Thursday, December 31, 2009

Closing off a good poker year

I do and don't have specific goals for next year. I mean, it would be great to make $xxxxx amount of money next year. But I'll be happy if it's $1 on the plus side.
-Poker Cats, Dec. 31, 2007

I'm kind of glad to be back at home for New Year's after being on the road in 2008 (Hawaii) and 2007 (Chicago).

Overall, it's been a pretty good poker year, consistent with previous years. I do agree with Gnome's assessment that the games now are getting tougher. Next year it'll be even more important to play carefully.

But at least the rewards, such as bonuses and rakebacks help.

Borrowing from another blog, I looked through my posts for this year and found noteworthy things that happened in 2009:


Cirque du Soleil's Kooza
Mass Effect on Xbox360
$1.6K poker hand
first NL$3/6 hand
High Museum of Art's First Emperor exhibit

Par-a-dice Casino, East Peoria, Ill.

Atlanta Hawks 36 win prop
snow for a day in ATL

played poker on a Delta flight for first time
UNC wins NCAA basketball title

Braves 6, Cubs 5, 12 innings

Made Iron Man on Full Tilt for first time
bought $104 r/t fare ATL-LAS (US Airways)
new running partner!

received $4.75 refund from Full Tilt after collusion investigation (that I knew nothing about)
Los Angeles trip with Gnome, went to Braves-Dodgers game with Absinthe and Metsfan

new laptop

New Orleans trip, including a rare win at Harrah's New Orleans

So there you have it. Hope you will have a healthy, profitable and rewarding New Year!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Bringing Vegas to a Costco near you

I was in Costco yesterday and saw they had a pallet full of gift cards. Basically for $80 you get $100 in value.

I've never used the site before, but you can book hotels, shows and even air + hotel packages there.

Maybe I'll have to go back and get one...

Monday, December 28, 2009

Kindle and Small stakes NL

Increasingly I've been thinking about getting Ed Miller's Small Stakes NL e-book. Of course I could get this for just my PC but was thinking it would be cool to read on a Kindle-type reading device.

If anyone has read the e-book, please let me know! Or if you have thoughts on good reading devices out there...

As a second thought, I wonder if Cardrunners videos can be downloaded into iPods as podcasts?

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Crushin' snowmen

Full Tilt Poker $1/$2 No Limit Hold'em - 6 players - View hand 442007

The Official Hand History Converter

MP: $200.00

CO: $449.00

BTN: $200.00

Hero (SB): $200.00

BB: $200.00

UTG: $242.90

Pre Flop: ($3.00) Hero is SB with K of hearts K of diamonds

UTG raises to $7, 3 folds, Hero raises to $23, 1 fold, UTG calls $16

Flop: ($48.00) 7 of diamonds 4 of diamonds 9 of diamonds (2 players)

Hero bets $30, UTG calls $30

Turn: ($108.00) 2 of clubs (2 players)

Hero bets $60, UTG requests TIME, UTG raises to $189.90 all in, Hero calls $87 all in

River: ($402.00) T of spades (2 players - 2 are all in)

Final Pot: $402.00

Hero shows K of hearts K of diamonds (a pair of Kings)

UTG shows 8 of clubs 8 of diamonds (a pair of Eights)

Hero wins $399.00

(Rake: $3.00)

Presto gets there

Full Tilt Poker $1/$2 Pot Limit Hold'em - 6 players - View hand 442005

The Official Hand History Converter

UTG: $292.00

MP: $200.00

CO: $328.50

BTN: $266.35

SB: $215.50

Hero (BB): $200.00

Pre Flop: ($3.00) Hero is BB with 5 of diamonds 5 of spades

2 folds, CO calls $2, 2 folds, Hero checks

Flop: ($5.00) 4 of hearts 5 of hearts A of spades (2 players)

Hero bets $3, CO calls $3

Turn: ($11.00) A of diamonds (2 players)

Hero bets $8, CO calls $8

River: ($27.00) 6 of hearts (2 players)

Hero bets $10, CO raises to $42, Hero raises to $120, CO calls $78

Final Pot: $267.00

CO mucks 3 of diamonds 7 of diamonds

Hero shows 5 of diamonds 5 of spades (a full house, Fives full of Aces)

Hero wins $264.00

(Rake: $3.00)

Thursday, December 24, 2009

So when you limp with aces in poker...

...nasty things happen. It didn't help that I was pushing him around a little...

Full Tilt Poker $0.50/$1 Pot Limit Hold'em - 4 players - View hand 440330

The Official Hand History Converter

Hero (BB): $139.25

CO: $64.00

BTN: $113.85

SB: $126.10

Pre Flop: ($1.50) Hero is BB with K of hearts 2 of diamonds

CO calls $1, 2 folds, Hero checks

Flop: ($2.50) 2 of spades K of clubs 4 of spades (2 players)

Hero checks, CO bets $2.50, Hero raises to $10, CO raises to $32.50, Hero raises to $100, CO calls $30.50 all in

Turn: ($128.50) T of spades (2 players - 1 is all in)

River: ($128.50) Q of clubs (2 players - 1 is all in)

Final Pot: $128.50

Hero shows K of hearts 2 of diamonds (two pair, Kings and Twos)

CO shows A of hearts A of diamonds (a pair of Aces)

Hero wins $126.50

(Rake: $2.00)

Poker and poker points

Woke up this morning to see that Poker Stars is changing its VIP program for next year, including unlockable levels of cash, from $10 for earning 750 VPPs in a year up to $100 for 50,000 points.

Also it's easier to make Silver Star (the lowest earnable level -- you start out as Bronze Star), with a level of 750 VPPs instead of 1,200 as it is currently.

I'm not sure why but it's so difficult for me to earn enough points for the elite levels on Poker Stars. You'd think it would be better for regular players to just have to earn a certain number of points each month instead of so many points per day, as in Full Tilt.

If you are at a good table or are running pretty well for one day, it makes sense to play beyond the 200 Full Tilt points you would need to maintain Iron Man. The next day it might not be so good or you might be doing other things.

Anyway, I look forward to playing Poker Stars more next year.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Full Tilt's Run it Twice

Yesterday I was desperate to get my points for the day on Full Tilt before the clock struck midnight.

So I joined two NL$2/4 tables in the first time in what seems like an eternity. After I received my points, I noticed they were both "Run It Twice" tables.

I first learned about the practice from GSN's High Stakes Poker, where pro players would be all-in and would run out the rest of the board from where they got all-in (either pre-flop, on the flop, or on the turn) and then two boards would be dealt from there.

Unfortunately I didn't get to see anyone run it twice at my NL table. And, thankfully, I didn't have to run it twice.

There's (still) value in them Atlanta Hawks

The blog Stat Intelligence notes in the post "Atlanta Hawks Keeps Routing Weaklings" that the Atlanta Hawks are "9-3 ATS this year at spreads of -6 or higher", 20-7 for the season straight up and ATS.

The entry likens Atlanta's season so far to what Orlando was doing last season, noting the market was very slow to react to the Magic's penchant for bullying weak teams.

Something to think about. Go Hawks!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Poker/running crossover gear

We had Christmas early last night because the gf will be visiting her parents for the holiday.

In the exchange of loot, she got me a Nathan's 5K Running Pak.

When I run, I usually need something to keep my ID, my keys and some change inside. This pack replaces a well-worn Jansport one that I usually have.

After I tried it on this morning, it dawned on me that the gift also will help me in the casinos. I usually always keep a Moleskine notebook to keep track of my live poker sessions -- my current notebook curently has 442 live poker sessions recorded (including playing in New Orleans, Las Vegas, Tunica, Tampa, Atlantic City, Los Angeles, Biloxi, San Jose, Seattle, Kansas City, St. Louis and Indiana) -- all the way back to May 29, 2005.

This pack is perfect for carrying the notebook and a pen. Its second, smaller pouch also looks like it could keep poker chips -- either for use in my collection or for waitress drink tips.

Can't wait to try it out!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Punk Hand of the Day

Here we have a very careful opponent wanting to make sure nothing's astray before pushing on the turn. Only thing is I've already gotten there.

Full Tilt Poker $0.50/$1 No Limit Hold'em $0.20 Ante - 9 players - View hand 435787

The Official Hand History Converter

BB: $100.40

UTG: $72.40

UTG+1: $117.15

UTG+2: $98.95

MP1: $220.45

MP2: $198.95

CO: $105.60

Hero (BTN): $111.75

SB: $33.75

Pre Flop: ($3.30) Hero is BTN with Q of diamonds Q of spades

2 folds, UTG+2 calls $1, 1 fold, MP2 raises to $5, 1 fold, Hero raises to $19.30, 3 folds, MP2 raises to $44, Hero requests TIME, Hero calls $24.70

Flop: ($92.30) 6 of diamonds Q of hearts T of clubs (2 players)

MP2 bets $26, Hero calls $26

Turn: ($144.30) 8 of clubs (2 players)

MP2 bets $128.75 all in, Hero calls $41.55 all in

River: ($227.40) 9 of clubs (2 players - 2 are all in)

Final Pot: $227.40

MP2 shows A of clubs A of hearts (a pair of Aces)

Hero shows Q of diamonds Q of spades (three of a kind, Queens)

Hero wins $224.40

(Rake: $3.00)

How the movie "Up in the Air" got me to think about poker (no spoilers)

Last night I caught the George Clooney movie "Up in the Air" and it got me to think about poker.

Not that there's a hand of poker seen in the film, although Las Vegas' McCarran International Airport and the Luxor comes into play.

What got me thinking about cards was the presentation of the movie. Without spoiling anything, there's something near the end of the movie between Clooney's character and his foil that made me think back to the beginning when they met...

...and that's where the believability falls apart.

It's often that way in a poker hand. Sometimes on the very last card, the river, someone will make a bet or a raise that will make you stop and think back to the beginning when you first started to tango.

Is that end-action credible with what was presented in the beginning?

If only movie directors would look at their work like a hand in poker. Then it might make sense to the audience.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

It's not really your (poker) money

Sometimes I think people, including myself, put too much thought into money won while playing poker. Especially when losing to an underdog hand becomes so tough.

That's when I basically have to think to myself that the money I've won recently is not really my money. Sure I can withdraw it at any time but if I keep it in there, it's money that can -- and maybe should -- be lost. What's left over after you win -- and lose -- over time is truly yours to keep.

You can deal with swings better by applying math. Over tens of thousands of hands, your winrate -- and your winnings -- will reflect only a certain number of big blinds per 100 hands (or per hour if you play live).

It helps check the ego when, say, you're up 40 buy-ins over 10,000 hands. Clearly you're running good but this winrate (and style of play to get there?) won't last forever. At the same time you could be losing money over the same number of hands. But that doesn't mean you're a terrible player, necessarily. You could be in a bad run and should hope to use the stats to get you through the tough days.

Seeing the future, or trends to the future, is the hardest thing for poker players and gamblers to do. But knowing the stats -- knowing that your experiences as a winning player likely won't appear much different than thousands of other players -- gives you a huge edge in being a day-to-day player.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Good hunting

To all the bloggers in Vegas: Have fun and good hunting at the tables!

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Staying on a toaster's tendencies

This toaster was probably one of the worst kind -- folding to everything but staying on with "big" hands with trash cards. So when the hook came, he took it to the end...

Full Tilt Poker $0.50/$1 Pot Limit Hold'em - 5 players - View hand 412420

The Official Hand History Converter

SB: $49.90

BB: $100.40

Hero (UTG): $102.35

CO: $103.20

BTN: $102.50

Pre Flop: ($1.50) Hero is UTG with 3 of clubs 3 of hearts

Hero calls $1, 2 folds, SB calls $0.50, BB checks

Flop: ($3.00) Q of spades 3 of spades J of hearts (3 players)

SB checks, BB checks, Hero bets $2.50, SB calls $2.50, BB folds

Turn: ($8.00) Q of clubs (2 players)

SB checks, Hero bets $4, SB raises to $12, Hero raises to $44, SB raises to $46.40 all in, Hero calls $2.40

River: ($100.80) A of diamonds (2 players - 1 is all in)

Final Pot: $100.80

SB shows Q of hearts 2 of diamonds (three of a kind, Queens)

Hero shows 3 of clubs 3 of hearts (a full house, Threes full of Queens)

Hero wins $97.80

(Rake: $3.00)