Monday, February 28, 2005

February Summary

February was a good month.

Winter in Scotland is not really conducive to outdoor activities. Too wet and windy for any sort of walking or game playing, and not sufficiently cold to produce enough snow for skiing.

Having a pregnant wife does not encourage lots of social activities either. There's only so many nights of drunken behavior she can tolerate, and her bedtime moves earlier each night, as the baby grows.

So, I played a lot of poker...

I worked off the Gaming Club bonus, and pretty much broke even on the tables, but the $300 bonus put me well into the black.

I played a few SnGs on Pacific Poker and made a small profit - though I continue to be a Bad Beat magnet on this site. Some of the play is quite abysmal but I really need to learn how to minimise my exposure to runner-runner atrocities.

Then along came the Party Poker reload bonus. I poured my entire Neteller reserve of $500 into Party, to qualify for a $100 bonus. My previous post covered the weekend frenzy. Suffice to say I emerged with $1000 in the Party account. $400 cards profit, $100 bonus profit.

I know Iggy has said it many times, but just to reinforce the point - Party Poker is a goldmine for anyone with an ounce of poker skill. I've only been playing poker for six months, yet I can comfortably play two tables on Party - it would be more if I had a bigger monitor - and hook my fair share of fish. If you are running Poker Tracker and Gametime+, so much the better.

In between, I've also had a few nibbles at the Full Tilt Poker bonus. Though as Scurvydog said, I could be a long time working it off.

By this evening, I'd accumulated a monthly profit of over $800. This takes the year-to-date total to over $1100, putting me back on track for the targeted $6000 annual profit.

I'm fairly pleased with this performance, and it certainly makes it a lot easier justifying to Mrs Div the time spent in front of the computer.

For next month I'm expecting more of the same. As I've mentioned previously, playing with a bonus underpinning your performance is highly beneficial, and I intend to continue to leverage that advantage.

I'll keep chipping away at the Full Tilt bonus, but I am now also putting myself on the market....If anyone reading this is an affiliate for sites I don't play on, and you want to add me as a new customer, drop me a line and I might sign up through your affiliate link. Sites I'd be particularly interested in are the Party skins, but I'd consider others too.

I'm making no promises. First come, first served and I only have a finite amount of cash and time to invest. Either post a comment with a link to your homepage, or drop me a line at the address on my profile and I'll see what I can do.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Happy Days

A most productive weekend. Not only did I finally get around to repairing my laptop, thus paving the way for a wireless network in the house - OF COURSE I need a desktop, laptop and Linux server in their house - but I also had a great time at the Party Poker 2/4 tables working off the reload bonus.

My profit for the weekend stands at $350 from the cards, and $100 from the bonus. Now I know this counts as a single decent NL hand to the likes of DoubleAs, but to a limit grinder like me that's damn good going.

Most noteworthy was a maniacal Saturday night session on a table which simply redefined the principles of poker. Ever been raised by K3o in mid position? Ever seen the betting capped pre-flop yet four people still reach showdown, one with J-high and no busted draw? $93 pots in a 2/4 game?

Some of the play was so bad you had to laugh. Of course with play so bad, the suckouts were inevitable. AA beat by 43o, AA and KK cracked by Q9o, the practical impossibility of winning with KK or QQ, but it just didn't matter, and when the Aces held up, the pots were substantial.

I had attained a zen like state of calm, where no opponents play was beyond acceptance. I'd smile benignly as my bankroll stuttered downwards after each suckout, then recommenced a steady progression northwards. The maniacal session ended with a BB/100 hands of 32. Another shorter session hit 38!!

Trust me comrades, Iggy speaks the truth. Party Poker is the pathway to early retirement. (Bonus Code: DIV1970)

The only galling thing was folding a couple of reasonable pre-flop hands to idiotic raises, when on the flop they would have become monsters. For example, A6s pre-flop would have become the nut flush on the turn, and a low pocket pair would have progressed to a set then a boat.

This happened a few times soon after joining the maniac table, and as the night progressed, I adapted by loosening my calling standards and it paid off. If I'd adapted sooner, I'd have won another $150 or so, but probably bled a chunk of that away in missed flops.

I take it as a good sign that I was able to adapt to a noticeably different table, and alter my style accordingly. That's progress in my eyes - a step beyond ABC.

It's late on Sunday night now, and time to head for bed.

Most of my posts are bashed out either during or just after poker sessions, and I often think when I read them back later that I could have expressed myself better. The resurrection of the laptop should give me the chance to do some writing during the day, and put together some better crafted posts.

I've got quite a few poker related, but in a more tangential manner, thoughts buzzing around in my head, so hopefully I will soon be able to share them with you. I bet you can hardly contain yourselves!

Be lucky.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Bonuses and Babies

I finally ground my way through the Gaming Club $300 introductory bonus. The votes are in and counted, and after claiming the full bonus, my net profit from the grind was $305.

So, $300 bonus, $5 cards. Doesn't say much for my card playing, huh? Well, in my defence, I had some truly atrocious luck along the way. I went through a stretch where it seemed every big pair I got was beat. That makes a big difference when you are playing ABC poker.

When a $50 pot you are an 80% favourite to win on the flop, disappears on the river, it's not only bad for your mental health, but also your bankroll. You really need a fair percentage of these hands to hold up, and over time they will. Which means I must be due a lucky streak soon. Right, poker gods?

What this does prove, is the value of working the bonuses. An otherwise disappointing run of cards has landed me a $305 profit. Profit is ALWAYS welcome.

I've started on the Full Tilt Poker $600 bonus now, and am also planning to attack the Party Poker reload bonus. The Full Tilt bonus has 120 days to play through, so for now it will be my default game when there's no more pressing matters.

Speaking of pressing matters. Today will go down in my memoirs as the day I first felt my son or daughter move.

Mrs Div has been feeling increasingly more movement recently, and tonight I got my first experience of the sensation. She could feel the baby getting more active and told me where to press my hand. Within seconds I felt a kick. Several kicks in fact, in quick succession. Do I play my music too loud? Are we breeding a drummer?

I promised not to get too mushy in the blog, but tonight really did feel special. Mrs Div had a really tough time in early pregnancy, but now she is glowing, and looking forward eagerly to motherhood. I've waited a long time to become a father, and now I can't wait to hold my child. We don't know if it's a boy or girl, and don't care, we are just looking forward to being parents.

Finally, a small appeal. I've been doing my bit for blog PR by making the occasional contribution to a few forums - not all poker related. I also jumped on the Britney and Paris bandwagon to snare a few googlers, and unwittingly enticed in a few Daniel and Natasha Bedingfield fans. It would be nice to spread my audience a bit further, so if anyone is feeling obliging, a link up from your own sites would be appreciated.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

How To Play Online Poker - Some Practical Tips

OK, so I haven't been playing long myself, and this is NOT a strategy guide or poker lesson, but it took me a while to get the hang of a few practical things, so I figured why not offer some practical info to anyone who happens to stumble by. This is really a distillation of tips I picked up elsewhere, credited as appropriate, and some hard earned experience of my own.

Anyone who spots any mistakes, feel free to correct me and I'll happily credit you too. Onwards to the tables...

Unless you are playing poker simply for fun, and don't mind losing your buy-in at each session, there are a few simple steps to be observed, which should help you at very least break even, and ideally build your bankroll and allow you to move through the limits.

1. Set up your finance facilities.
2. Learn the basics of rules and strategy.
3. Find a site that will reward you for playing.
4. Practise with play money.
5. Play poker.
6. Chase bonuses.
7. Make use of the 'tools of the trade'.
8. Analyse your performance and improve your game.
9. Repeat steps 5 to 8

First things first. Before you start playing poker for money, get some sort of online wallet. I use Neteller. The reason you need this will become apparent later.

When setting up Neteller be careful what currency option you choose. If you live in the USA it's a no brainer, Base Currency: US Dollars. If you live elsewhere, it can be a little less clear cut. I live in the UK for example, and initially chose base currency UK Pounds. But the sites I play on use US dollars. So, the first transfer I made from a poker site to Neteller, I got hit with a currency exchange fee, as the poker room dollars became my UK pounds.

I then had to email Neteller and get them to swap my account to a US Dollar account - which took a few days. I'll still get a small fee if I withdraw from Neteller to my UK bank account, but that will be very irregular, as the initial focus for a new player will be on building the bankroll. While the cash stays in Neteller and the poker sites, there's no cost to move it around.

So if you live in the UK and plan to play on UK Pounds sites, go for base currency UK Pounds, if you plan to play on US Dollar sites, go for the dollar base currency. Similar thoughts apply to Euroland residents and Euros.

Deposit some cash in Neteller, and off we go.

Before playing for real, at least learn the basics. Playing poker should be fun, maybe even rewarding. You don't need to view it as a charitable enterprise!

There are plenty sites which offer rule guides and tips. I browsed Learn Texas Hold Em, before starting.

It's also worth reading at least one book. Don't go for a heavyweight Sklansky book to start with. It will just confuse you, and probably make your head hurt. Try something like Tom McEvoy's Beat Texas Hold'em, to give you an idea of starting hands to play and the basics of position.

Next step is to choose a site to start playing on. This is where some research may be called for. Most sites offer some sort of sign up bonus. These can vary over time and will generally offer a bonus as a percentage of your deposit, to a maximum amount. For example 20% bonus to $100 would mean a $500 deposit is credited with a $100 bonus; $200 deposit is credited with $40 bonus. So, it makes sense to focus your financial firepower on one site to maximise your initial bonus, then move onto the next when the bonus is earned, etc.

Generally bonuses have to be earned by playing a certain amount of hands, often at a certain level. So there's an overhead, but playing is the best way to learn!

The best bonus I am currently aware of for a new player is The Gaming Club. Unusually, they offer up to $300 bonus from a deposit as low as $20. So, the bonus in this case is NOT a percentage of your deposit. You need to play a LOT of hands to earn it, but if you can break even in poker over those hands, your bankroll has increased by as much as 1500% Also beware some hands will probably need to be played at a higher level i.e. $1/$2 or $2/$4.

Once you have worked off your first bonus, look elsewhere for new sites to sign up to so you can gain more bonuses. This is where Neteller becomes so useful. Most sites will only pay out to the mechanism by which you deposited money, up to the size of your initial deposit. If you deposited by credit card, they want to refund your credit card. They may wish to pay out anything beyond your initial deposit by a mailed cheque. This can be cumbersome and time consuming, and cost more in fees.

If you funded your poker account by Neteller, you can cash out all your money to Neteller. Thus Neteller becomes the central repository for your bankroll. Note that while deposits from Neteller to a poker site are instantaneous, cash outs can take some time to process. Anything from 24 hours to around 5 days in my experience.

It makes sense to keep the minimum you need deposited with a site, and the majority in Neteller - ready to chase those bonuses. I've been caught out by seeing a site announce a bonus offer which lasts only a few days, when most of my bankroll has been residing in another site. By the time I transferred it to Neteller, the offer had expired.

For more on 'bonus whoring' see the Bonus Whores site, or Scurvydog's definitive guide. Excellent reading.

Whichever site you settle on, try playing with Play Money first, to get the hang of the flow of the game, and understand the mechanics of the software. Don't play on these tables for too long. The play isn't properly representative of a real game and you won't learn a lot. So once you have the hang of the mechanics, it's time to go to the real tables.

This is where the most important rule in the gambling world applies: DO NOT bet what you can't afford to lose.

If you have raised a $50 deposit, stick to the micro limit tables til you have built up some cash and experience. Even if you have a lot more cash, it's probably best to stick to the 25c/50c or 50c/$1 tables until you are sure you can play at a higher level. Maintain a reserve for losing streaks. Even the best players have unlucky runs, so don't play at a limit where two bad sessions will leave you broke.

Don't be like my gormless friend Billy, and start buying into $50 Sit-and-Gos on day 1, then wonder why the players seem much better than you!!

Once you have some experience, try to improve your game. For really good insight on developing as a player, check out HDouble's Development of A Poker Player article. Check out the rest of his site too. The man has talent.

You may also want to read a book which goes into more detail on playing the low limits. Small Stakes Hold 'em: Winning Big with Expert Play by Miller, Sklansky and Malmuth has certainly improved my game, though some of the advice is most directly relevant to Party Poker - the spiritual home of people who really do play poker simply for fun, and don't mind losing their buy-in at each session. Yum, yum!

Be aware, not everyone plays the way the books advise. Some people play downright stupidly. While this can be frustrating in the short term, remember the more stupid players there are at your table, the more money you are likely to end the night with!

Once you have some experience, and are sure you want to continue and improve your poker game, look into acquiring some 'tools of the trade'. The best known poker software is Poker Tracker, which is an absolute bargain. This software will allow you to download hand histories, analyse and store the performance not only of you, but of all the players you compete against. Thus you can delve into your results, understand where you make and lose money, and track the style of other players.

Combine this with Gametime+, which overlays your current session with data from the Poker Tracker database, and you have the ultimate poker weapon. Effectively a heads up display, which classifies your opponents, based on the data in Poker Tracker.

NB Poker Tracker and Gametime+ are not compatible with all sites, so check they support your favoured sites before you buy Poker Tracker. Gametime+ is free.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Liver Damage And Other Pains

Not much to report this weekend on the poker front, due to two birthday parties and a football game. I can't report too much on the parties either, due to an element of alcohol induced amnesia. I surmise they must have been good.

I enjoyed the parties a heck of a lot more than the football, as Celtic lost at home to Rangers for the first time in five years.

It's difficult to be too harsh on a bunch of players who have served the faithful so well over the last five seasons, but to not only be outplayed, but also outfought, is pretty damn galling.

As a football player, I am absolutely useless. Yet I can guarantee when I do play, nobody gets an easy ride. I'll chase them down, jostle them and tackle them hard but fair. It'd be the same in any sport. Put me in the ring with Bernard Hopkin and he better be willing to knock out the amateur if he wants an early night.

It's about pride, heart, and being able to look yourself in the mirror and know that you did your best. To get the chance to do that for the team you love, in front of a capacity crowd, in an atmosphere which is bursting with tension and anticipation, should surely lift any player to new heights of endeavour and attainment.

Professional players don't always seem to see it that way. Maybe they are spoiled by the enormous earnings, or by the constant adulation, but even so, is it asking too much to stretch for every ball, to put your foot in when a tackle is there to be made, to feel the pain when the game goes against you? It didn't seem like they were hurt today, the way the fans were.

I did squeeze in a few hours of 2/4 limit poker on Saturday afternoon - netting a decent profit. The highlight was a straight flush, which went up against a Q-high flush. The betting was capped on the turn, but he chickened out on the river and only called my bet. It was a nice payoff, but would have been better if he had the Ace!

I was playing on the Prima network, and got some strange message about playing on TV tables on channel 226 of Sky. Sure enough, I checked in the early hours of this morning, and Sky were televising live internet poker.

There's a 10 minute broadcast lag to prevent players playing while watching their opponents hand on TV, but they really were televising low buy-in internet games. I'm sure one of the SnG was a $2 event. There was a voice-over commentary and an interactive Q&A session. Text now for £1 a message. Yeah, right.

Is this the ultimate in poker boom madness? What next? I'll be expecting Sky to make me an offer to televise my home game soon.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Swimming With The Fishes

I logged in on Tuesday and immediately spied the 'lucky fish' from the night before. I was licking my lips as I sat down to play.

Initially it wasn't to be, as his run continued. I raised from UTG with QQ and he reraised so I capped. No scary cards on the flop, so I bet and he called. Board paired 3s on the turn and suddenly I was in trouble as he reraised. I hung in to a showdown, and lo-and-behold he turns over 4c3c for trip 3s. Not my idea of a pre-flop reraising hand.

Not much later KK comes my way. The betting is capped pre-flop as we raise and reraise. No scare cards on the flop. An A on the turn, and yes he reraised me with AJo pre-flop. Bloody hell!

A good while later I'm sitting around $40 down, when I'm dealt 9c7c in the BB. Lucky Fish is first to stay in, with a raise. The button, and SB both call.

Normally I'd be reluctant to play against a raise even from the BB, but I'm suited, have some connectivity, there's seven small bets in the pot, I'm last to act this round, and I just can't respect this guys raises. So, I decide to call and muck if I miss the flop.

Heh, heh. As if! The flop comes 8hThJd. I've flopped a straight, but with two to a flush against me. Time to chase off any single card flushes.

The SB bets, I raise, Lucky Fish calls, button folds, SB reraises, I cap, Lucky Fish calls.

The turn is an Ac (Surely he can't have KQ). SB checks, I bet, LF raises, SB folds, I reraise, LF caps, I call. (Now I AM worried)

The river is a Qh. (Damn. There's the flush, and any K beats me now.) I bet anyway, he calls, and shows AdTd.

So he called on the flop with middle pair against two raisers. Got 'lucky' with his A on the turn, and figured two pair was best.

My weakest call of the evening won an $80 pot in a 2/4 game.

Does this make me a fish? If so, I must be a pike at least.

It certainly does show the value of good notes. I doubt I'd have laid this hand down against many players, but I could certainly have gone into check-call mode on the turn and river. That would have cost me a lot here.

On the subject of notes and other statistics, Poker Tracker are now running an affiliate program. So, I've added them to my shill list.

You probably know this already, but if you don't and are kind enough to read my blog, you deserve to. Poker Tracker is the absolute dogs bollocks. Buy it now (ideally through my link), and see 100% return on your investment in days. Team it with Gametime+ for maximum effect. It's the best advice I can offer anyone. Just do it.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Same Old, Same Old - For Now

Since I started this blog six weeks ago, I've mentioned Glasgow Celtic Football Club on a few occasions. I've already covered one game against our arch rivals Glasgow Rangers - a Scottish Cup game (effectively the 2nd tournament in Scotland), which Celtic won.

Well, this weekend brings potentially the biggest game of the season, as the two teams meet again in the Scottish Premier League. If Celtic win this game, they will be very difficult to catch, so Rangers really can't afford to lose.

But therein lies the problem for Scottish football. These are two footballing giants, competing in a league of pygmies. Other games barely matter. It all comes down to Celtic v Rangers. Since Celtic and Rangers are so dominant, they often meet six times a season. Four times in the league, and once in each of the other two knockout competitions.

This is highly unusual in football. Most countries' leagues have only two games per season against each rival, and relatively infrequent meetings in other competitions. As aggressive and frenzied as the games may be, it can actually get a little boring at times.

They do say familiarity breeds contempt, and when you hold your opponents in as little regard as we do already, any more contempt is simply a drop in the ocean.

When you consider the global reach of both teams, it is simply bizarre that they find themselves so restricted in their home league.

Both teams can draw on a world-wide fanbase, which most teams can only dream of. The game this Sunday will be watched live around the world, from Europe to Australia, Asia to the USA.

Celtic in particular has a truly global appeal, which stems from the differing origins of the two clubs.

Rangers are the establishment team, rooted in Unionism and Protestantism, and consequently with a fairly insular fanbase, but still followers around the world.

Celtic Football Club, on the other hand, was founded by Irish immigrants, and is generally seen as the Catholic backed, anti-establishment team.

If an impartial count was ever done, I think Rangers supporters would come out as more Protestant than Celtic supporters are Catholic, but impartiality is never allowed to get in the way of a good story when it comes to Celtic and Rangers.

As a result of Celtic's background, their appeal covers not only Scottish emigrants, but many from Ireland too. So in every corner of the world, people support Celtic, and will be watching live this weekend.

Sound like an exaggeration? Have a look at Celtic Bars. 1273 bars in 61 countries. That's a lot of Guinness Iggy! Or check out The North American Federation of Celtic Supporters Clubs. In Vegas this weekend? Get down to East Tropicana and see the game at The Crown and Anchor.

Yes, it really is that big. So, how come when it comes to playing the true footballing superpowers from Europe, Celtic can barely compete?

It all comes down to money. The equation is simple.

money = better players = success = more money

The biggest source of cash is TV revenue. The money is pooled between all the clubs in the league, but people only want to watch two of them on TV. So, the overall income is reduced and each club's share is diluted.

Celtic may get crowds of 60,000 as compared to maybe 30,000 for an average club from our closest rival league in England. Yet their TV income is a fraction of the English clubs. England has a population of around 55m, with an associated TV audience. Scotland has a population of around 5m. It's not hard to see where the differential comes from.

Consequently when Celtic are involved in international competitions, such as the Champions League, they have to run to stand still. Play at their peak in every game to have a chance of a draw, against teams who spend on a single player, what Celtic spend on a squad. That's not an easy way to play, especially when 90% of your regular games can be won at 60% effort.

The solution is to play better teams in a bigger league. But how?

Imagine if baseball in the USA was state based. The Red Sox only played other teams from Massachusetts. The Cubs were stuck in Illinois. It wouldn't take long before fans got bored and someone came up with a bright idea - let's have a USA competition and play the big teams from the other states.

But Scotland IS a country, not a state, so how would an idea such as this affect Celtic and Rangers. Well, if the rumour mill is correct, it might just happen.

If that bright idea came from someone with enough money to buy off any objections, such as Sky TV who televise the English league, then there could be a British league at some time in the next few years. After all if Scotland has two goliaths and ten pygmies, England has three goliaths and seventeen pygmies. Hardly a huge improvement.

You may think - but Div, why would you want to play other goliaths when you can have fun beating the pygmies every week? The truth is, it's not fun.

I love my team. I love to see them do well. But football is a sport, and in a true sport there has to be some possibility of defeat. Success has to be earned, not granted. I'd rather watch Celtic lose 40% of their games against great teams, than win 95% of their games against poor teams.

There's no glory, no adrenaline buzz, if there's no risk of failure. I live for the big games. The days of anticipation, building to a crescendo on match day. Unable to sit still in my seat at work if it happens to be a weekday game, as nervous energy courses through my system, the tingle of excitement as I head for the stadium, the surging elation of a hard earned goal, wild celebrations and the sheer pride in being a Celtic fan after they achieve a great result.

I live for those days, but at present there just aren't enough of them. So bring forth the revolution Sky, and let battle commence.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

St Valentines Day Massacre

Well it's been an expensive few days in more ways than one.

I played the ostentation card yesterday and went for the full-blown dozen red roses delivered to work option. Not subtle. Not cheap. But very effective. Mucho brownie points and a free pass to late night poker sessions over the next few days at least.

I've come to the conclusion that while women may claim all they want is love, affection and a good sense of humour, what they really thrive on is very obvious displays of the above, and more. I already look like George Clooney so she can't complain about that.

It seems to me as a group women are much more competitive than men, and rarely more so than on St Valentines Day. Weddings probably trump it though.

Biggest card, prettiest flowers, most expensive restaurant. They do like to compare gifts - and flaunt them when they get the chance. This is probably why they prefer flowers to underwear. Sitting on the train home with a HUGE bunch of roses is much more rewarding than sitting on the train home in $200 worth of Agent Provocateur lingerie, because it can't be seen.

I did try to claw back some of my expenditure last night at the 2/4 tables, but it wasn't to be. I've been playing super tight recently, and when that's the strategy, you really need the big hands to pay off. What you don't need is:

1. Holding KK v AA (2nd time in a week)
2. Holding QQ v 44 and the opponent calls your raise, calls your bet on the flop and hits a set on the turn.

There were a couple of other hands I should have laid down, but didn't, because I refused to believe I could be so unlucky. Notably a free flop from the BB where I caught trip sixes, only to see kings pair on the turn to give someone a bigger full house. I pretty much KNEW they had it, but couldn't let go.

Also, holding 99 and seeing a flop of AT8, turning a straight draw (J) and getting a free card to hit the straight on the river (7), only to discover he hit the gutshot nut straight on the turn with KQ, and had gone for a check raise. So it wasn't supposed to be a free card, but now he can reraise, and I've got to call, even though I have a horrible feeling about it.

I don't think there was much wrong with my pre-flop play, but post-flop has a lot of improving to do. I wish Prima would get their card history sorted, so I can run Poker Tracker on the hands I've played this month.

On the positive side, I did take copious amounts of notes, spotted a few tricky players to avoid, and also singled out several fish. Just didn't have the ammo to nail them last night. One guy in particular was highly amusing - any Ace was a raising hand, any suited cards were a calling hand. He was on quite a hot streak, and one of the tricky guys completely lost it. 'You ******* fish. You total idiot.' Made me laugh, but I was glad he didn't scare him away.

The other -EV for me this week was collecting my repaired car, which is now restored to its former mundanity. At least the crash damage gave it some character. What wasn't restored were the windscreen wipers, which have ceased to function. When I pointed this out, the guy told me there was no crash damage to them so they weren't included in the repair.

Now, I'm no mechanic, but when they work pre-crash, don't work post-crash, that suggests to me the crash damaged them. He then told me I'd need to pay for an electrician to check the car if I wanted them fixed. I asked him who wired in both headlamps, and who fixed my jammed on brake lights, if not an electrician, and he just shrugged.

When I googled the company name before the car went in, the only story I found about them was a sexual harassment case against one of the managers. Now if anyone else googles for them, they'll see that Bennetts Car Body Repairs in Scotland are a bunch of cowboys - horny cowboys too by the sound of things.

Speaking of googling. My cunning Britney Spears, Paris Hilton, Christina Aguilera plan has not yet kicked in, but the Daniel and Natasha Bedingfield fans have me in their sights, as I mentioned earlier. Welcome, one and all.

One thing in this post is an obvious lie

Poker Boom Continues.... Sky launch a DEDICATED poker channel.

There goes the few remaining shreds of my spare time.

My search engine shenanigans had an unexpected result. No Britney Spears or Paris Hilton fans have arrived yet, but I did get my first Google hit from the following search string:

'daniel Natasha bedingfield aint nobody mp3'

I suspect they were disappointed! Ooops.

Something like 'Glasgow Celtic AND poker' would have been a lot more gratifying, but no publicity is bad publicity, etc...

I'll have a more substantial post later. Got lots to moan about report.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

I Have Aces, Revisited

Last month I was speculating about the likelihood of callers, if I told the table I had pocket Aces.

Well, last night, I got the chance to put the theory to the test. I know this is silly, and a little churlish, but it's just the way I was feeling at the time.

I was playing on a Gaming Club 2/4 table, and things were going badly. I was down about $70, yet I wasn't playing badly. I knew I wasn't playing badly because I was playing two tables, and I was ahead on the other one. It was variance; nothing else.

I wasn't alone in thinking this either. The table seemed a pretty friendly bunch. One guy actually apologised after rivering me on a hand. It just seemed that the best starting hand never won, for anyone.

One guy went off on a rant about how his pocket kings had been busted, and a few others chipped in. Personally, I'd already lost with QQ and KK, so I knew how they felt. I made the same comment I'd made in my previous post. Except I went further and pledged that if I got AA, I'd announce it before I bet. I don't think they believed me.

About 20 hands later, along comes AcAd. I'm in mid position and there's one limper. I announce I have aces and the experiment is underway.

I bet. It's folded to the BB, who calls, as does the limper!

The flop: 9d Ah Ts

Yes. I flopped a set. BB and limper check, I bet. BB folds. Limper calls!! I'm now thinking bloody hell, surely not a straight draw.

The turn: Qs. Noooo. Another straight card, and two to a spade flush. Limper checks, I bet, they fold.

So, my set of aces took down a $21 pot, of which $10 was my bets. Of the other $11, over half was voluntarily put in the pot by players AFTER they knew I had the best possible starting hand.

I probably cost myself a few dollars here, but there's also a chance someone with KJ, or a drawing hand like any two spades or 87, folded. So, maybe I talked my way to the pot. We had a good laugh about it, and I told them not to expect the same treatment next time.

I wonder what would have happened on Party?

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Getting Better

Another home game last night. This one was faster moving than the previous week.

We fine tuned the blind structure to move things along a little quicker, and had six players playing rather than eight. First two places paid.

I am beginning to excel at the art of finding new ways to lose games. My nemesis last night was Rod, who cracked my QQ with 96s (flopped two pair); cracked my low end straight with a higher straight; and finally, the most painful of all, I'm all in holding QJ on a J high flop, Rod calls with a pair of 7s (one in hand, one on flop) and rivers a 7 for trips.

When the turn card was a blank one of the other guys said 'all that can beat you now is a seven Div'; just as the river was dealt. Yeah, thanks.

It reminded me of the TV game from a while back where Josh Arieh was crying after going out to some unlikely card. I can't remember the exact details but I can recall the commentator screaming something along the lines 'all that can beat him now is a queen...ITS A QUEEEEENNNN!!!' I managed to hold back the tears and we shook hands.

I made one major mistake, trying to slowplay aces, when I let the BB see a free flop and he hit a straight!

We played three games. I finished fourth in the first game and second twice. So at least I made a small profit. More importantly, it was another great night. I think the standard of play is improving with each game. Long may it continue, though I wish my hangover would go away!

Friday, February 11, 2005

Of Britney, Christina, and the Power Of The Blogger

I was reading doubleas post about how hermaphrodite seekers were flocking to his blog, when a nasty, cynical attention seeking thought possessed me.

So I googled for most popular internet searches and discovered:

Popular Queries 2004
1. britney spears
2. paris hilton
3. christina aguilera
4. pamela anderson
5. chat
6. games
7. carmen electra
8. orlando bloom
9. harry potter
10. mp3

What a horny, hedonistic bunch internet users are!!

It did occur to me that if I were to write some sort of outrageous post about (deep breath) Britney Spears and Paris Hilton being videotaped having wild lesbian sex, while Christina Aguilera snorted cocaine off Pamela Anderson's plastic surgery enhanced breasts, as Carmen Electra and Orlando Bloom chatted during a heads up Texas Hold' Em poker game, and Harry Potter listened to his MP3 player, it might attract a few visitors. But that's just silly, so I discounted the idea.

I also found the following on AOL Hot Searches!

Behold the power of doubleas Posted by Hello

In other news, I recovered most of my Tuesday losses on the limit tables, and played the Gaming Club rookie freeroll. It's actually a pretty damn good offer for new players. I registered after they emailed me, but hadn't paid much attention to the prizes, until I logged in just before the start.

Under 500 players, and first 50 places paid, starting at $12.50 and rising to $100 for 10th and $550 for the winner!! Bloody hell, time to concentrate.

Of course I managed to get knocked out around 200th. Didn't get many cards early on, and as the blinds rose I was looking for a chance to double through. It came when I flopped two pair, but all hearts on the board. I check raised all-in against a deeper stack who called me and drew a 4th heart to make his one card flush.

I should probably have went all in before he acted, to drive him out before he put more chips in and got too attached to the pot, but you live and learn.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Call The Cops

Just caught some of The Brit Awards 2005 on TV.

What genius decided to have BROTHER and SISTER Daniel and Natasha Bedingfield singing the old Chaka Khan hit 'Aint Nobody'?

'And first you put your arms around me
Then you put your charms around me
I can't resist this sweet surrender
Oh my nights are warm and tender'

Isn't that illegal in this country?

Deeply Disturbing!!! Posted by Hello

On the poker front, I had a diabolical night on Tuesday. Terrible cards, a few bad beats, and total frustration.

Highpoint was being dealt KK two hands in a row.

Lowpoint was 2nd KK being up against AA. Expensive!

I do think reading Small Stakes Hold Em has improved my low limit game, but in my limited experience some of the advice is more relevant to Party Poker than it is to other sites.

I cost myself a few dollars calling bets on the river when I was more-or-less certain I was beat. That is probably the sensible thing to do on Party where you get guys betting or raising with top pair or trips on the river when there's a possible flush on the board, but players on other sites tend to be a bit tighter and more selective. That's one aspect I'll be keeping tabs on from now on.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Show Me The Money

OK. I know some people don't approve of it, but every penny counts. So I'm sticking some affiliate links on the site.

To be fair, I do have an eye for a bargain, and these are all sites I play at, so there are good deals in this lot.

The most obvious, immediate deal is the stonking Full Tilt Poker 100% to $600 dollar sign up deal that runs for the rest of the month. Who can refuse that!? Grab it now and work it off over 120 days. I signed up just for this, so I'll see you there over the next month or two!!

Other than that, The Gaming Club deal, which I'm currently grinding my way through, is a worthwhile investment. Deposit $20 to become eligible for $300 in bonus. Paid in $20 instalments as you work the hands off.

I've also got the standard Party Poker and Pacific Poker offers. Everyone knows by now what Party is like, so no explanation needed. Bring your own rod!

Pacific software is pretty poor, but the players are similar to Party, though probably more passive. Lots of loose calling. Lots of unraised flops.

The other oddity about Pacific is they deposit bonuses straight into your account, as soon as you deposit the cash. So, as it's a 25% to $100 offer, stick in $400 and see $500 in your account. You have to wager 20 times the bonus before you can cash out the money, but it's available to gamble with immediately, and if you play at higher levels that means a lot less hands to play.

You can find me on all these sites as 'Div' or 'Div1970'. So if you are a terrible player, sign up, come find me, and lose all your cash to a deserving cause. If you are a good player, sign up and play. I'm safe from you, since you won't be on the same limits as me for sure!!

So, expect to see a few banners soon, and other than that I'll say no more, unless it's in context for something else I've written!

Monday, February 07, 2005

Lesson Learned - Smart Alecs Lose In Freeroll NLH

It was a pretty dry weekend for me. Every night I ground my way through hours of 2/4 limit hands and went way down before dragging myself back to just above even. Factor in the bonuses and it was a reasonable return, but not much fun.

Since I haven't been playing any SnG recently, I decided to keep my No Limit eye in by playing the Prima freeroll on Sunday night.

For the first time ever, I actually hit the money with ease, only to shoot myself in the foot. The Prima hand history is broken at present, so I can't recount the exact details, but it went something like this.

With around 60 players left I'm in about 20th position chip wise, and enjoying myself, indeed starting to fancy my chances of hitting the final table. When along comes QQ in mid-position. Splendid.

One guy limps from early, and I raise 4BB (something like T2000 out of my stack of around T19000 I think).

It's folded around to the limper, who calls. Flop is Kxx. Dammit. He has me covered. I guess he was about 15th at this point.

He bets T1000. Weak, I think. I ponder for a minute as to what he can have.

AA or KK or AK? Nope, he would probably have re-raised my initial raise.

Something less than my hand, maybe he is trying a tentative bluff? Possibly.

K with a weaker kicker, something like KQ to KT? That's a possibility. Anything less than that against my raise would be a bit wild.

So, on balance I decide he either doesn't have me beat, or he does but with a hand he can't be terribly confident of.

Like the poker genius I am, I push all in, assuming if I'm right he must fold.

He calls. With KTo. Double dammit.

No improvement for me on turn or river and I'm out, with a payout of $3, rather than the $250 for the winner.

On reflection, maybe this was a bit reckless, perhaps even a bit too obvious. Maybe I should have re-raised him the size of the pot, to make it look a bit more devious. Or maybe I should have folded!

On the whole it still looks like a fair move to me, and a slightly dodgy call from him. Though he might argue he had me read, and knew exactly what I had.

Either way, it was good fun, and more entertaining than the zillion hands of 2/4 limit. I may need to make the freerolls a more regular event.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

More On Hating To Lose

Just a micropost this time.

I was tidying up my email and discovered some forgotten URLs. If I get something sent to me at work which looks less than 'office friendly' I email the URL to my home account to check later.

I'd obviously forgotten about this one, which is the history of Glasgow Celtic's total domination of Glasgow Rangers in season 2003-2004. With some Frankie Goes To Hollywood thrown in for all you 80s music fans out there. Two Tribes - most appropriate.

It's a real masterpiece, which seems to have been unfairly neglected, so have a look and witness true joy!

EDIT. Another forgotten URL. I don't usually enjoy dealing with estate agents, but this lot could be the exception!!

I Shall Never Be Defeated

I hate losing. I really do. Especially to idiots. I'll take the pain, if it means they see no gain.

Take last night for example. Gaming Club $1/$2 limit table. Buy in for $50, play for a while, lose $40 on a succession of runner-runner beatings. Bring another $50 to the table, just in case I get dealt AA next hand. Lose another $30.

Then, pocket Hiltons. Another Q on the flop. Plenty callers, the board pairs for a FH, and some cash back. Two hands later, pocket Hiltons, paired board on flop, another Q on the turn for another FH. Superb! God bless those girls. A few more good, but less noteworthy, hands follow.

I've now been playing for about four hours, for a loss of about $25. At this point I decide, I am not leaving this table until I am showing a profit.

An hour later (3a.m.) I am within sight of victory. $92 in hand, more than $10 on the table, and I'm holding top pair with a good kicker, and I'm sure I'm ahead. So I bet. One guy calls. Turn is a 5. Still sure I'm ahead. So I bet, and he calls. River is a 5. And he turns over 54o for runner-runner trips. Aaarghh.

I am shattered. But I am NOT giving up, even as another run of bad cards sees the target creeping away from me for a while. But I make it, at around 4.15a.m., and retire to bed satisfied. Having updated my spreadsheet with a $1 profit.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

January Summary

Phew. Glad I got yesterday's post off my chest. I was steaming mad, but I feel much more tranquil now. It's on to more mundane matters today, you may be relieved to hear.

The numbers are in, and my first month of monitoring poker results shows a profit of $316 - primarily thanks to the Party Poker Bad Beat Jackpot and regular $2/4 tables. All hail Iggy, and his Party Poker bonus code(IGGY).

I've abandoned SnGs for the time being, as I got fed up of being bombed out with bad beats that would bring a tear to a glass eye. At least when someone rivers you in a ring game, they tend to stick around and redistribute the cash over the next ten hands.

The more observant of you will have noticed that 12 x $316 would not hit the target of $6000 which is I set at the start of the year. So I need to pick up the pace. I'm pretty sure I can manage this as my play improves, and my understanding of how to work the system grows - mainly through other blogs.

For February I'm planning a bonus whoring frenzy to boost the bankroll. For now I can be found on The Gaming Club low limit tables working off the $300 sign up bonus. Thanks to Scurvydog for that tip.

Then there's that super juicy Full Tilt Poker bonus and, if I have time, a Paradise Poker bonus to chase too.

Looks like February could be the multi-tabling month. I may need to order a spare mouse, in case this one wears out.