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 FlopTurnRiver.com (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 FlopTurnRiver.com (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.