Thursday, June 29, 2006

Pounds of flesh

After a steady diet of tournaments the past month or so, I've not felt like playing them the last couple of days and have been more focused on cash games. Fueled by shameless bonus/rakeback whoring, I added two new sites yesterday, Sun and Mansion.

Love the Sun interface. Clean and cool, icon-free. The best I've seen. It's not a good place to bonus whore at low limits, however. A $50 max bonus is earned with 250 points. A hand with a rake of $1 or more earns you one point. Hands with rakes of .25 to .99 earn you a quarter point. Whatever. I might earn it eventually, but I won't chase after it like a common whore standing legs akimbo on a seedy, trash-strewn street corner. Even whores deserve some dignity. The real reason I signed up at Sun is the 32 percent rakeback offered through I'm waiting to see what that will add up to in the next month.

I decided that my game needed a currency switch as well. I'm playing exclusively for pounds sterling on Sun. As it stands, the dollar is worth a whopping .55p, which makes my table range .25p/.50p and .50p/1 pound. (If someone knows where that pound character is on the keyboard, chime in.)

I especially like the pounds tables because all the players are Brits, evidenced by the fact that they're all from some place that ends in "ham" or something-"by-the-Sea" and sport poofy screen names. Rotten-toothed bitches. I've decided to hate everything British since sitting at a table in Vegas (twice, no less) with a drunken East-ender who managed to give even rampaging beer-fueled Soccer Hooligans a bad name. That's right England, I'm at war with you and your whole bloody country because of that feckless 'wipe. Fire your chips -- and your fish -- when ready.

The sweeeeeet deal that's available is brought to you by PokerSavvy and Mansion. You sign up for Mansion through PokerSavvy and wager $50 at the poker tables or casino, you earn 900 SavvyPoints, which equals something like an I-pod shuffle or, for those who sign up in the next week, $90 to Neteller or Paypal.

Easiest $90 I've ever earned. I qualified in one hand (after topping off the tank)with A-K vs. some bozo's A-J at a .25/.50 table. Noice. Mansion has some kind of slow-rolling bonus program, too, but I haven't taken the time to figure out how it works.

My tournament ennui is also symptomatic of a brain-grinding hangover caused by my awful final-table play Tuesday in the WWdN. Same ... stupid ... mistake -- calling (J-J and then A-Q) instead of re-raising -- two hands in a row. Re-raises would have put A-10 and then A-9 to the test. They call off all or most of their chips with those hands preflop and I lose, fine.

I laid waste to what had been such a beautiful tournament. Good cards early and unfettered aggressiveness had given me much and two badly played hands swept it all away.

Because it's what I do, I still played two tournaments last night, PokerSavvy's generous blogger freeroll and The Mookie. I did not get cards or very far in either. I'm in for the DADI7 tonight, but don't like my chances.

No big deal, though. More important work awaits me. I have a whole country to beat down.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006


I'm going to keep this short and stupid. Just donked out of the WWdN in two hands after holding a decent-sized chip lead with seven players remaining. The third ace on the turn made me think my pocket jacks were good. Wrong. TheDibMan held A-10. Down from nearly 24K to just under 7K. The next hand, Mean Gene opens 3x the BB. I should have pushed with A-Q but instead call. First to act, I shove after a 9-high flop. Gene insta-calls with A-9 and I'm gone. Crikee. Not sure if having to talk on the phone while all this transpired hurt me, but I know it couldn't have helped.

Won 5 races early on: A-A, 7-2! (against a small stack) and Q-Q three times. After that, played position and grabbed chips whenever I could. A big stack is a wonderful thing. I pounced almost every time I sensed weakness and people kept folding. Imagine that.

But then I have to answer a baseball call and watch it all fly out the fucking window. Nice.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Turn out the lights

It's been Monday night flameouts thus far. I didn't last long in The Group tournament on Stars and not much longer in Hoyazo's increasingly popular MATH. Got sucked out in a wretched fashion in The Group tournament. Diablo, a dangerous but wreckless cash player, apparently believes that when his luck is running good to play crap preflop, postflop and every in between. Whatever.

I didn't get much in the way of cards during the MATH. Sitting between two ginormous stacks,

my request for a seat change unheeded, I pushed with around 800 left from the BB with Kh-3h after flop of Ah-3h-Jc. GScotW called with A-J. The turn and river had no heart and I was gone early in this one as well.

The blogger tournaments have some mofo's with mad skills, but during the first 20 minutes or so, my short-handed starting table featured some of the donkiest poker plays I've seen in awhile, much less at one of these blogger extravaganzas. (Calling all-ins while possessing chips with 4-7 sooooted is still ill-advised, isn't it?)

The regular crowd eventually shuffled, however, and some semblance of poker resumed, meaning I didn't get much in the way of cards and impatience took hold.

I'm now in a $22 tourney on Titan, still lacking cards and destined to bid adieu to this tragic affair at any moment. There's always sleep. (How's this for my prognosticatory abilities. Two hands after typing my farewell speech, jacks made a courageous but ultimately vain attempt to take crack aces.

G'night, all.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Almost home

I mentioned in the previous post playing a $5.50 MTT on Titan in the wee hours of what is still this morning. I'd just quit a $15 rebuy tournament after reloading just once, knowing I didn't have it, yet jumping almost immediately into the $5.50. I don't know what I was thinking.

Yet I somehow managed to channel enought of H.S. Thompson -- "When the going gets tough, the weird turn pro," to finish fourth out of 238 starters. Yeah, it's Titan. Awful structure and fishy players. But what the heck, deep is deep. I'll take it.

I played well, folding nearly everything in the first hour, stealing nearly everything while shortstacked as the bubble approached and then hunkering down at the final table as the blinds went skyward.

Two mistakes at the final table. I twice tried to steal with marginal holdings from a big-stacked calling station to my immediate left, knowing the chances he would fold were were slim. I missed the flop both times and checked/folded to bets I could not afford to call with no piece of the board. Given the situation, I should have reserved those chips for a better spot(s).

With the blinds at 3K/6K and me at 25, I pushed with pocket 9s. Calling station calls with A-J and pairs his ace on the river.

It was not a bad return on an investment of two hours and $5.50, but a win would have been sweet. It felt for a moment at the final table like it might be my early morning. I needed to play mistake-free poker and, in the end, did not. Memo to self: Read Harrington Vol. II.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Excuse me, did Kahoutek just fly by?

Hoyazo spent some time breaking down a hand he played against me Thursday night in the WWdN Not. During the first orbit, I raised 4x the BB from early position with pocket kings. CC called and Hoyazo raised to 500. I weighed my options for a nanosecond and pushed, hoping to avoid aces. CC folded and Hoyazo pondered. Good -- no aces. He reluctantly called with ... A-Q.

Wow. That's as surprised as I've been at the poker table in a while. Hoyazo's got a ton of game and the big scores to prove it. (Think 10K worth from a recent Party $40K guaranteed.)Pocket kings became a set on the turn and Hoyazo was the first of 22 players gone.

"This bonehead play is a very important concept that all of the pros at least mention in their books and teachings. Often when contemplating a big call in a big spot in a hand, it is useful to figure out what hands your opponent is likely holding, and which you can beat. In this case, I failed to do this very basic step for any skilled poker player. I mean, Hacker is solid. He's just not in my experience the type of guy who re-reraises allin here with the Hammer."

I'm still trying to interpret what "solid" means, but I'm putting Hoyazo on: "I'm not afraid of this guy." And I'm sure he's not. He has no reason to be. Generally, the good players win these tournaments and Hoy has won his share. I've won nothing and am still struggling to make adjustments. I'm not intimidated by this uber-aggressive blogging crowd, but the playbook I'm using is still thin and callow. They're calling audibles while I'm scratching pass patterns in the dust.

I'll keep entering these things, contributing and hopefully absorbing enough information along the way that I'll eventually take one down. My learning style is best described as plodding. That's the way I stumble, baby. But I do love the competition that tournament poker represents. And these freakin' blogging tournaments are extremely competitive despite buy-ins that never exceed $22. I know money is how you are supposed to keep score in poker, but the need to win seems equally important (says yet another over-the-hill jock) when bloggers collide. And I'd really like to win one of these things.

I hope I'm not being too presumptuous, but I'm guessing that Hoyazo is still a bit puzzled as to why he called there. Never fear, for I have consulted with various medical professionals (Dr. Pauly, however, was not available) and have made the proper diagnosis. Hoyazo had a brain fart. A case of Donkus flatulosis. (Is that the correct medical term, Iak?) Even a player of Hoyazo's caliber is susceptible, but it's more likely the U.S. side will carry home the World Cup before it flares up (out?) in him again.

I'm still prone to making those kinds of mistakes, typically when I'm tired and should be doing anything but playing poker. I hate those moments. It feels as if you're having an out-of-body experience, your subconscious screaming, "Go to bed, asshole," when you click the call button knowing you have just employed poker's versions of the nuklier option and watching as the missile blows up in the silo. (How's that for mix-and-match metaphors?)

Here's an example: It's currently 2 a.m., I'm playing a $5.50 freezeout on Titan, writing and know full well I should be asleep after getting up at 6 a.m. Donkus flatulosis will surely set in any moment now.

Those chips I took off Hoy were eventually wasted, of course. Katitude called my all-in of around 2K after I hit two pair on a 10-7-x board. X, in this case, equaled jack, an ace on the turn gave her two pair and I was gone -- again. Sheeeeeit.

Consider it a loan, Kat. I'm going to need them back soon.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Third freezer from the right

I managed to win one of The Group tournaments on Stars last night for the second week in a row, which vaults me to the top of the totally meaningless leaderboard. For those of you keeping score at home, that's 5 wins, 4 second-place finishes and 4 ignominious bubbles in 19 tournaments since we began playing them in March.

Last night, I stayed patient while the deck stayed cold. I finally caught some cards and mounted a nice comeback against Chris's and Karl's big stacks after eliminating DougPoker with pocket 9s. A straight on the turn sent Karl and his pocket queens to the rail in third place and provided a 14K to 9K advantage over Chris at heads-up. My Q-J knocked out Chris's J-4 on a jack-high flop to end it a few minutes later. (Congratulations to Chris for his first Group tournament cash.)

These Group and blogger tournaments have done much to hone my game over the last six months, teaching me important lessons about the twin virtues of patience and aggression. The competition is far superior to what's encountered in the smaller buy-in MTTs I typically play and has given me a renewed sense of confidence needed to wade through those 1,000-plus player fields. It seemed to apply in Sunday's blogger freeroll.

I'm still waiting for a breakthrough in the two of the popular weekly blogger tournaments, including the new Monday at the Hoy and The Mookie. (I do have a handful of cashes in the WWdN.) Finished a frustrating sixth in last night's MATH. I got precious few playable hands in that one, too, and only managed to hang on as long as I did because of a classic Q-9 vs. Q-10 Riverstars suckout against Katitude.

But with blinds at 200/400/50 and a stack of just over 3K, I opened for 1,200 with K-J suited hoping to steal. A big-stacked Iakaris came over the top and, feeling fairly pot-committed, I called off my last 1,800 hoping the luckbox would deliver. The flop gave me my jack, but unfortunately, it hit Iak's A-J harder and I was gone.

Congrats to Iak, a Canadian refugee and fellow Cleveland blogger, for his second-place finish and my tablemates for producing some of the most bizarre chat ever seen in an online tournament, blogger or otherwise. Think frozen, encephaletic cats. Extremely funny stuff. Well worth the price of admission.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Slightly deep thoughts

I signed up for the 2nd Annual World Blogger Championship on Stars with the hope I might actually get to play. Scheduled on Father’s Day, my availability would depend on familywide plans and the forebearance of Mrs. Jones, who has long tolerated my slide toward poker degeneracy. The Stars aligned and I had clearancce to join 2,246 of my closest blogging friends this afternoon for the Mother of All Freerolls. First got a WSOP main seat. The rest of the final table got $1,500 WSOP buy-ins.

Expectations at zero, I logged on to Stars around 4:20, anticipating the tournament's 4:30 p.m. start. Wrong. It started at 4. Finally seated, I found myself playing five-handed with a couple of doubled- and tripled-up stacks while the other four players at the table were sitting out, having signed up for the tournament but failing to play.

My 6-max experience served me well. I got some cards, gathered some chips and began lurching forward. Five-and-one-half hours later, I busted out in 15th place when my shortstacked pocket 8s lost to A-Q. I won a very nice prize -- a $370 entry into a July 26 Stars tournament where 150 main-event seats will awarded. Thank you very much, Poker Stars.

I took screen shots at key points in the tournament with a genuine belief that something was afoot and that those exploits would be deserving of the full Hoyazo treatment. I've since dumped that plan, recognizing that my performance failed to meet Hoyazomous standards. He does it when he wins. I finished 15th.

It is disappointing to have gotten so tantalizingly close to a big prize. I think I had the game to go deeper but ran out of cards. I played tight (12 percent of flops) but selectively aggressive, creating a table image that allowed me to steal a bunch. A flopped set of aces rocketed me briefly into the top 10 with less than 100 players to go. A suckout with pocket 10s vs. pocket jacks kept me near the top for awhile.

After hitting a high-water mark of 177K, I folded nearly every hand afterward while sandwiched between the two biggest stacks. I stole enough to tread water for a bit, but the undertow began pulling me out to sea. Kept waiting and waiting and waiting for a hand to push with until I finally got my last 81K chips (M of 3) in the middle with the pocket 8s. Sigh.

There is one hand I’m still pondering. Sitting on about 100K, stacks of 30K and 20K go all-in in front of me. I have A-J and fold, not wanting to risk almost a third of my stack with that hand. The short stacks, of course, had crap and the board delivered A-J-x-J-x. And there were a couple of other instances where I wonder if I should have gambled (pocket 9s and A-Q, for example) against all-ins from medium-small stacks. Needing chips to stay in the fight at the end, I think I missed some opportunities.

I got the chance to play with some well-known and highly skilled bloggers during the tournament, including Miami Don, Ryan of Absinthetics and last, but hardly least, StudioGlyphic, who snatched up one of those $1,500 seats. Tremendous job, sir.

It was amusing and a little flattering to have gotten sweated slightly for the first time. Bloggers non pareil such as Hoyazo, Drewspop, Iakaris, Ingoal and Surflexus popped in to provide encouragement along with Jase and Twitch from The Group. (Twitch went deep as well, finishing a respectable 76th.) Thank you all.

Yeah, I didn’t win one of those $1,500 seats I wanted so badly. But I still have an opportunity to win a ME event seat and convert it into a couple of $1,500 buy-ins and some expense money to boot. That would be a pretty nice save.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Seven is not a good kicker

My bankroll has taken a decent-sized hit in the last couple of weeks due to the usual combination of bad luck and bad play. Sadly, it's been more the former than the latter. Coaching and (gasp!) work have dominated my time and the proper mindset needed to play has proved elusive. On top of that, the golf jones has reappeared as my game slowly rounds into shape.

With some time to actually play tonight, I signed up for The Group $11 on Stars and Hoyazo's new $22 blogger tournament, Monday at the Hoy. For whatever reason, the game that had served me well earlier this spring made a surprise appearance. A visit by Mr. Luckbox didn't hurt. There were some aces that got paid and I won healthy pot off Mailman in The Group tourney with my third-ever royal while holding As-2s (he had a king-high flush).

Undeterred, the Mailman continued on one of his frequent heaters, knocking out players left and right. By the time we got heads-up, he held a 3.5-1 chip lead. Lacking the requisite multi-table laptop skills, I tried to concentrate primarily on The Group while keeping an eye on the action at The Hoy, which featured a typical lineup of dastardly aggressive bloggers. Despite Mailman's chip lead, the blinds were still small compared with my stack and my previous life as an SNG regular had taught me that patience is often rewarded heads-up. I stayed aggressive, won a few nice pots, and pulled even before dropping down a bit. Then this hand occurred:

PokerStars Game #5237742376: Tournament #26333401, $10+$1 Hold'em No Limit - Level VII (100/200) - 2006/06/12 - 23:19:05 (ET)
Table '26333401 2' 9-max Seat #7 is the button
Seat 7: Mailman (10240 in chips)
Seat 9: hacker59 (9260 in chips)
GregDude: posts the ante 25
hacker59: posts the ante 25
GregDude: posts small blind 100
hacker59: posts big blind 200
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to hacker59 [Kd As]
Mailman: raises 300 to 500
hacker59: raises 1500 to 2000
GregDude: calls 1500
*** FLOP *** [Jh 2s 7c]
hacker59: checks
Mailman: checks
*** TURN *** [Jh 2s 7c] [Ts]
hacker59: bets 2800
Mailman: raises 5415 to 8215 and is all-in
hacker59: calls 4435 and is all-in
*** RIVER *** [Jh 2s 7c Ts] [Qc]
*** SHOW DOWN ***
hacker59: shows [Kd As] (a straight, Ten to Ace)
GregDude: shows [2h Ah] (a pair of Deuces)
hacker59 collected 18520 from pot

A donk call on my part? Probably. I had outs, obviously, and thought that any one of them would have been good (wrong). Plus, I had accumulated a stack in The Hoy and was second in chips as the final table formed. Given the competition, that's the one I really wanted to win. Thus, I made a "screw it" call and got real lucky. Pocket 8s the next hand sealed the deal. Admittedly, it was not great poker on my part, but in the end, all you can say is ... "Ship it!"

Turning my full attention to The Hoy, I watched as players fell by the wayside until we were finally four-handed with Mr. Aggro himself, SoxLover, louddwnunder and drraz (sorry I don't know your blogs). I stole some, folded some and basically bled/blinded away from a high of nearly 8,000 chips to exactly 5,000 when this hand occurred.

Table '26138165 1' 9-max Seat #4 is the button
Seat 1: SoxLover (10175 in chips)
Seat 3: louddwnunder (8857 in chips)
Seat 4: hacker59 (5000 in chips)
Seat 9: drraz (5968 in chips)
SoxLover: posts the ante 25
louddwnunder: posts the ante 25
hacker59: posts the ante 25
drraz: posts the ante 25
drraz: posts small blind 100
SoxLover: posts big blind 200
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to hacker59 [Ah 7c]
louddwnunder: folds
hacker59: raises 600 to 800
drraz: calls 700
SoxLover: folds
*** FLOP *** [Ac 5d 4s]
drraz: checks
hacker59: bets 1200
drraz: raises 3943 to 5143 and is all-in
hacker59: calls 2975 and is all-in
*** TURN *** [Ac 5d 4s] [Tc]
*** RIVER *** [Ac 5d 4s Tc] [6s]
*** SHOW DOWN ***
drraz: shows [4d As] (two pair, Aces and Fours)
hacker59: shows [Ah 7c] (a pair of Aces)
drraz collected 10250 from pot

I'm still not completely sure why I called the all-in, which just about says it all. I figured my chances were 50-50, at best, to be ahead, yet sensed strongly I was behind. My hopes rested on him having an ace-smaller card, but failed to recognize the fact that two of the five "smalls" he needed were already on the board. Argh.

I'm mentally kicking myself in the ass for making the call. While a laydown would have left my stack at only 3K, I still had time to rebuild. Instead, I turned a potentially nice night of poker into a friggin' bubble. I despise bubbles. They conjure feelings of revulsion and self-loathing and make me question why in God's name I was ever born while dragging sharp objects across my forearms. (Did I mention I despise bubbles?)

With a frantically busy week ahead, I'm not sure when I'll get a chance to play again. A couple of cashes tonight would have sustained me with some warm, fuzzy poker feelings during my self-imposed hiatus.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Very oddsmakings

The Vegas money line had me at -160 in a last-longer bet with Iakaris for tonight’s Mookie tournament on Stars. That’s patently absurd. Don’t they know who I am? Does someone know something that I don’t? Don’t they know who Iak (another Cleveland-based poker blogger) is?

I dumped all my betting money on Iak. I can't pass up a sure thing with those odds. My tournament game is not sharp at the moment, having bombed in the last 4 or 5 I’ve entered. The focus is just not there. The only saving grace is I’ve been generally knocked out early, providing me with time to lose at $100 NL on Stars and Titan yet inexplicably winning at limit Omaha Hi-Lo.

The Group is holding a $3/6 limit O8 game on Friday and figured I should brush up my non-existent hi-lo skills.(I do like the new 6-max tables on Stars.) I've moved up from $1/2 to $2/4 and finally $3/6. I’m no O8 expert, and the sample is insignificant, but the games at those levels don't appear to be too tough.

(Addendum: Just flamed out of the Mookie with pocket 10s vs. A-8. Iakaris still alive, although relatively short-stacked. Glad I put my money on him.)

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Online Poker

I have registered to play in the PokerStars World Blogger Championship of Online Poker!

This Online Poker Tournament is a No Limit Texas Holdem event exclusive to Bloggers.

Registration code: 3376165