Wednesday, March 30, 2005

March Summary

March was, as the saying goes, a game of two halves - well, two thirds and one third - which appropriately enough ended with my first ever Google referral based purely on the word 'pique'. If ever I've been piqued, it's now!!

Half one of March lasted until the 20th, at which point I was sitting on a $321 profit, accrued entirely on Full Tilt. Mostly cash winnings, but heck the bonus was starting to feed through too.

I do really like the Full Tilt interface, though Hank needs to pull some strings and get the hand history sorted. So I can utilise his and Iggy's wisdom more fully.

At that point, I decided to give the Party Poker reload bonus a whirl. Having built my bankroll over the first two months of the year, I went for the full $1000 for $200 bonus deposit. My recent posts tell the story of that disastrous adventure, though it seems I am in good company!

Overall for the month, I managed to swing a $321 profit into a $229 loss, leaving me at plus $899 for the year-to-date. Well behind target.

What did I say about Party being a goldmine? Well, in all honesty, I do believe that to be the case. I've had a cursory skim through the Poker Tracker stats, while I await my activation code for Poker Tracker Guide, and some of the numbers would make you weep. (Even as I type, the activation code arrives!)

The players I have lost most money to are a motley crew of fishes, calling stations and gamblers. One culprit who really caught the eye had a VPIP of 46%, paired with a pre flop raising rate of precisely 0%. He took a slice of my bankroll calling my pre-flop raise with his awesome T8o, flopping an open ended straight draw, and rivering me with a J to crack my QQ. I can't complain about him chasing the draw post-flop, but T8o? Against a guy who raises one pot in 20?

You know, and I know, that if we meet again, I'll get my cash back with interest. So, perseverance is the name of the game.

I guess I'd been getting it too easy for a couple of months. I've read lots of posts about the downswings of poker, but it was starting to feel pretty easy to me. Now I know better. I'm taking a few days off to refocus, then I'll be back and raring for more action. As MacArthur said, I shall return!

I did try a few Party $5 SnG just for a change. I hit 3rd and 2nd in the first two, then ran into a few tables where the fold button seemed to be disabled on my opponents' PC. The only way to win was to showdown the best hand, which started to get me mad. That's why I'd decided to take a break from limit.

What's the point of playing No Limit if you will call (but not raise) any bet with anything?

I was listening to the Card Club guys talking about how Daniel Negreanu could probably dominate any table with his psychological skills as much as his card skills, but I reckon even he would struggle on a small Party SnG if he didn't get the cards.

When the flop comes K high after a pre-flop raise, the guy with K3o doesn't even entertain the 'am I outkicked' or 'did he raise with Aces', thoughts. Why bother when there's a call button and he still has chips? Beat that Daniel!

Playing against that style of player takes the fun out of No Limit. It loses the subtleties and nuances a game against good players can elicit.

Speaking of playing against good players, I am gutted that I can't seem to make any of the blogger events. I REALLY wanted to play the HORSE tournament, and Scurvydog's Omaha tour sounds great to me. Those of you who enjoy Omaha but haven't yet found Internet Poker Pro need to get over there right now. Big Dave writes a great blog, and plays at levels I can only dream of.

Sadly time differences and the rigours of work mean that playing from 2am onwards on a weekday is beyond my stamina levels. Under different circumstances I might have been tempted to take a day off work to play the occasional tournament, but all the holidays are being saved this year in anticipation of the arrival of Div Jnr.

If there's a Friday/Saturday night event, or a Sunday afternoon EST event, I will do my damnedest to be there. What I'm also gonna try to do is get a bit more interactive on the comms front. I've exchanged emails and comments with a few bloggers, but I'm going to start updating my messenger list, to see who is on when I am active. I'll also be adding a few new blogs to the list soon.

The other thing that is cutting me up right now (other than work, buy let's set that thought aside) is the mounting excitement about the Vegas meet - incorporating the WPBT Aladdin Casino Classic.

I've only been to Vegas once, and had an amazing time. We did the 'civilised' Vegas holiday. Stayed at Paris, saw some shows, toured the mega hotels, went to The Hoover Dam and Grand Canyon, and of course played some cards and hit the tables.

Mrs Div and I really enjoyed the whole experience, but I did hanker for a touch of the 'debauched' Vegas experience. You know it's Vegas when meandering home at 6am, marinaded in Jack Daniels and cigar smoke, with a wodge of newly acquired bills in your pocket, counts as part of the 'civilised' city experience!

I'd love to go back with a bunch of friends and do the whole not knowing whether it's night-or-day, but I do know I've got pot odds to call, and yes I'll have another drink, adventure. At the moment the finances and time demands won't support that. And they won't for the foreseeable future unless my lottery numbers come in on Saturday, which is a 13,983,815 to 1 shot. Roughly the same as the chances of pushing a Party $5 SnG player off a Top Pair Any Kicker hand.

So for now I'll be living life vicariously through Pauly and the other bloggers, while I stick to the 2/4 online grind, and parentcraft classes.

One other thing I did this month was a bit of Blog Explosion pimping. What an eye opener that was. On the positive side, I found a couple of interesting sites. On the down side, there are a LOT of nutters out there!!!

I couldn't believe the amount of blogs which mentioned Terri Schiavo. In the UK the story has had coverage but nowhere near the hysteria it seems to be attracting in the US.

Other than feeling great sympathy for the people involved, all I can say is...if I ever succumb to some disease or accident which leaves me bedridden, helpless, and unable to communicate, give my friends and family a few days to say their goodbyes, then send me on my way.

Don't starve me. Just fill me gradually full of morphine to the point where my body can't handle any more. (I've only needed that stuff once, and boy did I want it again!)

That way, if I truly am brain dead, there's no harm done. If I'm not, console yourself with the thought I went with a smile in my head, if not on my face. That's all anyone can ask for.

To end on a happy note. Mrs Div seems to be carrying one lively baby! This week has been the first time I've been able to feel more than the occasional kick. Instead it's been a full blown maelstrom of kicking and tumbling - though as yet no Alien style bulges - which really brings home to me that together we have spawned a new life. I'm looking forward to meeting him/her sometime in July.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Sometimes You Are The Pigeon, and Sometimes You Are The Statue

Sheesh, what a week. I finally finished the 1400 raked hands on Party Poker, with markedly different results to the last time.

Unlike the unmitigated success of my last bonus frenzy, I LOST $307 this time, and before you ask, that was net of bonus. So I actually lost $507 at cards and recovered $200 on the bonus.

The crazy thing is, I didn't play any differently to last time. I checked and rechecked my Poker Tracker stats. They rarely deviated from my longer term average:

VPIP about 16%.
PFR about 6%.

If anything that's a little on the tight side, and it certainly doesn't reek of throwing money away in a haphazard fashion. I was also very conscious of position, super tight early, looser later, as you would expect. Every big hand was raised or reraised pre flop. Nobody saw a cheap flop against my AA to TT, AK, or high suited aces. I kept track of the tables I was playing, and on the few occasions where the player mix went from fishy calling stations to rocks and moneybags, I moved on.

So what happened?

Well, there was the usual Party insanity of, for example, guys cold calling raises with the likes of T2s, 53o (!!) and hitting hands like trip 2s on the river, gutshot straights, etc. I managed to lose EIGHT IN A ROW with QQ to this sort of nonsense.

That's to be expected though, and maybe 50% of my big starting hands did hold up. So I probably made money on my big cards overall.

Where it did go horribly wrong was drawing to either the nuts, or close to the nuts, hands. As I said previously, I lost count of the number of times I limped with hands like A9s, or suited connectors, and flopped four flushes, or open ended straights, or both!

These should come in roughly a third of the time - more than 50% of the time where I've got the dual draw.

Over 1400 raked hands I honestly cannot remember a single occasion where I made the nut flush. I made maybe 2 or 3 straights.

This makes a huge difference because, in each of these hands, I am drawing to win a big pot. Usually around $35 to $50 each time. So even hitting a few of these would drag the figures back towards respectability.

I also lost quite a few times betting TPTK into people with overpairs who hadn't raised pre flop, as described in a previous post.

Oddly enough, one of the most sickening hands was one I actually won, well...split.

I'd just taken note of a player who limped from EP, then reraised a big multiway pot pre flop. I'd assumed he had Aces but when it got to showdown he had 94s. I was gobsmacked.

Next hand I get KK. He is to my right and limps. I raise. There are several callers, and the flop is ace free. He bets the flop, and I raise which gets one other caller plus the EP bettor.

He checks the turn, I bet, other bloke calls and he calls.

He checks the river, I bet, other bloke folds and he calls.

I then gleefully turn over KK, fully expecting to take down a juicy pot, and he turns over.....KK!! Unbelievable.

So, where to from here? Well, I'm pretty sure my pre flop play was sound, and I'm equally sure the pot was laying me good odds when I chased those big draws, but I'm wondering how much I can do to improve my post flop play in more marginal situations.

I suspect I may be laying down too many hands of the middle pair top kicker type, to bets or raises.

For example there are people on Party who will two or three bet the flop with a four flush, then fold for a single bet on the river if they miss. I've got a tendency to put these guys on small sets or two pair, rather than a draw, when they start going crazy on the flop.

Because I was on such a bad run, I was consciously trying to fight any tilt type urges, and was habitually laying down my hand in these circumstances where I reckoned someone - not necessarily the raiser - was ahead of me with top pair. It may be, for the bigger pots, I would have been better calling to see another card at least. I think that with MPTK, the odds are something like 4/1 of improving to either trips or two pair by the river, and that could be enough to justify staying in some of these pots.

I'm going to get myself a copy of Poker Tracker Guide to see if that can assist, and it's also time for another read of some chapters from Small Stakes Hold 'Em.

Whilst doing that, I'll be taking a few days off from the limit tables to play a few No Limit SnG, and maybe even an MTT or two. I was getting pretty sick of the banal nature of some of the limit play by the time I was into the 1000+ raked hands region.

When I started working as a computer programmer, one of the things we were taught was to 'break state' when we were struggling with an issue. This meant if you'd been sitting staring at a problem on screen for an hour and got nowhere, you should go grab a coffee, chat to your pals about the weekend football, or whatever. Another way of saying it is, a change is as good as a rest.

Either way, I need to refresh my brain cells and return to the limit tables with some new ideas.

On another subject, last month I joked that with the poker boom madness continuing, Sky might be making me an offer to televise my home game soon. Well, it seems I wasn't far from the truth. As the UK now has The Poker Channel - advertised as world's first TV channel dedicated to poker.

I've been pretty wrapped up with other matters, but I did catch a short section of Barny's Home Games in which Barny Boatman from The Hendon Mob attends people's home games, plays some cards, critiques their game and offers tips. It's early days but the camera work was diabolical. Hindered no doubt by the fact they really did seem to be filming in someone's front room. Still, it could be interesting. A lot will depend on the people each week I'd imagine.

Other TV news in the UK this week is the return of Dr Who. There's been a lot of hype, and I have to say it was justified.

As a kid I always enjoyed Dr Who, so as an adult it was good to see Christopher Eccleston giving the part a humourously manic, but knowing, edge. They also nailed the dialogue. One of the strengths of classics like The Simpsons is kids and adults can watch it on two totally different levels, with some of the jokes whizzing straight over most kids heads. There were a few of those type jokes in Dr Who which made Mrs Div and I laugh out loud.

Throw in cute in a chipmunkish sorta way Billie Piper, and it kicked off Saturday evening nicely. A pleasant intermission from the Party war zone.

Mrs Div is now approaching the 6 months pregnant milestone and we may finally have made some progress in the name negotiations. Party Poker Bonus Code DIV1970 is now off the agenda, but the particularly problematic boys name negotiations have progressed. Nothing is settled yet, but there's a definite possibility Div Jnr may have a Star Wars connection if it's a boy. For now, I'll say no more.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Walnut Whippings

This week has been a real struggle. Depressing work, far too much to do at home, and poker results as variable as the Scottish weather.

Even so,I have persevered with the Party Poker bonus grind, and should have it cleared over the weekend. Whether I will be showing a profit is another matter.

My work situation is really getting me down. It's veered from a brief and exhilarating burst of interesting, creative work, back to dull, dull, dull. Even worse, I strongly suspect the contract we have put so much effort into bidding for is likely to go elsewhere.

If that happens, I do wonder what the future holds not just for me, but for the company. Not the sort of thoughts one wants to have when the baby is due in 3 months.

My last bonus clearing session on Party was a very positive experience. My money doubled in three days, primarily thanks to some really wild gambling types for whom winning and losing seemed to be just a state of mind.

That hasn't been the case this time. I started off disastrously - losing $200 on my first night. I was two tabling and broke even on one table, losing $200 on the other with a quite incredible run of missed draws.

I kept having to shake my head and check and re-check the stats on Poker Tracker and Gametime+. Yes, the table VPIP was high, lots of nice fish, dice and telephone icons around me, but I just couldn't win a hand.

I lost count of the number of times I limped with suited aces, flopped a 4 flush and missed. Open ended straight draws never hit. On one hand I had KQs, flopped a 4 flush, open ended straight draw and overcards and still missed everything.

With lots and lots of callers every time, the pots were giving ample odds to chase, but nothing went right. If even two or three draws had hit, the session would have been perfectly bearable.

There's a school of thought that on Party especially, if a table aint working you should simply switch. But I was seeing more and more cash go to players I knew were bad, so I figured why walk away from a rich fish when he is still trying to pay you out?

I followed that up with a $90 loss the next night, followed by a $90 winning session and a just above break even session. So I am sitting roughly $200 down, with a $200 bonus to come. I'd settle for that right now, but hey it's the weekend and time for the gamboolers (©Pauly) to come out to play, so there's still a better than 50/50 chance of a profit.

During this week I have identified a new species of Party player who has cost me some cash in unexpected circumstances. These people make passivity an art form, and are either geniuses operating at a poker level I cannot comprehend, or total morons.

The situation typically goes. Several callers in EP, MP. Div in LP limps with, say, A9s. The flop comes 9xx.

Check, check, check. Div bets. Call, call, fold.

The turn comes x.

Check, check. Div bets. Fold, call.

The river comes x.

Check. Div bets. Call.

The moron/genius flips either JJ or QQ.

Variations on this happened to me three times from three different players. Twice with JJ, once with QQ. Not once did a lovely ace come along to rescue me. So far, I've restrained from making any sort of comment to any of them. If they want to keep playing that way, it's fine by me.

Even worse (for someone else), I saw another player do exactly the same thing with KK, in a hand I'd folded pre flop. I sit for hours praying for KK, then someone else gets it and never raises. Wtf!

What poker boooks are they reading? Which sites do they browse for playing tips? Can I play against them every night?

That's why I love Party. Sure I've had a bad few days, which I felt obliged to share with you, just as I share the good times. But I'm not complaining. I'm still well ahead overall, and there's plenty more fish out there just waiting to pay me off when those straights and flushes do hit. As, over time, a profitable proportion will.

A final thought for the day, especially for Iggy and Al. They should appreciate this story about a policeman from olden times who was poisoned by, of all things, a walnut whip. Iggy should appreciate his lunch menu, and I thought Al might like his choice of pain relief. They don't make them like this anymore!

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Full Tilt v Party Poker Bonus Comparison

I've been following with interest the various posts about the Full Tilt Poker bonus. Like most other people, I have only gradually been grinding my way through it, and I began to wonder why it was taking so long.

Since I've just commenced another Party Poker bonus work-off, I thought I'd do a quick comparison of the two and analyse why the Full Tilt bonus takes so long to clear. This is based on my standard game - 2/4 Limit Hold 'Em full ring games.

Since the Full Tilt bonus offers a much higher maximum payoff, I've restricted the comparison to $200 - the maximum that can be gained from the current Party Poker offer. Our two scenarios are:

- Full Tilt Poker sign up bonus. 100% to $600. So in our case, assume a deposit of $200 to qualify for a $200 bonus.

- Party Poker reload bonus. 20% to $200. So in our case, assume a deposit of $1000 to qualify for a $200 bonus.

The Party Poker bonus requirements are quite straightforward. 7 raked hands per dollar of bonus, played within 7 days of depositing. This means we need to play 1400 raked hands within 7 days to claim our $200. A raked hand in Party Poker 2/4 is any hand where the pot equals $20 or more. Given the looseness of Party players, most hands exceed that total. Indeed some tables can have average pot sizes as high as $40. Certainly $25 to $30 average pots are common.

Therefore not much more than 1400 hands actually played will be required to claim the bonus. Lets say 1500 for arguments sake.

Full Tilt Poker has a more complex qualifying structure. Each raked dollar contributes a point towards the bonus earned. Each point in turn translates into $0.06. This doesn't sound a lot, however a $20 pot on Full Tilt contributes a $2 rake (with 4+ players in the pot), so if the average pot per hand was $20 then for each hand played, we would earn $0.12.

Therefore to earn a $200 bonus, assuming an average $20 pot, we would need to play 200/0.12 hands, which equates to 1670 hands. Not much more than Party!!

Add to this the fact that Full Tilt release bonus in $20 installments, and a hand of less than $20 will still contribute a small amount to the Full Tilt bonus, whereas on Party it goes uncounted, and suddenly the Full Tilt bonus doesn't seem such a bad deal.

When you take into account the magnitude of the multiplier - 100% v 20% - suddenly Full Tilt starts to look like a very good deal again. Remember we have staked $200 on Full Tilt to earn $200. On Party Poker we have staked $1000 to earn $200.

So, why are people so unhappy with Full Tilt? Well, in my opinion, it's down to the player style.

Full Tilt seems initially to have attracted a lot of bonus hungry whores, much like myself. What do good bonus whores (good low-limit poker players) do when they are sitting in late position with 76s, UTG raises and everyone folds to them? They fold of course! As, probably, do both blinds. Leaving a pot of $7 to be claimed. On Party you'd probably see four callers and a pot heading for $20 pre flop.

For the first few weeks on Full Tilt I saw dozens and dozens of hands go down in this, or similar, ways. The result, lots of very small pots, and very few bonus points earned.

Fret not, for help is at hand. As mentioned in previous posts, there seems to have been a noticeable loosening up over the last week or two. I don't know why this is.

Living in the UK, I'm not aware how much Full Tilt are advertising in the US - though I did like their online adverts! Maybe the fishes have scented the bait - but the callers are getting looser, the pots bigger, which means more bonus more quickly.

So, hang on in there, and I think you will see your Full Tilt Poker bonus gradually migrate to your Neteller accounts.

Pacific Poker Sign Up Offer

Pacific Poker are offering a 50% to $100 bonus for new sign ups until the end of March.

So, deposit $200 and get $300 in your account. The Pacific Poker players are pretty grim as a rule, and you get three months to clear the bonus. So this would be a good way for a newbie to get into things without staking too much cash.

EDIT: Pacific Poker are running a $1,000,000 tournament this Saturday.

Direct buy in is $400+40. Satellites start at $10+1. Some of the $10 satellites are starting with under 30 players, so there's nice odds for winning a cheap seat in the final. I already know one person who made it this way.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

What we have to learn to do, we learn by doing.

This title brought to you courtesy of Aristotle - and yes, I did have to Google for it.

Things I have learned this week:

- The cost of a pram and accessories - £480 ($920). As one friend said, 'What size engine does it come with?'

- Full Tilt Poker players are definitely getting looser. 40%+ VPIP on one 2/4 table I played!

- Party Poker has another 20% reload bonus! After doubling my $500 deposit on the last bonus, I now have the bankroll to deposit the full $1000 this time. Mrs Div has already been warned I may not be contactable next week. She also knows to expect numerous expletive laden outbursts, originating from the computer room.

- Six pints of lager post-work on a Friday evening does not impair my starting hand selection when I get home and log in.

- Six pints of lager post-work on a Friday evening does impair the flop evaluation section of my brain. Particularly the crucial 'missed flop' function.

- It is unwise to wait 18 months before completing unpacking of your possessions after moving home. Which leads on to...

Things I Have Found This Weekend:

- My Paul Smith cufflinks. Which I'd replaced long ago with an emergency purchase of a £10 Tie Rack pair at the airport en route to a meeting.

- My Armani sunglasses. Replaced last summer by a Stussy pair when I was in San Francisco. The Stussy pair would not look out of place at the WSOP final table I feel, but they are a little extreme for a moderately sunny day at the football. The Armanis have a more understatedly elegant vibe.

- My local casino membership card. Not actually essential to gain entry, but a sign, a sign, I tell you!

In other news:

Saturday afternoon brought a fairly brutal lesson in poker variance. Expressed through the medium of two Full Tilt 2/4 tables.

On table 1 I was sailing ahead. Racing to a $100 profit in no time at all. No fancy play required, just good cards holding up, and not playing any dross.

I did hit one very nice hand when I called a pre flop raise with 88 and flopped top set on a really low board. My opponent had QQ and wasn't about to fold to my raises. In fact he was reraising. No complaints from me!

On table 2 I was drowning in a sea of missed outs. I wasn't getting any decent pocket pairs, but lots of eminently playable starting hands. AKs, AQs were the main culprits. I don't think I hit a single flush draw, or straight. Even when the cards got some of the flop I always seemed to catch a Q on a K high board, or hit an A with AQ and run into AK.

Whenever I need a rebuy in a limit game, I put the thinking cap on for a few moments to decide whether to continue. There was no particular reason to be so far down, other than bad luck. So when I got to $20 remaining from my original $100 deposit, I bought another $100 and soon slumped to a $130 deficit.

No way was I walking away from that. Mercifully, the poker gods grew tired of toying with me and moved on to some other hapless victim. Table 1 improved to +$105, table 2 recovered to -$102, and I checked out a $3 profit. At least I ticked off another $20 bonus increment. Always play with a bonus underpinning your cards!

Later in the evening another session produced $40 profit in an hour. I slept better after that.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

No More Heroes?

Looks like The Stranglers were wrong.

I didn't agree with the invasion of Iraq at the time, and I've seen nothing since that has changed my mind, but I take my hat off to Johnson Beharry. Reading the citation for this guy's medal award is a humbling experience.

My cousin operates light armour and was in one of the first units into Basra. I know he also got into some interesting encounters in Kosovo. It's incredible to think the ordinary guy I know has probably experienced similar situations to the one described in this citation.

Just a shame that the Ministry of Defence (currently employing more civil servants than soldiers) can't actually send them the right equipment, ranging from desert boots to body armour to helicopters! Not so much 'lions led by donkeys' as lions fed by donkeys.

Soldiers get crap wages, so I hope Beharry gets himself a book and movie deal and makes enough to retire and provide for himself and his family. If there's one guy in the world who deserves it right now it's this guy.

It would make a pleasant change to see media money going to someone deserving, rather than the usual collection of reality TV morons and micro 'celebs' who infest our newspapers and television.

It's a frivolous comparison, but if giving someone a blowjob on live TV is the way to earn £1.5m, how much does Beharry deserve to earn for his endeavours.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Back In The Saddle

No poker for three whole days. What is the world coming to? To be fair, the lost poker time has been well spent.

I've been on a DIY frenzy, putting units together to store my ever expanding collection of poker books, as well as assorted other paraphernalia. Most people hate DIY, but I actually enjoy it. Work at the moment is a real grind, and I get a sense of satisfaction from actually doing something which is productive in a very real sense, rather than the ephemeral and sometimes, I feel, mythical, productivity of my 'proper' work.

Lots more DIYing to come, as the baby eta draws closer.

For my endeavours, I awarded myself a night at the pub to watch the Inverness Caledonian Thistle v Celtic game on Setanta last night. Well worth a few pints. More Aiden McGeady magic; Craig Bellamy integrating nicely into the team; and three points in the bag. Heck, we even got a penalty from Hugh Dallas!

Returning home with a Tennents fuelled glow warming my innards, I decided to launch a smash-and-grab on Full Tilt Poker. Still grinding that bonus!

45 minutes of 2/4 Hold Em for a $61 profit. If my hourly rate was that consistent, 'real' work would be history by now. Hand of the session was seeing a cheap flop with QJs, flopping top pair with Q kicker. Bet, raised, called. Turn was a J. Bet, raised, raised, called. River was another J. Quads! Funnily enough they only called that bet. Nice way to round off a very pleasant evening.

I do think Full Tilt is gradually loosening up. I certainly seemed to get more action with my good cards last night. Long may it continue.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

The Bad: I've been a bad blogger this week. Too much work, too many home related matters - pram shopping, bathroom fitting, wallpaper picking, etc. means very little poker playing time. I am way behind for the month as a whole.

More Bad: I can't reconcile time demands and timezone differences to match up with tonight's HORSE tournament, so I've withdrawn from that. I'd really like to play but the numbers don't add up.

The Ugly: I played like a buffoon in the WSOP freeroll. Tried to be aggressive from as early as possible - since the blinds were increasing every 10 minutes - and ran into KK with AKs. No improvement, and out.

The Good: Good home game on Friday night. Much beer, two really competitive games. A win in the first game, and bad beaten into 3rd place in the second game. AJ v QT and a J on the river, but the J also completed a straight for my opponent. Grrr. Overall the standard of play is definitely improving.

More Good: Cooled my heels after the freeroll fiasco with some 2/4 Hold 'Em. AsQs in the hole, and a flop of KsJsTs. TWO Royal Flushes within 6 weeks! Someone bet from EP and along with another caller we made it to a showdown, which was nice.

The Best: Celtic 6 Dunfermline 0. Dunfermline chairman John Yorkston is a twat of the highest order, so it was nice to give his team a complete gubbing.

Even nicer was the style of victory. Free flowing, skillful, pacy, adventurous. Truly 'The Glasgow Celtic Way'.

I think it was Alf Garnett who said 'Football is ballet for the working classes'. Well, if that is the case, Aiden McGeady must be the new Nureyev. The kid is unbelievable. Two footed, agile, strong on the ball, and he moves with an effortless grace - so balanced he seems to set the laws of physics aside as he moves and turns. A joy to watch.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Viva Las Vegas

Congratulations! You've earned 100 Full Tilt Points!

That makes you eligible for our $10K World Series of Poker Championship Event Freeroll tournament!

The Freeroll will be held this Saturday, March 12th at 4:30PM ET and you don't even need to sign yourself up. Just look under the 'Special' tab in the Main Lobby and you'll find that you're already registered!

Good luck and maybe we'll see you at the World Series this summer!

Team Full Tilt

Mmmhhmmmm. Now THAT is the sort of email I like to get from poker sites. I didn't even realise there was such a thing as a WSOP freeroll!!

Now all I have to do is beat 1999 other Full Tilt grinders and I'll be back in Vegas. Easy peasy.

I've entered one other tournament on Full Tilt. Can you guess what it is yet? Nay?

Of course it's the World Poker Bloggers Tour HORSE tournament this Sunday. I'm not a superstitious person, but when I finished a 2/4 session earlier this week, checked the cashier, and discovered I had EXACTLY $666, I had to do something. It was late at night, and I wouldn't have slept otherwise. So, I coughed up the $5 and signed up. That's not to say I wouldn't have signed up anyway, but it certainly moved it to the top of my Things To Do list.

Unfortunately, there are a few minor issues with my intended participation. Such as: not knowing how to play razz; never having played stud online; and the damn tournament kicking off at 2a.m. (UK time) on Monday morning, when I get up for work at 6.30a.m.

If you are at my table and I get involved in a hand, it will mean one of two things: either I've got a monster, or I've totally misunderstood the rules. Try reading that comrades! Time to hit the play money tables.

I've not yet worked out how to overcome the latter of these issues. So I may, or may not, see you at the tables. If I do, it will be with a copy of Peter Arnold's How to Play Poker on my lap, and a VERY big cup of coffee beside me. Truly I am a (man)child of the Hold 'Em poker boom.

One final note. I've been rather busy with non-poker stuff this week, so haven't done much playing or blog reading. Work, pah! Home game tomorrow, hurrah!

When I checked my Sitemeter stats, my initial reaction was I'd accessed the wrong site records. All these visitors, from all locations - why where they here? Then I checked the referrals page. Guinness And Poker, Guinness And Poker, Guinness And Poker......

So cheers Iggy. When I win that freeroll, I'll buy you a barrel of Guinness in Vegas this summer! To the rest of you, I say 'Welcome'. Good to have you on board. Come to Scotland and I'll buy you at least a pint of Guinness in one of our casinos.

Happy gambling.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Full Tilt Poker Mini Review And Other Escapades

I took a few days off from poker this week, before getting back into the swing of things trying to work off the Full Tilt Poker bonus. Now I've played for a couple of days, I thought I'd post my initial impressions.

The user interface is very nice. Slick and fast. I know some people aren't keen on the avatars - finding them too 'cartoony' - but they can be turned off. Personally, I like them. More on that later.

I also like the 'sit me here' feature which lets you realign the screen to have your seat in whichever position you choose.

The site seems to be quite sparsely populated at present. That's not to say there are very few players. On the contrary, I think the issue is there is such a wide range of games that the players are spread a little thinly. This should improve as their marketing kicks in and more players join. The 2/4 Hold Em games are also a lot tighter than Party Poker, probably due to all the bonus grinders.

They are certainly working hard to build the user base. Not just with their 100% to $600 sign up offer. (Bonus Code: DIV1970 - Don't be shy. You know you want to!) They are also offering a 50% to $300 reload bonus for existing players. It DOES take a while to work off their bonus, but some is better than none, and if they are offering reloads some people must have already done their $600!!!

The next World Poker Bloggers Tour tournament will be a HORSE tournament on Full Tilt, which emphasises the range they offer. So sign up for Full Tilt and get ready for the tournament!

One area where the site does fall down a little is the lack of admin options. By this I mean things like requesting hand histories and checking how much money you took to-and-from tables. The site is still young and I believe these issues are already being addressed.

So, on the whole, I'd say Full Tilt has the potential to be a really good site. They just need to get the marketing campaign rolling and catch up on the shortcomings of the software - which are hardly showstoppers. Given the quality of the people behind the site, I'm sure they will succeed.

Now, on to the escapades. Before going any further, it's worth saying I posted a question on Two Plus Two about the following hand to double check I wasn't totally wrong here. So far the feedback seems to be that if anything I was under aggressive, but justified in playing the cards.

But I deliberately missed out one fact when I posted the question. I wanted to get the unbiased 'cards only' feedback, before revealing the final fact.....

When I was choosing an avatar on Full Tilt, I couldn't find one that matched me. None of the humans resembled me, and the most appropriate non-human was the rock - which I hardly want to advertise to the table!

So, if I tell you Mrs Div is a blue-eyed blonde, with impressive curves, you can guess which avatar I went for. If you don't know what I'm talking about you'll have to sign up here. Heh, am I starting to sound like Iggy? Of course, since my login name is non-gender specific, there's a possibility some players will assume I am female.

You can view the hand details here. In summary, I got sick of blind stealing, defended my blind, got lucky on the flop and two players didn't like it and started mouthing off at me, including a comment about sucking c*cks. I had the money so I wasn't bothered, but I had some fun with a bit of verbal sparring.

There then followed a period of sniping, until the following happened:

villain: take it
(villain folds to a raise - on the turn I think)
Dealer: Other Player shows [3s Ts] (Queen Ten high)
Dealer: Other Player wins the pot ($19)
Div1970: lol
villain: ouch
villain: I had a couple of sevens
Div1970: villain do you charge for lessons?
villain: straight worried me
villain: yeah my book is coming out soon
Div1970: all pictures I bet
(villain has about $160 on the table, I have about $130)
villain: I am sorry div but don't I have more money then you?
Div1970: do you?
(I bring $400+ to the table)
Div1970: the rest is on Checkered Flag
(I'm two tabling, as is the guy who raised me and made the c*ck sucking comment)
Div1970: aint that right villain2
Div1970: villain?
Div1970: are you still with us?
villain: yeah I just cashed out 500 from earlier today
Div1970: lolololol
Div1970: I'm gonna sue your !%@
Div1970: you just made me fall off my seat
Div1970: my sides hurt

This was a lot more fun than the poker. Some nights I can't be bothered with chat and disable it, other nights I love to chat. It just depends on my mood.

One thing I don't do is badmouth players. If someone is worth badmouthing, you want to keep them at the table as long as possible without them noticing what you are doing to their bankroll. If someone else throws the first punch, that's entirely different.

Do other players seriously take every dollar to every table? When playing 2/4 I tend to start with $100. If I need to rebuy, I know it's time to have a long hard think. Have I just been unlucky, or do I need a break? It's a good control mechanism to have in place.

I wonder if these guys would have been so miffed if I'd been a cowboy or a rock. They genuinely seemed to take me as a girl, and see getting beat as some sort of insult to their masculinity. I lapped it up. It's true - blondes DO have more fun!

Let The Train Take The Strain

I had something of an epiphany on the way to work last week. As someone who 'works to live', rather than 'lives to work', I seek at all times to minimise time spent on employment related activities. I include in this the commute to and from work. For a long time, I was fortunate in that I was able to walk to my place of employment. An ideal scenario - no delays, no dependency on buses or trains, and some exercise thrown in. As well as the option of a few post-work beers with no need to worry about driving home.

Unfortunately, my current job offers no such benefits. Before taking the job, I scrutinised the transport options with some trepidation. Indeed, I was almost dissuaded from taking the job because of the travel involved. There were two scenarios:

1. Drive to work. Approximately 90 minutes round trip, all by car.

2. Take the train. Approximately 25 minutes walking and 90 minutes by train, for a total of 115 minutes.

That's 7-1/2 to almost 10 hours a week travel time.

I chose the car option, simply because it was quicker. It was a bad decision. Navigating through swarms of commuter traffic, driven by selfish bastards, is not my idea of fun. Each day I was reaching work, already worn down just by the effort of getting there. At night, I was storming into the house, more in need of a sedative or punchbag than dinner.

My little mishap in the car forced me to re-evaluate my approach. I realised that car time is dead time. Every minute of the trip is a trial, every hour spent in the car an hour drained from my life bank for no return. I honestly felt the journey was steering me towards Heart Attack Alley.

The train may take longer, but the improvement is infinite. 25 minutes of walking will provide at least some counterbalance to my sedentary poker playing hours. 90 minutes of train time is 90 minutes of reading, writing, thinking time.

As a child, I was a voracious reader on a wide variety of subjects. Recently, the only tomes to pass before my eyes have been poker related. I intend to change that.

It's been interesting reading the heartfelt reactions of other bloggers to the death of Hunter S. Thompson. I've always been aware of his reputation, and always thought I should read some of his work, but I've just never gotten round to it. Maybe I will now. He's not alone in being neglected by me. I have a range of books to catch up on - though in the short term they may need to yield to Cool Names for Babies and Secrets of the Baby Whisperer.

My mind is always active, but I'm a disorganised thinker. Thoughts ping-pong around my head in random fashion, occasionally coming together in some fortuitous manner when I'm positioned to do something about them, but often careering off into the recesses of my mind, only to return weeks later when it's too late to act. Even Mrs Div struggles to follow some of my thought processes, as thoughts ricochet off my skull and embed themselves in some barely related ongoing discussion.

Taking the train will give me more organising and actioning time. I've already invested in a little notepad for jotting down thoughts as they occur, and the restoration of my laptop will give me the opportunity to write whenever I feel so inclined. When the baby comes along, my home time will be eaten up by other more pressing issues, so I need to make more of the opportunities I have for personal enrichment.

The process has already begun. The gist of this article was the first jottings in my new notepad, and I'm sure there are more to come.


As an aside, how the hell do people settle on baby names? Mrs Div and I are having some interesting 'discussions' on the subject at present.

I'm tempted to abandon the aim of a name that's normal enough to avoid schoolyard jibes, but individual enough to have some character, and go for something a little more outlandish, but rewarding in a practical sense.

I can just picture the family argument in 18 years time - 'But honestly son/daughter. If we hadn't called you Party Poker Bonus Code Div1970 - and held your christening party in a casino - we never could have afforded to put you through college. Anyway, when Mike Sexton announced you were "all-in" as the priest dunked you in the baptismal font, it was a very emotional moment for me.'