Archive for March, 2005

80 million?

Thursday, March 31st, 2005

Andy Beal is a crazy man. This is the latest in a series of articles published in Card Player in an attempt to publicly come to terms on the format of the “biggest game in town” between Andy Beal and Doyle Brunson’s “syndicate”. It is simply mind-boggling to consider poker played at those kind of stakes. I have enough problems losing a couple hundred dollars in a session. I don’t know how I could sit there until I’ve won or lost eight million! Of course, I’d need to have my first million before I could consider that, so I better get cracking.


Thursday, March 31st, 2005

Last night was the latest WPBT and the third of the year. It was back to the traditional no limit hold’em at Pokerstars. Since one table is never enough, I decided to also enter the $5000 freeroll at Absolute Poker starting at the same time. Well, it wasn’t a complete freeroll as you needed to pay 10000 ARPs to enter, but it seemed like a good deal. I was also trying to take care of a personal project at the same time, so I managed to be fairly scatterbrained throughout.

I think this is the first blogger tournament that I’ve ever entered where I was not in the chip lead at some point in the tournament. Actually, that may no be quite true as I nearly doubled-up early when I someone went all-in against me with second pair to my top pair, but I didn’t check where that put me in the chip standings. I don’t remember the player’s name, but it was a generous contribution to my stack. I do know he/she was one of the first of the 109 players to bust out.

Unfortunately I just couldn’t get into the swing of things. My cards weren’t helping, but I played pretty weak, folding to virtually anyone who played back at me. While I never dropped below my starting stack after that early double up, eventually the blinds were making my stack look pretty feeble. And 200/400 blinds I was looking for a opportunity to get all my chips in and when I found AK0 in the big blinds, it seemed just such an opportunity. Unfortunately, I should have given it some though when Bill Rini was the one raising from early position. Had I turned my brain on for a few seconds I would have recalled that he had been playing mostly strong hands and an early position raise probably signalled. It definitely did, and his KK had me in rough shape. I picked up a gutshot draw on the flop, but got no help on the turn or river. I was out in 30th, which wasn’t a horrible finish, but I might have found a better place to get my money in. Still, it’s hard to get away from AK with only 6x the BB. I can only hope that the 30th place finishmight be enough to move me up on the WPBT leaderboard.

I ended up sweating JP for the next hour and a bit, hoping that a Canadian might be able to take the title. Alas, though he made the final table, he busted out in seventh when his TT fell to AA. Bad luck JP!

Fortunately I was still kicking in the Absolute tournament. We were down to about 40 of 209 players remaining with the blinds just slightly behind those in the Stars tournament. And with the extremely flat payout ($600 for first, $100 for 16-18th) there was a decent chance I could parlay my medium stack into a benjamin. Or in my case a borden and a couple macdonalds. In fact, I was pretty lucky to be in the tournament at all after doubling up with KK vs. AA when I lucked into a flush.

Unfortunately, my luck didn’t continue and I was forced to fold some big hands to pressure on some very scary flops. Eventually I was back to a short stack, something I was getting all too familiar with. We were down to 25 players and one of them was stalling on every hand, something that was very frustrating to a short stack looking to amass a few more chips before the blinds went up. Eventually I pushed my last T3800 with ATs in first position with the blinds at 500/1000. It’s folded around to the small blind, who goes into the tank. Actually, wait, he’s just stalling, again, so it’s just up to the big stack in the big blind who calls me down but makes me happy when he flips 75s. That is, of course, until a 7 hits on the flop. Just when I’m thinking that maybe it won’t be so bad to get to bed at a reasonable hour, a beautiful T hits on the river and doubles me up.

I play one more hand out of the big blind for a small point, but the next 2 orbits are pretty uneventful (and excruciatingly slow) until the 19th player finally busts out at another table and everyone is in the money. I’m happy, thinking we’ve finally seen the end of the stalling. Unfortunately I’m wrong and with blinds at 600/1200, the moron in the 2-seat tries to shuffle his way into 16th for an extra $25. A few hands later I have K4o in the big blind. It’s folded around and when the big stack (T75000) raises me all-in from the small blind, I figure, correctly, that my hand is best. I push my remaining T4000 hoping to double-up against his J7o. Unfortunately, the poker gods did not smile on me and delivered the crushing 7 on the river. Still, 18th place was still $100, which was better than I expected from my measly stack.

Was quite a fun night of tournament poker. It’s always fun to play in the blogger events, and really, you can never argue with winning money. I just wish I hadn’t been so preoccupied so that I could have chatted a bit more in the blogger event.


Tuesday, March 29th, 2005

I don’t know if I’ve ever written an uberpost in the history of this blog, but I think this may qualify.

One of the players from my bi-weekly tournament invited me to his own home game. In the 14 months I’ve been running the tournaments, this it only the second invitation I’ve gotten and the first I’ve been available to play at. I suppose no one wants to invite the tournament winner to their own games. *grin* I knew this game wouldn’t be as serious as my usual tournament, so I settled in with a few beers for the pot-limit hold’em tournament. I bounced in fourth after a few hours of not being able to find a hand, but it didn’t take that long for us to to start a little pot-limit side game. Kind fellows that we are, we pushed the two remaining heads-up players from the tournament over to the side of the table so we could play. I ended up with a few extra dollars at the end of the night and would have been up a few more if it weren’t for a particularly painful loss to a set made on runner-runner threes. But it was a lot of fun and I enjoyed not having to organize the thing and drinking a beer or two (or half a dozen).

Of course, like ever other good poker blogger out there, I was also facing 1400 hands at Party to unlock my March bonus. Pretty standard play at the PL25 tables (it takes too long to find multiple tables at PL50) but I also played a bunch of hands at the seven card stud hi/lo .5/1 tables. At first I was playing pretty solidly and booking some small wins, but I started loosening up on Friday and Saturday and managed to dump a 1/2 of my bonus. I made some of it back at the hold’em tables, but I’d really like to go back to making a profit *on-top* of the bonus.

Of course, distractions abounded. On Friday I spent most of the day reinstalling my main machine, which has started to lock up recently. Everything went well, but I don’t think playing on my laptop while finishing the install was a profitable decision. I feel bad for the players who had to put up with my slower than usual play.

But an even bigger distraction was my new PSP which I picked up Thursday morning. Wow. I’d read the hype and was relatively excited about getting my hands on my very own PSP, but I was ready for it not to be quite as spectacular as all the reviews said. Boy was I wrong. The system is amazing. First of all, it looks beautiful. The video quality is amazing and the screen is huge for a portable system. And the games are good, and plentiful, something that Nintendo really got wrong with the launch of the DS. I bought Wipeout Pure and Lumines and the system came with Gretzky NHL, which I haven’t even tried. It also came with a UMD (a propietary media format) of Spider-man 2 and I have to confess that the video and audio (via headphones) quality far exceeded my expectations. I don’t know how successful this new UMD format will be, but as soon as I get a larger memory stick, I will be using the video capabilities of the device quite regularly. My only problem with the system is that it is only a matter of time before I miss my subway stop while absorbed in my PSP. It almost happened twice over the weekend.

I used to be a complete movie whore. My friends used to dread going to rent movie store with me because we always had a heck of a time finding new releases that I hadn’t seen. But over the last few years, I haven’t watched anywhere near as many as I used to. In fact, my movie viewing habits have become somewhat sad. I hadn’t seen any of the Oscar nominated films this year. I corrected that somewhat last weekend I finally picked up a copy of The Incredibles. I’m a huge fan of animated movies and thought highly of The Iron Giant, director Brad Bird’s previous film. And of course, Pixar has yet to make a mistep in its short history. Even with those high expecations, I was still blown away by The Incredibles.

The thing I found most striking about it was the fact that the movie doesn’t play like an animated film. The story is as well developed and the characters as fully realized as in any live action script – a fact acknowledged by the Academy’s Best Screenplay nomination for Bird. The argument between Helen and Bob in the middle of the film was just as powerful a scene as any you’ll see in a live action movie, and better than most. But the filmmakers are also not afraid to take full advantage of the medium and the movie looks beautiful. The art direction and animation are perfect. The action sequences simply shine and are far more interesting and well constucted than any from the action blockbusters I recall seeing in the past few years. I don’t know how they could even put Shrek 2 and A Shark’s Tale in the same category for Best Animated Picture. Shrek 2 was funny enough, I suppose, but it will not stand the test of time nearly as well as The Incredibles. Hmmm…can you tell I liked the movie?

I ended the weekend with a tasty Easter dinner at a friend’s house who was kind enough to invite me after learning I was staying in town for the weekend. I brought a bottle of wine and some Kinder eggs (a personal family tradition) and was treated to a delicious turkey feast. I ate too much, but I guess that is to be expected on a holiday Sunday.

Addendum: Just listened to this week’s Card Club on Lord Admiral Radio and my site was mentioned in reference to an email I sent them a couple weeks back. Thanks Sean, I appreciate the link. Just wish I’d actually had some recent posts up. And congratulations on your 19th show (has it already been that long?).

Second addendum: Ok, maybe it wasn’t an uberpost, but it was still pretty lengthy. And it took me far too long to finish. I had intended to write more about each of the individual topics but by the time I was able to revisit them, most of the thoughts had fled from my head. I will eventually get the hang of this blogging thing.

Sadly neglected

Monday, March 28th, 2005

The blog is once again starting to look like an abandoned wasteland. But I assure you a new post is in the works . It’s just that the new PSP I picked up on Thursday has been a constant distraction. So have Wipeout Pure and Lumines. It also didn’t help that I needed to spend the day Friday doing a complete reinstall of my machine. But I talk about all that a bit more (as well as some poker) in my forthcoming post.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day

Thursday, March 17th, 2005

Hoist a pint for me. I know I’ll be trying to hoist one for each of you.

It was a bust

Wednesday, March 16th, 2005

A friend led me towards the Red Hot Poker Tour a month or two back after discovering them running a poker tournament in his local bar. It’s a group that organizes free poker tournaments in bars across Toronto. There is no buy-in and there are no prizes. I have been meaning to make it out to a game for a while, but always found myself with other commitments. I’m running out of excuses though, as there is at least one event running every night of the week somewhere in town. And if you count all the events in nearby cities, the RHPT has 3-4 events a night.

But tonight was a special event. Daniel Negreanu was in town for a few days and was supposed to be appearing at the this evening’s tournament at the Madison downtown. Sign-up was supposed to begin at 6:00pm, but I rightly figured that I should get there early if I wanted a seat. Unfortunately, I was only able to get out of the office at 5pm and my 5:40 arrival left me too far back in line to get into the game. It was only a short time after 6:00, when I was maybe 10 people back from the sign-up table, that we were told that all the seats were filled. The tournament wouldn’t start until 7:00 and the room was packed. The friend who was going to come with me wasn’t able to make it, so, instead of waiting around on the off chance I might see something interesting or get a chance to talk to Daniel, I decided to head back home.

It was unfortunate as I was looking forward to seeing Daniel and maybe getting a chance to congratulate him on his success and compliment him on his Card Player articles, which are usually the first I read with each issue. I was also hoping I might run into Brent “Stacks”, one of the hometown boys behind Card Club on Lord Admiral Radio. I’d contacted both he and “Cinci” Sean about Daniel’s appearance after they mentioned it on their podcast this weekend and Brent said he might show up. Unfortunately, I have no idea what Stacks looks like, so I wasn’t going to hang around without the benefit of a poker game to introduce myself to people. And lastly, I discovered that one of the regulars from my own poker game used to room with Devin Armstrong back in university and actually played in the same band with him for a time. Devin writes for Canadian Poker Player and is frequent poster at Canada’s Poker Forum. My friend mentioned that Devin is usually at the RHPT events and suggest I say hello. At least I would have been able to recognize from his byline picture.

But I will have to get out to one of these events soon. From what I saw, it looks pretty well organized and pretty popular. I could use the live game practice even if there is nothing on the line. And I suppose it’s my responsibility as a blogger to sample the poker scene in my city, as limited as it may be.

I’m in, I’m out, I’m in again

Wednesday, March 16th, 2005

Last week I posted that I had booked tickets for the June poker blogger event and was really looking forward to it. Unfortunately the excitement did not last very long as I discovered the discount airline I’d booked the tickets with (JetsGo) had shut their doors, stranding hundreds of passengers looking to escape for the March break but also leaving me without a flight to Vegas and with a sizeable hole in my pocketbook.

The initial panic began to wear off as I got confirmation that I would be able to recover the money through my credit card company, though I was still angry that JetsGo had been taking bookings all the way up to the day before they closed down. I mean, I hadn’t had my ticket for a full week before it became worthless.

But after chatting with a bunch of bloggers Sunday night at the tournament, my enthusiasm for the trip was rekindled so I began searching for alternative arrangements. Yesterday I finally nailed down the last details and booked my hotel room at The Plaza, which seems to be blogger party central. I also bit the bullet and paid a little more to get a direct flight with Air Canada. I could have probably saved a hundred bucks or so taking another flight, but they were almost all twice as long with a stopover. Because of the flight prices and cheap hotel, it actually ended up working out that it would be cheaper to fly in Thursday night and pay for the extra night in a hotel. So, my buddy and I will be arriving on a 10:20 flight into Vegas and should be checking into The Plaza by 11:30. I can hardly wait!


Wednesday, March 16th, 2005

Anyone with any interest at all in gaming should take a look at Gamespy‘s coverage of Will Wright’s GDC presentation. He talks about a new project he is working on called Spore and the design and scope of the game is just incredible.


Monday, March 14th, 2005

The night finally arrived. For the first time ever, a WPBT event that scheduled that was not NLHE. At 9:00pm last night, 93 players began a strange journey into the world of HORSE (a mixed games with alternating rounds of Hold’em, Omaha Hi/Lo, Razz, Seven-Card Stud and Eight or Better) at Full Tilt Poker.

And all I can say is, we need to do this again, soon. I’m no expert on any of the games that make up HORSE, but I have played them all and read some about them. And apparently this small amount of knowledge can provide a huge edge against the typical WPBT player. I kept losing large chunks of my stack, but managed to build it back up during the ORSE rounds.

Unfortunately, most of my memorable hands were bad beats. The first was with 68/2 in Razz. I bet it the whole way down and was called by fhwrdh who at the end was drawing to a 9. Of course, after adding an A to my hand on 4th street, I managed to pair up with each of the last three cards. Sure, when I paired the 2 on fifth street, I can see a loose call, but when I catch an 8 on 6th, I can’t fathom a call with a made 10 and a draw to a 9. But who am I to criticize, I lost the hand and a few thousand in chips.

The other big loss was pretty standard, a made hand that lost out to a flush on the river. But it left me in precarious chip position.

Of course, this biggest frustration of the tournament was a particularly poor play on my part, at the final table no less. I was playing AKQ4 double suited pretty strongly in O/8 and after a flop of 9Tx, a beautiful J came on the river, giving me the nut straight and the nut flush draw. Unless the board paired, my hand was a lock. Except, I didn’t see that, and only called the turn bet thinking I needed an AKQ or heart to make my hand. Even worse, when the river came an offsuit three, I checked along with my opponent. I guess I should be happy he didn’t bet, as it’s entirely possible I would have folded. Of course, looking back it is entirely possible that he wouldn’t have called any further bets with a board like that, but it was still a stupid, stupid mistake. In my defense (slim as it is), I was working on my other machine throughout the tournament. Still, I should be able to read the nuts at all times and really should notice when they are in my hand.

This actually put me in decent chip position, with T17000 with other stacks ranging from T5000 to T30000. Not optimal, but at least it was something to work with. Or it would have been had the deck not gone suddenly cold on me. With the rampant calling I’d seen throughout the tournament and the fact that the big stacks at the table were displaying a bullying mood, I had to bid my time to try to find at least marginal hands before making a move. Of course, this was all necessitated by the fact it was a limit tournament and could push a hand only so hard.

After blinds (and bring-ins) stripped me down to T10000, I decided to re-raise with AQ/2 against the XX/3 that completed my bring-in. The game was seven card stud and I figured my opponent for a pair. I’d seen play those small pairs all the way through the hand, so I figured I was getting reasonable value for my money, and frankly, my patience had given out. With a J for me and a 2 for him on 4th street, I got the rest of my money in. He had hidden nines and though it was a higher pair than I expected, I still had three overcards and a 3-card flush. Unfortunately, I didn’t get there and his unimproved nines took me out of the tournament in fifth place. Good read, questionable bet, but the antes were eating me alive and I was going to need to get some chips to have any chance at the first place money.

The tournament was a lot of fun though, and I have to say I really like the Full Tilt software. I had the chance to chat with some poker bloggers and play a little HORSE, which is quickly becoming my poker preference. My thanks to Iggy for setting up the tournament, and Felicia, who was the impetus for the whole thing.

Poker, poker, poker

Sunday, March 13th, 2005

Friday night (last Friday…boy, this has been sitting in the queue for a while)was again my bi-weekly. I thought I’ve been cold-decked in the past in these tournaments, but the cards were absolutely frigid this night. I managed to pull a few steals over to keep my stack stable as the tournament progressed, but as other people accumulated chips, my chances were looking worse and worse. In fact, the only two hands I went to showdown with were behind the whole way and won on the river. And one of those was runner-runner straight. Fortunately, they were both short stacks (which was why I was involved) and I collected their bounties. When we merged down to one table, my fortunes started to turn somewhat. I pushed when I had the goods and thankfully the hands held up. When it got down to heads-up a fortuitous pair of pocket kings sealed the deal and I walked away with first place again. A satisfying victory, but there are still a few problems with my game.

The one thing I really need to work on is my poker face. I used to be fairly random in my mannerisms while playing cards so I never particularly worried about remaining overly stoic. I would occasionally start shaking when bluffing, but I’d also be shaking when holding a monster. But more and more often now I feel that I am betraying not too subtle clues about my hand whenever my opponent goes into the tank. My eyes are constantly darting all over the place. They flick from player to felt to TV to … well, just about anything in the room. And if he takes long enough to call, I will inevitably start with the shakes. Does anyone have any secrets to remaining stoic at the table? I’ll be trying to get more live play in so I can work on this to avoid embarrassing myself more than I need to at the WPBT event, but.

Played a good chunk over poker at Party over the rest of the weekend trying to work off the BONUSFEB $200 bonus (yes, I should probably mention these things before they expire). A combination of spectacularly bad play combined with a few unfortunate beats led to a brutalizing of my bankroll. Well, with the two hundred bucks I ended up for the weekend and even slightly up over the first session I played towards the bonus, but I still ended up being down $20 from my deposit when all was said and done. Quite a bit of wasted time. I think maybe I should start making only partial deposits on this large 1-week bonuses, as it will help to make me feel a little less forced into playing.

In community news, I’m finally adding Card Club on Lord Admiral Radio to the links on the right. It’s a weekly podcast on poker put together by a group of players here in Toronto. It’s great stuff and they’ve even got PokerProf contributing on a regular segment.
Also, there is a HORSE WPBT tournament tentatively scheduled for this Sunday on Full Tilt Poker. I haven’t financed my FTP account yet, but I am planning to play in this tournament. I’ve been playing a lot of HORSE in my home games and been doing some reading on the various disciplines. I love getting a change of pace in game selection and though I don’t expect to do very well in the tournament, it is going to be a hell of a lot of fun.

I’m in

Monday, March 7th, 2005

At Pauly’s urging (see comments in the last post) I signed up for the live WPBT event taking place in Vegas on the first Saturday in June. Ok, it didn’t take much arm twisting , but I am on the list for the tourney and my flight is booked. If I counted the names correctly in the post CJ made at the WPBT site and I’m sitting as the fiftieth name on the list, which makes me a little bit nervous, particularly since I wasn’t a good little boy and RSVPed via comment instead of email like he asked. The list is in no particular order, but I’d really hate to go all the way to Vegas and not get a chance to play in the tourney. I probably should have signed up right away and then worried about getting the time off work and finding a reasonable flight, but I’ve been organized too many teams and events in the past and know how much of a pain these types of things can be. Hopefully it all works out and I’ll be able to donate some money to my fellow bloggers before contributing it to random strangers over the rest of the weekend.

Unfortunately, it is looking very promising on the room front. I’d been hoping that the tournament would attract a decent room rate, as the one at Sam’s Town did, but that does not appear to be forthcoming. And since the WSOP is starting that same weekend, I think it may be safer to nail down a room sooner rather than later. If anyone has any suggestions for decent rooms or decent rates (I’m sharing with a buddy) please let me know. Where is everyone else staying? Felicia had some candidates for me, but the better informed I am, the better I’ll feel.

Poker Tracker Guide

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2005

Well, my poker playing frequency has been up, but that hasn’t really translated to more weblog entries. But I haven’t abandoned this thing altogether.

First of all, Iggy and hdouble have finally released the secret project they have been working on for the past several months. Their Poker Tracker Guide has been released into the world. At $20, it’s worth it for the auto-rate formulas alone. I was very happy to see that I came up rated as a “Good Player”. Even if in just one session, I found the auto-rate notes to be very handy and while I don’t know if I’ve made the $20 back off the information yet, it won’t be long before I do. And the guide contains some other useful info as well, including a config file that will be nice once I get it working. Kudos to both of you for a job well done.

But despite that extra edge and the ten pocket aces I was dealt last night (including two that turned into quad aces), I still managed to drop some change at the new pot-limit tables at Party. (I’d have to go back and check PokerTracker for the exact number, but if it wasn’t ten, it was very close) I guess I was thrown by the changes in the way the PL and NL tables work in the Party Skins. Everything was normal Sunday, but when I logged on last night and started up a couple 25PL tables, I noticed that the antes weren’t quite as big as I was used to. It seems that they’ve changed the buy-ins to 100x the BB instead of the 50x they had before. This means the .50 big blind I was used to was now at the 50PL tables. It also appeared that the 25PL tables did not count towards raked hand requirements. So, I moved up, even though a lot of the fish stayed at the $25 tables to get their NL/PL fix at the lowest possible stakes. I was doing not too badly, but lost a lot of money against some improbably starting hands against my TPTK. I would have finished up if it weren’t for a $60 pot I lost with pocket aces when my opponent spiked a queen to join his Hilton sisters on the turn. Damn you Pauly!

I’m disappointed that I didn’t do more with the deck hitting me in the face like it was, but I have to say that I was still mentally adjusting to playing from a bigger stack. It had mostly settled by the end of the night so I am looking forward to opportunities to extract even more money from the fish in the future. And I even have them conveniently labelled now with PokerTracker’s auto-rate feature. Thanks Iggy and hdouble.

In other news, the next live WPBT event has been scheduled for June 4th at the Aladdin Casino in Las Vegas. CJ from Up For Poker set it up. I’m considering attending and almost booked my flight more than once, but I am feeling a bit of a pretender with the scarcity of my posts lately.