Tuesday, January 31, 2006


Just had to post before bedtime.

I've just broken a punishing stint of six losing sessions by posting a profit tonight of, wait for it, ONE dollar.

Seriously, it feels good. I was down all night, until the last orbit when I actually stole a small pot to put me in 'profit'.

Back in October, I won twelve nights in a row without breaking sweat.

The last couple of evenings I've been Homer Simpson with tourette's syndrome. Random exclamations, outbursts, and rants to the monitor. As well as more visits to the fridge than usual.

I was beginning to think I'd never win another pot, and it was starting to REALLY hurt.

Maybe I got some good karma from railbirding Scottish Dave, as he turned $3 in a Stars rebuy satellite into a ticket to the Sunday night $750k guaranteed.

Nice one Dave. I hope you signed up through my link!

One guy on his starting table had 40 rebuys. Dave had none. You couldn't make it up.

God bless online poker.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Bah, Humbug

Yesterday's post was brought to you by the Dept. of Speaking Too Soon.

No sooner had I posted, than I was wading into a multitabling extravaganza of tomfoolery and bad cards that ultimately tipped me headlong into tiltdom.

The most frustrating thing is that the alarm bells were already ringing before the worst hands occurred.

I genuinely thought to myself, 'I should just log out and go to bed, I'm starting to get quite tilty', only for the 'I'll just give it ten more minutes' impulse to prevail.

Ten minutes later, the spreadsheet was firmly in the red.

As is often my problem, I got bored after a very long run of bad cards, and tried to push a few players around.

I thought that not having played a hand for 45 minutes might have established some sort of tight table image, but it wasn't enough to get someone to put down bottom set on a straightening board.

Sure he took his full time allocation on both turn and river to call, but call he did, and top two pair was no good.

The instigator of most of my angst was one of the more innocuous players at the table. Seated directly to my left he was as loose-passive as you could get - a calling station to rival Vodafone.

Which SHOULD be just perfect. Make your hand, bet into him, and get called down by second best hand, or bad draws.

Except, of course, he just could not lose against me. He lasted almost all night purely at the expense of my bankroll.

The inevitable pattern was, he'd lose a chunk of his stack, we'd get into a hand, he'd call me down with a dodgy straight or flush draw, and hit on the river.

How can I be so sure he was hitting? Because, when the scare card came, I'd check, and he'd min bet it - that is, when he still had chips left. Every time. A min bet.

Given the pot sizes, even though I KNEW I was beat, that's got to be a call. And every time, I was right, he had hit.

One orbit later, he'd be back to where he started, having bled the chips off elsewhere.

When this happens once, it's unfortunate. Twice, is galling. The third time and beyond, I REALLY start to get annoyed. Which is where we came in.

Still, I'm trying to be philosophical. I lost some money, but hopefully I learned a few things about myself.

I'm beginning to think I should timebox my sessions, since my tolerance declines rapidly over time, and definitely impacts how I play.

In the grander scheme of things, losing a few dollars is hardly the end of the world. There are people in much worse situations than me.

Take, for example, my cousin. He's over in Iraq on his 2nd tour of the present conflict.

On his first tour, my aunt had to go to a local outdoor shop and buy a pair of desert boots to post to him, since the army had run out of his size and he was running around the desert in boots made for European fields and rain, not Iraqi sand and sun.

On his current tour, the guys have been freezing at night when out on foot patrol.

So my mum went to a local shop, bought a whole bundle of mini hot water bottles, and shipped them out to Iraq. Now his patrol fill them with hot water before they go out, and shove them inside their flak jackets to keep warm.

Did you know the UK Ministry of Defence has more civil servants than the army has soldiers? Yet they still can't procure the proper kit - desert boots, uniforms suitable for the conditions, or even guns that fire properly. What a joke!

My cousin sent me an email at New Year where he mentioned that 'Has been quite quiet here for a while, haven't been attacked for about a week.'

In the face of that lifestyle, and all the other problems they have to face, I can hardly sulk around all day fretting over a few dollars frittered away on the tables.

But it won't stop me thinking about how I can do better next time.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

If The Cat Was Around, He Could Have Been In Trouble

The road to poker success is strewn with a thousand fender benders.

This week has not been a success financially. I've had more wrecks than Mark Thatcher. Yet I actually feel I am playing really well.

After my aberrations at Big Laz's, I really knuckled down to online play.

This has involved some modifications to my Omaha cash game. I had a think about how I was playing, and decided I was being too gung ho on the flop.

Cash games demand a certain willingness to get all your money in when you may not even be favourite to win the hand, but will make a long term profit. For example if you are 40% to win a hand, and there's a 3-way all-in, that's a big long term winner.

However I felt I was giving up some of the edge I'm sure I have over a fair percentage of the players in the games I am playing.

Too often all the cash was going in on the flop and then it was a matter of trusting in the even fall of the cards to produce a successful outcome.

Now, I am trying to slow things down on the flop, see an extra card, then make a decision on how best to proceed.

I've been trying to keep the pots smaller on the flop, leaving more ammunition to fire on the turn. It's amazing how many people still can't get away from a bare flush draw with one card to come.

This strategy should, I hope, lead to lower variance, and a better return when the marginal hands lose their value.

For example, let's say I see a free flop from the big blind with

and along comes

Boy is that simultaneously tempting and scary! Top set (the nuts!) but so many ways to lose the hand. I could actually be a dog to someone with a wraparound draw and diamond flush draw.

Previously I'd be betting and raising here. Quite often getting all the chips in the middle.

Now if the field is big, I'll check-call and see what the turn brings.

If the turn is a horror card like say


it's time to wave goodbye to those four cards.

On the other hand, a total blank is the cue to spring into action.

That's been the plan in the latter half of the month, and on the whole I've been quite successful in finding lots of ways to get my money in ahead.

I've been making disciplined folds, playing good starting hands, and paying attention to the table.

Unfortunately all too often my cunning plans have gone awry, with some brutal defeats which send me scuttling back to Cardplayer to seek solace in the fact that 'I was 85% to win it when the money went in dammit!!'.

These words uttered to those most sympathetic of ears - my own.

It's thoroughly dispiriting to take assiduous notes on players - commenting on their tendency to overplay aces, draw to idiot straights, willingness to give free cards when they hit the flop hard, call down with bottom set when the whole table can see they are beat, etc. only to meet disaster at their hands.

Such as the guy tonight - a maniac if ever I saw one - who came to the table and on his first hand made a big raise, picked up a bunch of callers, and managed to get all his chips in on the flop with nothing but a gutshot straight draw. Which of course hit and doubled him through.

I already had notes on him which included his penchant for making raises with absolute crap pre-flop, then trying to bulldoze it through. Of course, I was eagerly anticipating tangling with him in a few tasty pots.

Oh how I was to regret that!

How we got to the situation matters not. What is important is that on the turn, we are in a big pot and I've just made the nut straight, plus potential improving straights.

First to act, I fire a pot size bet, only to pick up a caller and a reraise all-in from the resident maniac.

It was so screamingly obvious I'd just made my nut straight, whilst he was holding top set. Only for the case jack to come on the river making him quads.

In the cold light of Cardplayer, that wasn't quite so heinous a beat as it first appeared, though his reraise was quite wild.

Three players all in on the turn...

Me - nut straight made, plus redraw to higher straight, and medium flush draw (not perfect but it's a big hand, plus my two flush cards reduce the chances of anyone else hitting)
Maniac - top set, redraw to full house, or quads(!)
Calling Station - king high flush draw only (gotta love that play)

So, three players with all the chips in the middle. I was roughly 60% to win the hand. Not a massive favourite, but it was a big three way pot which well over half the time, I'm walking away with.

The EV in that is very lucrative. It just means that four times in ten one has to sink to the floor groaning, whilst grasping tender genitals.

Or, alternatively, stomp off to the fridge cursing wildly, and seek the numbing relief of several beers.

At which point Mrs Div enters and enquires as to my condition, and I can only reply through gritted teeth with a few vague utterances about luck and morons, culminating in the not entirely true summation that 'If the cat was around, he could have been in trouble.'

Friday, January 27, 2006

The Internet Is For P......

Just some Friday fun.

I've no idea how long this has been around but it made me laugh.

If you are still in work and have a particularly staid boss - or a militant feminist - within earshot, earphones might be advisable.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Property, Politics, and No Poker

Since initiating this blog over a year ago, the 'part-time property tycoon' phrase in my About Me section has received little mention.

This was something I got into, along with thousands of others, over the past few years as prices in the UK boomed.

I've always had an eye for the business pages, and a good understanding of how financial products work. One of my earliest jobs was working for a life assurance firm, and that was a good grounding in the ways money can be made to work for - or against - you.

So, by accident more than design, Mrs Div and I found ourselves with two rental flats (apartments to my US friends) and associated mortgages.

One a modern two bedroom in a fairly decent area, the other an older one bedroom tenement in a less salubrious, but very convenient for city centre, area.

Running the two was extremely uneventful. We got lucky in landing tenants for both who paid the bills on time, didn't rile the neighbours, and looked after the properties fairly well.

Late last year, in an unfortunate twist of fate, both tenants gave notice to quit on the same day. Which was something of a hassle.

Fortunately the bigger flat found a new taker within a few days. The smaller one, we initially intended to re-let also - but after some consideration we decided to sell.

The reason for selling is truly depressing to me. Despite being located only ten minutes from the biggest employment centres in the city, the area in which it is located is in a tailspin of decline.

The common areas of the property - known in Scotland as 'the close' are poorly cared for, the secure access is often broken, or purposely left open by other occupiers, and the garden/drying areas are strewn with broken glass and other refuse.

With drunks and junkies roaming the streets, the close was being used by some as a public convenience.

This is not to say the area is a total no-go zone. There are still many decent people running their own businesses, or working in local shops. Very close to the flat is a well attended private gym. So it's hardly an urban wasteland.

We just felt that slowly but surely, the decent people are being subsumed by the neds; the people who don't care a toss about others; those who revel in their own ignorance and take pride in their total lack of contribution to society.

Keeping the flat threatened to be a high maintenance activity.

Bizarrely, as the area has grown visibly worse, the flat value had increased by 25% in two years - a product of the skewed property market rather than desirability of the area. So selling made a lot of sense.

It's such a shame these tenements are being misused in this way. The buildings are from a past age, when construction was much less profit oriented than today.

Whereas modern buildings tend to have small rooms, wooden frames, and a very average build quality, the old tenements are absolutely solid with big rooms, and lots of storage.

The sandstone walls are so thick, a hurricane would feel like a gentle tickle to them. They were built by people who took pride in their craft.

But what use is a great building, when the people within have no respect for themselves or their environment.

Judging by the picture I've painted, you'd imagine the economy in Glasgow must be a real shambles, but this simply isn't the case.

The skyline at present looks more like that of some up-and-coming Far Eastern city - the crane count is so high - as more and more offices and hotels go up.

The problem is, some people just won't work, as this article from The Herald proves - six thousand unfilled vacancies in the Glasgow service sector.

Apparently they reckon service sector jobs are too 'subservient'; but it's not subservient to sign on and claim unemployment or invalidity payments after coming up with a spurious excuse for not working?

Consequently employers are flying in staff from Eastern Europe to fill the vacancies. As I've said before, I welcome these people with open arms.

As do the airlines and airports which are opening up new routes direct from Scotland to Eastern Europe.

A recruitment agent told me how she had two vacancies to fill at a plant just outside Glasgow.

She got an afternoon call from two Polish guys who were in Liverpool - hundreds of miles away. They wanted the job. How soon could they be there? They would start tomorrow morning!

They travelled up overnight and started on time.

That sort of endeavour should shame the people I've referred to, but they'd probably just see the Poles as suckers. Why work when you can sign on?

With that sort of attitude, I'm quite happy to see the government finally getting it's act together.

Predictably, a lot of the back benchers and unions are up in arms about this.

I've always considered myself to have quite a socialist outlook on life. It always amazes me when Labour MPs and unions get upset about measures to get people off benefits and back to work.

To me, socialism has always been identifiable with the needs of the working classes. Not the benefit claiming classes.

Sure, when the economy is in decline and people are being laid off, they should be supported by the state - but when jobs are available, and within easy reach, there's no excuse for not wanting to work.

Anyone who sees themself as a socialist should surely despise those who choose not to work, and who drain the output of those who do work.

To me, the dole cheat who signs on and spends his days hanging around the streets, is just as much an enemy of the working classes as the Robert Maxwells of the world who ruin companies and squander their pension funds, leaving their employees facing a bleak future.

The MPs should get behind the government on this one, and push through the strictest measures they can muster. If they truly believe themselves to be socialists, there is no other justifiable response.

The current Labour government has been far from perfect - and in many ways has been a grave disappointment to me - but when they get it right, they deserve to be supported.

The Tolpuddle Martyrs wanted a fair wage for a fair day's work; not cash in hand for signing on when there was work to be had.

The government delivered a minimum wage early in their term. Now they should be supported in making people work for it when they can.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Thoughts On The Teflon Don

Most of the guys I play against in the local games tend to be No Limit Hold Em STT and MTT specialists.

I'm something of an oddity as someone who plays mainly cash, and also varies the types of poker I play.

The subject of Omaha cash came up at the Friday night game. The question posed being 'do you get paid when you hit?'

Considering the run I'm on, the most honest answer might be 'no', but realistically I KNOW that you can get paid big time at these games. How is this so?

Well, I have the evidence to hand from last night's session - where, incidentally, I managed to recoup my entire loss for the month.

It was a long grind for me. I've been focusing recently on cutting out the loose plays that have been frittering away my winnings from big hands. For others, it seems so much easier.

Whenever I've played recently, there always seems to be one player who is almost untouchable. The identity of this player changes each time, but the presence of a complete and utter luckbox is unavoidable. A few posts ago I referred to this presence as The Teflon Don.

It's such a frustrating experience watching a truly awful player hit time and again, while good poker gains small rewards.

Last night the star of the show was genuinely awesome. I first spotted him when he called my pot size flop bet with nothing more than TPTK. We then checked it down and split the pot.

On the flop he had TPTK and no obvious redraw. I had top two pair. A king on the turn improved me to a bigger top two pair but levelled our hands up.

Previously I'd have kept firing on the turn with top two, but I've become accustomed to people who flop middle or bottom set passively calling down their hands. So, I tend to shut down if I fire on the flop and get called when there's no obvious straight or flush draws.

By the time I'd finished writing notes on his flop call, he had doubled through. As the night progressed, he trebled, quadrupled, quintupled, and, yes, sextupled through. What a player! Well, err, no.

We all know the Omaha basics, which include:

  • only play 4 cards that work together

  • don't draw to the 2nd nuts

  • don't slowplay big hands

The Teflon Don thinks and plays differently. His motto - 'I have a draw'

Where it all falls down is how they rationalise the draw.

Idiot straights, straights when there's a flush draw (or two) out, flush draws when the board has already paired. All of these are genuine calling hands.

Whether it be on flop or turn, and for quarter, half, or the full pot. No matter the odds on hitting. No matter how blindingly obvious it is that someone else is ahead.

Seeing a guy who plays like this hit time and again is intensely frustrating.

Thankfully last night I managed to avoid all of the monster pots he got involved in, otherwise I might have burst a blood vessel.

I say monster, and it's very true, that these guys tend to win a lot of BIG pots. The reason for this is simple. The guys with the genuine made hands and draws get priced in, then sucked out on.

Think how it feels to be the guy with top set, or draw to the nut flush and top straight, who loses to someone chasing a runner-runner idiot straight. Drawing to the wheel, when you are drawing to Broadway. It's crushing.

I hate playing against these guys when I have the made hand, since their money - which should be almost dead - prices in the more legitimate draws and builds huge pots. Which then slide their way.

Of course this is but a blip. A temporary phenomenon. In the long run (damn that phrase!) these guys are inevitable losers. But their results can be so spectacular in any one session that there's an insidious temptation to play like them.

The player who wants to improve his game, and values the long term, must resist. By all means, when in Rome do as Romans do, but at the tables remember you are an angler, not a fish.

Game Report: Big Laz's Homegame 20/1/06

The theme of Friday night could easily have been 'people do the strangest things'.

Which could have been amusing, if not for the fact that on two out of three occasions, the agent of strangeness was me. Twice I contrived to make truly donktastic plays at key moments.

The third occasion was more sinister than comedic.

To set the scene, I was playing for the first time in Big Laz's homegame. Whereas the TPT games tend to have around 6-8 players in a series of SitNGos, Laz had amassed 15 entrants for a 2-table game, including a couple of workmates from Alabama.

His set up is very impressive, with two tables and nice quality chips. My main achievement of the evening was finally mastering riffling 8 chips together.

The hospitality stretched to a sumptuous buffet, which was very well received - a polite euphemism for wolfed down in seconds - and fine whisky was also freely available from out host. I like his style!

In the main event I was going pretty well and had accumulated a fair number of chips.

Having not played a hand in the first few orbits, I ran into a succession of reasonable starting hands. 99, 55, AQs, and the like. Each time I managed to take the pot down pre-flop, or on the flop. So none of my cards were being seen.

The biggest pot came with 55, which Dave defended his big blind against. Calling my pre flop raise, and leading out with a big bet on a Q-high uncoordinated flop.

This sent me into a long dwell, which led to me concluding Dave was betting a queen he didn't have. He's much more likely to check-raise here with the queen.

I was proved right when he couldn't call my all-in bet.

From a position of relative strength, I then crashed out in flames after tangling in spectacularly dumb style with The Tank.

In MP I open raised with ATo, and was smooth called by The Tank. We both saw a flop of KK3 which, to me, looked well worth a sizeable continuation bet.

This was promptly reraised by The Tank, and effectively left me a choice of push or fold.

The obvious conclusion is fold. But I just couldn't see what was beating me. I began to fixate on the feeling that he couldn't possibly reraise here if he had a king.

With position, that would be a bet for the turn.

Equally I couldn't see him having a big pocket pair, since that would be a reraising hand pre-flop. Eventually I concluded my ace high was probably good against some sort of drawing hand.

When I pushed, he certainly looked pretty dismayed, which gave me hope.

Once he'd reluctantly called, and turned over AJs, the folly of my play became apparent. No ten or twice paired board for me, and I was out 7th of 15 in a battle of the kickers.

I won't even begin to list the number of mistakes I made in that hand. Suffice to say, I won't play it that way next time.

If you think that was bad, prepare to be astounded by even worse play in the next game.

After the main event had concluded with a 1,2,3 for Tank, Teacake and Dave, the participants split into two SitNGos.

Again I didn't see a huge number of great hands. Though I did get some chips reraising with QQ pre-flop and getting Teacake to make a disciplined laydown with what he later claimed was KQ.

Leaving him short stacked later proved to be the start if my downfall.

Players were dropping very slowly and the rising blinds meant there were a lot of pre-flop raises to take down the blinds from all positions.

Looking down at the mighty 72, and *thinking* I was open raising, I pushed all-in.

Only to discover Teacake had already pushed with his tiny stack. Crap! I was going to see a showdown.

For this execrable play I can only blame a combination of beer and fatigue. Another lesson relearned - always pay attention at the table. Phil Ivey I am not.

All folded around, and with cards on their backs I found myself up against Q2s. Dominated.

A 7 on the flop gave momentary hope, but a Q on the river brought Teacake back into the game. Which he duly went on to win, as I finished out of the money again.

So, a great venue, a munificent host, good company, and an abysmal performance by me.

If that wasn't odd enough, things were to get even odder as I arrived home at around 4am.

Unusually Mrs Div was waiting for me, and somewhat upset after something she had read on a website she is a member of.

The website is a sort of networking/community site for expectant mothers. Members are assigned to groups according to due date, and can publish diaries and participate in discussions on their forum. It lets women share their pregnancy experiences, as well as the progress of the newborns.

Whilst reading the diary of a new mother, she spotted a strangely familiar picture. A quick check of our records had confirmed to her it was indeed one of the earliest pictures taken of Baby Div - asleep in her Moses basket.

Even stranger, it wasn't one she had posted on the site. So not only was someone passing off our child as theirs, but she couldn't work out where the picture had been acquired.

On checking the site, I agreed with her opinion that it was our picture, and was able to confirm that I had published it on this very blog way back in July last year.

Of all the websites on the net, the imposter had lifted a picture from the site of the husband of one of the potential viewers of her diary.

I don't know what the odds are on that, but suddenly winning Euromillions doesn't seem so infeasible after all!

After a couple of emails/posts to the site in question, the imposter has now been revealed and their diary deleted. Investigations now suggest they were actually running more than one imaginary diary.

That's either someone with a very sick sense of humour, or severe psychological problems!

Which again goes to prove that people do the strangest things - and not just in poker.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Living For The Weekend

The weekend is here, and I've got beer in, a new poker game lined up, and permission from the wife to make a big night of it.

Tonight the TPT are venturing out to another home game, and there should be enough players to make it a 2-table SitNGo. Should be fun.

What more could I ask for?

Well......get a load of this!

Yes, I'm in for one of the biggest lottery jackpots ever.

Usually I ignore the Euromillions, but when the jackpot goes north of about £40 million, it usually catches my eye.

Tonight it should be around £85 million!!

Unlike some lotteries, there's NO tax, and NO staggered payments. The likelihood is that on Monday morning, someone will be depositing a single cheque for the equivalent of around $150 million with their suddenly obsequious local bank manager.

I've resisted the temptation to remortgage the house and 'invest' my lifetime savings in tickets. Even if I had, the odds on winning would still be infinitesimally low.

So, I won't be holding my breath.

I do hope that whoever wins is not some murderer or rapist out on parole, nor some nitwitted 16-year old girl who will be knocked up by her not so daft boyfriend before the cheque has cleared.

Equally I hope it's not some miserable 40-year old guy who still lives with his parents, and 6 months after collecting his winnings will still be living with them, still be driving his ten year old banger, still be doing the same menial job, and still won't have a girlfriend.

When I see these dull bastards moaning in the papers about how miserable the money has made them, it makes me wish Camelot had a clause in the contract that said they were entitled to reclaim the winnings if the person proved too dull to deserve the money.

Of course I want to win, but don't we all? Most of us are smart enough to know it's so unlikely as to be only worth joking about.

What I do hope for, is to hear that someone has won, chosen to remain anonymous, but has issued a statement saying they will be quitting their job immediately, sticking a prudent amount in long term investments, sorting out their friends and relatives mortgages, and heading off on a VERY long world tour with much cash in hand.

We can all hope for that.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Good News/Bad News

Good News - The maniacs are back, and they have money to spend.

Bad News - It's my money.

As the saying goes, be careful what you wish for.

Previously, I was bemoaning the lack of action at the tables. Last night had more action than Paris Hilton's bedroom.

Unfortunately for me, I got to spend the night with the chihuahua.

To be fair, the first big hit of the night was entirely my own fault.

Within a few hands, the table maniac had made himself known by raising every hand he played and playing like he had no fold button.

Soon thereafter I flopped the nut straight, with a bunch of low cards, but by the time the action got to me there'd been a raise and a reraise.

At this point, greed got the better of me. My vision coloured by the fact the reraise had come from the resident maniac, I re-reraised, only to see the first bettor fold and the maniac go all-in.

Cards on their backs, and my hand didn't look so good. The maniac had the same straight, but with a draw to a better one. Which duly arrived on the river.

Omaha 101. Don't get all your chips in on the flop with an unimprovable hand.

Unfortunately that was a lesson learned, which proved to be utterly futile.

The maniac proved to be the poker equivalent of The Teflon Don. No matter how bad his starting hands, or how stupidly he played them, nobody could lay a glove on him.

By the end of the night he'd quintupled his buy-in with gems such as:

  • calling a raise and re-raise on the flop and hitting his 2-outer

  • getting it all in on the turn with 2 pair against a made straight and nut flush draw, only to hit his full house on the river

According to Cardplayer he was 7% to hit the first, and 12% the second.

Meanwhile my hard earned lesson was going to waste. Three times I managed to get my chips in with the nuts, plus the best draw. Each time I either split the hand when there was no improvement, or lost it to a crazy outdraw.

Yes the maniac got me with his 12%er. Just as well Mrs Div was at the gym, and the baby was sleeping. I would not have been good company at that moment.

Even when he lost he still got lucky. Betting my made Broadway hard, I was sick to see the board pair on the river.

What could he have been drawing too? Only a full house I thought, so when he checked to me on the river I checked behind, fearing the worst.

I was happy to see the pot slide my way. Agog, when I saw he'd called a pot size bet on the turn, drawing to a WHEEL against my made Broadway. If only he'd hit.

Despite his successes, when he finally departed with his booty the rest of the table seemed genuinely disappointed. It was certainly action packed, and I doubt he will hold onto the cash for long.

For a few minutes after each beat I was steaming, but really you have to take the rough with the smooth.

That's the nature of the game. Without maniacs, there'd be a lot less fun, and a whole lot less cash on the table.

Every dog must have his day. Even if he is a 93/7 underdog.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

A Poker Education

For the first time in a while I actually got some decent time at the virtual tables on Friday night.

The late night was hardly worth the effort since the play was so flat. I was pretty much card dead throughout, and my few decent hands didn't generate much action.

I've seen it suggested elsewhere that January is an arid month for online players, since many of the biggest donators are skint after Christmas, and don't reappear for a while.

This makes a lot of sense to me. Logic would dictate that the loose fishy players who are the key contributors to my online bankroll are probably the sort of feckless types who max out the credit card and overdraft in December, with no clear plan as to how to pay it off.

Of course, since they are losing players, they have no Neteller reserve to dip into to reload their poker accounts, so they need to await the arrival of the January salary to provide more funds to lose online.

Much more entertaining than Friday's online efforts was Saturday's outing to The Cincinnati Club in Glasgow.

Dave Colclough has overhauled the management of the cardroom, and introduced a £100 rebuy on Saturday's - which Littlewoods had sponsored by making it a £10k guaranteed prizepool.

I wasn't playing, but a few friends were, so I went in to railbird and enjoy the festivities.

My mates didn't cash, but we did get to spend some time with a few of the southern softies who had come up to support Dave in his new venture.

Chief amongst them were Rob Yong, Simon 'Chubbs' Nowab, and Nick Whiten.

Let me tell you, if those guys played as good as they talked, there would be no point anyone else turning up!! They probably drink so much for medicinal purposes - to keep their throats lubricated.

They're very good company, and generous to a fault. If anyone wants a new perspective on the WSOP, check out Rob's diary from 2005 on Blonde Poker. A cracking read.

The highlight of the night (sometime around 5am) was seeing Rob, then Chubbs, take on Dave Colclough heads up.

It's not often you get the chance to see such serious players at close quarters. Not only seeing every hand, but also hearing the speechplay, and seeing their mannerisms and reaction as the game ebbed and flowed.

I was shattered by that point, but the poker was gripping, and I'd consider it a priceless learning experience.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Let's Buy PokerStars

Saw this on Blondepoker - Let's Buy Poker Stars.

Or perhaps the bloggers should mount a counter-bid to the RGP offer?

After all, wasn't ScurvyDog suggesting 2006 was the year for bloggers to get more active?

Ooops I Did It Again

Another new month, another horrendous opening session.

Fortunately, since I'd been offline for about a week, I'd decided to kick things off with a night of low buy-in poker. So while the count in buy-ins was high, the fiscal punishment was relatively low.

I've just finished Nolan Dalla's compelling biography of Stuey Ungar - The Man Behind The Shades.

One quote from that book rattled around my head throughout the session. Billy Baxter's pronouncement that 'Poker is like pool. Some days you make every shot; other days you hit nothing but the rail.'

Hitting the rail last night meant doubling through fairly rapidly on table one; before losing the lot when my top set lost to middle set spiking their one outer for quads.

Simultaneously on table two, another buy in disappeared when another top set hand saw all the chips in on the turn, against someone holding 2-pair and a gutshot. The gutshot arrived on the river.

At that point the red mist descended and the tilt monster took hold.

Oddly, I now seem more prone to tilting than when I first started playing. I suspect it's down to understanding the game better, and instinctively knowing the odds.

Whereas before I had a vague idea that I'd been rather unlucky, I now know instantly when I've lost to a 10/1 shot after offering the caller 2/1 odds.

The most annoying thing was that gutshot guy took an eternity to make the call. The longer he waited, the worse feeling I got about it. When I should have been willing him to call, because I knew he was well behind, I found myself thinking 'fold, fold'.

Sometimes I can be philosophical about these things. Sometimes I can be uberpiqued. Last night was definitely an uberpique night.

Last week I delved into Super System 2 for the first time.

An early chapter covers Doyle's views on internet poker. One of the benefits he lists is that more hands per hour means variance evens out more quickly.

Which is a perfectly rational and positive minded comment. It's just that sometimes it's easy to miss this, and just recall the bad beats coming along twice as fast.

I should perhaps add that to my list of aims for the year. Stay positive, embrace the bad beats, and remember the awful calls that went well - of which there are many more.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Why I Am Useless At Live Poker

A few of my posts in the last month or two have reported my crashing and burning in live MTTs - usually whilst attempting some sort of 'fancy move'.

This week I got a match report from fellow TPTer Dave, on his most recent live excursion. An excerpt of which follows, with his permission. The names have been changed to protect the participants...

We are midway through the rebuy period, when a pot develops between two guys, a Swedish dude (Player 1) I got to know well, and Player 2.

Anyway a wee raise and call, then the flop comes A 5 7

Player 1 comes out betting 1/2 pot, Player 2 flat calls.

Turn 9

Player 1 bets same amount (obviously this is only 1/4 the now growing pot)

Player 2 flat calls

River brings a second A

So the board now look like this: A 5 7 9 A

Pot size is now roughly 6000
Player 1 has 2000
Player 2 has 2500

Player 1 then bets 1500......

Player 2 looks uneasy, then says the following:

"I know you must have an Ace, and must be sitting with trip aces.....so I'll fold, and show you how lucky you were to hit that river"

Player 2 then proceeds to flip over his hand to reveal.....wait for it.....5 5!!!...Much to the astonishment of the table....


As Teacake responded - What's that quote about making a good move on a bad player is a bad move?

Lesson learned. It's ABC poker next time from me!

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Reclaiming Your Poker Rake

When I started playing poker, I had no idea what rakeback was.

Within a year, it seemed only common sense to set up a rakeback account for some of the networks I played on.

Initially I did a little bit of research within the blogger community, but I didn't get any clear recommendation on sites to avoid or go with.

Eventually, I settled on Rake The Rake since they covered the poker rooms which I did not yet have accounts with, and wanted to add to my poker portfolio.

I wanted to avoid having several rakeback arrangements with different organisations for different poker sites.

Like most of the rakeback sites, Rake The Rake web pages are pretty amateurish and the sign up processes are mainly manual, rather than automated. Most of these companies seem to be very small operations.

Never judge a book by it's cover. Their customer service puts the majority of the big poker sites to shame. Admittedly that's a bit like saying, 'well he's not quite as bad as Pol Pot or Hitler', but it's a recommendation nonetheless.

I didn't want to shill them in any way until I was happy with their service and reliability. After 3 months, I can say the payments have all hit my account bang on time.

I got an email from them this morning, offering an extra bonus to new recruits during January - an extra $10 in your account after 200 raked hands - so this seemed like an opportune moment. There's an extra $5 in it for me too, so don't be shy.

They run monthly member only promos - such as freerolls. The info is on their site. They have even come up with a sort of workaround for the lack of Party Poker rakeback. Not perfect, but better than nothing.

As I said, their processes are pretty manual. So there's no bonus code as such.

Instead, if you are interested, go to the Rake The Rake website, and - if you like what you see - quote my member number (RTR04083) in your sign up email.

Shill ends.

Monday, January 02, 2006

2005 Poker Review

Well, since I kicked off this blog at the start of last year, I can effectively roll up the annual review and blog anniversary posts into one.

Which is just as well, as I'm lagging behind again.

Looking back to my earliest posts, it's amazing how much things have changed already.

In the early days I was playing exclusively No Limit Hold Em SnG on Pacific Poker, within a few weeks I'd moved on to cash Limit Hold Em on Party Poker, and by year end I was playing cash Omaha and Omaha Hi/Lo across a number of sites, including PokerStars.

In the interim I've played the very occasional blogger tourney (damn international time zones), read a lot of great posts, had some extreme silliness at the micro NLH tables, and even met the blogfather in person - and the blogfather's father!

I've also got involved in a homegame which meets on a too irregular basis (the TPT), and Glasgow has participated in the poker boom with the introduction of The Cincinnati Club to the scene, and rumours of card room expansion at the Gala Riverboat Casino.

Additionally, I have become something of a sponge for poker knowledge, with several books already read and re-read, and a whole pile more to work through.

The only target I set for the year was a somewhat one dimensional profit target of $6000.

Which, I'm well aware, pales into insignificance when I follow the adventures of the likes of DoubleAs or Scott McMillan, but even so I managed to miss it by a country mile.

Starting Bankroll:$440
Ending Bankroll:$3,469

So, the glass is either half full; or half empty.

I'm inclined to see it as the former, since my original target was set with a degree of naivety.

I hadn't been playing that long, I'd hit a somewhat lucky streak, and I had no appreciation of the range of games that were on offer.

Equally, I had no idea just how time consuming bringing up baby would be. Ah, how innocent I was pre-June.

As I got engrossed in games other than No Limit Hold Em, I had to stick around the micro limits a lot longer than expected. Consequently my hourly win rate has been pretty low. Multiply that by a much lower than anticipated time at the tables, and it all becomes clear.

For next year my aims are slightly broader.

I want to continue expanding my experience of other forms of poker. Next targets will probably be Stud and Stud Hi-Lo. If that goes well I might even take a crack at Triple Draw.

I don't expect to be a genius in any of these games by year end, or a mixed games specialist, but I'd certainly like to be capable of taking on a HORSE tourney without breaking out in a cold sweat.

I want to play live more. That's partly dependent on friends availability for homegames, and my capacity for getting out to play at other card rooms.

In the games I already play, I want to move up the limits. Presently I wouldn't feel comfortable buying into a Pot Limit Omaha game for more than $100.

I'd like to be in the $200 games by year end, and I should already be perfectly capable of beating the Party $3/$6 Limit Hold Em tables.

I want to take a few shots at bigger events. Maybe try to satellite into the PokerStars $500k like the guy who won $110,103 last night, after qualifying from a $3 rebuy!

Or perhaps take a shot at qualifying for one of the WSOP, WPT, or EPT events.

More of a wishlist entry, than a proper target, would be to actually attend a proper WPBT event. Since that's pretty unlikely (unless taking a shot produces a VERY good result), maybe I should have a chat with some of the UK bloggers and Jan about forming an EPBT circuit.

It would be somewhat craven to avoid setting a monetary target too, so I'll stick with the same number as last year and hope to clear $6,000.

So, to summarise:

  • Learn new games

  • Play live more

  • Move up limits

  • Take some shots

  • Meet more bloggers

  • Clear $6,000

That seems pretty attainable to me. Most importantly, I intend to have even more fun next year than I did last.

Despite the occasional badbeats, nonsensical play, and teeth grindingly irritating table chat, poker is still lots-and-lots of fun, with many more highpoints than lows.

I'm lucky to have found a hobby which is effectively self financing, and which has given me a lot of pleasure, as well as an outlet for my more creative impulses.

Wishing you a happy, and successful 2006.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

December Summary

But first, a very Happy New Year to you and your family, from me and mine.

Blogs are gay?

This post brought to you courtesy of Baby Div, who poses the question:

If blogs are gay, how come bloggers keep posting photos of their kids?

Not much to report for December, due to low poker volume. Really it was pretty much a rerun of November...

Start month really badly, grit teeth, and grind back to even and (just) beyond by month end.

I'll post a years end summary soon, but whatever I write will pale in comparison with the likes of Pauly - the man who is living the dream.

Game Report: Cincinnati Club Limited Rebuy 29/12/05

Before writing up a trip report proper for this night, it's worth covering some recent changes to the organisation of The Cincinnati Club.

I don't know the ins-and-outs in terms of the commercials, but the long-and-short of it is the poker side of the club is now being managed by poker pro Dave 'El Blondie' Colclough of Blonde Poker.

The changes which have been introduced to the regular game are:

- all tables dealt by professional dealers rather than self dealt
- a full-time tournament director
- 4000 starting chips for a £20 initial buy-in
- 50/50 blinds for 30 minutes then 50/100 for 30 minutes
- a max of two £20 rebuys in the 60 minute rebuy period
- a very gentle blind increment thereafter
- a very flat payout structure

All of which leads to a fantastic amount of play, in a very professional atmosphere. It's early days for the new regime, but they are off to a flier in my eyes.

Thursday was a long day for me, since Baby Div had been safely deposited with the doting grandparents while the Mrs and I did some shopping, before partaking of a very leisurely late lunch in a tapas bar, over several glasses of rioja (yes, we were in Glasgow, Scotland) to celebrate my birthday.

After collecting baby and returning home, there was no time for a nap before braving the snow and heading off to the club.

My live poker excursions (homegames excepted) are all too rare, and I was ready to play, particularly as we were relatively mob handed - myself, Dave, Teacake, and Pat all making the trip.

There were about forty runners which meant a final table of nine and top five paid.

After drawing for seats, I was disappointed to find Dave sitting two to my left. I'm sure there were easier blinds to steal in the room.

Initially I didn't get involved at all. With the blinds so low I didn't see any point committing chips unless there was a pot worth winning, and with a steady succession of 92, 83 hole cards being dealt, I didn't have much ammo to work with.

That all changed in the second half hour, with blinds at 50/100. In my BB I saw a raise from MP. Unusually it was a min raise to 200, when most raises were in the 3-5 BB range.

Unsurprisingly the guy found a couple of callers, including the SB, at which point I found myself staring at two lovely aces in the BB.

Hmmm. I hadn't played a hand all night, yet here I was in a raised pot, with several callers, looking at Aces. Out of position. What to do?

My immediate instinct was to reraise and thin the field. However, on my previous visit to CinCins, I felt I'd played my big hands a bit too hard, and not milked enough chips.

A reraise from me would just be screaming 'monster'. So, I decided to play it slow and take the risk of trying to gain the maximum chips. Call.

The flop was 334, and the SB - a spitting image of Albie Kinsella in Cracker - immediately bet out for 1000. Roughly a pot size bet, and a quarter of the starting stack.

My gut reaction was, no way does this guy have a 3. But there's a problem...Raising now would probably take the pot, and lose my customers, unless one of the callers has a 3. In which case my position is going to kill me later in the hand.

So, I decided to smooth call, and see how the rest of the table reacted. Everyone folded except the initial raiser, who is as likely to have a 3 as I am to have a 3some with Jessicas Simpson and Alba.

Now I'm eyeing his chips hungrily and praying he has KK or some similarly unputdownable hand.

The turn is a blank, and Albie bets out another 1000, which now starts to look pretty weak in the context of the pot size. He also - in my mind at least - seemed pretty uncomfortable, and I now made the determination that he didn't have a 3.

I started to think, medium pocket pair for Albie. Something like 88.

Since I was convinced I had the original raiser well beat, I smooth called again, hoping he would be thinking the same as me about Albie, and would move in to kill the action. He folded.

Crap! Now I wished I'd raised the turn.

When the river brought a second four, I got a horrible sinking feeling.

Albie again bet 1000. To call would leave me with 900, and no way was I passing, so I moved in. Hoping my initial read was correct.

He insta-called, showing 64 for the rivered full house. Double crap. Rebuy!

How I played the hand has been annoying me for two days, and I'm still veering between 'I played abysmally', and 'I played fine but got unlucky'. Veering more to the former than the latter.

I probably should have moved in on the turn, but still am not 100% sold on that.

That's the beauty of poker. If I can't agree with myself how I should have played, how can I possibly agree with anyone else?

Speaking to both players later, I discovered the initial raiser had TT, so not quite as monstrous a hand as I'd been hoping.

Albie, unlike his TV lookalike, turned out to be a very amiable guy, and I couldn't fault how he played. He busted out later in a vicious hand with Dave, where both made straights - Dave's being higher.

With several rebuys at the table, my replenished stack of 4000 was already comparatively short, so I knew I needed to make a few more moves.

The first opportunity came on my next BB when I saw a free flop with 34, and turned the idiot end of an OESD. Albie bet out on the six, but this time I raised.

He gave me a long hard look-up, and eventually folded. Much to my (hopefully undetectable) relief.

I declined the option of a final top-up, as it wouldn't have done much other than pull me back to an average stack, and I could feel the long day catching up on me.

Instead, I decided to look for a double through, or retire to the bar to enjoy the final hours of my birthday.

With the blinds now escalating, things were getting exciting, and I was looking for opportunities.

The first of which came when on my button, several limpers ran into a late position raiser, and I found myself looking down at 88 - not a monster, but playable.

Something about the manner of the raiser made me feel he wasn't exactly in love with his hand. My gut feel was something like AJ or AT. The raise seemed almost reluctant.

With a deeper stack, I'd have taken a flop, but I only had room for one decent raise. If the guy moved over the top, I'd have to call.

So, I made the raise. All folded back to the raiser, who gave it a long dwell, before passing JJ face up. I VERY carefully mucked my 88.

What a buzz. That's why I wish I played live more often.

My stack was still pretty weak but I had won time to pick another spot, which came when one of the bigger gamblers brought a hefty stack to the table, and within a few hands had open raised into my AKs.

Given our comparative stacks, there was only one move. All-in.

He quickly called and his A8 put me in great shape. No improvement for either of us, and suddenly I was back in the pack. Which is where it all went wrong...

As with AA, I found another big hand in the BB. This time TT. Sitting in the 1 seat, I'd seen a mid position limper, but failed to realise the SB - new to the table and sitting on the other side of the dealer - had completed. Stupid me.

So, my raise was not big enough to push out either limper. When the flop came down K high, and the SB bet out, I figured he'd caught part of it, but I couldn't be sure he'd hit a king, and even so, as the pre-flop raiser, I still had the initiative.

Just as important, giving up the hand now would leave me very short stacked, with the blinds climbing.

So, I decided to press on by representing AK or better, and raised. His reraise left me no option but to call all-in knowing I was behind, and he flipped K4s for a flopped two pair.

I had to laugh. There's me trying to represent AK to someone who is hoping that's exactly what I'm holding. No 2-outer for me, and time to hit the bar after a sporting handshake with my vanquisher.

We stuck around to railbird the final table, and were delighted to see Dave take third after almost seven hours play. There was no deal and the last two played to a rapid finish.

A long but very enjoyable night. The structure really is superb, with lots of play, and a very fair payout. Poker as it should be played.

I'd love to make it a weekly event, but realistically other demands mean I'm not going to make it that often.

However, as MacArthur said, 'I shall return', and, as he might have added, I'll be leaving with the money one of these days.