Monday, March 26, 2007

Let Battle Commence

Fresh from an enforced laptop replacement, I've finally bit the bullet and committed to a new desktop machine.

Some of the key specs for those who are that way inclined - 2.1Ghz Viiv Core 2 Duo processor, 2GB RAM, 500GB hard drive (2 x 250 with RAID 0), 256MB ATI Radeon X1300 PRO graphics card, Sound Blaster X-Fi Xtreme sound card.

All pretty impressive. I can remember my first ever computer being a Sinclair ZX Spectrum, and mighty chuffed I was to get the top-of-the-range 48k model. These days there's probably 48k of memory in the average pencil sharpener.

RAID disk striping in a domestic PC. How times change!

Yet those stats are but the precursors to the key detail. Monitor size...

I couldn't resist it. It was just too tempting, and the price was too low to resist.

I went for the 24" Ultrasharp LCD monitor. Multitabling heaven here I come!

The next few days I'm away on work duties, but hopefully soon after my return the Dell delivery man will be calling and serious business will commence.

I'm optimistic the new set up will pay for itself over time. I've no doubt I can four table successfully but doing it with overlaid screens has been a pain, and even the resizeable poker tables on Stars, Party, and my new buddy Everest, can be awfully hard on the eyes over a sustained period of time.

The new PC should have me firing on all cylinders, and if I need motivation, I'll just need to check my credit card bill to remind me to get to work on the tables.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Warren Buffett Would Be Proud

Not a bad result on Partygaming so far, but I'm going to hold on for the long term....

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Party Time

Ten days since my last post. I'm being a lazy monkey!

Sadly there's not much to report on the poker playing front. The Tribeca migration has killed the action on Doyles Room, so I've been pottering around on Stars in my limited spare time.

Yet I still managed to turn a profit from poker, albeit from more conventional sources.

A few years ago I was looking at the stock market and noticed that shares in Stagecoach had been absolutely hammered after they cocked up a big US acquisition.

It seemed to me the market had grossly over reacted as their core business was sound, and they had a good recovery plan in place.

I didn't have the courage of my convictions, and the shares which were trading at something stupid like 20p are now closer to 200p. Ho hum.

A similar thought came into my head when I was looking at Partygaming shares a few weeks back. This time I had a small tickle at 28p.

In a few weeks they have rollercoastered their way to 45p so it's looking promising so far. Of course it's not a profit until I sell, but I fancy leaving them tucked away for a while in the hope of better things to come.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Bluffers Guide To Playing Poker On Your Home Network

The laptop died this week. Not a sudden death but a gradual ebbing away of its life force, as the connection between power supply and motherboard grew ever more erratic.

It's out of warranty, and appears to be suffering from the effects of having a toddler use it as a trampoline, so a replacement is the only option. Which should arrive from Dell later this week.

We have grown accustomed to the convenience of wireless networking in a short space of time, and I doubt we could do without a laptop for long now.

When we first 'went wireless' it gave us great flexibility, but it also presented a challenge in relation to one of my most commonly used poker tools - Poker Tracker.

The problem was my Poker Tracker database was on my main PC, so playing poker on the laptop meant I couldn't access all that juicy data I had accumulated.

At the same time, I was encountering an increasing delay on the main PC as the database grew to the point where auto updates could cause temporary screen freezes - which was quite alarming in the midst of a big hand.

So, I decided to kill two birds with one stone by making use of an old PC that was still functional.

Step one was to wipe the Windows 98 operating system from this old piece of junk, and replace it with Linux. Installing Linux gave me the opportunity to also load PostgreSQL.

I then ported my Poker Tracker Access database to PostgreSQL and loaded it on the old PC.
Poker Tracker set-upSo, now I had a simple client-server system where my main PC was running Poker Tracker and my old PC was running the database. Which took some load off the main PC, thus eliminating the freezes.

Step two was to install Poker Tracker on the laptop, and get a new key from Pat - the creator of the software.

I'm not sure about the intricacies of the license but I explained the situation in an email and a new key was issued very rapidly.

I think it's fair to say that having Poker Tracker installed on two machines is fine, so long as you only play on one of them at a time.

With the database held on a separate machine, either Poker Tracker client can access it. Thus making the data available on both desktop and laptop.

For most people, I'd expect that should be just fine.

However, if you happen to have a fairly slow laptop, then the screen freeze may still be an issue. If this is the case then a solution is available...

First you need to fire up both desktop and laptop.

Share the directory on your laptop to which hand histories are written, and start Poker Tracker running on the desktop PC. Configure it to read from the shared drive on the laptop, kick off the auto import job, and presto, the work of loading and rating players moves from laptop to desktop PC.

Now you can start Poker Tracker on the laptop - but DO NOT start the auto import job - and your laptop will read the updated stats from the database without ever needing to do the calculation.

Thus you are free to roam with your laptop, whilst still making use of all that helpful data you have spent months collecting and without fear of timing out in a big hand when the auto rate kicks in.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Game Report: Stanley £10 Rebuy 9/3/07

A very strange and unusual thing happened to me this weekend.

Something so extraordinary it stretched my credulity almost to breaking point.

No, not Rangers winning a game at Celtic Park - fantastical as that may seem - the venue for this crime against perception was the Stanley Casino. The competition, their Friday night tenner rebuy - in which every single hand I played to a showdown, the best starting hand won!

I'd never played this event before, but I'd heard it was a good social game. Fifty plus runners, drinks promos, a free buffet at the break, and a game that was less wild than some of the smaller Glasgow rebuys where some tables have an all-in on almost every hand.

Having paid my starting £10 plus £1 registration fee I settled down with my 1500 chips and 90 minutes of 25/50 blinds aiming to play my usual fairly tight starting game, with the proviso that I'd gamble a bit more when big pots were there to be won.

Since I wasn't taking it too seriously, I didn't bother taking any notes, which I later regretted as I replayed a few hands in the bar with some fellow players.

Early on I found myself all-in from the blinds with 66 versus what looked like an attempt to steal some blinds and limp bets from a late position player. He called me with Q8o which was probably in better shape than he imagined, only for my sixes to hold up.

Another pot came my way when QQ all-in on a J-high but co-ordinated flop found a customer with top pair no kicker, who failed to improve.

The final hand was a real monster. Out of the rebuy period - after taking the top-up for a total outlay of £21 - and multiple limpers to the small blind meant a big pot, which got a lot bigger when he audibly sighed before moving all-in, in a manner which he'd done previously with AK.

Looking down at JJ I was 99% sure I was ahead and with a huge pot, I simply had to take on the race not only for his stack, but also those juicy limp bets. None of whom I could see calling.

Sure enough, AK it was and the Jacks held up. Which was enough to take me to the final table with a slightly above average stack.

At which point it all went horribly wrong. The blinds were escalating rapidly and no player could afford to wait for long to make a move.

I had a few blind v blind tangles with the guy to my right and when he completed pre-flop then checked to me on a flushing board I had no hesitation in betting a flopped bottom pair no-kicker.

It didn't look so good when he check raised all-in. With just enough chips to fold, and a feeling I wasn't against a flush draw I put it down fairly quickly. I heard him say to a friend he was never behind, which confirmed my suspicions of some sort of slowplayed big hand.

After which a succession of 82, 94, type hands, and no opportunities to steal, saw the blinds coming around with my M hitting 3 and K9s in my hand UTG.

So, I pushed, and got called by an Amiable Young Drunk Guy(AYDG) with AQs. Which, as was the law for this evening only, held up to knock me out.

The payout structure was that top 5 paid, and The Stanley contributed a couple of consolation dinner-for-two restaurant packages to sixth and seventh.

I finished seventh. Not sure what kind of a finish that is classed as - crypto-bubble? semi-bubble?

Mrs Div doesn't fancy dining in the casino restaurant so I'll probably be eating well before a future event!

AYDG was a real laugh. He was one of the few surviving Rangers fans at the final table and had been shortstack for hours, whilst taking a gentle ribbing about the not-quite-so-big game this weekend - hard to get excited about 'meaningless end-of-season games' - and his continuing attempts to 'fold to a dinner'.

He got his revenge by going on a wild run of card rackery just as the blinds went through the roof, getting paid with KK twice, as well as AQ against me, and a couple of other decent hands.

At one point he asked me if I knew who Howard Lederer was, and when I replied in the affimative he told me he thought I bore a certain resemblance. At the time I told him I was a foot shorter and eight stone lighter than The Professor, but on reflection no doubt he was referring to my card skills rather than looks...

I enjoyed the game and my record at The Stanley is now played two, final tabled two, with one cash (and a semi-cash?).

It was still pretty galling to hear the last few players - including AYDG - talking about a three way chop in the region of £500/£400/£400, knowing that one decent hand on the final table would have put me in with a great chance of being involved in that chat - for an outlay of just £21.

Playing these games always gives me a laugh because there are times early on when my play is so transparent I might as well turn my cards face up, but I still get callers because people love to gamble.

I love hearing the comments - 'oh he must have AA or KK again', 'this guy only plays monsters', etc., when I stick in a raise or move all-in on the flop, because it sticks in players minds.

Which means when I call a raise on the button with something like 65s, and get checked to on a ten high flop which I've totally missed, my bet is apparently interpreted as - this guy is so tight he probably called with JJ or QQ - and everyone folds, which suits me fine.

Similarly another pot I won had multiple limpers, and I checked the BB with two random cards. Whiffed the flop - which was checked around - and when the turn brought a double belly buster straight draw, I bet out - thinking if I hit I would definitely get paid by anyone who called the turn bet - only to see everyone fold. Probably putting me on two pair or better!

While the best starting hand may always have won at showdown, I'm pretty sure there were a few occasions where the worst hand won without a showdown. Which is just how I like it.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

February Summary

Or to give this post it's alternative title - Thank God For Rakeback

Yes, after much wailing, whining, and general despair, your hero finally hacked his way through the lemming hordes to find himself on the final day of the month within sight of break even.

At which point he thought 'I wonder how my rakeback is doing', and was astounded to find over $100 ready for dispersal - putting him a mighty $20 in the black for the month.

Which was motivation enough to shut down the tables and declare the month over.

What a rollercoaster. After cruising into a $400 mid-month profit without breaking sweat, I got a brutal reminder of the variance aspect of poker. Enough to put me off pontificating on the luck v skill argument for, oh, a few days maybe.

Still all's well that ends well, and while I won't be investing my profit in the deposit for a new house just yet, it's always nice to see black rather than red on the spreadsheet.

I've been a real sourpuss on these pages for the last few weeks, but I subscribe to the school of thought that it's better to post consistently, rather than abandon the blog when the going gets tough, for fear of turning it into one long bad beat tale.

While some of these posts may be a little monotonous and painful to read, I'd rather give a true account, than pop up intermittently when there's a profit to be advertised.

It's just as valid to share the bad times as the good, and I hope getting it all down here will make me a better player, and if it helps anyone else who stumbles across my musings, so much the better.

Remember if you are looking for a Rakeback deal, I've always had great service from Rake The Rake. If you decide to sign up, tell them who sent you (