Saturday, May 30, 2009

Back to basics

Saturday night. Hanging with the Mrs by the campfire again. Ah. Can't imagine playing poker at the moment. Gawd, I love the weekends.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Poker can be fun - Who knew?

Just a quick note.

Poker League has actually sucked for the better part of 3 months. I hadn't made it very deep at all and I just seemed to always run into coolers...things like friggin' quads, when I have the top full know, the things that make poker fun. Not to mention, it seemed like week in and week out, I was playing the same 8 people to start the night. Frankly, I was really getting quite bored.

Well tonight, I felt calm, cool and collected. I played my game, stayed patient and just couldn't seem to get much going heads in, I finally went deep and finished second. Whew! Didn't run into quads once!

2nd still blows, but I'm glad to finally have the drought over.

Back to your regularly scheduled program...

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Happy Memorial Day Weekend!

Wishing every one a safe and relaxing weekend.

Ah. Cold beer. A warm fire and s'mores to fill the tummy.

Friday, May 22, 2009

I'm a...

I'm a bear in his natural habitat tonight.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Rollover runs?

Can we roll these runs over into some future games?

I picked a bad day not to play hooky and head to Chicago to watch a game with Lightning36.

Bankroll Management

Anyone remember playing poker with me recently? Man, I miss it. BBT4 is almost done and I've barely played any of them. Heck, I've even been skipping poker league. Thankfully Bourbonators is this Friday night. For the most part, I've played a few SNG's and just a little ring LHE on Full Tilt. I had a nice run of cashing 5 consectutive SNG's...almost made Super Hot status on Sharkscope...

Somewhere, deep inside this blog, is the story of me and my poker moneys. One reason OhCountess doesn't give me a lot of static about pokering it up has been that it costs the family budge approximately $0 (zero) / month for me to play poker. Those nice blogger gathering and other various pokering experiences has left me in the black, accountingwise.

About 3 years ago, I went through the trouble of setting up a bank account at a local credit union to keep the live bankroll. Me and the Mrs were running into some difficulty figuring out what money was poker money and what money was, say, Coach purse money. I think of poker as a business and anything spent are expenses. Lowering expenses is vital for long term survival of a business. Coach purses are crazy expenses (...geebus! $400 for a friggin' purse? I make my $15 wallet from JCPenny last about 5 years...) So to me, it was really important to document all of cash flows in poker.

So, I had this account. It's at a credit union which was getting me somewhere in the ballpark of .5 to 1% interest. Now, to my kids saving their allowance, no biggie. .5% of $10 is still dick, but if you been reading here for a little while, cashing in a blogger game is a bit more the $10. Remember, OhCaptain is cheap but greedy. I'm also incredibly uninterested in working my whole life. I fully expect my cash to pull it's own weight and make some money too.

I'm sure, at this point, a few people have turned this off cause poker money just comes and goes from the checking account. I take my dad job pretty damn seriously. I made a promise to myself (it's written here some where too...) when my bankroll runs dry, I will probably give this game up. I have no intentions of never playing poker we need to keep this little pile safe and secure...and breeding like rabbits...umkay?

What I've really been wondering lately is what all you geniuses do with your bankroll? 

A year ago, I moved as sizable portion of it to an account at ING Direct. At the time, I was getting 2.75% interest on the money. Really not too shabby. I kept enough local in my credit union so I had quick access to it in times of great need, you know, when you get that text about a juicy home game that needs milking (I love those...really I do) or a trip to a local casino is order. Important things. I've kept enough behind for 3 buy-ins or one largish tournament, but the rest is off in the drawing a less exciting1.5%. Which is still better then the .25% my local branch of a national bank is offering (seriously, I only get slight better rate of return play War in the other casinos), but not the >4% I'd like for beating inflation. If you are interested in an ING account, let me know. They run promotions all the get money, I get money, life is good.

So, really, any one have other strategies for holding their money? I've barely been playing lately, so I'd like to keep it growing...even when I'm not sitting in the 7 spot check raising some hippie farmer on an inside straight draw. Am I the only guy that keeps track any more? Is it incredibly rude of me to wonder? Where do you leave your bankroll when you aren't at the tables? Hopefully it's not in a paper bag on top of your car...

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Not running good?

Not exactly the cheeriest way to open Google Reader on my phone. I sure hope this negativity isn't contageous.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Luck, Lucky and Luckier

Tonight, on Twitter, I steamed off a quick comment,

"Fantastic! Lost to quads again. 5 of my last 10 tournaments have been lost to quads. What's the record for running this bad?"
Normally, this is just me complaining out loud, but a moment later, I got a reply back from a good friend of mine,
"@ohcaptain Clearly you were out played. Poker isn't about luck"
This conversation goes way back. My good friend believes that there is far more luck in poker then he believes I give it credit. To him, skill is only a small component of poker. Luck is a big factor.

TripJax recently wrote a series (2 so far) of posts based on an article he read by Richard Weisman, "The Luck Factor." In TripJax' first post, he discusses the idea the lucky people are "..,skilled at creating and noticing chance opportunities." The second post is about, "Lucky people make lucky decisions by listening to their intuition." We can only hope that he finishes this series...yo Jax...wasup?

I personally don't believe there is any such thing as luck. To me, it's just superstition. TripJax is only explaining the logical and to me, the obvious. Luck is a perception that misses the details leading up to an event. We make our own luck by being in the situation that favors our success.

The hand I played that found me busting again to quads didn't have to play out that way. I could have laid down my hand, but I was short stacked and decided to get myself into a coin flip. Something that, given a different situation, I would avoid like the plague. I had figured the guy had a medium pair. As the odds calculator over at says, it was 46% - 52% in favor of the other guy.

Poker isn't about the turn of one card. Short term thinking is what gives people the idea that luck is a factor. The reason I lost to quads didn't happen when flop was exposed. It happened almost an hour earlier. I had lost a pot that I shouldn't have lost. I just played it bad. This left me steaming. A bluff a few minutes later that went bad left me dangerously short stacked. These led to me making decisions to play margins much more risky then I normally prefer to play. Getting better at poker is about getting better at making decisions that lead to more likely positive outcomes.

Now, my friend will say, "see, you were gambling, you were hoping for luck." Well, that's not how I see it. What I'm looking for are opportunities where I stand a good probability of getting someone to risk a lot of chips in a situation that I'm close or am a favorite to win the hand. You see, I believe the numbers. I'm much more likely to win a hand that I'm only a 46% favorite then I am a hand where I'm an 18%.

Phil Helmuth once said, "If it weren't for luck, I'd win every tournament." What an unfortunate term. He really shouldn't say luck, what he should say is variance. If it weren't for variance, and bad plays, he might just win every tournament.

Variance is the term used to describe it when a statistically less likely event occurs over the likely event. Sure, you are an 82% favorite to win the hand, but 18% (or 9 times out of 50) the other had will win. That's just the way the numbers work.

Most poker players get super steamed when this happens. "Some donkey just hit a one outer and knocked me out!" One idea that has really helped me get back to grounded more quickly after this happens was the realization that long term, I want the donkey to put his money in the pot every time he's drawing to a one outer. As far as the math goes, I'll make far more money off of him doing this then amount I lost in just that one hand. It's the idea that we "get lucky" that keeps the fish coming back to the table, and making us money.

For me, there is no such thing as luck. Poker is about making the right decisions. Choosing to be aggressive and taking a pot from someone because you know they are week and will fold. That's not luck, that's skill. The other skill, that some confuse as luck is stay away from situations where the numbers lay to much risk. In the end, we are rewarded with more profits over time.

So, do you feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk?

Knowing what's more important

Forgive me Father, it's been 9 days since my last post. 

Yikes! I'm not even Catholic, although I do know a few. 9 days. Sorry about that. As the title of this post explains, I try to always know when life has something more important for my attention then poker. Gasp! It's true. This post has absolutely nothing about poker. Poker content is returning shortly. There is more to life then poker.

Over the last 3 years, our family has supported a key member in her dream of achieving a dream. OhCountess has been on a mission to complete her Masters of Nursing degree. Well, last week, she did it. She graduated.

Some of you got to meet her last December in Vegas at the Winter Gathering. A rare break for her. Those of you that have met her know that without a doubt, she is my better half. I'm so very proud of her accomplishment. I know exactly how much work she put into this.

The graduation ceremony it's self was ginormous. We got good seats, huh? That's OhCountess in the second row of Masters in Nursing students. You should be able to see her, she's wearing a black gown; black, purple, white and tangerine hood and black hat...she's the hawt one!

Here she is! She's accepting her "diploma is coming, welcome to the alumni calling list" diploma case. Thankfully, we both got our B.S. degrees here as well. Nothing new, just my excuse of "my wife is in grad school and I pay enough in tuition" excuse will probably no longer work when they call looking for money to build a new building I will never use or see.

We surprised mom with a bouquet of roses. Tangerine like the color used to distinguish the nursing grads on their hoods. OhPrincess1 was really excited. The girls are getting their mom back. I'm sure much scrapbooking is in their future.

My graduate wife. Seriously, I can't be prouder. She's got definitive proof now, she's smarter then me. Not like this wasn't a given.

I love you, honey!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Tough Decisions

Last night, Bodie25 invited a group of us over to his place to watch the Pacquiao VS. Hatton fight on PPV. I'm really not a huge boxing fan, but the invite also mentioned poker and foosball. How could anyone say no?

While the under card was going on, Bodie25, Mrs. Bodie25, DeeBakes and few other characters sat down to the green felt to splash some chips and drink. Not sure how this got chosen, but we were playing .25/.25 NLHE. I guess we did have a few beginners at the table.

I started off the night hitting a king high flush to take down a pot of a little over $8 on the first hand I played. Not too shabby in $5 NLHE ring game, but these ill gotten gains didn't last. I spent quite a while raising and then folding on the flop. The Jack Daniel's was kicking in and then so did the crazy calls and raises. It's hard to get anything going when all-ins are called with 23c and then hit.

As Pacquiao said, "This fight was easy" and had sent Hatton into next week with a hook, I was griding my way back to even. A nice flopped set of 3's really helped get me there.

There was one hand of note for the evening. Bodie25 even asked if I could write about it so I could explain how on earth I got away.

The table had pretty well thinned out and we were short handed. We have 4 people remaining; starting on my left was Bodie25, DeeBakes and Todd. In the home games I play, these are 3 of the toughest players we have. Bodie25 and Todd are much more regular NLHE ring game players and if you've been here before NL ring games aren't my bread & butter...ok, they are a financial sink in my bankroll.

Bodie25 is dealing.  I'm first to act and squeeze, J♠T♠. Not having any information, I check. Bodie and DeeBakes check and Todd raises to .75. A pretty much standard raise. Since Todd will raise here with a pretty huge range of hands, I call and so does Bodie. This doesn't really provide any information. Todd will raise with almost anything and Bodie will call with the same.

The flop comes JT♣9. That is both gin and crap. There was $2.50 in the pot and I wanted to know where I was at besides just having top two pair. Todd checks. I raised it to $2. Bodie very confidently announces raise and makes it $7 to go. Todd pretty quickly folds and the action returns to me.

Bodie25 is a good player, but he's also agressive. This was a fairly sizeable raise. My first feeling on this was an overbet for value. But I had some doubts. Bodie has a tell that I know he knows about. When he's stressed, he swallows hard and you can hear the click. There was no click. I'm going in the tank on this hand. My thoughts are to either shove or fold.

So, what hands need I be afraid of? KQ, Q8 and 87 already of a made straight. He called the raise pre in position, so any of these are possible. 99 and TT are also definitely possible. I'm quite sure he would have open raised JJ preflop along with any over pairs to the board. If he has KQ, not only is he ahead, but I no longer have one of my outs. Friggin' straight flushes.

There is a very good possibility that he has a hand that I'm not behind. QJ is in the mix and while it's not a big hand to me, I'm not really fond of it. KJ is also in the mix. It's also entirely possible he's made two pair as well or even better for me, he's bluffing or semi-bluffing with a lotta of hope.

So. Thinking this through, I know I'm no where near the nuts. My first impressions of Bodie are that he is quite strong. He's starting to chat it up the longer I take. This is good for me. He's providing me with much more information.

"If you shove, I'll be making a pretty snap decision." - this seems totally genuine. I don't think he's lying. Impression: he's got a made hand or a bluff/semi-bluff.

"You think you have outs?" - I respond with, "I have top set." His demeanour changes. "I don't think you have top set..." - He then goes on to talk about hands he thinks I have. I'm not sure where I read it or saw it, maybe it was "Elements of Poker", but who ever said it explained how when people start talking about the hands they think their opponents have in a situation like this, they talk about all the hands they know they can beat. He talked about everything a straight could beat.

He was definitely showing signs of strength. He showed his hand to Todd. Todd's first impressions of the hand looked like he was thinking strong, but Todd is a good player. His reactions weren't as definitive as I'd hoped. Since Matt had done this, I let DeeBakes see mine. Matt again show strength and showed DeeBakes as well.

Dee's reaction pretty much sealed the deal for me. His expression changed when he saw Bodie's hand. He stared at the board after looking at it with very serious eyes. For me, this told me KQ. His long stare and serious eyes meant he knew I was beat and pinning my hopes on full house draw. I had at most 4 outs.

Using the rule of 4 and 2, I've got a 16% chance of beating a straight and a 12% chance if he's got KQ. Crap.

I went with my gut and mucked top two pair face up, letting the cards land in front of Bodie next to the community cards. He looked on in amazement and turned over KQo. I can dodge bullets baby.

I was glad I escaped. Dee couldn't let it go and got Bodie to deal out the remaining two cards. The 10♣ shows on the turn. I would have hit my full house, but I'm not upset. I need to make that lay down. What would you have done?