Sunday, May 29, 2005

Bonuses, Branching Out and Travel Tips

For the first time in quite a while, I played a LOT of poker this weekend.

Having worked off the Party Poker UK player bonus, I ran straight into the May reload bonus. So it was straight back to the tables to work it off.

I spent Friday night on the sofa keeping Mrs Div company, laptop in, er, lap, while she took in the introduction of this years Big Brother contestants (care in the community live on TV!), and I ground my way through a multitude of 0.5/1 Hold Em tables. Swapping regularly as the fish ran dry and the rocks prevailed.

Really I should be playing at 2/4 or higher. My online bankroll is sufficient now to meet the requirements for 3/6, but after a run of really painful sessions, chronicled in these very pages over the last six weeks or so, I resolved to play my way through the slump at the lower limits.

The down side of this is the lower hourly rate - but hourly rate only matters when you are actually winning! A second downside is that at these levels even more crazy beats occur. People really do show down jack high. The upside is that I'm putting a minimal amount of bankroll on the line to earn a decent bonus, and getting back in the winning habit. OK, a 10BB winning session is only $10 but it helps to rebuild confidence. I see it as the equivalent of a football player coming back from injury and scoring his first goals in a reserve game. My poker fitness is gradually returning!

The Party bonus was cleared by the close of play on Friday evening, leaving me uncommitted for the rest of the weekend.

So, as I settled down to take in the Scottish Cup Final on Saturday, I was at something of a loose end. I was pretty much Hold Em'ed out, and looking for a bit of variety. When I'm feeling this way, I head for Full Tilt - primarily to play Razz, but occasionally the Stud tables.

Yesterday I decided to delve into the madness that is Pot Limit Omaha Hi-Lo. I had tried this once previously on a play money table but gave up quickly. There wasn't much point as the other players were just calling down regardless of their hand, and the learning value was nil.

So, I ventured $10 on the 0.05/0.10 table. Even my bankroll can afford a $10 risk! It turned out to be $10 well staked. Not only is Omaha Hi-Lo fantastic fun, but some of the other players were even more clueless than me. I spent most of the afternoon and evening on the table and more than tripled my original 'investment'. Celtic won too!!

One guy reraised my nut straight bet on the turn with two spades on board. When I put him all in he showed three hole spades. I don't think he understood the 'two hole cards must play' rule.

Omaha in general, and Hi-Lo in particular, is a great way to exercise ones board reading skills. With four hole cards in play and so many re-draw possibilities, as well as the low pot to battle for, there's always a multitude of options available.

I really should do more reading on the subject, but I'm already getting the urge to migrate up the blinds scale. Ooooh, maybe as far as the 0.10/0.25 table. Colour me reckless!

I know there are many good Hold Em books on the market, but can anyone recommend an Omaha Hi-Lo book? Further investigation is definitely needed.

To top the night off in style, I finally got the chance for a quick Yahoo chat with the blogmeister himself. Sadly I won't be getting the chance to meet anyone in person in Vegas, but for those Vegas virgins who will be breaking their duck in my absence, I'd heartily recommend Cocktail Doll for some background reading before you go. Not only is she witty, knowledgeable, and entertaining, but rather easy on the eye too.

Make sure you take a big wedge of dollar bills. Pauly has already mentioned the '$20 trick' when checking in at your hotel - under the credit card and slide across counter discreetly. It worked for me, so give it a bash! Not only do you get a better room, but it makes you feel like James Bond. Or, is Rodney Dangerfield in Caddyshack a better likeness? Well, that depends on you.

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