Thursday, August 31, 2006
A very swift summary since I can't wait to get August out of the way.
In brief. I've been ill. I've played little. I've lost.
To be fair, not a traumatic amount - about $100. Primarily, and somewhat embarrassingly on the $1/$2 HORSE tables. I'm putting it down to variance on the whole since some of the beats really were of the ridiculous variety.
I had another crack at the Stars double shootouts tonight.
Lost one making a big raise all-in to several limpers from the BB with 22. Obviously I'm not wanting a caller here.
I knew I was in trouble when UTG called for 90% of his stack, and I was pretty much doomed when LP reraised all-in for a few more chips, and UTG inevitably called.
Picture my incredulity when the cards were on their backs. UTG limp-calls a 15BB raise with 33 and several players to act behind. LP limp-reraises all-in with KQo.
The flop had a king, the river a 3, and UTG was triumphant.
So, not a bad beat, but really, where do people learn to play like this?
Not that I'm exactly complaining - I just need to regress to ABC on these tables. Like the guy who made a massive all-in raise pre-flop with AA into several limpers, and got called by the mighty A8o. Nice work if you can get it.
The other game was so bad it was almost criminal. Our villain had already amassed some chips when he got into a confrontation with me. Calling from the BB after I raised.
On a K96 flop (two spades) we managed to get it all-in. Me with A9, he with 63. Not a spade between us. The 3 on the river was so predictable I'd already resigned myself before it arrived.
Well, I did say these players were bad! How bad? THIS bad
Yes, I was so pissed off by that beat, I raced over to Sharkscope to prove to myself just how stupid he was.
Very, as it turns out. Not that losing to a fish on 'Super Tilt' makes it any more bearable.
Wednesday, August 30, 2006
Ugh. I played my first poker in almost two weeks today, and very soon regretted it.
Not that I've been short of time. On the contrary, I've had more time on my hands than usual - though it's been mainly of the non-productive variety.
I've been flattened by some sort of virus that the doctor assures me is now on the retreat. Missed a ton of work - not good when you are a freelancer!
One day I'll feel fairly serviceable, the next I wake up feeling OK, but by midday in work I'm coughing, sneezing, sweating, achy, and almost asleep.
Head home, lie down for a recuperative nap, and wake up 15 hours later feeling just as ill.
Very disconcerting, and not a good condition to be in when playing poker. So, I've given it a miss until now.
Tonight I figured I'd have myself a little game. Since I've been eternally promising to take a shot or two at some tournaments, I decided to give the $11 double shootouts to the Stars Sunday Million a try.
It seemed to make sense. A low fee, a big potential upside, and my SNG game had been pretty sharp pre-illness.
Hah! What foolish optimism. Two absurdathons later I felt like I needed to go take a shower to rid myself of the cloying stench of unfettered moronity.
I've often wondered at the reports I see on various forums and blogs, of how diabolical the play can be in the Sunday night biggies across various sites.
How can the play be so bad, when the buy-in is fairly significant?
Tonight I got my answer! I seriously doubt some of the players actually CARED what their cards were. It was purely a chuck em in and see how it goes attitude.
If a gutshot draw was gold, a flush draw - any flush draw - was pure platinum. Worthy of an all-in reraise, no matter the bet or pot size.
There appeared to be an embargo on limp-folding to a pre-flop raise, no matter how big, or the cards held. No consideration of pot odds, stack sizes, position. 100% pure donkeydom.
Of course the last few paragraphs are the thoughts of a sick and bitter man.
In the cold light of day, and when my illness has subsided, what this actually translates as is 'I need to play a whole lot more of this game!'
Not being much of a tournament player, satellites are a pretty pointless endeavour for me normally. However, if I can't get paid in these things at a rate substantially better than 1-in-64 I might as well give up poker and stick to the lottery.
I imagine the variance must be pretty high - and the suckout/tilt score must be astronomical - but a bit of perseverance must surely pay off?
There are presumably a fair few players out there who make a decent living playing these games and converting the winnings into a hefty bank of saved T$ for investment in other tourneys, or cash trading purposes.
It won't be a full time endeavour for me, but I'll certainly be diverting some effort in this direction once I'm fighting fit again.
I upgraded to the new Blogger beta version, primarily so I could utilise the labelling option to categorise my posts.
Only to discover that because I have a customised template, I can't use them yet.
Sigh. There's no way I'm giving up my groovy design, so no labels for me.
On the plus side, the new spell checker is way better.
Monday, August 28, 2006
As a small industrialised country on the periphery of Europe, as a trading nation with an established tourist industry, and with a long history of emigration creating a worldwide community, one might imagine the Scottish international transport network would be highly developed.
Geographically we lie on an intercontinental crossroads between North America and Europe. On a clear day, the sky is criss crossed with vapour trails from jets cruising overhead at 35,000 feet as they arrow west and east across the Atlantic.
Yet precious few of them descend into the three central Scottish airports - Prestwick, Glasgow, and Edinburgh - that serve the majority of the population.
It was not always so. There was a time Scotland was well served by a combination of US and UK operators, before changing economic conditions and political influences triggered a retreat from the Scottish market.
The UK flag carrier, the oh so inappropriately named British Airways, now flies almost exclusively from it's London hubs, meaning any trip to the USA on BA involves a 90 minute journey south, only to retrace the steps a few hours later on one of those jets we see soaring above us.
Similarly trips eastwards to the Middle East, Asia, and beyond almost all commence with a short hop to Amsterdam, Heathrow, Frankfurt, or Paris to connect with the services of another flag carrier.
Over recent years, the situation has gradually improved.
The European short haul market has been subjected to an earthquake over the last few years by the explosion of low cost airlines.
These airlines predominantly focus on point-to-point routes, which removes the dependency on hubs.
The biggest source of new routes has been Ryanair, flying from their base at Prestwick to a wide array of European airports. The Ryanair model favours secondary airports of varying utility - some being somewhat remote, whilst others are better located than Ryanair critics would have you believe.
Mrs Div and I made use of a Ryanair flight to Bergamo airport to facilitate a very nice weekend spent in Milan and the Italian lakes.
The other mega player in the European budget airline market is EasyJet - whose inaugural flight was to Glasgow. Since then, their rate of expansion in Scotland has been disappointing - though recently they have begun to enhance their range of European destinations from Glasgow.
EasyJet tends to give good domestic coverage, but there is scope for a lot more to come if they so desire.
The long haul market has not been so affected by the boom in budget travel.
On the positive side, a new service direct from Atlanta to Edinburgh was recently launched by Delta Airlines, and Continental Airlines have been expanding their flights direct from New York to Glasgow and Edinburgh.
On the negative side, American Airlines recently announced they were dropping their summer service direct from Chicago to Glasgow - another route which Mrs Div and I have used previously.
With that mixed picture of the long haul market, what a pleasant surprise it has been to discover innovation coming from a Scottish company - Flyglobespan - who are introducing a low cost ethos to longhaul routes.
Flyglobespan have not only been building up a network of European routes - primarily to holiday destinations - but have now introduced long haul scheduled services.
Their initial route from Glasgow to Orlando now gives Scottish and US travellers a direct scheduled flight from Florida to Scotland.
Next on the agenda is a direct scheduled flight from Boston to Glasgow - and rumours abound of a possible code-share with a US carrier to offer connections from Boston. JetBlue perhaps?
Obviously all good news for anyone wanting to travel between Scotland and the USA, and I'm all for seeing Scottish companies do well - especially when it boosts the broader economy - but why should I be getting so excited?
With a young baby, unfortunately the Div family travel options for the next few years are likely to be restricted.
Restricted, but not eliminated. Mrs Div is off to New York with her sister in a few weeks, for a long weekend - courtesy of those direct Continental flights from Glasgow to Newark.
My travel plans are less certain, but Flyglobespan have recently announced a very tempting new option - direct scheduled flights from Glasgow to Las Vegas!
Yes, the entertainment capital of the world is now directly accessible from Las Vegas. I jest!
To be fair, there may be a few Nevadans booking flights eastwards to sample the delights of the Scottish whisky industry, or compare the relative merits of the finely manicured Vegas golf courses with the unruly Scottish links courses.
Realistically, the majority of passengers will be, well, people like me! Heading westwards for some serious gambling, drinking, and maybe a bit of sun. I am SO up for that!
A direct flight might be slightly pricier than the cheapest connection options, but if I've got the chance to stagger onto a plane at McCarran, and not stir until touchdown in Glasgow, then that's got to be money well spent.
That next Vegas trip just took a step closer...
I've got the option to upgrade to the beta version of Blogger, so I will probably bite the bullet in the next few days.
Bear with me if it all goes tits up!
Saturday, August 26, 2006
Well done eTims for highlighting the absurdity of the Artur Boruc situation.
At a time when fifty crimes a day are going unpunished in Scotland because the Procurator Fiscal can't be bothered prosecuting, it's interesting to see where their priorities lie.
It appears pandering to neanderthal bigots is less hassle than pursuing genuine criminals.
Monday, August 21, 2006
I see The Metropolitan Police are using some medieval techniques as inspiration for their latest tactics in the war on terror.
Apparently if you are shot by the police as they attempt to arrest you, then you probably are not a terrorist.
If you are not shot by the police as they attempt to arrest you, then you may be a terrorist.
Sunday, August 20, 2006
Had a much improved time on the HORSE tables last night; though still not as profitable as some of the reports I'm reading elsewhere.
There are some fundamental concepts that appear to elude people. Such as, in a split-pot game the objective is to scoop.
Hence the table captain was less than impressed when I rivered a gutshot straight with my low hand to scoop in Stud-8. What he didn't seem to pick up on was that with a made low on 5th, against his obvious made high but no low draw, I had a 2 card freeroll to the other half of the pot.
He reckoned one of us played 'terrible terrible terrible', and I agree.
After that I had another crack at some NLHE on Tribeca, and rapidly doubled through courtesy of a truly atrocious player who didn't reraise QQ pre-flop, didn't reraise when raised on a super low flop, gave a free card on the turn, and called my river bet having let me catch a backdoor flush.
He figured the only explanation for losing was that the site was rigged, and didn't shut up about it for the next 30 minutes. Though it didn't stop him continuing to play.
I then gave back most of my winnings with QQ v AA on another low flop.
The frustrating thing about that hand was I'd picked up a run of decent starting hands, raised, got called, and missed every flop - usually folding to a bet or raise.
So, when the button raised, I reraised, and we got into a raising war on the flop after he called the pre-flop reraise, I thought it was my LAG table image getting paid off. Little did I know!
I took that as a sign, and retired for the evening with another small profit.
Saturday, August 19, 2006
Ah PokerStars, how you tease and torment me.
Clearly you've been following my blog, and watching as I experiment with a variety of poker games. So you send along the apparent answer to my prayers, HORSE cash games.
Furthermore you send multiple dispatches from the front, telling tales of uberdonkitude, and bankroll padding.
Then you send me a table with a juicy mix of Scandinavian raising machines, and 'what game are we playing now?' buffoons.
Only to torment me with the worst starting cards I have ever seen and, on the few hands I actually took to showdown, some of the cruelest river cards imaginable.
There's no doubt for a tight player like me, Stars is the best site for playing stud games. On Full Tilt the ante is 20% of the small bet; on Party it's a silly 25%; on Stars it's a frugal 10%.
Sitting around waiting for hands doesn't cost a lot of money. Unless you do it for about four hours.
Four hours, that is, punctuated with tiny bursts of activity which inevitably ended with a frenzied rush to the hand history for an instant post-mortem of the McEnroe-esque 'how could you call four bets with that?', 'what did you think you were drawing to?' variety.
Chalk flew up, I swear. Actually I swore a lot!
Of course I also misplayed a couple of hands. I've played a lot of PLO8, but hadn't bothered with LO8 before. Initial reaction, not a fan. Maybe I'll change my mind after I actually win a hand!
I was also playing some NLHE simultaneously, which was clearly a stupid idea.
Most significantly, having recently purchased Setanta Sports - including North American Sports Network - I'd made the mistake of asking Joe Speaker for an explanation of a couple of baseball terms.
Within minutes I was perusing a document of such complexity, I'm almost certain it proved beyond doubt the existence of the Bermuda Triangle, life on Mars, as well as providing an irrefutable solution to the Poincare conjecture.
My head swimming from that missive, it's no wonder I was fish food for the night.
Tuesday, August 15, 2006
I've been working extensively on my No Limit Hold Em cash game recently.
Previously my standard game was the $100 buy-in, but I've dropped down to allow scope for experimentation without risking too much damage to the bankroll.
My basic premise has been that my game was too predictable to be successful in the long term at higher levels.
I'm confident my LIMIT game is good for as high a level as I can realistically anticipate playing in the foreseeable future. I'm super tight in early position, loosening up closer to the button, and very aggressive. Which works just fine.
Doing a simple transfer of this game to no limit, and generally just throwing out pot-size bets when I think I'm ahead, is probably good enough to work at the very lowest limits, but it does have it's weaknesses.
Most notably it makes me vulnerable to trapping from the other decent players who are floating around.
Take for example my previous range for making a standard raise under the gun. There would be some variation dependent on the nature of the game, but anyone putting me on something like AA-TT or a big (probably suited) ace wouldn't be far from the truth.
Let's further assume the button is holding something like 8s7s. Against my range they are about 3/1 pre-flop, so seeing a flop is very worthwhile. Indeed chuck in one or two loosey goosey callers with fairly random ranges and the numbers almost demand they call.
So not only is the button getting good odds to call pre-flop, but with my range he will always have a fair idea where he is in the hand. Whereas I am pretty much committed to chucking out bets until I run into resistance.
This can leave me a bit of a sitting duck when I do get action, but don't particularly like the flop or turn.
The converse side of the coin is sometimes I could sit for ages waiting for a hand, stick in a raise, and everyone folds. It's like playing with the cards face up.
So there's potential to be caught between the devil and the deep blue sea. Smart opponents only call with hands with a decent chance of cracking a big pair, and when they hit the flop they can generally be pretty sure where they stand.
It's also pretty boring sitting around for ages waiting for a decent starting hand, then only managing to snare the blinds!
To combat this, I've gone almost entirely in the opposite direction by adapting my new SNG game to the cash tables. Playing lots more hands from all positions, with a much wider starting range.
It's not totally random - the J2, Q4 hands still hit the muck - but there's a much bigger chance I'll be raising with a small pocket pair, suited connectors, even one or two gappers.
The benefits of this so far have been noticeable.
Some of the more obvious are:
I'm stealing an amazing number of pots that I never expected to steal. I'm astounded how a reasonable raise can sometimes induce four or five limpers to fold.
My big hands are getting action from the strangest sources. All-in on a Q-high flop with AA v Q3. Marvellous. Of course now instead of cursing when it's all folded pre-flop to my aces, I find myself cursing the river when the rogue 3 arrives, but that's a cross I will gladly bear!
The disguise is deadly. Picture an opponent with 77 who calls a pre-flop raise to hit his set, and succeeds on a 972 flop.
Right now he is praying I have AA and not AK, so likely will only call my flop bet for fear of losing his customer, and will gladly stick it all-in on an innocuous turn 5, only to explode in chat box fury when my 86 stacks him.
"You fish! How can you raise with 86? Moron, retard...."
Well, actually I can raise 86 for this very scenario, and if I hate the flop I can check fold at a cost of a few blinds.
More subtle benefits I've spotted so far are that I actually get to see many flops a lot cheaper than previously.
With my standard raise being 3BB plus one for each limper - regardless of whether I've got bullets or 54o - I'm seeing a lot of flops cheaply when people holding middle/big pairs, or particularly AK/AQ, only call instead of reraising.
Yet the same players will open for 6BB with AK if there's no raise. So, by raising in advance, I define the size of their bet.
Another benefit which derives from tournament theory is I'm playing lots more hands against bad players. If we assume in general that at the lower limits I have an edge - as I feel I do - then playing a super tight style is limiting my opportunities to make money.
It's often said in deep tournaments that the first few rounds are where the good players make hay by milking the weak players of their chips. They see lots of flops as cheaply as possible, in the hope of hitting big and stacking weak players who can't put down overpairs, etc.
In that respect low limit cash games are a never ending tournament round 1, with shoals of bad players, fixed blinds, and what is hopefully the equivalent of an infinite stack, since any time I make a mistake or get unlucky I can immediately dip into my bankroll.
Those circumstances surely suggest I should develop a style that makes me play more hands?
Notwithstanding all these tactical or financial reasons for changing style, there's also the simple point that it's a damn sight more fun!
The swings may be greater, and I've certainly made a few howlers so far, but overall the bankroll is moving the right way and I am really enjoying it so far.
Not that I'm complacent. It's still early days in the learning experience, and I'm no Gus Hansen, but having fun and making money are two strong motivators to persevere with this approach and work on ironing out the defincencies in my game.
Tuesday, August 08, 2006
OK, enough of the pretty girls in short skirts for now.
I'm off on business for a few days, so I'll leave you with some proper poker news about an interesting development in the UK poker scene.
I've met a couple of the guys involved in this, and they are decent guys who have a passion for poker.
Amateur Poker Association & Tour Formed In UK
London, August 1, 2006 – Amateur Poker Limited, in association with PokerStars.com and PokerPlayer Magazine, today announced the formation of the Amateur Poker Association & Tour (the "APAT").
The APAT is the world's first combined Poker Association and Tour, and will hold its inaugural live event, the English Amateur Poker Championship, at the Broadway casino in Birmingham on September 23rd & 24th, 2006. Players will start the event with 10,000 in chips, and a structure designed to encourage creative play throughout.
The Tour, headline sponsored by the world's leading tournament site PokerStars.com, will allow APAT members to take part in a series of high profile events with low entry fees, and with sponsor funding increasing the value of prizes considerably.
Season one will feature seven national and international events culminating in European and World Amateur Poker Championships. Each APAT event winner will receive a cash prize, an engraved Championship Cup and an expenses paid European Poker Tour or World Series Of Poker main event entry. In addition, the APAT will run an Online Series of nationally titled events on PokerStars.com, with the overall APAT player of the year winning an expenses paid trip to the sun to play in the PokerStars.com Caribbean Adventure World Poker Tour event.
The Association, headline sponsored by PokerPlayer Magazine, will consult with gaming and industry bodies to enhance the player experience; with standardisation of rules, player friendly structures and event sponsorship at the top of its agenda. APAT news updates and detailed Tour reports will feature in each new issue of PokerPlayer Magazine, notably increasing the profile of each APAT event winner.
Tony Kendall, APAT Chairman, said: "I am delighted to be associated with the Amateur Poker Association & Tour, which I believe is a significant new development in European poker. The APAT will quickly become ‘the' affordable proving ground for players wanting to realise their potential in high quality live events, and a guaranteed added value prize pool is great news for everyone. I look forward to welcoming players of all abilities to the APAT, and if it's your first time in a casino environment, then we're going to give you a truly memorable experience."
Tamar Yaniv, European Director of Marketing at PokerStars.com, added: "PokerStars.com is passionate about poker in the UK, and the Amateur Poker Association & Tour shares our values in wanting to give their members the best tournament experience possible. Each player has a chance to win a national title and those who do will get the opportunity to fulfil their dream at a PokerStars.com European Poker Tour event or at the World Series Of Poker. We're pleased to sponsor the APAT, and look forward to meeting members in cardrooms across the UK, and online at PokerStars.com."
APAT Membership and Tournament registration can be obtained online at www.apat.com. Individual Membership of the Association will cost £10, while entry to the English Amateur Poker Championship will cost £67.50 with a registration fee of £7.50, subject to availability. Online qualification will be available at PokerStars.com for APAT's international tournaments, starting with the European Amateur Poker Championship during the Easter holiday period, 2007.
For additional information on the Amateur Poker Association & Tour, and an electronic press pack, contact Richard Prew, firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit the Press section at www.apat.com.
About Amateur Poker Limited:
Amateur Poker Limited is a commercial entity, established by a team of experienced poker and business professionals with a vision to deliver a player focussed proposition, with equal appeal to its members, corporate sponsors and key gaming venues and regulators.
For Further Information:
Amateur Poker Limited
Amateur Poker Limited
Amateur Poker Limited
Monday, August 07, 2006
I couldn't resist it. I'll update as the story unfolds...
All courtesy of The Sun.
Hint. If you can't read the text, click on the pics to maximise them, then right click on the full size picture and Save As onto your PC.
Then you can open them in a viewer and zoom in, on the dialogue obviously!
Saturday, August 05, 2006
Well, if the Dear Deirdre column in The Sun is any evidence, it hasn't so much jumped the shark, as performed a triple somersault with pike over the shark!
For those of you not in the know, Dear Deidre is The Sun agony aunt who, as well as solving numerous tales of woe such as unwanted pregnancies, cheating spouses, alcoholic kids, and premature ejaculators, also runs a photographic 'casebook' over several days.
Sadly they don't publish them online any more, so I'll summarise as the drama unfolds - perhaps with assistance from my scanner later.
On Day 1 this week, we discovered that our serious faced hero Barry is plying his leggy but a bit too skinny girlfriend Maxine with oodles of sexy lingerie - bought, he claims, with his extra earnings from overtime at work.
But Barry has a secret. He can't tell Maxine the true source of his lingerie funds!
On Day 2 we discover Barry's dark secret. While Maxine lies alone at home (in her lingerie of course) worrying about his whereabouts, Barry isn't in the pub, as he claimed, but settling down to a game of No Limit Texas Hold Em.
He's on a winning streak and feeling lucky tonight. What could Day 3 hold?
Tuesday, August 01, 2006
Posting volume is diminishing recently, so I'm forcing myself to rattle off the monthly update in good time as compensation.
In results terms, July was one of my better months of the year. Though I'm getting nowhere near the earn rate I'd initially aimed for at the start of the year.
The big bonus this month was the launch of PokerStars resizeable tables. For those of us forced to scrape by with 15" monitors, multitabling is not a joyful experience, but four tables on Stars is now easily achievable.
This prompted me to launch back into the SNG world with gusto. Initially at the $10 buy-in, and now cruising along in the $20 games. My results were pretty good, especially as I've been working on my game - playing more hands, and picking my moments for less orthodox plays. Fun times.
In the last week or so, I moved back into the world of cash No Limit Hold Em, which is something I've been away from for quite a while.
Given my lack of match practice, and ongoing experimentation with new strategies, I've been playing at very low limits.
Despite a few setbacks, and some enforced adjustments to my new strategy, I'm in the black, and learning more every day.
I don't want to say to much now as - calm yourselves! - I've got a strategy post of sorts fermenting in my mind.
In summary then. I won, I had fun, and it was damn hot in Scotland.
Oh, and Celtic won their first game of the new season in style. Must get back to commenting on football at some stage...