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.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Quick hits

Be careful!

Three phishing e-mails got through my gmail spam filter this morning. Two of them claimed to be from Moneybookers, and one was from epassporte. None of them was legitimate.


Play in the Big Game this Sunday on Full Tilt. You know you want to win all the vittles.

I plan on playing, but I haven't registered yet.

EDIT: A conflict came up, so I won't be able to play in the Big Game. It's too bad -- I was looking forward to it. I'll be there next time.


I noticed a couple of court rulings come across the wire today:

Court rejects Las Vegas speech ordinance

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) _ A federal appeals court on Friday nullified the last vestiges of a Las Vegas ordinance limiting speech in a downtown pedestrian mall.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected in its entirety a 1997 city ordinance that prohibited any form of solicitation and leafleting at the Fremont Street Experience.

Court limits authority of federal government at Indian casinos
WASHINGTON (AP) _ The federal government can't make rules for the ways Las Vegas-style games are played at Indian casinos, an appeals court ruled Friday in a blow to efforts to regulate the booming, $22 billion tribal gambling industry.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Welcome to the jungle

Check out these bloggers who are new to my blogroll! (Sorry I didn't add you guys sooner).

Chipper's Poker World
Creativity breeds Madness
Drawing Dead
Poking and Peaking
slb159 poker


Neteller indicates it may pull out of the U.S. market. Bill Rini gives his expert analysis.

Clearly this isn't good news, but I don't think there's reason to panic. The anti-gambling law still doesn't prohibit playing poker, my money is safe, and I'm convinced another site similar to Neteller will rise to prominence.

Of course Internet poker is taking a hit from this, but somehow it has never been more profitable for me. The games are still plenty fishy.


I had been using Site Meter to track content on this blog, but I recently switched over to Google Analytics. The reason? I wanted to find out what keywords people were using in Google to arrive here.

So far, I've only come back with three hits:

1) poker ace hud for full tilt poker
2) ptbb bb/100 means
3) money transfer mediums to poker stars

Not very compelling.

Fortunately, I've got some top search words right here, stolen directly from the Yahoo! Buzz Index.

1 Fear Of Halloween
2 Second Life
3 Department Of Energy
4 Steve Wynn
5 Heather Mills
6 Hubble Space Telescope
7 Environmental Protection Agency
8 Battle Of Thermopylae
9 Dionne Warwick
10 Michelle Williams

One thing was consistent between both Site Meter and Google Analytics. Visitors to this blog were equally likely to be using Firefox as they were Internet Explorer. By comparison, Firefox (which is great) only holds about 10 percent of the overall market share.

Greetings, geeks!


Future strategy post ideas:

_Deception vs. defining your hand
_How much should you loosen up in 6-max no limit hold em games compared to full ring?
_When should you continuation bet, and when should you wait for a turn steal?

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

New blood

I helped a friend of mine sign up at Full Tilt today. Who says there are no new fish anymore? I know plenty of newish players.

I hope my friend does OK. He seems much more interested in gambling than learning the game, which isn't a very good sign to start with. But he really likes the idea of winning money, so maybe that will compel him to tighten up and pay closer attention. I'm going to try to give him as much help as I can, but it's up to him in the end to make the right decisions.

I suggested he start at .1/.25 or a $6 tourney, but he wanted to jump into a .25/.50 6-max no limit game. He won the very first hand he ever played on the Internet, and his first buy-in lasted 45 minutes. That's a hell of a lot longer than my first five buy-ins lasted.

It's so fascinating to see poker from a new perspective again. Any two cards can win, position doesn't mean anything, and any pair or better is worth a call on the river because the other guy might be bluffing. It's not a good way to play, but it's amazing how many people never adjust and remain loose-passive. Of course I advised him about what I thought he should do, but he wanted to make a few of his own mistakes.

My friend's biggest problems were that he started to play junk hands when he got bored, and he paid off his opponents much too frequently. I think it will take him a little while to develop some hand reading skills, but at least he has a general knowledge of when to bet or raise. Calling and (not) folding are where he had problems.

After losing that buy-in, he played a $6.60 Turbo tourney and came in 6th, and then he joined a .1/.25 NL game. He treaded water for a little while, and then I took over for a few minutes and won him back all but about $15.

I hadn't played a session of my own yet, so I logged in for an hour of play late at night.

I sat to the left of David Chiu at one of my 2/4 NL tables. I won $100 in the time it took him to triple up.

He made a lot of minraises preflop and small probe bets on later streets. I don't think I could play that style and have it be profitable. I like to build pots with bigger bets and try to trap people for a lot of money.

I'm curious though about how he makes it work for him. I'll need to examine his hand histories, and I may report back if I find something educational.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006


The earthquake was kind of jarring, but there weren't too many damages on Oahu. Some of my friends lost glassware and plates, but everything in my undecorated apartment was fine. The quake struck the Big Island the hardest.

It 6.7 magnitude shaker lasted about 15 seconds as it seemed to shake my apartment building up and down. I think Poncey knew it was coming because he clawed into my mattress pretty hard right before it struck.

In retrospect, it was kind of cool. I had been through a few minor earthquakes before here and in Santiago, but nothing more than small trembling.

Power was out all day until 11 last night, and by that time I was already in bed because it had been dark for so long. And I didn't get to play any cards tonight snce I was kind of tired from work.

It's a good thing the earthquake happened early on a Sunday morning, when nearly everyone was still asleep in their beds. It would have been caused much more chaos if it had hit in the middle of a workday.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Chasing Losses: The Liveblog

Earlier in the day, I played some 3/6 NL and dug myself into a $400 hole, which isn't too bad but I want to keep my six-day winning streak going.

So now, at 11:28 p.m. (5:28 a.m. EDT), I'm trying to win that money back and keep the streak alive!

My biggest loss earlier was when I had AK and hit my K on the flop. I bet and was called. The turn brought an 8, and the fish min-check-raised me. I didn't know what was going on, and I should have folded. I had a good read on him, and his actions didn't make sense ... unless of course he hit his set on the turn. I lost about 3/4 of a buyin on that crap.

I also folded a set of 2s when a flush hit on the river, and I lost $210 on a failed three-bet steal attempt. Boo.

Now it's back to the action!

11:33: Man, traffic is really down at this hour, even though it's a Saturday night/Sunday morning. I guess it's to be expected, but I hope I can find some decent tables. At this hour, there are usually plenty of loose drunk donks out.

I'm currently playing 2/4 and 3/6 NL as my main games, but I'm willing to jump into a 5/10 NL game if it looks fishy. My bankroll is close enough to 5/10 levels for me to take a small shot if the game conditions are right.

11:36: I wish my new monitor were here. My secondary monitor blew out its power source somehow, and a replacement is still in the mail. That means I'm working off of only two screens -- my 21 inch monitor and my laptop. I never thought screen space could be so important.

11:40: My next door neighbor, who is talking on the phone outside on the porch, is soooo hot.

11:41: I felt like I played far too weakly in my session earlier today. I plan on doing something about that this time. I've sat down at a 2/4 and 5/10 table on Full Tilt. No hands to speak of yet except for JJ out of the big blind where I 3-bet a raiser and he folded preflop.

11:45: My game plan is to not do anything stupid. As long as I take my time and think every decision through, I should be able to get in with the best of it nearly every time.

11:51: Crap. I called a big reraise preflop hoping to bust these calling stations with T9s, but I missed the flop entirely. Fortunately, I won the next had with Ax top pair on the flop.

11:54: At risk of jinxing my computer system, I will say that MarkNet rules. MarkNet has been in great shape ever since I added that extra gig of RAM.

11:57: AK just went all-in vs. TT preflop in the 5/10 game. A ten on the flop and another on the turn ended that. I'm quitting this game -- it isn't as good as it sounds.

12:01: Lessons from limit hold 'em often still work in no limit games. Check-call, check-call, bet is a classic line in way ahead/way behind situations, and it frequently works as a way to control the pot and win the most money with a medium-strength hand.

12:10: Just got lucky when I hit a gutshot on the river with KTo and paired Aces on the board, but I didn't get paid off. Still, it was a nice river. I put the guy on a pair of nines.

12:20: "Folds to continuation bet" really is the best PokerAce HUD stat ever. If I'm heads up and I know my opponent will fold to a continuation bet more than 50 percent of the time, my move is obvious: bet. If my opponent does not often fold to continuation bets, I'll wait till the turn to bet anyway if I'm checked to. Even calling stations will usually fold the turn if they checked it to the lead bettor.

12:37: Just won a decent pot with turned trip 7s. I just called my opponent's river bet -- he wouldn't call any raise unless he had me beat with a better 7, a straight or even an unlikely boat. Turns out he was betting a busted straight draw.

12:39: Crap. Those winnings were erased when I got in with the worst of it twice vs. a short stack. Whatever. Shortstacks will pay later.

12:45: Dammit!!! This is infuriating. Pocket 3s called me on the flop and hit on the turn, and it cost me my stack. Those turned two outers are nearly impossible to read. I guess now I'm at least 1K in the hole for the day.

12:50: OK, just won some of it back by busting a half-stack with top pair, top kicker AQ. He had second pair Tens.

1: Come on. Give me a good hand and a caller. Any day now.

1:03: Ug. I called this huge fish with A5o out of the big blind. I flopped an Ace and check-raised him. He reraised me, and I folded. Weak.

1:08: I finally get dealt AA and flop a set of 8s in consecutive hands, but neither get paid off. It's got to be coming.

1:10: Grrrrrrrrrr. Just ran my top pair and an open-ended straight draw into a set of Tens. We got it all-in on the flop, and I didn't improve. Stupid cards should hit for me.

1:17: Just hit a gutshot on the river vs. KK. That was worth $100. Woohoo.

1:28: There it is! Doubled up based on a ballsy read that my top pair Kings while I was holding KQ were good. My opponent had A8 for third pair and a flush draw, so I guess he was slightly ahead when the money went in. Still, I like my play and the double up that came with it. That should put me within $600 of even.

1:34: I need a beer.

1:36: Flopped a set of 3s, and got a guy to call my flop check-raise. Unfortunately, he folded to my half-pot turn bet. Then I lost $50 on the next hand when I called the same guy with KJo and whiffed on the flop.

1:41: Even in a 6-max game, there's nothing wrong with playing tighter preflop when you feel like you want to play it a little bit safe. The lost blinds don't add up to much.

2:08: There it is!

A loose-aggressive fishy player fired three bullets, and I called him down with JJ in position to win an $1,800 pot in a 5/10 game. The flop came non-threatening cards, and I called his flop and turn bets. The river was a kind-of scary Queen that could have completed a flush draw. But I held my breath, stuck with my read and called his half-pot all-in bet. If he really had me beaten, he probably would have reraised preflop or check-raised me on the flop rather than leading out. Score!!!

Total for the day: +$58. That was some hard-earned money, but my winning streak is alive. Make it seven straight days.

I'm outta here.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Play your best game

Sometimes, things work the way they should.

Best hands hold up. Probability doesn't laugh at you. Fates aren't tempted. AA beats KK; two pair overcomes flush draws. Good players win and bad players lose, and you haven't thought about the word "suckout" in days.

I'm in that zone now. See? Good runs really do happen!

I don't think there's anything special about this run. Few things in my game have changed. I'm getting paid off more often, my bluffs are working and I'm frequently turning or rivering hands that I'm drawing to.

But of course I feel like I'm playing well also.

I'm focused, reading hands well, laying down losers, controlling the pot size, trusting my instincts and making plays based on the numbers.

Speaking of numbers -- if you aren't using PokerTracker and PokerAce HUD in every game you're playing, maybe you should stop and ask yourself why. I know it's been said a million times before, but these tools give you an edge that many of your opponents may already be exploiting. Why would you deny yourself the same resources? They're priceless to my game and have made me thousands of dollars.

I used to always wonder how strong players ended up with so many winning hands. It seemed like they were always on an incredible run. That's the way I feel now. Lots of hands aren't playable, but I'm finding a way to win more often than not with the ones that are.

Running good is a nice luxury. I'll enjoy it while it lasts. The only way I know to make it last longer is to keep the same attitude, confidence and attention.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Semi-drunk blogging

Full Tilt is staying, Poker Stars is staying, Neteller is staying, Party Poker shot itself in the foot and all is right in the 'verse.

Play at Full Tilt! Word is that they'll let anyone get 27 percent rakeback as long as you didn't sign up with an affiliate previously. Full Tilt was the first site to show a strong commitment to U.S. players, long before PokerStars and Neteller finally made statements.

In celebration, I made some rash but promising sports bets. I took Michigan at -6 over Penn St. and Pittsburgh at -7 over Kansas City. In my uniformed opinion, Michigan will crush Penn St., and Pitt seems to be at a low point and looking for a rebound ... and they won me that Mansion bet.


There was as Roy West column in CardPlayer a few weeks ago that caught my eye.

He says Mike Caro is the father of modern day poker, and that solid players are better off at a table full of solid players that at a table full of weak recreational players. I think he's on crack.


Played in the Mookie today. Went out when I limp-raised most of my stack with KK, got called by a shortstack who had AT and a late position player with pocket 2s. I pushed the flop, which unfortunately contained a 2. I hate tournaments.


The poker boom is dead. Long live the poker boom.


I guess I'm becoming more of a 6-max NL player, just because it's easier to find juicy shorthanded games.

It's fun. I raise with medium-range hands, then I hit on the flop and my opponents think I'm bluffing. It's been working more than ever. I should write a post about how I like limit hold 'em, but no limit is so much more profitable for me.

Enough rambling. Play good poker and watch the money flow.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

New wave

Poker must have missed me.

I'm on a steady three-day run since returning from last week's cashout. Full Tilt is doing me well so far, but I'm disappointed with their full ring tables. I guess no site's full ring game selection could rival Party's.

So I've been playing a lot of 2/4 NL six-max, and dominating. I'm playing smart and precise poker. Thank you Party for letting me leave!

Tonight I got a couple of guys on tilt when I called one guy's river bet with a better second pair, and then called another guy's river bluff with second pair in a three-way pot when he missed his flush draw.

That set up my most profitable hand of the night. I called a reraise from the small blind with pocket 3s and got to see a flop for $36 in a three-way pot. Both of my opponents were loose players with deep stacks.

I flopped the set and slowplayed it until the turn, when my opponent picked up a flush draw in addition to his top pair of Jacks. He went all in, and I called in an instant. River was a blank, and I go home happy.

Then he launched into some hilarious table chat about all the Party Poker players who are screwing up his game on Full Tilt. I loved it, because I'm one of those players:

wrestle1234: i am talking about the hand that just hanppend
Dealer: smizmiatch wins the pot ($133) with two pair, Aces
and Kings
oz27: hahaha
wrestle1234: retard
wrestle1234: guy calls 36 with 3/3
wrestle1234: knowing he has to hit set to continue
Dealer: smizmiatch wins the pot ($10)
wrestle1234: i have top pair
wrestle1234: A kicker
wrestle1234: and nut flush draw
wrestle1234: lol
wrestle1234: ever since all the fish came over
wrestle1234: they been catching far out chances like crazy
wrestle1234: tempting them to play retarded even more
FullCurl: /nice play smiz
wrestle1234: fullcurl doesn't have a clue
wrestle1234: no one bothers about what he says
wrestle1234: he got lucky once
wrestle1234: and hasn't done anything since
wrestle1234: except lose it back
FullCurl: lol
wrestle1234: i won't beat u tonight though
wrestle1234: i can't win with anything
wrestle1234: i flop two pair and someone has set
wrestle1234: i flop set some catches a draw
wrestle1234: i get PP ........someone has higher one or
catches A like here
wrestle1234: then is dumb enough to slowplay it twice ina row
wrestle1234: as i have been saying
wrestle1234: ever since party announced closing down to
wrestle1234: been some pretty pathetic players on here
wrestle1234: and then fulltilt starts letting runner runners take a
lot down

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Waiting in the weeds

The tables seemed tighter than they should have been tonight, but that didn't matter. I managed to win a buy-in anyway.

It's silly how some people will make a small mistake and let it become a big one. Tonight, my profits came from a guy who limped with AA. I called with J9o from the small blind, flopped two pair and turned a boat. When he raised me on the turn, I pushed all-in, and it was all over baby.

I think I'll like Full Tilt as my new home. I've always thought the software and gameplay was good, but I haven't been anything more than an occasional player there for a long time. The game selection of Party Poker, the high rakeback percentage at Eurobet and juicy bonuses across the poker universe kept me busy over the last year and a half.

With those distractions gone, Full Tilt was the logical choice.

The games weren't as good as I would have liked. I constantly had to keep looking for better tables as I was playing, and the donkeys seemed to bust too quickly once I found a game to my liking. I'm not saying the games at Full Tilt are rocky or anything. It was just that kind of night where I had a hard time settling in.

It didn't matter. With accurate reads and smart plays, I can win money off any type of player. I don't always need loose-weak opponents, although they're still my favorite brand of fish.

This is how poker should be. I should be able to win money by virtue of the fact that I'm playing my best game rather than waiting in the weeds for a calling station to pay me off when I finally do hit a big hand. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Online poker will always be profitable for solid players, but we'll have to be prepared to constantly adjust to a changing climate -- which is what we do at the tables every day anyway.

Monday, October 09, 2006

I'm back

That was a long week away from the tables, but my fears have been eased and it's time to get back to the action.

Full Tilt won me over. Their statement showing commitment to the safety of players' money and to alternate deposit methods really appealed to me. The $500 bonus was just icing on the cake.

So I threw part of my bankroll in Full Tilt, whose software, business and customer service have always been better than the industry norm. The fact is that Full Tilt is the only site I trust right now. I'm ready to hear something from Poker Stars, but they still haven't publicly said whether they're going to stay open to U.S. players once President Bush signs the anti-gambling provisions into law.

My first impression upon my return to the tables was that my multitabling skills weren't quite as sharp. I had a hard time managing all the "seat open" notifications popping up while also trying to monitor new tables and play hands. Of course, this is a nice problem to have -- Full Tilt lets me have up to 16 tables open at a time! That's so awesome.

Despite my slowness in table selection, my game was still very good. I felt more confident about my play than I have in a while, just because I had time to think about the fishyness of my average opponent over the last week.

Two hands made my night:

In the first, I raised in late position with Q9s in a 6-handed 2/4 NL game. The small blind called, and the flop came 8-high rainbow. The small blind checked it, I continuation bet, and he called. The turn paired my 9, so I made a $70 pot bet in position hoping to take down the pot right there. The villain called. The Q on the river gave me two pair, and I went all in. My opponent called with TT, and I'm saved by the river!

In the second hand, I picked up a lot of outs on the turn with AQs and went all in, and my opponent folded.

I stopped playing after one hour because I wanted to have a drink with a friend who had just seen the season premiere of Battlestar Galactica. Damn, it's an awesome show. I still think Gaius and Colonel Tigh's wife are cylons.

It's good to be back.

Friday, October 06, 2006

New article on anti-gambling law

Check out this insightful AP article about the effects of Congress' anti-gambling legislation:

'Black Friday' effect of Internet gambling measure fuels exodus

It's written by Daniel, our plugged-in friend at Poker Cats. The article quotes two great bloggers, Scurvy and Gracie.

ATLANTA (AP) - Internet poker players and other gamblers in the U.S. have withdrawn thousands of dollars from their Web-based accounts while some gaming sites have raced to block U.S. residents' access to online poker, casinos and sports-betting just a week after Congress approved a ban on banks doing business with the sites.

"It was really the Black Friday of the poker industry," said Nolan Dalla, spokesman for the World Series of Poker, referring to the legislation's passage Sept. 30. "This is clearly going to hurt the game, its players and people in the industry." ...

Mild optimism

Happy Birthday, Poncey! He turns 4 this month, and he's still energetic, healthy and fun.

I'm sitting on my bankroll for now as I wait and see how this Internet gambling prohibition works itself out.

I don't know what's going to happen, but I can't get away from the idea that Americans' ability to play online poker with a minimal amount of trouble hinges on Neteller.

If Neteller remains a viable option for funding gambling accounts, then online poker will continue to thrive. Neteller is easy to use and already preferred by most Internet players.

It appears that government regulators will have to decide whether Neteller counts as a gambling site after President Bush signs the law. Neteller officials have not made any announcement about whether they will change their business practices in response to the Internet gambling bill.

But if Neteller does not accept transactions from U.S. players, it may take a while for the games to recover. Sure, there will be workarounds and loopholes, like using a phone card to transfer money or finding another foreign bank that can act as a middleman for gambling transactions.

Unfortunately, while those alternative funding options are viable, they're far from preferable. Hard-core gamblers would take advantage of them, but many bad players would not. It's just too much trouble to try and dodge the law for games that are losing propositions for most people.

How many of us will be winning players if fish can't deposit money?

Where there's a will there's a way, especially in a large, hugely profitable worldwide industry like gambling. But the phone card solution might not be much of an answer.

UPDATE: Full Tilt has gone on the record as saying they will continue to offer funding methods for U.S. players.

"We will continue to provide our players with all of the safe, secure and convenient methods for transferring money to and from the site. In fact, in recent discussions with our payment processors, we have been assured that this new law will have no immediate impact on their day-to-day business. And as always, any monies that you have on deposit with Full Tilt Poker remain completely safe and secure."

Thursday, October 05, 2006


I played poker tonight! w00t.

A couple of friends and I were going to watch the Tigers-Yankees game (go Tigers!), but it got rained out. So we played a three-player tourney for a $30 pot. These guys didn't really know what they were doing, and I was able to take down the prize pretty easily.

I'm not even going to record the win on my poker spreadsheet.

It's amazing how much time I have on my hands now that I'm not spending two hours a day playing. I hate it.

Any time I buy something, I can't think of it in terms of big bets. When I shop, I can't tell myself I'll make back that money later. Any spending is straight out of my paycheck now. My secondary income source disappeared.

My plan is to sit on my bankroll for a couple of weeks and see what happens. Hopefully Full Tilt won't budge and Neteller will grow a pair. But if things go bad in the online poker world, I need to figure out how I'm going to invest it. Maybe the stock market.

Let's see some links on the gloomy state of the poker world:

_FAQ regarding the internet gambling legislation
_New anti-gambling law won't stop online bettors
_Follow the Money

In poker's absence, I did a deep cleaning of the apartment.

I decided I hated the carpet covering my hardwood floor, so I trashed it. Then I cleaned the kitchen, bathroom and living room like mad.


Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Cold turkey

"Can you let me go to hell the way I want to?"
--Wild Bill Hickock, "Deadwood"

I'm bored. I should be playing poker or clearing a bonus.

Instead I'm trying to put off washing the dishes while writing an e-mail response to my dad about a media conspiracy column he sent me in the mail.

I started reading a new book. I played Guitar Hero and beat "Cowboys from Hell" on Hard for the first time. I paid bills. I read mail. I watched four episodes of "The Shield" from Season 4. I used a coupon for two free tacos from Jack 'n the Box. I watched part of "The Colbert Report." I read Sports Illustrated. I tried to go out and get drunk, but nobody was up for it on a Monday night.

This sucks.

My bankroll is being safely deposited in savings and checking accounts. Neteller came back online slightly behind schedule and quickly transferred my money. Every site was efficient with cashouts.

I know this isn't the end of the world. Lots of people are continuing on with poker life as normal and acting as if nothing happened. I would guess that only a small minority of players have emptied their accounts like I did, even though there's no FDIC insurance in the Wild West of illegal gambling.

And maybe everything will be fine. Perhaps no one will lose their money, and maybe even online poker will eventually make a comeback.

But why would anyone trust Party Poker -- or any other site -- to protect their accounts if things get a little more rocky? This is the same company that has terrible customer service, can't give its customers a straight answer and has made every move with an eye on the here-and-now rather than the future. This is a company that has shown little concern for cheating and masked a rake increase in its Monster jackpot promotion (which will now help bankroll Party's planned expansion into new international markets). This is a company that stabbed its skins in the backs and then rebought them when they hit bottom.

I don't think there's reason to panic, but there's also no excuse for acting oblivious to the shitstorm hitting the online gambling industry.

Today was Day 1 without Internet gambling. It's a world of salaried pay and a 9-6 job. After work, there's no hope for riches or dread of horrible beats. I don't get to feel superior when I bust a fish with my Aces vs. his pair of 3s because he thinks I'm bluffing. I can't yell at myself when I make a true donkey move. I can't use my poker skills nor try to learn new ones.

Poker is the perfect distraction. I listened to music, IM'd, took notes, made moves. I felt up or down depending on how I played. I didn't have to waste time dwelling on my consistent lack of a girlfriend, my friends' issues or my worry about the direction of the world. And I could tell myself I was being productive because I was making money.

For now, it's over. It's back to a normal life.

"And that's the hardest part. Today everything is different. There's no action. I have to wait around like anyone else. ... I'm an average nobody. I get to live the rest of my life like a schnook."
--Henry Hill, "Goodfellas"

Monday, October 02, 2006

Cut and run

It's been a good run.

But now it's time for all the troops to come home. Party Poker, PokerStars, Paradise, Pacific and others are reportedly banning U.S. players. Party Poker issued a memo saying they will stop transactions with U.S. customers. Both PartyGaming and Neteller have seen their stock prices drop by 60 percent so far today on the London Exchange. Neteller's site has been down for "scheduled maintenance" for hours.

I think it's safe to say that leaving your money with any poker site is a risk at this point. Even if you trust a site, there's no guarantee that it will remain solvent when it loses a huge chunk of its business. I know Party Poker relies on U.S. customers for nearly 80 percent of its business.

So this is how the poker bubble will finally burst -- in a flurry of election-year legislation attached to a port security bill. President Bush is expected to sign the anti-gambling legislation into law with in the next two weeks, and possibly as soon as Wednesday.

Personally, I felt like the poker legislation as it's written wasn't a cause for serious worry. Yes, it was broadly worded, but I thought offshore businesses and banks like Neteller would simply ignore the American law and continue to do business as always. The law doesn't appear to regulate intermediary sites like Neteller, and I thought it would simply become the mainstream workaround of this law.

But because the sites are falling over themselves to ban U.S. players, they've accepted defeat by assuming the worst. Even if the anti-gambling bill is completely unenforceable, it has had the desired effect.

Is this really the end?

I don't know. Everything is in doubt right now.

If this is the last time we play poker on the Internet, it's good to go out with a blast.

Use your player points to accumulate as much junk as you can before it's too late. Win some money quickly. Get your money out while you're still ahead. Make sure everyone knows the way our elected representatives do business. Work for change. Inform yourself.

Most of all, be proud that you were a part of it: hole cams, Chris Moneymaker, Shana Hiatt, 2+2, the blogging community, the boom, free $1,100 bets, Bill Fillmaff, horrible losses, incredible recoveries, suckouts, good beats, smart asses, fanboys, chip tricks, vacations, friends.

They can ban online poker, a game that I love. But they can't take away the experiences -- and the money -- that came from my anonymous friends, the fish who were always waiting for me at the tables, any hour of day.