Saturday, February 26, 2011

Staying flexible in poker

The past few weeks we've been taking dancing lessons for the wedding in May and on Thursday the instructor said something that was pretty interesting to me.

She said that although she's choreographed dances before she prefers not to when it comes time for the first dance.

The reason is that if there is a miscue -- and she says there will be -- then one person might not know what part of the routine to start back up on and the other invariably will be thinking of the choreography.

I think the same thing applies to poker. You want to start off with the basic steps -- starting hands, opening raises, but not be too rigid in your thinking when you're in a hand with one or especially other players.

Poker is a game where there are many ways to play the hand, so if you are thinking only of a few possibilities on your opponent's holding, you might be worse off if they are able to improvise on you.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

An interesting hand

...and a reason not to call with something trashy like 23s.

Full Tilt Poker $0.25/$0.50 No Limit Hold'em - 8 players - View hand 1194989

DeucesCracked Poker Videos Hand History Converter

UTG: $182.65

UTG+1: $50.00

MP1: $25.05

MP2: $42.05

CO: $50.10

Hero (BTN): $50.00

SB: $50.00

BB: $52.10

Pre Flop: ($0.75) Hero is BTN with 2 of diamonds 3 of diamonds

UTG calls $0.50, UTG+1 raises to $2, MP1 calls $2, 1 fold, CO calls $2, Hero calls $2, 1 fold, BB calls $1.50, UTG calls $1.50

Flop: ($12.25) 9 of hearts 5 of diamonds J of diamonds (6 players)

BB checks, UTG checks, UTG+1 checks, MP1 bets $5.50, CO calls $5.50, Hero folds, BB folds, UTG raises to $15, UTG+1 folds, MP1 raises to $23.05 all in, CO raises to $48.10 all in, UTG calls $33.10

Turn: ($131.50) 3 of clubs (3 players - 2 are all in)

River: ($131.50) 4 of hearts (3 players - 2 are all in)

Final Pot: $131.50

UTG shows 5 of clubs J of clubs (two pair, Jacks and Fives)

MP1 shows 9 of clubs 9 of diamonds (three of a kind, Nines)

CO shows T of diamonds A of diamonds (Ace Jack high)

UTG wins $50.10

MP1 wins $78.40

(Rake: $3.00)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

What not to do in a poker hand

Full Tilt Poker $0.10/$0.25 No Limit Hold'em - 4 players - View hand 1184350

DeucesCracked Poker Videos Hand History Converter

Hero (BB): $49.40

CO: $22.09

BTN: $33.19

SB: $42.66

Pre Flop: ($0.35) Hero is BB with A of hearts K of clubs

CO raises to $0.75, 2 folds, Hero raises to $4.75, CO calls $4

Flop: ($9.60) 3 of hearts T of hearts 2 of hearts (2 players)

Hero bets $7.50, CO raises to $17.34 all in, Hero calls $9.84

Turn: ($44.28) 3 of clubs (2 players - 1 is all in)

River: ($44.28) 9 of spades (2 players - 1 is all in)

Final Pot: $44.28

Hero shows A of hearts K of clubs (a pair of Threes)

CO shows K of spades J of diamonds (a pair of Threes)

Hero wins $42.28

(Rake: $2.00)

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Let sleeping cats lie (Fort Worth)

FORT WORTH, Texas -- Yesterday I had the day free to take the light rail from Dallas to Fort Worth.

I really loved all the artwork in the city dealing with the city's history. The post office has cattle skull cornices and other places make use of the skull as well. There's a terrific mural on the side of a building with cattlemen herding longhorns.

And then I discovered it has a kitty side, too. Apparently the city's nickname is "Panther City" because an old newspaper account said it was so sleepy and dull that a panther was seen sleeping on the steps of the courthouse. And the nickname stuck.

But that wasn't all. Fort Worth has a gambling past, with a former red-light district known as "Hell's Half Acre."

It would have been interesting to know what kinds of gambling games -- especially poker-related ones -- they played in those times.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

What the cat saw -- Dallas

DALLAS -- "Watch out for the stampede, sir," a young dude in a group of people say as I jog by Pioneer Plaza, where there's a huge procession of bronze bulls being herded by a couple of cowboys.

Less than an hour later I'm standing right outside the infamous grassy knoll and the former Texas Book Depository, where the shot was fired that killed President John F. Kennedy.

My 11-mile run included seeing feral cats in a large, quiet cemetery and a Godzilla-size silver stick figure.

Running has always helped me navigate strange new places. This time it helped me gain an appreciation of a city I previously knew little about.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Travels with Toaster

DALLAS -- About a year and a half ago I was with my now-fiancee in New Orleans for one of her conferences.

We were getting tired of eating heavy, expensive hotel breakfasts when I came upon the perfect thing in the French Quarter -- a $9 toaster at a Walgreen's. I scooped it up with a loaf of bread and squeezable jelly.

It was perfect -- we usually just eat toast in the mornings, so why pay $10 bucks for it at a restaurant?

So the tradition of the travel toaster was born. It fits in my carry-on bag and although I've been surprised that it's never been pulled for inspection at the airport, it never has.

I've brought it with me on trips to Chicago, Hollywood, Fla., and even downtown Atlanta when we stayed last year at the Omni Hotel right by the start of the ING Georgia Marathon and Half Marathon.

Right now it's in Dallas providing me with some much needed toast and whatever else I raided from the Delta Sky Club -- some Tillamook Monterey Jack Cheese, an individual packet of hummus dip and Nutella. (The Sky Club has really upped its offerings recently -- I should have snagged some of the cranberry cookies).

So while my fiancee is at a conference, I'm free to explore the city -- and go on a massive point run on Full Tilt. My semi-yearly bonus is about to expire on Valentine's Day.

So more updates ... and more delicious free toast.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

When you're beat, you're beat

ABOARD DELTA AIR LINES FLIGHT 2111- I certainly didn't expect someone to stay in all the way with a set of 2s. I really expected a higher flush.

Full Tilt Poker $0.25/$0.50 No Limit Hold'em - 8 players - View hand 1169761

DeucesCracked Poker Videos Hand History Converter

UTG+1: $31.60

MP1: $31.50

MP2: $28.75

CO: $20.80

BTN: $50.20

SB: $49.50

Hero (BB): $50.00

UTG: $28.50

Pre Flop: ($0.75) Hero is BB with T of spades 8 of spades

UTG calls $0.50, 5 folds, SB calls $0.25, Hero checks

Flop: ($1.50) A of spades 5 of spades 2 of spades (3 players)

SB bets $0.50, Hero raises to $3, UTG calls $3, SB folds

Turn: ($8.00) 3 of hearts (2 players)

Hero bets $10, UTG calls $10

River: ($28.00) 9 of clubs (2 players)

Hero bets $36.50 all in, UTG calls $15 all in

Final Pot: $58.00

Hero shows T of spades 8 of spades (a flush, Ace high)

UTG mucks 2 of hearts 2 of clubs

Hero wins $55.10

(Rake: $2.90)

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Playing with confidence

The "Hahn Library" geocache is just on the other side of this sign in Atlanta.

On Saturday I went 1 for 6 geocaching on the Emory University campus. I should have known right away after I had trouble finding the first two that the others wouldn't be any better.

Today I went back and was 6 for 6, including two that I hadn't found elsewhere in previous visits.

What happened? The first day something wasn't right. Not finding the first few led me to shut down my thinking. If it was hard to find those, it would be impossible to find the others, right?

The next day I found the first two right off the bat. It let me take all of the complex decisions out of finding something that's hidden and with a clear path to my goal, geocaching was made easy.

It also transferred to my poker session after halftime of the Super Bowl. In two spots I was forced with some tricky decisions -- I was raised when three cards to a flush came on the turn. In another hand, my top pair was raised.

But I had confidence built from earlier in the day when six out of six times during an eight-mile run I made the right choice every time.

So it was easy to go with my gut in poker.

Now that won't work in every hand but when you play with high confidence your decision making is a lot easier. You go with what you think. Creeping doubt doesn't set in.

It's like in pro sports when an athlete makes a couple of easy baskets. Then the game opens up.

On the reverse, if you don't get those easy victories off the bat, you might want to shorten the session. Making mistakes initially will snowball as you may continue to wonder why you didn't make the right decision the first time, and it will compound when you are also simultaneously forced to make the right choice in a current hand.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Playing with the right mindset

I try not to play poker when I'm tired because I can tell that just a little bit of tiredness can turn into making bad decisions easily. That includes making bad table selection.

At the same time, you have to play sometime, especially if you are chasing Full Tilt's Iron Man Challenge.

When I haven't played or haven't played very much recently I also feel that I'm a little bit rusty. I can't tell as easily from the flow of the game if the game has changed, if it's tightening up so much that I should get out. Or, even losing a little bit of money can be irritating to me. When you play enough you know that it's all part of the ebb and flow of the game.

I guess poker is a lot like running -- or running every day. You just have to keep at it enough so it seems natural. And that means all of the little aches that come along with it.