Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Never play a hand with a 9 in it

Never play a hand with a 9 in it.

I read that advice somewhere. I'm pretty sure it was an article about razz, but if you think about it, it makes a lot of sense in most games. It's rarely ever the high and most probably never the low.

Last night was poker league. Lately, I've just been completely unable to get anything going. It's still a great place to practice some aspects of poker, but mostly it's a dang good reason to get out of the house and hang with fun people.

Lately, I've really been experimenting with a much more small ball approach. The games tend to be pretty tight passive and when my game is on I think I can exploit this after the flop.

Under the gun, the blinds are 50/100, I decided to limp with 99. Usually if someone raises preflop, you are either against over cards or bigger pairs and raising now will encourage them to raise again. Spiking a set can be gold! Lot's of people will die with top pair or even any two pair. The guy next to me calls and the two blinds join the fun.

The flop comes As9s8c. Gin! The two blinds check, I'm really not happy about the two spades because it will be tough getting rid of the flush draw players, like the guy on my left. I bet out for 400 (pot size). Only the guy on my left calls. He's a notorious straight and flush chaser.

The turn is a second 8. Whew! If he's on a draw, I'm good. We both check.

The river is a blank. (I think it was a 4d) To induce a raise, I bet out here 600. Not really pot size, I was hoping for it to look like a steal of the pot. Well, he reraises me the minimum. I'm pretty sure he'd do that with anything from 2 pair up. Maybe he's got trip 8's. I'm pretty sure a shove for value here will get called. So I shove.

He couldn't have more instantly called and turned over 88. Friggin' quads!

Unlike the post with the aces a little while ago, that I now admit to totally screwing up, I ask you, how the hell do I not go broke here? (BTW - we both had monster stacks at the time)

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Home game poker gives back

We didn't forget and I promised myself that I would post this when it got done. Remember, back in January, we had our little home game and did an add-on

The add-on worked like this, bring 2 items suitable for donation to a local food shelf and you'd get an extra 500 chips. This idea came from oldest daughter's. Her school routinely does a food drive every year pitting each class against the others to gather the most food. Every year, parent's of kids in every class get home from work and wonder what happened to the jar of spaghetti sauce they were sure they had.

The week following the home game, it was brutally cold here. Folks, I grew up here in Minnesota. 80 hours below zero is cold. Since I work a Monday - Friday job and have no access to parking, I can't bring the food to the food shelf. The job fell to the OhCountess. We also agreed that we wanted our girls to be apart of the delivery. There was no way my wife was taking the kids any where that week of the deep freeze and the following week didn't improve that situation, she started clinicals for grad school. Ugh. 

Here it is! Today the girls got all that food to the Channel One Food bank. Thanks to everyone that came that night! Our home game collected 38 items to give to those in need. I'm sure someone else's home game can do better. Your home game have what it takes? I'd love to hear your stories of home game charity! Wouldn't it be cool if we all tried to out do each other and maybe make a difference?

Monday, February 23, 2009

Something special at whiskey club

After a bad night at poker league last week and almost no time at home to play online, Friday night's monthly meeting of the Bourbonators was a welcomed event.

This month's meeting was also extra special for another reason.

A few weeks ago, I received a slightly unusual reply on Twitter.

@ohcaptain stumbled upon your blog about the Bourbonators. would love to hear more.
Well, that's kinda cool. Someone found my blog. Being ever curious, I checked out her Twitter page to make sure she wasn't "goooooood girl" and sent her a direct message with an email address she could contact me. A few minutes later, we were talking without the limitation of 140 characters or less.

Seems she was doing some research on whiskey clubs and had never found one quite as organized as ours. We've got a pretty cool club here. It's going on 6 years old and hasn't really missed more then a couple of months in that time. If you want to read more about our club, check out my bourbonator's labeled posts.

Her PR gig was currently focused on working with Canadian Club. Her email also included an offer to send us a sample of 150 Year Anniversary Canadian Club’s 30-year Reserve. Um. Okay. That's a $200 bottle of whisky. It's been sitting in a cask for 30 years. Oaky and smooth come to mind. I had contacted our groups leader with the offer and apparently he too had the same idea I did. "Sure!"

We don't normally drink $200 bottles of anything. We pitch in $5 every month to the whisky fund and through proper bankroll management, our Chief Bourbonator picks out a whiskey, scotch or bourbon within our price range. We average between 10 and 15 people a month, so we usually hover in the $50-$70 range. The whole idea of the club is to give us chance to try a spirit we would normally not get past the wives without risking some serious couch sleeping time.

Our meeting date was set for last Friday. The Chief Bourbonator has been sitting on this bottle for 2 weeks. I've been dreaming about this bottle for 2 weeks. All we need was time to pass and 7 pm on February 20th to get here so we could crack open the wax seal.

Yes, it was sealed with a cork and the top of bottle was dipped in a heavy wax to seal it. This was a bit more fancy then our regular screw tops. It even arrived in this black box with the silky, padded lining. It had a lovely caramel brown color. As John said just looking at it, you knew it was saying "Drink me!"

Upon opening the bottle, we passed around the cork. You notice right away the subtleness of the smell. We weren't sure what to expect, but this definitely didn't have a real strong boozy smell. John had started pouring everyone their glass. As is customary, we each get one finger in a low ball served neat. No ice, water or mixer. We want to taste this thing!

My first reaction to the first sip was a little sharp at first. Some whiskys start soft, but this had a little bite. Like many of the Canadian whiskeys we've tried this one was sweet and bit fruity. The finish on the drink was remarkablly smooth. What else would you expect from something that spent 30 years mellowing.

Our Chief Bourbonator wrote a review he posted on Facebook: 
Tasting the whiskey, I found two things that I expected: It was very smooth, and it had a nice oakiness to it. I expected those things for a few reasons. For one thing, Canadian whiskeys tend to be quite smooth in the first place. Aging for 30 years it only going to make it even smoother and creates the oakiness. What I didn't expect was how sweet it would be. There was a caramel tone to it, with maybe a bit of vanilla. Very tasty, but a little too sweet for me personally. I'm not saying I didn't like it, just that it's something that I wouldn't want a lot of in one sitting.
That seems to be the sentiment of most of the people in the group. He went on to write:
So, what's my final verdict? If I were to give it a grade, I think it would be a B+. You might think "A B+ for a $200 bottle? Must not be very good!" However, when you consider the fact that any other Canadian whiskey that I've tried would likely score a C at most, a B+ is actually a really good score. Do I have a bias against Canadian whiskeys? Sort of. I'm a flavor guy, and Canadians don't have that wow factor in flavor like bourbon or Scotch.
I agreed with a lot of this. It was a very good whisky. We definitely enjoyed this opportunity. Our sincerest thank you to the Canadian Club people.

And you know what. We also played some poker.

Last month, I had a pretty good month. A 1st and a 2nd. I'm still hoping to keep that trophy you see at the top of this post.

There were 11 guys here this month. Not too shabby considering we had a pretty major snow storm coming our way. We decided that we really wanted faster play so we divided into two short tables to get it going.

I had Bodie25 at my table to start. He came out firing with a 3 chamber bluff to get things going on the first hand. Unfortunately, the 3rd chamber was emptied into the sounds of the word, call. Probably pretty close to half his stack. I knew at that moment, Bodie was here for aggressive poker. If past months are any indication, there will be some weak/passive play falling right into his plans.

I chose to play nothing but very tight small ball poker. I planned on only playing hands where I could have position on Bodie and be able to keep the pots small.

This worked pretty well, but so did Bodie's planning. He was amassing chips like he was on a mission. I used his aggression to double through but for the most part, I really didn't see many cards. He got a really sick runner kings to beat AQ with KJ...yes, he knew he sucked out. Marshall had hit top pair top kicker, and Bodie was dead to runners.

I some how kept going long enough to make the money. On our first hand after the bubble, Mumblingsages raises from the button, I fold with my usual vigor and Bodie puts him all in.Click the picture to see just how sick it was. That's Bodie slamming down the Aces. I have a picture with Mumblingsages reaction...he's throwing down the cowboys.

This brought us to heads up. Holding about 5% of the chips in play, I really only had a couple of hands to make something happen. Shoving 65o from the button proved pointless because Bodie had been dealt his 275 consecutive hand with at least one ace in it. (That's an exaggeration...sure felt like it was true though)

A few guys left, and a new guy arrived (we saved him a glass...we aren't barbarians!) To mix things up, the second SNG was pot limit HOP. Hold 'em, Omaha and Pineapple. By now, everyone is comfortably lubricated and the gambooling began. I continued being card dead but ground my way along. One timely shove with KdQd2h during pineapple proved to be a fantastic way to quintuple up. My ability to fold to the money continued and without really playing many hands, I finished 3rd to break even on the night.

Not too shabby. So, my last 4 Bourbonator sngs go like this: 2nd, 1st, 2nd and a 3rd.

The whisky really was a fun experience. We've got big dreams for this group, even considering the idea of spreading it around. It really is a fun way to get together with the guys and learn something new...granted it's about whisky, but hey...learning is good, right? Interested in learning more? Let us know!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

A wordle of this blog

Anyone surprised by this? I should really just go to bed. Enjoy!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

I need a ride

I'll be on a plane that's landing in Toronto (YYZ) at ~5 pm on 13 of March

Anyone know of a good home game that weekend? Preferably one featuring drunken bloggers?

On a more serious note, OhCountess will not be travelling with me. Anyone need a roommate that weekend?

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Tells - some thoughts

My post from this morning, I think I missed playing poker...a lot. Actually, I still miss it. But right now, I've got something I want to talk about and it's all about poker.

I've been working on the Zero Inbox concept, an attempt at being more productive and more effecient. I miss poker that much. My inbox had over 300 emails in it. One of them caught my attention, an email from Daniel Negreanu you get for being a member of the Poker Players Alliance. The title of the email was "A Powerful Tell."

Most of your day spent at a poker table will be spent learning about your opponents. I like learn about what type of player are they. Are they a Harrington Bot? Do they think they are Gus Hanson? Are they paying attention to the others and me? You'd be surprised as to just how many players are playing their cards.

In the email, he discusses tells and one tell in particular that is fairly reliable. Eye tells. In particular looking or not looking at your chips.

I'm a big believer that we can learn a lot from tells but I, like Daniel, understand that tells exist somewhere between fact and fiction. On the top right of this post is a picture linked to for a book called "Read'm and Reap." I've read this book and highly recommend it. Unlike Caro's Book of Tells, which reads like a catalog of movements and gestures, Navarro tells you WHY we have tells and WHEN they can be most reliable.

The eye tell that Daniel talks about is extremely reliable in undisciplined people that don't know about it. It's the main reason that people wear sunglasses at the table. The tell works like this, when you see something that makes you think "I should bet", you look at your chips. When something happen that causes you to think, "hmm...that sucks," you don't look at your chips. What Daniel didn't mention is the third piece of this, if the dealer turns something over that gives you a draw, you literaly study the board up and down figuring out what cards you need. I can't tell you how many times I've seen this.

The part that makes tells like these reliable is WHEN they happen. In Navarro's book, he makes special note of this. The closer to the time of the trigger, the more likely it's accurate. Any delay, and it just might be fake.

The key to using tells is to make sure your eyes are in the right place at the right time. I've heard that players like Barry Greenstein don't follow the practice of waiting to look at your cards until it's your turn. Why don't they? Because when everyone else studying the guy who's got the action, they can sneak a peek at theirs. I sometimes do it when really bad players are looking at their cards. Their eye tells are worthless because Q3o to them is a monster. Sure they think their strong, but their idea of strong and my idea are completely different. Besides, everyone else at the table is looking at the guy giving off bad information.

Paying attention to context and timing makes tells powerful. I once played a player that continuation bet everytime she raised preflop. In one hand in particular, she had turned away from the table chatting with someone when the dealer called out it was her turn. She turned back, grabbed a CB size stack of chips and raised. SHE NEVER LOOKED AT THE BOARD. When her eyes finally did look at the community cards, you should have seen the disappointment. I did, and when it was my turn to act, I raised and took down the pot.

The key was knowing the context.

Her immediate reaction to seeing the cards was, "Crap, I got nothing."

There are times when a tell will be really accurate, but you still can't do anything about it. In a hand I played with a loose/agressive I knew for sure, his all-in on the river was a bluff. Unfortunately I was on a 9 high straight and flush draw...and missed. He was first to act and shoved, but really, what am I gonna do? Call and hope that 9 high was good? That's just stupid.

Tells are just one piece of the puzzle. They can mean the diffence between a good session and a bad session, but you need to keep them in context.

Ah...I feel better now. Before I go, I really screwed up and never followed up on my post from last Sunday. You know, the one where I completely screwed up playing AA. You guys were right. My weak play left the door open for this to happen. I tried to be tricky and it royally backfired. If I had played it strong early and he stays in the with 7's, sure, I go broke, but at least I die with my boots on. Shrike was right though, the 3rd min-raise on the river should have been a gigantic red flag.

I like jokes about tetrahedrons

This week on Poker After Dark (pretend that's Ali Nejad talkin') it's Brilliant Minds week. Brandon Adams, Chris Ferguson, Andy Bloch, Bill Chen, Jimmy Warren and David Skalansky. If you don't like math jokes, this wasn't your week.

Actually this is an amazing collection of quite brilliant minds period. If I'm not mistaken, David Skalansky is the only one not holding an advanced degree. Andy Bloch and Brandon Adams have yet to reach their PhDs, but each holds more the one masters. That's a lot of SAT points...Damn!

I grew up kind of a strange kid. My heros were, Rod Carew, Albert Einstein and Ben Franklin. I know, I'm a geek. If it makes you feel any better, I also though Hanibal Smith was pretty awesome too.

I watched the episodes this week and was fascinated about how certain players played. Most of them appeared to be pretty solid players, you'd expect that, but Ferguson and Bloch each had a lot of gamble in them. Ferguson on more then one occasion was calling very large bets on what appeared to be coin flip situations. Even in a 6 max sng, I'm not sure I call almost my entire stack with 99.

Bill Chen was the victim of about the coldest deck you can imagine. The man with a great run in 2006 WSOP first ran AQo into Ferguson's 99 (?). I really had no idea how Ferguson calls for his entire stack there. If someone can explain that math to me, let me know. The very next hand, while having a really short stack, Chen flops aces up. A3. Of course Jimmy Warren played his AA perfectly. (Unlike me from last Sunday)

Poker has been a long way from my schedule lately. I'm currently on the tail end of my first large project at work. The pressure is on to get it out the door. This has left me burned out at the end of the day. Just like going deep in a live tournament, my brain resembles Jell-o at the end of the day.

One welcome deviation this week came on Wednesday night. My good friend MumblingSages and I were lucky enough to enjoy the absolutely best seats at the Excel Energy Center for the Wild victory over the Colorado Avalanche. Check it was a damn fun night.

This has been the sum of poker for me this week. I did play a few sngs on Tuesday night, but nothing too impressive or noteworthy. I even missed poker league (oh, the horror). The biggest poker highlight has been the Donkament. I didn't play particularly well. I over played AJ during the rebuy period when I had plenty of chips and doubled up Numbette. I knew she had AK but seriously figured she would lay it down. D'oh!

The best part of the night had to be watching OhCountess not only cash, but finish second to the unstoppable NumbBono. He's now 7 of his last 7. I won it two weeks ago, but of course he wasn't there. Can anyone stop this man?

My project will be done soon. I hope to finish up more of my Vegas recap very soon and detail my plans to attend Eh Vegas! The passport application has been submitted...let's cross our fingers. Anyone want to play some live poker? I'm ready!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Blaming Dr. Chako, Gadzooks, Kat, Zerber and that damn Twitter

Why can't I say no to the meme. Oh yeah, in the deep, dark twisted brain of mine, the fun sensor goes off when I do these. Friggin' fun sensor. Click the picture to do it yourself. You know you want to.

Which Fantasy/SciFi Character Are You?

Jean-Luc Picard

An accomplished diplomat who can virtually do no wrong, you sometimes know it is best to rely on the council of others while holding the reins.

There are some words which I have known since I was a schoolboy. "With the first link, the chain is forged. The first speech censored, the first thought forbidden, the first freedom denied, chains us all irrevocably." These words were uttered by Judge Aaron Satie -- as a wisdom, and warning. The first time any man's freedom is trodden on, we're all damaged.

Jean-Luc is a character in the Star Trek universe. This The Next Generation fan site has an outline of his career.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Well, this one sucked

I believe I'm supposed to go broke here every time.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Ode to Leonidas

Spartan King Leonidas is portrayed in the film 300 as a most heroic character who defies the orders of his corrupt senate and religious leaders to defend the nation of Greece from the advancing hordes of Persians.

The Spartans were fierce warriors and took great pride in their abilities to fight. As their King, Leonidas was a proud and exceptional leader. He leads his men with respect and as a great leader will never ask of his men that which he's unwilling to do himself.

Leonidas takes 300 of the armies best men, all with male heirs to carry forth their names, on a stroll through the countryside. Everyone knows, he's going to kick some Persian butt.

In the end, they do bring on a serious can of whoop ass and put a serious crimp in the desires of King  Xerxes. Xerxes still kills almost all of them, but not before a mountain of dead freaks is piled on the sea shore.

What does this have to do with poker or a poker blog? Probably nothing, but if I can still count, this is post 300 and I really liked the movie 300. What can I say, I like history and movies with gobs of violence.

This blog is nothing like what I set out to do. My good friend, Bodie25 had started one of these things and talked me into it. May 2, 2007, I put up my first post. To be perfectly honest, I had visions of winning that state poker tournament, going deep at the WSOP Main Event and then having this blog be "the chronicle of it all." Just think of the ad revenue?

I was so young.

What this did become is a place for me to vent, cheer, report, joke and laugh. I've met some really awesome people, some in person but most through comments. I had no idea there was a poker blogger community when I started this. Heck, I didn't even know what rakeback was (could explain why I don't have it...D'oh!)

I've done a really crappy job of tagging my posts. I've got that post list thing on the right, but if you are looking for something in particular, forget it. Organizing that mess should have been a New Years Resolution, or not. Anyone use those?

TripJax just posted his 666th post. Sweet jeebus. Shamus has over 700 now. I've watched some others cross the 1000 post mark. I'm happy with my 300. It's a good start.

So, how do you celebrate a blogaversary? I've been thinking about this for a little while. I could finish my recap of the Winter Gathering. I've only gotten through the first 24 hours (here & there), but, nah. I could do a give away...but I'm too cheap. Let's just do a retrospective like all of my favorite TV shows do...

The two most popular posts of all times are about the same thing: my deep disappointment with Poker Tracker 3 (here & there). According to Google Analytics, they account for the vast majority of readers that find this site through a search engine. My review of Poker Tracker 3 was not very positive. Strange, but they've never tried to get me to take them down or improve my rating. If search Google for "Poker Tracker 3" - the 3rd entry is my "Buyer Beware" posts. Sweet!

As shocking as this will be for everyone, I'm a stats geek. Google Analytics show the usage in general, but what are the most popular posts according to Feedburner? Well, that's kinda hard to say. I went through the conversion process and now the Use Stats are missing their pages. Crap! But alas, the number #1 post for use is new enough to be listed. My Noob's Recap of the trip to the Pinball Hall of Fame is the most view/clicked post of them all. Very cool! What a fantastic tribute to a totally awesome day!

Finally, if you been with me since the beginning (hehehe...yeah, right), you already read these, if not, here are my favs:
  • Well, winning the Mookie ROCKS! This post was fueled by exhaustion and lack of sleep. I haven't read it in ages, but hey, a Mookie win is da bomb!
  • Even though I will openly admit to absolutely detesting the hand of the devil, I will continue to play AQ as if it wasn't cursed. I confessed to playing it and winning.
  • One of the posts I had the most fun writing was "A 'D' lister's Mookie Recap" When I'm playing good poker, the Mookie is a place a love to play. This recap was me expressing some pretty raw thoughts about poker. Heck, I even took a shot at Hoy. Not sure if he ever read it, but it's my blog :)
  • For the 'D' Listers. Sweet, sweet blogger money.
Those are the ones that really caught my attention tonight. I'd love to know what are other people's favorites, or even the ones you hated the most.

I sucked at the Mookie last night. Even had the joy of playing for a couple of minutes after my youngest daughter spray painted the stairs with the chicken dumpling soup she ate for dinner (seriously, why is the toilet the one thing in the house the kids can't hit when they puke?). Not that I played well before that, but I think Miami Don enjoyed the J9 shove I tried, if only for a couple of minutes.

I really just want to thank everyone that's read and/or commented on my ramblings. I appreciate everything that everyone but the spammers have said. That chick the Loooooves the blogs...not so much. I really enjoy blogging, and while it's fun, I'll keep doing it. 

Again, thank you!