Sunday, September 30, 2007

Light Relief

Enough bad beat whining for now!

Not played this week due to various work and family commitments, so here's a jolly hand from last weekend.

Over the last few weeks I've mentioned a hand where I totally overplayed AQ pre-flop against a nutter who finally found a hand against me, and opined on a PLO hand that shipping it all-in as a 60/40 favourite pre-flop was good, but not necessarily reflective of the edge I do have over *some* players.

I have an ongoing internal dialogue on this subject. Clearly in cash it's always good to get your money in ahead, but over time, I do sometimes veer towards the thought that passing up some marginal +EV situations in favour of maximising the edge elsewhere is a good idea.

This is one of those areas where results have a distorting effect on decisions, as after losing four on five 60/40s on the bounce - or running into a 20/80 where you are actually 60/40 against the opponents range - it's easy to start getting gun-shy.

Recent results have obviously pushed me down the gun-shy route for now, but as the magic hand shows, this isn't always a bad thing.

We are six handed at a recently opened table which has yet to fill. The Maniac is running 88%/29% on a small sample size. Effective stacks are $100, though he has already run up to $160+ with hands ranging from 72o to A8s.

UTG, and with The Maniac on the button, I find

and decide to limp. Folded to The Maniac who, as expected, makes it $6 to play. Folded back to me, and in gun-shy mode, I decide to call.

Against his range I'm way ahead, I'm also OOP, so there's a strong case for a limp-reraise, but I'll freely admit I'm not bursting with confidence, and I know he aint folding any pair here, so I rationalise it as not wanting to pay off a loon only to see the cash quickly sent elsewhere.

All of which seems a lot more valid when the flop comes

If I liked my hand anymore here, I'd be putting a poster of it on the bedroom wall!

44, 22, and even 42 do all go through my head as not impossible holdings for this guy, but that's taking fear of monsters to an extreme.

Given his constant aggression, check raising to $32 after his $8 c-bet is standard stuff.

What isn't standard is him three-betting all-in, meaning I have to call another $63 into a $140 pot.

At this point I'm thinking he either has a legitimate made hand, or perhaps even a lesser flush draw. Either way, I'm definitely calling.

Which I do, and am rewarded with the site of his

hole cards!!

9/1 when the chips went in. That's the sort of odds I like.

No more drama and a $200 pot slides my way.

I suppose you could attempt to offer some credit to the other fella, and say he may have put me on a lesser drawing hand that King-high was actually beating, but really whacking all your chips in the middle on that flop has to be a long term losing play, and one which certainly brightened up my day.

Long may it continue!

Thursday, September 27, 2007


It's been a pretty crap week for a variety of reasons, so it's nice to approach what will be a big weekend in the Div household with some good news.

Way back in May last year, I mentioned a place called Dusk Till Dawn that was planned to open in Nottingham.

I reckoned it would be one of Europe's premier poker venues.

Sadly it almost fell victim to a case of blatant collusion and protectionism by some of the biggest operators of casinos in the UK.

This led to a lengthy delay to the opening as additional legal hurdles were cleared.

The delay must have cost Rob Yong millions, but the good news is the local magistrates saw sense, and with the full support of the UK Gambling Commission Dusk Till Dawn has received full legal clearance and is ready to open.

Forty five nine handed tables, a luxurious spec, high rollers room, and full hospitality. A little piece of Vegas in Nottingham.

Hell I've even heard there's a lap dancing club nearby!

The press release is here, and some pics of the club can be found here.

It's great to see the big boys turned over for once. The Glasgow boys are already plotting their first trip down.

I pinched the champagne cork picture from the DTD site as it seemed appropriate for what I'm expecting to be a very pleasant, but exhausting weekend.

K's sister is getting married, and E is a flower girl, for the second time this year.

First time around I was the parent with a role to play in the ceremony and K was left to keep the toddler in check.

This time I'm the one tasked with maintaining order. Confidently looking forward to a day of perpetual motion, occasional tantrums, but lots of joy and smiles....and possibly some booze.

Saturday, September 22, 2007


This is getting ridiculous. The story of my weekend....

Get KK. Raise. Everyone folds.

Get KK (on the very next hand at the same table!). Raise. Everyone folds.

Get QQ. Raise. Everyone folds.

Get AA. Raise. Everyone folds.

Get QQ. Raise. Get reraised from the blinds by a hyper aggressive bluff monkey with eye popping PokerTracker stats. Do exactly as the book says and go passive allowing him to bluff all his chips to you....with KK.

On the very last orbit, of the very last table, UTG+1, get AA. Raise. Get called by a loose passive middle stack. Bet the pot on a flushing flop. Get called. Set him all-in on a blank turn. He flopped a set of queens.

I've got some more interesting hands to ruminate over, but they'll need to wait til I can rustle up a clearer head. Time for another few days off I think.

Friday, September 21, 2007


How times change.

I played my first hand of online poker around three years ago, and was shaking like a leaf while playing a solitary $5 SNG on Pacific Poker.

Pacific didn't even allow multi-tabling. So even if I wanted to, I couldn't have kept more than one table running simultaneously.

Today on my 24" monitor, this was the scene....

Not quite TillerMaN standards ($140,000 in a month!!), but I'm reasonably happy - despite my recent bewailings - and I have what is effectively free money to spend in Vegas.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Need. More. Tissues.

All booked...

* CO 17 - Glasgow, Scotland (GLA) to New York/Newark, NJ (EWR - Liberty) on Tue., 9 Oct., 2007
* CO 1468 - New York/Newark, NJ (EWR - Liberty) to Las Vegas, NV (LAS) on Tue., 9 Oct., 2007
* CO 269 - Las Vegas, NV (LAS) to New York/Newark, NJ (EWR - Liberty) on Mon., 15 Oct., 2007
* CO 106 - New York/Newark, NJ (EWR - Liberty) to Glasgow, Scotland (GLA) on Mon., 15 Oct., 2007

Tuesday - Friday: MGM Grand
Friday - Monday: Tropicana

Bring it on!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

It's Yer Money I'm After Baby

Munching my breakfast this morning I caught a bit of the BBC News coverage of the ongoing credit crunch that has hammered Northern Rock most cruelly in the UK.

As I digested my Rice Krispies, I also digested the news that Alliance and Leicester shares had been absolutely killed on the LSE. Dropping 31% for no legitimate reason. A victim of the herd mentality of the markets.

The Chancellor, Alistair Darling, has also publicly guaranteed the security of all Northern Rock deposits. The queues of frantic depositors withdrawing their life savings from Northern Rock branches had dwindled, and order was being restored to their call centre and online banking service.

As an aside, if I was Chief Exec of Northern Rock, this would have been my cue to hike all my deposit account interest rates by 2%, but maybe he is not as opportunistic as me.

On the train to work I mused, 'today could be a good day to buy Alliance and Leicester shares'. By the time I'd reached my desk, they were up 20%. By close of play the jump was 32%. ffs.

Another missed opportunity. Some spare cash to invest could have come in handy today!

This led me to speculate on other potential gainers from the current situation. Certainly armoured car operators must have made a few quid over the weekend, as Northern Rock shipped hundreds of millions in cash to their branches.

It strikes me that the most likely winners from the unfolding crisis are not likely to be listed on the stock exchange. Well, I certainly couldn't find a Muggers, Burglars, and Fraudsters plc anywhere on the LSE boards.

If there's one thing I've learned from the last few days, it's not just how financially illiterate thousands of surprisingly wealthy people are - where the hell did some of them get such sums!? - it's also how utterly clueless about security they are.

Queuing at the bank to take out gargantuan lumps of cash on the grounds it's not safe to leave it where it is, whilst giving interviews to Sky News, BBC News 24, etc. proclaiming with outrage 'I've got £250,000 with NR and I'm going to take out as much of it as they can give me today'.

Yeah great move. Why not broadcast your address too, and details of which bus you are planning to take your quarter million cash home on?

Are people really so stupid? The evidence suggest so.

Muggers often lurk near cashline/ATMs hoping to relieve some unfortunate of the £100 or £200 they've just withdrawn.

This week it's more a case of wait outside the building society for the first doddering pensioner trailing two bin bags full of £20 notes. Talk about hitting the jackpot. Quarter of a million pounds must buy a shitload of crack.

Monday, September 17, 2007

My New Favourite Hand

Another day, another dollar. Another weekend, another $700 down the tubes. There follows a bad beat whine, but jump to the end for some comedy gold.

Often I see tales of players running small sums up into mega amounts in short order, and wonder whether I should be more liberal in my bankroll management. Take a few more risks to see if I can move up the ranks more swiftly.

Weekends like the one just past persuade me that prudence is the way to go.

Looking back over my results spreadsheets, I've been unable to trace another period of such dreadful returns.

One thing that always concerns me about playing no-limit, especially across multiple tables simultaneously, is the danger of a tilt session turning into a bankroll destructing disaster that could take months to recover from.

Fortunately I've managed to avoid that, and while $700 is not to be sneezed at, it's still less than 10% of my bankroll.

I'm not prone to hugely introspective delves into the statistical depths of PokerTracker. Generally I stick to reviewing big pots won or lost, and going over any hands where I think later I might have made a different decision, or played in a different style.

The most important question I ask myself is, did I get my money in ahead? In cash games there's not much else that matters in the long term.

Over the weekend, I'm pleased to say I mostly managed to get the cash in ahead, but I did fail the test in a couple of big hands. Both of which had some unusual qualities.

I also played one of the most memorably bizarre hands I've ever seen.

Hand 1 is a standard cooler. The last four or five times I've had AA or KK I've taken the blinds. When I find myself on the button looking down at KK, my heart sinks as it's folded around to me. Am I going to miss out on action again?

Fortunately my raising rate on the button is pretty high, so I'm aware that a small raise here will not seem out of place. From my $96 stack, I make it $3 to play.

SB insta-pushes for $110. BB folds.

I pause, but only for a second or two. Surely noone would play Aces like that against a button raise that could be almost any two cards? More likely Ace-big or a middle pair who thinks I'm getting frisky.

Get real, I tell myself. You WANT to be re-popped here.

I call and get shown Aces. No suckout and bye-bye to a buy-in. The pusher leaves within a few hands, and appears 20 minutes later on another table. ffs. Pissed off! Won't make that mistake against them again!

Hand 2 is against a total nutter. I've already seen him win big pots with K3s UTG, and 94o when calling a raise from the small blind. His stats are insane - in the 80%/40% range - and he almost never folds once he's in a hand. His stack is yo-yoing wildly, and everyone wants to play him with half a hand.

So wild is he that people are calling his river all-ins with 4th pair.

UTG I find AQo and limp, as he is next to act. As expected, he raises. Unexpectedly it is folded back to me. AQo versus his range is WAY ahead. I push. NOT a move I would make against 99% of the people I play.

He thinks for three or four seconds, and calls with TT. The first time he's woken up with a real hand all night. Aaarrghh.

I miss and it's cheerio to another half stack. Fortunately he was on a downswing at this point.

Other than that it was a simple tale of made hands v flush or straight draws that couldn't miss. I must have lost $300+ to people who couldn't fold flush draws for all their chips.

One of the most painful hands came as I felt I was starting to claw my way back a little on Sunday. I find QQ on the button and three limpers, including the cut-off - who has another middling stack.

I put in a stiffer than usual raise to try to thin the field. First limper calls, second folds, and the cut-off reraises for over half his stack - which of course commits us both if I call.

I have a think. With two limpers already I can't see him slow playing a monster. Either he has a middle pair and thinks I'm getting busy with overcards, or he has Ace-big and wants to see five cards.

Either way, I'm well ahead of this range so I push to get rid of the first limper. This works, and the cut-off tables A9o.

Seriously. Ace. Nine. For all his chips pre-flop. Total stupidity. The Ace on the river was as predictable as rain on a Bank Holiday. Another 3/1 shot. Another $100 lost from the bankroll. And so it continues. At least I wasn't 98%/2% on that one!

Now with rampant stupidity abounding, there had to be a hand or two where I actually managed to win some cash. There were. Just not enough of them for my liking.

One that will long live in the memory went as follows. UTG - a tight solid player I generally avoid - opens for 4BB. UTG+1 calls. In UTG+2 I find

and with a full stack I also call. We take a flop with five players still in the hand at an eight handed table.

Obviously I like it, but not as much as I would if it were less co-ordinated.

Checked around to me and I bet just under the pot. Folded back to the SB who check raises all-in for pretty much a min-reraise. It's enough to persuade everyone else to fold.

Of course I insta-call and expect to be shown a draw of some description, or a lesser made hand.

Instead, the SB shows me

wtf!? I urgently scan the board, searching for his outs. Before I can work out that he is drawing only to a runner-runner straight, the cards are dealt and he's gone.

'Misclick?', I ask the table. 'Donk click', comes the reply from another player.

Not that I was complaining. It's hands like this that persuade me the weekend had to be a blip, and I'll be back on track soon. Certainly I hope I can post a decent winning streak prior to Vegas. To pad the bankroll and boost my confidence a little.

Before that, I think I'll take a break for a few days and revert to conquering nations in Civilization IV, and hopefully enjoy some Champions League football, before returning to the poker fray.

A change is as good as a rest, as they say, and I DO need a rest!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Going Down Like Northern Rock

My bankroll is on a steep downwards trajectory this weekend. Down $500 in the space of a couple of hours over two nights.

I seem to be experiencing one of those perfect storms of coolers and outdraws.

The only thing I can be happy with is my tilt control.

Not easy when I manage to flop a full house and lose to a guy on a straight draw!

That's a 98/2 chance for any stats fans out there. Marvellous.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

OMG They Killed France

Scotland should play France at football more often...

Last time we beat them, I managed a good night at The Stanley.

Almost a year later (!) we've done it again in even more unlikely circumstances. Unreal.

Meanwhile I was helping myself to a decent return online.

As I've said previously, the national team doesn't really float my boat when it comes to football; but I'm still delighted with that amazing result.

I made one mad Frenchman pretty depressed at the weekend. I suspect millions more will be feeling both madder and more depressed tonight.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


Many have argued the online games have gotten harder since the UIGEA inhibited the supply of fresh fish to the online economy.

As someone who plays primarily on non-US facing sites, I have some sympathy for this argument, but can safely say the marketing efforts of iPoker, 888, etc. are bearing fruit elsewhere.

Even so, it's still a noteworthy event when a single player manages to change the entire complexion of a night at the tables. Such was the case in one of my weekend sessions, in which a single hand dug me out of a gradually deepening hole, courtesy of the table 'star'.

Before getting to this hand, it's worth setting the scene with another spectacular piece of poker which had me salivating at the conclusion.

The table in question had a Commentator. Not a Captain, but a guy who simply had to make some comment, usually puerile and pointless, after EVERY single hand. He bored me into switching off chat within a short period of time.

Meanwhile The Star was going about his business.

French, looser than Britney's knickers - something like 65%/7% on PT - he was merrily accruing chips calling raises with J4s and flopping the flush, etc.

Loose as he was, he actually seemed even MORE keen to get into raised pots. Almost like he knew he was going to outdraw the opponent.

His chip stack grew, and was clearly coveted. Open limping increased, the pots swelled, everyone wanted to see a flop versus this guy. Which made his position directly to my left less problematic.

The salivation began when a raise, and a call from The Star, saw The Commentator shove all-in for 50BB pre-flop. Original raiser folds, and The Star instacalls.

His 64o becomes quad fours by the river. Crushing the Commentators QQ.

I nearly fell of my seat laughing. Composing myself, I switched chat back on to see what The Commentator made of this hand.

Silence. He remained sat out, his stack empty.

I pictured him staring aghast at the monitor, goldfish mouth silently searching for the words to express his outrage. The Star was now triple stacked.

Meanwhile, across four tables, my funds gradually depleted. Until, JJ and first in from mid-position I fire in a standard raise. The Star calls (obviously), SB calls, and the short stacking BB pushes all-in.

Merrily I launch a ridiculous overbet. Sending half my stack to the centre of the table. The Star calls, and SB folds. We are committed.

Not that it matters, but the flop is a pleasing 982 rainbow, and all my chips are in the middle, facing the inevitable call from my French friend, who tables J8s for middle pair and no realistic draw. The BB has TT. Yippee.

The turn is a T. wtf! At least I'm still good for the side pot. The case J on the river is sweet, sweet icing on the cake, and I rake a $273 pot.

What a delicious feeling. I just knew that dotted around the globe, six other players were cursing their luck. Why couldn't I be the one to get into that pot? How could he call with that pre-flop? He's giving away MY money!

I've been there on many occasions. The helpless spectator as my dollars pilfered by some donkalicious muppet are swiftly redistributed to more secure hands.

My sympathy was zero. Screw them, I thought. I deserved that!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Tipping Point

Decided to give the big screen a proper work out, by taking BlondePoker up to eight screens at the smaller table size tonight.

Ergonomically if worked fine, but I just found myself getting a bit overwhelmed by the pace, even after shutting down email, browsers, etc. and focusing on just the tables and some music.

Of course it doesn't help when you run Jacks into Kings blind v button, Tens into Jacks on a 9 high flop, etc. and to cap it all, finally get Aces v Kings, and the loon decides to slow play, and happily waits until the pot odds are perfect for threes-a-crowd Mr QJs to come along for the ride, before finding his reraise button and getting it all in on a nasty flop - which QJs duly hits. Grrrr.

Fortunately, being of a cautious persuasion, I'd dropped down a level and did actually manage to hit a couple of other hands, so the losses were relatively insignificant.

A few of the horror hands were also against shorties, which was a relief.

All the same, I've forgotten the last time I sat down, hit a few hands early, and didn't look back. It's all quite a grind at present. I hope the tide turns soon.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Mood: Improving

Not hungover today. Had more civilised - though almost pointless - conversation with lady from Setanta. Bought almost complete outfit for upcoming wedding of sister-in-law.

One the poker front. Won a little last night, in one of the craziest games I've seen in a long time, and....booked first part of Vegas trip. Staying midweek at MGM Grand. Yes, the same MGM Grand of which All Vegas Poker wrote:

As far as overall poker room quality goes, the MGM easily earns a (5) in my book. In fact, the MGM poker room sets the standard for how a poker room in Vegas should look and feel.

I found a deal on Fat Wallet that looked so good, it just couldn't be true. I showed it to K, who told me I MUST book it.

With great trepidation I filled in my details. Expecting, at every click, some spurious error to impede my reservation. There were none.

For $69 per night, plus taxes, I'm booked into a Grand Tower Room.

Or to put it another way. Three nights, total cost $225. But since the deal also includes $25 bar and restaurant credit, and two free drinks in the West Wing lounge, the effective cost is actually sub-$200.

Insane. I couldn't get a decent B&B in the UK for that price.

For anyone interested, click here to link to the deal.

If I get any more excited, I may need tissues.

Now all I need to do is find somewhere to stay at the weekend, and book flights.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Mood: Pissed Off

Finally got some decent time in at the tables this week, and rapidly wished I hadn't bothered.

It's been a long time since I've played Pot Limit Omaha to any great extent, and having read Rolf Slotboom's book I was interested in trying out some alternative strategies.

Which led me to fire up a couple of small buy-in games to ease me back into the action.

Within a few orbits I find myself UTG with double suited aces. Bingo. The table has already proved to be very LAG with several serial raisers.

Perfect for testing out Rolf's strategy. Albeit I'm bought in for the max, rather than a short stack.

All goes exactly to plan. I call, someone raises, several callers, and one of the serial raisers repots it from the small blind. Absolutely perfect. I manage to ship almost my entire stack in pre-flop.

Only the reraiser calls. With 9 high single suited!! Absolutely bonkers. There might be tournament situation where stack sizes, blinds, etc. make this a valid play, but in reasonably deep stacked cash its suicide.

Of course he makes a straight and stacks me. Looking back I was only 60/40 to win this hand, but if he wants to spend his life getting it all-in as a 6/4 underdog then that's just fine with me.

I can see how Rolf's strategy works - particularly when multi tabling - but it just didn't feel as much fun as playing lots of flops, and I happen to think my edge against donkeys like this is better than 60% so I don't think I'll be following it too closely.

The book is well worth a read though - if only to get inside the head of the short stackers.

I then proceed to lose several more buy-ins with classic Omaha stuff like top FH v flopped quads. Ho hum.

Next night I revert to No Limit Hold Em, and proceed to get queens outflopped by underpairs or suited aces (when I flop top set) three times in ten minutes whilst four tabling. Expensive.

Down a couple of buy-ins I claw it back to one buy-in down as bedtime draws near, and am congratulating myself on my tilt avoidance, when I pick up aces and manage to build a $240 pot and get another idiot all-in on the turn when he re-reraises me with a flush draw and gutshot. I'm roughly 3/1 on this one, until the gutshot hits on the river.

Nothing too statistically abnormal about any of this, but a real blizzard of bad luck. Not good when prepping for a big trip to Vegas.

I'm also having problems outside the poker world. I recently cancelled my Setanta sports subscription, after the mandatory 35 minute navigation of their IVR and queueing system, only to be continually harassed by SMS, emails, letters, chasing me up for a non-existent debt.

The final straw came this morning, when yours truly, nursing a monumental hangover after a big night out, and in the midst of changing a truly horrific dirty nappy, was interrupted by a call from Setanta chasing up this 'debt'.

Many moons ago, before I got into IT, I worked in customer services for a financial services company. My job involved dealing with a lot of problem cases, and I shovelled a lot of other peoples shit while doing my best to resolve customer complaints.

With that experience behind me, as a customer I always try to differentiate between the person I am dealing with and the organisation they represent. In that respect Setanta must rank somewhere alongside the Portuguese police in competence terms. They are an organisational shambles.

However the dude on the phone today was such a prick - wilfully unhelpful, and in complete denial about how they'd cocked it up - that I totally lost it with him, and gave him the full infuriated customer tirade.

Funnily enough he was from a Scottish call centre, so he actually understood everything I was saying to him. A rare occasion where an Indian might have benefited from not having a clue about my accent.

I managed to avoid swearing, or any personal insults, so he had to listen to my complete unabridged opinion on what a woefully inept organisation he works for, before I hung up on him after demanding he escalate the call as a complaint.

I think this one could run and run.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Another Quick Buy-to-Let Thought

My old BTL mortgage (like many) was linked to the LIBOR rate, and updated on a monthly basis.

I'm glad I switch to a fixed rate quite a while back!

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Break Out the White Jumpsuit

I've been planning for a while to make it back to Vegas, and now it's pretty much official. Exact venue and travel plans yet to be finalised, but broadly speaking, the second week in October I will be raging (almost) solo in Vegas.

The last trip was a relatively cultured affair - me and K, trips to the Grand Canyon, one of the big Cirque de Soleil shows, lots of open jawed gaping at the sheer indulgence of the big resorts, The Killers at House of Blues, and quite a bit of sun.

We did fit in some gambling and drinking, but not on a truly epic scale.

This time I'm expecting a distinctly more lowbrow affair, albeit there's a few things I'd still like to tick off the Vegas to-do list.

The travel plans are turning into a bit of a gamble in themself.

Usually I aim to have these things fixed up well in advance, but the most direct route - Continental from Glasgow to Newark then onwards to Vegas - shot up in price just as I was planning to book.

Since then I've been tracking all sorts of obscure routings as the prices fluctuated up and down.

Right now I'm focusing in on MyTravel who fly direct from Manchester to Vegas (so no customs or immigration to clear in transit, but a crappy journey to Manchester) and who have been doing insane fly-drive deals. £199 for their most recent departures!

I did say it was an almost solo trip. I've already made plans to meet up with well known LA metrosexual, and man of many blogs, Joe Speaker, over the weekend of the 12th-14th October.

If anyone else is aiming to be in town round about then, don't be a stranger.

I'm regretting not making it for the December meet, especially as it's likely to be on the weekend of the Hatton v Mayweather fight, but work and family commitments mean the schedule doesn't work for me.

I'll sign off for now by inviting anyone reading this to raise a glass to K - the wife - who has sanctioned this trip, and who will be back home looking after the toddler while I'm pickling myself in JD and coke, and attempting to cover my costs at the tables.

I'm pretty sure that wasn't in the job description she signed up for seven years ago - let's hope I don't have to invoke the 'for richer or poorer' clause on my return!