Thursday, June 01, 2006

I shouldn't have said anything

Talk about a horrible run. I don't think I've logged a winning session in four or five days. This is when I start to hate poker. I've dropped like $150 since Saturday playing $1/2.

I'm not sure what happened. I was on a killer run. Jacked up the ol' bankroll a little bit. I was almost ready to step up to $2/4 and my atrocious run of luck began.

I know it's part of poker. You have to stomach the swings. It's one long session.

Blah.

Blah.

Blah.

I played a lot over the Memorial Day weekend and hit so many bad beats, I'm just about ready to go back to SNGs.

To stop the bleeding, I played a $10 SNG tonight and placed 3rd. Not bad, plus it stemmed my losses from limit earlier in the evening. I did the same thing Sunday night and got a 2nd. Maybe the Poker Gods are trying to tell me something?

Limit can be really boring, but sometimes playing ABC poker is cathartic to me. I go in spurts - lots of NL, then some limit when I get out of rhythm. Now, it's back to NL, I suppose.

I need to tune up for the World Blogger Championship of Online Poker at PokerStars, so I'm thinking about jumping into a few of the multi-table SNGs as practice.

Columbo seems to like them. BTW, nice work on the Emergency Podcast over at the Lord Admiral, Ray. It takes guts to put yourself out there, man.

It was definitely out there.

I love his One Minute Mysteries (a regular segment on the Lord Admiral podcast. If you don't listen to the Lord Admiral podcast, you're missing out. Definitely the best poker podcast out there.

On the homefront, I've been pretty busy with freelance work and other family stuff this week and haven't had much time to write.

Plus, my little sister is sick. They think they know what it is, but they have to run a shitload of tests on her to make sure. It's not cancer, but it's not good, either. I've got a post written up about the whole situation, but I'm not sure I wanna stick it out here. I'm pretty upset about it, but my Mom is a total fucking basket case.

Ugh.

Then I discover that Iggy has pimped me. Gee, nothing like a little pressure to post.

OK, that's enough whining. Other than my horrible downswing and sick sibling, things are actually going OK.

My 4-year-old daughter has started taking an interest in poker. I banked a $75 win on Thursday night with her in my lap, so she thinks she is my good luck charm.

Now that I'm losing, she sits here and second-guesses my play.

"Look Daddy, we match!" she says mockingly when the board flops what would have been a full house had I not folded.

"Why didn't we win?"

"Because I can't play a King and a two. Just because the flop had a King and two 2's doesn't mean it was a good play," I reply, trying to show her that there is a method to this madness.

"But you said Kings are good. We had a King and lots of twos!" she whines.

"Both of our cards need to be good to play, honey, "

"But they were good! Everyone is winning except us. I don't want to play anymore!"

Sore loser. I wonder where she gets it?

Thursday, May 25, 2006

How Do I Love Thee, PokerStars?

Let me count the ways:

1. Your software is the best, hands-down.
2. Your customer service rules.
3. You're almost as fishy as Party.
4. You hired Otis (And having been described as "Otissian" by no less an authority than Maudie herself, I have to love you simply for that reason. Not to mention, Otis is a kick-ass writer.).
5. You do stuff like setting up blogger-only freeroll tournaments:
Online Poker

I have registered to play in the PokerStars World Blogger Championship of Online Poker!

This Online Poker Tournament is a No Limit Texas Holdem event exclusive to Bloggers.

Registration code: 7330476

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

This will jinx everything, I'm sure

I was home for lunch a couple of weeks ago and decided to fire up Stars and fold while I was eating. I sat down at a .50/1 limit 6max table. Thirty minutes later, I had doubled my $30 buy-in.

The next day, I figured I would give it another shot: different table, same results. By the end of the week, I had reached my $100 goal and proceeded to pump up my (massive) bankroll to close to $200.

I couldn't figure out why my opponents' play was so horrific during the day as opposed to my evening sessions. Are the jobless losers sitting at home all day just horrible players? Do the Brits staying up too late just suck at poker?

I wasn't doing anything special, just playing ABC poker. There was no thought involved. I didn't make any moves (a moot point in limit, anyway) and rarely bluffed outside of continuation betting.

These donkeys were routinely calling me down with nothing more than second pair, Ace high or even worse hands.

I'm not going to question it. I moved up to $1-2 this week with similar results, except I'm winning more money now.

I'm sure this post will turn my luck ice cold. I shouldn't have said anything, but then I wouldn't have anything to blog about.

If this little run continues, I may be able to use my winnings to buy a plane ticket to Vegas for the July blogger event. It's either that or win the World Blogger Championship of Online Poker. My blog has been up since February and I'm posting regularly, so they better let me in.

I think I'm going to start playing some token SNGs on Full Tilt too. I won my way into a $200+15 WPT satellite there last year and wouldn't mind taking a shot at a WSOP seat. I could always sell my seat if I win. If I get a seat in the main event, I'm selling it to Iggy.

It looks like a light week on the freelance work front, so I actually have some extra time to do some things I want to do, like post here and play with my new toy:


Say hello to the teePod. After my humbling incident with BG's iPod, I decided to ditch my two-year-old Creative Zen and join the poderati. I deserve it after working 70 hours a week for the last 3 months, dammit.

I want to extend a hearty welcome to my 2 5 new readers. I appreciate the comments and you taking the time to read this drivel. Thanks for the pimpage, Maudie!

I hope that the quantity of my posts will increase, but the quality will definitely improve as I shake the rust off the creative side of my brain. I work a lot of hours between my fulltime gig and freelance work and the last thing I want to do after 12 hours of pounding code is sit in front of a computer and type more.

But for you, dear reader, I will make the sacrifice and accelerate the inevitable onset of carpal tunnel syndrome.

I haven't written regularly for about 8 years (I used to write professionally, fwiw), but I will do my very best to get something up here at least once or twice per week just to shake the cobwebs out of my mind.

Well, I'm off to load up the teePodd with about 15 GB of podcasts and my entire music collection. Hopefully, I can find some time to post again later this week...

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Dropping the Hammer on Poker Champ

I have been informed by Maudie that I am expected to have some sort of post up by Monday, so here it is. Sorry it's the following Monday.

I had been looking forward to the poker game for two weeks. The workaday (and night) drudgery that has become my life was growing a bit stale and I needed to do something enjoyable for a change. Pauly, Daddy, BG, Maudie and Duggle Bogey all made the trek to Northern Kentucky for the second annual "Play Poker in a Hotel Suite Instead of Somebody's Kitchen" game and I was really looking forward to seeing and meeting everyone.

I had the distinct pleasure of hanging with Pauly and Daddy at last year's event and was geeked about meeting Maudie and BG. I didn't subscribe to Duggle's blog until the little feud started between him and "Poker Champ" and I didn't even know he was coming until I walked into the game.

I made my way through the damp, overcast streets of Covington, KY, anxiously seeking the giant circular tower that is the Radisson. It's pretty hard to miss, considering it's right next to the highway and looks like a giant grain elevator with windows. Iggy rented a suite (actually, the exact same suite as last year) and, after running into GMoney in the parking lot, I was handed a large bag of ice and told to take it up to the room.

Carrying the 40lb bag of ice on my shoulder, I walked past the suspicious security guard. I smiled politely and continued to the elevator. I felt like some stupid teenager who was on his way to an illicit hotel party.

I entered the suite. I was warmly welcomed by Daddy and Pauly, who actually remembered me from last year. I was introduced to Duggle and BG, and of course, Maudie.

Maudie was everything Iggy and others had built her up to be. I could tell from the sincere hug that she was every bit the good soul that everyone said she was.

I bought into the game: NL50, .25/.50 blinds. OK, I can play that. My NL ring game is a little rusty since I went back to playing limit again, but I hadn't forgotten everything I knew. We were 10-handed for the early portion of the night, but when Iggy's friend Fast Eddie showed up, the fireworks started.

Fast Eddie is the king of online poker. This kid (and I do mean kid - couldn't have been more than 23) routinely 10-tables sit and gos (the $200+15 ones) and makes a nice little living doing it. He's a tall, skinny guy with spiky black hair, translucent skin and a shirt that was 2 sizes too small. He looked too pale and thin to be AUSTINKEARNS, king of tilting poor unsuspecting suckers on Party.

This guy was pulling down six figures playing poker? Well, he certainly looked like he spent a lot of time sitting in front of 5 giant LCD monitors, that's for sure.

Eddie made us 11, so we split into two tables. I was seated with Daddy, Pauly, Duggle and GMoney and the other table was Iggy, Eddie, BG, Jimbo, Maudie and Mr. Fabulous. Once Dann the Man showed up, we were 12.

As soon as Eddie sat down, the chips started flying. He was being extremely aggressive, which is his style. Hell, it's a winning style except when you're betting into the nuts. Which he was. Eddie got cracked very early, knocking him down to $8. The chips kept flying after that - Eddie was tilted and wanted to bust and rebuy or just piss everyone off.

One hour later, Eddie left the suite with $150, tripling his buy in and winning it all in the last 45 minutes. He cracked Iggy at least twice and Maudie once. I’m not sure if he put a hurting on anyone else at the grownups table, but Daddy, GMoney, Pauly, Duggle and I were laughing it up over an average pot size of about $4 in the kiddie pool.

Hell, we even had kiddie drinks: Duggle brought some Smirnoff Grape or some-such -other-brand-flavored-malt beverage. It tasted just like Grape Nehi. Not sure I could drink six of them, but they were tasty.

Here's my question: Where was this shit when when we were in high school and I was trying to get some 15-year-old hottie to let me feel her up? All I could offer was a 2-liter of Sun Country Wine Coolers or Keystone Light. No wonder I stayed a virgin so long...

I digress.

The Real Sheriff showed up after that, taking Eddie's seat and calming things down a bit. Honestly, I was just glad I didn't have sit with Eddie.

After a few hours of playing uber-tight and getting a better feel for how the guys (and gal) played, I started to loosen up a little bit, but Daddy wanted to play sheriff. "No limping" was the refrain as $2.50 became the price to play poker. My typical "weak/tight limp in and hope the flop hits me" method was not going clearly not going to work.

So, I picked up on the aggression a bit and it paid off. I had a couple of decent hands pay me off and got my stack back up to around $30-35 from the original $50.

I was feeling ok about my play, but then I get the ultimate blogger hand (don't look at me like that, you know what it is).

Now, I want to preface this by saying that I rarely, if ever, play the Hammer online. I only play it in person and only then if the situation is right. I had cultivated a very tight table image up to this point.

I popped it preflop to about $4, only Daddy called. Flop was no help to me, but I continued to play it like Aces. Another large bet from me. Another call. Turn - still no help. I make another strong bet and Daddy calls again. He is clearly not going to back down. SO, I push with my remaining $28. Daddy went into the tank - he couldn't figure out what I had.

He (thank GOD) laid it down and said, "I don't know what the hell you could have. Aces? Cowboys?"

I show the hammer and collect my winnings, in a much more dignified manner than previously noted.

Yes, I bluffed the Poker Champ. Felt real good LOL!

I felt like I earned some respect playing the Hammer like a pro. Not only that, I won a hand early on with The Tourist after flopping two sevens. Take that, Champ! ;)

My only other hand of note was KK in the BB. Pauly bumps the bet to about $2.50 preflop and I reraise all in. He thinks for a second and calls. He flips AK and gets no help. I double through and fold for the next couple of hours until I can't stay awake any more.

I had a ton of freelance to finish up on Sunday and somehow had to manage to carve out a few hours to go see my Mom on Mother's Day, so I trudged home around 3:00am, blissfully unaware that I missed the highly-eventful followup trip to Waffle House.

I finished up about $20 for the evening, one of my better live game performances to date. I know that's not saying much, but the only live action I've ever seen is at home games and once at the boat. And against these sharks (ok, poker aficionados), treading water and having a spectacular time is a +EV situation in my book.

Needless to say, I left with a smile on my face. And a mildly incriminating picture of me posted to the Tao of Pauly (yes, that's me next to the tequila bottle at the bottom of the photo dump. My 15 milliseconds of Intarweb fame).

It was great to meet everyone and see Pauly and Daddy again. My main regret was not getting to talk to BG more than the couple of sentences we spoke in passing. He's one of the bloggers I was truly hoping to get to know better. I felt like I had found a semi-kindred spirit after reading his blog for the past year.

Oh well, there's always next time. BG, I'm sorry about futzing with your iPod and fucking up the whole music rotation. I felt like a tool because I don't have an iPod (I have a lame Creative knockoff) and didn't know what the fuck I was doing. That'll learn me. Fuck it. I'm buying a real iPod.

I mistakenly let it slip to Maudie and Iggy that I had started this blog, which in turn led to them badgering me for the URL. After much Chinese water torture, I gave it out, which led to an ultimatum from Maudie that I start posting again or she wouldn't be my friend. And after the great conversation I had with her, I wasn't going to let that happen.

So, here is my semi-uber recap of the blogger get together. Even though the most I could ever hope for is to become a B-List blogger (by proxy, even), I've begun posting again. I'm sure my 2 3 readers (Iggy and Maudie - ed. Welcome and thanks for the comment, Pauly! How you found me, I'll never know...) will be excited about the news.

It's not often that you meet new folks and feel an immediate connection. I felt that way Saturday. The poker bloggers are a very cool, fun group of people and I want to get to them know better.

I'm even thinking about trying to make it out to Vegas this summer and railbird at the Summer Classic. If I can scratch out some time between now and July, I might even try to win a WSOP seat so I can have my expenses covered. We'll see how things go.

Hell, I might even start posting semi-regularly, just to purge the spiderwebs and creepy-crawly thoughts that routinely fill my head.

At very least, you'll see me appearing in comments a little more frequently. I'm a notorious lurker and never leave comments on anyone's site. That will change, now that I actually know who these folks are.

Thanks to Iggy for organizing the whole thing and BIG thanks to Maudie, Pauly, Daddy, BG and Duggle for making the trip! Hope to see all of you soon.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Coming Up Short

After coming so close to getting my Stars account back to $100 yesterday, I decided I would try to win an entry into the $750k Guaranteed tourney last night playing in a 375 VIP point Turbo freeroll SNG last night.

36 players, winner-takes-all. It's the second one I've played in this week, effectively exhausting my VIP points. I placed sixth on Thursday night and figured I might be able to do better this time around.

I've been reading a lot of Columbo's back posts and have found them very helpful in establishing a tournament strategy. It was a Turbo, so it was pretty essential to chip up early, if possible.

I used my typical "don't get into coinflips early" strategy, which could have hurt me. I played the very first hand out of the small blind with the Jackhammer against J2, flopped a Jack and the board proceeded to force a chop. No progress there.

I didn't see another flop until the end of level 2, calling a T150 PF raise from KJo and a call from Q6o (??) with AQ from the BB. I fold after the flop completely misses me.

I don't see another hand until the beginning of level 4, when I look down to see 66 UTG and limp in. Flop comes 2AK and I roll over.

The next two hands, I get KQo and QJo in the BB and SB respectively. Fold to a 3X BB raise with KQ (should I have defended here?) and fold the QJ when the flop misses yet again. The blinds are accelerating here and I'm starting to get worried as my M approaches 10. FYI, we're getting about 4-5 hands in per level at this point.

Then, my mini-rush starts. I look down at AKo in MP and pop it to 3X BB. I get re-raised all-in by the button. Hrm.

I have a feeling he is trying to push me off my hand. Since this is really the first hand I've seen the entire tournament, I go in the tank. Gawd!

Now, I typically like to be the one to apply the pressure, but TJ says you gotta win with and beat AK to win a tournament, so I make a fishy call. He flips 88 and the race is on. He has me covered. :(

Flop comes 6Q5 with two clubs (I have the Ac). No help on the turn. I scream at my laptop, "COME ON!" and a beautiful Ace rivers me T2515.

Yeah, I sucked out. I got lucky. It was time to make a move and I had to do it.

A couple hands later, I get AJo in UTG+1. I know, I know, I shouldn't have played this hand. But, I played it right. I raise 3X (my standard PF raise) and get one caller. Flop is rags, I bet out 600 and he folds. Sweet!

Four hands later, I get ATs on the button. One obligatory 3X BB raise and I am heads up. Flop is QT2 with two hearts. The deuce is a spade (foreshadowing).

It's checked to me and I bet T600. Insta-raised to 1200. Huh? Middle pair, top kicker on that raggedy flop and I get raised? I make the fishy call. Again.

Turn is the 3s, giving me outs galore. He bets T450 and I make another bad call.

I'm beat and drawing. And I know it. A lovely Qs drops on the river and gives me the nut flush, but opens the possiblity of a boat. He has T427 and pushes. I pay him off and he's playing...Q7o?

Geez, these people are donkeys. Or rather, that's suckout #2 for me. I have a feeling my luck is not going to last.

I am big stack at my table and 2nd overall in chips at this point. So, do I tighten up and hang on to my chips?

Fuck, no.

I proceed to donk off about half my stack on stupid calls, stupid raises and bad luck. I'm down to about 3k in chips (from T5600 or so) and find TT in the SB. The button goes all in for T1830 and I see an opportunity. I smell KQo or Ace-rag.

I make the call and he flips...K2? I am 3-1 and then a fucking K falls on the flop.

Jesus H. Fucking Christ.

The turn is my beautiful two-outer 10 and he is drawing dead. The river King gives him an fleeting instant of hope while filling my boat.

Shortly after, there is a giant stack at my table after he knocks out 3 desperate short stacks. He's sitting about 12k. I have around T5500. Blinds are 300/600 and my M is getting smaller by the minute.

In the BB, I get 55. Big Stack raises it to T2400 and I push, hoping he is just bullying. He (unfortunately) calls.

The board does not improve his KQo and I double through to almost 12k.

How did that just happen? He says, "You must have liked those 5s." and I reply, "Yeah, that was stupid, but I needed to slow you down."

I am now the chip leader by nearly T3000 with a little over 12k.

I settle down and tighten up, waiting for some shortstacks to drop off so I can start playing again. I look up 8 hands later and we're down to four. And I'm the short stack!

Time to play. I get AQo on the button and push with about 8k. I steal the blinds and one limper's bet and I'm back to 13k. I get both of my blinds stolen and I'm right back to push or fold territory.

Hey kids, it's yer old pal AQo again! Time to push. A big stack calls me and I'm out after I don't improve against 99.

Fourth place out of 36. I improved over my Thursday performance (slightly) and really chipped up towards the end there. I truly had a shot to win it, so I guess I'll be trying my hand at more of these multi-table SNGs to try to improve my long game so I can start playing in more large tourneys.

Since I'm sure I have no readers at this point, I'm not even going to bother asking for feedback. I'm fairly sure of what I did wrong and what I did right. I didn't play agressively enough when I had a big stack and was too willing to push with a small one. What the hell is wrong with me?

Saturday, February 04, 2006

PokerStars Hates Me

I'm tired of folding. It seems like that's all I've been doing for the last 4 hours. Fold. Fold. Fold.

Why, you ask? Because PokerStars hates me.

How do you get in the money so often?

I have developed the patience of Gandhi.

From folding. All the time.

Shouldn't you move up a level?

No. Here's why: I'm a pussy.

I wasn't always a pussy. I used to be headstrong. A little cocky, even.

All I have to say is that life has a funny way of humbling you.

I started playing poker online almost 2 years ago. I had a killer run when I first started. Well, not really killer, but I turned my original $50 deposit at Party into about $800 when all was said and done. I started playing $.50/$1 limit - simple ABC poker - and worked my way up to $1/$2 and started playing the $25NL tables.

That's where I won most of my money. People are just plain horrible at those tables. And my game was pretty good. I was tight-aggressive. I applied pressure. I got my money in with the best hand (well, most of the time).

I started playing the $4+.40 SNG qualifiers at FullTilt and ended up making it into a $200+15 for a seat in a WPT event. I ended up going out slightly above middle of the pack and felt pretty good about my finish, considering that I had no tournament experience and had placed in a fairly large qualifier to get there in the first place.

I placed in one of the early blogger tourneys (The Monty Memorial), even though I wasn't a blogger. Actually, I'm a friend of Iggy and even did a guest post on his site early in 2005.

Then, life struck. My wife and I separated. She took our daughter and moved in with her parents. I had to move because I couldn't afford the house we were renting (and child support), so I got an apartment.

I had to cash out of poker to pay for some expenses. Thus, my bankroll dwindled to a very low level.

Then I started playing cheap SNGs at Stars with my last $35. I turned it into a $100 and then lost it all.

I played a lot less and at lower limits after that. I was scared money. I tightened up. I folded down when I probably shouldn't have.

My wife and I reconciled in September and she and my daughter moved into my apartment. Luckily, it's a pretty big place with a ton of storage, so there is actually a little bit of room.

I digress. I really liked the tourneys. To me, it limited the amount of money I could lose. And I was good enough to win against the fish. So, I put in $100 and started playing again.

Then, life kicked me in the junk, yet again. I lost my job. I'm in IT, so it's not that hard to find something else to do where I am. Plus, I have mad skillz. ;)

I had another offer within a couple of weeks and ended up getting double-paid (from my severance) for about a month.

The extra cash helped straighten us out financially (money was a big reason we split up) and gave me a little room to breathe.

Well, after the job thing, I totally went into the tank emotionally. Sure, I found a job pretty quickly and ended up making more money than I did at the old place, but my ego didn't (and still hasn't) recovered from the blow I took. I was uninspired to do much of anything I enjoyed. Yeah, yeah, I was (and still am) depressed. Angsty. Not Boy Genius angsty or anything, but there was a fair amount of navel-gazing going on in my house.

To add insult to injury, I did OK at the tables for a while - treading water - then went on the worst losing streak of my life. November, December and January ran through my bankroll like hot lobster through melted butter.

A couple of weeks ago, I took my last $12 and played a $10+1 SNG and won it. I've been on a streak ever since, cashing in nearly 75% of the tourneys I played. Worked my $12 back up to almost $100.

And I almost get there today. $94.50. I won a $5 SNG this morning and then proceeded to lose the next two.

I went completely and totally card dead. Shamefully card dead. Finished 6th and 5th this afternoon. I'm still up for the day and want to get back to $100 in my account again. Is that so wrong?

But, since PokerStars hates me, that won't happen.