Friday, December 29, 2006

December Summary

I'm going to throw up the December summary a little early, since I've got plans for the next few days.

Birthday today, so spending some time with K. E decanted to the grandparents for an overnighter.

Tomorrow is the annual Jolly Boys day out, which is simply a day when the guys take the chance to go out and get ridiculously drunk without the girls in tow.

It's a long standing tradition which used to end in a visit to a club, but these days usually involves many pubs, some food, and climaxes in a casino in Glasgow. -EV ahoy!

After that it's Hogmanay time, though I can't see it being a wild one. In truth, there hasn't been one of those for quite a while.

Returning to the month so far...

For obvious reasons this has been a harrowing time. The miscarriage is one of those events that I wouldn't want to forget, but that I do need to put behind me.

K and I are both of similar minds on this, and are trying our hardest to look forward rather than back.

It's easy to say or write that, but less easy to actually manage it. We've both found ourselves unexpectedly breaking down in the last few days, but as I've said before, I'm sure time will be the healer.

Perversely, the time I've spent at the tables this month has been one of the best runs I've experienced in a long time.

I've had many more winning sessions than losing ones, albeit a couple of the losing ones have been real epics.

Chuck in the regular Interpoker bonus, and a decent rakeback, and it looks like I'm going to post a profit of just under $1000. I don't expect to be playing much, if at all, in the next few days so that figure should be fairly accurate.

I've been primarily playing a mix of $.25/.50 and $.50/1 NLHE on Doyles Room (Tribeca) and the standard of play is extremely mediocre. I also think 9-handed rather than 10-handed tables suit my No Limit approach better.

It's been interesting to track the various players I've added to my buddy list this month.

Many of them seem to disappear back to MTTs after a caning at the cash tables, but some of them pop up in the most unexpected places.

A few have migrated to 6-max, which could make sense as it might suit their maniacal style better.

One extremely passive type surprisingly appeared in the $2/4 9-handed game.

Most astounding of all, a guy who I'd labelled an 'over aggressive idiot' suddenly appeared in a $5/10 9-handed game on Boxing Day! I can only assume someone gave him a cash Christmas present.

I don't make a habit of watching other games, but I did take a few minutes to monitor that table. Unsurprisingly he was losing, and he didn't hang around long.

Although the bankroll has grown less than I'd hoped for this year, I'm optimistic I could hold my own in the $1/2 game at the very least.

My present expectation is to persevere with the current level for a while longer to prove to myself that I am a consistent winner at this level - and to build additional insurance reserves before stepping up - but the step up is certainly in sight.

I'll be putting together my annual review, and targets for 2007, quite soon. So, more on this to come.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Santa Arrives A Day Late

I couldn't win a hand last night, and dropped a couple of buy-ins as my opponents hit the most improbable draws, or proved to be totally unable to put down middle pairs again my unimproved AK, etc.

All standard fare, but one of those times where it becomes really annoying that some players have no clue about the fundamentals, like position, pot odds, etc.

Which is stupid, since of course that makes them ideal opponents - in the long term naturally.

Tonight the tables were turned, and I capitalised in this hand. It's amazing how much of a blind spot some people have to straights.

Any flush card tends to slow down the action, but note how little heed is paid to the turn.

When THREE people flop a set against your open ended straight draw, there's no way the turn should be so cheap - to say nothing of the feeble out-of-position raise with QQ - but who am I to complain?

 never looked so sweet!

[Dec 26 21:57:12] : Hand Start.
[Dec 26 21:57:12] : Seat 1 : AAJacks has $150.22
[Dec 26 21:57:12] : Seat 2 : hdbets has $56
[Dec 26 21:57:12] : Seat 3 : Villain 3 has $13.37
[Dec 26 21:57:12] : Seat 4 : Villain 2 has $48.59
[Dec 26 21:57:12] : Seat 5 : Hero has $102.08
[Dec 26 21:57:12] : Seat 6 : Mrs Colin has $76
[Dec 26 21:57:12] : Seat 7 : Villain 1 has $104.75
[Dec 26 21:57:12] : Seat 8 : IL Prof has $141
[Dec 26 21:57:12] : Seat 9 : Noodles1619 has $98.21
[Dec 26 21:57:12] : Hero is the dealer.
[Dec 26 21:57:13] : Mrs Colin posted small blind.
[Dec 26 21:57:15] : Villain 1 posted big blind.
[Dec 26 21:57:15] : Game [96727] started with 9 players.
[Dec 26 21:57:15] : Dealing Hole Cards.
[Dec 26 21:57:15] : Seat 5 : Hero has Jd Tc
[Dec 26 21:57:20] : IL Prof folded.
[Dec 26 21:57:21] : Noodles1619 called $1
[Dec 26 21:57:27] : AAJacks folded.
[Dec 26 21:57:27] : hdbets folded.
[Dec 26 21:57:27] : Villain 3 called $1
[Dec 26 21:57:32] : Villain 2 called $1
[Dec 26 21:57:34] : Hero called $1
[Dec 26 21:57:37] : Mrs Colin folded.
[Dec 26 21:57:45] : Villain 1 raised $2
[Dec 26 21:57:47] : Noodles1619 called $2
[Dec 26 21:57:51] : Villain 3 called $2
[Dec 26 21:57:54] : Villain 2 called $2
[Dec 26 21:57:56] : Hero called $2
[Dec 26 21:57:57] : Dealing flop.
[Dec 26 21:57:57] : Board cards [9s 4c Qd]
[Dec 26 21:57:59] : Villain 1 checked.
[Dec 26 21:58:01] : Noodles1619 checked.
[Dec 26 21:58:05] : Villain 3 bet $2
[Dec 26 21:58:09] : Villain 2 called $2
[Dec 26 21:58:12] : Hero called $2
[Dec 26 21:58:21] : Villain 1 called $2 and raised $8
[Dec 26 21:58:22] : Noodles1619 folded.
[Dec 26 21:58:24] : Villain 3 called $8 and raised $0.37 and is All-in
[Dec 26 21:58:24] : Under-Raise rules are now in effect.
[Dec 26 21:58:28] : Villain 2 called $8.37
[Dec 26 21:58:31] : Hero called $8.37
[Dec 26 21:58:34] : Villain 1 called $0.37
[Dec 26 21:58:34] : Dealing turn.
[Dec 26 21:58:34] : Board cards [9s 4c Qd 8h]
[Dec 26 21:58:41] : Villain 1 bet $16
[Dec 26 21:58:43] : Villain 2 called $16 and raised $19.22 and is All-in
[Dec 26 21:58:47] : Hero called $35.22
[Dec 26 21:58:51] : Villain 1 called $19.22 and raised $56.16 and is All-in
[Dec 26 21:58:53] : Hero called $53.49 and is All-in
[Dec 26 21:58:54] : Showdown!
[Dec 26 21:58:54] : Seat 5 : Hero has Jd Tc
[Dec 26 21:58:55] : Seat 3 : Villain 3 has 4h 4s
[Dec 26 21:58:55] : Seat 4 : Villain 2 has 9h 9d
[Dec 26 21:58:55] : Seat 5 : Hero has Jd Tc
[Dec 26 21:58:55] : Seat 7 : Villain 1 has Qh Qc
[Dec 26 21:59:00] : Board cards [9s 4c Qd 8h 7h]
[Dec 26 21:59:00] : Seat 7 : Villain 1 has Qh Qc
[Dec 26 21:59:00] : Villain 1 has 3 of a Kind: Queens
[Dec 26 21:59:00] : Seat 5 : Hero has Jd Tc
[Dec 26 21:59:00] : Hero has Straight QJT98
[Dec 26 21:59:00] : Hero wins $105.78 with Straight QJT98
[Dec 26 21:59:00] : Seat 7 : Villain 1 has Qh Qc
[Dec 26 21:59:00] : Villain 1 has 3 of a Kind: Queens
[Dec 26 21:59:00] : Seat 4 : Villain 2 has 9h 9d
[Dec 26 21:59:00] : Villain 2 has 3 of a Kind: 9s
[Dec 26 21:59:00] : Seat 5 : Hero has Jd Tc
[Dec 26 21:59:00] : Hero has Straight QJT98
[Dec 26 21:59:00] : Hero wins $104.49 with Straight QJT98
[Dec 26 21:59:00] : Seat 3 : Villain 3 has 4h 4s
[Dec 26 21:59:00] : Villain 3 has 3 of a Kind: 4s
[Dec 26 21:59:00] : Seat 4 : Villain 2 has 9h 9d
[Dec 26 21:59:00] : Villain 2 has 3 of a Kind: 9s
[Dec 26 21:59:00] : Seat 5 : Hero has Jd Tc
[Dec 26 21:59:00] : Hero has Straight QJT98
[Dec 26 21:59:00] : Seat 7 : Villain 1 has Qh Qc
[Dec 26 21:59:00] : Villain 1 has 3 of a Kind: Queens
[Dec 26 21:59:00] : Hero wins $56.35 with Straight QJT98
[Dec 26 21:59:15] : Hand is over.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Site Admin and Donald McVicar

I've been tidying up the blog template recently. Much as I'm a techie to trade, HTML isn't one of my core skills so I enjoy pottering around a little for a change of scene.

A while ago I added an RSS news feed for Glasgow Celtic, using the facility available from The Scotsman newspaper.

The Scotsman is, in theory, one of the 'quality' papers in Scotland. However a recently published front page article and opinion piece had me so fuming at their blatant institutional bigotry and shoddy journalism that I decided to drop their feed.

I've replaced it with one from that paragon of journalistic integrity, The BBC.

My old sparring partner Donald McVicar was also in the news recently, after referee Kenny Clark admitted on The Whistleblower website that he had wrongly denied Celtic a blatant penalty that could have put them 2-0 up in the recent Rangers game, which was subsequently drawn 1-1.

I think it's important to recognise the positive aspect of this. Referees are only human. They do make mistakes. What bothers me is they usually refuse to admit them.

So, it's good that Mr Clark has been big enough to own up to his error - even if he was the only person in the ground not to have thought it a penalty at the time. Indeed, so blatant was the trip, Stevie Wonder could have spotted it.

What continues to bother me is Donald McVicar insisting that Kenny Clark had a good game overall.

Oh really? In the first minute he missed a deliberate stamp by Alan Hutton on Aiden McGeady, as he lay prostrate on the ground. At least a yellow and possibly a red card offence.

Early in the second half he missed a brutal and blatant assault by Charlie Adam on Lee Naylor that left Naylor bleeding from an ankle injury that needed five stitches after the game.

This sort of wild tackle from behind is a straight red in any major competition. In the more lenient Scottish arena, it should still merit at least a yellow. Clark didn't even give a foul.

Adding insult to injury, as Naylor lay in obvious agony, he chided him for apparent time wasting or play acting. Since when did football players start carrying theatrical blood capsules in their socks?

So, applause to Donald and Kenny for owning up the most heinous error, but a return visit to Specsavers for them both, to help them spot their other deficiencies.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Précis of a Difficult Week

Firstly, a heartfelt thanks to those who have contacted me through comments or email. All the kind words have been very much appreciated by both of us.

It's been a week since we got the news, and I'm steeling myself for a return to work tomorrow. Assuming yet another cold bug has cleared up a little by the morning.

Having got over the initial shock of receiving such terrible news, we've been trying to maintain as much normality as possible for the sake of E.

She did get her first ever overnight stay at the grandparents on Monday, as K needed to undergo a surgical procedure known as a D&C to remove what remained of our baby from her womb.

That was an emotionally difficult day for us both, with the added factor that she had never undergone a general anaesthetic and was understandably nervous.

It's worth saying the doctors and midwives at the hospital have all been great. The medical profession is often criticised for lack of patient empathy, but the staff we encountered were universally sympathetic and caring.

The procedure went well, and has at least allowed us to draw a line under the pregnancy.

That said, I think it will be quite some time before our emotions are entirely settled.

We've both resigned ourselves to the fact we were victims of one of nature's quirks, and understand and accept what happened.

Which means we can rationalise it, but not ignore the sadness and despair that continues to linger within us.

Christmas shopping this week seemed to bring a never ending procession of newborns in prams, with parents beaming proudly at their offspring. I feel nothing but delight for them, but couldn't help wondering about what might have been for us.

I'm sure that will fade. Time being a great healer, as the saying goes.

My only overnight stay in hospital came about six years ago, when I had my tonsils removed. That's usually a childhood operation, but I was one of the unlucky adults.

I can still vividly recall coming round from the anaesthetic in a darkened room, whilst traces of (I presume) morphine still circulated in my veins.

My giddy, dreamlike state soon to be replaced by one of absolute bloody agony, as the effects subsided and only co-codamol was on offer for further pain relief.

I spent a week off work, mostly alone at home immersed in computer games as a distraction from the pain I was enduring. Whole days passed with me subsisting on a diet of soggy cornflakes and warm soup, whilst I razed cities to the ground and launched wave after wave of armoured assaults.

This week my distractions from the emotional pain have been football and poker.

The visit of Celtic to Ibrox being a real throwback in terms of passion, commitment, and scything acts of brutality - most of which went unpunished. I was nowhere near as deeply engaged in proceedings as I would usually have been, but the distraction was welcome and the result acceptable.

Much as I yearned to divert myself further through poker, I didn't trust myself to engage in any big bet cash games. So I ground out enough limit hands to work off the monthly Interpoker reload bonus, and played in a few of the daily freerolls.

Coincidentally, my rakeback provider had also laid on a couple of big freerolls. I got nowhere in the $10,000 at Interpoker, but squeaked into the top 30 of the $12,000 at Full Tilt.

Making the top 30 from 1600+ entrants is pretty commendable, even if maybe 35% didn't actually turn up, but it's still frustrating to make a mere $40 when $2500 is on offer to the winner.

In part I was a victim of timings, as the hand I went out on, in a battle of the blinds, was easily foldable, but it was getting late and K was going to the hospital the next day. So external factors were at work.

Perhaps the most encouraging sign this week was my eruption last night when I got AK cracked on an ace high flop - by a buffoon who paid three bets to see a flop with K2s and went runner-runner for the backdoor flush.

The shouting, cursing, and general outrage that such an idiotic play should be rewarded was an encouraging indicator that my emotions are returning to their normal levels.

There's still a long way to go, but I'm already looking forward to putting this year behind us, and making plans for a rosier future.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Dark Times

This blog has been running for almost two years now, and I've racked up over 300 posts in that time. Some mediocre, some interesting, a few amusing, and one or two that are pretty damn good, even if I say so myself.

In all that time, I never imagined I'd have to write one like this.

The pregnancy is no more. The baby lost to a miscarriage.

It had all seemed to be going so well. The bump was developing, and although the Mrs (henceforth 'K'), was still suffering morning sickness, she felt the worst was over.

So it was with great optimism that we attended the first scan yesterday afternoon - unfazed by the grim weather that assailed us as we crossed the hospital car park.

Arriving a little ahead of schedule gave me the chance to grab some lunch in their cafe - having rushed there from work - and we sat discussing K's maternity leave options, as we marked time ahead of the appointment.

When the first images from the scan flashed up on screen, memories of the previous pregnancy came racing back.

It had been quite stressful. K suffered a lot of early bleeding, which led to a scan after only 6 weeks, at which point the baby resembled nothing more than a tiny prawn - with a flashing dot at it's centre, which the staff told us was the heart beating.

This time, I was able to make out something more closely resembling the images I recalled from the later scans, but as the operator began to ask questions of K it became apparent something was wrong, and the smile faded from my face.

As I heard the dread words, and K burst into tears, it became obvious to me what was missing from this scan - a heartbeat.

For a few moments I felt dizzy, detached, like a viewer watching a drama unfold on a TV screen. All I could do was hold K's hand and cuddle her. It didn't feel real.

We've had no problems with bleeding. The morning sickness is supposed to be a good sign - indicative of high levels of the necessary hormones. The bump has been growing.

So how can the baby be dead?

Once it had sunk in, the staff showed us to another room, and gave us some time to ourselves.

Later they explained that although the pregnancy had gone for 14 weeks, the baby had only developed to a size equivalent to 8 weeks. In all likelihood, it had been growing very slowly and died in the previous day or two before the scan.

The fluid sac that protects it had grown at the normal rate, hence the expanding bump.

All of which seemed logical, and as that facts sunk it, reality dawned.

The drive back to my parents to pick up The Toddler (E) was mercifully short. I could barely focus on the road.

Breaking the news to them was made all the harder by E's broad smile welcoming us, and her puzzled stare as she watched K hug my mum.

When we got home, all we wanted to do was lie down. Both of us felt physically drained by the experience.

24 hours later, the shock has worn off, and reality has set in. I've been doing some reading on miscarriages and the statistics surprised me.

According to the NHS over 10% of pregnancies end this way, so it's hardly unusual.

I think what hit us hardest was the total lack of expectation that such an event was occurring. As the staff at the hospital said, most people have an idea something is wrong due to bleeding, pain, or other symptoms in advance of the scan.

We were feeling optimistic and anticipating the experience of seeing our new baby for the first time.

Right now we are trying to focus on the positive. There's no suggestion any future pregnancy would be affected by what has happened, and if it had to happen, better to be sooner than later.

That doesn't make things good, but we understand that other people go through much tougher experiences than this, so I'm sure we will be fine, though it may take a while before normality is restored.

Until then, we will be trying to get on with life, and appreciating what we already have.

I can't see it being a jolly festive season, but I'll savour every moment spent with my family, and give all the love I can to the great child we already have.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Rollercoaster Ride

Having a fun time on the Tribeca NLHE tables this month so far.

From seven sessions, I'm looking at:

- three really good
- two good
- one break-even
- one terrible

Which is a more than acceptable ratio!

Even the terrible session didn't feel so bad, though the spreadsheet numbers suggest it was! Just one of those nights where big pairs got out-flopped, and every draw missed.

It even included what I'd term a 'good beat'. Called a raise on the button with 55, flopped middle set on a 9-high board. Raised the turn. Got called(good).

Checked behind on a scary river, only for my opponent to turn over 99 for the flopped top set!! He reraises the turn and I'm all-in and busted.

As I called the raise, I actually said out loud something along the lines, 'This could be the hand that turns this night around.'

In a way, it was. Just not quite in the manner I'd hoped.

I've won a couple of very big pots in similar circumstances this week, by going slightly against accepted logic and making very small lead-out bets when I flop a straight draw on a flushing board.

For example I get in from the SB with:

Then lead out for 2BB on a flop of:

At these levels this is almost shorthand for 'I have a heart flush draw and want to see a cheap turn', so when the turn happens to be a welcome 8c, the action really starts.

No one is likely to give you credit for the nuts - they might even have drawn to hit the idiot gutshot - and suddenly all the cash is in the middle. This happened twice this week, once to someone drawing dead, and once to someone trying to backdoor another flush.

The power of deception, and a good illustration of why adding a little 'incorrect' play to your game can be beneficial in the right circumstances.

Friday, December 08, 2006

For Those Of You In Vegas

Have a great time!! But can you beat this bar bill, run up by English poker pro Dave 'Dubai' Shallow.

Outspending P-Diddy takes some doing!!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Vegas Casino Group Launches UK Online Gaming

Here's an interesting little snippet from The Times.

Las Vegas Sands - owner of The Venetian - has announced plans to launch an online casino and poker site, initially for UK consumers.

Strange timing one might think, but I'd imagine they must have a pretty vast mailing list of non-US residents to whom they can market the site once it is bedded in.

Bill Weidner, Las Vegas Sands’ chief executive, said: 'As the internet gaming landscape continues to evolve, this effort will put us in a strong position to evaluate and react to other potential opportunities.'

As an IT guy, this doesn't half smack of a 'soft launch', in advance of bigger plans.

One wonders whether the ears of legislators have already been bent in Washington with regard to regulation and liberalisation of the US market.

Don't shut down those affiliate accounts just yet.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

November Summary

What a difference a month makes!

I started the October summary with a mournful, and very hungover, reflection on the disastrous Celtic performance in Lisbon against Benfica.

This month I'm basking in the glow of Champions League qualification for the first time since the tournament was restructured, and plans are already laid for a visit to the pub on Wednesday to see Celtic travel to Copenhagen with a genuine chance of winning the group.

Happy days indeed!

Things are looking up on the poker front too. I spent most of November flitting between limit and no limit Hold Em, with a tiny smattering of Triple Draw thrown in too. I'm still not playing as much as I'd like to but that's life.

My no limit game seems to be in pretty good shape right now, though I could have done with a little more luck in the way the turn and river fell.

My Triple Draw game is still in it's infancy and will need a fair bit of work before I plot my first visit to Bobby's Room.

I was in a real rut for most of October, but it's amazing the effect having just one or two big hands hold up in succession, or catching a draw against someone who underbets their made hand, but can't put it down when they go behind.

Suddenly it's sweetness and light, and poker is a great game again. As I've said before, poker is a game of mental fortitude, and keeping ones head together when things are going wrong pays off handsomely when it all comes right again.

Minimise the losses on the bad days, and maximine the profits on the good ones - that's what it's all about.

For December I'll probably persevere with more of the same, whilst living life vicariously through those who are off to Vegas in the near future.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Morons Make The World Go Around

Before I started playing online poker, and indeed blogging, I was somewhat hesitant about using words like 'moron' and 'retard'.

There's something cruel and unsympathetic about both words. In general I'd struggle to label anyone so nastily without very good cause.

Much as poker is part art, and part intuition, it does also provide a reasonably objective method for assessing people through their actions and reactions - which makes it much easier for me now to apply those labels without trepidation.

A new recipient appeared at my table last night. Before we'd even tangled my notes were growing as he displayed little grasp of appropriate bet size, or hand strength.

So it came to pass that having limp called my pre-flop raise, he led into me on a king high board, and instantly called when I set him all in.

Cards on their backs and his K2s - for top pair no kicker, and a backdoor flush draw - was in pretty bad shape against my pocket rockets.

Alas for me, it wasn't to be as his 11% shot arrived on the river when a third king appeared.

Thus making my recent record with aces - blinds won twice, big pots lost twice. The other big pot being yet another AA v KK all-in pre-flop, first card on the flop a K.

That experience further enhanced when the Tribeca client froze for a good ten seconds with only two flop cards showing, giving me fleeting hope that I might escape in Houdini like fashion through a timely system crash.

Of course we can all rely on luck to even out over time, and skill to prevail.

Fortunately The Moron was seated directly to my right, and was in no mood to slow down. I quickly reloaded, and left the chat box untainted by my outrage.

Within a few minutes, I was looking at a 9BB button raise from The Moron, and a respectable AKo in the hole.

Poker is a game of decisions, and against morons the more decisions we get to make, the better our chances of prevailing. I smooth called.

The flop was a very welcome A88. Check.

He moved all in for FIVE times the pot. Call!

Well what do you know. I outflopped his pocket tens and a 9% chance of hitting was too small even for this guy.

Thus it was that I relieved him of all the cash he won from me, plus an additional sum fluked into his temporary possession via other players.

The best part of it is, he is far from unique. I may not meet him at the tables tonight, but I know I'll meet someone like him.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Resting The Eyelids

Earlier this week I commented to a co-worker that I'm beginning to feel like the Phil O'Donnell or Darren Anderton of the IT world.

I manage a fleeting appearance in work, before being struck down by some mysterious ailment that limits my presence, return feeling fine, put in a couple of decent shifts, until being struck down again, repeat until end of contract...

Which is how I came to miss out on an entire Friday night of poker. Feeling a little zonked after work, I mentioned to the Mrs that I was planning on having a 'short nap' before returning to the tables.

Almost twelve hours later I awoke to the sounds of a baby needing a morning nappy change. Huh? Who stole Friday night?

So it was that my gaming this week was confined to tonight. Which was fine, since I made a decent profit.

Despite some pretty wild action between other players, I had a remarkably boring session.

No suckouts for or against. Just straightforward poker, and hitting a couple of legitimate draws.

The one interesting hand was against a very LAGish player who I'd actually been giving a little respect to, since he hadn't shown down any unreasonable hands, and was taking a lot of pots on the flop or turn with big bets.

He had a big stack when I arrived at the table, and it was still growing.

He was also getting away from quite a few hands on the flop, showing that just because he raised pre-flop, he wasn't married to the hands.

Clearly he was a possible double through candidate, but not a racing certainty.

Sure enough we tangled when I limped T9s, and he made a big raise from the BB into several limpers.

I called to see a T9x flop with two of another suit. So a good flop for me, but laden with drawing opportunities. Not a time for slow playing.

With that in mind, and knowing his hand range is huge here, I chose the overbet approach to his continuation bet, and pushed all-in to his bigger stack.

His unexpectedly quick call had me thinking I might be dead to a set, or facing a monster draw, but when the cards were turned he was drawing extremely thin with AJo.

Two overs, no flush draw, and only a backdoor straight draw.

All of which suggests I'd been showing him a bit too much respect! Not to worry, as my hand held up and I took a nice chunk out of his profits for the night.

Tortoises and hares anyone? A nice return to action.

Time to round up the Champions League gloatfest with a couple more clips from the game. Both shot by Manchester United supporters.

Why they'd choose to actually post these is beyond me, but they gave me a good chuckle anyway. The sound and dialogue is priceless, though picture quality is poor.

First up, Louis Saha's penalty miss.

Secondly, a more complete video of the Ronaldo freekick and lead up to the Saha penalty.

Back to SPL action tomorrow, and much as I'm delighted with the Champions League qualification, I have to say the better than 5/1 available on Hibs to beat Celtic looks like a value bet. Not that I'll be taking it.

I did have £20 on Celtic to beat Manchester United at 100/30 which was nothing but the icing on that particular cake.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006


Man Who??

Still basking in the events of last night. I'm way too chilled to play poker.

At the end of the game I was physically shaking. Weak from the emotional drain.

A couple of after match pints weren't enough to return me to a state of calm. I finished off the remnants of a bottle of Southern Comfort once home, and didn't sleep til after 2a.m.

The baby awoke at seven, so it's been a long day! One where I had to resist the temptation to purchase every newspaper and lock the back (and front) pages away for posterity.

It's difficult to convey the drama and exhilaration of last night. The overwhelming explosion of noise and jubilation when Shunsuke Nakamura arrowed in that amazing free kick, and Artur Boruc saved Louis Saha's penalty.

I've been searching You Tube but mostly it's the same anodyne clips culled from the TV. Then I found this mobile phone footage...

A great viewpoint but terrible quality. I think you'll get the idea though!

For a better quality idea of what it felt like, this clip from the end of the game is the best there is. Especially when the commentator shuts up, and leaves it to the fans.

As if it were needed here is final confimation that the Martin O'Neill era is gone, and the Gordon Strachan era established. Oasis no more, Roll With It discarded, to be replaced by a local band, The Fratellis, with a song somewhat surrealy entitled Chelsea Dagger.

Altogether now 'doop da da doop....'

That's enough videos for one night!

Get In There!!!

Shunsuke Nakamura scores

Elated. Ecstatic. Jubilant.

Not for a second did a single person I know imagine we could qualify tonight.

Win. Yes. Qualify. No.

As it happens, our imaginations failed us. After years of cruel luck, and heinous refereeing, dating back to our very first Champions League game in Turin - a game I was at - we can finally kick back and relax, and enjoy, a moment of history.

Expect a few YouTube videos in the next few days.


Shunsuke Nakamura, you little Japanese genius!!! Crank up the volume and enjoy.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Should Have Kept My Mouth Shut

It was Gary Player who famously said 'The more I practise, the luckier I get.'

By applying Gary's theory, I have deduced that I can't be practising enough. Though perhaps I have only myself to blame, since I recently taunted the poker gods with my observations on how bad Tribeca players are.

As I observed at the time, pride comes before a fall, and quite a drop it's been.

The frustrating thing is, I've been generally playing well(see below for one aberration), not getting tilty, and making steady gains, only to see them demolished in a succession of mega pots.

The abbreviated highlights for the weekend so far:

- All in pre-flop AA v KK, K on flop (81% favourite)
- All in TT v 77 on a 9 high flop, 7 on river (88% favourite)
- Multiple instances of flopped set v bigger flopped set (what are the odds on us both flopping sets?!)

Or, to express it differently. My losses for the weekend matched the three biggest pots I lost. In two of which I was better than 4/1 to win when the cash went in, and in the third I flopped second set v top set.

Which isn't a bad beat, but is pretty unfortunate. Long term getting it in with a flopped set has to be a winner. Particularly when you note how many people cannot fold overpairs in any situation.

When you have two players in one night apologising for how lucky they got, and seeming to be sincere, it's a sign things aren't going so well.

One of the apologisers was KK guy from the hand above, who proceeded within about an hour to quadruple through in a series of big pots where he hit the flop, and as he pointed out himself 'some people just can't fold'.

One hand I am annoyed with myself over came towards the end of this run, when I raised with AK and got one caller. Flop AKT, and my standard bet was raised all-in for a big overbet.

The obvious worry here is QJ, or perhaps TT, but equally I've seen people make that move this weekend with A3, in the genuine belief they are ahead. I've also seen the same move made with a complete bluff - and anyway, I've still got a slender number of outs if I am behind.

Of course he DOES have QJo, and my outs behave in a statistically correct manner by failing to appear. Sigh. At least he was one of the smaller stacks at the table.

What makes this hand even more frustrating is I'd dodged several treacherous situations previously, including putting down AA to a guy who thought Q8 was gold - as indeed it was when he turned trip 8s.

In no fold em Hold Em, it really is vital to catch cards. It's even more vital to have them hold up when you do. Of course it's all about the long haul, tortoise and hare, etc. but sometime this game can make that long haul feel more than a little tortuous.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Oops!...I Did It Again

No, I didn't marry Kevin Federline, but I may have to rename this blog Poker, Pique, and Extra Parenthood, as Mrs Div is now officially pregnant again.

Baby eta sometime around early June next year. Though if the first one is anything to go by, he/she could easily be here a bit earlier.

Mrs Div and I are delighted as you might imagine, though her delight is presently being tempered by severe morning sickness. The 'morning' bit being something of a misnomer since it actually lasts all day.

The Mrs being pregnant has a range of secondary impacts. Some more beneficial than others.

On the plus side - if pregnancy one is anything to go by - it means I'll have more time at the tables, since the Mrs will be often off early to bed, leaving me at a loose end.

On the negative side, I'd better enjoy the action at the tables, since it's all I'm going to get for quite a while!

My record at knocking up the Mrs is pretty impressive. In PokerTracker terms it would probably go something like:

Games Played:2
Periods Seen:0
Win % at Showdown:100%

With that in mind, Mrs Div jokingly suggested she keep me occupied for the next nine months or so by putting me out to stud - and I don't think she meant the 7-card variety.

I'm not averse to this idea, and I'd be happy to negotiate with any interested parties.

Suffice to say, if you happen to look like...

Golden Skin
Golden Globes
Golden Memories

...negotiations shouldn't be too protracted. Whereas if you are more along the lines of...

Neigh ChanceorIt Lives! to wait til the Euromillions cheque clears before you call me.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Farewell But Not Goodbye

In tribute to the passing of the little big man I was going to kick off tonight with a chunk of Dylan Thomas, 'Rage, rage against the dying of the light', etc..

My instinctive reserve got the better of me, since this is I suspect, more of a farewell than a goodbye.

I haven't met many bloggers in person, but the Blogfather was the first, and a thoroughly fine person he is too. Entertaining company, and selfless in his sheltering of a wildly drunk lost traveller.

One area of conversation we talked through was the best staple game for making a steady living online.

Through the drunken haze, I can vaguely recall enthusing over my good form at the PLO cash tables. Iggy counselled otherwise, suggesting Limit Hold Em was definitely the favoured bread-and-butter game.

As it happens, he was probably correct at the time, but I feel events have overtaken that point of view.

For the last few nights I've been plugging away at the No Limit Hold Em tables on Tribeca. Truly the standard is mind bendingly bad.

Of course I must say I've been fortunate to avoid any heinous bad beats - most of my big pairs holding up - and I've been playing cautiously enough to avoid going broke with TPTK type hands, but really candy and babies spring to mind.

I know, pride comes before a fall, etc. No doubt the poker gods are lining up an extensive array of gutshot draws and runner-runner flushes, even as I type.

The fact remains, a good percentage of the players are truly woeful.

I've only recently got around to reading the whole of Super System II, in which Doyle Brunson opines at one stage that as tables get towards being ten handed things can rock up, and the action dies.

The Doyle's Room punters obviously haven't read the proprietors work! Tribeca tables are nine handed and the action is on the great side of good.

Throw in a little rakeback courtesy of RakeTheRake and it's a thoroughly worthwhile way to spend an hour of two in the evening.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Drought Over

Not quite a monsoon, but three winning sessions in a row is enough to have me back in a positive mood.

I've been knuckling down to some ABC poker in an attempt to restore balance - a mix of NLHE and LHE.

My focus has just been on trying not to go bust in silly situations at No Limit, and to keep firing shells when I think I'm ahead in Limit.

Reading 7 Card Stud For Advanced Players, I was really struck by the number of times the point is made that fancy moves are wasted on weak players. Of course this isn't a Stud only lesson, and it's one I've learned, forgot, and relearned, on a multitude of occasions.

The lament 'I can't play against these guys. I prefer to play better players.' is oft repeated.

The point it misses is that just as a loose/passive calling station doesn't know how to play properly, an aggressive player who tries to push them around - and who may well have much greater knowledge of the game - is playing just as badly when they fail to adapt to the nature of their opponents.

Double As mentioned this too in a recent post. Play straightforward against bad players, and prepare for the occasional suckout.

This may not be the most fun way to play the game, but it's a great way to get out of a rut - particularly when counterbalanced by amping up the number of tables, so that there's always a decision waiting to be made.

I see PokerStars has now introduced a Triple Draw game, which I am looking forward to having a shot at before year end. Perhaps the only goal I set back in January which I am likely to attain is broadening my experience of other poker variants.

This has not been a good year at the tables for me, in terms either of hours logged, or results booked; but I have still managed to enjoy myself by pushing myself to learn new games.

If I can't extend the bankroll, I might as well extend the brainpower. Which in the long term should be indirectly bankroll enhancing.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Fun Times

For some unfathomable reason I'm in a jolly mood tonight.

Maybe it's because the Democrats got the vote (and Jim Leach) out.

Or, it could be Britney Spears got K-Fed out. (She looked damn good on Letterman. Never mind the haircut, has she had a body transplant!?)

Most likely it's St Johnstone getting Rangers (and possibly Paul le Guen) out. Which more than makes up for our shortcomings last night.

Am I alone in getting the urge to stick my pinkie in the side of my mouth, and adopt a corny Eastern European accent whenever I look at this page?

One hundred meeellion pounds, mwahhahhahah.......

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


They call it 'the world's greatest democracy'.

What is the point of living in a democracy if you can't be bothered to vote?

(Particularly in these 'interesting times')

Friday, November 03, 2006

October Summary

"Did you see the game last night?"

"Aye. It was shite!"

- two primary school kids on the train

This post brought to you by a two day hangover, and a depressing sense of familiarity.

I have to say, I've really taken to Gordon Strachan and the changes he has made to the Celtic team. 95% of the time he seems to get things right, or close enough to right as not to matter.

But, when he screws up, he REALLY does it in style!

The obvious answer to a humiliating defeat in a crucial game is to redouble alcohol consumption, with scant regard for work the next day. Which is why even 48 hours later, my body is still somewhat fragile.

Much like my bankroll, as this has been another month of biting, kicking, scratching and clawing to avoid a deficit emerging.

Fortunately a combination of the new improved Interpoker monthly bonus, and an old Stars bonus that I'd never got around to clearing, meant my losses at the table were more than offset by free money from the poker sites, leaving a small profit overall.

Not terribly satisfying, but better than being in the red.

The vast majority of losses were in Limit Hold Em, and were very much of the running bad variety. Raise KK, AJ catches his Ace on the turn; raise AK, get called down by 66; flop a set, opponent rivers a flush, blah, blah, blah.

I also lost some cash messing around at micro limit Pot Limit Omaha. Mostly in absurd situations where you genuinely wonder what the other guy thought he had when the chips went in.

Not playing much at present is very much an enemy when this sort of run is ongoing, since every loss is somehow amplified and resonates around my cranium for days.

When I raise a big pair pre-flop, make a huge overbet on a somewhat co-ordinated board, and an opponent calls off all his stack with an 8-high flush draw, then on two of three occasions raking the chips is routine and barely registers.

A shrug of the shoulders, 'what a terrible call', and tot up the profits.

On the third occasion, when the wrong card hits the board, the after effects cruelly linger much longer. There's indignance - someone so stupid doesn't deserve to win! - frustration - how long can this run continue? - and finally acceptance - I'll get it back later.

Unusually I finally reversed the flow playing some No Limit Hold Em on PokerStars during a weekday afternoon. This is NOT the time, or the site, that most people would pick out as being a good recovery area for someone in the midst of a bad run, but circumstances drove me there.

I'd been off work sick, and having recovered a little and realising I had the Stars bonus to clear, I went looking for a game. The only part of the site that was jumping was No Limit Hold Em - so I fired up four $50 tables, and proceeded to run up a nice profit without ever getting too out of line.

Of course I promptly gave a big chunk back, when I called a raise with 44, flopped a set on a ragged board, played it fast, only to run into an opponent who had flopped top set with his queens.

That was the biggest pot I lost all month, yet one of the least troublesome. If you don't go bust in that situation, you'll be leaving cash on the table in the long term.

I even told the guy 'NH', and meant it, which I took as a sign that the bad run was behind me.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Cute Chick

So this blog is called Poker, Pique, and Parenthood.

For a while there was precious little poker, but I'm catching up on that now. The pique is ever present. But there's not been much mention of parenthood recently.

Halloween seems a good time to redress the balance...

The little one is going great guns at present. I think we've been really lucky in that she seems to be an eternally happy baby. Even the various cold bugs she has come down with over the last few months haven't got her down.

Which is more than can be said for me. People often say that parenthood is an expensive business, but I'd never appreciated the variety of ways it can dent the bank balance.

As a freelancer, time is money, so losing about two weeks of work to ailments picked up from the toddler is a pretty expensive hit.

While I'm languishing in bed, or on the sofa, the little one continues to scoot around the house laughing and giggling, with little regard for her hacking cough or streaming nose.

Which is how I came to be off work today - with yet another bug - and had the joy of seeing her dressed up to go visiting a few friends in her costume.

Cute chick
If there's such a thing as an instant cure for the common cold, this must be it. I was howling - as was the Mrs, and the proud grandparents.

Speaking of whom, I think doting grandad has to take the blame/credit for the toddler being torn between two favourite TV channels - CBeebies (predictable) and UK Racing (huh?).

It seems her affection for 'horsies' has been nurtured by the daytime viewing habits of the babysitting granda.

Though, to be fair, he must also walk her in her buggy for about 20 miles each week - which gives her ample opportunity to see up close the horses in the fields close to our home.

Right now I'm already anticipating the day she announces she wants a pony - though I suppose that would be preferable to her deciding a career in bookmaking is the way forward.

Her favourite books are still of the big bright picture/nursery rhyme varieties, but if I catch her thumbing through Harrington On Hold Em, I'll know we are in trouble.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Not Losing > Losing

But not quite as good as winning.

I've managed to stem the flow of dollars from my online accounts, but haven't yet reversed the process.

A long time ago, when I was learning to program computers, I was taught about 'breaking state'. This isn't a technical process.

Simply put, it means if you are struggling with a problem, don't sit staring at the screen all day. Go for a walk, have a coffee, chat to your workmates about the football, and return to the original problem with a fresh perspective.

It's amazing how often this works.

I broke state over the weekend my escaping Hold Em and playing some micro PLO on Tribeca, then 7-Card Stud on PokerStars.

I had a few nice wins on the PLO, before giving it all back to people who think a back door flush draw is a good hand to get all-in with on the flop. Heh.

7CS is a game I'm trying to learn presently. Once I've got more of a hang of it, I'll have pretty much achieved one of my aims for the year - though I still need to sign up for Ultimate Bet and get some Triple Draw hands in.

I don't know enough about 7CS yet to actually get overly worked up about the beats or the play. In that respect, it's a good game for evading tilt, since when I lose a hand I'm not yet sure if the opponent played it badly/correctly, or whether I should have laid it down earlier.

For now, I'm sticking to playing ultra tight on 3rd, and bashing the bet/raise buttons for as long as I seem to be ahead.

It's still quite easy to spot the truly awful players. The ones who never fold after 4th street; who can't put down any pair on 3rd, no matter the action. Coincidentally this weeks Full Tilt Pro Tip from Perry Friedman refers to this very weakness.

I think one aspect of my game that has really improved through playing a variety of different poker games is my observational skills.

When using Poker Tracker I'm often finding that I've added a note against a player before they've logged enough hands to get rated by the computer. When the stats and icon finally appear, my hit rate for the initial observation matching the stats is very good.

Which is a nice feeling, and at least gives me some hope that the bankroll plateau I seem to be trapped upon this year can be put behind me and the up slope resumed at some point.

Monday, October 23, 2006

I Can Dodge Bullets, Baby

I'm taking a break for a couple of days after yet another evening of frustration on Sunday.

If you are running bad, you are running bad. Not much that can be said about it really.

Hopefully I'll make time for a couple of visits to the gym and be back fresh and ready for the weekend.

In the meantime, I simply must pimp another Tribeca skin which is offering a 105% sign-up bonus to a maximum of $1000 deposit.

Celtic Poker Room is the online poker site for Celtic Football Club.

Even if you don't intend signing up, I'd recommend clicking on the link just to see the advert on the front page featuring Celtic LEGEND Billy McNeill. It's not to everyone's taste, but I thought it was funny.

You never know, some of his money could soon be yours.

Finally, hand histories on this blog are like buses. You wait ages for one, then along come two in quick succession.

PokerStars 1/2 Hold'em (9 handed) Hand History Converter Tool from (Format: HTML)

Preflop: Hero is UTG+1 with Qc, Qs.

1 fold, Hero raises, (Got Too Clever) calls, 5 folds, (Fairly Solid) calls.

Flop: (6.50 SB) 9h, Td, 6c (3 players)

Fairly Solid checks, Hero bets, Got Too Clever raises, Fairly Solid calls, Hero calls.

Turn: (6.25 BB) 9c (3 players)

Fairly Solid checks, Hero checks, Got Too Clever bets, Fairly Solid raises, Hero folds, Got Too Clever 3-bets, Fairly Solid calls.

River: (12.25 BB) 8h (2 players)

Fairly Solid bets, Got Too Clever calls.

Final Pot: 14.25 BB

Pretty typical of my luck recently - running QQ into AA - but it shows the perils of trying to get too smart in this game. I also take solace from the fact I got away from it about as cheaply as possible.

If Got Too Clever had 3-bet me pre-flop I doubt the BB would have called, and I'd probably have paid him off on that board.

Instead he lets the reasonably decent BB in for 11/2 odds and puts himself in trouble on a nasty flop.

Of course it's the nature of online poker that we never know precisely what would have happened, since the Random Number Generator threw down a different flop to that which a 3-bet would have elicited.

That's the beauty of the game, and that's why I'll be back at the weekend.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Raging Against The Machine

I am growing heartily sick of donating money this week to people who should not be trusted with crayons, let alone computers and internet access.

Yet another night of cold decking, out drawing, and general idiocy.

My mood, of course, not helped by having AA cracked by 82o, amidst other atrocities.

Rather than donating 50 pence to the bad beat jar, please allow me to proffer payment in kind, with my favourite hand history from this, or perhaps any, week.

Having stayed up til 5am this morning - the perils of living in a GMT time zone - I was pretty tired tonight, so stuck to donking around the 1/2 game, where I witnessed the following gem.

PokerStars 1/2 Hold'em (9 handed) Hand History Converter Tool from (Format: HTML)

Preflop: Hero is Button with 5d, 8s.

1 fold, UTG+1 (Lucky Escapee) calls, (Utter Moron) calls, 1 fold, MP3 calls, 2 folds, SB completes, BB checks.

Flop: (5 SB) Td, Jd, Qs (5 players)

SB checks, BB checks, Lucky Escapee checks, Utter Moron bets, MP3 raises, SB folds, BB folds, Lucky Escapee calls, Utter Moron calls.

Turn: (5.50 BB) Qd (3 players)

Lucky Escapee checks, Utter Moron bets, MP3 folds, Lucky Escapee calls.

River: (7.50 BB) 3s (2 players)

Lucky Escapee checks, Utter Moron checks.

Final Pot: 7.50 BB

Lucky Escapee has 7d Ad (flush, ace high).

Utter Moron has 9d Kd (straight flush, king high).

Outcome: Utter Moron wins 7.50 BB.

I can see why, having made the nut flush, lucky escapee was a trifle cautious with the paired board. Though given the lack of pre-flop action I'm betting that turn every time.

There is no excuse for Utter Moron though. First he limps K7s from UTG+2 (dodgy), then having hit a nice flop and chased his straight and flush draws, he turns the absolute mortal nuts, extracts one bet on the turn, and checks behind on the river when last to act.

wtf!? Maybe he was slow playing and planning to bet sixth street.

This is the standard of play I've been alluding to in my last few posts. It is that horrible.

Even more surprisingly, having spotted it straight away I rushed to enable chat, expecting a torrent of comments and questions. Not a word was said.

Which suggests to me not many people were paying enough attention to actually notice.

Mind boggling.

More Limit Madness

Another crazy session on PokerStars last night. I spent a while 4-tabling at $2/4 and initially I again got beaten up in a variety of cruel and imaginative ways.

Flop a set, opponent runner-runners a gutshot straight - after calling a pre-flop raise and a flop bet with K5o. Turn the nut straight, and cap it whilst doing the 'don't pair the board' chant, only for the table maniac to river quads, etc...

This is one of those situations where the psychology is way more interesting than the actual cards.

Is the glass half full, because there are people queueing up to put three or four bets in pre-flop as big underdogs? Or is it half empty because some of the money they are putting in was previously mine?

The standard is absolutely horrible, but when the fish are schooling sometimes the net can't take the strain.

After dropping a couple of hundred across the tables, I took a time out, had a drink, and got back in action.

At which point the tide turned, and I recovered to a palatable $40 loss for the evening.

Using Poker Tracker it's reassuring to see that my stats tend not to deviate, even on these testing occasions where nothing goes right.

One leak that is apparent is I'm going a bit too far with AK when I miss.

The problem being that while some people will call a raise with 55, and then simply check-call to showdown (meaning I was never ahead), others will call with baby connectors, or any two suited, and call to the river hoping to hit a backdoor draw (meaning I was never behind).

I need to work a bit more on discriminating between the two - which is why my note taking last night was prolific.

A few examples...

Doesn't reraise KK pre flop on button.
Cold calls a raise with J5s.

Calls down to hit idiot end of str8 on a flush board.

Reraises AQo pre flop out of position, but doesn't bet when misses flop and turn.
Limp calls with 44 from EP, and can't put them down even to an ace on the turn.

4 bets pre flop with A2s

Calls down from flop with AA when check raised. Calls a pre flop raise and calls down all the way with A8s. Cannot fold any sort of draw.
Does an unbelievable amount of cold calling.

This last guy was my favourite. He would pay two bets to see the flop with 50%+ of his starting hands. Unfortunately he was sat directly to my left and couldn't miss against me, though he couldn't hold onto it for long either.

I'm hoping to see him again tonight!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Money Well Spent

There's more to life than poker you know! The Champions League doesn't half bring Celtic Park to life.

Sitting there last night, I wasn't feeling too good yet again, but suddenly my ills were forgotten and I was leaping around like a mad man.

For a less subtle coverage, try this. Peter Martin brings tears of laughter to my eye every time.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

The Poker Boom Is Dead, Long Live The Poker Boom

Oh boy. What a night! I feel sick. Violated.

Yes, I've just been 4-tabling the 2/4 LHE on Party Poker PokerStars, and I'm down $120 in the space of an hour. A sum less than that I lost on the river in a mere two pots.

Unbelievable. The lunatics truly have taken over the asylum. My mind is boggling at some of the plays. If someone had a mod to make Stars look green and cartoony, you wouldn't be able to tell the difference.

Unless you noticed it was 9-handed, not 10-handed, and I can assure you most of the players tonight were not that observant.

On the plus side, I've never cleared FPPs so quickly!

The games really were about as good as it gets, but having got four bets in pre-flop on several occasions in quick succession, only to be ambushed on the river by, ahem, speculative starting hands, I could feel the tilt monster straining at the shackles, and decided to take it on the chin and get out before I did more damage.

For a long time I've detected a certain elitist attitude towards Stars amongst some players. A feeling that playing there somehow makes you superior to a Party Poker acolyte.

Well, the elitists better drop that attitude damn quick, because tonight it was like trying to bluff a monkey off a banana mountain.

These are interesting times, and I expect anyone who has got into a groove playing on Stars is in for a rude awakening! Some adaptation and rereading of Ed Miller may be in order.

At least I have the benefit of playing a range of sites and styles, so I could see what was happening. Even if tonight I was on the wrong side of a few river cards.

Hopefully over the coming months, I'll be able to prove my theory that it pays to be adaptable.

At the very least, I should manage to raise enough FPPs to make a visit to the Stars shop worthwhile.

Good News America

Your government may not be dealing from a full deck of cards, but you do not have a monopoly on idiocy, donkitude, retardedness....whatever.

Yes, I've been back on the Party Poker tables for the first time in a while, and though they may be less crowded than previously, the standard is no better than I recall.

There's enough cold calling of two and three bets pre-flop to make Ed Miller weep.

“Your opponent cannot fold if you do not bet or raise.” – Abdul Jalib

“Your opponent cannot fold.” – Div

It might seem strange - perverse even - to return to Party on the weekend when their greatest source of fish was cut off, but three words should explain it all - Bad Beat Jackpot.

I've been hammering away for the last three hours or so, during which time it broke through the $700,000 barrier and is now approaching $735,000.

If there was any justice in the world, I'd have finished healthily in the black, but I had to settle for a mighty $19 profit from a mix of $1/2, $2/4, and $3/6 tables.

Not having played on Party for quite a while, I definitely cost myself a few dollars with some plays that are more effective against tighter opponents. A lesson which I am forever learning, forgetting, and relearning.

When third pair medium kicker is assumed to be good against a pre-flop raiser, and second pair bottom kicker is assumed to be good in an unraised multiway pot, there really is no hope of pushing people off a hand.

That seems to make AK, AQ, more tricky to play, since people will habitually call two or three bets cold with 88, then happily call down with several overcards on the board.

Of course it also means AA, KK, etc. tend to get handsomely paid off - or cruelly cracked in huge pots - which makes it all worthwhile. Eventually. After variance. I think!

Time for bed now, but if the jackpot is still climbing in the morning, I'll be back at the tables then.

Thursday, October 12, 2006


I imagine over the past few days the Party Gaming executives must have experienced similar emotions to mine tonight, as I watched a couple of the most appalling calling stations ever to venture onto the Internet bleed off their entire stacks to the vultures at my table.

Pausing only momentarily to hit their ludicrous draws on the river against me. Sigh.

Fortunately they were stupid enough that after check-calling the whole way, they didn't bet out on the end when they hit. Which saved me a few pennies.

I've been on a nice run this week too. Damn you variance!

On a more serious note, I bet the guy who invented Party Casino, integrated blackjack, and betting on the flop colour isn't feeling too clever tonight.

It seems the 'pure play' poker rooms feel less threatened by the new law than the mixed casino-poker sites.

The lawyers will be back to the luck v skill debate in the courts at some point I imagine.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Dontcha Wish..

..your government was liberal like mine. (Liberal being a relative term!)

Labour bids to put UK at heart of online gambling

I touched on this subject previously. The current Labour government clearly sees online gaming as a source of future tax revenues - which should make for some interesting cross-Atlantic chats.

Would Britain actually consider complaining to the WTO in a similar manner to Antigua?

Like The Senate I too have been wielding the axe, and chopped out a few blogroll entries where the blog has either disappeared, not been updated for a long time, or been hijacked by a spam site.

I was particularly sad to see Poker Nerd disappear. My reasonably decent SNG record is primarily down to his and Andy Ward's teachings.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

One For The Record Books

Well, what a weekend that was!

A few days ago I mentioned I was planning on investing last month's Interpoker bonus in a £50 deepstack at the Glasgow Stanley casino.

Thus Saturday evening found myself and Teacake arriving at Glasgow Central as the Scotland v France game entered it's final moments. Neither of us was aware of the score, though we knew Scotland had been hanging on for a draw against one of the best teams in the world.

There was a definite buzz in the air as we made our way up Hope Street, which made us think we might still be holding out against Thierry Henry and co. The pubs were bursting at the seams, with all eyes still intently focused on the little green squares arrayed around the walls.

By the time we hit Sauchiehall Street - home to the Stanley Casino, and one of Glasgow's premier nightlife centres - we realised they had actually won. Kilted men were singing in the streets, ginger wigs abounded, and hordes of drunken revellers were spilling onto the roads.

'We will never get a taxi tonight', I observed. It was chaos.

I have to say I'm quietly pleased and impressed with the result. I like Scotland to win, and I don't like them to lose - particularly not in the humiliating manner of the Bertie Vogts era.

Yet the fate of the team doesn't grab me in the same way Celtic performances do. Partly it's down to the fact that as a Celtic fan, big European nights are relatively common.

If you are used to seeing Barcelona, AC Milan, Bayern Munich, Manchester Utd up close, the thought of Scotland v Moldova is not likely to grab you.

Added to that, is the long standing antipathy between Celtic as an institution, their players and fans, and the SFA - ultimate arbiters of the Scottish game and guardians of the national team.

As the anti-establishment club, in years gone by many talented players did not receive the recognition they deserved, due to an institutional bias against selecting Celtic players.

There was also the infamous Jorge Cadete incident, when the Chief Executive of the SFA was proved to have wilfully hindered the registration of a new Celtic player - thus preventing him playing in several crucial games, including a cup tie against Rangers.

This, along with other incidents, has led to a lack of fervour for the national team amongst some Celtic fans - myself included.

Ironic then that the most famous Scotland victory in a long time was courtesy of a recent Celtic signing. Gary Caldwell has his place in history.

Let's hope he makes more history in the Champions League over the next couple of months!

The Scotland victory seemed to have somewhat diminished the turnout for the tourney.

27 entrants paid £50 each for 10,000 starting chips, and a slow blind structure. Proper poker in my book!

The plan was to pay first four places, with the casino throwing in a dinner for two in their restaurant as a saver for fifth place. The juice for this event? A measly £2 - or 4%.

I'd imagine many non-UK readers will be faintly incredulous at that, but I believe the UK Gaming Board regulations restrict the maximum juice to 10%. Mega value considering the structure - even if it was self deal until the final table.

Despite the starting stacks and slow blinds, I managed to lose over half my chips in the first two levels - with big hands losing twice.

In level one(25/50) it's folded around to the button, who open limps. Hmmm. The very aggressive small blind (Bingo Bob as he is known to some) completes, and I look down at AK and decide to make it 200. Call, call.

The flop has an ace, but two jacks and a flush draw. I decide to take it down there and then with a good size bet and was somewhat shocked when my 400 is insta-raised by the button for a massive over bet of 4000 more.

Time for the first lengthy dwell of the night. Much as I took my time over it, given the starting stacks, this is an easy fold. Better spots to come I told myself.

Sure I could have been ahead of smaller aces, a flush draw, or even a total bluff, but I could just as easily have been behind to a JT type hand, or maybe even a slow played AA if he assumed I wasn't able to lay down an ace or a jack.

Better spot number one arrived soon after at level two(50/100) when I made it 400 UTG with AA. Yes I was picking up some nice hands.

The pre-flop action was hardly ideal as I got about three or four callers. One thing about live poker in Glasgow I am rapidly learning, people like to see flops!

The flop was a less than stellar KTx, again with a flush draw. I had a bad feeling about this already, but check-folding is weaker than the Foley defence so I bet about 2/3 the pot.

Folded around to the button who makes a just above minimum raise. Ugh. Dwell number two!

The hand range here was fairly wide. I figured there was a good chance he'd flopped two pair or possibly middle or bottom set, but equally with straight and flush draws onboard it could easily be a semi-bluff. He could even have called with AK and be putting me on QQ or JJ.

Calling was terrible, since I'd be open to another bet on the turn whatever card hit, and a big reraise to chase out any draws would mean putting all my chips on the line at level two. Not a happy thought.

So, I went for a min re-raise which didn't totally commit me, and meant I could get away if he pushed - which I thought he would do with two pair or the set. The thought also occurred that I was showing a LOT of strength here, and he'd have to consider I could have KK or TT(if he didn't).

He called and the turn was an equally scary Q. Check-check.

The river a T. Check-check.

He showed KT for the flopped two pair and rivered FH. The button was actually the event organiser and we chatted about the hand later. Sure enough the last raise on the flop had planted the KK seed in his mind, hence no value bet on the river.

So I was now short stack, but still had 45BB. Hooray for deep stacks!

After that I went totally card dead, which at least kept me out of trouble. Then within the space of a few hands it all changed.

First the aggressive Bingo Bob button raised on my SB. I looked down at a A6s, and - putting him on a steal - restole by pushing all-in for about four times his raise.

The BB (Canuck from the Blonde Poker forum) folded and, judging by the time Bob took to fold, I think my read was wrong. Pretty sure I escaped from a medium ace there - A8, A9 maybe?

Soon after the villain from the AK hand open raised from mid-position and on the button I found TT. He'd proven to be pretty aggressive when it was folded around to him, so I was pretty confident of being ahead here but TT is vulnerable, and I expected he'd bet any flop if I called, so a push was in order.

He didn't take long to call and I was genuinely astonished to see him flip JTo. Wow.

The tens were good and I was back in action!

After that it's a bit of a blur - I'd had a few beers and a JD and coke or two - but really I just played solid, picked my spots for a couple of steals/resteals and stayed in the pack as players fell.

I got moved to another table - which was the first time all night I hadn't had the experienced Canuck directly to my left - and within about three hands a few more players fell and I'd made the final table.

We redrew for seats, and who was to my left? Canuck! Also on the final table, Teacake, Bob, and the massive chip leader who had been catching some awesome cards.

A few players fell fairly quickly and the action slowed with six players left. This was the only point where it got a little crap-shooty since there were two huge stacks and four stacks all with about 10-12BB left.

At this point I found a couple of decent hands, but in bad positions. UTG both times.

I open-pushed JJ and got called by the by-now ultra short stack with A6s. He missed his ace but caught a flush to set me back.

I then tried to open-push 99, again from UTG but the dealer called me for a string bet! Hmm, fair enough, as I hadn't announced all-in before pushing my chips across in two distinct movements - but a warning before a penalty wouldn't have been unreasonable I thought.

This left me with about 12,000 in the middle and about 2,000 left behind, so when the chip leader called and bet out to set me all-in on a KQJ flop, I figured I was drawing to a straight or a set but I was hardly going to fold!

Astonished moment number two of the night, as he turned over A5 and missed his ace and straight draw to put me right back in contention!

Pretty soon the bubble broke as Canuck outdrew the sole remaining lady with 88 v TT - the stack sizes dictated the hand played itself - and suddenly we were four handed and in the money. Woot. My first ever live cash.

Soon thereafter Teacake raised UTG and I found AQo in the SB. More than good enough four handed and I figured my push was pretty much an insta-call since he had slightly more chips than me but would be really short if he folded. I was hoping to see a smaller ace, or at worst an underpair.

As he was thinking it over, the waitress was heading for the bar and I shouted on her to get me another JD and coke. It was entirely spontaneous, but the railbirds thought it hilarious. 'Planning on staying are you?', 'Is that a tell?', etc.

Actually I was planning on drinking it wherever. Hopefully at the table, but maybe in the lounge.

Ultimately Teacake decided he was committed, and called showing ATs. No flush or ten and a few hands later we were down to three. Canuck and myself, about equal in chips, plus the still mega chip leader.

We passed the blinds for a while, before talk turned to a deal. From memory, first was on for about £675, £340 for second, and third about £200.

Eventually the chip leader offered to give up enough cash to make third up to second, allowing myself and Canuck to chop second place - which I thought was a great deal for us - and we shook hands, before a spanner was thrown in the works as he wanted the trophy, and Canuck wanted to play on for it.

So, no deal. We played on for another half hour with no dramatic fluctuations, and around 3am eventually settled on the original deal with the chip leader taking the trophy.

It's hardly the WSOP but I am absolutely delighted with my first live cash.

One of my objectives for the year was to play live more, but I've hardly played a game. So to cash in only the second or third event I've played all year, and perhaps the sixth I've ever played, was very heartening.

Winning online is nice, but there's a special rush that comes from seeing the cashier count out a bundle of £20 notes before your very eyes. Evidence of which, I couldn't resist photographing for posterity.

Ship it baby!

The only thing I was slightly disappointed in was I didn't get to play as many flops as I'd have liked. My few early forays left me too short stacked to play over loosely, so for a while stealing was all I could do, and by the time I started to see cards again the blinds and action dictated a lot of pre-flop pushing.

Overall it was a cracking night. Credit to The Stanley and event organiser Office Poker.

The icing on the cake was myself and Teacake headed to the bar for an hour or so to relax, whilst Canuck headed downstairs to get a taxi home. As we departed, his taxi was only just arriving, so we hopped in and headed off home with no delay, since he was going in the same general direction as us.

Dodging as we did, the human flotsam and jetsam that was strewn across Sauchiehall Street at 4am. The party was still in full swing with barely coherent guys and scantily clad, blind drunk girls careering in all directions.

I can safely forecast that Gary Caldwell wasn't the only Scotsman to score last night!

Monday, October 02, 2006

September Summary

These summaries are starting to get a bit repetitive but it's good discipline to keep bashing them out.

I started the month badly with a bit of a pounding at the PokerStars SNG tables. Annoyingly I thought I was playing OK, but I just couldn't get a hand to stand up.

I then went on a two week break, due to a combination of work, illness, and other matters which conspired to keep me busy.

Not all matters were entirely unpleasant. The football has been progressing nicely to keep me happy, and of course, I now have a very active 15-month old daughter to keep an eye on.

Toddlers are damn hard work, but worth every second of it. The look on her face when I get home from work is enough to banish any miserable thoughts that are clouding my head.

My interest in poker remains high, and even though I didn't play for a while, I'd still find myself walking down the road to work, whilst replaying hands in my head from weeks previously.

Some people might see this as a step along the path to obsessive compulsion, but I still love thinking about strategy and odds - I just wish I had more time to put it all into practise.

Speaking of which, I'm hoping to play a £50($90) live deep-stack freezeout next weekend at the Stanley Casino in Glasgow.

Tourneys aren't really my game, but I still enjoy playing live. I figured it would be less -EV if I'd actually raised the cash in advance, so I got my shoulder to the wheel at InterPoker and battered through the monthly $100 bonus there.

They have recently loosened the terms to make it easier to earn the bonus - though it is skewed towards limit players.

Any raked hand at a $1/2 or above table now counts. The odd thing being a $1/2 LHE table is ranked the same as (for example) a $1/2 PLO table - where the game is actually at least four times bigger.

Playing a smaller stakes PLO or NLHE game wouldn't earn any bonus at all.

InterPoker is a Crypto site, and it can be a strange place to play. Sometimes it is very Scandie heavy, and the games are certainly less 'good' than on Party or Tribeca, but that doesn't mean they are unbeatable.

Indeed sometime it can actually feel easier to play against a bunch of very tight players, with varying aggression levels - even if it is disconcerting to occasionally get AA cracked by some hyperactive Norwegian who caps with 55 pre-flop.

The flip side of that coin is a few tweaks can earn their reward quickly. Such as calling a raise with AA in-position and letting the pre-flop raiser bet into you until you raise the turn, and extract a couple of extra bets from him.

Adapting to the circumstances of the game is infinitely more productive than moaning about bad beats - and thus it was that my Stars losses became a profit, and the buy-in for Saturday was secured.

Come On In, The Legislation's Fine

The population in Scotland has been declining in recent years. As a consequence, the Scottish Executive has been attempting to both reduce emigration, and increase immigration to turn the tide.

Mostly they've been trying to persuade expats to return home, and Eastern Europeans to move in.

Today I'd like to do my bit for their campaign, with a few key facts about Scotland - Glasgow in particular - which may be pertinent to my small but faithful readership.


Yes, win as much as you can, and keep it all for yourself. No IRS returns for me.


Well, mostly. Online certainly is, and the casinos certainly are. The dedicated poker rooms are more of a grey area, but there's plenty options to choose from - at least seven in Glasgow at the last count, and more casinos are on the way.


Gordon Brown - prudent Scot that he is - long ago recognised the value of the online gaming industry. That's why he cut a deal with the bookmakers to persuade them to stay onshore. That's why the treasury is happy to see the likes of Party Gaming listed on the London Stock Exchange, and is actively trying to persuade them to move their HQs onshore too.

Senator Frist (or is it Fist) clearly didn't read this.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Not Dead, but Resting

Still here!

Nary a hand of poker to report unfortunately, as work and the real world continue to hinder my efforts at the table.

Whilst numerous degenerates were congregating near Philly, my better half was winging her way to New York with her sister for a long weekend. I figured it was safe to let them go, since I knew The Rooster was elsewhere.

That meant I was left holding the baby over the weekend, though I did make time to savour another victory over The Forces Of Darkness.

Throw in a Champions League victory last night over the Scandinavian Dunfermline, and the football is looking pretty good right now.

Hopefully I shall return with proper content soon.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Never Bad Beat Bond!

'The treasury has agreed to stake you in the game.'

Now THAT is a bankroll.

Monday, September 11, 2006

The Bitter Legacy Of 9/11

Mean Gene wrote a moving and powerful piece reflecting his thoughts on 9/11 and events since.

I'm reluctant to write too much on what I think of the Bush administration, since I figure that US governments should be chosen by US citizens.

However, another interesting item caught my eye in news today. It seems the Palestinians are now bowing to international pressure and are likely to agree a 'unity government' to replace the democratically elected Hamas government which has been attacked by the Israelis and embargoed by the west since it came to power.

Now, I don't happen to have any time at all for Hamas policies, but it seems to me to be a very destabilising message to send out to the entire Middle East.

"We are fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan to bring freedom and democracy to your region. Unless, that is, you choose to elect a government we don't like, in which case you are screwed."

Hmmm, not likely to win many friends, is it?

The Independent newspaper ran a very interesting front page story today entitled The Bitter Legacy Of 9/11.

It's 'just' a collection of statistics. Also known as facts. Which are often in short supply when it comes to 'The War on Terror'.

You can click through to the full story, but a few snippets caught my eye...

2,973 Total number of people killed (excluding the 19 hijackers) in the September 11, 2001 attacks

72,000 Estimated number of civilians killed worldwide since September 11, 2001 as a result of the war on terror

2 Number of years since US intelligence had any credible lead to Osama bin Laden's whereabouts

2,932 Total number of US servicemen and women killed in Afghanistan and Iraq since September 2001

117 Number of UK service personnel killed in Iraq since invasion

40 Number of UK personnel killed in Afghanistan since invasion

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Actual Poker Content

Praise be to Mansion for their free money! If it wasn't for that, this could have been one depressing weekend.

Poker can be a game of fiercely conflicting emotions, and the biggest emotional responses tend to come not from victory, but defeat.

When I'm on a good run, cashing in four or five SNG in succession, scarcely a word will pass my lips. It feels almost routine.

In fact, it probably should be. At the levels I play, it's not egotistical to claim to be better than 90% of the players. It's fact.

An amoeba on acid could play better than some of these guys.

So, when the wheels come off, and bad beat after bad beat rains down upon my head, I'm more than disappointed. I'm indignant, affronted, outraged, by the sheer injustice of it.

Which is silly, since this is poker, and these things happen. But I'm only human.

There's been a whirlwind of indignation this weekend. In the last eight games I played, I've managed two third place cashes, three bubble finishes, and three early exists.

I'll skip the bad beat specifics but suffice to say, in every bubble case I was ahead when the chips went in. From at worst a very marginal 51/49 - but my chips went in first - to a sickening 80/20 - and it wasn't pair-over-pair pre-flop, but a bizarre flop move from an aggression monkey.

Of course on the last one in particular, had the cards been face up as we played, I'd have been happy with a call that would usually have propelled me into a commanding chip lead.

Yet once the chips are in, turn and river dealt, and the beat laid down, all I can say is 'wtf were you thinking playing like that?' It's the way of things to be happy when the odds hold up, and outraged when variance let me down.

Aside from bad beats, I had a new experience in one of the early exits, when I found myself all-in pre-flop with QQ versus KK and QQ. Not many outs there!

Now, against a raise and reraise pre-flop, I'm perfectly aware that it should be possible to get away from QQ.

Against a collection of really tight, solid players, I'm sure that's a move I can make.

However, against a motley collection of Saturday night PokerStars players, I don't think QQ can be put down.

As justification for this stance, I offer a hand I observed during the same session on a different table. The actors - two short, but not desperately short stacks, and one above average stack. Short Stack 1 open pushes, Short Stack 2 calls all-in, and Above Average calls off sixty percent of his stack from the button, with the blinds yet to act.

Cards on their backs and Short Stack 1 has AQs (fair enough), Short Stack 2 has QQ (can't argue with that), and Above Average has KJo (wtf?).

I'll say that again. King. Jack. Offsuit. What DID he think he was beating? How could he possibly conclude he was ahead?

Actually, that's a stupid question. He likely saw paint times two and thought 'The nuts!'

Against players like that, QQ cannot be put down in my humble opinion.

I had planned an epic session for last night, but I could feel my self control failing under the bad beat barrage, so I made what I consider my most productive move of the night by logging out, and having an early night.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Forgetful Is Fun

Totally forgot about the big Mansion Steelers bet.

Came home from work today to a very pleasant email...

Thank you for taking part in our NFL Promotion.

As a result of your wager on The Steelers being successful, MANSION is pleased to advise you that this bet has now been settled, the full details of which can be found in the transaction history of your MANSION Member account.

Bankroll +$1000

I love The Steelers. My last two hefty sport bets have both been on them, and they've both come in.

God bless Pittsburgh!

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Coping or Conscripting?

The BBC has managed to get a hold of some unauthorised footage from the fighting in Afghanistan.

The reason the footage is unauthorised is that the MOD has banned reporters from the front line. Presumably because of reports like this. When a Parachute Regiment NCO offers a female reporter a gun to help fight off the enemy, you know things ain't going as well as hoped.

If Tony Blair is wondering why his ungrateful party is so keen to get rid of him, he might want to give these reports some consideration.

At the time of the troop deployment, then Defence Secretary John Reid said he hoped the troops wouldn't have to fire a single shot in anger. So far they've fired 300,000 rounds and are 'just' coping according to the Army Chief of Staff.

My cousin has already done two tours in Iraq - one in the invasion spearhead of Gulf War II, another security tour coming later. His regiment is earmarked for Afghanistan next year.

Manpower levels are down. Hardly surprising when the old 'join the army and see the world' slogan has been replaced by 'join the army and get sent out to patrol in under-armoured vehicles, with sporadic air support, no reinforcements, and no rest between tours, while politicians back home tell the folks everything is fine'.

Staying away from the rights and wrongs of Blair's foreign adventures, it's surely undeniable that the least the government can do is give the guys in the firing line the right backup. Undeniable that is, except to the government whose daily statements test the bounds of our credulity.

With unemployment creeping up, the usual youth crime worries, and no sign of abatement in the fighting, I wonder how long it will be before the 'C' word gets mentioned again.

Blair doesn't want to quit early since he is still hoping for a legacy of peace and stability in Afghanistan and Iraq. It's not going to happen.

He might be better advised to quit early, before it gets worse, and console himself with the fact that he will be leaving his enemy, and likely successor, Gordon Brown with the ultimate poison pill to deal with.

If I were Brown, I might be tempted to give the whole thing a bodyswerve, and really stick it to Blair by simultaneously announcing my retirement from politics to spend time with my young family.

Thus retiring with an untarnished image as 'The Iron Chancellor', a caring family guy spin, and a lucrative set of directorships and speaking tours lined up.

Yet I doubt his ego could bear it.