Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Horse malarkey

Sure glad I made the money. I'm not sure what I'll do with the profits. Maybe Stars will send me a check for $1 so I can frame it.

PokerStars Tournament #43983777, HORSE
Buy-In: $10.00/$1.00
240 players
Total Prize Pool: $2400.00
Tournament started - 2007/02/27 - 18:45:00 (ET)

Dear hacker59,
You finished the tournament in 28th place.
A $12.00 award has been credited to your Real Money account.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Sweet and savory

Apropos of not much, it's interesting to note that making a preparing a proper pad thai requires a bottled ingredient called fish sauce, a concoction so foul smelling that you'd imagine it being distilled from a mash of gangrenous limbs. But mix it with tamarind paste and a little sugar in a wok and you create a wonderful coating for your noodles.

Cooking is a minor passion for me and Sunday night supper is my turn to shine at Chez Poker Jones. Requests are taken, recipes consulted, provisions acquired and preparations made. It's not always fancy -- there's nothing like the aroma of a pot roast and vegetables wafting through the house on a wintry day. But the meals can get elaborate and I'm not afraid to experiment on my family (sounds evil, doesn't it?).

Pad thai is not gourmet cooking (it's a popular street dish in Thailand), but it was new to Chez Jones, was met with great approval and resulted in demands that it be added to the Sunday repertoire. I'd call it a culinary success.

The importance of Sunday supper in our home goes well beyond the culinary, however. It has long been a pleasant and important ritual for us, serving as a bridge between the week that was and the week that will be. The only real constant in our lives is change, but there's real comfort to be found in sharing a home-cooked meal with your family.

As for poker ... I donked out of a $50 Group deep-stack tournament Saturday trying to push someone off a pot with a semi-bluff (open-ender) after the flop. We were not quite 90 minutes into the thing and the blinds were still relatively small. Yet I became impatient and gave my stack away. Stupid and disappointing. I'm not happy with my NL tournament play these days.

Online, I've been working on mixed games and played a couple of micro-limit HORSE tournaments on Stars over the weekend, making the "money" in one and bubbling +1 in another. Those two efforts reminded me of how bad I am at Stud hi-lo and prompted me to enter a $1 tournament in that game last night. I think I did okay and finished 25th out of 350-plus runners, turning a tidy profit of $1.29 for almost 3 1/2 hours of work.

There's obviously no money to be made in micro-limit tournaments, but they are useful learning tools. The patterns of Stud hi-lo are far more recognizable today than they were before the tournament. And it was nice to discover that aggression is in fact rewarded in Stud hi-lo.

Perhaps the "secret" is know when to press the pedal to the floor and when to let up. But that applies to all forms of poker, doesn't it.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Minor heat wave

The North Coast continues to be shrouded in snow and cold, but the Poker Jones is on a small but welcome heater.

Saturday began, however, on a frigid note. I lost an $80-plus pot in a $25NL game after flopping a set of queens. (Villain #1 had pocket kings, Villain #2 had (BAH) K-J. We got all the money in on a flop of A-Q-x. Fifth street brought the redonkulous case king.)

I then dumped a chunk at $100NL by playing A-K like an asswipe when my opponent did everything but type into chat announcing he'd made a set on an ace-high flop. I topped off my stack and got some of it back, but not enough for stop self-loathing completely. I thought my NL game had progressed to the point where I know how to lay down TPTK. Apparently not.

There was still a $40 tournament to be played at TK's Saturday evening. Snow squalls and slick roads might have stymied a lesser degenerate, but I leaned on my years of experience as an Iditarod musher and made it through. There was poker to be played. The weather did limit attendance to just 23 players.

You wouldn't think I was playing poker during the first 90 minutes. Living up to my
weak-tight reputation, I folded all but a few hands -- winning none -- through the first three levels. (The preceding reference is supposed to be a joke. Gary seems to be on a mad rush, using his table image to befuddle and amaze.)

I huddled with my lead sled dog and we decided it was time to switch gears and play the poker. (We did have a back-up plan: A cash game was threatening to finally begin.)

My night started when I got to see a flop with 5d-7d from the BB. The flop came 10-7-x with two diamonds. A new guy bet, I came over the top and he folded K-10 face-up. I showed him the 5-7. I called the same guy's preflop raise not long after with Jc-10c. The flop came 10-high, he led weakly and I again came over the top. He mucked and I showed him the 10. I won another small pot or two and got my 5K starting stack up to around 7,500T at the break.

Relying on my less-than-stellar memory, I can't seem to recall much of anything happening the first half-hour after the break until I was dealt my biggest starting hand for the entire tournament -- pocket 10s. With blinds at 300/600 and sitting on around 6,500T, I pushed and another new guy called off half his stack with pocket 4s. The 10s held up and I finally had chips to work with.

From that point on, I busted two short stacks with Q-10 and A-Q and then bluffed my way into the money. I won several healthy pots with post-flop aggression and managed to work my way into a minor chip lead as we neared the bubble. (Four spots paid.) At the bubble and even after it burst, I sat back and watched as players eliminated each other. My cards were crap and I let them do the dirty worki.

But it meant a 3-1 disadvantage by the time I got heads-up with Sada. I had not played with her previously, but I liked what I saw. She had mounted a comeback from a short stack at the final table with tons of aggression (but thankfully conceded a big pot to me earlier on a scary board that I missed with A-6.)

She had frustrated several players by pushing every hand she opened with. It looked like sound strategy to me, given her stack size. Three-handed, she eliminated Data with K-10 vs. his A-J to get us HU.

And how was I feeling? Tired. I'd been battling a minor but annoying migraine most of the night and wanted the tournament to end. The chip disadvantage did not bother me. (The blinds were 1,500/3,000 and I had around 30K). I believed, rightly or wrongly, that I had an edge skill-wise. But 5 1/2 hours of play in TK's overly warm basement and my the incessant throbbing inside my skull had left me drained.

We parried for around a dozen hands, seeing only a couple of flops. I lost a big chunk on a failed bluff post-flop and found myself down around 20K. I got to see a flop the next hand with Big Lick suited. The board came 6-6-8. We both checked the flop and the turn brought a jack. Sada led for 10K and I pushed. She called with J-something and I doubled up.

A warrior would have played on, using his newfound momentum. A wimp would offer a deal. I'm a wimp. We split the $670 left in the prize pool and 670 all-important POY points.

I was happy to have finally cashed after having gone 0-for-2007 in four or five previous Group tournaments. But, in the light of day, I'm feeling a little squeamish about having made a deal. My SNG experience has made me comfortable (and dare I say confident) with my heads-up play.

But what's done is done. I received a premium given my stack size and soon after the puppies and I sledded off into the cold, snowy night, a little warmer for our efforts.

Friday, February 16, 2007


This one hurts.

There are 43 players left in a $5 rebuy on Stars (2,127 runners). I've just gotten moved after losing a big pot with A-K from the BB. (UTG had raised to 36K and two short stacks move in from LP, putting another 120K in the pot. Sitting on 290K, I push to isolate UTG. He folds and I find myself up against K-J and pocket 7s. An ace flops but K-J turns Broadway.) That hand puts me at 220K, the first time I've been below the average since the first level of the tournament.

I'm still feeling good, comfortable even, on what has been a smooth voyage into the semi deep. My reads have been spot on, and for awhile, morons have been giving me chips. (Got it up to 380K at one point, but lost a bit to the blinds and re-raise pressure.) It'll be tough sledding to make the final table, but I'm only a double-up or two from having a realistic chance.

After a half-dozen hands at the new table, my stack at 211K, I find pocket aces UTG. I initially consider limping, but decide to play it safe and raise 3xBB to 48K. All folds to the blinds, who both come in. (SB has around 500K, the BB around 225K.)

The flop looks good for me: 4-3-Q. SB leads for 75K and BB folds. I push my last 163K hoping he has Q-something. He calls. With 4-3. No miracle queen or ace for me and I'm gone. In 43rd place. To an ass-clown with 4-3.

Painful indeed.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Mark of distinction

Mr. Wheaton said I made history tonight by being the first person to win an eponymous WWDN tournament. (The player who knocks Wil out of his second chance tourney gets to pick the game for the following week. I took him out on the bubble last week playing PLO.)

My tournament game hit critical mass for this one. Good reads and good cards can take you far. Plus, pot-limit seems to suit me. They're a little easier to play than NL games.

The Good Doctor had a decent chip lead at the start of HU and tried to take control with uber-aggression. But there was no reason to get antsy. The blinds were still small relative to stack sizes, certainly deeper than at heads-up in turbo SNGs.

Relying on time-tested patience, I conceded blinds and tried to stay out of harm's way with junk hands. I bluffed a little, including one pot that helped me crawl out of the hole Pauly was digging for me. I eventually got cards when Pauly bluffed and took it down.

It's a small win, but again, most welcome. Winning is always a nice balm.

And I can stick tonight's trophy on the mantle next to those from my Mookie, MATH, and two WWDN: Not wins. Will the Big Game be next? I can only hope. I need to win some tokens first, though.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Fishy business

I made no money in any of the Sunday majors. I entered no Sunday majors, but that is a minor detail.

I had more important fish to errr .. pan sear. The following is tonight's menu, prepared by these not-so-humble hands in honor of Mrs. Jones's birthday:

Chilean sea bass with a lobster cream sauce
Wild mushroom risotto
Wilted swiss chard
Sauteed green beans
A tasty Pouilly Fume.

I put a nice dent into a bottle of Coppola sauvignon blanc during the cooking process that must ... be ... finished ... tonight. Feeling toasty and ready for the 9:30 REBUY!

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Slowplayed out

I bubbled in a live $20 rebuy tournament Friday night when my push with A-Q failed to hold up against someone who called off more than half his stack with A-10. The guy, in his mid- to late 60s, mentioned earlier in the evening that he was playing playing poker when they still delivered ice in horse-drawn wagons. But it was obvious he hadn't spent much time at a tournament table.

I'm not pissed at him. Ace-ten probaby looked like gold. Even experienced donkeys make that play. (Although I don't believe he had some kind of read and put me on crap. He insta-called/raised. He pretty much said both.) But it hurt. I can't win a race against one of Jerry's Kids in a tournament at the moment and get taken out on a 3-1 shot.

Bubble anxiety had made for a passive final table. The big stack (and big man at a conservative 450 pounds) raised with some frequency. Monsignor on a healthy stack raised some. But the blind play was uber tight and no one seemed willing to defend.

I wasn't going crazy either, given my short stack. I stole enough blinds to stay afloat. And on the three occasions I did have big hands -- pocket aces twice, kings once -- I failed to get action. I guess I should have tried limping.

Had I folded A-Q there, I likely would have cashed. There were two stacks smaller than mine. I hate bubbling more than most, I believe. Despise and detest it as much as eggplant and nuclear winter. But bubble bedamned. Poker Jones plays the poker, baby. I had a pushable hand, got my chips in way ahead and lost. Again.

I managed to grind out some profit Saturday afternoon ($20 in a Stars Silver freeroll, an SNG, $25 NL and even some triple draw). After a Jones family dinner at superb Chinese restaurant in our 'hood, I jumped into one of the new $3 rebuys on Tilt. I love rebuys. The strategery in that first hour is a hoot and I'm getting more comfortable gamboooling during the rebuy period.

In the second hour with a slightly better than average stack and the blinds at 100/200, I found two red aces UTG. Remembering the lesson learned from the night before, I limped and hoped for a raise. I didn't wait long. A smaller stack to my immediate left made it 660. Everyone else folded and I just called.

The flop came 9-5-7 rainbow. I checked, he bet 1K, I pushed. After a short delay, he called off his remaining 3,500 or so with ... K-10. Noice!

The following picture says it all.

Could he have spewed his chips in a worse spot? No pair, no draw and a 6 percent chance of winning, for fuck's sake. I execute a slowplay with aces to perfection and Tilt delivers a junk-crunching, rant worthy, runner-runner straight.

Afterward, I politely asked in chat what he thought he was ahead of when he called off his stack, but got no reply. Not surprising. There's no honest way to defend that play, save putting me on a complete bluff.

I sat stewing as I watched him build his stack to over 30K. I rebuilt mine, but then got overly aggressive, made a few sketchy plays and busted 70th, 43 from the money.

Global warming? Bah. Welcome to Coolerville, baby. Tournament poker -- my degenerate raison d'etre -- really sucks at the moment.

Did I stutter?

Google could not find me a patron saint for e-wallets. This dude is still waiting to be canonized but is supposed to have some kind of mojo in the world of banking.

Bernardine of Feltre
Born to the nobility, the eldest of nine children, he grew up with a speech impediment. After hearing Saint James of the Marches preach at Padua, Italy during Lent, 1456, he felt a call to the religious life. Joined the Order of Friars Minor in May 1456. Studied at Mantua, Italy. Ordained in 1463. His speech impediment miraculously cured, and he became a travelling preacher throughout Italy, noted for his fiery sermons against usury. He organized more than thirty monti di pietá throughout Italy to give people an alternative to high-interest lenders.

I acknowledge that Bernie's not an inspiring figure. Hell, this guy's story is just as good. At least some of us have heard of him. (And it might not hurt to pray to him as well.)

I'm not a victim of the great Neteller Swindle of 2007, unless you count the 29 cents sitting in my account. I hope I'm wrong about this, but the government is not likely to give Neteller the $55 million it has seized. Unable to prosecute poker players and gamblers, it wants to scale new heights of hypocrisy and fuck them over by taking their money.

Does Neteller have to find a way to get Americans their money to remain a viable and (again) tradeable company? You'd think. Again, let's hope.

It has taken nearly three weeks to get my ePassporte account up and running. Nothing about that company impresses me thus far. It either has awful customer service or is overwhelmed with new customers. I suspect both. And I'm not sanguine about it or any other gambling-related concern's chances of surviving in the U.S. market given the current landscape.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007


This was not expected but very much welcome:

Coincidentally, I've played a fair amount of cash PLO on Tilt in the last week and am getting more comfortable with the game. I'm sure I've played at least one PLO tournament prior to this, but I have no recollection of it. (Blogger) tournaments are played far more aggressively than cash games and had to adjust on the fly. Apparently I did okay.

I did benefit from a couple of suckouts, including one against our gracious, but short-stacked host at the bubble. Quality hands held up to the end and I managed to get away with a few well-timed bluffs by betting hard at scary boards.

Winning was not in the cards despite a slight chip lead HU. My opponent might be a very good PLO player (certainly better than me) , but the cards he got over the next dozen hands were even better.

Wil bestowed me the honor of picking next week's Second Chance game. Mark your calendars, folks. We'll be playing pot-limit hold 'em.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Oh ... Canada

I’ve almost learned the words to your national anthem. I’ve spent money at your tourist traps and have been a profligate user of paper products. I’m sure I’m good for at least 5 or 10 percent of your country’s gross GDP.

Why, Canada, why?

It is ridiculously cold here on the North Coast. The vapid but beautiful weather gal tells me this bone-chilling air comes courtesy of something called an Alberta clipper. I admit to being geographically challenged, but I’m fairly certain Alberta is in freakin’ Canada. WTF? Who let this Arctic mass in? Where’s the Border Patrol when we need it?

Autobiographical interlude:

Work caused me to attend a court hearing outside of Toronto a few years ago. At the start of the proceedings, an officious bailiff told us to stand and ordered us to pay attention or some such nonsense and then ended the spiel with an invocation of “God Save the Queen.”

Jingo is not among the isms I embrace, but I was surprised by my reaction. It rankled that I had been asked to pay minor fealty to some rich old bag living the surreal life courtesy of the public dole. Christ, that was a war we actually managed to win. It struck as responsive a chord with me as an offering of “urinal cake” on a dessert cart.

(Never mind the fact that my father’s side of the family arrived in Amurrrica in 1730 carrying a land grant from King George II, payment for helping subjugate the Irish masses in Ulster.)

What does any of this have to do with poker, you ask? Not a damn thing. Even I, the great conjurer of strange transitions, cannot link the extreme cold, the queen and downtrodden Irishmen to poker.

But that's okay. I attended a writing seminar once where the speaker said we should not be afraid to “show the bones” in our writing. This post does just that. Downright anorexic, really.

But here is some poker content:

Last Wednesday, I jumped into the cash game at Brian Wilson’s and employed a new strategy: Play as many hands as possible. Why, you ask? Because I could. It didn’t take me too long to accumulate two extra buy-ins and not much longer to find myself down more than half a buy-in. By the time I dragged my ass out of the basement at 4 a.m., I found myself up an impressive $4. Woooot.

The game was tougher than usual and featured some of the regular $1/2 crowd. The quality of my play veered from donkimus maximus to (ahem) freakin' brilliant. It was good to push my personal poker envelope and ended up being the most fun I’ve had at the table in awhile.

And now some poker blogging content:

I don't pimp other blogs much, but here is some that is richly deserved. This Dude is one of the best storytellers in the poker-blogging universe. His posts are always a treat.