Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Seeing the future

One of the things I love about live poker that you don't get in online poker is all the damn information. People just tell you what they have. It's true.

When I'm playing really well on the real felt quite often I just know what two cards people have. I'm not a psychic and I'm not Daniel Negraneau, but I spent years working in food service, retail and bar tending and I've learned to notice the little things that many people never see. I've also learned at the poker table to notice betting patterns that certain types of players do in only certain situations.

Last night at poker league was almost one of those nights. My reads were dead on.

Poker league can be a great place to practice reading people for that extra information. Now be very careful, you have to spot strength and weakness and apply a filter to it. People at poker league will think A3o is a monster. So be careful and figure out what range THEY think are monsters. Weak is good to know because weak means lay down or fear. Works the same for a pushmonkeys as it does for a top pro. It's strong that you need to figure out.

I had weak down pat last night. A couple of players I even had call-a-flop weak figured out so that I could steal on the turn (I love the extra bets you get with this one). I was a stealing, value betting machine last night. It was sweet and with extra chips just accumulating in front of me, poker was fun.

At one point, the guy on my right did a few things that caught my attention. He's a very quiet fella, he's patient and knows enough about poker to usually capitalize on people's mistakes. He's one guy that you can move off a pot when he's marginally weak. With the right bets, he will call with a middle pair, but he will definitely fold to pressure. Last night, I finally figured something out, he shoves all in when and only when he has the nuts. He over bets for value when he knows he can't be beat.

Having all of this extra information is only good if you use it in your decision process. There in lies my leak. This guy moves all in with the nuts. He over bets for value when he knows he can't be beat.

The blinds are 150/300. I'm in the BB with the 63c, he is in my LB. The table walks to him and he just calls and I check. We see the flop - A96 rainbow. I've hit bottom pair. He min raises. I call. The turn - 3. He know bets 300. I raise to 600. He thinks for few seconds and says "I'm all-in". Without hesitation or even the slightest bit of thought I call. He turns over AA.

How do you remember to not call that shove? Can you not call that bet?

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Tilt Control - Understanding the nature of fault tolerance

In my last post, I highlighted a need to do something different. Today, rather than bore you with the fact that I'm rocking the $5 6 person NLHE SNGs on Full Tilt or that I played live poker with the Bourbonators gang and was completely card dead while simultaneously playing strategically bad poker, I'm going to talk about what I consider my most important factor for playing good - to great poker, Tilt Control.

As many of you have probably already figured out, I'm an opinionated SOB and a dad. That's a dangerous combination when you realize that to be both, there needs to be a mom. Thankfully, we've found common ground in that we both strive for our kids to well adjusted grownups. One lesson that is vital to this goal is the idea of understanding fault.

If you have kids, I guarantee you've heard this

"It's not my fault, [insert sibling name] made me do it!"
As parents we know this is a complete pile of BS and most parents will not tolerate that for one second.
"No. [insert sibling name] did not make you do it. You chose to do it and now the consequences are [insert punishment dejour]."
I'm just as guilty as Hoy about complaining about the reason I lost was some donkey did something stupid and now I'm out. But isn't that the same thing we punish our kids for? We aren't taking responsibility for our own failings in the situation.

It is often said that poker winnings are the sum/difference in mistakes your opponents mistakes and your own. Failing to spot a situation that could cost you is your mistake, not your opponent's. If you are playing a wild monkey jackass, is his fault that he busted your AQo with 73o? As much as we would like to believe it, 73o isn't drawing dead to AQo, in fact AQo is only a 2:1 favorite. It will lose 1 out of ever 3 times it's played vs. this junk.

The lesson we need to be learning is how to look at these situations, not with tilt, but with proper mental attitude. The fault for losing this hand isn't in the dumb ass playing 73o, its in ours. We chose to play a hand that we knew to only be a slight favorite in a huge pot. It's our fault for doing something that stupid. If I want to be a better player, I need to remember that and learn to never do it again.

I really believe that in poker, as in life, we can make the right decision if we just do our part. We will be wrong and lose. When playing an idiot with chips, its good strategy to not mix it up with crappy hands but wait for them to make a mistake when we have the goods. We also really need to understand the opposition. Are they an idiot playing ATCs or did they get hit with the deck or worse...both?

Life is about our choices and what we chose to do. We are the grown-ups and I'd like to someday be thought of as a damn good poker player. Time for me to quit complaining and make better decisions.

How about you? Can you make the right decision? Is there a time when we can really blame others for our mistakes?

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Holy crap! Did you see this?

Dr. Pauly is putting on a 5th blogabirthday party like no other!

Details here!

I still need to get some sleep. No Mookie tonight. Who needs drugs when you can be this sleep deprived? Dude...I can't possibly drink another bottle of Diet Pepsi Max.

Blogging Meh - Becoming a Phoenix

Kajaguru & JJOK posted recently about a general feeling of meh in the blogasphere lately. I've kind of noticed a decline in the general enjoyment I get from my Google Reader each day. Seems all of us have been a little lacking in the excitement department.

At first, I chalked this up to summer. I gotta tell ya, the urge to spend to many of these summer days sitting around typing tales of indoor poker has been pretty low for me. Most of the Midwest bloggers will back me up on this, summer is too short and too precious to just blow off.

Personally, I think we are just getting stale. Granted, Julius taking a hiatus was a huge hit to the level of writing we are used to and the Vegas crew's out put during the recent WSOP has been fantastic yet the volume was at times, a bit overwhelming. (For links click here, here, here, and here - there's more but Christ...I'm sick of pasting.)

BBT3 for all of its upside really burned out many of the poker bloggers, both financially and mentally. It was grueling. I've read your blogs and noticed the decay in enthusiasm.

So, you say. Why I am suddenly mister state the f'ing obvious? I have some ideas. I do. The guy that won the Mookie back in ought 7 and is too afraid to play move up the pay grades for reason only he and his inner demons can explain.

I'm sick to death of posted hand histories. Yes, we can cut and paste them so easily, but unless your annotation is clever, useful, funny or has any redeeming value, they just take up space. My biggest problem with them is I barely learn anything from them. Poker isn't just about the current hand, bet or card. Poker is so much more. What's the back story? Has the guy said, done or otherwise been noticeable before this hand? How are you the poker player doing? You have a story to tell?

I used to think that Fuel55 was funny, but after 147 posts about the value of the pocket 5's and over/value bets in action post...I'm done learning those concepts. No don't get me wrong that I am in any way diminishing his skills, his talent or think for one second that he doesn't know how to play poker. I'm just saying...the shtick is getting old.

And in this lies the problem. We are getting stale. Heck, if I read another post about how great Hoy thinks his play is and that everyone else just sucks, I might just puke a little in my mouth. He still offers much value deep down inside those tomes, but again, the shtick is getting old.

The drama in the world of poker bloggers also took a turn for the worse. This hasn't helped. I think the idea that somehow, this little world was different and a little better then the, [clearing throat] "Real World" is very appealing, but maybe a bit naive. How can any community exist in which all members live in harmony? [I took absolutely way to many philosophy classes in college]

I've caught the Twitter bug. It's fun. It's like microblogging. Sort of like the poker I play, but it's also just a lot more noise in my life. I've had to learn to timeslice it.

So, what's the Phoenix reference about? My personal goal is to not just think about this blog as a place to post hand histories. I want to start telling more stories. I also want to talk more about general strategy, not just how do you play AKo UTG+2 with a avg stack in a MTT. Useful, but when that's all that gets talked about, I miss the whole idea that the guy in the corner...that old guy with the fishing hat...he just sat up. Screw the book. Old fart's got a hand. Now what do we do?

It could be the cumulative 12 hours of sleep I've gotten in the last 3 days. Hell, last night at poker league I called a guy, I called his hand. I couldn't beat it, but I could call it. I put all my chips in anyways cause I really just wanted to go to bed.

Here's what I like in blogs that I read. I like to laugh, I like to cry (I know that's ghey, but I softy for a really good story of human conflict overcome, kids, births and Daddy moments - get over it), I like to think, I like to get mad...I like blogs that are more then just hand histories and the obligatory I just won/lost the [insert tournament/table name] that have no story, no heart or any meat. Astin's cooking posts...they make me hungry...that's very good :-)

Drizz has been upping the bar lately. He's been putting up some really funny stuff. Kaja...I miss you finding the Worst Fight Scene ever. Dude...I almost wet myself here laughing so hard.

I'm definitely not Dr. Pauly when it comes to my writing prowess. I don't think my blog is all that and a bag of chips. I write this thing cause I like to. Notice all the ads? Yeah, Google Adsense has made me about $4 in 2 years. I can't even collect until it reaches $100. I dawned on me that I might just be the only blogger paying his way by winning poker Yeah...nice...grinding it out on the $2 tables, but I do do this for the fun of it. (You can send me ad offers if you want - I'm not getting rich on the $2 tables)

I have 3 blogs (besides here, try here and here). I'm an idiot and an √úbergeek. I also really like each blog for different reasons. They allow me to express myself in the many different facettes that make up OhCaptain. I'm a poker degenerate, a father, husband and a photographer. Hopefully I can express myself in ways that other find interesting. If I suck...let me know. Personal improvement is cool, but don't expect me to change right away. I just turned 39. I'm facing the big 40 with the heart and mind of a 20 year old.

How frick'in long is this post? You still here? Never, I mean never hand me the mic when I'm over tired.

Here's a little bit about me to help you understand me and this post. I have a BS degree in Computer Science. I was DJ in meat market bar that everyone went to to get drunk and laid. How many ENTP computer programmers do you know? I'm listening to the Love & Rockets on headphones while wearing a tie.

What are you doing?

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Vacation is over, time for the welcome home party

It is good to be home. You know that your vacation was full and complete when everyone is excited to see their own beds. Even my kids were glad to finally sleep in a familiar room. I've been posting the latest pictures on my photoblog. Hopefully you find them not to be just your ordinary vacation snapshots.
I did play some poker on vacation, nothing live, but every hotel we stayed at was serving up the free wi-fi. For the most part, being on the east coast was horrible on the ROI. I don't think I won or even cashed in a single SNG. The sheer volume of coolers I was taking caused me more then once to consider the nuclear option and send my laptop into the wall.

The whole family was exhausted from a day of travels and the change of time zones allowed me to play the Mookie on Wednesday. I played two hands. I raised it up from UTG with KK and you lucky scumbags mucked, mucked, mucked, mucked, mucked, mucked, mucked, mucked and mucked. Dear God! Its a donkament and not one of you could call a standard raise! Not that this last long. I got moved to a new table and shortly after that played AA. Got called. Got it all in on a 9 high board and only to realize that I was up against a flopped set of 4s. Sigh.

As any good Minnesotan will tell you, summer is a hectic time of the year. We are jamming as much activity into 3 months as most of you do all year. With vacation, the return to work and my last birthday as a 30 something all occurring this last week, it was nice to finally relax in the Friday Night Donkament host by the lovely Kat.

The Donkament continued my frustration in poker lately. Seems if there is a way for someone to catch up in a hand, the will, or if I have someone dominated, there is a gurantee that they will hit their bottom pair. I was catching cards, I got KK and JJ 3 times a piece. Each failed miserably. With 5 minutes left to go in the rebuy period, I rebought one more time. Thankfully, I was able to triple up just before the break. Not where I like to be in the big stack portion of the night but I'll take it.

I'll need to go through the hand histories to figure out just exactly what happened, but somehow, I was able to take my meager little stack and put myself towards the top of the leader board. JJOK and Easycure had made an insane amount of chips during the rebuy period. If memory serves, JJOK had 10 times as many chips as me. No matter. For the first time in a long time, my hands started holding up, I was hitting my sets and some how, some way, my reads were correct AND the other player didn't hit two miracle cards to still win the hand.

And shortly there after, we lost JJOK.

We got heads up, and Easycure offers me the chop. I had over 100,000 in chips and he was hovering around 70,000. I just didn't feel like I needed to chop. I was in a good position to win this thing and I love HU poker. These next two hands pretty much sealed my fate.

Well fought game boys. After the rebuy period, I would have just been happy to cash, but building my stack to chipleader but a bunch, losing pretty much blew. I did probably overplay my ace in that first hand, oh well. It was nice to finally cash again. Hopefully this means the tide is turning.

I'm working on a post about Poker Tracker 3. Let's just say, I'm not very happy right now and that product isn't even close to ready for primetime.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Let's blow the whole wad!

I'm blowing the whole wad of vacation time that is. We are packing up the kids and loading them into a flying tin can. MSP to ATL to RIC. This will be the kid's first "airplane vacation." I have 47 hours of vacation save up and we are using 40 of them in the next week.

I would seriously doubt I'll play the Mookie, the Dookie, Riverchasers or the Donkament this week. The wife gets a little peeved if I play too much poker on vacation.

Are there any home games/casinos/bar poker in the Virginia/Maryland area any ways? If there are (4dbirds(katiemother), CEMFredMD) let me know!

I hope everyone has fun in Okie Vegas. Really wish I could be there, but I'll probably have a blast taking my daughter on the lazy river again at Water Country USA.

Be sure to cheer on the remaining bloggers in the WSOP ME. What's the latest? Iggy & Loretta8 are still with chips and a chair!

If you see me on the tables of Full Tilt this week, drop by and say hi before the wife finds out I logged on and shuts of the laptop. Hehe!

Cya on the felt!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Happy Independence Day!

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Thursday, July 3, 2008

What's this? A poker blog?

Summer is kicking my ass. Man, I remember, as a kid, thinking this summer thing was just one long day to play after the next. Its July already and I have no idea what happened to June.

And then came Poker Tracker and it all came rushing back to me...I broke even.

I finally got off my scared little a$$ and moved up the sng ladder just a little bit. When I started this blog, I was a regular at the $5 games but then I found out how to lose and did some serious damage to my bankroll. At the worst of it, I was actually playing my money again...yikes! I' back to playing the $5 sngs and even won me a Tier One token. Watch your backs boys and girls!

Remember my post on fear? I'm still practicing anti-fear. Since that post, my live poker at poker league has seen a dramatic improvement. The 6 weeks prior to the post saw no points for OhCaptain. Nada. Since that post, I'm 4 of 6 weeks in the points with one 1st place finish and 2 2nd place finishes. This week was one of the second place finishes.

In particular this week, I found my gambool. I really felt like I was reading well and making the poor people of this league suffer for the short comings. Large value betting was normal for me, I was continuation betting flops that I knew they missed and even some that if thought looked like something I hit. In this league, we start with 2000 chips. At first break (4 X 20 min blind levels) I had about 10,000. I really wish this was a knock out tournament...I'd be rich. I had 5 knock outs in the first hour and 20 minutes.

The hand of the night went like this.

Grant, a player that I know to be very aggressive and loves to steal pots from the weak is directly to my right. He raises it one bet to 800, the blinds are 200/400. To me, this was just his SOP, so I put him on ATC. The flop came 242 with two spades. He's first to act and makes it 2500. It just seemed like a bet to chase me away. Again, this would be SOP for him. He gets you in the pot and then steals it away when he thinks you missed. If he has hit this flop, he would want me to call, and the bet would be smaller. I figured my cards would still be a good draw against his range, so I shove over the top making it about 9000 to go. He calls and turns over KTo and says, "I don't think you have anything." It's not often you will hear me laugh at the table, but this time I did. "Nope, I don't have anything, but my nothing is better then your nothing." KJo would be a big favorite now. A jack on the turn would seal his fate and make me the tournament chip leader.

I continued my aggressive play right to the final table. There, the competition does get very challenging. Say what you will about free bar poker, but there seems to be a lot of final tables with the same people at them. These people weren't the ones to just lie back and take abuse, they reraise your steals and remind you that they know whats going on. I tried picking better spots to get chips, and kept alive. Grant, was making a huge comeback and getting great cards. My cards sucked so I just stayed out of the way.

In the end, I ran ATd into AKh and AKd into 99 and successfully redistributed my chips back to the table. Staying a live long enough to have 2000 chips left when the blinds were 1000/2000. So when the BB hit know the rest.

I'm not sure how much poker time I will get in the next 2 weeks. We will be taking the kids to visit friends in Wisconsin this weekend and on Wednesday morning, we will taking them on their first airplane vacation to the Virginia/Maryland area. Any bloggers want to get together out there...let me know. We have no definite plans right now other then a wedding. Of course my laptop will be with, cause I'm a degenerate that way...and every hotel I've booked so far has Internet access.

I will admit it right now, I wish I was going to Okie Vegas. Maybe the next one.

Until next time, may you only be reading about drama, not livin' it!