Monday, August 30, 2010

A tough spot on the river

Pretty crazy that I'm put into this spot with weak two-pair on the river. Not what I'm expecting at the .25/.50 tables.

Full Tilt Poker $0.25/$0.50 No Limit Hold'em $0.10 Ante - 6 players - View hand 896756

The Official Hand History Converter

Hero (BTN): $84.45

SB: $38.55

BB: $101.15

UTG: $47.90

MP: $58.00

CO: $77.05

Pre Flop: ($1.35) Hero is BTN with 2 of hearts A of hearts

UTG calls $0.50, MP calls $0.50, 1 fold, Hero calls $0.50, 1 fold, BB checks

Flop: ($2.85) 6 of clubs 9 of diamonds A of diamonds (4 players)

BB checks, UTG checks, MP checks, Hero bets $2.35, BB folds, UTG calls $2.35, MP folds

Turn: ($7.55) 2 of spades (2 players)

UTG checks, Hero bets $5.25, UTG raises to $13.50, Hero calls $8.25

River: ($34.55) 4 of spades (2 players)

UTG bets $16.50, Hero requests TIME, Hero calls $16.50

Final Pot: $67.55

Hero shows 2 of hearts A of hearts (two pair, Aces and Twos)

UTG shows 9 of clubs T of spades (a pair of Nines)

Hero wins $64.55

(Rake: $3.00)

In poker, what a difference a day makes

I'm not much of a tilty guy at the tables. Sure I'm prone to becoming upset like anyone else at the hands of the river but this usually doesn't affect my play. I'm more likely to get up from the table than to eke out any-two-card revenge in the next hand.

But one thing that does affect my game is being tired. Usually it's the kind of being tired that I don't even realize until it's too late. That's usually when I'll be prone to calling instead of folding, etc.

The next day, however, everything is much clearer. Poker continually reminds me of pitching in baseball -- you're much more apt to be at your best when you're fresh, when you play with aggression and control and when you play within your physical limits.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

How to annoy (some) poker players

On two different tables yesterday when I was playing, comments filled the chat board. One mentioned my preflop raising and continuation betting. The other said "I bet you had nothing."

So what's a cat to do? Smile. This is a good spot.

At a poker table I never want to just be a jerk. But your play speaks for itself and anytime you get under another player's skin, you are holding the upper hand.

Aggression in poker always has created tremendous shifts in how the game is played. I think of how Doyle Brunson's Super/System changed the landscape.

It also reminds me of when I played at the Seminole Hard Rock in February. At the time, I can still remember it, this player told me "You can't hit everytime." He busted out a few hands later.

The comments say, "Stop. You're disrupting my game. I want things on my terms."

But your aggressive play keeps bad things from happening to you. You raise, eliminating preflop limps with random holdings that could crack legitimate starting hands. You bet out the flop, creating doubt with little pairs under the flop and making heads-up set-mining unprofitable.

The commenters typicaly are bad, losing players. Better players won't say a thing. They won't let you know when to change gears. Instead, they will adjust their games, typically with more aggression.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Look before you leap!

Yesterday I thought I was in a pretty cushy spot. As the preflop raiser with AQs, I flopped top pair, top kicker plus the nut flush draw.

I was overjoyed when the small blind decided to check-raise me. So I got all my money in and ... lost to A5s two pair.

I was surprised that I was a pretty big dog in this, about 45 percent to his 55 percent from the flop. Plenty of outs but not quite enough to get the job done.

I guess that's why it's always good to analyze hands to help with future poker choices.

Friday, August 20, 2010

A nice day off

It's been a while that I've had a day off with a Braves road game. That means I'll likely settle in at some bar and have lunch while I watch the game.

I actually had tickets to this game, the Braves road game against the Chicago Cubs. I sold the tickets after we decided to go to Chicago a few weeks earlier for the Rock'n'Roll Chicago Half Marathon. That weekend was a blast.

I'll be in Chicago soon enough, for the Bank of America Chicago Marathon on Oct. 10. Can't wait.

But it would have been nice to see with my own eyes Derrek Lee in a Braves uniform at Wrigley.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Tight times at the tables?

Reading some poker posts recently makes me wonder if it's harder to find easy money at the tables.

Maybe it's a function of 1). the overall skill level of players has vastly improved. Or 2). The worst players have busted out and long since have gone home.

Still, it's not uncommon to see people stuck for thousands over tens of thousands of hands.

I guess as always it's a matter of table selection and finding the right tables, I mean the right players, to help your bankroll grow.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Poker's first rule of robotics

... is don't play like a robot. If my notes say "waits a while, then 3 bets" and "folds to 3 bet 2x" the hand will be 4-bet (lightly) if you wait for a while and then 3-bet.

Also, don't be this guy.

Full Tilt Poker $0.50/$1 No Limit Hold'em $0.20 Ante - 5 players - View hand 862012

The Official Hand History Converter

Hero (BB): $254.65

UTG: $200.80

CO: $193.00

BTN: $61.45

SB: $225.05

Pre Flop: ($2.50) Hero is BB with Q of hearts T of clubs

2 folds, BTN raises to $3.50, 1 fold, Hero calls $2.50

Flop: ($8.50) 9 of spades 8 of diamonds J of hearts (2 players)

Hero checks, BTN bets $6.50, Hero raises to $21, BTN calls $14.50

Turn: ($50.50) 9 of diamonds (2 players)

Hero bets $229.95 all in, BTN calls $36.75 all in

River: ($124.00) 8 of clubs (2 players - 2 are all in)

Final Pot: $124.00

Hero shows Q of hearts T of clubs (a straight, Queen high)

BTN shows J of clubs 6 of diamonds (two pair, Jacks and Nines)

Hero wins $121.00

(Rake: $3.00)

Friday, August 13, 2010

Poker and pasta

One of the best things about playing poker online is that you never have to go hungry, if you play in the kitchen.

Cooking always makes me relax, but I have to do something when everything is prepared and I'm just waiting for things to cook. So: poker.

Today I made a zucchini and almond pasta salad from the Smitten Kitchen blog. It's pretty good, light fare that doesn't bog me down so I can keep on playin'.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

A run on the Strip

A few years ago I was headed to my hotel room when I noticed cones and an electronic sign warning drivers of a race the next morning along the Strip.

The next morning, I was kicking myself for not knowing what is now called the Rock'n'Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon.

After having a really great time at the Rock'n'Roll Chicago Half Marathon last Sunday in the Windy City, I've been thinking about combining poker, great food and running by participating in the Dec. 5 race.

Other bloggers, notably Recess Rampage, have run in it already and it sounds like a great race.

One drawback is it's a week before the poker bloggers gathering. Luckily the Atlanta Falcons have away games on both Sundays.

Anyway, we will have to see...

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

A poker editorial

In the end, there is no good reason for the federal government to prohibit citizens from engaging in a peaceful, popular and enjoyable activity that almost all of them can handle responsibly. Nor is there any point, since those citizens are going to do it anyway. Congress would be wise to accept that age-old reality and settle for harvesting the tax revenues Internet betting can generate.
-Steve Chapman, "More Freedom is a Sound Bet," Aug. 1, 2010

I was at my parents' home on Sunday in Chicago after running in the Rock'n'Roll Chicago Half Marathon earlier that morning when the fiancee showed me an editorial column from a member of the Chicago Tribune's editorial board.

It will be interesting to see if the tide is finally turning toward the regulation of online poker in the U.S.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Studying the poker face

The best “poker face” for bluffing may not be a neutral face, but rather a face that contains emotional correlates of trustworthiness. Moreover, it suggests that rapid impressions of an opponent play an important role in competitive games, especially when people have little or no experience with an opponent.
-"Human Wagering Behavior Depends on Opponent's Faces"

The Freaknomics blog today mentions this study of human faces when making poker-like wagering decisions.

I meant "poker-like" because the study involved novices to Texas hold'em and uses two options of calling or folding a hand.

Obviously, true analysis of poker wagering starts with the pre-flop hand. Simply put, in many cases poker writers say all streets "tell a story" about the hand. Poker players often have to ask themselves if the so-called bluff is credible and thus a wagering decision may not even get to examinating of a "poker face."

Also the ratio of the bet to the pot is a determinant in whether a good poker player will call the bluff or not. There may be too much money involved to lay down a hand, even with a marginal one.

And a third tool missing here is to raise the so-called bluff. Your hand may have enough value to do so, or to even extract a laydown.

It's an interesting point though that the study seems to suggest that people who look trustworthy make better liars.

I'm currently reading Erik Larson's "The Devil in the White City" which deals in part with the 19th century serial killer H.H. Holmes and it seems apparent that his appearance and seeming trustworthiness influenced many around him.

Small stakes hold'em: protect those two pair!

One thing that I'm constantly seeing at lower limits NL tables are people incapable of protecting their flopped two pair.

I guess they're not incapable of doing that, they just choose to do it in the hopes of sugar plum fairies on the next two streets.

I think it was Phil Gordon who said that two pair is the average holding in hold'em.

The hand simply has to be protected. Doyle Brunson once said it's good to play two pair fast.

And what's worse, people are slowplaying it and even taking it to the river when the board pairs it is obvious their hand could be counterfeited.