Pokerama-rama! Now with more beer!

Beer, brewing and poker, with possibly some inane drivel on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Friday, June 25, 2004

Poker. Poker...oh, yes! Now I remember! I'm actually supposed to be writing in this thing, eh? Well, well, let me see here.

I've learned that I am a terrible ring game player. Beyond terrible, really. So, it's in my best interest to look into why, I suppose. Really, it's not that tough to figure out exactly why. I need to tighten up and try not to limp in with crap cards, like I might be able to in a tournament. I'm a much better tournament player, but I definitely need to work on my early round aggression. I consistently get deep into tournaments and close to the bubble, but many times, I'm left short-stacked, and unable to work my way up to a larger stack, and larger payout.

Speaking of tournaments, I've been playing a ton on Stars lately, and I think I'm on the right track. I finally cashed in a NLHE tournament, though it was only for 2x my buy-in. $2. While this may not seem like a huge amount, it lets me know that I'm at least not a complete poker dunce. I know one mediocre money finish doesn't make me Johnny-fucking-Chan, but I've bubbled in two others where I got caught trying to "steal" the pot with top pair, only to have someone call me with trips. Had I not been stupid, being "in the money" would've been a normal occurrence for me over the past week.

I've also been dabbling in Pot Limit Omaha lately with the $1 buy-in tourneys on Stars. Honestly, I know very little about the game right now, but the people who play in these tournaments know less about Omaha than I do. Throw in the fact that they play it like it's a limit game, it makes me look like I know what I'm doing. Crazy, I know.

Ok, enough about my poker habits.

This game, it's a crazy one. It has this way of boring into every concious and subconcious orifice, and I just can't get away from it. First off, there are the dreams about poker. I suppose that's to be expected with how much I play, so that's not something I'm extremely concerned about. Then, there's the thoughts that run through my brain just randomly. They...they worry me a little. For example, I'll be sitting at a bar talking to someone, and all I can think "I bet they'd be easily bluffed" or, I'll order a beer and the bartender will say "$3.25", and I'll think "Oooh, that's a hell of a flop for the A4 I'm holding in the BB!". Now, when I see someone do something extremely stupid, instead of telling them that was indeed extremely stupid, I say "Well, that was a -EV move on your part". Of course, they look at me like they feel sorry for me. Poor boy, he's so stupid he's not even making sense anymore.

I'm not the only one this happens to, am I? Well, am I?

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Just call me Bubble Boy. Please? I like it. No, really I do. This finish would hurt worse if I hadn't "made myself" bubble. The tournament started at a little after 7pm, and I had plans to go out at about 10 so I really had no business even entering the damn thing.

The first hour, I had very few hands to play. I glanced at my stats real quick at about the 45 minute mark, and I'd played 0% of the 44 hands outside of my blinds. Yes,0% of 44 is indeed 0. I folded nonstop. If the tournament was won by the best folder, I would've obliterated the competition, no question. I was a folding powerhouse, if you will. Will you? Cool. So, after the first hour, I finally got some cards, caught some flops, and moved my stack to about 13,000. Well above the average.

Right after the second break, I was sitting right about T8000 and it was getting close to the time I had to leave. With the blinds of T600/1200, I'm dealt AA in UTG+1, so I raise it 3xBB. Of course, I get no callers and just steal the blinds. Next hand, as UTG I'm dealt AQh, and decide to raise it 3x again, but this time, I get two callers;UTG+1 and 2. Hmmmm. I can't say that I like that one bit. The flop comes out A-10-3, and with top pair, decent kicker, I push all-in. UTG+1 folds, and I'm thinking "Hey, cool, I'm going to win this pot relatively uncontested". I'm not so lucky, though, as UTG+2 calls immediately and flips over 33, for the flopped set. I should've been a little more wary of that person because they'd been the overwhelmingly large stack at the table for quite a bit. I should've slowed down, as the only thing that would've helped me, really, is an abundance of hearts, but it's easier to look back on the hand and say that. On the other hand, if I hadn't pushed at that time, I would've been left severely short-stacked, and wouldn't have had enough "chips" to survive another orbit. I thought I had the best hand at the time. Live and learn, I suppose. With 70-81 only paying $9.86-$4 over the buy-in-I'd rather have a chance at the decent money, rather than pussyfoot my way into a piss poor money finish. $4 profit for a 3 hour tournament is not something to brag about.

Oh well, not too worried about it. With any decent cards whatsoever, it's not that hard to make it deep into these low buy-in tournaments, as people love to just gift you their chips with A-little.

Friday, June 11, 2004

Remember the guy I played on PokerStars a few nights ago, who claimed to have been sponsored by PokerStars for the WSOP? Sure you do. I think his name was "Charlatan". Actually, I'm sure it was. Anyhow, I stumbled upon this, and wow, I am so suprised that his name isn't on that list.

What a wad.

There’s something that’s always bothered me about the poker world. Well, not so much bothered me as left me feeling highly inadequate. It seems that many of the high-profile players have amazing credentials. Chris Ferguson has a PHD in Artificial Intelligence. Perhaps this doesn’t intimidate you, but it makes my brain seem like the size of a peanut. So, yeah, he’s amazingly smart. Dutch Boyd graduated with a Law degree at 18, which, I’d probably be more impressed with him if he hadn’t lost huge points for the “chip trick” segment from last year’s WSOP, not to mention the whole PokerSpot debacle. Stu Ungar had a brain the size of a hippo. Enough said there. Granted, I'm sure they just didn't plop down at a poker table and beat it immediately.

You hear it in poker commentary all the time; “So-and-so is a master of this”, or “This guy has won every single Brain Olympics since the beginning of time. And a couple before that”. Without fail, someone always mentions how Phil Hellmuth was the youngest WSOP champion, or how Paul Phillips is a multi-millionaire from a startup(which might lead me to another rant about poker nicknames some time in the future.) So many of these people are not only exceptional poker players, but hold other great talents, achievements, and distinctions, that it can only be daunting to a just-starting poker player. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not looking to be king of the poker jungle. I’m not even looking to be king of the poker nursery school. It’s still daunting, nonetheless. It makes me question my abilities, and what I am capable of in the long run.

While randomly hopping between RGP and Two Plus Two, you will, without fail, run into a post detailing certain odds about how much of a favorite you are in a given situation, and some StasticsGeek spouting off bullshit that means absolutely nothing to me. And it never will. I’ll never be a stats sort of guy. Pot odds, well, that’s easy. I can’t, however, compute what the odds would be of someone holding higher trips, in a 4-way pot, all on the fly. That’s a bad, random example, but you get the idea. And there are people out there that can, and will probably give you that number 6 places right of the decimal. Math and brain no well eachother work with much. Now that I reread that, it sounds more like Yoda, than Homer. (Simpson, not the poet)

See, the only real talent that I have is that I can make people laugh, and I'm not so sure that I can translate that into something that would benefit me at the poker table. I suppose I could try and make people laugh so hard that they pee, and when they waddle to the bathroom, I yoink their chips and run for the door, but something tells me that humor doesn't work so well on the thick-necked guys down at cell block 6. All of these things combined make me doubtful of being anything close to resembling a proficient poker player. And that's my goal. Not to be the best in the world. Not to make fistful, upon fistful of money, though that certainly wouldn't be a bad thing. I just want to be decent.

This brings me to Chris Moneymaker, With all the hype behind him, I went to his site, which just happens to be the cleverly named I read his bio, and I was so happy to see that he's never read a poker book in his life! You have no idea how happy that makes me, as I have yet to read a poker book. Not that I haven't meant to, it just hasn't happened yet. It's just nice to see a Joe Everyman actually succeeding without having relied on the existing poker knowledge base. Sort of refreshing, don't you think?

While not reading poker literature can have it's disadvantages, right now, it's not a bad thing for me. Yes, I'm missing out on knowledge that might help me, but it's also helping me by not cluttering my brain with information that I'll rarely, and more possibly never use. I've been meaning to borrow "Super System" from a friend, but after seeing that it's close to 650 pages, I have a feeling that's just too much in the way of poker concepts for me to process presently.

For now, I just need to work on my game by learning how to read betting patterns-which, to me is much more important than, say, having the Hellmuthian ability to "stare into someone's soul"(cough,bullshit,cough)- and taking better notes on people. And on myself, as well. I've been using PokerTracker much too sparingly, which is a -EV move if there ever was one. Studying my own game is the only way I'll ever be ready to jump into much more complex areas of this twisted game, and get out of the inadequacy mindset.

If you haven't read new issue of "Stuff" please do so, and look for the interview with Phil Hellmuth. I read "Stuff" for the fashion tips and music reviews, just as I read Playboy for the articles, and watch porn for the incredibly written dialogue and plot twists, but I was surprised to see this interview. I was suprised because it shows that Phil has only a couple of obligatory responses regardless of the questions asked. I can't remember the exact question, but his response was "I've only laid down pocket kings 3 times in my entire life, and each time I was shown pocket aces." Good. Great. Grand, but what does that prove, Phil? I'm pretty damn sure that I've heard him use those exact same words in more than one interview before. Rehashed, reused, regurgitated, crap. Of course, we don't hear about the other 100 times he's played his kings right into aces and gotten hammered. Nope, no mention. And if we had, he would've followed it up with "...but I'm playing really good poker right now, and that's what counts."

I was watching the ESPN live coverage of the WSOP...what's that? Oh, you mean they replayed the WSOP from last year again? I never knew! Ahem. Anyhow, with all the coverage ESPN rammed down my maw, I watched last year's WSOP again, and I couldn't help but feel bad for him. For one, he looked to be playing decent, only to get run over by back-to-back(at least, that's the way it looked with ESPN's editing) monsters. Two, he went to the rail got a hug from his mommy, and said "I really thought this was my year. I really did." Awwwwww. I would've felt worse if not for that crap promo piece where he's doing yoga and dripping toothpaste spit down his chin. Can you picture anyone else, besides Phil, that would want to be filmed like that? Good lord!

I don't hate him, and wish I could play half as good as he seemingly does, but am I the only one that thinks he could be so much better if he'd just get his ego in check? Not that it'll happen soon, though.

Thursday, June 10, 2004

My first PokerStars SNG:

Upon the realization that I can log on to Stars at work, I loaded in $50 and jumped right into a cheap SNG. I’ll just preface this by saying that my company has since blocked PokerStars, which is a definite good thing for me. At least I got in when I did.

The first thing that I liked about these SNG’s as compared with Party, is that you start with an acceptable T1500, vs. only T800. Another thing I like is the long blind levels, but this has it’s drawbacks, as well. Both of these factors are suitable to my tight nature, as it’s a great thing to be able to pick better spots to punish people with a decent hand. I’d like to say that I’m tight/aggressive all the time, but that’s probably better decided by someone I play against, rather than just calling myself that. Truth is, I have my moments where I’m tight/weak, and it’s a part of my game that I absolutely need work on. I realize this. The downfall to the larger stacks and blind levels in minutes, rather than orbits, is that once you get heads-up, or even three handed, it can take a considerable chunk of time to get someone to commit to their half-assed hand when they have a stack of T5000.

As far as specifics in this NL SNG go, there weren’t that many that I remember, only that one guy busted everyone out being aggressive/maniacal, only to back off with T11000, as opposed to T2000 for the guy in second place, and me with T1000. I didn’t understand the chip leaders tactics at all. He had almost a 6-1 lead over 2nd place, and an 11-1 lead over me. At the very least, he should’ve been pounding away at my stack when I appeared to be making a weak call, but he would never do that. If he’d limp in, I’d push all-in, only to have him fold time and time again. Could he possibly think that my cards were that good that I could go all-in 5 times in a row? All the blind stealing I was doing had recovered me to about T1500. Face it, banking a $4 win doesn’t do anything to my bankroll, so of course I’m going to try to double through him every chance I get. When he finally caught on and called, I held 10-10, to his Ax. The board didn’t help him, and I was up to about T3000.

Believe me, this three handed crap went on for about 30 minutes before this hand came up; I’m in the BB with 10-Jo. Big stack folds and the SB makes a minimum raise, and I call. The flop comes out x-J-x. Hmmm…what should I do? I check and he fires out 200 into a pot of 400 and I call immediately. Turn is a rag and he bets out with 200. I call. The pot is, what, 1200 now? The river is another craptastic card. He thinks for a bit, and he bets 800. Hmmm. Looking back at the turn, I should’ve raised him to see what his reaction was, but this was my stupid passive/chickenshit side coming out again. Stupidly, I call and he turns over Ajo. By being a calling station, I’d whittled myself down to T800, with the other two being about even at T6000. Don’t quote me on that, though.

My BB again, this time, the guy who had once been the big stack raises, and with only T400 left, I push in, and he of course calls. I had J4o vs his AQ. Does it really matter if it was suited? Not really at this point. Plus, I’m writing this in Msword, and it keeps changing the Q to lower case, and it looks stupid. Anyhow, as I’m already counting out my $4 win (wooooo-fucking-hoo), a 4 spikes on the turn, the board doesn’t help him at all, and I double up. To make this story shorter, I’ll just get to the end; I won it. The guy that was once a gigantic stack went out third, and we had a good laugh at his expense.

Overall, I’m not so sure the SNG’s(don’t worry, I played many more after I got home from work last night. I’m not just making an assumption based on one win) at Stars are any tougher than Party. However, it does seem that they are tighter. I can’t even count how many times I went all-in-in position and way out of it- only to have everyone involved fold. I’d say that it was close to 15 in the first game. And it’s not like I’d portrayed this rock-like table image, either. I cashed in 4/6 I played yesterday, and I know that’s not a large enough sample for me to scream out “I’m going pro!”, it’s not a bad sign right now.

A funny thing happened last night, and I’ll probably do a crappy job of relaying, but here’s to trying. For all of you that play at Stars, you know about the 4 player pictures on the Main Lobby page, showing the Stars’ players that were at the WSOP final table. It’s like a little round picture of their face that they can use as their player image when they place on the site. On the right of the image is a small little “PS”, signifying that they were sponsored by Stars for WSOP. Anyhow, in my last SNG of the night-and mind you, I’m playing $5+.50- there’s a guy playing directly to my right that had an image exactly like those in the main lobby. A picture of his face with a small “PS” to his right. I didn’t think much of it, until he started berating the play of people that were eliminated. He definitely thought he was King Shit. Finally, someone he knocked out asked him about the icon, and he said that he got it because Stars sponsored him for the WSOP. Cool, I guess, but why are you slumming it at the $5+.50, when you claim to be this incredible player? His response “I’m waiting for the big one to start.” Oh. Ok. Yeah, that sounds about right.

Being new to the site, who am I to say was sponsored by Stars? Not that I even care, really. After looking at the pictures on the Main Lobby, and comparing them to this wads’, they look different. His was a little fuzzy, and it just looked “off”. Who knows, he may be legit, but the fact that he was bragging in the cheap tables will always make me think he’s a tool. I think his name was “Charlatan”, or something similar. Eh. How funny would that be if he was reading this right now? I’d get a laugh out of it.

$3+0 Stars NLHE tournament:

A portion of Party that I’d never gotten into-because of their incredibly poor timing-is Multi-table tournaments. I really do like them, and ever since I left UB, I missed entering them. Oh, can I just interject one aspect of aspect that I think UB does better than any other site I’ve joined? Too bad, I will regardless of how my (two) readers answer. UB’s table shift-so that your point-of-view is always bottom center- is great . I love that because I always know where to look for my cards, and it’s just familiar. Even at Party, I tend to seek out seats on the bottom of the screen. With that being said, for this Multi, I was seated in the upper left hand corner of the screen, somewhere that I never, ever sit. It felt awkward from the get-go, and all I could hope for was a table move, but it never came.

My cards were horrendous, to say the least. The times that I did get great starting hands, bad things would happen. For the first hour, I pretty just held back and did nothing more than grab at a few small pots. After the first break, I was exactly where I had started; T1500. Bah on that. The first hand after the break, I’m in the BB with KK. Nice! Yeah, it’s not so nice when it’s folded around to the SB, and all he does is call. In this position, I can’t really raise my normal 3XBB because I feel the SB will fold, and that does me no good. I raise the minimum, and that’s something I absolutely hate doing, but I didn’t feel I had any other choice. Did I? He calls my minimum raise, and the flop comes down 3-A-4. I’m not really scared by this flop, and after he checks, I bet out the minimum because I know he has nothing. The turn is a brick, he checks, and I bet out the minimum again. Come on, man, raise me! Nope, he folded. Crap, my first good hand in over an hour and that’s all I can milk out of him. Oh well, I’m up a little over my starting amount, but well below the average.

About 20 hands later, I’m getting frustrated because the last hand I had played was the kings. I muttered out “Come on, give me some cards, damn it!”. Somebody, somewhere was listening because I was immediately dealt AA in MP. I guess all I have to do to get good cards is ask for them? Damn, I wish I would’ve known that sooner. Anyhow, it’s folded around to me, and I raise to 3xBB. This raise leaves me at about T600, and not enough to do anything with if I had to bail. I was riding this hand into the ground no matter what. I felt that if I pushed all in pre-flop, I’d get no callers and starting the hand with only about 10x the BB, I needed to double up badly, not steal blinds. Just surviving wasn’t an option. With the large stacks at about T12k, the average at about T3k, and me at about T1200, I had to make a move fast. So, I raise to 3x and it’s folded around to the BB, who calls. The flop comes out x-Q-x, and I waste no time pushing my last T600 into the pot. I know it’s not possible to do online, but I think the BB beat me into the pot, and turned over Q7d and I there’s no way I can hate that I’m an 80/20 favorite here. Of course, the river brings another 7. Out in about 450th/1600 by a crappy 7. I wouldn’t have felt so bad if he’d spiked a Q on the river, but oh no, it just had to be a 7. Whatchya gonna do? I think I played well, just got nothing to go along with the few good starting hands that I did get. That won’t be my last MTT, that’s for sure.

WPT 101 Bay Shooting Star Tournament:

I just wanted to hit on a few things about the WPT episode. I’ll try to be as succinct as possible, seeing as how I’ve babbled on long enough already.

Phil Gordon: From the times I’ve seen him play, and anything else he’s been involved with, he seemed like a genuinely decent guy. From congratulating people that have been knocked by saying “You played great the whole tournament” to just being upbeat, he seemed cool. But-and this is a big but-he looked pissed as hell on a couple hands, which I’ll talk about under another section. Oh, and do you think that Phil could be any bigger? Good lord, he’s a Gigantor! His playing style doesn’t lead to a table image, his size is his table image! I’m know I’d be pretty damned intimidated.

Chris Moneymaker: Speaking of intimidation, was it just me, or did it look like Chris was deathly afraid of Phil Gordon? In the hand where Phil called the small stacks all-in bet with 99, and Chris came over the top with AQ, I thought Chris was going to crap his pants, ala Murdock in Rambo: First Blood, when Phil screamed out “I knew you were trying to steal!” Chris looked unsure and nervous the whole night, but perhaps that had more to do with that GIANT bottle of Dew he was chugging from than anything else. Kudos on, what looked like, some weight loss, though.

Presentation: Obviously, the formula that the WPT has adopted is working for them, but at the rate they’re going, all tournaments are going to turn into a circus. Come on, those spotlights are more annoying than Vince Van Pattens attempt at humor! Many of the pieces of the show are very well done, but they need to do away with all the hubbub. The next thing you know, they’ll be shooting off cannons, blowing whistles, and throwing confetti for every hand that’s won, just like on Party Poker!

Shana Hiatt: Yes, I still think she’s hot.

…Holy crap, did I just write all that? Holy crap.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004


While perusing through various blogs today, I came across someone touting Pokerstars' SNG structure compared to PartyPoker. PP's truly does suck, what with only starting with T800, and all, so I thought I'd check it out. One good thing about PP is that I can't access it through our company firewall. Believe me, that's a good thing. Though our company is really lax in regards to our internet policy, I don't need to pick up more bad slacking habits. I can log on to UB, but that's not so much of a threat because I'm not a fan of their site, so I don't deposit there anymore. Well, it turns out that I can log on to PokerStars. Ruh-roh.

Yes, I know the players on PS are supposedly tougher, and I know that there are fewer players, but I'm already starting to see a few things that I like better than Party. For one, I like the selection of MTT's with ridiculously low buy-ins. Party doesn't have that. Let's say that I wanted to dip my toes into learning more poker games, yah? I can do that with very little investment, which is nice. I could learn from play money tables, but face it, that's about as much fun as peeing into the wind; stupid and pointless. And, it's not really poker. So, chalk one up for Pokerstars.

Another thing that I like-from what I've seen so far-about PokerStars, is that the times of the MTT's fall into when I can play. On Party, they always seem to be retardedly late in the evening, and I just don't have the time, nor the patience to play for 4+ hours at 3am. Point #2 for PS.

Plus, the aesthetics of the site are a little better. Not much, but better, nonetheless. Hmmm...I'm sure I had something else to say comparing the two sites, but the Chipotle I had for lunch is making me vapid and sluggish. "Pray for Mojo..."

I'm not leaving PartyPoker, oh no. Come on, the players there are lower than rotten, but it can't hurt to expand my poker horizons, can it?. Heh, I say that like I'm some PokerDeity, when in reality, I'm just an underling. Sad, really.

Does anyone that's reading this play at PS? If so, can you give me some advice on what games/times are best?

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

I'm going to be a stripper!

Poker night has come and gone, and it had good and bad parts to it. Bad for me, because I easily was the big loser of the night. Good for everyone that was playing against me. Not that I thought I was going to break the bank against my friends, but it would've been nice to fare better. Eh, what can you do? I'm just happy that we had 9 people to start, which is 6 more than normal!

The only hand that I think is worth noting could've been the stepping stone to a good night, but it was not to be. Late in the first "tournament" there are 5 people still in, I'm in middle position with two limpers in front of me. I look down to see AJs. Not a monster, but not horrendous hand at this point. We'd started the blinds small, and the rounds longer so that everyone could get some play in, but it was coming to the point where, within 3 levels, I was going to be blinded to nil. We had to do it this way, because in the past ther were problems with the games going far too long, and far too late/early into the night/morning.

So, with the limpers in front, I decided to take a gamble and push. The BB takes about .1 second and calls, and one limper called, too. Gulp. I had both of them outchipped, but this was not a good sign. I got unlucky because the BB woke up to AA. The limper had KQo, I think. Not that it really mattered at that point. This would where you'd normally see the obligatory "IGHN", but considering that all this was taking place at my apartment, it doesn't really apply. I'll just say ICABN; I Crash And Burn Now.

The next hand, being down the felt, I pushed in with 66, only to be outdrawn by someone who called with 84o. Yes, it does hurt typing that out as much as it hurt seeing the 8 on the flop. Believe me.

The rest of the night is just a blur, due to alcohol driven devil/angel on my shoulder dictating my play. The angel plays weak/tight, while the devil plays "Aileen Wuornos"; crazy. It was all for fun, anyhow, so I shouldn't complain.

I was going to write about my Party playing, but I'll save that for another time. Is anybody reading this?

I should take up stripping.