Archive for the ‘Poker’ Category

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.

Home again, home again

Sunday, February 20th, 2005

Unfortunately there was no poker in the Carribean, which was made even more frustrating by the people we met at the casino that I know would have been sitting at the poker table. Would have been a very loose table, but very profitable with a little patience. Alas, it was not to be.

This Friday was the usual home tourney, but I had a little trouble getting going. Getting bad cards and playing pretty loosely. And worse of all, I’m giving out tells like it’s going out of style, I just can’t control myself. But somehow I manage to hold on to the later stages. Down to 4 with 2 big stacks, 2 small stacks, with mine the smallest of all. Suddenly the two big stacks go to war and one is decimated when trip aces fall to quad 2s. Suddenly there are three short stacks. But I’m likely to be blinded off first. I find KJc and put in my remaining chips, now less than the big blind after the long hand between the two large stacks. It holds up. Now I’ve got over twice the big blind and push on the next hand when I find ATo. The big stack folds his small blind but the big blind calls his remaining T30 chips. A 9 on the flop and I’m back to being allin in the big blind on the next hand. I’m called by the third short stack and the other two fold, leaving me committing only half my stack to cover him. It’s my 74o versus his T8o. The flop is 8KK, leaving me drawing very, very thin. But the turn is a 6 and the river the improbably 5 to keep me from going all-in in the small blind. But when the remaining small stack pushes in (he has me covered, barely) I have to follow suit with presto. The big stack calls and they flip over KJ and KT. I’m feeling much better about my chances. Still not 50% to win, but more likely than either of the other two. Unfortunately a jack hits on the flop and the other short stack triples up. Of course, he’s at about a 7-1 chip disadvantage, so it’s not long before he’s eliminated as well. But considering that I figured my chances of making the money (top 3 paid) were pretty poor, I was happy to get away with something.

Also had a strange occurrance earlier in the week. I got a call from a host at Absolute Poker who set me up with some better than normal bonuses. Nothing ridiculous, but more than the typical reloads they offer and it was nice to get the personal touch. Very strange though, as I’ve never played all that much at Absolute. I guess they are serious about trying to compete with the big boys. They do have solid software though, so I suppose all they need is the numbers.


Thursday, February 3rd, 2005

Despite running around like a chicken with my head cut off trying to take care of some remaining errands before I depart for the sunny Dominican Republic, I was able to make it home for the WPBT event last night. With about five minutes to spare. In my first hand I found a pair of sixes in the big blind. I was still out of sorts from my rush to get back to my apartment, but when Helixx raised me from late position, I think I raised him right back. He called and though I forget the exact sequence of play, I folded under the continued pressure he put on me. I believed the sixes were good, but it just wasn’t worth losing any more money on. I would have my revenge later.

Play was pretty tight at the table, but I was looking up information about my vacation, so wasn’t paying quite enough attention to take full advantage. But I was slowly rebuilding all the chips I lost on that first hand. I was motoring right along when there was another late position raise from Helixx. But this time I had AKs in the small blind, so my re-raise had a bit more weight behind it. He tossed even more chips into the pot, putting me almost all-in. I had been paying enough attention to the table to know that he was playing hyper-aggressive, so I called the bet. He flipped over … The HammerTM. And when a K hit on the flop, I was happy. The turn was a 2, which put a bit of a scare in me after Pauly‘s display of Hammer mastery just a few hands previously. Fortunately the river was a blank and I had doubled up and started focusing a bit more.

Not much spectacular occurred over the next few levels. I kept stealing the occasional blind, but mostly just tried to wait out my mediocre cards. Unfortunately, my patience only went so far, as at the 100/200 level, I found myself in the small blind with sailboats. It was folded around to the button who raised it to T500. Now, I figured he could be raising from position with just about anything, so I re-raised to T1500 of my T3600, figuring that most of his hands there couldn’t take much pressure. Of course, I probably should have put a bit more pressure than that, but it was only my first mistake. He raised me back all-in and after a bit of thought, I pegged him for a bully and called. Of course, regardless of what hand he chose to be bully with, it still had me in a 50/50 situation. He flips over AJ of clubs, a jack hits on the flop, and I’m out in 47th place. I don’t think he made a great play there, but my play was nothing to write home about either. Regardless, I needed some more chips if I wanted to make a push for the real money, so once the T1500 went in, I was going to have a hard time not following it up. Congratulations to on_thg for walking away with first place and $906.

Also worth mentioning is the great job Sean (from Anistropy) and Pauly (you know where he’s from) have done putting together the official WPBT site. It has all the information you might need about the Poker Blogger tournaments, as well as a leaderboard that Sean is starting up with this year’s results. I had started working on something like this myself last year, but I never followed through. I’m happy to see that someone has gotten this information collected. And if you want to check out the results from last night’s tournament, just head on over.

A little home game action

Saturday, January 29th, 2005

Well, I’ve already started getting my game back in shape this year with a third place finish in the my first home tourney of the year. I should probably have locked up first with the chips I had, but my cards went cold when it got down to five and I lost too many chips trying to make moves. Nothing feels worse than getting called down with queen high.

I did implement my plan and pushed marginal edges much less than I usually do at these games. I can read some of the players pretty well and know when the flop has missed them. Unfortunately, I was still getting called down by trailing hands a lot of the time, so I wound up getting bumped from the tournament when people hit their draws. I know I’ve got a large edge on most of the field, so I’ve been choosing my spots far more carefully to stack the odds even further in my favour.

This week some buddies of mine got together for an impromptu H.O.R.S.E. ring game. It was only five of us, but it was old time boys who have been playing in the game for three years now. And they have all latched on to H.O.R.S.E. as a way to avoid the monotony of a night full of hold’em without resorting to any wildcard games. But short-handed play can really alter some of these games. In the case of this week’s game, it was some very peculiar Omaha and Omaha/8 hands. I was surprised by the number of pair or 2-pair hands that one the pot. But the most peculiar hand came in Omaha Hi where we had three 4s up in the middle. I was expecting a full house, but of course you need to play two cards from your hand and since no one had a pocket pair, the pot went to ace high, even though other players had paired the board. Understandably, the guy who folded AK to the river bet was upset that he didn’t realize the strength of his hand. In the end, I managed to nearly triple my buy-in playing some decent poker and capitalizing on other’s mistakes.

Of course, I followed up a night of solid poker with some pure gambling at the end of the night where I managed to throw all my profits away. I keep figuring that I’m due for some luck playing a little high card, which has almost become a tradition at the end of a night of poker, but somehow I keep flipping twos. Ah well, Doyle says you have to give action to get action. I can justify it that way, right?

2005 Poker Resolutions

Saturday, January 22nd, 2005

I’ve finally finished assembling my poker resolutions for 2005. 2004 was my first year as a poker player and while I made a lot of progress – and a not insignificant amount of money – there is still a lot of room for improvement. So these are my resolutions for the next 12 months.

One post a week
In the last few months of the 2004, this blog was extremely neglected. Now, I’m not sure I’m going to be able to maintain the same frequency as I did earlier in the year, but I do plan on making a minimum of one post a week from here on out. This is not so much a poker goal, but I believe writing about the game can be a powerful learning tool.

Improve other games
One of the things I enjoyed most when I started taking poker seriously last year was reading up on the game and learning all the ins and outs. These days the lessons come much slower and I miss that process. Also, we’ve been playing HORSE just about every time we start up a side game, for the variety without getting into any wildcard games. So, the plan is to pick up a few books on Omaha and Stud to get a bit more in-depth with those games. It will help to satisfy my urge to study as well as improving my HORSE game. Actually, if anyone out there has recommendations for Stud or Omaha books, I’d love to hear them.

Get comfortable at the $5/$10 tables online
I’ve been sticking at the comfortable $2/$4 and $25PL tables for a while now. It’s past time that I stepped up and took a shot at the higher limits. Most of my money is being made off people playing bad poker instead of playing good poker myself. (like the AQo that just re-re-raised my KK and who I put all-in for all his chips pre-flop) Not that I’m a particularly poor player, but I can get away with playing lazy and making too many mistakes while still being profitable. If I want to improve at all, I’m going to have to take a few risks and play a bit outside my comfort level.

More live play
The extent of my live play last year was my bi-weekly $20 buy-in home tourney and five hours at the $5/$10 table at the CNE. I’ve got a few invitations into games and underground rooms around town. It’s past time I took some of those offers up. And there’s two casinos with poker rooms about an hour away. I don’t have a car, but I’m going to have to work out some visits. And who knows, maybe this will be the year I get down to Vegas.

More multi-table tournaments
I really enjoy multi-table tournaments and even finished in the money a few times last year (mostly freerolls). But as I committed less time to poker, I avoided tournaments and the longer time commitment required for them. I think my tournament game is pretty decent, and if I can manage to improve my late tournament play, there’s some money to be won there.

Originally I also had some financial goals for the year, but then I realized that is not a very good poker goal. All I can do is pick +EV spots or opportunities to improve my long-term EV. The above will do so, but setting a dollar target will not.

Poker Year in Review

Saturday, January 15th, 2005

The new year is already a few weeks old and still I have not made good on my New Year’s resolution to post to my blog. I was almost there last week, but was laid low by one of the nastiest colds I’ve had in recent memory which I am only now recovering from.

So, without further ado, let me begin tp’s Poker Year in Review. I’m going to talk about some of the notable poker related things that happened to me over the course of the year.

January 2004
My poker career dalliance began a year ago. I’d run a bi-weekly home game for a few years at this point, but with the all the poker coverage on TV, I was having some serious poker urges over the holidays. I did a quick bit of research and loaded $50 into Party Poker. The night I turned my $50 deposit into $98, including my bonus, and I was quite pleased with myself. I had dreams of turning it into 4-digits by the end of the week. The very next day I managed to blow through all $98 courtesy of some poor play and some really bad beats. When I put the first $50 in, I told myself that would be it, I would either win, or that would be what I pay to learn that online poker was not a profitable proposition for me. I was very wary of addiction, fearing that it is in my personality. But I still managed to justify adding another $50 to my account and I haven’t looked back since. Nor have I lost more than that first 100 bucks.

January also marked the beginning of the EPT, a tournament home game series that has been running for nearly a year now. It’s just a bi-weekly $20 buy-in pot-limit hold’em tournament, but it has been my only option for live poker, and I have managed to work on some of the skills that you just cannot hone at the online tables.

February 2004
Poker was now in my blood. I thought about it all the time. I bought read books. I read Card Player online. And I followed more poker blogs than was healthy. And in February I decided that I would also write one. I purchased a domain and started this very blog. Not two weeks passed before, from out of nowhere, I was mentioned on Guinness and Poker. Iggy had stumbled across my blog somehow and given me a small mention as well as a spot on his blogroll. Suddenly I had readers.

March 2004
I participated in the World Poker Blogger Tour II event. I finally got to chat with some of the other poker bloggers out there and my finish of 14th out of 28 was better than I expected. Afterwards I got to chat with Felicia and hdouble, two of my favourite bloggers.
March also marked my first multi-table cash and 3-digit win. I won $120 in the Choice Poker new player freeroll, but it would be over six months before I would see a dime of that money. But even sweeter was my cash in the first weekly blogger game organized by Felicia. Finishing ahead of a bunch of chumps in a cheesy freeroll is one thing, but finishing ahead of a bunch of chump bloggers was quite another. *grin*

April 2004
Full steam ahead. Still playing poker, still growing my bankroll. April did feature the post that has received the most search engine hits over the lifetime of this site. I’m glad people come for the poker content.

May 2004
I finally took first in my bi-weekly PLHE home tournament. I believe I had four cashes prior to this, but it was my first victory. It was followed two weeks later by my second. There was other big news in the poker world this month (I wonder what that was), but I was just plugging away at the low limits, growing my bankroll.

June 2004
For the first time, my ill-gotten poker gains were put to another purpose besides driving chips across the table. They funded the purchase of a new laptop, which is on its way to paying for itself.

July 2004
Internet outages at home introduced less frequest blog posts and even less poker time. The withdrawal symptoms were not pretty.

August 2004
My first live casino experience. Well, not a real casino, but played at the CNE Charity Casino down the street from my office while it was in town. Managed to drop nearly $200 in five hours of $5/$10. I think I played well, but I really need to get a bit more casino experience.

October 2004
Another Poker Blogger event this month, and the bloggers and readers tournament attracted 133 participants. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. I played excellent and horrible poker, managing to accumulate the chip leader mid-way through the tournament before making a few bad decisions to bust out in 29th, nine places out of the money. The highlight of the tournament was busting out Wil Wheaton when my TT hit a straight on the river to beat his JJ. It occurs to me now that I never did receive the bounty he promised, though I did received a signed book from Coach, of Blue Parrot fame over at Tao of Poker.

November & December 2004
My poker was falling off a bit in October, but it takes a nose dive in November and December. Other interests keep me away from the online poker tables and without tales to tell this blog languishes.

At the end of the year I have played over 50,000 hands of poker at 15 different online sites and have posted profits of nearly $5000 US. I have played great poker and I have played horrible poker. I’ve learned many lessons and made a few friends along the way. I want to say thanks to anyone who’s read this blog over the past year. I write for myself, but my ego appreciates the attention. Particular thanks to all those who have offered poker advice and support the past 11 months. I have to single out Felicia Lee for all the help and kind words she has shared over the year. For someone who refers to herself as a no-nonsense bitch, she is one of the nicest people I know. It is my intention to renew my commitment to poker and this blog in the new year, but I’ll take talk more about that next time.

For now, it’s time to catch a nap for a couple hours so that maybe my cold isn’t so bad when I go out later.

Coming soon, Poker Resolutions for 2005.

Finally, some poker

Tuesday, November 30th, 2004

As anyone reading my blog has probably figured out, I haven’t been playing nearly as much poker as I used to. There are a lot of reasons for this, but one of the major ones is that I’ve played a lot of poker in the last eight months and some of my enthusiasm is fading. I’ve played tens of thousands of hands online and made a decent amount of money, but other things have been taking up my time recently, not least of which is the fast approaching deadline of a project at work. And I haven’t wanted to force things because, really, if you’re not at your best you shouldn’t be sitting down at a poker table. I don’t know what the future is going to hold for me in terms of poker and this blog, but I do know that I did play some poker this past weekend and I wanted to write about it.

First off, I was finally able to wrangle enough people for my semi-regular PLHE tournament. Unfortunately, my results were hardly better than they were last time, when I busted out after five hands. This marks 5 tournaments without a money finish after taking 1st place 3 tournaments in a row. Obviously I need to take a closer look at my live game. And the first thing I need to do is stop making some assumptions. Too many times have I made the mistake of limiting my opponents’ hands based on their calling a pre-flop raise. Sometimes whatever pressure I apply is not going to get that K4 to fold, and I need to be able to recognize this a bit more often and not push my marginal hands so hard when I sense weakness. Sometimes the weakness is going to stick in there. I have a huge edge on many of these players and I should really wait for better opportunities. Unfortunately, there probably won’t be another game until next year due to the holidays, so I will have to be patient in trying out my new-found patience. Maybe next time I’ll last long enough to have a good tale to tell.

But all was not a loss. Bowing out early meant I got to boot up Party Poker on my laptop and start working off my bonus while the tournament winds down. I don’t know who decided to start making these reload bonuses require 700 hands in 7 days, but I’d like to kick them in the head. Still, free money is hard to turn down, particularly when I tend to make more money while trying to earn it. A few hundred hands later I’m up 60 bucks and packing up the poker table once again. I managed to get in the remainder of the hands by Sunday night (my bonus would have expired Monday night) though I decided that I wouldn’t even attempt the 800 hands I would have had to put in at Poker Now to get the $100 there. I did sign up at Checknraise poker to take advantage of the 50% pre-reg bonus, as they finally went live on Saturday, but I haven’t had the opportunity to play any hands there. This weekend’s play (at my usual 25PLHE tables) was completely on automatic and while I did make a profit on top of the bonus amount, I’m sure that I let many bets slip through my fingers just because I couldn’t be bothered to watch the tables more carefully. Maybe I need a jump in limits to start getting me to get a bit more involved in my game.

The game that wasn’t

Monday, November 22nd, 2004

Well, I haven’t played a great deal of poker recently and was really looking forward to participating in the Grublog Poker Classic Sunday night. Unfortunately, fate and the internet interfered. I booted up my laptop to play with I watched the end of the Grey Cup. But for some reason it wasn’t connecting to the Internet, even though it could was connecting to the wireless network. So, I got on to my desktop machine and started poking around with the config to try to get things resolved. I couldn’t find anything wrong so I went looking for some information online. No dice, couldn’t access the web. Couldn’t log in to Paradise. Couldn’t do anything. After another five minutes I threw up my hands and went back to watch the rest of the football game. One last attempt minutes before the start of the tournament was unsuccessful and I denied my chance to collect any bounties this time around. At least the Argos won.

Short Story

Friday, November 5th, 2004

Had my usual home PLHE tournament tonight. Win the first hand on a bluff. Fourth hand I get the nut straight on the turn and don’t bet quite enough to get the flush draw out. It hits on the river and I’m smart enough not to put any more money in the pot, though I’ve still dropped nearly half my chips. Next hand I pick up pocket aces. Play it the same way, flop comes 349 and I raise. Turn is another 3 and I end up going all-in against the same player I lost to in the previous hand. Unfortunately, he does have pocket fours and the river ten is no help. So, less than 15 minutes in and I’m out of the tournament. And not terribly happy about it, particularly since I have to stick around until the end to run the damn thing. Hopefully I’ll be able to get in a little online action in the meantime.

Bounty Hunter

Monday, November 1st, 2004

Well, I wasn’t really hunting, but I did collect a few bounties in the last Poker Blogger Tournament. The first of which arrived today. The much famed Coach, from Pauly‘s tales of the Blue Parrot game, sent me a signed copy of his book. Unfortunately, the package was open at one end, but the contents were unharmed and I have the first blogger bounty to add to my collection. Thanks Coach!

It got me thinking though. I have a serious collecting compulsion and I began wondering what it would take to complete a collection of the books published by all the poker bloggers.

Then I came up with a better goal. How many poker blogger home games can I attend? How cool would it be to show up at the Blue Parrot game some night. Or any of the other many home games I’ve read about. A pipe dream for now, but maybe something I need to consider for the new year. Besides, New York isn’t all that far from Toronto. And work is always sending folks down there on business.

Of course, as soon as I say this, I hear about a blogger tourney organized in Sin City. It’s December 11th, and I’d need to fly out Friday night and back Sunday, since I have no more vacation to take this year, but it is sorely tempting. First flight check came up with $625 round trip, which seems a bit much to spend on only a weekend before room, booze and gambling is factored in. But maybe I’ll be able to find a better deal…

On a break

Thursday, October 28th, 2004

I’ve been taking a bit of break from poker play. I’ve been very stressed by the work I’m doing right now and my mind has been constantly churning trying to solve some fairly involved technical issues. This has led to a good deal of insomnia and I’m feeling particularly run down. So, I’m trying to avoid making the mistake of sitting at the poker table with low energy and concentration. I am currently reading Winning Low Limit Hold’em just to keep things fresh. Some decent advice in there, but so far there is nothing that is going to dramatically change the way I’ve been playing. I’m likely not going to get to the tables until some time next week, though there is a small chance I might get a few hours in on Saturday afternoon.

In other news, my volleyball team won it’s third game in a row last night. We started the night playing simply abyssmal volleyball, but managed to turn it around by the end of the night to pull out the victory. It would have been nice to have played a more solid game, but it at least it is not as disheartening as a sub-par game AND the loss.

Let’s compare

Monday, October 25th, 2004

On Friday I received two packages in the mail. One came from Poker Now and one came from Party Poker. The Poker Now package (from Lakeside, ON) contained a t-shirt (too small, unfortunately) and the book I asked for, Winning Low Limit Hold’em by Lee Jones. The Party package (from Las Vegas, NV) contained a ball cap (different from the last one I received), a t-shirt and a denim shirt. Sounds pretty good for playing 500 raked hands at each site? Well, I’d agree except for the fact that I played those hands at Poker Now less than two weeks ago and the Party merchandise is from a promotion run in August. And the Poker Now promotion came without any intervention on my part while the Party promotion required a series of email to support. I guess when you are the hulking behemoth of the online poker market, you don’t have to worry about how you treat your players.

Of course, when I went to send an email to Poker Now support to commend them on their great customer service, the only email address I could find was So much for that.


Friday, October 22nd, 2004

Argh! I just lost a rather lengthy post about the Poker Blogger Tournament tonight. I’m using Firefox and was trying to do the mouse gesture to open a new tab with the same page. Instead I reloaded the posting page, losing all my writing in the process. Bad geek! I will try to restore what I can, though I fear sleep may get the best of me.

After my dismal performance in the last blogger tournament, I had really been looking forward to the event tonight. And the 133 entrants and a prize pool of $2660 ($798 of which went to first place) made it all the more promising. I have a feeling the large turnout was at least in part due to the presence of a certain celebrity blogger. But it was also thanks to the work done by the poker blogfather, Iggy in getting this thing put together and hosted at Poker Stars, where we could have a reasonable blinds structure.

I started the night at a table with hdouble, who does great work over at The Cards Speak. Months ago in an earlier tournament, I was fortunate enough to bust hdouble out and ever since then, I’ve taken it as a good sign when we are seated at the same table. I quickly changed my mind when he starting playing hyper-aggressive and running over the table. I was not terribly upset that the table was broken just as he was declaring himself king of the castle in chat.

I found myself to the left of Coach, of Blue Parrot fame over at Tao of Poker. He was good fun at the table and I felt badly when I caught him with QQ vs. my KK and bounced him from the tournament. Of course, I didn’t feel nearly as badly as I was about to.

Shortly before the first break it came to light that one of the players at our table (Thehammer72) was none other than Wil Wheaton, patron saint of poker bloggers, geeks and a third thing. (things are always better in threes, even if there are only two of them). The rail slowly filled up with folks out to watch Wil have his way at our table. He was playing a strong aggressive game and I was looking to avoid getting in pots with him because he could put me to a tough decision. Of course, I did end up getting involved when I made my standard 4xBB raise (T75/150 blinds) from one off the button with TT. Wil re-raised nearly all-in and I too quickly make him throw in his last T20 to showdown again his…JJ. Ah crap. I still had T600 left, but I was in bad shape. The flop was 9h7h5, all hearts. Neither of us had hearts, so while the flop wasn’t terribly helpful for me, at least he wasn’t drawing to a flush. The turn was an offsuit 8 and I began to have a little hope. I had an open-ended straight and even through Wil had two of the jacks I needed, I still had more outs that I could have expected. The river came with a miracle 6 and the table and rail both exploded in cries of anguish. Even my own initial elation quickly faded as I realized just how badly I’d sucked out on him. But Wil was gracious in defeat and generously offered to send me a signed copy of his book as a bounty. Of course, just as cool as the book is the story that I’m sure I’ll be telling for years about how I sucked out on Wil Wheaton and bounced him out of a poker tournament. It’s not as cool online as live, but I’ve never made any claims to being cool.

While I wasn’t too happy with having made the call in the first place, and got very lucky to take Wil‘s chips, I didn’t want to let them go to waste. And I actually made a pretty decent run. A QdQh vs. AdQc showdown plus a handful of steals and re-steals (I was particularly proud of one re-steal from the small blind with Ts6d) and I was actually chip leader. Unfortunately, this is the kiss of death for me. Improbably enough, I’ve climbed to the top of a rather impressive field of poker bloggers in the middle stages of a tournament two times in the past. Each time my fortunes quickly changed, or rather, my game started to deteriorate and I began to make some bad decisions. This time my first mistake was with AdKc. I raised before the flop and got one caller. The flop came all rags. I bet T1000 into the T2000 pot. I was raised to T2000. I quickly re-raised my opponent all-in for his last T2500. After a bit of a think, he calls and his pocket tens stand up to strip me of half of my nearly T10000 stack.

I hate to offer excuses, but during this time I became involved on my other machine helping some friends. I was distracted from the tournament and missed too many good opportunities to earn a few more chips or get a better read on some of my opponents. I feel that I really blew a good opportunity here and I regret dividing my attention. Still, I did manage a small recovery before my next error.

And actually, when reviewing the hand, I’m not sure it was an obvious error, but it did cost me some chips. Blinds were T200/400 with a T25 ante, and my big blind was min-raised from button+1. The button pushed all-in with T1900 and after the small blind folded I had to decide what to do with my pocket tens. I decided that the chances were better than even that neither of them had a higher pocket pair and since button+1 had already committed half his stack, he would likely call and I would be getting about 2.5-1 on my call. Seemed like a reasonable decision, but unfortunately button+1 had QQ and it held up for the majority of the pot. He would make good use of my chips later on.

In fact, he used those chips five hands later to call my 3xBB middle position raise from the big blind. I had only QdTd, but as we were down to 29 players with 20 spots paying, it was time to make some moves. The table was folding a lot of hands and I desperately needed more chips if I wanted to make the final table. Still, when the flop came 8sQc9s I immediately thought I had the best hand. My opponent bet out T1200, which was most of the rest of my stack. I figured it for a bully move and pushed in the rest of my chips. He quickly calls and flips over KhQh for a better kicker. No jack comes and I am out in 29th of 133 players. A respectable finish, but disappointing considering my mid-game chip position. I made a serious miscalculation in not considering this hand a little more carefully. I knew that the table wasn’t calling many raises, so I should have put him on two high cards. And I should seriously have considered the chance that he had a stronger queen.

Still, I outlasted 104 players, including all the people linked at right who were participating. I busted a handful of players, including Wil Wheaton. And I earned a great bounty

But the tournament was not over just because I was eliminated. It culminated in an epic heads up battle between ToddCommish and MtDewVirus (who, incidentally, busted me out of the tournament). The railbirds did get a bit out of hand, however, as the majority of spectators were pulling for Todd and were perhaps getting a little too involved with discussing the play of hands and voicing opinions. Dew couldn’t have been feeling too great with the overwhelming show of support for his opponent. Still, the chip lead switched a few times and both players played extremely well. But in the end, Dew pulled it out and took home the big prize. I feel slightly better for being eliminated by the eventual champion, but, still, bad play. Congratulations Dew! It is good to know that the championship rests in the hands of a blogger.

Well, I guess sleep didn’t get the best of me after all, though it’s trying to kick my ass right now. Thanks again to Iggy for putting this all together. I can’t wait until the Grublog Poker Classic next month. I hope to see everyone back at the tables then.

Blogger tournament

Tuesday, October 19th, 2004

I just remember what I forgot to include in my Poker Grab Bag post. The next Poker Blogger (and readers) Tournament, organized by Iggy, is happening this Thursday, October 21st at 9pm ET over at Poker Stars. It’s a $20 buy-in no-limit hold’em and all poker bloggers and readers (yes, that means you) are welcome to participate. Just look for the Guinness and Poker Blog Tournament in the Private Tourney tab and use password IGGY2004 to register. Last I checked, there were about 40 people signed up, so it should be a lot of fun and first place money will be nothing to sneeze at. And participants will have the opportunity to knock out many of the top names in poker blogging, including our own adopted celebrity, if rumours are to be believed.

Poker Grab bag

Tuesday, October 19th, 2004

First things first. There’s a new Party Poker skin in town. It’s called Poker Now, and they are offering a great sign-up bonus right now. Use the code “Shark” (not affiliated with me in any way) and you can get 20% of a $500 dollar deposit, twice. Play 500 raked hands to earn your first $100. Play another 500 raked hands and they will manually credit another $100 to your account (happened a few days after I played by second 500 hands). The website also mentions a free poker book and t-shirt with 500 raked hands played, but I’m not sure if that will come through. I have heard that this bonus will end Oct. 22, so take advantage now. Rumours also hold that they will be offering a reload bonus in the next few weeks. Sounds too good to be true, but I do have an extra $200 in my account there on top of the $100 I earned at the tables, and I have read many reports of successful cashouts (they are using Pro-Pay) so it all seems on the up and up so far.

Secondly, there are two poker anniversaries that were celebrated recently. Both HDouble and Chris Halverson have great posts up talking about their first year as poker players and bloggers. In other blogger news, Iggy has announced that he has quit his job to play poker professionally. I wish him the best of luck in his new career. He certainly has the skills to make it as a long term poker professional, but the short term luck will get him off to a good start.

On a less positive note, Felicia is writing a series of posts talking about just went wrong with the WPPA’s tournament series at the Orleans. After hearing many vague negative reports, I am looking forward to getting the whole story, in all it’s gory details, from Felicia. Also, readers should note that Felicia’s blog has moved to a new address (

Also, I successfully cashed my money out of Choice Poker. Unfortunately I had a particularly bad session on my last afternoon and dropped $100. The good news was that this reduced my balance to the number of hands I had already played, so I immediately cashed out the remaining $184. A few days later it showed up in my Neteller account. This was essentially free money, as I had written it off months ago. Still, I should have been more disciplined so that I could have withdrawn the full $293. So, for those holding back because they still don’t trust the site, they will indeed honor your withdrawal request if you abide by their ridiculous requirement to play through X hands to release your X dollars of outstanding balance. I do not agree with them holding that money hostage like they are, but I did appreciate finally being able to recoup it.

As for me, I’ve been feeling a bit under the weather; physically, mentally and emotionally. And it didn’t help that my poker play hit a rough patch at around the same time to grind me down just a little bit further. I had thought that I had gotten past the emotional swings of the game, playing at the relatively minor limits that I do (minor to my bankroll, at least). Unfortunately, it can still give me a bit of a boost, or a bit of a kick if I hit an extreme run. Though honestly, the worst it’s ever gotten has been a few hundred dollars lost over a couple days.

Thankfully all the bonus offers that have been available recently have helped to mitigate the losses. And the $200 in PokerNow bonuses I unlocked this weekend corresponded to a solid $100 at the 25PL. Not a great rate by any stretch of the imagination, but since I was 4-tabling and never hit a particularly good streak of cards, it felt like a step in the right direction. I’ve also managed to reverse my losing ways at Absolute, where I continue to work off that bonus, $10 at a time.

I do need to hit the books again however. All my recent experimentation has made me lose sight of the fundamentals.
I also wanted to give a belated shout out to JP and CJ at Up For Poker (I’m pretty sure it was CJ, not Otis, with Up4Poker), who I shared tables with over the past few weeks at Party’s 25PL. I was probably too preoccupied to say hello at the time, but I did notice them there. It’s always nice to spot another blogger at the table, though my bankroll might disagree.


Thursday, October 14th, 2004

Well, for a while now Wil Wheaton has been giving the poker blogging community a run for their money in terms of great poker tales. But today I read an excellent
from Otis at Up For Poker that shows that poker bloggers can sometimes match Mr. Wheaton with touching life stories.

Bonus done

Wednesday, October 6th, 2004

Well, my second night was not nearly as profitable as my first, but I did play the remaining 500 hands last night to unlock the second $100 bonus at Party Poker. I dropped $18 in the process, but that still leaves me $82 to the good, so I can’t complain.

Let’s Party

Tuesday, October 5th, 2004

After working much of Sunday night and all day Monday, I finally got a bunch of documentation out the door for work. So, I finally had the opportunity to put in some serious time at the tables. Which was a good thing, as the deadline for the 1700 hands to unlock both Party Poker bonuses was fast approaching, and I had only played 500 hands to date. With volleyball Wednesday night, things were starting to look a bit tight.

So, I played from 7-12:30, three and four tabling at 25PL, depending on whether I was watching live TV or something I downloaded. I played just shy of 900 hands (750 or so that counted towards bonuses). I finished +$173 for the night, unlocked my first Party Poker bonus, and earned 250 towards the second. This actually pushed my bankroll over the $4000US mark (another arbitrary milestone) for the first time. My progress has not been as quick as I might have hoped for recently, but I also haven’t been able to put many hours in at the tables. I’m also in good shape for making the second bonus, as well as having outstanding bonuses remaining at Empire, Absolute and Pokerstars, so the next thousand may not take quite as long.