Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Almost forgot the ending!

As it turns out, the well went dry for me. I started stealing some blinds to stay alive and got to the final table. One person was eliminated rather quickly, and there were a few of us struggling to stay alive. In poker league, the blinds start doubling towards the end. We go from 500/1000 to 1000/2000 then 2000/4000 and so on. At some point, you become a slave to the cards.

I was down to my last 9000 in chips with the blinds at 3000/6000. Oh how nice! I had 4 2 off suit in the BB a raise, a re-raise and a couple of calls made me think that this wasn't the hand to push on. In the LB, I get dealt k 7 offsuit and it walks to me...I push all in to the BB. I'm better than a coin flip against 2 random cards. He calls as I expected. He's got 65 and we all know how many hearts were dealt...7th place it is and 128 points + 20 (attendace).

Shuffle Up and Deal - Free Poker Gold Rush - Week 1

Week 1 for the Free Poker Network Gold Rush was last night at Brother's Bar and Grill in Rochester. I went into the evening confident but humble. The summer leagues I stunk up the joint only making the points once, but felt good about finishing 2nd in the HU Challenge. I played that turnament smart and relaxed.

The census numbers of the first night were a little disappointing. Only 51 people were there. Last year, in the fall, we had 80.

My goal for the evening was to just play smart. I've pretty much given up on any tricky plays early and only bluff in situations with low risk. It's too easy to lose chips to a complete donkey move and get behind the 8 ball early.

The first time I put chips in the middle voluntarily was against Grant M. I've played him several times and he's agressive and likes to bluff. The blinds are 25/50. He limps in UTG and I'm the BB. The LB calls and I check pre-flop with KJ. The flop come J 8 4 rainbow. I check the top pair, I'm positive the Grant will continuation bet and I'm rewarded with a raise of 200. The turn is a duece. I check again, I really believe my hand is good at this point. I really doubt he would limp with A J or a pocket pair. There are no draws paying off at the moment and I'm sure he'll raise for me. Again he raises, this time about 400. I call. The river is a 5. I now firmly believe I have the best hand, but I don't like to die with just top pair, so I check again. I plan to call any raise that doesn't leave me devastated. This time he raises 700, I call. He turns over A 9...yeah! I knew he didn't have it! Score one big pot on picking off a bluff by being patient and reading the hand carefully.

I took out another guy a few hands later. I had 9 7 on the button and called the min raise from the UTG player (Evan Kramer). He'll make that same raise whether he has big cards or a weak ace. He rarely limps. Everyone else folds, so we are heads up. The flop is Q 9♣ 6♠. Evan bets have the pot, but it really feels like a continuation bet to me. The turn is a 8 I now have a flush and straight draw. Evan likes to stay aggressive once he has the lead and he bets the same bet as the flop. When he's done that before, he's usually just betting at the pot with nothing. I think about this, I probably could take the pot right now with a bet, but I seriously think that even if he hits on the river with a pair, I might still have him if I hit the flush or straight. So I check again. The river is a blank. He checks. I didn't improve, but I'm sure my 9 is good. But if I raise here, I'm only getting called or reraised with a better I check. He had nothin. Score another pot for not folding to some pressure!

The final hand of note last night occured just shortly after the hand with Evan. I'm the chip leader at my table table. The blinds are 50/100 and I'm in the cut-off with 33. I limp in with 2 limps in front of me. The button folds and so does the LB. The BB checks. The flop comes 2 36. It checks around to me I raise 400 to see where I'm at. Only the BB calls. Now, she's new to me. I've never seen her before, but she seems confident of not arrogant. From her conversations thus far, she seems to be a competent player. There was no raise to her in BB so she could have any 2 cards. I'm guessing she's either hit the straight or drawing to the flush or the straight. The turn comes A♣. She checks again. This really makes me suspicous. Does she already have something? or is she still drawing. I bet out 700. She instantly calls me. OK...I think she slow playing now. The river is 2♠. If she's drawing to the flush, she missed, if she had 2 pair...she's got a smaller full house. She could have got the straight on the flop, or a pair of sixes in the whole...but I'll be will to 700 that she has the straight. She instantly goes all in. Even if I lose this call, I'd be back down to the starting stack or just a little less. I call. I was now the huge chip leader at the table. The funny thing was as she left the table, she slides her chips my way and says "Merry Christmas". I thought that was funny, because had she raised on the turn, I might very well have folded or just called and then folded to any raise on the river had the 2 not come.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The 16 week league begins TONIGHT

Live poker returns from vacation and the special HU tournament. Let's see how many people show up tonight. I'm hoping for a full house. I seem to do better when there is a larger field.

Summer poker league sucked for me. I got no where quickly. Let's hope this turns around and I actually go deep again.

Online lately has been seeing some modest success. I was on vacation with Bodie25 and his family. We didn't have internet for most of the week. When I did see some little glimpses, I came home from vacation playing other people's money!

This week, I hope to try at least 1 180 person turnament on Full Tilt. $2 buy in with a really decent payout.

I'm so excited to play some live poker again!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Vacation - precious little time

Bodie25 and I took the families on vacation. The wives seem to think this vacation should be about something more than poker. Apparently, family vacation aren't supposed to be about poker...who knew. (j/k).

I've had a lousy run at the felt lately. I seem to have lost any hope of cashing in the sng, and as usual...the ring game leaves me baffled.

I played a sng this morning (everyone is sleeping - hehe), and I cashed! It was only a 3rd place finish, but at least one monkey is off my back.

I felt very relaxed playing today. Got some cards to help with, but for the most part, I just stayed away from the morons. I even had the nerve to lay down KK.

In that hand, there were still 7 people at the table, and the sheer number of completely donkey plays going on was baffling. (We got to the bubble in 25 hands). The blinds are only at 20/40 when I got the cowboys. OTG raises on BB. I raised him another BB just to see if he wanted to dance. I probably would have folded to an all-in, but anything else, we see the flop. No one else joins in and he just calls. The flop comes 6Q♠A♠. The Villian raises pot (300). I thought about his for a while. He very well could be bluffing, but then again it's donkey time and has A7 might be good. I really didn't want to die with only cowboys, so I folded.

Early on in sit-n-gos, do any of you fold or even push preflop with cowboys? It seems to me to be a way to hit the rail early.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Poker League Heads Up Recap

The tournament is over. I was trying out the new iPhone and updating the blog from the bar. I thought about taking everyones picture, but it didn't seem right. But, updating the blog while out is pretty cool.

36 people signed up to play in the Minnesota Poker League Heads Up Tournament at Brother's Bar & Grill. I've been really excited to play in this one since it was announced. I really like playing heads up. It's so mentally challenging!
The structure goes like this - each player starts with 2000 in chips. Blinds start at 25/50 and go up every ten minutes. The rest of the blinds are 50/100, 75/150, 100,200, 200/400.

I was really worried about my first match. Prof Jenson. I've played him a lot and he's a very solid player. He's also got experience heads up. My only hope against him was to be switching gears frequently. I decided to start slow and play very tight. We went back and forth for awhile, but eventually, I had all the chips in front of me. Whew! 1 down 5 to go.

Next up Hudson Lanier. He's a college student majoring in Classical Guitar Performance. He was very agressive. He like to raise it up. I decided to be selectivly agressive myself. I folded to him frequently, and then mixing it up and make strange raises. The first hand of the game did start out well. I was dealt 99. He was betting like crazy. I had a feeling he was week and called him to the river. The river actually gave me a straight, so I reraised him. He folded, but this put a serious dent in his stack. We tussled for a while, but not before I had him down to about 800 chips. He raise, I pushed him all in, he called. He actually had a hand in A 10, but my K J spiked a J on the river to win it.

Next up is Evan Kramer. I've played him before and he's also very solid player. He mixes it up and is good at spotting weakness. Early on, I had got the feeling that he was focusing in on my weakness. So I started limping and playing weak with strong hands and playing weak hands strong. This really turned the tide. This worked well and I got him down to 700 chips with the blinds at 100/200. He started to move all in and I found cards.

Randy Wobig, who always reminds of the character actor Carmen Fillipi. I've played this guy before, and of all the people I played tonight, I always find him the easiest to read. His eyes change when he hits and the guy plays his cards. I mixed it up well against and won a lot of small pots raising into him when he missed. Worked well and we were done pretty quick.

I had to sit around for about 30 minutes waiting for the last match to finish up. The basketball player and the Well Manicured Guy. I actually was hoping to play the basketball player. He thinks well and tries to play too tricky, like Bodie25. I felt I had the best chance against him. The 60 year-old gentleman is much more of a gambler. He's just risky and you never know what he hit. With more time, I'm sure I can unravel his tell. He bets with a different pattern when he bluffs.

He name is Terry Annasasi and he won the match to play me in the finals. We agreed to play best 2 of 3. He won the button and off we go.

He likes to bet, bet, bet and bet. I didn't want to get really short playing small pots with him, so I folded a lot. He whittled me down for a while, but I bluffed my way back to even. The blinds got up there and we fought back and forth. He finally busted me when I hit a set of nines on the river. He also hit the set, only his 7 was the better kicker. Man...that sucks.

It was really strange, but I kept thinking about our first meeting. I was tilting. I don't normally let hands bug me too much at the table, but I was getting frustrated. He kept hitting something on the flop and even his junk was better than mine.

I decided to mix it up and play the next hand agressive. I had 9♠3♠. The flop came 10 7 3. He raised like he always does, so I went all in over the top. He calls...he turns over 77. DAMN!

I finished 2nd. I was very disappointed. I really wanted to win it all. I'm definitely proud of finishing second, but it's still not fun.

I'll be on vacation next week. No poker league in MN. 2 weeks from today, we start the fall league. 16 weeks. I feel like I've been playing good live poker...going to California would be fun.

Randy Wobig can't do it

Heads up for the finals! I'm waiting for the other match to finish.

Wow...I'm in the semi-finals

Played Hudson Lanier then Evan might be a while, I'm 1
round ahead.

First Match Heads Up

Finished the first match with none other then Prof. Jenson. On to the
next round for me!

Monday, August 13, 2007

My weekend on the felt

Well...the weekend started great at Full Tilt Poker. I cashed in 3 out of 5 9 person sngs I played in. Then...I didn't cash in the next 4 straight. I still have a leak that cost me my the first loss...I called a guys all in with top pair and ok kicker. He'd hit 2 pair. And the worst part was my spidey sense was going crazy screaming "Fold! Fold!" so I called. Again, I overplayed my hand and should have folded it when he came over the top.

I might be looking at changing things up for a bit. I've played something like 300 of these tournaments, I have a winning record, but I can't just keep grinding them out. I'm seriously considering spending some time on the 180 person MTT tournament sng. Just for a looksie. I really enjoy MTTs, and should play in more of them. I just for so long considered the STT my bread and butter.

Tomorrow night is the one night only Heads Up Tournament for the MN Poker League. I'm really looking forward to this. This weekend, when I did cash, I either finished 3rd or 1st. That's a pretty good feeling. I'm very confident in my HU game. I look forward to this tournament to try playing HU live. I've only done it twice live, once with a drunk (lost to Mrs. Bodie15 - she'd had plenty of wine and turned into an calling station), once to a tourist and we played one hand (lost with AK vs K6), once at league against Bodie25 (sorry...won that one!). While it may seem I've lost most of these, I played them very well (I think), and the cards went bad. The first 2, I was a serious short stack. This tournament, we start out with the same number of chips and smaller blinds, so I can afford to sit back for a while and watch.

All in all, I CAN'T WAIT!

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Wow...this crap works!

Played a $5 9 person sng tonight. Holy crap...I won! I tried to follow Rizen's advice today and not focus on the outcome. I just played poker and tried to enjoy myself. Article 1 and 2 (I highly recommend reading them. They are very good.)

It felt really good to play heads up tonight. I think I really had the guy baffled. I gave him every look I could and showed him a few unorthodox plays. By the end, he didn't know whether to raise or fold.

Hopefully this is good practice for poker league this coming Tuesday. It's a HU tournament! Bodie25 and I am pretty excited to give it a whirl!

Let's see if experience pays off. Most of these people don't play that much online and many of them have never been heads up at league either. I plan on playing the player and see how that turns out.

Understanding...Poker League - Varience

I'm beginning to understand Rizen's latest article in the latest issue of Card Player magazine. "Attitude Adjustment: The Keys to Enjoying Poker" In this article, he discusses not playing poker results oriented and accepting varience for what it is. The left-overs when you don't win.

Poker league is a great place for me to learn to handle varience. To be a better player at poker league, I need to better understand how my opponents play and then adjust my game to play them optimaly.

Last night was the final week of the 2nd 6 week summer league. Now, I have had a horrible summer for results. I think I made the points once all summer. Many of the weeks, I lost to inferior hands getting lucky and taking me out, but the bigger question well did I play? For the most part, I think I played OK. But I don't think I played optimal compared to my opponents.

My game has been very results driven. I played to make the points most of the time. I play my cards and don't really think about the other people at the table, most of whom don't really have a clue except what 2 cards sit in front of them, but therein lies their weakness. They don't have a clue, some do, but most don't. Many of them win by just sheer agression, others win because the poker gods smile upon them. What I need to do, is identify each players style and the play the game that best counters their style.

In the final week, I had Ron in my BB, Virginia in my LB, a drunk/agressive guy in my CO, the guy with KK from last week one to the right of CO. Ron is agressive. He always raises. Last night, he also had cards. I was smooth calling him after limping to him trying to trap him, it would have worked had he not been sitting there with good hands. AQ and AJ in the BB are nice when you are an agressive player. I got as low as 600 chips playing with Ron. I battled back, picking pocket 9s to take my stand. It worked, and I quadupled up. Unfortunately, the blinds were about to get steep.

I slid buy until the blinds were at 200/400. I had gotten myself to about 3600 chips and we were down to 3 tables. The old guy straight across from me, let call him Jerry, is kind of a moron when it comes to poker. He likes to play the long shots and seems to get lucky when he needs it. He had been the chip leader most of the night. Sucking out on poor, innocent people. Well, he just got burned for a huge portion of his chips. He had 3300 left. The very hand after losing most of his stack, he moves all in. I figured he was steaming and playing a big card...probably king high or ace high. I'm on the button and I find A♠J♠. I think for a minute and decide I came here to win this thing. I know I have him beat. I go all in, with my 3600 chips, (I drove, so I don't need a cab).

He turns over K♠6♠. Not ideal, but at least I was ahead. He spikes a K on the flop and I don't improve. Oh well. He's bound to do that about 35% of the time. One moron at the table was nice enough to point out that it was a coin flip. OK...not sure where you got that idea...but we'll let you live in your own little fantasy world.

The point of all this was, I put my money in with the best hand. I've been doing that all season. Which is good. What I need to work on, is play for more pots that I have a good chance of winning. Playing the little pots early, building up a stack so that when varience hits, I don't grab my keys...I just wait for another spot.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Bad Karma free ride is just about over. I'm about to start playing my own money again. I played a $5/9 person sng and a $10/9 person sng tonight. Bubbled both. I then sat down at a .05/.10 NLH 6 handed table.

I've really worked on being patient, but I seriously doubt that I can win again. The hands I've busted on are just maddening.

In the first sng, I have 10 10 in BB and about 9 BBs left. The 2nd shortest stack at the table is in the LB. He does his usual min raise. I'd let those go weak so I could trap him when I hit a good hand. This was it. I pushed. He calls. He's got AK. You'll never guess when came on the flop.

2nd sng, I was about as card dead as anyone could be. In 35 hands, I had one Ace (UTG with an off suit 3) and 1 king. No, it didn't have a very nice card either and was WAY out of position. I play patient poker and steal enough to stay alive. I get down to 7 BB and squeeze JJ...I push (remember, I've folded almost every hand for 40 minutes). I get 2 callers. Being the short stack, we see the flop. Of course! There's an ace. One of the caller raises and the 3rd person folds. He turns AA. The player that folded says they fold JJ. You've got to be kidding.

So I sit at the ring game. I play tight and stay in small pots, until I raise to 3 BB from middle position. I get reraised from the BB. This guy had been an idiot for a little I pushed my entire stack in and had him covered. Well...of course he calls...he's got KK. And just to show you how shaken my confidence is, I get ready to stand up from the table. How could my AA beat that. He flops a K. I'm broke.

I really need some help here. My money goes in ahead and I can will get beaten. This just can't be variance or can it. Do other people lose everytime they play? I mean really? How can you just continualy lose with the best hand? I build up a stack in the beginning of a tournament only to watch my cards go cold...until...I get a big hand but just not as big as everyone else...or...I lose a friggin' 2 outer!

I have a vacation coming up. Maybe that will help turn the corner. I had been reading Brian Townsend's blog. He was in a serious rut. Now, I'm not saying I'm him, but he seems to have been able to come out the other end.

I'd like to learn to grind it out in the cash games, but I gotta tell ya, I've lost a small fortune putting my money in with AA or KK and watching them just fold. This isn't the first time I was all in (calling) with AA only to watch it lose. I'm not sure I have ever won with it in a ring game. I play loose to get action...BAM...variance. I play tight to protect them...BAM...variance.

How does this game work?

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

A break from hold'em

OK...the bad beats and bad breaks just keep coming. I played in 4 hold'em sit-n-gos tonight...busted in everyone. AK vs. A9 (I was the AK). A9 vs Q9...I was the A9. KK vs 88...I was the KK. BB special hit 2 pair on the flop. Got them all in...runner-runner...they hit 2 pair with the turn and river (they were ace high when the money went in).

I think I'm tired. And mentally...I just can't keep losing with the better hand when the money goes in. I might play a bit of razz if I play at all. It's just really hard to shake the feeling that you will lose every matter how strong you are.

OK…I didn’t really want to play poker anyway…

Last night marked the shortest live poker experience of my life.

Poker league returned after a one week hiatus. I was excited to get back to the felt. I had a list of things to try out. I was keeping on the aggressive theme. Bodie25 had reminded me of Gavin Smith poker. I was hoping to play lots of little pots, and take the ones no one wanted.

First hand gets dealt. Hmm…it's 2 jacks. Cool! I never get pocket pairs bigger than a 4. I raise to 75. Blinds are at 25/25…it's the first hand. The guy to my left reraises to 150. Everyone folds. I call. I've seen this guy go deep several times this summer, but I've never spent more than 15 minutes at a table with him and it's always been late…him with a mountain of chips and me looking for a way to make a pile or blind out.

The flop comes K J 6 rainbow. I checked, he raised to 75, this seemed really small to me, so I reraised to 150. He goes all in. Now, damn it, there are exctaly 3 card combinations that can beat me. All are kings, but I seriously believe he'd make this same play with AK, AQ, AJ, KJ, QJ. BUT THIS IS THE FIRST HAND!

As has been my dealings with the poker gods…he turns over KK. Anyone seen the case J?