate I will follow her by leaning in the same direction.

She sighs, she gives in the training finally broken, and turns toward the front of the store, choosing to leave us alone, without even a good bye, or a merry
Christmas, just a defeated woman walking away.

I wonder how she will retell that story to her friends. Or what she’ll think about at night as she ponders over “Living in the continentals” or if she allows herself to mull, in whatever fashion mulling takes with her, the phrase… “Fish for basketball” and how she’d interpret it. I know as I replay the moments we shared in my mind, we’ll always have her jeweled eggs.