Thursday, March 31, 2005

Need some feedback...

Setting profit aside for a moment, how do you measure whether you’re a good SNG player? Percentage of ITM finishes and first places, correct? I don't have any benchmark data, though, so I have no clue if I should be focusing on SNGs or giving them up.

I seem to be doing well at the low-dollar games on all sites. I give it back when I step above $10 games, but I have enormous confidence below $10. Anyway, since staying more disciplined with regard to buy-in limits, I’ve been on a great SNG run.

Ring games are another matter… ahem… I need to give ‘em up.

Here’s my placement stats for 2005:

Place Frequency %
1 17 16%

2 23 21%

3 15 14%

4 11 10%

5 14 13%

6 6 6%

7 11 10%

8 6 6%

9 3 3%

10 2 2%

So, I finish in the money 51% of the time. If I deleted the higher buy-in games, that stat would go up, obviously. Some other info: These results are across 5 different sites, and are for games with 5, 6, 9, and 10 players. I try to stay away from turbo tourneys. I usually play in the 2-3 lowest buy-ins at a site - for instance, AP has .50, 1.00, and 2.00 SNGs, Pacific has 2.50 and 5.00, Stars has 5.00, etc. So, I float between those levels depending on how I feel and what my environment in the house is like (distraction factors). I'm just re-building my bankroll right now to a point where I can try to move up to $10 SNGs consistently and play them "with impunity" as Iggy would say, and see if my performance at that level improves.

Anyway, are my results decent enough to continue focusing on SNGas a primary game? I am profitable, in spite of the bleeding I did early on in larger buy-in games.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Things I didn't expect to hear at Easter Dinner

Wow, those are some balls you’ve got there!
- Me, to my 5 yr old nephew (speaking about the large sack of footballs and soccer balls he was carrying!)

11 yr old nephew: Why do they call Alabama the Crimson Tide?
Me: Because they’re a bunch of pussies.

I can’t lose at craps!
- BuccaneerMike

Quadra-D: I don’t play poker with you guys because I don’t want to give you my money.
Me: You won’t be giving any to me.

Yes, I’ve gone as cold as so many in the blogging world did in February. So cold, that I hate this fucking game right now, and refuse to play until I get my head out of my ass. I find more ways to lose in a night at the tables, like when I was banging $20 crack whores… oh, yeah, I wasn’t going to talk about that anymore.


So, is it any wonder I’m not blogging much right now? Between work, family obligations, coaching the worst t-ball team in history, losing money at poker, and now Mrs. Big nagging me every 3 minutes about buying a bigger house, I hardly have time run a batch while thinking about $20 crack whores…


Yes, I bought my pokertracker guide, and did my PT trial. After 1000 hands, I came up as a question mark. Since that means I played too many hands, and I’m usually pretty tight, I must have gotten my share of playable hands.

I just played them all wrong. Yeah, I suck. Or, maybe I should just blame pokertracker. Anyway, I’m outta here until my head gets back into a better place.

Except, Quadra-D got a great T-shirt as birthday present tonight. I had our mother take a picture of it, so when she sends it to me I’ll post it. If I had Iggy’s e-mail I’d send it to him but since I don’t this will have to do. It was a way cool Guinness shirt that said “feelin' lucky” beneath the Guinness logo. Way cool.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

By way of explanation...

I've been kind of out of the loop lately for several reasons. First, the increased responsibilities at work have taken their toll, leaving me little time for poker or blogging. Also, increased responsiblities at home, with coaching t-ball and trucking kids to cheerleading practices and things like that have limited my free time.

Just as important, though, is that I'm not enjoying poker right now. I had some good (great!) sessions, but the downswings hurt even more at these higher levels, and that has taken some getting used to. But, even when I'm winning, I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop. I know the variance-bitch is right around the corner. I found myself falling into old patterns of playing tight-weak, or chasing backdoor flushes and inside straights, playing really dumb poker. Obviously, this is no way to play, so I've been on hiatus since late last week. I don't know when I'll be mentally ready to play again, but when I do I'm sure I'll be posting about it.

It's weird, I don't think its burn-out; but I just prefer to not play right now. I don't know how else to explain it, but if any of you have experienced this, I'd love to hear about it.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Catchin' up...

The business travel continued this week, back to DC for more market analysis work. Ugh. At least I got in some Stars while there. Sitting alone in a hotel room sucks, but at least I can concentrate and play my "A" game. I wish I had tracked it, but I'm fairly certain I'm very much a winner while on the road. Found a juicy 3/6 game on Stars, waaaaaay above my limits, but like I said a few posts ago, I'm really focusing on game selection and this one was very good. I was pretty card dead, but made the most of what I got, and caught a mini-rush after the first hour that saw my go 3.5X my buy-in. It was late, I was tired, and I didn't want to tempt the poker gods, so I logged off.

Sent my money for the pokertracker guide this morning. Can't wait to get my access code and check it out. Since I'm all about game selection right now, I'm hoping PT and the guide will help me in my quest, akin to using a sniper using a rifle rather than a shotgun. I suck at multi-tabling. The idea that I could just open a bunch of tables, play book-perfect poker, and come out a couple bets per 100 ahead doesn't work for me. But, when I select my targets carefully and focus on extracting as much money as I can, I seem to play at my best.

To each his own, I suppose. I'm not trying to support my family with poker, so I don't need to see as many hands as possible. Of the few hands I play, I need to play them as well as they can possibly be played. Focus, focus, focus - GAME SELECTION.

I'm getting caught up on everyone's blogs this morning. No travel scheduled in the near future, but the workload has ratcheted up significantly. Hopefully, I can do a better job of reading and providing lame comments in a misguided attempt to be witty and interesting. We'll see. I can always go back to stories about $20 crack whores... the time I ...

oh, never mind.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

This game has really changed...

Played in da' home game last night at BuccaneerMike's. These idiots are so focused on pushing the action that they completely screwed up the blinds last night. Blinds started at 10/20 with T1700 starting stacks, then increased every 15 MINUTES, or when someone was knocked out. I was playing great, but when you can't even make one orbit around a 9-man table without the blinds increasing, it becomes a crapshoot. I pitched a serious hissy-fit, which no one took seriously until it got heads-up with blinds at T2500/T5000 after 90 minutes.

Yeah, you read that right. None of these idiots takes the time to run the numbers. There was only about T15K on the entire table. Then the light dawned, and they slowed them down to 30 minute blinds for later tourneys, and added more chips. Still aggressive, but at least I could afford to sit out a hand or two

Mid-way through the second tourney, I looked around the table and realized that there was only 1 guy drinking alcohol. And he was drinking wine, so does that even count? I made this observation out loud, and everyone looked down at their cards and shifted uncomfortably.

This game has really changed. Used to be, the drinking was the primary reason to play. When I realized this, I had an flashback to Richie Cunningham pulling Fonzie ever-closer to the ski ramp. Won't be long before the handguns some of these idiots bring to da' game get pulled out, Tilt-style.

This game is becoming -EV for me in more ways than one.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Where to start?

Loooooong week....

I was deathly ill earlier this week. Dragged myself to T-Ball practice, practically delirious, on Tuesday. Crashed right afterward, and woke up at 3:30 am to head to the airport for my trip to Toronto. I was hoping to feel well enough to venture to one of the casinos about hour and a half from the city, but I was still wiped out. Spent Thursday evening tryong out Full Tilt, working on my bonus.

Full Tilt is as rocky as UB, from what I saw. Tough, tough games. Gonna take a loooong time to work off that 100% bonus. I've been informally tracking some elements of game selection that seem to work for me, and I'm not seeing many of those characteristics at Full Tilt as yet.

Had a great session of 2/4 at Stars last night.... mmmmm.... juicy......

So, I'm convinced that game selection is definitely a key for me, and the more disciplined I am about it, the better I do. So, I'm taking the next step. Moving some cash out to my Neteller account to by "The Guide". I'll take a shot at the trial PT again, this time with "The Guide" as my map. If I'm comfortable with PT after that, I'll spend the dough. Seems to me to be most logical to by the guide first - you wouldn't by a car without learning to drive, would you?

Haven't played many SNGs this week due to travel, but I continue to do well in the ones I play. I'm very interested to see what PT willl say about my game lately. I've noticed a few statistical improvements (VP$IP going down, Raise% going up) in the el-cheapo stats the various sites track. Can't wait to dig further and see what else surfaces.


As for the trip, it went well. Better than expected, really. I'm being given a huge challenge, but I'll be in a position to have my work associated with a very high-profile project. Lotta work, but as someone still relatively new to the company I need to take every opportunity to get my name in front of the powers-that-be.

Here's something I've noticed, though: Nearly all of the Canadians I meet in real life are incredibly nice, warm people. Most of the Canadians I play against online get really upset at the littlest things, like drawing to inside straights when you get 10:1 on your money instead of 11:1. Yeah, I know one is mathematically right and one is mathematically wrong. But if you're drawing at inside straights, one is not going to split hairs over those kind of odds... eh? So, relax guys, I know it's culturally impossible for you to say rude things to people in person, how about a little consideration online?

Just to highlight the cultural difference: The USAir flights to/from Toronto fromt he hubs are usually on regional jets. This means, tight quarters for those of us with the classic poker physique. Especially the trays - there isn't enough clearance for us big 'uns. On the flight out of Toronto, the attractive blond co-ed on spring break OFFERED to share her tray, allowing me to place my soft drink down. When I boarded the next leg in Philly, two ladies travleing togehter noted with disappointment that they were sitting in middle seats across from each other. The flight attendant's response: SO?

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Shill post: Latest offer from AP - more bonus $$ available

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Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Gimme a took...

Or, is it spelled tuke? tooc? Hell I don't know.

Gotta go to Canada this week to show my face around the office. My boss, and the headquarters, are there.

I'm sick. Sinus infection. 4 out of 5 trips to the great white north in the last 15 months, I've been sick. Hafta hold my breath at customs. Those guys used to turn people away with the sniffles or a cough back during the SARS outbreak. I'm not carrying SARS, but I bet I'll be spreading a nasty sinus infection around while I'm there.

Whatta guy, huh? Always thinking about what I can give others?

Played a little poker, but backed down in limits with being under the weather and all. No poker for the rest of the week, I think. Just isn't worth it, as bad as I feel.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Stuff from Sunday...

All I have to say about that $2/$4 game at Absolute Poker is that it plays exactly the same as the $.02/$.04 game.


$.5/1 and $1/$2 are filled with rocks working off bonuses. $2/$4 is filled with Play-ahs. Played on a table with over 55% seeing the flop. Left 30 minutes later (26 total hands) with almost 5x my $40 buy-in.

My. And I still suck, to be blunt. I just got good cards and bet the crap out of them tonite.

Wish I had studied these games before and coughed up the deposit to play in them before this. Oh well, I'm here now. Still short on bankroll for this level, but I've gotta stick a while and see if this crappy play continues.

Click the banners above for fun and profit.


Spent the evening having Sunday dinner with the extended family. Heard some interesting news from BuccaneerMike: Apparently, SI is coming out with a story revealing that Phil Mickelson (big-time pro golfer for you non-golfers) is in big-time debt to the Vegas casinos. Something like $4 million.

Now, I don’t know if it’s true or not. BuccaneerMike and Junior have been hearing about it on talk radio, specifically some guy that used to be a touring pro and on the Golf channel. Never found out if he’s national, or local to Tampa Bay. SI was holding the story for publication in April (Master’s time, for you non-golfers). But, with word getting out, SI decided to pull the publication date in.

Supposedly, PM has a sports betting habit, and his wife enjoys the pit. Rumor has it that his pre-Ryder Cup club-change was motivated by the need to pay his markers – the check was made out directly to Mandalay Bay. Phil went 1-3 at the Ryder.

As if PM isn’t having enough trouble, it’s also revealed that there is an illegitimate child, borne by an African-American woman. Yeah, the folks at Augusta National are gonna love that...

Hope it all turns out to be untrue. As poker players, though, I'm sure we all wish it was a Hold 'Em habit he had...


When the family gets together, inevitably talk revolves to blue-sky fantasies of potential small businesses. Mom owns a small, but successful gift shop. BuccaneerMike is partners in a successful financial planning firm. Quadra-D (his high school football team gave him the nickname after observing his... um... blessings in the locker room; it stands for David the Dynamic Donkey Dick) works with his father-in-law, and has been tagged to take over the family business in a few years; Junior is a waiter, and we talk occasionally about what sort of restaurant he should try to open someday.

BuccaneerMike opined that food is loser business, and successful hospitality businesses should stick to liquor. Eventually, we decided strip clubs are the way to go. He even came up with a few names:

Big Mike’s Thongs & Songs

Fat Mike’s Rears & Beers
Whaddya think?


I had an interesting hand today in another $5 SNG (which I eventually won!). I got freaking lucky as hell, catching a 1-outer on the river to beat some “any two cards” asshole that had played 6-4o. He was sitting to my immediate left. In level one, I had limped with 3-3, and picked up trips with a flop of 2-3-5. He flopped a straight, and we eventually got it all in by the turn. I hit the quads, and it just killed the guy’s spirit. He made one snide comment, but I let it go. I just said, ‘I got lucky’ and moved on, not pointing out that you deserve to get beat when you play 6-4o.


Took my first shot at the $10 SNG at Stars last night. The other 3 $10 SNGs I played were at AP, UB, and Pokerroom, and I was o-3 on cashes.

I felt very comfortable. The action moved fast, with people going out much faster than I was used to from the $5 game. Kinda like a Pacific SNG (I think the longest SNG I ever played at Pacific was 40 minutes – you only start with T800). When it got to 6, one guy said he had to go to a movie with his wife and would be going all-in every hand and we should call with anything playable.

Yeah, I’ve heard that one before.

He did it, and after a couple hands some people jumped in. He wound up knocking out two people, gathering nearly half the chips on the table in the process. Then he left.

He was serious!

Shit. So, there we are, still at 25/50, on the bubble, and the chip leader bolts. We discussed, and took turns blinding him out. Took fucking forever! He had almost T7000! I know we were ante-ing T25 by the time we knocked him out, so what’s that? Level 5?

But, we did it. It sucked the whole way. I think we all had top 5 hands during this period. I wound up finishing second.

Still playing my $5 games for awhile longer. I’ll take a couple more shots every 4-5 SNGs, to gauge if I’m ready. I’m not planning to make the move unless I can show continued strong performance after about 30 SNGs at the $5 level. Also, I have to discount this tourney with the effect of the guy that left early. Would have been a very different tournament if he'd stuck around.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

If I were Pauly...

I'd use a clever methaphor or simile about a misspent youth to describe the level of disgust I feel after my play last night. Maybe something like:

I was left with that same post-coital self-loathing I had after screwing $20 crack whores at 3 a.m. after a night of beer and lap dances on Orange Blossom Trail...

I just ignored the other person and concentrated on my play, like when I was pounding $20 crack whores in the backseat of my '87 Olds Cutlass Supreme with the brougham top after a night of beer and lap dances...

Yeah, I know, I won $100. But I couldn't have done it in a fishier way. In the past, if I had been successful after a night like that, I'd be right back out there... the night I dropped off one $20 crack whore, bought a Coors Light tall
boy at a drive through package store, and picked up another $20 crack whore on the next corner - after all, I'd just gotten rid of that nuisance batch, now I could enjoy myself...
Yeah. Like that.

Of course, each time I'd go back to a game like that, I'd lose my money... the time I got pick-pocketed by a $20 crack whore while getting
a hummer in the front seat of my Dodge Dakota pick-em-up truck; when your pants are around your ankles and you're staring at the ceiling, you can't tell when they're rummaging through your pockets...

Friday, March 04, 2005

I love and hate this hand...

###############################################Stage #92779042: Holdem No Limit $0.10 [2005-03-03 23:43:10]
Seat 2 - AC CHAMPION $25.10 in chips
Seat 3 - HERO $19.75 in chips
Seat 4 - RICKJMSBITCH $12.48 in chips
Seat 5 - MRNMRSCDC $9.04 in chips
Seat 8 - KILLASPL $7.65 in chips
Seat 9 - INTHEMNEY $12.64 in chips

*** BLIND [dealer 2] ***
HERO - Post small blind $0.10
RICKJMSBITCH - Post big blind $0.25
INTHEMNEY - Post $0.25
HERO - Pocket [10d,Qd]
AC CHAMPION - Calls $0.25
HERO - Calls $0.15

*** FLOP [3d,6h,10s] ***
HERO - Bets $0.75
INTHEMNEY - Raises $0.75 to $3.75
HERO - Raises $3 to $10.75
INTHEMNEY - Calls $7

*** TURN [3d,6h,10s,Js] ***
HERO - Checks

*** RIVER [3d,6h,10s,Js,7h] ***
HERO - Checks
INTHEMNEY - All-In $1.64
HERO - Calls $1.64

*** SHOW DOWN ***
INTHEMNEY - Show cards [10c,7s]
HERO - Lost mucks

*** RESULT ***
Total Pot($25.78)
Rake ($1.25)
Board [3d,6h,10s,Js,7h]
AC CHAMPION - Folded on the FLOP
HERO - HI: [Lost mucks]
MRNMRSCDC - Folded on the POCKET
INTHEMNEY - Total ($24.53) All-In HI:($24.53) Two pair, tens and sevens [10c,7s - B:10s,P:10c,P:7s,B:7h,B:Js]

Here's the situation: $.10/$.25 NL at AP. INTHEMONEY had just joined the table and this was his first hand. When the flop comes, I read him as having missed, or defending a weak ten. Why? I just felt like, if he were strong and it was the first hand, he'd have played it a little less aggressively. A $3.75 bet at these tables screams "don't call". And it's not unusual for someone to join the table and try to establish a dominant image from the beginning.

(BTW, I don't understand the way they represent the bets in the hand history - he didn't raise .75 to 3.75. He raised 3.00 to make it 3.75 to go. I re-raised 7 to make it 10.75 to go. Just so we're clear.)

I love it because my read was dead-on. But, it shouldn't have been.

I didn't know this person. He'd just joined the table. I had no betting patterns or image of him to rely on, just a logical sense of "WTF?" when he raised so big. There were something like a million hands he could have held to beat me.

And yet, I was right.

When the J came, I didn't bet the rest. Obviously, JT is a logical hand for him to have in that situation, so I didn't push for his remaining money. When he bet the river, I figured I was beat, but was easily was pot committed. Plus, as Harrington says, there's always at least a 10% chance of a bluff and I easily had those odds with the size of the pot relative to the rest of his chips.

So, here's my thoughts after stewing on this one: I loved that my read was right. I loved that I trusted the read enough to risk a bunch of chips. I hate that I allowed myself to get trapped in the hand. I probably should have just smooth-called the big raise. Allowed myself to get away from the hand when the J came, since I could have given him credit for JT without a second thought, if he bet. Or allowed me to bet at it and give him time to think about the odds I have JT in that situation. I hate his play - honestly, he played it worse than I did, and caught that lucky river. I loved that I gave the rest of the table the signal that I wasn't afraid of big bets.

After that, I hunkered down (because I live in Florida and that's what we do when a storm beats the crap out of us) and played tight-aggressive. I folded around probably 3 orbits before I had anything playable. Caught some decent flops, raised them, and everyone folded to me. On the third and fourth hands I played after that debacle, some people decided to look up my aggressive raises, allowing me triple back up to get close to even.

Is it possible to be satisfied with a losing session? Strangely, I am. I didn't tilt after that hand, as crushing as it was. I played my game, and stayed as aggressive in the hands that I played as if I was the chip leader.

BTW, INTHEMONEY was as reckless during the rest of his play as he was in that first hand. But, he got lucky a couple times and kept his chips. I still like that my read was so right.

Anyway, I posted this, along with my thoughts on the hand, so I could get some feedback. Obviously, I know I played it wrong in spite of how I worked through the logic of his hand correctly. But, I'd like to know what you think, and if I missed some logical possibilities I should have given credit for.


My PokerStars SNG run is till going strong, despite continuing to not get premium hands. I placed 2nd in my first tourney, then had a 5th place last night, but bounced back to win the next one despite getting crushed when I lost most of my chips and it appeared I'd go out in 3rd. I came back from T600 with blinds at 200/400 to win. I had two perfect opponents. The guy to my right was tight-weak, and the guy to my left was "sure" I was bluffing. Not necessarily a calling station, as he was playing aggressively and did make some decent laydowns. He was a good player, but he looked me up at the wrong times.

My confidence in these $5 SNGs is at an all time high right now, which is probably half the battle for me. I "expect" to make the money. I'm not getting fancy, just playing my game and picking my spots.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Meanwhile, back at the AP ranch...

... where I've re-deposited after a several-weeks hiatus, things have started off nice and comfortable at the .25 NL table.

I played a PS SNG during my lunch break, coming in 2nd. I haven't had a top 5 hand in my last 3 SNGs, with only Ako being the best of the bunch, but still have two 2nd place finishes. So, I'm satisfied with this result.

I did manage to pick up some nice hands at AP, though, with KK coming on the second hand. Didn't get much for it. After that, I picked off a bluffer when I reasoned that his PF raise was, at best, two overcards and called with AKo. Flop came 622, two clubs. He bet $1, and I called. Honestly, this is one move I don't understand. I know I will set myself up for a play by anyone reading this, but c'mon - you didn't raise PF with a 6 or a 2 in your hand. Maybe you had a decent pocket pair, but I'm still about 3:1 to pick up an ace or king with two cards to come, so you better bet it more aggressively than that. I think I had exactly the odds to call, and the $1 wasn't nearly as big a percentage of my stack as it was of his.

The Ks came on the turn, and he checked to me and I checked. River was a blank, and he bet a nice pot-sized amount. I figured him for KQ at worst, AK at best, so I reasoned that my risk was negligible with a split being the worst thing that would happen, so I called. He showed Jc9c. I don't blame him for trying. I gave him too much credit, though, and probably would not have called if a Q came on the river. So, I was wrong, but was right. Or, something like that.

Honestly, the deck was smacking me in the face even when I wasn't in the hand. Two A-xo hands that I folded pre-flop became runner-runner boats. Luckily, my frustration at seeing that did not cause me to overplay other hands, and I turned a nice little profit on a short session.

Running well in PS SNGs right now...

Between my play while traveling last week, and a couple this week, I'm feeling very comfortable at PS right now. Playing profitably at the micro NL tables, but very profitably in the few SNGs I've played. I left maybe $2 there a few weeks ago when I started moving my 'roll around. Built it up enough to buy-in to a few $5 SNGs, and rolled from there.

Sample is my last 10 since I re-started playing. I've cashed in 8. Two firsts, 3 seconds, 3 thirds, and 2 'others'. Playing my normal tight aggressive game. I don't bluff alot, just in the usual 'suspect' spots like the button or small blind when there are only one or two others in the pots, or when there's a scare card and my read is that they don't have it. I just try to pick my spots, not really trying to roll over the table. I'm just trusting my reads, and playing profitable cards in profitable positions (I'd say that's been the biggest improvement for me since my self-shortened break - I'm paying ALOT more attention to position). I also play a lot less hours and SNGs, and basically approach each with a clear head.

I probably don't accumulate as many chips as others might because I'm very aggressive when I get cards. I rarely trap. I might show one to keep people honest, but other than that I'm pounding on them. I figure that eventually someone will look me up, and I usually have the best of it when they do. I loosen up alot when I get to the cash, and try to control the table. So far, I have a normal distribution on the results, but it will be interesting to see if this continues as my sample grows larger.

I know one of the big complaints about PS is that the play is generally tight and solid, but I find those type of players very easy to play. Probably because they're predictable. I admit it, I get unnerved by maniacs, and go tight-weak waiting to trap. I suck that way.

But, this isn't an "I suck" post. It's going well right now. I wanted to blow my horn because these periods are so few and far between for me. I'll probably keep riding the rush until it turns back around for me. I'll check back in when I get a sample of 30.

PS: I did take two shots at $10, but failed miserably. That's ok, I can play $5 well enough to cash some more, then take another shot later.