Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Mookie time

Outlasted most of the field but fell short of the final table. Out in 16th of the field of 90 runners.

More later after I look over the hand histories. Pretty disappointed in how I went out. It didn't help that a bunch of people started playing bingo and the best hands kept getting cracked, including some of mine.

[Edit] My good blogger pal RecessRampage took down the Mookie in an epic battle. He delivered a hellacious beat with A6 cracking AA headsup to regain the chiplead he'd had for most of the final table and ultimately took it down for a seat in the TOC and a pretty nice sum of first place money. Congrats to Alan!

Sunday, November 25, 2007


Somehow this lucksack nearly made it to the final table at this large buy-in event. It did seem as if my presence in the gallery inspired the dealers to finally give him some premium hands which he used to great effect to double up in the first hour of day two from an average stack to a much bigger one. ;) This allowed Fuel to avoid marginal situations as he leveraged his stack throughout the day to reach the top ten in chips. Fellow blogger and golf enthusiast Ryan caught up with us at the dinner break.

Sadly, he never quite managed to maintain a huge stack to coast into the final table as he went card dead for quite a while and got a bluff snuffed out and a steal picked off to get a little short-stacked as the field dwindled down to the final thirteen. And he finally ran into a total setup hand to bust out in 12th, as he will doubtlessly describe in great detail over at his blog.

Overall, it was a fun (if quite long) day spent railing my horse. I'm glad I had a mighty 1% stake, but boy it would have been fun to come back with him at the final table where the payouts really jumped up and the TV lights come on.

Friday, November 23, 2007

SnG Challenge

I've decided for a change of pace to engage in the single-table SnG challenge as a bankroll builder. Played in six 10+1 NLHE turbos on FTP so far, and I've won 3, bubbled 2, and busted early in 1. Early days so far and a small sample size, but I can't imagine not putting up a great ROI so long as I can master the inherent boredom of playing against these donkeys in this silly poker format.

I'll start cranking these out in earnest starting early next week.

Probably the Best Holiday Sketch Comedy of All Time

This is a shout-out for my Yankee friends and their turkey day. Enjoy stuffing yourselves!

You can find other parts of this brilliant episode by following the links.

"As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly."

Thursday, November 22, 2007

It'd Feel Good on the Way Down

It would take 22 shots of Whiskey to kill me

Now I have to figure out what my favourite 22 varieties of Scotch are. Should be fun!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

And then a juicy cash game comes along to make everything better

This Friday night saw me walk away the big winner at one of the occasional cash games held out of the FCPC. (Well, in actual fact it was relocated at the last minute , due to a double-booking of the club's regular room, to the nice alternate venue of a player's home.) It was a deepstack format with everyone buying in for $200 with .50/$1 blinds. So everyone had a 200 BB stack to begin with.

It was a big relief to play intelligently with proper focus, after my recent dire experiences at the virtual felt which had caused some lapses in my concentration and leaks to develop in my cash game play. I religiously folded ace-rag despite the plethora of ace-high flops that were coming down and lost the minimum when I got outflopped (two such flops cracking my queens and tens). I won my first big pot when I saw a flop multiway on the button with 2h3h for a raise out of the big blind. The flop came down ace-high with one of my suit and I was prepared to fold to any bet but for some reason it got checked to me, so I took the free card. The turn was the beautiful 4h giving me a big draw, so I happily called a $15 bet from the BB closing the action, which was called by one intervening player. My flush came in and I was able to value bet for $45 which got called by top two pair.

About an hour later I was sitting with about $320 and I got dealt black aces in the small blind. I raised it up to 7.50; Bill in the BB made it $16 to go. George in middle position flat called the raise; I took some time and re-raised to $40. They both called. At this point George was relatively short-stacked with maybe $100 behind and Bill had maybe $200; I had them both covered.

At this point I'm aware that I'm facing a sticky situation but I'm pretty sure I'm committed to play this to the felt. Sure enough the flop comes down a relatively scary Ts9s8d. I jam the flop and *both* of them call. Bill flips over JJ (no spades) and George the 57s, as I recall. Sure enough the 8s comes down on the turn and I have been outdrawn by George -- but am winning the side pot with Bill -- but I have quite a few outs to the nut flush, full house or the rare quad aces. (I need to run this through PokerStove!)

The river comes down a fabulous 8c and I end up scooping a huge pot with a full house, eights over aces.

Bill and George say their goodbyes at that point and we play for another hour or so eight-handed, and I'm able to win a few more nice pots here and there (one in particular where I turned a ten-high flush with a straight flush redraw and called a big river bet from a rivered straight) and I am able to cash out with nearly $800 for a nice score. I did leave some money on the table a couple of times where I missed a river value bet, or a re-raise in the case of the flush versus the straight, but making those river bets would have been taking the high variance road and I was satisfied with getting to showdown with those pot sizes.

Gotta love live poker. I'd like to say I was able to outplay my opponents and really steal some pots I wasn't entitled to, but I made the vast majority of my money with hands that played themselves. Still, I was able to make good reads, fold a lot of trouble hands preflop, and make some proper calldowns and sniff out some bluffs when players like this donkey bet his busted 7-high draw against my improved AK (TPTK).

Hopefully this gets me in a better frame of mind for the rest of the BBTwo series of tournaments with a renewed sense of confidence. I'm definitely going to try to token my way into the Big Game on Sunday.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Poker Gods are Fickle

It's been a while between posts and unfortunately I don't have any good news to report on the poker front in my absence. Although everything is going smoothly with the job, I'm pleased to say, and of course that's more important than my misadventures on the felt.

I have to keep repeating to myself that variance is part of poker as I've endured a nasty downswing in my online bankroll due to dropping buy-ins like they are going out of style in my cash game play. And it's not like I have been playing poorly . . . I've had the best hand when all the money goes in and my opponents keep hitting their 2, 3, or 4 outs after I've induced them to make grievous mistakes. The worst of it is, I had recently stepped up in limits so the losses have really hurt and taken me back nearly to square one after a lot of good work to get my initial $400 investment on FTP up to nearly 2K.

Ah well. I'll take a few days off to regroup and start grinding it back up. In the meantime, I continue to compete in the BBTwo series of blogger tournaments, and I've been pleased with my play, although I've yet to make a final table despite some good opportunities to do so. Last night was the Mookie, with 112 runners.

I started off with a bang, bluffing on the very first hand from the SB with the Hammer, and chipped up to nearly 4000 in chips before losing quite a few chips -- I was down to 1800 in short order -- with some very good but expensive second-best hands where I showed discipline and lost about the least I could reasonably have expected to lose under the circumstances (rivered 4-flush gets a villain there vs. my two pair, etc... standard FTP shenanigans.). From there, I aggressively played some medium poker pairs preflop and chipped up. Then I gambled with AQo vs. a regular nemesis, surflexus (who had taken away some of my chips earlier and had a large stack early on) and got all the money in the middle preflop against his 88. I (gasp!) improved and won the race to get back up over 4000 in chips.

I used that as a springboard and managed to double that up again to 8000 or so, which would be my highwater mark. Unfortunately, FTP moved me to a different table from the comfortable situation I was in, and my stack was average as the blinds and antes kicked in. At my new table players were dropping like flies as the action was fast and furious and people were gambling like crazy with some very marginal holdings, and I soon found myself dwarfed by three or four large stacks. Going card dead for the better part of an hour didn't help either. Finally, I seized an opportunity to make a move with ATs on the button as I jammed over a LP raiser. Of course, he happened to insta-call with pocket kings and I failed to improve. I go home in 58th or 59th place or something disappointing like that. Still, given my early struggles it was a respectable showing.

Fuel outlasted me by one whole spot, sadly. I wanted to last longer than him despite not having a last longer bet on. To my happy surprise, this donkey from my Friday night game continued his strong play of late to place third. I really thought he was going to take it down with over half the chips in play three-handed, but Astin -- he is way overdue to take down one of these blonkaments! -- and the eventual winner Mike_Maloney played well and played hard, ultimately proving to be Simon's downfall. Simon lost the bulk of his stack on a setup hand where he flopped a set against a flopped nut straight, and Simon didn't get his full house redraw once all the money went in.

Given the state of my online bankroll and the fact that I'll be away for all of Saturday, it seems likely I'll miss Sunday's Big Game, which saddens me immensely. I love deepstack tournaments.
Maybe I will try to farm out some of my $26 tokens into a $75'er so I can get in to the game on the cheap.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Note to Self

Having a functional printer at home can save a lot of needless trips to work on a weekend.

It's at times like this I wish I had learned more from my computer-savvy friends rather than blindly relied on their availability on a holiday weekend.

It's time I upgraded to a 21st century printer anyhow, so I guess it's also time to go shopping.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Avoiding Bad Situations in Cash Games, Part 1

Or Why KQs is a Dangerous Hand

The Setting: A $1/2 NLHE full-ring blogger cash game

The Players:

Simon ($244.45), the UTG raiser (standard $7 amount);

Yours truly ($105.70), the UTG+1 caller (I'd bought in short);

Bayne ($200), the UTG+1 over-caller;

Fuel ($600.60), the small blind who decides to 3-bet. (to $21.50)

At this point, Simon flat-called the raise and I’m left in a quandary. Fuel’s likely range for 3-betting out of the SB is something along the lines of [55, 77+, AQs+, AK and maybe 10% suited connectors]. Simon, for all the grief I like to give him for his loose preflop standards, is a fairly solid player who is not going to call a 3-bet with two players left to act behind him without a pretty powerful hand. His decision to merely call here leads me to believe he is likely to have AQs+ or a pocket pair.

So I have two unpalatable choices: I can commit 20% of my stack preflop with what is essentially a speculative hand looking to flop a straight draw, flush draw, or two pair+ (I can’t count on my kicker being good if a bare king or queen hits), or I can reluctantly fold with $7 invested. I am getting 3:1 on my money (which almost certainly will end up as 4:1 if Bayne calls with any two cards, as he should if I call ahead of him), but I’m in poor relative position if I miss the flop, as I will nearly two-thirds of the time. With $80 behind, I will only have enough of a stack to make one pot-sized bet, so a bluff on a later street is unlikely to work.

What should I have done?

If you said fold, give yourself a pat on the back.

However, as you’ve doubtlessly guessed, I decided to gamble with a reckless call (and quite properly Bayne did call behind me getting 4:1 on his money). On cue, I hit a monster flop of [2s Qs Kc] for top two pair.

What happened next? It was checked around to me and I made a weak lead for $25, hoping to see some action without anyone realizing just how committed I was to showdown. Bayne and Fuel folded but I got all the action I could want as Simon took the bait and re-raised me all-in. I insta-called and, sure enough, he flipped over AKh for TPTK for the second-best hand.

Unfortunately for me, the FTP server decided to give Simon one of his three outs on the turn and I got felted as Simon raked in a nice pot.

What lesson can we take from this hand?

Well, KQs is a vulnerable hand that really shouldn’t be played multi-way with this much action preflop with a 50BB stack in front of you. The odds are strongly against you if you hit a top pair hand that you are best, as you are more often than not out-kicked, or, as here, you face the possibility of being outdrawn if you outflop AK or AQ. In the long run, making this call is definitely –EV. I just happened to lose in a particularly painful way in this instance. This is a situation to avoid unless the stacks are very deep.

[Edit] NB. Oh, and Simon, I rarely, rarely make that bet into 3 players in a re-raised pot with a hand that doesn't have one pair crushed. (!) And if I can't beat top pair, I'll have a big draw. Which is not to say that you shouldn't at least call my small bet, but it's lighting money on fire to raise TPTK in that situation, in my not-so-humble opinion.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Bubbled the MATH

I'm fairly irked by how I imploded with only ten players remaining. I was a strong second in chips before making two uncharacteristic errors which sent me plummeting to last place, then I busted out in a situation I'm actually pretty happy about as far as my play was concerned.

A few thoughts on how the tournament proceeded ...

Firstly, the MATH was a 6-max format with 78 runners, if I recall correctly. I had a plan to amass chips early and avoid all sorts of marginal situations and not engage in marginal play out of the blinds. You want to steal my blinds? Go ahead, only I'll 3-bet with strong hands and occasionally re-steal. Am I going to steal your blinds? No, not without a real hand.

Early on, I got AA in the small blind and was able to put in the third raise in a re-raised pot. I overbet for value on a 662 flop and my victim claimed to be folding queens.

A bit later on, I raised with 75s and got a favourable flop in position. Betting all the way, by the turn I had both straight and flush draws and I made it on the river, taking down a very nice pot against an opponent who couldn't fold top pair.

Then, I really chipped up with pocket tens. I raised from the small blind and got a loose call from the button. I overbet a Q72 flop with two spades and my opponent jammed. I put him on a draw, and I was priced in to call because he was relatively short in chips. Sure enough, he had KTs so he was in bad shape and didn't improve.

Two or three times, I tangled with surflexus who final tabled this event. I nearly busted him with the goods as I check-raised him off some second-best hands when I had the near mortal nuts.

At this point, I was comfortably in the top five in chips, and I had the luxury and patience to enact my patient and disciplined style of play.

It got even better for me as I defended my blind to a raise with KQ. A king hit the flop and I check-raised my overly aggressive opponent all-in and he insta-called with ... K2! He didn't hit a miracle deuce and I continued to chip up.

By the time the field had been winnowed down to the final twelve, I was tied for the chiplead with Mitch. I was able to 3-bet him once with pocket tens to make sure he knew I wouldn't let him run me over, and I also called a raise with pocket sevens and hit a straight on the turn to win two nice pots against him and remain solidly comfortable with a good table image.

Unfortunately, after nearly three hours of solid, safe play, my discipline and adherence to proper hand selection and situation selection faltered, and I quickly and brutally paid the price.

Firstly, I doubled up a short stack when I raised with a suited ace on the button, a move I had usually avoided because I was steadfastly avoiding pure blind stealing moves for vast majority of the time. A short stack jammed and I felt narrowly obliged to call because of the price I was laid. Sure enough, I was up against pocket queens and I didn't outdraw them. Consequently I went from having 30+K to only about 23K in chips.

Secondly, the next time I had the button I raised it up with Jc9h. Again, this was a poor lapse of discipline on my part. Sure enough Mitch called and we saw a flop of Jh7hQd. He check-raised me and I foolishly opted to call. The turn gave me a ton more outs with the 4h, so I had a gutterball + flush. Mitch jammed, I got seduced by the outs and the size of the pot, I winced as he turned over JJ and I lost a huge pot I had no business being in. Presto! I was now short stack with ten players remaining when five minutes ago I was a comfortable second place stack.

Then after scuffling to stay afloat, I made a conscious effort to find a hand to double up from my 10K stack to something I could get back to really playing poker with. I simply called with J9s on the button. Sure enough, I saw a flop of QT6 and jammed once both blinds checked to me. Mitch made a very questionable call with 4T, which I actually liked to see, but sadly I missed all of my outs and busted out in tenth.

This was another painful lesson in discipline. Poker is a cruel game that can swiftly and ruthlessly punish any mistakes. You have to play mistake-free poker in these blonkaments to reach a final table in postion to win a BBTwo seat.

I was happy with my final statistics for the event. Of the 250 or so hands I played, I saw only 12% of the flops and won 62% at showdown. I think this was the correct style to play. I folded ace-anything-less-than-a-king to any raise, pretty much. First in or fold, unless I had a good pocket pair or AK.

A Sunday in Autumn

You know life is good when:

It's a gloriously sunny, crisp Vancouver day;

Sunday brunch with family is on the menu, complete with pajama-wearing servers and wait staff at Cafe Barney (apparently this was a bet or a dare taken up by one of the waitresses, and all of her collegues decided to show some solidarity);

a round of disc golf at Quilchena park in the middle of the afternoon is quickly organized with friends as we all exclaim on the phone to each other "we have to take full advantage of this weather!".

Good times.