Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Beal vs Ivey

Don't know how many of you out there care about the Andy Beal vs The Corporation matches (though I'm looking in your direction Flux), but I came across the news on Dan's site that Andy Beal, fresh from taking The Corporation for a cool 10 Meeeeeeeeeelion dollars, played Phil Ivey heads up for another 10 M. And got housed. Check out the Bluff forums (link is in Dan's article) as Michael Craig (author of The Professor, the Banker, and the Suicide King), who sat at the table for the last two showdowns, comments extensively.

Apparently match 2 of the Beal vs Corp rivalry will be documented heavily in Bluff's April issue, and the latest match in the May issue. Methinks I'll be buying those.

Am I A Fish?

Let me be straight here: poker is a hobby for me. I enjoy it, I hope to continue improving, and I would like to make money doing it. I am not planning to become a poker professional some time down the track, nor am I planning on buying into a 10k buy-in event any time soon. I do not own PokerTracker, though I will probably set about remedying that in the near future. I have just begun using PokerDominator to keep track of my sessions.

Though my first ever real money account was on Empire Poker, these days I play exclusively on PokerStars and FullTilt. Why these two rooms? Firstly, most bloggers I know play mostly on those two rooms. A few play on UltimateBet, or Titan, or various other places. Secondly, PokerStars and FullTilt also seem to have a clue about customer service and have decent people running the ship, rather than the Party Pokers of the world.

PokerStars, with it's hiring of Otis and recruitment of Wil for Team PokerStars, have really made an effort to connect with the blogger community specifically. Their reconfigured VIP system is also player-friendly, and they have a great array of tournaments. FullTilt, with it's roster of Pros, has done a wonderful job of selling itself. Where else can you log on any given night and take Mike Matusow's money? In the charity tournament on Sunday there were FIVE FullTilt pros registered for the tournament in the field of 152: Jen Harman, Erik Seidel, Rafe Furst, John D'Agostino and Andy Bloch. That is beyond awesome; not only do they give the average punter a chance to sit down with a Pro, but the fact that they supported the charity tournament itself was fantastic.

Of course I am a bit bummed that I can't look at getting rakeback for FullTilt as I already have an account there (and am not planning to open a second account to take advantage of offers out there). I have considered looking at signing up with some other online poker rooms for a bit of bonus whoring, but my heart just isn't in it. UltimateBet might be good for a run at some Triple Draw action, though obviously I'm not racing to plonk money down there.

So does this all make me a fish? Probably. I don't think there is a lot of argument that I should get more serious about some things: getting PokerTracker, making an effort to identify which games I have the best return at, maybe thinking about bonus whoring at some other sites to pad the bankroll. But I also really enjoy jumping on a cash table with Waffles and trash-talking the table at large, or joining a 180 SnG with Weak and Sox and groaning in dismay as Weak is one-outered on the river by a royal flush (sorry Weak... and someone better post that hand history or I'm going to).

Do I have a point here? Maybe not. I think I needed to jot down some of these thoughts. I'm kind of caught between continuing to treat poker pretty lightly, or knuckling down and getting serious. And maybe that's OK.

Nonetheless, if in six months time I am playing high limit triple draw against Chris Fargis, consider yourselves warned.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Dropping the Hammer on Cancer

Sometimes it can be hard to remember that there are things bigger than poker, especially when some donkey hits a 2-outer to crack your Aces. This Sunday there was a tournament to help out an engaged couple, Rich and Jill, who received terrible news just before last Christmas. Jill was diagnosed with Leukemia and admitted to Johns Hopkins. The buy-in for the tournament was 10+16, with $15 going to the couple to help out. Details about the situation are here.

Cancer is something that has affected almost everyone, whether personally or through someone close. The tournament came at a poignant time for me as a very close friend of my family passed away from cancer yesterday back in Australia. I signed up determined to win the whole freaking thing so I could donate the winnings to Jill and Rich.

For whatever reason I was much more aggressive than normal. I took down the first pot with A-Q, and for more than an hour the best hand I saw was 7-7. But I chipped up and chipped up, using aggression and getting into pots where the price was right - oh yeah, and hitting flops. That helped a lot.

With the money looming I had gotten myself into the chip lead, but managed to run into some big hands. I made the final table, but got my A-Q up against Q-Q, and that's all she wrote. I did manage to take down a bounty, scoring a FT jacket and my buy-in back along the way. I felt a little deflated, as 8th wasn't the position on my mind. Nonetheless I transferred my winnings to the account name given to me.

For all of those bloggers who weren't able to attend but would still like to do something, can I suggest transferring $15 (the amount for each buy-in that went to the couple) to the Full Tilt account Macadoshus. If you would like to make sure that it is known what the transfer is for (though I am assuming that it is obvious enough), email poker-babe at verizon dot net and let her know. She was one of those involved, and gave her address to me.

Despite the fact it was a non-traditional blogger event, what would it be without dropping the hammer? For your viewing pleasure I present these two beauties:



Also, apologies to the blogger gang I was chatting to during the tournament when I logged off abruptly once I was done. I needed to have a good cry and to call home.

Rest in peace Lorette.

Heads Up with Veneno: The Carnage Continues

Game 2 of the Garth vs Veneno Challenge is in the books. For those not paying attention, it was not a win for me. Surprise! It was an ebb and flow affair, though I only grabbed a decent chip lead at one stage. I used the all-in move more this time, which was effective (except once of course) - unfortunately I did not get called when I needed it. The bust-out hand was when I flopped two pair. All the money went in on the river.... Veneno had flopped a set, and that was it.

I feel happier with how I played, though obviously I didn't win, or really ever have her on the ropes. Nonetheless with the hands I got I felt I did OK. We did have all the money in pre-flop when I had "Kournikova in a Short Skirt" (K-Q s00ted) against Veneno's A-4 off, but no joy for me. She raised to 4xBB, but I put her all-in. The pre-flop odds were essentially 45/55, and I put her all-in, so that was decent - she called because I had put her all-in pre-flop the previous hand where she really wanted to call but folded. That's how it goes I guess.

The upshot is I am now 0-2 in the challenge, and 0-3 lifetime against Veneno. I need to win the next 3 in a row to take the thing out which given my record is definitely a big ask, and considering the recent history things do not look good. Oh yeah, that means I'm 1-6 the last 7 times I have been in a Heads Up situation (cue violins, and the sad clown weeping). It might be best if I skip finishing re-reading "Harrington on Hold'em I" and read the HU section in "Harrington on Hold'em II: This Time It's War". It can't hurt, right?

Friday, February 24, 2006

Work, WWDN, and something else beginning with W.

Things I hate about my job #15433: carrying a pager around with me half the time. Things I hate about my job #15434: getting paged at 3:45am in the morning. Yes, fun times. Thankfully it didn't turn into a multi-hour troubleshooting extravaganza, though I had a bit of trouble getting back to sleep. I decided that this definitely warranted sleeping in and getting into work late - this meant that I only beat my boss into the office by an hour and a half, rather than the usual two + hours.

No, I am not joking.

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We had a work "happy hour" last night, and fortunately was not a "dodge the people you really don't want to talk to" effort, but a reasonably enjoyable and laid back drinking session. I did turn down an offer to join a few people for dinner - I felt there was no reason to turn an "enjoyable" time with co-workers into an "excruciating" social experience. Get out while the getting is good.

I got home three sheets to the wind (normally it takes me an hour or so at home to get to this state) and fired up Full Tilt's NLHE tables. And promptly got stacked twice in quick succession.

Stacking 1: I get Q-Q in late position, raise it up, big blind calls. Flop is 2-6-6, I raise and big blind calls. Turn is a blank, we get it all in, big blind flips over 6-4 s00ted.

Stacking 2: I get A-K in middle position. Guy ahead of me raises to 3XBB, I re-raise the pot or so, everyone folds except the initial raiser who calls. Flop is Ks-x-2s. All the money goes in, initial raiser shows 2-2, I get no help.

Awesome!

I was battling back, attempting to get unstuck, before SoxLover convinced me to ditch the cash tables and play a 20 + 2 2-table SnG on Stars. We both had a good run, though Sox eventually bubbled. When we were one away from the money I made the Dubious Decision [tm] of signing up for the WWDN tourney, despite a) still being in a significant SnG, and b) not really wanting to stay up that late.

Strangely enough I ended up being a donator, making one of my fantastic Scary Bets On The River Because I Don't Think You Have The Ace... except of course I got called. Not one of my finer WWDN moments. At that stage I gave up all pretense of paying attention to the tourney and returned to the SnG.

I eventually got heads up, though my opponent started off with a 5-1 chip lead. I worked and worked, and at one stage managed to take a (small) chip lead. Unfortunately I wasn't able to put him away, and as the blinds starting getting pretty large I got frisky with K-9 s00ted and got all my chips in versus A-3 off, but none of my cards arrived.

For those scoring at home, my official record for the last 6 times I have been heads up is 1-5. Yay! I guess this time I didn't have my opponent all-in when he was way behind, but I don't exactly feel great about it. On the bright side my finish in the SnG put me (just) in the black for the night, despite getting stacked twice on the cash tables and donating a 10 + 1 entry fee. Nice.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Amazon, and Girl Scout cookies

Tuesday was "Amazon Package Day". Today was "Girl Scout's Cookie Day". With Amazon I made my purchase last week, and then monitored the package's progress with the zeal of a college student watching a live web cam feed from a female dorm. The cookies? Orders made a month or two ago, forgotten about, and then a happy surprise today.

Not being familiar with the Girl Scout cookie deal, I idly chose a box or two from a list one of my co-workers had put out. My choices were then ripped apart by veterans of the cookie process, and I was brow-beaten into changing my selections - though I insisted on sticking to at least one of my original choices. I now have enough cookies to last until the Apocalypse. I'm assuming the cookies have less chance than my Amazon purchases of improving my poker game, but we'll see.

So, the contents of my Amazon package. I know you're all dying to know what I purchased.

Harrington on Hold'em II : This Time It's War
I guess the only surprise is that I haven't purchased this one already. I own the first one, and am busy re-reading it in preparation for following on with the sequel. I also heard that there's a twist at the end, though if it's all "just a dream" I am going to be very upset.

Ace on the River

I don't think I am the only blogger who regards Barry Greenstein as one of their favourite pros. Not only am I interested in what he has to say about the game, but what he has to say about life. And dammit, after the way he watched his Aces get cracked on High Stakes Poker, kudos to him.

Phil Gordon's Little Green Book
Waffles won this book in one of Dr Pauly's tournaments, and the few times he mentioned it I have been interested. So while in the middle of an Amazon splurge why not get it? I like Phil's work as well (especially his podcasts from last year's WSOP), Hooters ads aside.

Kill Phil

Felicia mentioned this book to me when I was busy sucking in the PLO8 DADI tournament. I was intrigued enough to pick it up and have a gander. As I understand it, the book describes a "method" utilising pushing your chips judiciously to try and negate the edge of experienced players. I don't plan on adopting any of the formulas full on (though I may play a low-limit game by the numbers as an experiment), but I'd like to give it a read and see if there is anything I can adopt for my game.

The Professor, The Banker, and the Suicide King
I had known about this book documenting the first Andy Beal vs The Corporation tilt for a while, and decided to pick it up during the splurge, especially given the recent action with these same combatants. I understand that Michael Craig, the author of this book, had a ring-side seat for the latest action and will write an article for an upcoming article of Bluff magazine.

OK, that was all the poker purchases. ("That's it?" I hear you ask. Yes. I should finish all these by some time in 2018.) My only regret is that it didn't occur to me to get a few bits and pieces for bounties and what not. I would have a look around Amazon, but that could trigger another splurge.

Fear not people who are worried I am free-falling into Poker obsession (actually, that is the incorrect tense. I have already fallen). Here are the other purchases to go along with these fine texts:

Comfort of Strangers, Beth Orton (CD)
Beth Orton is a UK singer/songwriter who I quite like. I am a big fan of her album "Central Reservation" (especially the first track, "Stolen Car"). "She Cries Your Name" from her first album "Trailer Park" is another good 'un. She has also recorded with such artists as The Chemical Brothers (she supplied the vocals on the track "Alive Alone" on the kick-ass album "Exit Planet Dust"). Beth is coming to DC in March and I am attending, so I figured I would pick up her latest and give it a listen. So far this is very laid back stuff, music to put on in the background.

The Blind Watchmaker, by Richard Dawkins
Know any people who are into Intelligent Design? Kick them in the intellectual junk, armed with knowledge from the Master. This book is by one of the smartest and most eloquent propronents of evolution, and is meant to be a damn fine read. I have read quite a few of his essays online, and have had this book on my Wish list for some time.

The Soul of a New Machine
Have I mentioned I am a nerd? Anyway, I'm a nerd. This is my Nerdy McNerdster book selection, about a bunch of engineers designing a new minicomputer in the 70's. Feel the excitement! Another long time resident of the Wish List. Very much looking forward to reading this one.

The Last Waltz (DVD)
This is the film of The Band's (former back up band for Bob Dylan and heroes in their own right) last ever concert in 1976. Directed by Martin Scorsese, it features a cavalcade of special guests and an Imperial Assload of fantastic music. Neil Young, Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, and Joni Mitchell are just some of the cameos, which gives an impression of the esteem in which The Band were (and are) held. If you have ever heard "The Weight" or "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down", you know The Band. This was also purchased for me to watch at 5am in the morning when I stumble home drunk out of my mind but not ready to sleep.

Now all I have to do is accumulate another bunch of "must-haves", so I can go another spree. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

I do not heart Heads Up.

Newsflash: I am not a very good Heads Up player. Yes, this probably comes as no suprise to those who know my game, but there it is. As mentioned in a previous post, the only way I usually get Heads Up with someone is at the end of a MTT, and it's not like that happens every day.

I am just way out of my comfort level playing Heads Up, but I realise that it is another facet of my game that I need to improve upon. Neglecting this, along with small field SnGs, is probably to the detriment of my overall poker development. Not that I need to start playing those exclusively, but a little mixed in (for low stakes, mind) is not going to hurt - and hopefully will help.

On the weekend, probably while drunk (OK - I know I was drunk) I agreed to play Veneno in a heads up challenge. She offered best of 3 or best of 5, and I went with best of 5. Why? Because I figured best of 5 gave me the greatest chance to win at least one game. Right there I am entering a challenge expecting to lose, and setting the parameters of said challenge to try and ensure I get a minimum victory out of it.

Somehow this doesn't seem the right way to go about this (thanks Captain Obvious!). But it forces me to play some more Heads Up matches.

Last night Veneno and I played in a four person Heads Up tournament on Stars. If you have never played in one of these it's a simple knockout tournament, with the winner taking all the mobney. We didn't draw each other as opponents to begin with, which was good. Veneno dispatched her opponent easily, while I entered into one of my epic matches, eventually prevailing. During the match I felt I was clearly the better player, but I kept letting him back in. At least I won I guess.

Up against Veneno it was a see-sawing affair, but she fought back from a 3-1 chip disadvantage to take out the game. She is now 2-0 lifetime against me, and 1-0 in the challenge.

Another thing about Heads Up play is I seem to take it way more personally. Maybe it is because there are no other factors involved - just two people, starting from the same chip position. So what do we have: no confidence in my play, inexperience in the discipline, and taking it too personally. Sounds like a winning formula!

Of course I have to finish on a "the Gods are against me!" note (I have to round out all the stock excuses). In 3 of the last 5 heads up situations I have been in I have had my opponent all-in and way behind but seen them hit to survive. Each time they have come back to beat me. This may have something to do with my current feelings towards Heads Up. Time to suck it up and play on.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Amazon splurge!

Are there any two sweeter words in this inter-web world than "Amazon Splurge"? Besides "Celebrity Porn" I guess, but I digress. Last Friday I decided to bust out the plastic and purchase a bunch of things I had been meaning to buy at one time or another (including a few poker texts), but had never gotten around to actually acquiring. Of course I figured since I was there, I might pick up this, and that.... and before I knew it I had $140 worth of gear. I signed up for a free trial of "Amazon Prime", this service that allows you to get your stuff faster for nada if you pay an annual subscription. Check it out, whether you plan on opting out before the trial period ends or you are just a complete Amazon junkie.

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My showing in DADIII was lacklustre. I ended up in a battle with Mookie where I almost cockroached my way back, before going out with a bang.

I didn't play a single 180 SnG over the weekend (*gasp*) though I did spend some time on the $0.50/$1.00 NLHE tables on FullTilt on Saturday. On the very first hand I blew away one buy-in, an inauspicious beginning. I managed to fight my way back to be just in the black, which was nice. My second session was red-hot, booking a win of almost two buy-ins in 25 minutes while waiting for a tournament to start. My third session I was in the red to the tune of $40 or so - I lost (again) on the first hand with set over set, and lost another hand where I flopped two pair against a guy slow-playing Aces and got all my money in but had the two pair made counterfeit on the river. Overall I was happy, and think I will be spending more time there trying to make some scratch and working off my outstanding bonus (I hope to clear it before the end of the month so I can redeposit for another bonus - yes I am a whore).

I played a couple of tournaments on FT (no luck), and it was pushing midnight. No one was doing much of a social nature (due to it being freezing outside), until I was accosted by a friend of mine who wanted to go out... So I dropped all things poker, went out with a couple of friends until closing, and then came back to my apartment and drank and chatted until 7am or something retarded.

Funnily enough I was not in any shape for cards yesterday. Maybe I'm becoming weak in my old age.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Come to DADIII!

Alright, Heads Up fans! It's time for the Blogger tournament that has the greatest potential for all-time smack talking. Yes, it's DADIII! Come make a name for yourself, or at least get in some verbal licks while you go down swinging. 9pm EST PokerStars, Private tourney, Password: BlogsAreGay.

Rock on.

P.S. Anyone else get the Aphex Twin reference? No? Just me? OK.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Thoughts on the Winter Olympics

People who know me know that I am a bit of a sports nut. If my TV is on there is a roughly 98% chance it is showing sport, and that is a conservative estimate. In recent times I have had people try and get me hooked on shows like "24" and "House" to no avail. I mean, they're OK... they're just not sport.

Despite the fact that I may be interested in seeing a Mid-major college basketball game between Lower Appalachia State and Armpit U, I have not really been getting into the Winter Olympics. Why is that? There are a number of possible reasons I guess:

1) I don't really understand the sports.

Being an Australian (albeit one who lived in Canada for two years in highschool), I don't get the finer points of some of the events. Mind you, show me the average person who gets the finer points of luge-ing (or whatever the correct word is there)... well you can't. I do have to say that the Olympics are built to provide normal people with insight into crazy sports that they won't see for another four years, so that discredits this theory.

Not to mention that I am going to try and watch as much Men's ice hockey as possible. That is going to rock.

2) The time delay is annoying.

I think this is more plausible. Despite the fact I have been pretty adept about avoiding all news about events during the day, it is still something that nags away in the back of my mind. Knowing that I could discover the results of the event I am watching with a few clicks of the mouse is a bit of a buzz-kill. I have to say that if I got word that there was an 18 person pile-up during a short track speed-skating relay, I'd be all over it. Though come to think of it, if that actually happened roughly every second website would have a clip uploaded two seconds after the event. See what I mean?

3) Stupid human interest stories.

Oh, how I hate these. Look, I'm going to admit if there is something absolutely astounding about an athlete (say a guy who was made blind in one eye due to a freak accident while he was working one of his 5 jobs he has to support his 37 adopted children, all abandoned kids of AIDS sufferers), OK let me know. But fuck off with the string section and hushed narration about a guy who has parents who attend every meet he contests. Inane and annoying in the extreme.

4) Where are the Aussies?

Dumb question - we actually have snowfields, though they are situated in a tiny part of the country. Despite this we do have Winter Olympic champions; Alisa Camplin won Olympic gold in 2002 in Women's Aerials. And who could forget another 2002 Gold winner, Steve Bradbury, who won in short track speed skating when the leading pack fell over just before the finish? (Really!) And just last night I watched as another Australian (Dale Begg-Smith) took home Gold in moguls.

Steve Bradbury is a legend, someone who won in the dumbest way possible and wasn't afraid to admit it. Alisa Camplin? Any time I've heard her speak I've wanted to stab myself with something pointy. Dale Begg-Smith not only was born in Canada, but apparently is a millionaire after founding some kind of web advertising firm (the details are murky and he refuses to talk bout it), which doesn't exactly make me want to hug him.

None of these are really compelling reasons for me not to be watching the Olympics. Maybe at heart I just don't care very much? A little sad as I used to remember when I used to look forward to Olympics of any variety (and the Commonwealth games, where Australia kicks ass - though we're pretty damn good in the Olympics as well).

I do think some sports could stand some changes though. I caught some Curling last night, a sport which I find a little difficult to get into - and this is from someone who has been to known to watch lawn bowls. It's a hilarious sport, as we all know, people sliding big rock things down an ice rink while two other people scrub brooms in front of it furiously. I did notice that it is allowable for the other team to use their brooms though, for example if it looks like the rock is going to be a good shot in the middle of the target they can bust out their brooms to try and make it slide further. I was kind of surprised by that. I mean, where are the limitations? Could someone shadow the two guys brooming away from the start, and if they stopped jump in and try to keep it moving? I could see that degenerating into a brawl, real fast. And these are not-so-athletic people in slidy shoes and armed with brooms.

Actually, I think I would pay money to see that. "Full Contact Curling". You can do what ever you want, but if either team accidentally touches the rock you lose a point or something. A cross between roller derby and curling. Who wouldn't watch that?! I guess you could argue that short track speed skating is already the Winter Olympic's answer to Roller Derby, but they aren't armed with brooms.

I would enjoy it if someone gave Apollo Ohno an elbow to the face, however, but maybe that's just me.

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While I was busy watching Canadian-born spammers win Gold for my country, I did play a little cards. A couple of 180 SnGs were in order, and despite lasting well into the second hour for both, there was no joy.

In the first I was treading water for most of the time before I chipped up a little. I was actually enjoying two guys going at it incessantly, both in the chat window and the felt. Unfortunately I hit top pair and had a back door flush draw when up against slow-played Aces and was done.

In the second I built a stack early by making people pay large premiums to chase draws, have them chase anyway, and have them lose. My favourite play was when a guy UTG pushed all-in when I had K-K in LP. I had him covered so I went all-in. He has A-K, and despite SoxLover telling me stories about him cracking K-K with A-K earlier in the evening I won the hand.

After that I fluctuated in chips for a while, and when the blinds and antes were getting larger decided that I would take the pot (including an UTG limper) by re-raising with A-7 suited. UTG re-raised all in, and I have a minor mind explosion and call. The UTG calls has... A-K suited?! Who limp re-raises with that? That erased two thirds of my stack, and a little later I was out when I decided that a big stack min-raising from the button plus blinds and antes was good enough to go all-in with 9-4o. Not that happy with my play in those couple of hands (I could have got away from the limp re-raise, any hand he can probably have there is way ahead of mine), but there you go.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

"The Hand of Death" indeed.

Last night was Wil's weekly tournament, kicking off at 8:30pm EST. I got home with plenty of time to spare, so I fired up a $6+0.60 token SnG on Full Tilt (for some reason I keep spelling that "Full Tile"). 4 get tokens, 5th gets a little money back, I bust out in 8th. Nothing too exciting, though I did manage to get K-K a couple of times. The good news was that it all ended before the WWDN tourney kicked off.

The bad news was that I was cold-decked beautifully in Wil's tournament. In the first 30 hands or so I saw three Aces combined (and two of them didn't arrive together). The best hand I saw in that time was "Kournikova in a short skirt" (aka K-Q s00ted), which I won the blinds with. Things were not looking good. Things really didn't look good when I hit a set versus a flush - the very next hand I was out as I gave the rest of my chips to Mr Flush when A-K lost a race to J-J. I finished in 36th of 54, not exactly my proudest Blogger tournament moment. Waffles and WeakPlayer were still flying the flag, and Weak managed to kick enough ass to take 2nd. Nice!

So, it was still earlyish and I needed some more poker fix'ins. I flirted with the idea of a 10+1, 10 minute level tournament on Stars with roughly 3,323,678 people registered, but Weak talked me down. Thus I gave in to my destiny: the 180 SnG.

Words I actually uttered: "I think I might bust in the first hand here." Countering my cold-decked-icity from Wil's game, I had hit K-K in late position with my first two cards. One limper, I raised, he called. Flop is 8-9-x with two spades. All the money goes in, I cringe and wait for a set to be shown to me... J-10 off?! Wha? I had always marvelled at the people who got to double up on the first hand of a tournament, and this time it was me. By the time I checked the leaderboard to see if I was in first (how could I not be?) someone else already had 6k. The mind boggles.

To underscore how the deck hit me in the face, my first 8 hands included K-K, J-J and A-K. My cards would settle down after that, but I was able to pick up chips regularly enough that I never really felt pressured by the blinds and I was able to lemur into the money. Post-bubble I actually managed to double up, putting me in prime position to make the final table, which I was able to do.

We were down to 7-handed with 2 big stacks, 3 medium stacks, and 2 smaller stacks (with myself as one of the smaller ones). I'm in the SB and look down and see Q-Q. Yes, the Hand of Death. UTG (big stack) makes a standard raise, and it is folded to me. With the blinds, antes and raise there is now a fair amount in the pot. There is no way I am playing this slowly, so I shove. Insta-call and I am shown, of course, A-A. Even if I had somehow seen a flop I would have put my cash in anyway, as a Q hit the board. The issue was that there was also an Ace. Case Queen doesn't come, and I'm out in 7th.

Nice to get another final table, but it's one of those positions where I would have liked to get further, but no way I can play the Hiltons slowly - the fact that a big stack had Aces was just unfortunate. My 180 stats are looking pretty nice though (check the sidebar for updates). 22 attempts (I may have tacked on an extra one due to my drunken - I mean incomplete - notes from last weekend), 8 cashes, 4 final tables. Still haven't pulled out a win, but one 2nd and one 3rd ain't bad I guess.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

The Devil's Hand

We all have our favourite hands, and we all have our favourite names for those hands. Some nicknames have been around forever ("Rockets","Cowboys") while other names have been coined more recently and have caught on to some degree. The poster child for that would of course be Grubby's "The Hammer", but here are a few more which I enjoy:

"Snowman Tater-leg" aka "SMTL" : 8-3. I still don't know what the hell a "tater-leg" is, or how a 3 is obviously one, but dammit it's a sticky name.

"The Canadian Hammer": I have heard this referred to as 6-2, 8-2 or 8-3. As 8-3 is obviously SMTL and 6-2 can make a straight, I like 8-3 here. I don't have official word if s00tedness disqualifies it. I say no.

"Kournikova": Now here is some controversy. We all know these cards look good but never win, but is it A-K or K-Q? I have seen references to A-K, but F-Train and Dr Pauly make it clear that they feel K-Q suits the moniker more appropriately. I am on team K-Q, if for no other reason that this hand scares the bejesus out of me. It is particularly enticing if it is s00ted... much like Anna in a big tournament in a short skirt.

Do I have any of my own? Well, I haven't really come up with snappy names, but let's dig into my private vernacular:

"The Devil's Hand": A-Jo. Some know my particular distaste for A-Q, but A-Q is still a hand I will go to war with (well, at least make a guerilla raid with). A-Jo is a hand that I am sick to my stomach with, on par with K-Q. It's a hand that looks like it should be played, but in my experience is a hand that quite often looks way better than it actually is.

"The Hand of Death": This is SoxLover's nickname for the Hilton Sisters, good old Q-Q, probably because he has run it into A-A too many times. "The Hand of Death" is also vulnerable to A-K, another one of those hands that most will go to war with - and it's pretty frustrating to run it into A-K and lose the coinflip while realising that 2-2 vs A-K was pretty close to the same odds. Extra points if a 2 hits the board. I actually managed to make a third of my stack disappear last night with this hand by first not re-raising enough to get two limpers out of the pot, then surrendering like a French soldier when a King and two clubs hit the flop.

"Motherf%^$ing Ducks": OK, this is a very specific example from a 180 SnG I played on the weekend. WeakPlayer was sweating me, and in the first hour I got 2-2 on four occasions. Even worse, it was technically the best hand I had seen up to that point. I then proceeded to get 2-2 twice more. Number of times I flopped a set, in those six occasions? Zero. I was threatening to go postal, while Weak egged me on by sending me links to various pieces of weaponry (thanks Weak!) A little later on I got 3-3 in late position, and limped in. "Here comes a 2 on the flop!" says Weak. *BAM*, there it is. I think I blacked out at that point. I am considering calling 3-3 "Plastic Ducks", to celebrate their artificial similarity to 2-2.

"Plastic Ducks": You know what, I'm giving 3-3 the name.

"Presto": OK, we all know this is 5-5, I just wanted to put this here so I could regale you all with the tournament where I was dealt it twice in a row, flopped a set twice in a row, and tripled up. Yay!

And then there is A-Q. Last night the following events occurred during a 180 SnG: First, I made what was generally regarded as a pussy move when I raised just over 3xBB one off the button, only to fold when the button (who had me covered) pushed instantly. Secondly, I defended my blind after I had just tripled up when the button rerose about 4xBB, and we got all the money in... and my A-Q defeated his A-10 sooted.

After those actions, I'm looking for a name for A-Q. A link found via Google says that it can be referred to as "Big Chick" (a good description of my first play with A-Q), and that in Texas it is referred to as " The Doyle Brunson" (OK Texans, we all know T-2 is the Doyle Brunson, so let's drop it, OK?). "Big Chick"? I dunno... I also see "Walking Back to Houston". Does anyone out there have a good name for A-Q, preferably non-Texas centric? Oh, and feel free to stick your favourite/pet names for other poker hands in the comments. Or just make fun of me for the number of hands I described as scaring me. Or both.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Touch of Poison

In preparation for DADIII, I knew I had to get my act together and plays some Heads Up matches. Basically the only time I play Heads Up is when I get to the final 2 in a large MTT, which has happened maybe 5 times in my life. So obviously I am looking down the barrel of inexperience, while holding the twig of hope and invoking the metaphor of despair.

Everyone who knows Veneno knows that she digs hot and heavy one on one action. She also enjoys playing Heads Up. Her duels with other Poker luminaries are famous, while her ability to duck paying off her debts is legendary. And I had been marked as a target.

This weekend I finally bit the bullet and played her. It was a to and fro afair, during which I grabbed an early advantage but had been pegged back when the pivotal hand occurred. I had cunningly flopped TPTK, and there was a bit of money in the pot when I pushed on the turn. There was a dramatic pause, and it was clear that a) Veneno was not happy with my move, and b) she knew that she was behind. And that's when she called her shot. Flipping over her open ended straight draw she whispered words that haunt me still...

"Poison coming."

*POW*

And that's how I lost my first Heads Up match with Veneno. How was your weekend?

Friday, February 10, 2006

Poker Dominator Question, and Weekend Shenanigans

I've been hearing from a few people that it is definitely worth investigating (and using) Poker Dominator to track earnings etc. Does anyone have any tips for using it, beyond "note everything!". I am guessing that it is probably best to start off my bankroll balances at what they currently are, and not try to factor in what I have currently recorded incompletely (for example my 180 SnGs), but any pointers would be appreciated.

____________________________________


This weekend I am not at work, which is a very very good thing. Having to work Saturdays makes me cry. I'm not sure yet if I am getting my drink on this evening, it depends if any plans coalesce. I went out last night with a friend-of-a-friend, who I have been meaning to meet up with for a while, and her workmates. The bar was three blocks from my apartment, and had a $15 open bar from 5-9. Awesome. I arrived home barely in a condition to walk, let alone play poker.

I'd like to have a shot at satelliting (did I just make up a word?) into the Stars $750k guaranteed on Sunday, so I will have to see what looks good before it kicks off. I saw that they are running $36 +3s (I think) where 1 in 6 gets in. If they don't have any 22$ + 2 (or thereabouts) where 10% get in, I might give a $36 + 3 a shot.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Swing and a Miss

0 for 2 in 180 SnGs last night, and I didn't make it into the second hour for either of them. I'm in the middle of a bout of futility in these, but it shouldn't be a surprise. I started off white hot, so a run of not so good finishes is to be expected. Of course part of the reason I haven't done so well is because of my not so great play, so it isn't a surprise I guess. Last night I called off the rest of my short stack hoping I had the best hand instead of feeling confident of having the best hand. That is a recipe for lemuring off into the sunset, it definitely is not the way to play poker.

I also note that this is the first time that my winnings for the 180 SnGs have dipped below a $1000 since I soared over that magical mark with my 2nd place finish. Again - being in the black nearly $1000 when I have only played 14 of these things is still damn good. I'd just like a cash in the near future to get some mojo back. But we'd all like a cash in the near future, right?

Whenever you start off on a hot streak and have a little futility, there is always that little voice that goes "maybe you're just lucky, maybe you're not that great". And I definitely know that this is one of the 10 suggested Poker Blog subjects listed on the card presented to everyone when they start one of these things... but still. It doesn't mean you don't feel it.

But onward and upward! One good finish, or a good session on the cash tables and I'll be back to making grandiose statements about my ability/looks/athletic ability. I know everyone is looking forward to that.

And hey, if it doesn't happen, I have that whole drinking thing to lean on.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Night of the Waffle

I managed to crash through my front door last night right on 8:30pm. I hurriedly booted my laptop, punched up PokerStars, and tried to log into the tourney. I made it in as the 98th registered out of a final number of 99. I started off with Wil and Columbo on my table, so there was some glamour. So how did I do? Not bad - didn't get too many exciting hands, though I did zap a short stack with QQ vs 22. My other nice hand of the tournament (discounting my 7-2 which was snapped off) was K-K when I was in the small blind... no pay day however.

At one point I was moved to a table featuring Sir Waffle and CJ. I managed to bounce CJ when my A-K suited (clubs) beat out his Jacks (once club) in dramatic style. Two clubs and a 10 on the flop, Jack on the turn, Queen on the river.

Next to Sir Waffle was this guy called Hoyazo. They were going at it, mixing in a little trash talk (I know! Sir Waffle! I would never have imagined!). I was starting to get short-stacked despite the odd bout of blinds stealing, and decided that J-10 suited was good enough for me to push. Hoyazo, who had me covered ever so slightly, deliberated for a time... and then called with A-4 off. I thought that was an interesting call, but hey, there you go. I managed to win, however, which left Hoyazo with 62 chips. Hoyazo managed to run that up to 800 or so, until he was busted my Sir Waffle.

About that time we changed tables. I was getting short-stacked again, and pushed from late-ish position with A-8. The biggish big blind called with A-K, and my night is done. I finished in 23rd or some such, with 9 paying. So I was close enough that if I went on a run I could have done something, but far enough away that exactly where I finished isn't really important.

While watching the end of the tournament I donked off some money playing PLO high (I am so rusty it is a crime against poker), and watched as Waffle slowly made his way through the field. To the final table. To the final 5. The final 3. And then heads up. He had a distinct chip disadvantage at the beginning, but managed to bring it back to even on the second hand (upon which a break started). I made a prediction that with Sir Waffle in, Heads Up wouldn't last long.

And so it came to pass. The Waffle was triumphant! Be sure to check out his blog, which has his own insights to his magical journey of discovery and poker domination. And then, for fun, check out Weak Player's blog for hilarity.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Just to point out the obvious...

(I know I have mentioned this before) but everyone should be keeping up with Ryan and his run in the LAPC at the Commerce. He has been updating sporadically during the tournament with a handheld device (a Treo?). Frankly, his run has been amazing, and hopefully it will continue - even with the uptick in competition as the Main Event looms and the pros come to town. I know Chris Fargis has just hit LA as well... it would be the height of awesomenessicity (that word has a patent pending) if they sat at the same table and both blogged about it. My mind would explode.

So, enough about them, and more about me. On Sunday and Monday I played this much poker : 0. After the last week of work pain, working Saturday, and then Sunday shenanigans I needed to get home and sleep. Of course something blew up at work (again), and I got home late (again) but I was able to order in some food, have a long hot shower, and then pass out for many hours. I am also still moving about like an athritic old man, but hopefully I can get over that by the end of the week.

Tonight I hope to get back in the poker saddle, maybe assault a 180 SnG or something before I jump into Wil's tournament (8:30pm EST, Stars, password: monkey). Be there or be somewhere else.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Super Monday

Today I am tired and sore and very much wishing I was back home in bed. In preparation for the big game yesterday the guys I play Aussie Rules football with met up on one of the fields we use, and proceeded to bust out some tackle football, American-style. This seems only fair; we spend most of the year playing a game that the Aussie guys grew up with and that the Americans are learning, turnabout is fair play.

The game was pretty fun, and the team I captained triumphed 4 touchdowns to 2. There were repercussions however, as this is the first violent exercise I have really done since the season finished (though I could point out that I am not sure where I could go about tackling 240 pound guys running at full-speed, and I would also point out that I don't really enjoy that at the best of times). I was pretty stiff and sore immediately after the game, and I'm creaking around like an old man this morning. Always happens after the first real game of the season anyway, I just got a jump on it this year.

After a quick pseudo-nap I got ready to meet my friends and head on down to the SuperBowl party I was attending. My best mate's girlfriend is from Pittsburgh, and a big Steeler fan; her Christmas gift to me included a Pittsburgh Steeler's t-shirt, and last week she presented me with a Terrible Towel. I have tried to explain to her that I am a 49ers fan, but she counters with the argument that the 49ers can't be considered an NFL team at this point. I find it hard to disagree, but at least we're not the Houston Texans. I'm digressing - the point here is that going in I knew that I would be required to wear Steelers gear and that I would be attending a Superbowl Party featuring rabid Steelers fans. And I needed to gamble.

Before the Divisional round of the playoffs I opened a Bodog account, and threw $100 in there (I know, I know, I'm a high roller) to donk off at the remaining playoffs. Prior to this Sunday I had gone 3 for 4, and had run my $100 to $160. My philosophy for picking was as follows: read as much as you can, let the information percolate, and wait until a pick coalesces in my mind. And then bet like a crazy person.

I had already decided that if I bet on the Seahawks there was no way I was making it public knowledge, for two reasons: 1) Claire (Alistair's girlfriend) would take this as an invitation for fully fledged trash talking, and 2) if Pittsburgh won by more than 5, I may never hear the end of it. In 8 years time we would be having dinner, and Claire would randomly turn to me and say "So, lost any money recently by betting against the Steelers?" I don't really need that.

Having said all that, late Friday I decided that the Steelers were going to be my pick. The Steelers at that stage were giving 4 and a half points, a half point more than they were giving earlier in the week, but I wasn't ready to lay money down then. I didn't quite follow my "bet like a crazy person" philosophy either, laying down $40 and change, even though that was my biggest bet on football during the playoffs.

We all rocked up to the Superbowl Party, and I began to get amped for the game. I thought it was really cool that they had the previous SuperBowl MVPs introduced before the game, as it gave me a chance to scream "I love you Steve!" when they introduced Steve Young. Yes, I am secure in my masculinity. I also screamed "I love you too Jerry!" when Jerry Rice was introduced. I was waiting for Joe Montana to be introduced so I could go completely mental... except there was no Joe. Huh? I know he's alive because he features in those FedEx commercials. This morning I saw this on The Sports Frog, and I just got annoyed with Joe. That's not cool.

I also have to mention that Joe Namath looked fantastically seedy. I was almost expecting him to come out puffing on a cigarette. I also noticed Suzy Kolber failed to talk to Joe, which would have given Namath another opportunity to request a bit of Kolber action (by the way, if you don't know what I'm talking about, click on that link for a clip of what I was referring to - high comedy).

As for the game itself? Number one, I don't think Seattle can say they got jobbed by the refs. There are four calls that they are complaining about: 1) The Darrell Jackson offensive pass interference, 2) The Roethlisberger touchdown, 3) The Hasselbeck illegal block, and 4) the holding call when Seattle completed a pass to the three yard line. I'll address those in turn.

1) To me, this is a call. He clearly pushed with an extended arm into the chest of the defensive back. You just can't do that. Even though it might be possible to get away with this from time to time, Refs tend to be all over this when it happens in the Endzone.

2) I think it was a touchdown, and whatever was called on the field couldn't be overturned from the video. The thing that stinks about this call is that the official waited so long to make the call, when Big Ben was busy failing Acting 101.

3) This was a bogus call. No question.

4) Let me preface my comments here by saying that I find it extremely difficult to notice holding (unless it is incredibly blatant - like just tackling a guy). Sure, if it's a running play and a flag is thrown I assume it's holding, but that's just common sense. On this play, however, I noticed the holding while the play was happening, and was yelling "HOLDING HOLDING HOLDING" while the ball was in the air. Some people are arguing about whether or not the call is correct, but my argument is simple: if I notice holding while the play is happening, it's probably holding.

So in my mind there were three close calls, but I think they went the right way. That's how it goes. Seattle did a much better of underperforming when it counted, and Pittsburgh did a great job of making big plays when they had to. Plain and simple. Big Ben did let Seattle back in the game with that great choke throw when the Steelers were up 14-3 and in field goal range, but that was about it for Seattle.

And as a final note: that gadget play, Randle El to Hines Ward, was just AWESOME. I will enjoy seeing that over and over again in the future. And I also managed to pick the MVP, though there was no monetary reward.

Now excuse me, I'm off to high-five my wallet.

________________________________________________

On the Poker front, I have been doing a lot of swinging and missing. I have played a couple of 180 SnGs, with no joy. Thursday night, after playing a 180 SnG, I ended up on a 1/2 NLHE table with Fluxer, Fishiswa/SoxLover and WeakPlayer. I bought in for $200 (more than I had to I guess), and immediately dropped $50 on the first hand I played. Awesome. After that I felt I played pretty well I think, hitting a high of $300. Of course I didn't stay there, and at about 2am noticed I was down to $118. I then decided (work be damned) that I was going to get back to even. At 3am, after much wine drinking, I made it. I cheered, logged off, and almost fell over I was so drunk.

On Saturday night I played a bunch of tournaments with Fishiswa/SoxLover, Fluxer and WeakPlayer (and one tournament with Fishiswa's wife, VTepes). None of us hit, and in fact all of us, in one tournament or another, had a commanding stack only to see it evaporate.

My big moment occurred in the $50 + 5 double stack tournament on FullTilt. I had been getting ridiculous cards, just insane. High pocket pairs through the wahzoo, A-K, A-Q... I was playing like every 3rd hand. And when I had a pair that wasn't big, it managed to turn into quads and I got another stack to double me up.

I was in 6th or something, and I think 18 or thereabouts got paid. A similarly sized stack had just sat down to my left. I look down and, of course, A-K s00ted. I'm in MP, and I pop it for just over three times the big blind (I want to say the blinds were 600/300 with antes). So that may have been a little low. The stack to my left just calls, and we go to the flop. The flop comes A-Q-5, with the A-Q in diamonds. I bet the pot, which means I have now committed about a 2/5 of my stack. I say out loud "If he comes over the top, I'm in trouble."

The other big stack does indeed come over the top. And now I have a decision. And not much time to make it. My first instinct is to fold. This seems like a weak move, but I really didn't like to call all-in. What hands could he have? I don't think he has Aces or Queens, as I think I would have been re-raised pre-flop. He definitely could have A-Q, and definitely could have 5-5. He could also have another biggish Ace, like A-J or A-10. And he could have gotten extra frisky with K-J of diamonds or something.

I ended up calling, and he flipped over A-Q. No help for me, and pow, I'm out. I'm interested in what other people think about me calling all in in that spot (and the amount I bet pre-flop for that matter). I had 11k left, which would have been pretty close to average, with the money about to start. I called all-in without the nuts, but with a pretty large pot (about 10k at that point). Of course if it turned out that he had A-J I would have been dancing. But it wasn't to be.

Guess I'll get 'em next time.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Anatomy of a Blow-Up

I think I might have a problem. Don't worry, I'm not talking about my meth habit or my penchant for picking fights with bouncers, it's something more insidious. I think I might be becoming more susceptible to tilting. This may be because I'm more self-aware at the tables or because I am actually becoming easier to tilt... or both.

So I guess you want examples. If you didn't want any, too bad, you're getting some. Last night I played another 180 SnG. I started off well, busting a couple of lemurs and getting to just over 4.5k early, good for #1 on the leaderboard. Things are going well, I'm feeling on top of my game, and then immediately on my left appears a guy with a picture of a donkey and a stack about twice the size of mine. This is a little unsettling for two reasons: a second ago I was chip leader and now this guy has twice my stack, and I really don't want the chip leader to be on my left.

A few hands later we have our first confrontation. I look down at A-Q, both hearts, and the action is folded to me. I pop it for just over 3x the big blind and only the big stack calls. Flop comes down K-x-x rainbow. I throw a continuation bet out there, and the big stack just calls. OK... I don't feel convinced he has a hand here, and feel I can keep putting pressure on, representing A-K. A second club hits on the turn, I bet out, big stack calls. River is another club, I fire another bullet, big stack calls. I think I'm beaten here, but I'm very interested in what he has.

K-7 of hearts?!

OK, now I'm on baby tilt. He called my pre-flop raise with K-7 sooooted, hit a K on the flop and decided to call my increasing bets down the whole way. The extra annoyance is that if three hearts hit the board, I stand an excellent chance of getting all my chips in the pot and getting paid off.

After that hand I'm down to about 3.5k or so, still in good shape before the break. But I'm beginning to seethe. I am eyeing this chip stack to my left, watching as he continues to pull retarded moves. I don't just want to increase my chip stack, I want to increase my stack at the expense of this fool on my left. I want to punish him.

This is a mind-set I really don't want to be in. But just after the break I see my chance. 50/100 blinds and I'm in the big-blind, with my nemesis UTG. Big Stack Lemur (from here on out: BSL) limps, button limps, SB completes, I check with 2-3 offsuit (a power hand). Flop comes 4-5-6. Cha-ching! I have the idiot end of the straight, but I'm feeling good. SB checks, I check and start sending telepathic messages to the BSL and the button: bet bet bet bet bet bet bet bet bet bet bet bet. They don't listen to me and it is checked around.

The turn is... another 6, putting two clubs on the board.

The SB checks, and instead of betting, say, the pot I just check. Again I start sending telepathic messages, and again the BSL and the button refuse to listen to me. I curse.

River is... the Ace of clubs. Now I am not feeling so hot. The board is paired, there is a flush out there, and to top it all off I have the idiot end of the straight.

SB checks, I check, BSL overbets twice the pot. Gah! I look at his bet, look at the pot, look at my stack. It will cost me 25% of my stack to call. But I want to get this guy. I want to get him so badly I can taste it (kind of metallic, in case you were interested). Mentally I have decided I am going to call this joker.

And that's when the button pushes all-in for 1600 or so total.

"#$%^!", I think to myself. I may have even said that out loud. And that's when my vengeful brain goes to itself: "Well, you were going to call down 800, this is only another 800." My brain cleverly hides the fact that this now represents half my stack. I am not even thinking about what the button has, I am thinking only about the BSL. I watch in mild horror as my hand moves of its own volition and clicks "call".

The BSL only calls; he doesn't put me all-in.

Let me be clear. I have no idea what the button flipped over. None. I had no interest whatsoever in what he had. I want to see what the BSL had. I want to know he had something retarded like A-9 off. Please. A-9 off.

He has 9-10 suited. Of clubs.

In apparent slow motion the chips slide across the virtual felt to join the BSL's other ill-gotten gains. I am down to 1700. I am seething. I am on full-blown punch-me-in-the-face-and-call-me-donkey tilt. I can not BELIEVE this guy had 9-10 suited and got there.

Of course I misplayed the hand. If I was playing it over again I probably would have checked on the flop, bet the pot on the turn (probably calling or even re-raising any raises), and check-folded on the river. After all, I knew already that the BSL liked them sooooted.

But none of that matters right now. Right now I am looking at my stack, now at the lowest it has been since the first few minutes of the tournament. I am about a double up away from par, but still, I am hurting inside. I am angry at myself for my play, angry at deciding to call the BSL's overbet on the river, and then deciding that if I was going to do that I may as well call the button's all-in.

Somehow I don't throw the rest of my chips away in the next few hands. I massage my scalp, get myself into the lotus position, repeat "Calm blue ocean, calm blue ocean" to myself. I manage to win a few small pots, getting a little more oxygen. I'm not in good shape, but I'm not on death row. I need to catch cards soon though.

And that's when I get A-K. Right now these look huge. The action is folded to me, and I pop it. BSL, friend of mine that he is, comes over the top and puts me all-in.

I go cross-eyed. Dammit! OK, OK, let me think. Let's state the obvious: he could have a big pocket pair. But how big? A-A, K-K big? Q-Q or J-J big? Some other pocket pair? He could have A-K, A-Q, A-J, A-10, K-Q, K-J... especially if they are soooooted. After all, he's a Big Stack Lemur. And we HATE HATE HATE the Big Stack Lemur.

I hit "time" and eye the tournament lobby. I'm about half par, and the blinds and antes are starting to get pricey. I don't like calling all-in with A-K, but I need to make a move soon, and here might be my chance. And this is the BSL. HATE HATE HATE HATE.

Let's dance. I call.

BSL flips over Q-Q. Could be better, could be worse. I'm prepared to race, as long as I win.

I don't know what hits the board on the flop, all I know is that there are no friendly A or K cards.

Turn, no paint.

River... no.

Fuck.

And just like that, it's all over, and all my chips slide one position to the left. I stare at the screen for a couple of minutes, not taking anything in. Reverberating in my brain is the fact that since the time the BSL sat down I had been eyeing him as my mark. And somehow he got all of my chips. And I know that it's all my fault.

It's about 10:15pm. Normally when I bust out of a tournament around this time I shrug my shoulders, log off and potter about my apartment doing this and that before getting ready to hit the sack. But I can't, not after that. I need action, and I need it now. So I immediately sign up for a $10 + 1 rebuy tournament about to kick-off, and sign up for a O8 Limit tournament with Waffles. I don't really like rebuy tournaments, but I don't care, it's definitely going to give me action.

As rebuy tournaments go it's up and down. Double up early, then bust. Bust again. Double up, and get to the break at about 2.5k. Not great, but there you go. Get the add-on, and decide to try and play real poker from here on in. A little bit later, after not seeing too many cards and being eaten by blinds I look down and see Q-Q. These look like gold. I am first to act, and decide to just push all-in. A double up here puts me in good shape, and I want to mete out some pain. At the table is a big stack with 22k, and again I go with the telepathic messages: call call call call call call call call call call call call.

After a moment or two he calls, everyone else folds, and he flips over K-J soooted. Spades, and I have a spade. I am feeling good, this is looking great. Take this hand and I have chips to work with. Two spades hit the flop, and all of a sudden I am not feeling so good.

"No King no spade!" I chant over and over, as the turn card hits. No King, no spade, as ordered.

"No King no spade!" I demand, imploring the river to deliver me from my plight.

The river does not listen, and spitefully reveals a spade. Once more I look on, dumbfounded, as my chips slide across the virtual felt.

I'm snapped out of my condition by the other tournament beeping at me. Limit O8. Right. OK. Guess I should concentrate on that. So I do, playing my ultra-tight Limit O8 game, winning a pot here, escaping a bad situation there. Click, click, click. Smooth, easy, calming. I'm doing OK, but not fantastic, but that's fine. Click, click, click.

And I'm out in 70th out of 260th or something. But I feel alright again. I know I've not been on my game, thrown away a tournament and sprayed some cash in my tilted state, but I feel better now.

Next step: not getting tilted in the first place. I'm working on it.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Cowboy Up! Or Down.

So, last night was time for Wil's weekly Tuesday Tournament. Big field, with 125 or so peeps, which was pretty cool. I did start off with Iggy and Columbo on my table, which was cool.

Started off well, dropping the hammer twice, once for a big pot when the guy I was up against may as well have been wearing a sign saying "I am on a flush draw". I then pulled my biggest move of the tournament, getting 10-10 and J-J to both call me for all of their chips when I had A-A. Aces hold up, and I have a huge stack.

After that I stayed either at #1 or at least in the top few for quite a while, trying to use my stack to advantage - playing with a big stack is part of my game I have to work on. At one point Jaxia got moved to my right, and had the misfortune to push from the SB when I had Aces (again) in the Big Blind. She got no help, and Aces got another notch in the belt.

Yes, I was getting ridiculous cards. Hammer twice, A-A twice, K-K twice... but K-K was not so kind. I lost my first large-ish pot holding K-K when I was heads up with one player and the turn threw a second Jack on the board. A re-raise over the top of me was enough for me to decide I had seen enough. The second time I had K-K I re-raised pre-flop and had two callers, Iggy and Shabboth. Board comes 10-9-9. Shabboth bets out 1k. I don't think he has a 9 or 10-10... it's possible he has an over-pair (J-J or Q-Q probably) or something. I come over the top, re-raising to 3k. Iggy drops out, Shabboth thinks for a moment, and then goes all-in. I call the extra 800 or so chips and the cards flip over. Shabboth has... A-10. Nice. Wil appears on the scene and congratulates me as a blank falls on the turn. But, whups, there is Mr Ace on the river.

OK, so I owe everyone a dollar now.

That threw me down the leaderboard and in fighting for my life territory as I was moved to another table. I managed to steal the blinds and antes a few times, and then found 5-5 on the button. Now I really needed a double up to get my wind back, and 5-5 was looking nice, so I pushed on the button to try and get the blinds and antes again - maybe one of the blinds would call with over cards and I have chance for extra chips. The Big Blind, no doubt annoyed with my shenanigans, found the perfect opportunity to strike back as he woke up with K-K (of course). Flop comes A-3-4, and I start singing out for a 5 or 2. Not this time, and I lemur out in 31st.

All told I was happy with my play. Maybe I was throwing my chips around a bit wildly at the end, but I did feel like I needed to make a move. Of course I was still a little tilted from the hand where I got punched in the gut, but that's how it goes. I just feel that in a tournament with this many people if I manage to build a huge stack I want to make it count. There's always next time.

It looks like CJ, RandomSam and Wil all did some live-blogging for the tournament, so check them out.