Thursday, November 30, 2006

Morons Make The World Go Around

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The flop was a very welcome A88. Check.

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

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

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

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

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Resting The Eyelids

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tortoises and hares anyone? A nice return to action.

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

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

First up, Louis Saha's penalty miss.

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 22, 2006


Man Who??

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That's enough videos for one night!

Get In There!!!

Shunsuke Nakamura scores

Elated. Ecstatic. Jubilant.

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

Win. Yes. Qualify. No.

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

Expect a few YouTube videos in the next few days.


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

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Should Have Kept My Mouth Shut

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

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

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

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

The abbreviated highlights for the weekend so far:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, November 17, 2006

Oops!...I Did It Again

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Golden Skin
Golden Globes
Golden Memories

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

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

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Farewell But Not Goodbye

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Drought Over

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Fun Times

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


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

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

(Particularly in these 'interesting times')

Friday, November 03, 2006

October Summary

"Did you see the game last night?"

"Aye. It was shite!"

- two primary school kids on the train

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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