Wednesday, August 29, 2007

HUC5, PLO and Hand Combos

I lost in two straight games to lifesagrind in the Heads-Up Challenge on Full Tilt. Lifesagrind is one of the more aggressive heads-up players I've faced, and he kept me at a disadvantage most of the time. Then he finished me off when I held QQ and KK, so what can you do.

I really prefer PokerStars's heads-up games that have no blind increases. The rising blinds really alter the feel and style of heads-up play, and they make for shorter matches.


I've still been playing some Omaha, and it's a really fun game when I win. When I lose, I feel like a lost idiot. One cool part of it is that you can get people's money when they have the worst of it by far, something that seems harder to accomplish in hold 'em:
pokenum -o 7d 6s 4d 6c - ad qc qd js -- tc 5d 8d 9c
Omaha Hi: 40 enumerated boards containing Tc 9c 8d 5d
cards win %win lose %lose tie %tie EV
6s 6c 7d 4d 1 2.50 39 97.50 0 0.00 0.025
Js Qc Ad Qd 39 97.50 1 2.50 0 0.00 0.975
That was my biggest PLO hand so far, an $800 pot in my first time playing 2/4. And no, my opponent didn't suck out the straight flush.

I'm still pretty bad at this game, but I just need practice. I think it'll help develop postflop skills in general.


Roy Cooke wrote an article in this month's CardPlayer that discussed a topic I have wondered about in the past. He discusses considering the odds that your opponent holds one of a limited number of hands that your opponent may have based on a narrow read. It should be easy enough to memorize and apply:

Keep these numbers in mind for hand-reading, and use them when defining your opponents' hands and reckoning your price. There are six possible combinations of any pair; for example: J J, J J, J J, J J, J J, J J♣. If any one of them is accounted for in your hand or on the board, the number of possible combinations drops to three; for example, if you hold the J: J J, J J, J J. If two are accounted for, there is one possible combination. There are 16 possible combinations of two unpaired cards, including the suited ones; for example, A-K or J-10. If one is accounted for - for example, you hold a king and are analyzing the possibility of your opponent holding A-K - the number of possible combinations drops to 12.

So, the odds that your opponent has:

Any pair: 6 possible combinations
Any pair with one card accounted for: 3 remaining combinations
Any pair with two cards accounted for: 1 possible combination

Two unpaired cards (like AK): 16
Two unpaired cards with one accounted for (like AK with one King out): 12
Two unpaired cards with two accounted for (like AK with one King and one Ace out): 9
Two unpaired cards with two accounted for (like AK with two Kings out): 8
Two unpaired cards with three accounted for (like AK with three Kings out): 4
Two unpaired cards with four accounted for (like AK with three Kings and one Ace out): 3

Monday, August 27, 2007

Link Monday

Q&A #83: Adjusting to a Deeper Stack AKA What's Wrong With Playing for the Big Score: I like Ed Miller's thoughts on the need to bluff with connectors.

Folding the Nuts: PLO fun here with Todd Brunson.

Sometimes juicy-looking drawing hands have horrible equity on high card boards. I found it interesting how low the odds for my top pair Kings with an open-ended straight draw fell when my opponent held the AA overpair, which naturally robbed me of some outs.

Calling Reraises with Suited Connectors: This post by Fuel stuck with me. I much prefer to play suited connectors in position, but regardless of position they can pay off when they flop big.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Learning Pot Limit Omaha

I've been getting into Pot Limit Omaha the last few days, and it's been a lot of fun (when I've been winning). I didn't know what I was doing yesterday, but today a few tips from Lyle Berman's section of "Super System 2" make me feel much more confident.

Admittedly, I don't have much experience in PLO, but all of Berman's advice seems great for helping me learn the game. I lost a tiny bit playing 1/2, .5/1 and .25/50 the last few days, but I more than made up for those after reading a bit of his chapter.

My first impression is that these games are filled with dead money. They're extremely loose -- far looser than you can find in any hold 'em game anywhere outside of play money. A big reason for that is that you can open up a bit in PLO, but seeing between 80 percent to 100 percent of flops probably isn't a good idea! Don't tell the fish.

Here are a few of Berman's early recommendations that struck me as reading his chapter. The whole book is online for free on the Doyle's Room Web site, which is a tremendous resource. Thanks to Kuro, who originally posted the link some time ago.

_ Berman points out that implied odds are much smaller in Omaha because, "For example, if you're drawing to the nut flush and you hit it on the river, there is a strong chance that nobody is going to call you. Therefore, although you must be aware of your implied odds in Omaha, you must also realize that there's a good chance that you may not get called on the river if you make the nuts."

_ On bet sizing, he suggests typically betting the size of the pot preflop and on the flop, while betting closer to half-pot on the turn and river.

_ He mentions that there's less bluffing: "Most of the bluffing in Omaha happens on uncoordinated flops, and they usually are made by a player sitting in late position."

_ On raising preflop, the book suggests never raising from early position or the blinds. "Here is the general rule: do not raise before the flop from under the gun or from the two blind positions, because you'll be over-committing yourself to your hand." There's also a great section about how to play Aces in Omaha.

_ Any starting hand with two pocket pair has about a 25 percent chance of flopping a set.

The chapter also discusses interesting ideas about playing drawing hands and recognizing the relative strength of wrap draws, backup draws and defensive flush cards. There are also a few great stories about classic hands he remembers playing with guys like David "Devilfish" Ulliot and Bobby Baldwin.

Omaha is an action game, and I can only see it increasing in popularity.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

"Blacklist: Recovering the Life of Canada Lee"

My friend Kenny Kilfara is trying to finish his documentary and he could use your support. Please consider helping helping him out, even if it's just a little bit. Thanks!

Here's a copy of the e-mail he sent out recently:
Greetings to you all,

Thought this was really exciting, wanted to share it with you: I'm on the homepage of Film Threat Magazine:

In other news, our documentary BLACKLIST: RECOVERING THE LIFE OF CANADA LEE ( recently received some nice funding, but we're still looking for more, so if you know anyone who might be interested in contributing on the grassroots scale ($5, $35, $105, $1005 +) check out our fiscal sponsor:

Blacklist is the fifth title from the top.

Also, Evan Evans, son of Jazz legend Bill Evans, has asked to compose music for the film!

Hope you all are doing well. Please help spread the word.

My regards,

Kenny Kilfara
Blacklist: Recovering the Life of Canada Lee

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

FTOPS Main Event

I was pumped and ready to go for the FTOPS Main Event on Sunday. I played super tight and finished in 402nd place for a $915 prize.

I had qualified for the event through a satellite the night before on my fourth or fifth try, at a total expense of about $250. So I got into the $535 event for less than half price, and I'm now convinced that satellites are the best way to go. I don't know why I was so skeptical of satellites in the past, but they really are filled with some of the biggest gamblers and worst overall players.

After playing this tournament, I find that I really agree with Blinders thinking that tight play gets paid off in MTTs. Sure, it's nice to open up your game a bit when you have a big stack or the blinds are low. But in general, most of the time I couldn't afford to be messing around with many middle-of-the-road type hands unless I was pulling off a steal or squeeze play.

And let me tell you, it's those steals and squeeze plays that kept me alive and made me the money. I only won one hand at showdown for the first four hours of the tournament, and yet I was still able to survive with a playable stack. It's all thanks to steals and resteals. I was very conservative and didn't try them unless I thought I had a high probability of success. I wish I had the balls to make more steals, but the ones I did worked often enough that I only had to pull them off every once in a while. Really, one steal every few rounds worked wonders.

Overall, I saw about 14 percent of flops this tournament, and my table average was usually around 18 percent. Almost everyone was playing tight, and the biggest donks went out fast.

For the first few hours, my biggest hand was KJs when I hit top pair on the flop, bet it out, got called, and then check-raised all in when I picked up a flush draw on the turn.

Then I waited and waited and waited, with some steals thrown in. Thankfully, the bubble passed very quickly. People were busting out all over the place.

At one point I got very short stacked and had to push with A3o from MP. Everyone folded. Then I picked up AK and pushed again from UTG+1. Everyone folded. Then I was dealt AK again!, and even though I was healthy this time, I thought there was a much higher probability of getting an all-in called, so I pushed all-in a third time. Everyone folded. That was fine with me because those blinds alone tripled my stack in three hands.

The biggest hand of the tourney came when an early position player who seemed a little weak and would minraise a lot of hands came in for another minraise. I had him well covered with an M around 7 or 8 or 9, so I pushed all in when I saw AQ. He thought for a while and showed AJ. I was in great shape until he pulled out a backdoor flush on the river. Yarg!

In another big hand (I'm a little fuzzy on whether it happened before or after the previous one), I called two all ins ahead of me when I was shortstacked with AK. The flop hit me, and I tripled up.

But I never recovered from that AQ vs. AJ hand. It wasn't long before I pushed J8o and got called by the big blind. I couldn't suck out a gutshot on the river and I was done.

I was happy with my play though, and it was a great event. I loved the 5,000 chip starting stacks in what was the largest tournament in Full Tilt history, paying out nearly $400,000 to first place with a prize pool of around $2.3 million. I would have liked to have played looser, but I felt like I really had to pick my spots well. Next time, I'm going to donk it up a bit more in the early game. If anything, I got too much respect, if that's possible.

Congrats to cmitch and lucko, who played great tourneys and also made the money.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Bluffed by a n00b

When I arrived at the home game last night, it was four-handed, with two of the players just learning the rules and basics of Omaha Hi/Lo. The guy who runs the game had promised new blood, and here it was.

I really like helping new players, so I gave them all the advice I could. I wanted them to at least know the rules and basic strategies before they started gambling.

A few hands into the 5/10 game, I was dealt Jd 9c 8s 4d in the big blind -- an unplayable hand in O8 unless you can simply check your blind, which I did. The flop came down with something like KQ2 with one diamond, giving me a weak straight draw and a backdoor flush draw. The flop checked around.

The turn brought the Td, giving me the second nut straight and a diamond flush draw. I bet out $10, and only one of the new players -- a woman tournament player -- called me. My read was that she had something, but I figured she would call with a wide range and only raise with the nuts.

The river brought a low diamond, maybe a 5, to complete my flush. Naturally, I bet out $10, fully expecting to get called with some two-pair-type hand that I could take down.

But then she raised! I was shocked. She had a big smile on her face as she looked down at her cards, clearly ecstatic over hitting such a monster hand. I knew pretty quickly that my J-high flush was no good. It was so obvious.

Still, I was leaning toward calling just because she was new to the game, and who knows what unpredictable players hold sometimes. Then she opened her mouth.

"I have to show this hand," she said.

My cards hit the muck pretty damn fast. There was no doubt in my mind I was beaten. It wasn't even worth $10 more.

She turned over a hand with TTT6.

"Four of a kind!" she said.

I buried my face in my hands and had to laugh. Of course, since you can only use two of your cards in Omaha, she really had three of a kind. She had made a common mistake of new players who forget that three of one card in your hand is usually worthless.

What's worse, I had been bluffed off the best hand by a player who didn't even know she was bluffing!

I got her back though with a fake bluff of my own. In a 2/5 NL hold 'em round, I bet my one-card flush draw on the turn and caught top pair Kings on the river. I bet $25 into the small pot, and she mucked, saying she had only made a baby flush on the turn.

Good times. I love live poker.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Heads-Up Challenge coming up

I hope lots of people sign up for the HUC5, organized by Fuel. It's only $30 to enter, and it'll be a lot of fun. Everyone should be able to play because each pairing can organize matches based on their own schedules.

Here are the details, copied from Fuel's post about the HUC5:

Number of Players: 32* (first pay, first served)

Entry Fee: $30 (paid in advance to Fuel55 at FullTilt or Stars)

Places Paid: 4 (1st thru 4th will be paid $432, $288, $144 and $96, respectively)

Structure: Preliminary rounds will be best of 3 and Final 4 will be best of 5

Organization: Players will have 5 days per round to organize and complete their match - the winner will give me the match results

Suggested games: Poker Stars HU SNGs with NO blind increases** - these games are the true test of skill and don't ever create "shootout" situations. Of course each pairing can determine the game/price point that best suits them. And, of course, side bets are encouraged.

* If the response is particularly overwhelming I will consider increasing the field to 64 players.

** These SNGs come in a variety of entry price points ($105, $52.50, $31.50, $21, and $10.50)

Once you pay please email me your full name, blog, user name on Stars and Tilt so that I can compile a player database. As always my email is fuel55 at veltheer dot com.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Good things happen to me all the time

The river is kind. I love being on the other side of the suckout coin. All three of these hands were against the same deep-stacked loose player, who had nothing left by the time I was done with him.

This hand is the best of the bunch:

5/10 NL
Donk is SB: $3,050
Hero is BB $2,627
Dealt to Hero [ Jh, Jd ]
MP calls $10
Donk raises $25
Hero raises $100
MP folds.
Donk calls $80
*** Dealing Flop *** [ Ks, 5s, Tc ]
Donk checks.
Hero bets $200
Donk calls $200
*** Dealing Turn *** [ Js ]
Donk checks.
Hero bets $500
Donk calls $500 He really should have raised me here
*** Dealing River *** [ 5h ] Gin!
Donk checks.
Hero is all-In for $1,817.
Donk calls $1,817
Donk shows [ Qs, Ts ] a flush, King high.
Hero [ Jh, Jd ]a full house, Jacks full of Fives.
Hero wins $5,261 from the main pot with a full house, Jacks full of Fives.

Moving right along:

Dealt to Hero on button [ 7c 8s ]
MP raises $20
Donk in CO calls $20 Big mistake here...
Hero calls $20
BB calls $10
*** Dealing Flop *** [ 6d, 7s, 3d ]
BB checks.
MP checks.
Donk bets $50
Hero calls $50 I know he'll pay me off if I hit
BB folds.
MP folds.
*** Dealing Turn *** [ 8h ] Of course I hit
Donk bets $170
Hero raises $450
Donk is all-In.
Hero calls $750.
*** Dealing River *** [ Kd ]
Hero shows [ 7c, 8s ] two pairs, Eights and Sevens.
Donk shows [ Jc, Jd ] a pair of Jacks.
Hero wins $2,582 from the main pot with two pairs, Eights and Sevens.

That was nice. Now to finish him off...

Donk posts small blind $5
Hero posts big blind $10
Dealt to Hero [ 7h 6s ]
Donk raises $15
Hero calls $10
*** Dealing Flop *** [ 8s, 4c, 2h ]
Donk bets $10
Hero calls $10 I'm not going to fold a gutshot straight draw against this guy for $10
*** Dealing Turn *** [ Kd ]
Donk bets $40
Hero calls $40 I think I'll get paid off if I hit. He's steaming
*** Dealing River *** [ 5h ] Was it ever in doubt?
Donk bets $150
Hero is all-In.
Donk calls all-In for $495.
Donk shows [ 4s, 4h ] three of a kind, Fours.
Hero shows [ 7h, 6s ]a straight Four to Eight.
Hero wins $1,428.28 from the main pot with a straight, Four to Eight.

I run so good.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Losing hand analysis

I've been going through a few hands that cost me my stack during this recent poor run on Full Tilt. They cover a broad range, including bad beats, poor play, setup hands and failed bluffs.

Let's take a look at a couple of them that stand out:

In a $5/$10 NL full ring game, two early position players limped in, and a middle position player with a $717 stack raised to $55. I woke up with AA and reraised him to $175. Both early position players folded, and the middle position player called $120 more.

Naturally, he had a pocket pair of 6s, flopped a set, and then check-raised me all in on the KQ6 flop.

Was this hand preventable? I don't believe it was.

I'm happy with my re-raise preflop because I gave my opponent very poor odds to continue. He had to call $120 when he had $662 left, and he would only flop a set about one out of eight times. Even though he busted me, he didn't get paid off enough for his call to make money in the long run.

Then on the flop, the hand played itself. I bet $300 into the $385 pot, and he check-raised his last $542, meaning I had to call $242 more into a $1,227 pot, which is an instacall in my book. He could so easily have AK or something stupid like a flush or straight draw. The pot was laying me roughly 5:1, so even if I had been up against KQ I would have to call with a 27 percent shot of sucking out, according to twodimes.

OK, maybe that hand was a bit pedestrian. But I feel better having reviewed it.

The way I played this next hand might be a bit more controversial:

In another 5/10 game, an UTG player limped, I raised from early position with AJo and got called in three places. That's not good, and when that happens, I usually figure that I'm done with the hand unless I flop huge. I'll be out of position, and most of the hands I can improve to will be second-best.

So what did I do? I got myself into trouble.

With $195 in the pot, the flop came QK9 with two diamonds. All four players checked.

What is going on here? I would have thought that anyone with a real hand would have bet considering the dangerous board texture.

The turn brought a 2, putting two clubs on the board to go along with the diamonds, and the UTG player bet $75. It seemed like a very weak bet. I had a gutshot straight draw, and no one had shown strength. I chose to raise to $275 in hopes of taking down the pot right there.

But then one of the middle position players cold called my $275! Huh? I figure this guy, a loose calling station, must have been on a draw. Any strong made hand would simply have had to raise in that spot on such a draw-heavy board in a multiway pot. The other MP player and the UTG player folded, putting us heads-up.

Based on my read, I decided to push my last $680 if the river came with a non-threatening card.

The river was just what I was looking for: another King, to make the final board QK92K. None of the draws got there, and I'm in good shape to represent at least trip Kings, if not a boat. So I follow through with my plan and push all in.

The MP calling station Hollywooded the call for a few seconds before calling with 22, for the turned set and rivered boat.

Looking back, I think my biggest mistake in this hand was raising AJo from early position in the first place. I got myself into trouble in a multiway pot out of position with a hand that's very vulnerable.

I like my no-bet on the flop because I had nothing against three opponents on a dangerous board. I also like my turn raise, which I made based on a correct read that the UTG player was weak.

Since I put the remaining player on a draw, I also don't mind my river all-in bet. Against anything but the near-nuts, I would have taken down a large pot with a big bluff. Instead, I got stacked because I made an incorrect read based on the turn flat call by the loose-passive MP player.

Even though I can defend all of my plays in this hand, I don't feel good about it. I could have gotten away from it on any street, but instead I busted without even a pair.

On the other hand, I made what I thought were strong reads and acted aggressively based on my reasoning. Criticism on both hands is welcome.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Bonus Trap

Well, crap.

I went busto on Full Tilt, leaving my total remaining bankroll a shade over $30,000. Sure there were bad beats, but it was ultimately my fault for losing there.

Long story short: My Full Tilt account reached a high of about $45,000 sometime around January, but then I withdrew $25,000 in spring, mostly to pay taxes. Various losses,transfers and backing deals brought my Full Tilt roll down to $3,600 before this week's bonus. Then I started playing the bonus at 5/10 and quickly lost 2 buy-ins, then played 2/4 until it was gone.

Now, this isn't a major disaster or anything because I'm still healthy at other sites. But it is stupid and embarrassing to have gone all the way to $0 on a site. If I were to do things over again, I wouldn't have played higher than 2/4 on my limited roll, and I would have stopped before my account got too small to have a good chance of coming back.

There are lots of reasons for losing on Full Tilt, including a bonus-chasing mentality that gave hands played a higher priority than money won. I love bonuses, but that's just dumb.

Another problem was that I didn't leave myself with enough money on Full Tilt to play the limits I wanted to, and I was unwilling to drop below 2/4.

On the other hand, I knew that there was a chance I would lose by playing with relatively little money in my account, and I'm not overly pissed off that that possibility came to pass. Shit happens, and I was aware of the risk going in.

I'm left feeling the same way about my game that I did around this time last year -- I know everything I need to know to win, and it's just a matter of execution to make it happen.

I should be careful when playing bonuses. I can make big folds. I can be at peace with unsuccessful bluffs. I should quit playing if I'm not thinking clearly. I can slow down. I can handle the downswings.

I know the right plays at the right times, and there's no reason to feel lost at the table unless there's something wrong with my mindset.

It's all the same old shit. Poker players are at war with themselves to play their best games and do what they know is right. So do it.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Use your credit card to play online poker

It's quick. It's easy. It works.

U.S. poker players can deposit money into Full Tilt Poker, PokerStars and Bodog accounts using your Visa or MasterCard. This isn't new exactly, but it seems like many people may not know about it.

I deposited to Full Tilt using my MasterCard for the first time today so that I could be credited with my $500 deposit bonus. I had to e-mail Full Tilt a few times before they would increase my deposit limit from $600 to $1,000 so I could take full advantage of the 50 percent bonus, but once they did, the process was super easy.

I clicked on the MasterCard option. I typed in my credit card number and three-digit security number. I waited 20 seconds for the transaction to be approved. And then the money was there.

A lot of people may have stopped playing poker or busted out after Neteller left the U.S. market. With few ways to get money back in to the poker sites, the games seemed like they got tougher.

Now, some of the players who didn't play because they didn't have an easy way to get money into their accounts will hopefully come back to the tables. By using a credit card, you don't even need to set up a third-party account through ePassporte or Click2Pay, which can take days or weeks to verify.

It's kind of funny how Full Tilt seems to have gotten around banks' inhibitions about being used to fund gambling sites. The transactions are processed through outside businesses that are not related to gambling. In my case, after I made my deposit, I received an e-mail from Full Tilt that said my deposit would show up on my credit card bill as a transaction with a video game Web site. Whatevers.

It should also be said that some credit cards may not process the transactions, but I know a few people now who have deposited without any difficulties at all. In some cases, even credit cards that didn't work in the past are successfully processing transactions now.

When it comes time to withdraw money from online poker sites, I've been requesting paper checks through the mail. I've done this several times with no problems.

So whip out your credit card and play some pokah!

Friday, August 03, 2007

The Easy Way Out

A good old notebook post, the crutch of any lazy writer:

_ Full Tilt offered me a new bonus. Click on Requests --> Check my Bonus Offer to see if you got one too.

_ Wait, I thought tournaments were for donkeys. I agree with the thought that tournaments are harder to win than cash games, but that's obvious because of the large fields and luck (combined with skill) needed to win one.

Just because tournaments are harder to win doesn't mean they require more skill, just that they require different skills. Many comparisons are faulty for this reason.

When it comes to the discussion of what game is "better," that's a decision for each individual player to make. Smart players should choose whether to specialize in tourney or cash play based on which holds the greatest potential for profit in the long term.

Tourneys are a sucker bet for a high percentage of players chasing a big score. If you're one of those players (like me) who is a lifetime loser in tournaments, you're probably better off finding a game you can win. Anyone who tells you different is probably just trying to add more dead money to the prize pool.

If you like cash games more than tournaments, you'll probably agree that they are both more fun and more profitable. But if you're a tourney donk, you'll likely disagree, hence the debate.

_ I've seen a few blog posts recently that have mentioned in passing that you should tighten up in a loose game.

Perhaps this strategy works for some players, but I've always found it to be better to loosen up in a loose game. When more players are entering the pot each hand, they're less likely to be playing strong cards and more likely to commit big bets with a second-best hand.

If you don't loosen up in loose games, you're missing out on many opportunities to bust fishy players.

_ When I first played triple draw on PokerStars a few months ago with SoxLover, we got to talking about a blocking bet I made on the river. I don't remember the exact circumstances, but he suggested that blocking bets were largely pointless in triple draw.

I find the same to be almost always true in no limit hold 'em as well. Blocking bets on the river can serve a purpose, like when you're willing to pay a set price with a marginal hand that wants to see a showdown, but you think your opponent would bet a higher amount if you checked.

For the most part though, bets in NL hold 'em should be either as a bluff or for value, or a combination of the two (like a semibluff). Those kinds of bets serve the specific purpose of either winning the hand immediately, adding more money to the pot while you're ahead or building a pot when you have good odds.

Blocking bets achieve none of those goals.

When I think I have the best hand on the river but think there's more value in check-calling than value betting, I'll do so rather than throw out a suspicious minibet that can't call a raise.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Vista Trip Report

My old computer, MarkNet, served me well for the three years since I bought it after winning the Golden Nugget's Sunday morning tournament during my first trip to Vegas. After three years though, it was time last week for any upgrade.

So I build a nice new system with an Asus motherboard, a dual-core Intel chip, 4 GB of RAM, a 4GB ReadyBoost drive, two GeForce video cards, 280 GB hard drive and a fresh install of Windows Vista Home Premium. This is my new home computer, MarkNetII, and I'll be using it mostly for poker.

The Good:

This machine can handle everything I've thrown at it so far.

I ran a bunch of applications at the same time with no problem at all: 16 tables on Full Tilt, PokerTracker, PokerAce HUD, Firefox, TMPEnc, Nero, Azureus and iTunes. So basically I was able to datamine the maximum number of tables, play at a few of them, surf the net, encode a video, burn a video, download files and listen to music at the same time, with no noticable slowdown.

This is a distinct improvement over my old computer, which could only handle four of five Full Tilt tables with PokerAce running. Encoding and burning videos were out of the question. Other sites didn't use as many resources as Full Tilt, but I still didn't feel comfortable that my system would stay stable with too much other crap running at the same time.

Vista seems stable, and I also like the feel of the Aero theme. Most XP programs work fine on Vista.

The Bad:

Vista is still a bit clunky. Computers should be easier to use, and we still have a ways to go. In the words of the Wall Street Journal's Walter Mossberg, "Why shouldn't a PC work like a refrigerator or a toaster?"

Vista has a new layer of security that requires you to run many programs as an Administrator rather than them just working automatically from the start. I'm all for security, but why is it necessary for me to select "Run as Administrator" before PokerTracker, PokerAce and the poker site will work together? And does this really make my computer any safer? Then, after you get everything set to run as an administrator, applications still give you a warning every time you open them saying, "An unidentified program wants to access your computer" before they will run. It's kind of a pain.

When I first set up the computer, I tried to transfer all my files over a USB cable using the new "Windows Easy Transfer," but it didn't work. I attempted it several different times, and an error came up each time. So instead I fell back on Belkin's PCSync software that came with the USB cable, and that did the job.

Still, I thought I wouldn't lose my PokerTracker hand histories if I just copied them directly over to a new hard drive. Apparently I was wrong because I needed to do a separate backup beforehand because I use Postgres, as instructed to in this thread. I know I should have checked the forums first, but is it too much to ask for things to just work? So I lost all my hand histories, which sucks.

Overall, I'd say Vista is a definite upgrade. It's smooth and can do what I want it to. But I wish there were something better, and my understanding is that Linux isn't there yet either.