Sunday, December 31, 2006

Breakout Year

One year ago, I was preparing to move to Hawaii and start a new job. I didn't know what I should do with my poker game, although I was committed to climbing up the limit ladder. I had extra motivation because I wanted to get my bankroll over $9,000 so I could play $15/$30 limit hold em again -- a feat I had briefly achieved in November before going on a big downturn.

For the first half of the year, I bounced around from month to month and game to game, averaging about $1,500 a month. That was a decent amount, but I repeatedly got shot down any time I tried to play a limit above $10/$20. I started out at $5/$10 shorthanded, then played some full ring limit games, then tried massive multi-tabling of no limit games, then back to limit.

By the summer, I was getting frustrated with my lack of progress. I was making a profit, but mostly from rakeback, deposit bonuses and monthly blackjack bonuses. In fact, that had been the story of my poker career. I have always been a winning player after bonuses, but the $2,000 I earned in 2004 and $14,700 in 2005 came while I basically broke even at the tables.

One day when I was chatting with Vic, he told me he was still baffled over why I insisted on moving up through the ranks of limit hold em. I had always been a winner in no limit games, and that's what I decided to focus on.

The only problem was that my no limit strategy was incredibly static. I played only full-ring games and used a tight, aggressive strategy in which I waited for cards and then bet them for value or took down pots with continuation bets. That worked well for a while as I picked up the scraps of other people's money at 1/2 and 2/4 NL games on Party Poker.

Then came the turning point -- the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, which was attached to a port security bill in the late night hours before Congress went on recess. The law itself only prohibits U.S. banking institutions from doing business with gambling sites, but its passage caused Party Poker and many other sites to shut out U.S. players.

I withdrew my bankroll immediately while I waited to see how severe the law's impact would be. That week I didn't play poker and just relaxed. This may have been one of the best decisions of my poker career.

When I returned to the tables (now at Full Tilt), I never looked back. From October to December, I averaged more than $10,000 each month and brought my total yearly winnings over $51,000.

I quickly moved up from 2/4 to 3/6 and started killing the shorthanded tables. Armed with a subscription to Cardrunners, I learned how to better apply my knowledge and really attack the tables. The money kept flowing, and it wasn't long at all before I jumped in the 5/10 NL games.

These games are very good. I know some people say that online poker has gotten more difficult since the UIGEA, but I don't see it. These 5/10 tables are filled with people who are itching to give their money away, and I was so happy to take it.

From October till now, I haven't had a bad run. Even when I go card dead it seems like I make money. Almost every day I play, I can expect to rake in at least a few hundred dollars and as much as $4,000.

How did this happen? What changed?

I believe there was no one ingredient that improved my game to the point where I can be a consistent winner at these fantastic mid-limits. It was a matter of learning to play better in 6-max ring games, becoming more aggressive in position, integrating more bluffs in all parts of my game and learning how to let go of overpairs when someone is playing back at me on a non-threatening board.

Somehow, I get plenty of action when I want it while people fold to my bluffs. I keep my game simple most of the time, but even fancy plays are often successful. On top of that, I'm one lucky bastard -- I almost feel sorry for my opponents who I rain bad beats down on.

I continue to question how this is all possible. I feel like I've improved a lot this year, but I never thought my profits would climb so rapidly once I got the bankroll to play 5/10. Part of me wonders how much of this can be attributable to a sustained run of above-average cards, and I have to think that contributes to my success. On the other hand, perhaps I make a lot of my own luck by playing solid poker that constantly puts pressure on my opponents.

Either way, this year has been a tremendous ride, and I am incredibly optimistic about 2007. There are a lot of areas I want to improve on, but there's no reason for me to think I won't be able to (eventually) beat games at 10/20 NL and higher.

If there's one idea that may have helped me more than any other, it's the concept that players prove themselves when things are tough. Anyone can win when they get great cards. Being able to lose less money with second-best hands without tilting will salvage your bankroll.

Impaired Judgment

After drinking two rum and cokes, a glass of wine, a Guinness and some English beer that I don't know the name of, I got home and turned on the computer.

I popped open a Heineken and looked for some Triple Draw and limit hold 'em games to play on PokerStars. What the hell was I thinking?

First I found a $30/$60 limit hold em game and dropped about 10 bets. Then I lost another 20 bets at a $15/$30 limit hold em game. Now, feeling quite toasty, I opened up the only Triple Draw game going above the $3/$6 level -- a $30/$60 game.

This is a game I had no business in. My triple draw knowledge is limited to the most basic concepts: try to draw to an 8 or better, play tight and let go of your hand sooner rather than later if you don't improve after the first draw. Seriously, that's all I know about the game, and I don't even feel confident in those rules of thumb.

Why am I in this game again? Oh yeah, because I'm drunk and I want some action. And Triple Draw is a lot of fun, until I realized I was out of my depth.

But even then, I didn't close the table. I set artificial goals for myself that I couldn't keep. I'd tell myself that if I got back to even, I would quit. Then I lost a little more, and I told myself I'd quit when I got close to even. After losing a little more, I came back and and got within a few bets of where I started.

I thought to myself: Why stop there? After all, it would only take one more decent-sized pot to put me near even for the entire session.

So, foolishly, I kept it up. I went up and down, up and down, but mostly down. Maybe I was running poorly. I'm sure I made some bad decisions. But how many times can my pat hands be beat by a one-card draw on the end? Quite frequently, apparently.

I did a search for "triple draw strategy" to try to figure out a few more basics of the game. All I found was this column by Howard Lederer, which didn't help at all in my inebriated state.

And yet I still didn't log off. At this point, I wanted to either hit a big score or get to a point where I wouldn't have much chance of coming back. I ignored everything I know -- I played longer than I should have, I didn't have an edge in the game, I didn't care much whether I won or lost.

What really bothers me is that it was so easy to piss away this money. It was like I wanted to let it go. The alcohol didn't create these self-destructive impulses, it simply lowered my inhibitions so they could escape.

Do I really feel like I don't deserve to win? Am I so insecure that I want to hurt myself, like a masochist who delights in experiencing pain because it's better than feeling nothing? Am I trying to sabotage myself out of some superstitious fear that if I keep winning I'll forget what it's like to lose?

Finally, I reached one of my goals. My buy-in had been reduced to mere scraps, not even worth playing anymore after losing nearly 20 bets. Hours later than I should have, far past the point where I lost impulse control, I shut down the window and went to sleep.

I lost a total of about $2,000 and my bankroll remains healthy despite this disturbing, compulsive behavior.

It's been a great year results-wise, but irrational episodes like last night's show that I've got some issues.

I'm still a fish.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Poker Odds

There are many sites that provide information about poker odds, but none provides a comprehensive single source for basic odds knowledge in Texas Hold 'Em. So here is an attempt at compiling a reference list for what I feel are the most essential probabilities. I recommend memorizing all of these because knowing them off the top of your head gives you an edge in any game.

Pot Odds

Calculating pot odds is a necessary step in determining whether you are justified in playing a hand that may be an underdog at the moment but stands a chance of improving to the best hand. Pot odds are defined as "the ratio of the current size of the pot to the bet that you must call." Put simply, you want the probability of making your hand to be higher than the percentage of money you must invest in the pot.

The best way to quickly compute pot odds is to memorize outs expressed as a ratio. I'm constantly surprised at the number of players who refuse to remember this set of numbers that can be worth so much money at the tables.

Outs | Break-Even Pot Odds with one card to come
1 | 45:1
2 | 22:1
3 | 14.3:1
4 | 10.5:1
5 | 8.2:1
6 | 6.7:1
7 | 5.6:1
8 | 4.75:1
9 | 4.1:1

Another common way to estimate your probability of making a hand is by what Phil Gordon calls "The Rule of Four" and "The Rule of Two."

I have found a quick and easy way of figuring out how often I will draw to a winning hand after the flop.
First I count my "outs," or the cards that will give me a winning hand. For example, let's say I have Tc 9d and I put my opponent on A-K ... The flop comes Ac Td 7s. My opponent is in front, of course, having flopped a pair of aces, but there are five cards -- the two remaining tens and the three nines -- that will put me in front. In other words, I have five outs.
I can calculate the approximate odds of catching one of my cards on the turn or the river by multiplying the number of outs I have by four. In this case:
5 X 4 = 20 %
According to this "Rule of Four," I have about a 20 % chance of catching a winning card on the turn or the river. The actual odds turn out to be 21.2 %, a tiny difference that is irrelevant for most purposes.
With only the river card to come, the "Rule of Four" becomes the "Rule of Two." (Meaning you multiply your outs by two instead of four)
Preflop Odds

Higher pair vs. lower pair: 4.5:1
Pair vs. two higher cards: 55 percent to 45 percent
Pair vs. two lower cards: 5:1
Pair vs. a higher and lower card: 5:2, or about 70 percent to 30 percent
Domination (AK vs. AQ): 5:2, or about 70 percent to 30 percent
Two higher cards vs. two lower cards (AQ vs. 86): 5:3, or about 60 percent to 40 percent
One higher card vs. one lower card (A5 vs. KT): About 55 percent to 45 percent

Odds of being dealt a specific hand

AA: 220:1, or 0.45 percent
Any pair: 16:1, or 5.88 percent
AK suited or offsuit: 82:1, or 1.2 percent
Suited connectors: 46.4:1, or 2.11 percent

Odds of flopping ...

A set from a pocket pair: 7.5:1, or about 12 percent
A flush draw with two suited cards: 8.1:1, or 11 percent
A pair from any two non-paired cards: 2.1:1, or about 33 percent
Two pair from any two non-paired cards, using both of your hole cards: 49:1, or 2 percent

"Phil Gordon's Little Green Book," by Phil Gordon
"Harrington on Hold 'em: Expert Strategy for No-Limit Tournaments, Volume 1: Strategic Play," by Dan Harrington
"Small Stakes Hold 'em: WinningBig with Expert Play," by Ed Miller, David Sklansky and Mason Malmuth
Bodog poker, as published by
Mike Caro University
Two Dimes

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Lessons are expensive

I haven't posted in a few days, not for lack of things to write about, but more because I had been winning. Winning is great and all, but it makes for rather bland writing.

Win, win, win. I love consistently coming out on top, and I feel like I'm playing pretty damn well. But there's no conflict, no struggle, no pain in it. Tilt stories and Waffle-esque diatribes are so much more fun!

Fortunately for you, dear reader, I got smacked. Pretty hard. Ouch.

Christmas night was my career-worst session at the tables, in which I lost more than four buy-ins in about 800 hands, mostly against HORRIBLE players. Argh! They were soooo bad, and I couldn't seem to wrestle any money away from them.

I kept picturing them, drunk on egg nog and pissed off at their families in the late-night post-Christmas hours, pissing away their money to whoever applied the most pressure against their top pair, top kicker hand. I saw them sitting at their computers, dazed, trying to keep their eyes open as they sought one more pot to get even for the holiday. Or maybe some of them were rich kids, flush with new Christmas money that they were ready to blow off at the tables.

There was a lot of cash flying around, but not much of it came my way.

On the third day of Christmas, my true love sent to me: three bad beats, two lost coin-flips and a tilt all-in bet against the nuts in a pear tree.

I knew a day like this had to come eventually. My fear is that my worries may have turned into a self-fulfilling prophesy. It goes something like this:

I win a lot at the virtual tables, and each successive win feels like less of a thrill than the one before. Eventually, I lose focus and drive because the pleasure of winning is diminished as the mental bar is raised for my average per-session expectation. Lacking emotions of satisfaction from poker, I subconsciously try to lose so that I can feel good when I win again.

These ideas somewhat coincide with theories that gamblers subconsciously want to lose to punish themselves, or that "gamblers want to lose all their money so they can reach a state of despair which, at the root of it all, was provoked by a past action that the gambler has not resolved."

Is it possible that I sabotaged myself at the tables last night? That after drinking my share of beers on Christmas night, I felt guilty on some level about my repeated winnings and played a style that favored all-in bets over folds and calls over reasonably priced information bets?

Of course it's possible. Why else would I be writing about it.

In times of doubt, the correct course is to analyze what went wrong. After I went through the hand histories in PokerTracker, I found there was only one hand where I made a clear and obvious error. I did tilt on that hand. I told myself I would take a stand with top pair and my gutshot. I blew off my stack based on my tired feelings of defiance and anger rather than careful consideration of the situation at hand.

Naturally, my passive opponent who had check-raised me had a set, and my donkitude was not rewarded with a suckout.

It was time for sleep, perhaps an hour after I should have quit.

I don't believe I'm a compulsive gambler who wants to kill himself slowly by blowing through my hard-earned winnings. I admit to mild feelings of guilt because of my recent success, and because I feel sorry for some of the fish who lose and reload, lose and reload, lose and reload until the rent money is gone.

Objectively, I know these emotions are destructive. While I hope to be able to empathize with my opponents' mind-set, I should remain vigilant that I don't become like them. The solution, as always, is focus and discipline. Sometimes I feel like a surly poker monk, resigned to a life of study and devotion.

Enough of that. I made one very bad play. It won't happen again.

I did a search of the Internet for my login name, smizmiatch, and found some hand histories from 2005 in which I got stacked. I played them terribly. Enjoy!

Dem Quads, Bitch.

I can't recommend playing two pair like this.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Limit hands at the Mirage

I cashed out at the Bellagio after hitting my straight flush and then headed to the Mirage for some limit games.
"Try limit, it's fun!" say the signs at the Mirage. So I sat at a 20/40 game.
My recent strategy has been to play very tight and leave the table as soon as I get ahead. This table usually had three or four people seeing the flop with almost no bluffing.
Here is the most interesting hand:
After a rock limped in early position, I raised from the hijack with JQo. I figured there was a good probability it would fold around to the limper, but unfortunately the button 3 bet it. We both called, putting 10.5 small bets in the pot.
The flop brought undercards with a T and two spades. I hejf the Q of spades. I estimated I had about 6 outs -- 1.5 for a backdoor flush, 1.5 for a backdoor straight and three for my overcards.
We both checked and the button bet. The limper folded, and I called since the pot was offering me better than the 6.7:1 I needed.
The turn brought good news and bad news. It was the A of spades, giving me a flush draw and a gutshot draw, but that also meant I would have to call at least one more bet. I check-called the turn.
The river was a blank, and all I had was Q high. I check-folded, and the button showed AK for a turned top pair. I think I played the hand well because a bluff wouldn't have pushed the button off the hand, and folding would have been a mistake because I had odds to continue.
Later, the utg player raised, and then I looked down at a fine looking pair of Aces. I 3-bet. And the utg player was the only caller. The flop hit me hard, giving me a set of Aces! I bet and my opponent called. The turn was a King, and we both checked. A blank fell on the river, and my opponent check-called. He mucked in disgust and walked away. I like to think my check on the turn gained an extra bet from a hand like pocket TT or QQ.
In the other intresting hand of the 2-hour session, I flopped two pair when I held 42o out of the big blind on a 234 rainbow three-way flop with two suited cards. I bet it out, an EP player raised, and the small blind and I called. The turn was an offsuit Jack, and I bet out again. The EP player folded, and the small blind check-raised. I decided to call and then check-call the river. He showed down a flopped wheel, and my rags flew into the muck. Maybe I could have found a fold on the turn, but that would have been tough given the board and my opponent's hand range. There were plenty of hands I could have beaten.
I lost $91 on the session - less than 2.5 bets, and I felt good about my play. Limit is fun!
Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

Monday, December 11, 2006

Vegas: Cards, steak and balls

Gambling is the oxygen of Vegas -- it's everywhere you go and it's necessary for survival.

But this trip, I didn't feel like I was gasping for air, trying to get in as much playing time as I possibly could. There are plenty of opportunities to gamble it up in any trip to Vegas, so why push it? It certainly helped that I got off to a strong start so I didn't feel pressured to put in long hours at the tables.

Of course, I always wish there were more hours in the day so that I could have gotten more play in!

I felt like it was still Friday when I got in to town Saturday morning. I had worked during the day, packed afterward, ate a good Thai dinner and watched Battlestar Galactica before getting on my plane. My connecting flight in Los Angeles got canceled, so I didn't get in to Vegas until after 9 a.m.

From there, it was straight to Caesar's to sit at a newly started 2/5 NL game. In that first short session, I flopped three flushes, got dealt KK and successfully bluffed several pots to win more than $900. That was very nice. This one guy wearing a Kauai hat made the table a lot of fun, and I even got lucky when he hit his 2 pair on the river off a starting hand of 73 vs. one of my flushes.

Afterward, I played in the blogger tournament, which Caesar's kindly hosted. Congrats to -EV for taking down the tourney, even though he busted me when I pushed my short stack in with QQ and he called with 33 and hit a set.

Sunday was filled with delicious food and donktastic low-limit poker at the Alladin, Caesar's and the Stratosphere. I'm still wondering if Daniel may have bluffed me off a decent-sized pot when I raised big preflop with Q9s in an attempt to steal all the limps on the table, and then fired a continuation bet into an A7x flop. He called, and when I check-folded the turn, he showed a 7. I don't think he had a set, but maybe A7. Or maybe nothing. :)

We ate at Commander's Palace and had dinner with Fuel55 at Binion's Steak House. It was a fulfilling meal, and it was fascinating to talk a lot of poker with Fuel. His style appears to be a little bit more aggressive than mine, and it seems to be quite successful.

At the end of dinner, Daniel broke out the deck of cards. We had been high carding to decide who would cover the bill all weekend, but Fuel didn't know what hit him. When he drew a 2 out of the deck, he was stuck with the $200 tab. That's OK though -- his Vegas vacation was very profitable.

Then we went out to Sam's Town to go bowling with an awesome subset of poker bloggers who like drinking and knocking down pins. Metsfan schooled us, and bowling turned out to be one of the highlights of the trip. Everyone there was really cool and fun to be around. Afterward, I was too tired to gamble effectively, so I played some 2/4 and 1/2 NL at the Stratosphere. It was terrible.

All weekend, people were telling me I looked like celebrities -- Robert Wagner (who plays Number Two in "Austin Powers) and Ted Forrest are the two I remember. I hope I am never remembered as Number Two, but I can aspire to play poker like Forrest.

Monday morning brought poker at the Bellagio, which remains the gemstone of Vegas. Its poker room was already packed at noon, and I saw Chip Reese and (I think) Eli Elezra playing in Bobby's Room. I settled in to a 2/5 table when this hand fell.

In a three-way pot, I held 87 of diamonds on a Jd Td Xc flop, so I had both a weak flush and gutshot possibility. A player who was bleeding money led out for $40, I called, and the late position player called. The turn brought another rag, and again the early position player bet out $40 again. It felt weak, so I raised to $120. The late position player called, and I didn't get the fold I wanted from the original bettor. He called, and the pot was getting big.

I didn't want to watch what the river would bring. As I looked out into space, a beautiful 9d fell, giving me a straight flush! The early position player bet $300, and I called with the rest of my chips. He turned over Q8o for a made gutshot straight on the river.

I must be living right.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Chip and an airplane seat

Finally, after six months without any vacation or travel, I'm in the Honolulu Airport ready to begin my journey to Vegas with a short layover in L.A.

I've been ready for a long time. Even if I lose (which I don't plan on), I'm pretty sure I'll have a great time. I need to fly away to someplace different.

I'm due for a break. I slacked off most of last year, but I've worked most of this year. It's been good to live and work in Hawaii, where most days are sunny and I'm surrounded by palm trees, plush mountains, the foamy surf and sweeping tradewinds. But it's time to get away for a little bit. I hate to stay in the same place for too long.

I have high expectations. I'll win some hands. I'll hoist some beers. I'll meet new and old friends. I'll eat good food. I'll laugh, I'll gamble, I'll play house games rigged against me.

I'll bust fish. I'll be confident. I'll enjoy myself. I'll stave off sleep. I'll take all their fucking money.

Then I get to go home to Atlanta, sleep late and just hang out for a while.

So yeah, I'm excited. I'm almost there -- I just need to get through this long redeye flight first, and then I'll be ready to start betting in the 8 a.m. hour tomorrow morning.

Wish me luck!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Exprimental blogging

This post is being written on my phone, which may be useful in the coming sleepless Vegas nights... Let's see how it works.

When I arrived at the patio game, I saw that the table was already populated with five regulars, a couple of fish and one new guy. They told me the game was only hold em to accommodate the new guy. I don't mind 2-10-20-20 O8, but let's just say it's not my top choice. The future looked promising.

This game plays like a million other home games across the 'verse, with most players liking to see the flop and checking to the raiser. Their stacks were very short for a 2/5 game, meaning they'd probably try to get it all in when they hit. Basically, it forced me to play their short stacked game, which is not my preference.

Immediately, I decided there would be no more limping allowed. If I was going to play a hand vs a short stacked limper, he would have to call a raise.

The chick to my right didn't approve. Tough shit.

I thought about increasing the size of my preflop raises, but I didn't see how that would help. If my opponents hit top pair, they were basically pot committed anyway.

A player named the Jet, perhaps my favorite donor, announced to the table that I was a shark. I tried to salvage my image by telling them I hadn't won since the first time I played with them, which was true.

I don't think it did much good though. I my first large-ish hand, the girl went all in for about the size of the pot, and I called with QJ top pair Queens. The Jet agonized over whether to call the $50 bet, but I paid him off when he moved in for $30 more on the river. He had hit his flush on the river, and chicky had bottom two pair. Whatever.

Somewhat surprisingly, I didn't get much action the rest of the night. It seems like many of those players are too used to the nut peddling of Omaha. I stole a few pots, only got quartered once and finished down $20 for the night.

Again I wonder: Does the tightness required of Omaha Hi/Lo kill the action during the No Limit hold em rounds? It kind of seems that way.

Fortunately, my O8 game is improving a little bit.

Let's play some mixed games in Vegas this weekend!

Also, I was thinking about getting together for bowling at Sam's Town on Sunday night. Who's in?

Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

The Electric Goldfish

You gotta love those days when you win more than 10 percent of your bankroll in an hour and a half. Here's the best hand of the night:

Full Tilt Poker
No Limit Holdem Ring game
Blinds: $5/$10
6 players

Pre-flop: (6 players) HERO is Button with :ah :ac
UTG folds, UTG+1 raises to $35, CO folds, HERO raises to $120, SB folds, BB raises to $420, UTG+1 folds, HERO calls.

Flop: :9s :4h :as ($880, 2 players)
BB checks, HERO checks.

Turn: :ad ($880, 2 players)
BB checks, HERO is all-in $704, BB calls all-in $580.
Uncalled bets: $124 returned to HERO.

River: :4s ($2040, 0 player + 2 all-in - Main pot: $2040)

Final pot: $2040
HERO showed Ah Ac
BB showed Kh Ks

I felt like the only way to get paid off was to make my opponent think I was trying to bluff him off the pot. He called at the last second before he timed out.

So yeah ... sweet!

I mean, I rolled over those tables. Only one bluff failed, and most of my all-ins got paid off. It's pretty rare when you both get good cards and get players to call you down.

One thing I was thinking about before I logged on was how I feel like I'm on some form of tilt all the time except when I'm playing poker. There's always something that I'm either pissed off about, bored with, paranoid about or overly hyper about. On top of that, I'm short-tempered. It's amazing I'm ever able to concentrate.

The addition of a second monitor was a key to the improvement of my game. All that extra space makes multitasking a million times easier. And if I find something distracting (like chat or music), I can just turn off that app.

Anyways, I got lucky and played well. I won some more later on at a few 2/4 NL tables with absinthe.

When I finally logged off, I found I had scored my biggest single-day win ever in two short sessions -- more than four buy-ins at 5/10. Woohoo! Bring it, Vegas.

*The Electric Goldfish was the name of a few friends' band when I was in sixth or seventh grade. Their hit was a kick-ass cover of "Knockin on Heaven's door."

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

I can't gamble on my phone, but I like it anyway

I bought a new phone this weekend. I was trying to decide between this Blackberry Pearl and the Sidekick, but the guy in the store said the Blackberry is better for work e-mail systems.

This phone is great so far. It's sleek, handy and full of gadgets. The only feature it doesn't have is AM/FM radio, but I was less disappointed about not having that when I later found out it isn't offered on any Blackberry models.

As promised, it handles multiple e-mail accounts flawlessly. The camera is the usual low-resolution quality of most phones. Internet is decent. Texting is intuitive. I'm sure this phone pales in comparison to some higher-end models out there, but it's by far the best one I've ever owned.


Poker continues apace. I'm enjoying the 3/6 and 5/10 NL games on Full Tilt, and it's usually possible to find several loose tables. One guy even pushed in a full stack preflop with KJo vs. my KK. Amazingly, Krispy Kreme held up!

Overall, the last couple of weeks have been up and down with a general upward trend. I'm cool with that.

I was thinking earlier about the steps in my poker development that have made the biggest difference. I'll list them here:

1) Limiting my sessions to 2 hours. This improved my discipline and helped prevent tilt.

2) Abandoning a year-and-a-half long effort to climb the limit ladder, instead concentrating on No Limit Hold em, where all the money seems to be.

3) Learning more about playing shorthanded tables. Six-max is where many of the fish are.

4) Making an effort to improve my game beyond my existing education of books, the net, TV and practice. Specifically, the Cardrunners instructional videos are very valuable.

5) Improving my usage of continuation bets. Rather than pounding at my opponents every time I was checked to on the flop, I've incorporated more floating, turn bets, 2nd and 3rd bullets and bluff check-raises into my game. Most of all, I've gotten much better at learning when not to continuation bet.

6) Coming to accept that I can always play tighter preflop in shorthanded games without giving up too much value. The blinds don't hurt that much more.

The countdown is on. Three days and 23 hours from now, I'll be on a plane to Vegas.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Coming soon: Vegas baby!

I'm reading Phil Gordon's Little Blue Book, his sequel to the Little Green Book. It's educational -- this version has many more hand histories woven with Gordon's tales from the felt.

The only complaint I have so far is that Gordon gives one hand example (page 32) from a 2/5 NL table he claims he played on Full Tilt. The only problem is that as far as I know, Full Tilt has never spread a 2/5 NL game. The site has 2/4 and 3/6, as well as the recently added 2.5/5 deep stack game.

It's not that big of a deal, but it undermines the book's credibility. If you're going to make shit up, at least get your facts straight.


I played in a new home game on Wednesday on the porch of a house about 15 minutes from downtown. The format was similar to the garage game, with alternating rounds of 2/5 NLHE and 2-10-20-20 spread limit Omaha Hi/Lo.

The regulars are decent, but they're a bit too passive postflop. Even when they hold the nuts on the river, they'll often check to the raiser rather than get a little value out of their hand. That's fine with me though.

It was a surprisingly cold night, and for the first time since I moved to Hawaii nearly a year ago, I wished I was wearing long sleeves. The lone woman at the game found me a blanket, and I started dozing off near the end of the evening.

It would have been a profitable night except for that I got quartered when holding the nut low a few times. Getting quartered is terrible. I need to practice my Omaha game online, but I've had a hard time bringing myself to sit at a limit Omaha 8 table so far. Limit hi/lo games don't appeal to me -- make it pot limit or just Omaha Hi.


While watching the Hawaii football team lose against one of the few halfway-decent teams they've played this season, one of my non-poker-playing friends was complaining about the late-night poker marathon on ESPN Classic.

"Poker isn't a sport, so why is it on ESPN all the time?" he asked.

Then they showed a clip of some player saying that poker was like a war. My friend griped at that description, because he thought other sports like football and hockey are much more warlike.

I'm not so sure.

Poker is all about dominance, control, competition, greed and manipulation. Poker is a strategic game in which the player who asserts his will to the edge of positive expectation will be the biggest winner. The fastest, strongest and deepest player will win. Weak-passive players will lose.

Sounds like a fierce battle to me.


The winter blogger Vegas trip is this weekend! I don't get in until Saturday, but it will be a much-needed vacation. I've worked every day except weekends since the last time I was in Vegas in June because I needed to work holidays to build up vacation time. I lost all my previous vacation time when I quit the company to move to Santiago. After Vegas, I head back to Atlanta for a fun week including my brother's graduation and a couple of home games.

Just five days away...

My Dad, who has no idea that I ever make more than pocket change playing poker, wanted me to bring home this empty suitcase that's been sitting in my closet for months.

I told him I didn't want to lug it around during a weekend in Vegas before I fly back to Atlanta.

He said I should bring the suitcase with me anyway.

"You're going to need that suitcase to carry all the money you win!" he said.

Let's hope so!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

I'm an idiot

After going bust at the Garage Game, I walked down the hill toward my car thinking about what went wrong.

Everything had started out so well. I was catching hands and getting paid off.

I worked my initial $300 stack up to about $550 on a set of Kings and a set of 3s (everyone else was playing with even shorter stacks). Then my luck went downhill.

I introduced Triple Draw to the rotation of games we were playing, so it became two rounds of 2/5 NL hold 'em, one round of 5/10 limit Omaha Hi/Lo and one round of 5/10 Triple Draw. Everyone really loved playing Triple Draw, and I was happy that they took to it so easily that it became a standard game.

But man, Omaha Hi/Lo and Triple Draw started killing me. I'll be the first to admit that I'm a novice at these games, and it showed. When my hands became second-best on the river, I'd pay off raises. When I tried a turn semibluff, I quickly realized that doesn't work so well when you're up against the nut hi and the low draw doesn't come on the river.

I worked my stack down to about $150. I was getting tired and a little bit cranky. If it weren't a home game, I would have quit playing a long time ago. But they needed me to keep the game going, and I had already told the host I would stay until midnight. Besides, home game etiquette kind of comes with the expectation that you'll stay a while.

In the NL round, I limped with T7s from the button in a four-way pot.

The flop came T97 rainbow. I felt pretty good as it was checked to me and I bet the size of the pot -- about $30. I found two callers, which made me slightly uncomfortable.

The turn brought an Ace. After some thought, I decided that the Ace was a good card for me. I didn't read my opponents as having improved their hands. When it was checked to me, I went all in for $122.

The girl in early position hemmed and hawed before calling, and then the smart guy to my right thought for a while. As he was thinking out loud, it became clear to me that he had T9 for a better two pair.

He said he almost folded, but instead he made the overcall in hopes of winning the large pot. It was a strong read on his part that paid off big. The girl had 97 for bottom two pair.

I pulled for my one-outer, that 7 on the river, but an Ace fell instead. I was busted, and it was time to go.

As I drove home, I got to thinking about why I was pissed at myself.

Did I play the hand poorly? I don't think so. Being a short stack, I feel fine about pushing all in for the opportunity to double or triple up with two pair.

Was it the money? No, a $300 loss isn't anything to get worked up about.

I decided that I simply don't like losing, especially in front of other people. I also realized that I should have bought in for a bigger stack, even if no one else bought in for more than $200. I mean, if I'm comfortable with a larger stack, then that's what I should have been playing with.

Then it hit me.

I hadn't lost! It should have been a chopped pot!

The final board was T97AA. I held T7, and the other player had T9. But that Ace on the river gave us identical five-card hands! My lack of observation had cost me about $225.

Bah. I called back to the game and told them about it. It was already too late to try and go back in time and claim my money, but my opponent said he would take care of me next time.

We'll see. I have no one to blame but myself.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Thou shalt not bluff calling stations

Don't let anyone tell you the games are too hard to beat since Party Poker shut out U.S. players. The virtual ATMs at the tables are giving it away.

I was wondering while I was playing today whether some players have a hard time consistently winning because they can't handle calling stations.

Always remember: Don't bluff at calling stations.

Calling stations are great for the game and they should be easy to beat, but sometimes it's difficult to resist the temptation to fire bullets at them in a vague hope that they will fold or that your miracle card will come on the river.

The way to beat calling stations is to dumb down your game. Play ABC poker. Wait for premium hands and bet them. Tone down preflop aggression with middling cards because your continuation bets will be less effective. Just about every bet or raise you make should be for value because you believe you have the best hand or can extract a large amount if you hit.

Calling stations are boring to play against. They can absorb your chips with flat calls. They won't respect your raises. They don't understand your moves. They can't seem to find the fold button.

But they're also very profitable because they'll pay you off more often. After all, it's what they do best.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Honu win!

The North Shore Honu win the Hawaii Winter Baseball championship!

How awesome is it to be able to watch a baseball game the night before Thanksgiving?

The Hawaii Winter Baseball league was formed using minor league players associated with the Majors and from Japan. Its inaugural season started Oct. 1 and concluded tonight in Les Murakami Stadium on the University of Hawaii campus. It made me so happy to know that baseball was being played in the middle of the Pacific in the dead of the offseason.

It was a pretty good game. The Waikiki Beachboys and the Honu were all tied up at 1 run apiece until the Honu scored 2 in the eighth and 2 in the ninth to win 5-1. I didn't recognize any of the players, but maybe I will remember them if they ever make it to The Show. This league also ran in the mid-90s before being disbanded. During that run, Ichiro and Jason Giambi played here in Hawaii before anyone knew who they were.

A little more than a thousand fans showed up. It was a decent crowd. Everyone was friendly and having fun, but the allegiances to the teams weren't strong since the league is so young. I saw some fantastic defensive plays and speedy pitching. I object to astroturf and they didn't play "Take Me Out to the Ballgame," but I don't have any other complaints.

I loved watching the Honu pile up on the field to celebrate their win. Even though it was a short season on a team made up of players who didn't know each other two months ago, they still seemed excited to win the four-team league.


Hand of the Day

Sometimes pocket Aces become worthless very quickly, but usually it's hard to let them go.

In this hand, my decision to check-fold wasn't difficult. That board was disgusting.

Full Tilt Poker
No Limit Holdem Ring game
Blinds: $5/$10
8 players

Pre-flop: (8 players) HERO is MP1 with :as :ad
2 folds, HERO raises to $35, 3 folds, SB calls, BB calls.

Flop: :tc :ts :9c ($105, 3 players)
SB checks, BB checks, HERO checks.

Turn: :jc ($105, 3 players)
SB bets $65, BB folds, HERO folds.
Uncalled bets: $65 returned to SB.

Final pot: $105

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Does position matter when you're planning to move all-in preflop?

Here's my idea: Position matters before making an all-in bet preflop in a tournament because your chances of winning the hand increase if earlier position players have already folded. I'm not sure this thesis is correct, but I want to put it out there.


Experts say that going all-in is the ultimate equalizer.

An all-in bet freezes time and equity values forever. The bet wields the most pressure you can possibly muster.

Most of all, it eliminates considerations of position because your action in the hand is done and your decision final.

Ah, but there's a problem, at least for me. When I initially read about all-in bets neutralizing positional disadvantages, I internalized that to mean that position doesn't matter if all the chips are going into the pot. That may not be correct.

Yes, after you make an all-in bet, positional values lose meaning. But not before you make the bet.

Before you push, you need to consider all the players left to act behind you.

If I hold Ax under the gun and I push a short stack into the middle, the rest of the table has an opportunity to consider their chances of busting me and taking my chips. In a nine-handed game, eight other players with 16 unknown cards may call me with hands of relatively even value or far greater value -- anything from KJ (42 percent) to AK (70 percent) and many middle pocket pairs (70 percent).

If I can try to make my last desperation bet after a few people have folded, I may have already increased my odds of either picking up the blinds or racing against a weaker hand.

For example, if it's folded to me and I push with Ax from the cutoff, I'm facing six unknown cards rather than 16 if I were under the gun. I don't know how to use math to prove or disprove that it's better to be facing 6 unknown cards than 16, but it intuitively appears to improve my chances if I'm against fewer players.

Conventional wisdom regarding 1) the importance of moving in when your M gets low, and 2) being the first one into the pot when you go all-in still apply.

What I'm suggesting seems like common sense: that your proximity to the last position (which is the big blind in the preflop betting round) could make a significant difference in whether you decide to risk your tournament life.

But lacking math or knowledge, I don't know if my impressions are right. Maybe M and first-in vig so far outweigh the importance of position preflop that position hardly matters.

Let me know. Thanks.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Clamped down

Near the bubble, the FTOPS main event got a little rough.

With the blinds at 400/800 with a 75 chip ante, my stack started to wear down as I folded every hand that was dealt to me. The money was agonizingly close.

Entering the 400/800 level, I knew I had a chance of winning a few hundred dollars just by folding. I'd have to be careful, but I also wanted to keep my eyes on the bigger prize -- the $224,634 for first place out of the $1.2 million pool. More than 2,400 people entered the tourney, and the top 351 made money.

It took me seven satellites to win a $535 entry for this event at a cost of $89 after I had cashed in a couple of the donkfests. I finally (!) won a single-table $75 turbo tourney that gave an entry to the first-place finisher.

My M was near 4.5 at the beginning of the 400/800 level. I needed to somehow make the money. I went into lockdown mode, waiting for the right opportunity to steal enough chips to survive.

Here are the hands I saw:

88 (folded to an early position raise when I was in middle position)

I folded every single hand.

If you've ever played a tournament, you know the pressure that builds up as your stack dwindles to near nothingness. Your chips, your lifeblood, are bleeding away. With every chip you lose, that's one more chip less that you'll have if you ever do double up.

I was ready to push in. I didn't want to wimp my way into the money. But I also knew that I had to avoid busting to win anything at all.

Somewhere near the end of that horrifying run of pathetic cards, the bubble burst!

When that level ended, I was in big trouble. My stack had dwindled to 5128, and the blinds were going up to 500/1000/125. Based on the numbers alone, with an M of 1.95, I needed to push with almost anything.

Or did I have to?

This is a troublesome spot. Entering the new round of blinds, I had two hands before the blinds hit me. Once the blinds took their chunk of my stack, I'd be crippled.

The first hand, I was dealt K7o. I decided to fold yet again and try to endure. I hope I'm not making up excuses, but I didn't want to put my stack on the line with that hand from MP1, especially when almost every other player at the table had enough chips to call me with anything.

Because I felt like I didn't have much folding equity, I tried to get a better value.

I kept waiting as I folded and folded:

A5 (I know you're going to tell me I should have pushed here UTG)

Now my stack was laughably low. I had 2503 chips left, only slightly more than a minraise.

At long last, I saw a beautiful pocket QQ, which I happily pushed all-in with. They held up over a big stack's 96 out of the big blind, and I had doubled up.

The next hand, I went all in again for 6,256 with ATo. Everyone folded. Then again, with AQs, and everyone folded. In three hands, I had picked up 9,000 chips.

It was amazing. With 11,000 chips, I was still below average but in better shape than most players at my table.

After losing 2,000 from the blinds and antes, I went all-in again with ATo and got called by KK. A Ten on the turn gave me hope, and the Ace on the river doubled me through. I was alive!

The blinds went up to 600/1200. Everyone else at the table folded super fast when I raised my first hand back from the break with AQs.

From there, I made a couple of steals but the blinds started catching up with me again. I pushed with QJs against 66 and caught a J on the turn. A few hands later, at 1000/2000/250 blinds, I pushed with TT against QQ. For the first time, my luck failed me.

I'm happy, though, to go out in 158th place with a payout of more than $1,100. Thanks to Daniel, who had a piece of me, as well as railbirders and fellow entrants.

My bubble and post-bubble play is questionable. At some points, my stack got so low that all I needed was a face card (or less) to justify putting all my chips in the middle.

I held on for a long time, knowing that the best I could hope for in most situations was a coin flip. To win, you have to survive. In each of those agonizing hands, I believed my best chance of staying alive was to fold.

I've bounced out on a lot of bubbles. This time, tight play kept me in it until I finally went out 193 spots after the bubble had popped.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

UIGEA update

Six weeks after Congress passed its anti-gambling legislation, there are still more questions than answers about the future of online poker.

It's likely that the real force of the law will be to dry up the money supply by making it more difficult to make deposits. But we don't have a good idea of what our alternatives will be.

What company will emerge as the dominant payment processor? How will we transfer money into the sites? How effective this law will be? Will efforts to carve out a provision for Internet poker be successful?

So far, after the initial fallout of sites rushing to ban U.S. players, it's been business as usual. Where we play may have changed, but only a few people quit logging in as a result.

I found this link about possible WTO fallout insightful (thanks Chilly). If the U.S. and its businesses have to pay a price for this law, we might see political attitudes toward gambling change. The WTO may be our best shot at legalization.

The problem is that the WTO case -- and any other efforts to pass new laws in Congress -- will take time that we don't have. It's widely believed that Neteller will leave the U.S. market if it is determined to be a gambling site by the government. Many other mainstream payment processors such as Firepay already took that step.

What will happen? This 2+2 thread gives a decent analysis of what the law will actually do.

Unless Neteller is bought by a private investor and stays open for business, the most pressing issue for poker players is finding a new funding source.

It seems like ePassporte may become one option, as it's now a pretty widely accepted and privately owned option for deposits. But ePassporte's fees are high ($5 for every $100), and transactions are limited to $500.

There has also been talk about using phone cards to make deposits. While feasible, I'm not sure that method is palatable for most players.

Surely the poker sites are planning for alternate deposit methods. Right?

Friday, November 17, 2006

Full disclosure on Wicked Chops

If integrity is worth a damn in the world of Internet poker and blogs, Wicked Chops should come clean.

As reported by Haley at, Wicked Chops is run by a public relations firm in partnership with Internet gambling site Bodog. Wicked Chops has not disclosed its business relationship to Bodog on its site while it continues to present gossip, news and soft core porn as if it were a reputable information source.

You might think that this isn't a big deal. But I believe it's important that people know where their information comes from. In this case, it's coming from a site with an agenda to help Bodog without telling you that's what they're doing.

In the P.R. business, the agency's job is to present information with an angle to slant public opinion to the benefit of the client (Bodog). The truth is secondary to the primary goal of putting a good face on the news.

Wicked Chops does not acknowledge its relationship with Bodog anywhere on its site, instead falling back on the non-answer that "at WCP, we're not so much into journalistic integrity as we are into giving hugs."

It's obvious that Wicked Chops doesn't care about journalistic integrity. That's not exactly the point though. The point is that Wicked Chops isn't being up-front with its readers.

Anything you read at Wicked Chops may be compromised. If you didn't know that they were shills for Bodog, you wouldn't know to read the site with a skeptical eye. Be especially wary about posts concerning WSOP champion Jamie Gold, litigant Crispin Leyser, Bodog itself and Bodog's competitor sites.

I'm not saying that Wicked Chops -- or any other blog -- can't promote its business partners. But to do so in an underhanded fashion is dishonest and unfair to readers.


I've put some thought into this topic.

I get plenty of spam sent to my e-mail from advertisers who want me to promote products I've never heard of. I can't seem to read a blog these days without having to hear about ReviewMe, a site that is paying people to put product reviews on their blogs instead of actual content.

Commercialism has crept into nearly every well-known poker blog. There are so many advertisements, affiliate links and bonus code promotions on some blogs that I sometimes feel like a baseball fan walking into parks tarnished by ads plastered on every spare inch of wall space.

It's not wrong to make money. If anything, that may be the most commonly held belief among poker players.

But blogs, unlike poker, should be motivated by more than profit. They should carry some integrity and assurance that the information provided within isn't tilted toward corporate interests. And if their content does amount to little more than a press release, they should let their readers know that.

In that spirit, I have notified my two advertisers -- Fult Tilt Poker and Poker Source Online -- that I will be removing their ads from this blog at the end of the month. They're both fine companies, but I don't feel right anymore about taking their money if I'm going to complain about the excessive commercialization found on poker blogs.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Garage home game

My first home game since moving to Hawaii took place around an octagonal poker table in a garage on the top of an inland hill. There were six players, and we played two rounds of 2/5 NL HE followed by one round of a 10/20 spread limit Omaha Hi/lo (if that makes any sense).

I got off to a quick start against a guy called the Jet when I hit a set of 7s. A little later, I got some more chips from a set of 3s against a spunky chick who kept forgetting that she had to use two cards during the Omaha round. She kept seeing two pair on the board and saying, "I have boat!"

The other guys seemed to be about average overall. There wasn't much bluffing, and I saw some shockingly passive play with strong hands. I couldn't believe it -- no one can possibly make money if they don't put in money when they're ahead.

Admittedly, I was getting great cards. Many of them didn't get to showdown, but that doesn't mean the pots were small.

Finally, a big guy who smoked cigarettes and played often in this game won a large pot with something like Kings or a straight. On the next hand, I picked up pocket Queens from middle position.

I raised to $20, and the big guy reraised to $80 out of the blinds. I felt like he might be playing his rush or Ax, so I made it $250. He quickly moved all in.

My first instinct was that he had AK, and I almost acted. But then I slowed down. It was about $300 to call in a ~$750 pot. He moved in very fast, and he looked comfortable. He stared at me and then glanced away. I was starting to get the idea.

"What do you think I should do?" I asked.

"I came here to gamble," he said.

That was about the worst thing he could have said if he wanted a call. He wasn't a very good liar.

"No you didn't," I told him. "I fold."

He flipped over pocket Aces, and I was happy I took the time to make what was in retrospect a kind of obvious fold.

I built my stack back up to about $350 over my initial buy-in when I started to get tired and decided it was time to leave. I played one more round, which is usually a mistake.

On my second to last hand, I decided to take a stab at a pot. Nobody had challenged me all night, and I had just been dealt a suited hammer. I think I gave off a couple of tells when I smiled to myself and almost folded, but I couldn't let it go.

I raised one limper with my 7-2, and he called. The flop gave me a pair of 7s with an overcard on the board. I made a $50 continuation bet, and the other guy went all in for $39 more. Ug. I had to call.

What an embarrassing way to end. The other guy had a set of 4s, and I didn't improve.

But that's OK. I made a little money, and it may take something like the power of that last hammer for me to get invited back to the game.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Taking notes

Most every poker decision you make depends on reading your opponents.

What hands could they have? Are they more likely to play back at you because you've been raising a lot? Are they weak-tight? Tight-aggressive? Calling stations? Do they continuation bet? Are their betting actions inconsistent with the hand they're trying to represent? Are they making any rookie mistakes?

Your personal knowledge about poker can give you a partial answer. Pokertracker also helps. Taking good notes is another piece of the puzzle that often goes overlooked.

Writing down concise, accurate and useful notes on my opponents' playing tendencies really helped advance my game. In the past, I had always wanted to take better notes, but I didn't know how.

Then I took the first step: Resolving to take as many notes as possible, even if you don't know what you're looking for. Try to take notes on everyone. Try to make a note every hand. This will get you in the habit of note-taking until it becomes routine.

For example, some of the first notes I take on players are some of the most simple. I write down any time anyone posts a blind out of position. In itself, writing down "mp post" next to someone's name doesn't tell me much about the player, but it can be a useful clue when combined with all the other data at my disposal. Other examples of introductory notes I frequently take include "buys in as short stack," "minraiser," and "button limper." These initial preflop leaks often indicate deeper flaws in your opponents.

After taking a note on a player, sites like Full Tilt will display a green tag next to their screenname by default. You can change that green tag to any other color. This is largely a matter of personal preference, but my rudimentary system assigns a purple tag to loose players and a deep purple tag to players I know. I use a red tag to call my attention to an important note I have taken, often on a player that demonstrates a consistent behavior (such as always bluffing at the river, a tendency to semibluff check-raise when scare cards come, or a high attempt to steal percentage).

Notes on postflop play often prove to be the most valuable. Once you can get an idea about whether an opponent's small bets are for value or show weakness, whether he bets out draws or check-calls them, whether his check-raises show genuine strength or are used for information -- then you're on your way toward manipulating that player to the fullest.

It's rare that one note will tell the full story about a player, but every bit of information is a clue leading you to profitable answers. My note-taking system is far from perfect, but the act of watching other players will further understanding of your own game while helping you figure our your opponents.

Strong players win money because they're observant, gather information and then unleash it at a well-timed moment. Notes are a great way to harvest information to be used when the time is right. As always, I'm interested in hearing about other people's note-taking systems in the comments section.

Play gut!

Friday, November 10, 2006

Calling bluffs in position

A note to people playing against me:

Your pot bets after you miss your draws will cost you lots of money. It's often obvious when you are playing for a draw the whole way, and your turn semibluffs and river bets are some of the easier bluffs to spot.

One hand that comes to mind was when I flopped top pair-weak kicker Tens on a 34T rainbow flop. My opponent check-called the flop, the turn went check-check, and he bet the pot on the river. His 52 was no good.

On another hand, I flopped top pair-top kicker Jacks and raised the 5c8cJd flop in a battle of the blinds. My opponent called. When I got check-raised all-in after an offsuit 4 fell on the turn, I had to call. Of course he had the flush draw, which missed on the river.

These calls are heavily read-dependent, but I won't back down against a big bet when it seems likely I have the best hand.

I don't mind if you keep betting losing hands. It's easy money for me. Just know that you'll probably get called. That is all.

Create polls and vote for free.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

K-Fed: Unlucky in love, cards

The night before news broke that Britney was splitting with Kevin Federline, he was in the mood to gamble.

Player "kfederline" was playing on a 5/10 NL table, and by all appearances, he was on major tilt. Or, more likely, he's simply a horrible player.

Any time he lost a pot, he'd move all-in on the next hand preflop with any two cards. Any time he hit part of the flop, he was prepared to move all-in. He never saw two cards he didn't like to play, and misguided aggression was his only weapon.

But everyone has their 15 minutes of fame. K-Fed knows that better than anyone.

First he was re-raised all-in with one shortstack already all-in. K-Fed called with pocket fives vs. 77 and AK. The shortstack doubled up with his 77, but K-Fed won $1,886 against the big stack when no high cards fell.

"I told you if you believe in yourself, say your prayers ... yo," K-Fed said.

The player he busted warned K-Fed not to give his chips away too quickly. Unfortunately, too much of a good thing was not enough.

All-in with A8o vs. 66 preflop? K-Fed couldn't dance around a third six, and he lost a $1,162 pot.

Two pair vs. a straight? No good for K-Fed, and it cost him a $2,022 pot.

His pocket eights vs. my pocket Aces, all-in preflop? He called for an 8 in the chat window, but no 8 came. He lost a $2,025 pot to me on that one.

Finally, K-Fed put himself out of his misery by getting all the chips in with AKs vs. 99 preflop. True to form, his overcards didn't improve.

Aww, so sad to see him go. Who knows if this player was actually Kevin Federline, but why would anyone else make his name their player ID?

Poor K-Fed. Good luck on that custody battle.

kfederline: bye
Wyteazn shows two pair, Nines and Eights
Wyteazn wins the pot ($1,223) with two pair, Nines and Eights
kfederline: love you
kfederline is sitting out

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

No poker

I didn't get a chance to play yesterday because I had to work long hours for the election.

That's fine though -- I've come to believe that my worries over whether I'm playing too tightly are a reflection of a lack of confidence rather than a severe flaw in my game.

Thanks for the comments to my last post. My attempt to steal percentage is a decent 34. The reason I haven't been able to get my numbers up is that I don't like playing hands from the first two positions.

I could widen my starting hands. I could try to pull more bluffs. I could try to steal more. Or I could just play better poker and have a loose-aggressive mentality, even if it doesn't necessarily result in loose-aggressive numbers. What's important is that I play as best as I can, which is something I've not sure I've been doing well over the last few sessions.


Guitar Hero II is out!

When Being a Fake Rock Star Is Better Than the Reality

And the set list, ripped from the Wikipedia entry:

1. Opening Licks

* "Shout at the Devil" - Mötley Crüe
* "Mother" - Danzig
* "Surrender" - Cheap Trick
* "Woman" - Wolfmother
* "Tonight I'm Gonna Rock You Tonight" - Spınal Tap (Encore)

2. Amp-Warmers

* "Strutter" - KISS
* "Heart-Shaped Box" - Nirvana
* "Message in a Bottle" - The Police
* "You Really Got Me" - Van Halen
* "Carry On Wayward Son" - Kansas (Encore)

3. String-Snappers

* "Monkey Wrench" - Foo Fighters
* "Them Bones" - Alice in Chains
* "Search and Destroy" - Iggy Pop and The Stooges
* "Tattooed Love Boys" - The Pretenders
* "War Pigs" - Black Sabbath (Encore)

4. Thrash and Burn

* "Cherry Pie" - Warrant
* "Who Was in My Room Last Night?" - Butthole Surfers
* "Girlfriend" - Matthew Sweet
* "Can't You Hear Me Knocking" - The Rolling Stones
* "Sweet Child O' Mine" - Guns N' Roses (Encore)

5. Return of the Shred

* "Killing in the Name" - Rage Against the Machine
* "John the Fisherman" - Primus
* "Freya" - The Sword
* "Bad Reputation" - Thin Lizzy
* "Last Child" - Aerosmith (Encore)

6. Relentless Riffs

* "Crazy on You" - Heart
* "Trippin' On a Hole in a Paper Heart" - Stone Temple Pilots
* "Rock This Town" - Stray Cats
* "Jessica" - The Allman Brothers Band
* "Stop!" - Jane's Addiction (Encore)

7. Furious Fretwork

* "Madhouse" - Anthrax
* "Carry Me Home" - The Living End
* "Laid to Rest" - Lamb of God
* "Psychobilly Freakout" - The Reverend Horton Heat
* "YYZ" - Rush (Encore)

8. Face-Melters

* "Beast and the Harlot" - Avenged Sevenfold
* "Institutionalized" - Suicidal Tendencies
* "Misirlou" - Dick Dale
* "Hangar 18" - Megadeth
* "Free Bird" - Lynyrd Skynyrd (Encore)

Bonus tracks

* "Raw Dog" - The Last Vegas
* "Arterial Black" - Drist
* "Collide" - Anarchy Club
* "Elephant Bones" - That Handsome Devil
* "Fall of Pangea" - Valient Thorr
* "FTK" - Vagiant
* "Gemini" - Brian Kahanek
* "Jordan" - Buckethead
* "Laughtrack" - The Acro-brats
* "Less Talk More Rokk" - Freezepop
* "The Light that Blinds" - Shadows Fall
* "Mr. Fix-it" - The Amazing Royal Crowns
* "The New Black" - Every Time I Die
* "One for the Road" - Breaking Wheel
* "Parasite" - The Neighborhoods
* "Push Push (Lady Lightning)" - Bang Camaro
* "Radium Eyes" - Count Zero
* "Raw Dog" - The Last Vegas (Winner of the "Be a Guitar Hero" Contest)
* "Red Lottery" - Megasus
* "Six" - All That Remains
* "Soy Bomb" - Honest Bob and the Factory-to-Dealer Incentives
* "Thunderhorse" - Dethklok
* "Trogdor" - Strong Bad
* "The X-Stream" - Voivod
* "Yes We Can" - Made in Mexico

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

I'm ready for Vegas

It's not OK. Do you see why?


When I woke up this morning, I had a ton of problems with my car, my apartment door, my computer monitor, my digital tape recorder and my pedal-less bicycle.

By the time I finished work this evening, all those problems had been solved at a cost of only $60 to smooth out the dent in my car. That's a good beat.


I wish I could loosen up preflop, but I'm having a really hard time. Even when I feel like I've been playing looser in these NL 6-max games, when I go back to look at my PokerTracker stats, I find that I'm still only seeing about 20 percent of flops.

I don't think tightish play is terribly wrong, even in shorthanded games, because that kind of strategy helps increase the chances that you will have the better hand when you do play one. In addition, I find that playing tight helps me get through cold runs of cards with minimal losses.

But then again, I recently went through my PT stats to try to figure out how I possibly could have lost money after I had gone to bed the previous night thinking I had booked a winning session.

The reason, of course, was that the blinds really eat up your stack after a while. I don't know how I can play any looser without playing some junk hands.

I just don't see the point of playing bad cards. Maybe I'm missing something obvious here. Any thoughts?

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Blacker than the blackest black. Times infinity.

Sweet. Metalocalypse will have a song featured on Guitar Hero II.


In other news, the Rolling Stones canceled their Honolulu show, which really makes me mad.

All the other tour dates were rescheduled while Mick Jagger's delicate throat recovers, but not Honolulu. My guess is that they didn't sell enough tickets.


And now: A Hand Questionably Played

Two people ahead of me limp in a 3/6 NL 6-max game, I call one off the button with J9o, the button raises to $18, the blinds fold and everyone calls. Many times I would fold or raise J9o, but the table dynamics led me to call. Four people see a flop with a $79 pot.

Flop comes QT7 with two suited cards, giving me a vulnerable open-ended straight draw. The early position player bets $75, and I flat call. The two other players fold. I put my opponent on either a flush draw or top pair.

The turn pairs my Jack, giving me lots of potential outs that may or may not be good. The early position player checks, and I decide to put in a largish bet of $200, thinking I might get a fold.

Here's where the hand gets interesting. The other player check-raises me all in -- something I really should have thought about before I bet. His bet brought the pot to about $900, but I only needed to call $300.

I could be pretty sure I was behind, but getting 3:1 pot odds, I felt like I had to call with as many as 13 outs (8 for the straight and 5 for 2 pair).

The river brought a King, completing my straight! My opponent had T7 for a flopped two pair.

I ran the numbers later on, and I found that I was a 64-36 dog in the hand, meaning my call was justified. One question remaining is whether I should have bet the turn. I think it was OK to bet it given my read.


Oh October, how I will miss thee. It was my best month yet by far.

I'm just going to try to be careful in November after last year's Thanksgiving disaster, in which I got robbed while in the midst of a $6,000 downswing. Maybe I'm being silly and superstitious, but I don't want to go through that kind of bad run again.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Bodog + Pokertracker + Gametime = Money

I read somewhere about the DogWatch Handgrabber for Bodog and thought I'd give it a try. After all, the only thing that kept me from Bodog in the past was that I couldn't use PokerTracker with it, and this program finally would allow me to do that.

At first, trying to get DogWatch to work didn't go smoothly. I foolishly sat at a 3/6 NL table while I tried to get it to mine hands, but I didn't realize that the demo version of the software only worked on tables up to .05/.10 NL. That led to me blowing $300 when I hit the idiot end of a straight on the river. Boo.

Another problem I had was trying to get real-time stats overlaid on my tables, since PokerAce HUD doesn't yet support Bodog. But it didn't take me long to realize that the trusty (and free) Gametime+ alternative works just fine. I didn't find any mention of Gametime+ at all in the 2+2 thread, which at first made me think it wasn't compatible.

Here's how you get DogWatch set up to work on Bodog tables above $10:

1) Pay $19 for a registered version of the software.

2) In your Bodog client, under "Account & Preferences," make sure all the boxes under the "Game Details" tab are checked.

3) Click on the lightening bolt icon in PokerTracker and point it to your DogWatch hand history directory, which for me defaulted at C:\Program Files\DogWatch Handgrabber\HHData

4) Once you see that PokerTracker is collecting hands, use Gametime+ to select a player at one of your active tables, and stats should appear as normal. The players in Gametime+ will be listed with "(PTY)" next to their screen names because the hand histories are saved in PokerTracker in the Party Poker format.

5) You'll have to correctly align the overlaid stats to the players they match, but that's just common sense.

And there you go! You'll see all the 60 and 70 percenters that have been hiding out in the land without player tracking.

I've found the waters to be very fishy so far, but the software is kind of annoying. Sometimes it's difficult for me to keep track of the button and the previous action, but I'm sure I'll get used to it.


I got an e-mail from online payment processor Moneybookers yesterday saying they're closing shop for all gambling transactions with U.S. customers.

What wusses.

When I originally funded my Moneybookers account, I made a wire transfer to Germany to do so. Moneybookers also has some e-wallet business not associated with gambling, and no one knows whether federal regulators will put them on the list of banned Internet gambling sites as they form their rules over the next 200-something days.

I can understand shutting off your U.S. customer base once you know your business is prohibited, but doing so now seems premature. Maybe markets are efficient, but I haven't seen any evidence of it in response to the Internet gambling legislation.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

In the moment

I made at least two horrible mistakes during the first hand I played tonight, and it cost me on every street. That's not the way I wanted to start after taking the weekend off because of this nagging cold.

Lucky for me, the cards have no memory. Each hand is an individual event with no dependence on what has come before.

When each new hand is dealt, it's a new beginning. All sins are forgiven; all mistakes are erased. Any errors in the past can be corrected from this moment forward.

Only you, your opponents, your bankroll and your hand histories have any lasting remembrance of what came before.

Tilt is a futile expression of past mistakes affecting future decisions.


Bill Rini recently posted about the poker wisdom of Tommy Angelo. It's some pretty interesting stuff, especially when you go through his contributions to the 2+2 forums.

In one of Angelo's posts, he asks what a player should do with AA in the big blind after everyone limps -- a question similar to what I wrote about in my last post.

I was satisfied to read that his conclusion aligned with the idea that a large preflop raise is appropriate in these situations.

Then I delved into Angelo's poker articles, which I found to be insightful and well-written. One article is a classic -- his tale of the happy folder. I had linked to that article previously but didn't realize Angelo was the author.

I also enjoyed "the worst play ever." I'm looking forward to reading more.


After finishing tonight's session, I was reminded of a post from Human Head written a while back. He wrote about the danger of expectations at the table -- about how they can blind your decision-making once you're no longer playing the hand in front of you.

The cards have no expectation. They show no favoritism for one player over another. The poker gods don't hate you any more than they hate everyone else.

Hope and expectation are results-oriented goals. Focus on the task at hand rather than the outcome you want to come of it.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Dodging bullets made easy

You did everything right with your premium pocket pair.

It was raised to you, and you re-raised it right back with your AA. Your opponent called, and when the flop came rags, you made a sizable bet. Suddenly, your opponent puts in an unexpected raise, and you're forced to make a decision for all your chips. You can't put him on any hand that beats you except for a set, so you go for it. All in.

Of course your opponent has the set, and you lose your stack.

This scenario happens over and over again at the poker tables. Every minute of every day, someone is crying out over the injustice of their high pocket pair getting cracked by some miniscule pocket pair.

It's why sets are gold. It's why people love no limit hold 'em. It's why people say, "That's poker."

How can this be? There must be a better way than to go home, bemoaning your bad luck about getting involved in a "setup hand" that you were fated to lose from the moment you peered down at those pocket rockets hugging the virtual felt.

This is what I was getting at in my last post. How is it possible that both the player with pocket Aces and the player with the low pocket pair are both playing correctly? Are we destined to forever trade off chips like this?

Let's take a look back at that last hand.

It was folded to me on the button, I raised pot ($21) with pocket sixes, and then the small blind re-raised pot back ($75).

At that point, I had a choice to make. I had about a 7:1 chance of flopping a set, and I felt confident that I could probably win a large pot if I hit.

This is where implied odds figure so importantly into the equation. Both my opponent and I had deeper stacks than our $600 buy-ins. I had $829, and my opponent had $1,952.

I needed to call $54 preflop, and with 7:1 odds against me, I had to figure I could make at least 7 times that amount ($378) for my call to be worthwhile.

Against a shorter stack, it would have been correct for me to fold. But I knew I had a chance to make more than double that amount if I hit well in what was developing to be a large pot already. So I made the call.

I flopped my set, and the rest of the hand was a foregone conclusion. My opponent bet out 80 percent of the pot size, I raised him more than 3 times that amount, and he had to either fold or go all-in because the pot was so large already. Thinking I might have a drawing hand or a weak overpair, my opponent went all-in, and that was all she wrote.

There are only two ways my opponent could have escaped this trap. The obvious answer is that he could have folded to my raise on the flop, but as my previous commenters mentioned, that's a very tough fold to make at any stakes.

I didn't see the less obvious solution until Daniel suggested a point made in "No Limit Hold 'em: Theory and Practice."

When stacks are deep, it may be necessary to make bigger raises preflop to force drawing hands to either make unprofitable calls or fold.

In this hand, that means my opponent should have made a larger-than-pot-sized re-raise to around $120 or more, which negates the implied odds of me hitting my set because I would have had to pay too much up-front. Then the correct move for me would have been to fold my pocket 6s, and my opponent would have won a small pot rather than losing a large one.

This kind of large preflop re-raise ensures victory for the pocket Aces in the long run. It becomes -EV for me to call with my small pocket pair because over time, I will lose more from the times I call and miss than the amount I win when I call and hit.

(A note on math: Estimating implied odds is a tricky proposition based on your read of your opponent and many other circumstances of the hand. In the hand example I used for this hand, I guessed I would need greater than 7:1 implied odds to justify my call with pocket 66s based on the assumptions that I could trap my opponent, that my pocket pair would make a set on the flop 12.5 percent of the time, and that my opponent did indeed have the very strong hand he was representing.)

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Dodging bullets is hard

How could my opponent have played this hand better against me?

Full Tilt Poker
No Limit Holdem Ring game
Blinds: $3/$6
5 players

HERO has $829.10
SB has $1,952.50

Pre-flop: (5 players) HERO is Button with :6h :6d
2 folds, HERO raises to $21, SB raises to $75, BB folds, HERO calls.

Flop: :6s :9h :7c ($156, 2 players)
SB bets $125, HERO raises to $450, SB raises all-in $1877.5, HERO calls all-in $304.1.
Uncalled bets: $1123.4 returned to SB.

Turn: :kd ($1664.2, 0 player + 2 all-in - Main pot: $1664.2)

River: :8h ($1664.2, 0 player + 2 all-in - Main pot: $1664.2)

Final pot: $1664.2

SB had AA, and I collected the pot.

Obviously this hand turned out well for me because I put him on a strong hand preflop and guessed correctly that I could stack him if I hit.

But many times, our roles will be reversed.

If I'm the player in the small blind with AA, is it possible to avoid losing my money? How would you play the hand differently? How many people can fold AA on a seemingly benign flop like this?

Any comments are appreciated.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

5/10 Impressions

My bankroll finally made it to levels where I felt comfortable playing 5/10 NL. I've been amazed at how good the games are.

You might have guessed that the games were profitable from yesterday's post. Some of these players give away money like it's going out of style.

I've only been playing 5/10 games for three days now, but it seems to me that they're better games than 3/6 NL. I mean, there are plenty of good 3/6 games out there, but it seems like 5/10 is more loose and donkish overall.

For example, last night I opened up every 6-max table at 5/10 and 3/6 on Full Tilt. I waited until the table stats displayed, and I only sat at the loosest tables and to the left of the worst players. After about a half hour, I noticed I was seated at four 5/10 tables and no 3/6 tables.

Why would that be?

The only reason I can figure is that 5/10 games have a kind of symbolic significance to some players. They want to play in a game that they consider to be higher stakes, even if they don't have the skills or the bankroll to sustain it.

The result is that I find loose calling stations who are trying to play power poker and failing miserably. Never in my poker career have I had more overbets called, nor have I caught so many bluffs.

There are a lot of reasons why these games are beatable, but one rises to the top. Many of these fish are playing with scared money. They call when they should fold; they push all-in when they should check. They make wrong decisions based on hopes and dreams rather than odds and logic.

I'm sure the games aren't this great over the long run. It's only been a few days. But these tables certainly seem like a gold mine to me so far.

Let's have a Hand of the Day! Fuel55 might call it, "Overbetting for Value (Part 573)."

FullTiltPoker (6 max) - $3/$6 - No Limit Hold'em
Seat 1: pekingdream ($810.40)
Seat 2: josh3336 ($603)
Seat 3: smizmiatch ($1,478.60)
Seat 4: xcptmorganx ($836.05)
Seat 5: camelryder ($453)
Seat 6: roo_400 ($537)
smizmiatch posts the small blind of $3
xcptmorganx posts the big blind of $6
The button is in seat #2
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to smizmiatch [Td 9s]
camelryder calls $6
smizmiatch calls $3
xcptmorganx checks
*** FLOP *** [5s 6h 7c]
smizmiatch checks
xcptmorganx checks
camelryder checks
*** TURN *** [5s 6h 7c] [8c]
smizmiatch bets $12
xcptmorganx raises to $54
camelryder calls $54
smizmiatch raises to $1,472.60, and is all in
xcptmorganx folds
camelryder calls $393, and is all in
smizmiatch shows [Td 9s]
camelryder shows [2c Ac]
Uncalled bet of $1,025.60 returned to smizmiatch
*** RIVER *** [5s 6h 7c 8c] [3h]
smizmiatch (small blind) showed [Td 9s] and won ($963) with a straight, Ten high
camelryder showed [2c Ac] and lost with Ace Eight high

Tuesday, October 24, 2006


I just won my biggest pot ever! Man, I've never done whippits, but this is what I imagine they would feel like.

Here's the big hand:

FT, 5/10 NL 6-Max
Seat 1: RikaKazak ($1,000), is sitting out
Seat 2: truestthoughts ($2,838.50)
Seat 3: Alex511 ($2,365.75)
Seat 4: smizmiatch ($2,338.50)
Seat 5: spongato ($1,098)
Seat 6: nomed ($874.50)
truestthoughts posts the small blind of $5
Alex511 posts the big blind of $10
The button is in seat #6
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to smizmiatch [Js Ts]
smizmiatch raises to $35
spongato calls $35
Alex511 calls $25
*** FLOP *** [2c 9s Qs]
Alex511 checks
smizmiatch bets $80
spongato folds
Alex511 calls $80
*** TURN *** [2c 9s Qs] [8h]
Alex511 bets $270
smizmiatch raises to $850
Alex511 calls $580
*** RIVER *** [2c 9s Qs 8h] [2s]
Alex511 checks
smizmiatch bets $1,373.50, and is all in
Alex511 calls $1,373.50
*** SHOW DOWN ***
smizmiatch shows [Js Ts] (a flush, Queen high)
Alex511 mucks
smizmiatch wins the pot ($4,714) with a flush, Queen high
Seat 3: Alex511 (big blind) mucked [8d Ks] - two pair, Eights and Twos

I easily could have lost to a lot of hands. A full house or a higher flush draw were likely candidates.

But I wasn't too worried. I had been playing with this guy for a while.

Early in the session, I busted when I got all in with 3rd pair and a flush draw against his AK top pair, top kicker. He thought the world of himself after that play.

Lucky for me, that hand set up my first big win against him (with an overbet for value!):

FT, 5/10 NL 6-Max

Seat 1: Glazed ($1,228.10)
Seat 2: truestthoughts ($985)
Seat 3: Alex511 ($3,305.75)
Seat 4: smizmiatch ($1,000)
Seat 5: spongato ($966)
Seat 6: nomed ($1,830)
spongato posts the small blind of $5
nomed posts the big blind of $10
The button is in seat #4
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to smizmiatch [8d 7d]
Alex511 calls $10
smizmiatch raises to $45
Alex511 calls $35
*** FLOP *** [7c 5c 7h]
Alex511 bets $105
smizmiatch raises to $955, and is all in
Alex511 calls $850
smizmiatch shows [8d 7d]
Alex511 shows [6c 5h]
*** TURN *** [7c 5c 7h] [8c]
*** RIVER *** [7c 5c 7h 8c] [6d]
smizmiatch shows a full house, Sevens full of Eights
Alex511 shows two pair, Sevens and Sixes
smizmiatch wins the pot ($2,012) with a full house, Sevens full of Eights

Later on, we got it all in one other time. We both had large stacks, and we both had the same hand: top pair K with a Queen kicker. All the money went in on the turn, but I had a big edge because I had a draw to the flush. I was freerolling, but it didn't come.

Not that time.

After that hand, slb159 said, "If you don't take his stack, I'll never talk to you again."

I didn't have to wait long to get dealt that perfect JTs.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

101 ways to play better poker

1. Turn off the TV while playing.
2. Take lots of notes on your opponents.
3. Use PokerTracker.
4. Use PokerAce HUD.
5. Practice folding vulnerable top pair hands on the flop when out of position and facing aggression.
6. Don't play if you have something better to do with friends or family.
7. Don't play if you're distracted.
8. Don't play if you're chasing losses.
9. Don't play in games that are above your bankroll.
10. Read poker books.
11. Read poker magazines.
12. Read poker Web sites.
13. Read poker blogs.
14. Set a time limit for your session.
15. Stop playing the moment you start to tilt.
16. Sit up straight.
17. Buy an extra monitor. You'll be amazed how much the extra screen space helps you manage all the action flying around.
18. Find poker friends on instant messaging programs.
19. Find a mentor.
20. Be a mentor.
21. Write about poker, either in a blog or a journal. Putting your thoughts on paper will help articulate your strategies.
22. Have a reason for every action you take in every hand.
23. Don't overvalue information bets.
24. Put all your opponents on a range of possible hands on each street.
25. Trust your reads and act accordingly.
26. Memorize outs and probabilities.
27. Review your winning and losing hands after your sessions.
28. Don't call on the river if you know you're beat.
29. Don't minimum raise.
30. Don't be afraid of losing customers. You'll only get paid off anyway if your opponents have a reasonable hand.
31. Only play if you feel like you're up for it.
32. Don't play in the morning when you haven't yet completely woken up.
33. Keep close track of your play using a spreadsheet.
34. Don't use the buttons that allow you to check/fold in turn.
35. Think for yourself.
36. Learn something new every day.
37. Make friends.
38. When you don't know where you stand, lean toward folding.
39. Don't think there's some kind of secret to playing better poker. Poker skill comes incrementally over time, with experience and study.
40. When you don't know what to do, fake it.
41. Be confident in your play, even if you secretly doubt yourself.
42. Realize that your goal is to make the most money in the long run, not to prove yourself or to catch people bluffing.
43. Give up on small pots if you don't know where you stand. They simply aren't worth it most of the time.
44. Follow a routine when you play. Use the same chair, listen to music, shut out distractions and put yourself in a calm mindset.
45. Be keenly aware of both your shortcomings and capabilities.
46. Understand what you know and what you don't know.
47. Don't let superstitions override logic.
48. Gamble every once in a while. It's good for the soul.
49. Don't show your cards unless you're among friends.
50. Know that if you try to tilt your opponents at the table, you may end up tilting yourself.
51. Understand that you need to know yourself if you want to empathize with your opponents.
52. If you want to stop being a fish, quit acting like one.
53. Relax.
54. Pay attention to your table image, but don't forget that it's only one of many factors that go into your decision.
55. Think before you act! Before every decision, take your time and consider all your options.
56. Accept that you will get bluffed and learn to live with it.
57. Make the right move at the right time. Results-oriented thinking accomplishes nothing.
58. Have fun!
59. Don't turn into a calling station when running bad.
60. Weigh all the information you can before making a decision.
61. Learn to beat loose low-limit games.
62. Don't think higher-limit games are easier to beat because the players are tighter.
63. Don't be paranoid. Even if they are after you.
64. Quit using the "Bet Pot" button.
65. Never feel bad about winning.
66. Take responsibility for your failings and losses. Don't blame fate, the poker gods, the rigged sites or set-up hands.
67. Play other games besides hold 'em. They'll deepen your overall feel for poker.
68. Don't be an asshole.
69. Spend time on game selection. I prefer loose-passive games, and I will only play at tables that meet my minimum standards based on PokerTracker data.
70. Sit to the left of the worst player at the table.
71. If you get distracted, turn down the music, close the chat, change the screen background to plain, shut down player avatars and avoid Web browsing.
72. Only look for better tables when you're not involved in a hand.
73. Never post an out of turn blind. Save your money and come in when it's your big blind.
74. Attempt to align your goals of value and deception.
75. If you have a question, find the answer.
76. Don't expect a different outcome if you make the same mistake.
77. Don't feel sorry for yourself. Your luck is no better or no worse than anyone else's.
78. Question everything you think you know.
79. Keep your bankroll separate from "real life" money.
80. Learn how to quit as a winner.
81. Never bet against yourself in life or in games.
82. Form your own opinions, even if they're at odds with conventional wisdom.
83. Listen to both good and bad advice.
84. Do your best at all times.
85. Recognize and dispel self-destructive tendencies.
86. Don't be afraid to step down in limits if you're running bad.
87. Keep an even temper.
88. Play for the long run. Bad beats are just blips on the radar.
89. Get in while the getting's good. Who knows how long these lucrative games will last.
90. Be humble.
91. Play without fear, and make the best play you can given the situation.
92. People who chase straights and flushes go home on Greyhound buses.
93. When in doubt, play tighter. The additional cost in blinds is relatively insubstantial.
94. Have the serenity to accept the things you cannot change, the courage to change the things you can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
95. Don't let poker control your life. It's -EV.
96. Adjust your game based on shifting game conditions. A static strategy can be easily countered.
97. Don't worry if you're playing too obviously. ABC poker wins a lot of money.
98. Play games where you feel comfortable. It's hard to play your best game if the money affects your decisions.
99. Beware of any advice that contains the words "always" and "never."
100. Be honest with yourself. Self-deception will ruin your game.
101. Take all their money.