Aug 282008
 

Some things I’ve missed while AWOL:

  • A blogger I enjoy reading, TheTrooper97, finally catches a break. Good luck man!
  • The “November Nine” were decided at the WSOP and I’m not sure if I care
  • One of my favourite bloggers to read, Short Stacked Shamus, started a podcast (actually he started it a while back but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go listen to it!)
  • Countless e-mails, if you e-mailed me and I haven’t replied I’m getting to it. Honest!
  • Scandals on 2+2 regarding the hiding of useful content.
  • And more… I think I’ll use these posts as a kind of dumping ground for links to the good stuff I find in the future. For now, it’s bed time.
 Posted by at 1:07 am
Aug 272008
 

I know, I know… I haven’t been posting enough lately. I’m not happy about it either,  but I have good reasons. Honest!

Most of June/July was been spent moving house, my girlfriend Kate and I decided to take the plunge recently and move in together. We bought a nice little place just outside the city and have been busy painting, carpeting, electrifying and furnishing the place ever since. It’s time consuming work but I do enjoy a bit of DIY.

Then at the start of July myself, Kate and her family headed off to Falls Creek for a full week of fun in the snow. I’d never been skiing before and at the start of the week I was struggling to even stand up but by the end I attempted (and conquered) my first black run! I’d forgotten how much fun it can be to learn a new skill and I’ll definitely be back next season, it’s a great way to spend some time away.  When you’re up at the top of the mountain it’s like you’re in another world (this is best illustrated by the fact a bowl of hot chips at the top of the main chair lift costs an offensive AUD$12.50) and it’s great to just disconnect from the rest of the world and relax.

That’s not to say I didn’t play a little poker, on the Monday night we were up there the Australian Poker League was running one of their tournaments at one of the local pubs called The Frying Pan Inn. To be honest going in I was more interested in having a few beers than playing a pub freeroll tournament but as the pints flowed I started chatting and joking with the other players at my table and had a great time and after I made the first break I decided to actually try and go deep in the thing.

And go deep I did, managing 6th overall in what was pretty much a crapshoot of a final table given the fast structure of these things. Great fun though.

Highlight:

Requesting “one more beer” at the start of the final table only to be challenged by Kate to “double up and then you can have one”. I proceed to get dealt pocket 10′s the first hand and do just that. Mine’s a Coopers Sparkling Ale thanks!

Lowlight:

Going out in 6th with the blinds at 10,000/20,000 and a stack of around 80,000 I open and push wth ATo trying to get heads up with the blinds who were desperately short. The big stack on the button (who, how can I put it nicely? Let’s say he’s been getting quite lucky) calls with 64o and I’m out when he spikes his 6 on the river.

As always though, I thanked the tourney organisers and shook my opponents hand before heading out into the snow for the walk home. Was a fun night, and an even better week. Kinda sucks to be back home!

 Posted by at 12:54 am
Jul 182008
 

Playing poker means dealing with constant setbacks, live or on the poker sites doesn’t matter. If that’s not a school for life, I’m not a renowned pro.

Okay, so I’m not, but it’s still true.

In poker, no matter if you’re good or bad, you’ll have to face bad beats and strong plays time and time again. You’ll be watching powerlessly as your chips are dragged away over the felt to a smiling opponent. And that’s when you did everything right.

In another blog post I told you about one particularly crazy flow of events in a game of Texas Holdem poker. I mean, if you can contain yourself in that kind of episode, you’ve definitely picked up a grain of stoicism along the road, haven’t you.

Harvard law school professor Charles R. Nesson pursues a really bold campaign to establish poker as an accepted learning tool. Obviously this idea is cut out to put one or two conservative school politicos on the tilt of their life.

But, why not?! Besides teaching kids things like math, economics and psychology in a really fun and active way, playing poker could also teach our small friends not to give up if life runs a little cold at times.

Which it will.

 Posted by at 9:32 pm
Jun 182008
 

So I thought I’d play in one of those Poker Stars WSOP freerolls. Call me crazy but I didn’t really have anything better to do at 8:30 on a Wednesday night.

Anyway, I prepared myself for craziness and took my seat along with 1250ish others. First hand, I’m the BB and I’m dealt:

: :

Early position player raises 5x to $100, 2 players call and I decide to call and see a flop:

: : :

First hand of the tournament and I flop a set. I check (despite the potential flush draw) and the initial raiser does as planned and bets out $200 into the $410 pot. Everyone folds to me and I check-raise to $600, happy to take this down here.

My opponent thinks, then shoves all-in for another $800 chips. I say to myself, “If I’ve run into JJ here so be it, I can’t fold this hand against a typical first table opponnent in one of these things”. I call. He turns over:

: :

For ace high. He’s drawing nearly dead until the turn:

:

and the river:

:

Giving him broadway and all my chips.

Are these really the types of players who win main event seats from these things? Crazy! Ah well, at least the pain was over quickly. Time to go play some cash games…

 Posted by at 9:53 pm
May 032008
 

It’s funny how I often find myself thinking “I’m running alright, let’s take a look…”. I open up Poker Tracker, process the hand histories and yup I’m running around 3BB/100 hands. “Not a big sample I think, back to the game”. Then, inevitably, my ego/win rate is dealt a blow when I’m dealt a KJ in the small blind and the action is folded to me only to run into AJ in the big blind on a jack high flop.

I love poker.

 Posted by at 9:49 pm
Apr 302008
 

I got a decent response from my last rather long post regarding the two maniacs and their destruction of my premium pairs so I thought I’d post another hand analysis. I’ve changed the tone slightly this time around (I win!) but the point here isn’t winning or losing it’s whether my play is completely suicidal in the long term or whether I actually played it well.

Opinion about the hand is divided here at home. My girlfriend, who has only recently started playing poker thinks I’m a lunatic for playing this hand in this way and I can’t help but feel that she might be right. Watching her play, learning the ropes like I did those years ago has made me reflect on my own game and about how I over complicate it these days. Remind me to get her on here for a guest post through the eyes of a beginner, if nothing else she’s quite the wordsmith.

Ok, so the hand. Low stakes full-ring fixed limit hold’em over on ‘stars. I haven’t played against the opponent involved in this hand much before so I’m classifying him the same way I classify all unknowns at these levels:

Terrible until proven otherwise.

As a side note that “arrogance” gets me into trouble sometimes. Truth is though that I’m not really an arrogant person by nature. I guess you could say that I’m preprogrammed to expect my random opponents to play crap online, think about some of the random players you witness and then ask yourself if I’m being unreasonable. Anyway, I’m rambling… the hand:

I’m dealt, in early-middle (UTG+3) position:

: :

It’s folded to me and I limp. No special reason, I might raise this here some of the time also. 3 players to my left call and the SB raises. The BB, myself and everyone else calls. 6 runners.

Important question: What do you put the SB on?

The flop comes:

: : :

I have an overpair to the flop and I’m putting the SB on a strong pocket pair or a strong ace.

SB bets, BB folds and I raise.

Two reasons for my raise. Firstly anyone who calls/raises behind likely has the 4 and secondly it helps me to define the SB’s hand. It’s folded to the SB who re-raises.

Now I’m thinking he definitely has a big pair. The real question is what does he think I have? At the moment I haven’t done a lot to define my hand and could have everything from a diamond flush draw to A4/K4 is plausible. I’m not done with this hand.

I call.

My intention is to bluff again if the right card comes. The right card could be anything (I could still convince him I have a 4) but I’m thinking any diamond, maybe an Ace (if my read is right he has a big pair… only one of those is aces) or of course the 8. If he checks the turn I’ll likely bet any card though.

The turn comes:

:

And he bets.

What do you think he has?

I’m not convinced he has the ace. If he doesn’t and does have a hand like QQ he has to be nervous. I resolve to one last “bluff” at this pot and I raise him.

He folds.

I take down one of the more interesting pots I’ve played in a while.

So, what’s your verdict? Am I crazy, a genius or somewhere in between? I’m leaning towards the former but I’m happy to be proven wrong.

 Posted by at 8:37 pm
Mar 082008
 

EDIT: This post got big, apologies for the long hand histories but I think this is an interesting series of hands against some pretty crazy opponents. If reading hand histories doesn’t do it for you than you might want to skip this one.

Playing micro stakes full ring limit hold’em on PokerStars as part of my bankroll rebuilding process.

Preflop this table is typical loose/passive with many players seeing flops and not many raising preflop. Post flop there has been some strange and unpredictable play with some unusual holdings being shown down three or four ways.

I’m multi-tabling and have been playing fairly tight until I’m dealt the following five hands in succession:

Hand #1:

: :

In middle position at this stage (3 off the button) it’s raised in early position, I re-raise and the small blind who is playing 100% (I’m not joking) of his hands and seeing 66% of showdowns with what some would describe as manical aggression on all streets calls. Flop comes:

: : :

Small blind bets, early position calls and I raise. Small blind calls and early position folds. Turn comes:

:

Small blind bets again and I just call this time. Against most players the 8 of any suit is a crappy card for me and it may well be here but given that he’d play this same line with as little as a pair I believe I can call. Raising is also an option but I tend to get myself in trouble doing that against these maniacal players, too often taking a stand in the wrong spots. Nothing wrong with folding either but I can’t bring myself to give this guy credit for a real hand.

River is:

:

He bets again, I call. He shows:

: :

Nothing too exciting, gives us some information on the small blind player who we’ll call “Looney23″ for the rest of this post.

Hand #2:

I’m dealt:

: :

Now four off the button, an early position player calls. I raise for the second hand in a row which is unheard of at this table. Looney23 calls and the big blind calls. The flop comes:

: : :

I don’t love it but I don’t hate it. BB checks, early position checks, I bet, Looney23 folds(!) and the big blind check-raises. Early position folds and I have a decision to make.

Do I just fold? Is a check-raise from this player enough to put him on the flush. I’m not sure. If he has four to a flush I’m about a 60% favourite, if he has the flush I’m drawing nearly dead but on this table I wouldn’t rule out just a pair of kings. I decide to put him to the test and I three bet. He calls and when the turn comes:

:

He does something interesting and checks. To me this screams two things either “scared of full house” or “didn’t make my flush”. I bet intending to check the river if he calls. He calls, river is:

:

He checks, I check and I win the pot over his:

: :

Good result, not sure about how I played it though.

Hand #3:

: :

Unbelievable, three premium pairs in a row. I couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried. Earlier position this time UTG+2. Folded to me, I raise Looney23 calls, same player from the last hand who we’ll call “CrazyMan” raises and I cap it hoping in vein to get rid of Looney23. They both call we go to the flop three handed:

: : :

Good flop for me. CrazyMan bets, I raise, Looney23 re-raises, CrazyMan calls and I’m confused. Against normal players I’d be worried about sets, there’s also a chance CrazyMan has a bigger pair. I call.

The turn is the:

:

CrazyMan checks I bet, Looney23 calls (flush draw?) and then CrazyMan check-raises.

What the?

Logically I should be thinking about hands like straights, two pair, sets but instead this just feels wrong. I can’t explain why but I don’t put either of them on a hand at this point. My gut and my mind can’t come to agreement so I call. For the record I hate this call.

The river is:

:

CrazyMan bets out and now I have to believe one of them has a straight or a flush. I fold fully expecting Looney23 to raise. He surprises me and calls, showdown.

CrazyMan:

: :

(king high)

Looney23:

: :

(rivered two pair)

My gut was right but my head didn’t let me punish them enough. I should have 3 bet the turn but really I had no chance of getting rid of Looney23, it is clear from his play that he considers top pair no kicker a monster hand.

This hand set the precedent for the big hand #5.

Hand #4:

I’m dealt:

: :

In early position.

I fold.

Hand #5 – The “big” hand:

UTG now I’m dealt:

: :

I raise, Looney23 calls, CrazyMan re-raises, small blind calls (nearly all-in) I cap without much thought and everyone calls.

Flop comes:

: : :

SB checks, I bet, Looney23 calls, CrazyMan raises, SB calls all-in, I re-raise, Looney23 calls, CrazyMan caps it and we both call. Phew.

Given the previous hands I don’t give either of them credit for a bigger hand than mine. Turn comes:

:

I bet, Looney23 calls, CrazyMan raises, I re-raise wanting to get heads up with CrazyMan but Looney23 calls, CrazyMan caps and we both call again.

The action on this street has me worried, no idea what they have but I decide in advance to just check/call the river. This pot is big enough, I only let the turn get capped because of the players I’m against but even against players this crazy surely KK can’t be good here too often.

River is the:

:

I check, Looney23 wakes up and bets now (damn straight, I think to myself) CrazyMan just calls this time (very odd) and I make a crying call into a pot that’s given me somewhere close to 30 to 1 in odds.

The all-in player shows:

: :

(nothing)

Looney23:

: :

(runner, runner straight)

CrazyMan:

: :

(pair of fours)

Ugh.

So tell me, in this last hand, given the previous play of these opponents do you lose big with these kings or did I get out of line here and build too big a pot?

In hindsight I think there were a couple of points in the 5 hands where I may have made the wrong decision but when you’re being hit over the head with premium pocket pairs pre-flop and then facing the kind of play I saw from CrazyMan and Looney23 it’s hard not to get caught up in the moment. Remember these hands happened in succession, the whole train wreck took no more than 5 or 6 minutes from start to finish. I also had 3 other tables open and playing. That’s a lot going on.

Now if you’ll excuse me I have to log off now and get over this tilt ;) Thanks for reading!

 Posted by at 11:22 am
Feb 272008
 

You know the problem, you’re registered for a tournament on your favourite poker site, you’ve done all the necessary time conversions (using both your fingers AND toes to count) then you log on to the site at the time you thought the tournament started only to find it started an hour ago or it doesn’t start until tomorrow or something equally annoying/embarrassing.

Well even if it doesn’t happen to you it’s happened to me so I decided to do something about it:

http://timecalc.simonspoker.com

Is a little utility I’ve written to easily convert between the time zone of popular on-line poker rooms to your local timezone. I’m still testing it so go take a look and let me know if you like/hate it or if you have any suggestions for improvements.

Also, I’m planning on adding a regular tournament listing to it to that will list things like blogger tournaments, podcast leagues etc. if you have a tournament you’d like on there drop me an e-mail or a comment.

 Posted by at 10:11 pm
Feb 122008
 

As I reported earlier I’m currently playing in the lower limit ring games and tournies after I cashed out my bankroll for a holiday over new years. Unfortunately this drop down in limits hasn’t been going so well and I consistently find myself struggling to get motivated at levels I feel I’ve already “conquered” in the past. A typical session for me is something along the lines of:

  1. Start patiently win a small pot or two.
  2. Go card dead, fold patiently.
  3. Hit a big hand, raise preflop and overplay it stupidly.
  4. Curse my opponent for playing so “badly”. “How could he call with A7o after I haven’t raised a hand in the past two orbits?” – That kind of thing.
  5. Finish the session down 10 to 20 big bets.
  6. Repeat.

Not the attitude I know and I’m annoyed with myself for playing like this but for some reason or another it’s a routine I seem to have fallen into.

It’s hurting my already lower than usual bankroll which isn’t helping my low limit tilting.

Not really sure what to do at this stage, maybe it’s time to go back to basics, back to what brought me success at these levels a year or two ago… Problem is that I’m just not sure if I remember how!

 Posted by at 12:38 am
Jan 242008
 
  1. Get money in ahead.
  2. Lose.
  3. Repeat.

That’s basically how I’ve either been crippled or bombed out of my last 5 or so SNG’s. Some examples:

: : vs : : – All in preflop, he turns a straight and I’m crippled.

: : vs : : – Flopped set and end up all-in vs a gut shot straight draw that gets there.

: : vs : : – Flopped trips, opponent turns the straight.

and the old : : hand that I told you about before.

Don’t worry, despite the past couple of posts I’m not going to start turning this blog into a “bad beat” whinge fest. I don’t even really like the term bad beat for most of these examples. It’s just getting frustrating when I’m trying to build my bankroll back up and I get my money in ahead only to be repeatedly screwed by lady luck.

I know it will turn around.

Hopefully the formula from here on out can be:

  1. Get money in ahead.
  2. Win.

At least sometimes?

 Posted by at 10:47 pm