Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The People's Request

CT said...

Could you do a post containing your favorite training tools? Software, books, whatever.

December 2, 2008 12:11 PM

Because I'm bad at this and didn't see the comment until today, when Dave emailed out my November Stats post to our fantasy football league, I haven't yet done such a post. Here one is, albeit brief:

Books That I Suggest

Small Stakes Holdem
Beating Tough Holdem Games
The Elements of Poker
Theory of Poker
Holdem Poker for Advanced Players

I also read Winning Small Stakes Holdem (by Lee Jones), but think Small Stakes Holdem strictly dominates it.

Training Tools and Software That I Use:

Seriously, that's it. I have a copy of PokerTracker and TourneyTracker (the ladder I used back when I was a Sit 'N Go fiend), but I probably haven't played online in 2 months. Almost everything I've learned I learned from experience, two plus two, and those books.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Asshole Card

Private Joker recently took it upon himself to start the "Asshole Card" low content thread on Two Plus Two. To quote:

The a$$hole card is the one card in the deck that can come to cost you the maximum. Maybe you're currently ahead, hit a card to improve your hand, but it gives someone else the nuts and you lose the max. Or maybe you're behind, you hit your hand, but it hits someone else's hand harder and you lose the max. There are all kinds of ways to suffer the fate of the a$$hole card, and for some reason I've seen almost all of them over the past few weeks. Hopefully this thread, like the "hand where you ruin someone's life" thread can flourish for months and months to come. So please, post that special hand you just played where the a$$hole card bent you over backwards.

Today I hit the asshole card rather hard.

BA, the regular who tries to play good but just can't bet and raise enough raises from the high-jackish area. I call in the small blind swith KcTc (also known as 'suited broadways') and proceed to flop a monster when the board comes down:

Ac Jc 7d

The pot is 5 ways with me first and BA 4th to act. I just donk it, get a fold, and then Tom B (here forward known as Megafish) calls. BA raises and starts talking so I figure he's got a hand, and the last player to act folds. I 3-bet, Megafish calls, BA caps, I call, and Mega fish calls for the 5th time so far this hand.

Ac Jc 7d 4s

Alright, I didn't hit any of my nut making outs (I have 11 that are pure as virgin snow....2345689Q of clubs, then the other 3 queens) so I check. Megafish checks, BA bets, I call and so does Megafish (that's 6).

Ac Jc 7d 4s 7c

Little do I know it, but I've just been penetrated by the asshole card. I bet, Megafish folds, and BA raises. I decide to light $39.95 on fire and call, and he rolls:

Ah 7h

That's right folks, full how! There were 44 cards left in the deck that could come off on the river. As stated, 11 of them gave me a winner, and 32 allowed me to check and fold peacefully. Which card did I get? The $80 asshole card.

The Great WTK Debacle

First of all….WTK, if you read this, I mean no disrespect. Well, OK, maybe a little, but it’s my blog and I can do pretty much whatever I want.

There is a regular player in my game known to me only by his board initials, WTK. He used to play mostly 40/80, but for some reason of late (my speculation is a combination of massive losses in the stock market and at the tables) he has made 20/40 his new home. Let us not mince words; WTK is not a great player. He’s not awful in the way that many of my opponents are, though. Namely, he is not passive. Sweet merciful jesus he is not passive. WTK is probably the most aggressive player that I encounter on a regular basis (out of maybe 50…or a 100…I don’t know).

He plays decently post flop, but the pure breadth of his preflop opening range basically ensures that a thinking player who is capable of accurately assessing said hand range will eat his lunch consistently. He might even be a small winner in the 20/40 game by way of simply gobsmacking people over and over and over again. In case you don’t know what gobsmack means, it’s because it’s not actually a word. But rest assured, it means about what you think it means, as explained by Tommy Angelo in his book Elements of Poker (a book and author about which the awesomeness is often understated, IMO). WTK just raises and raises and raises and just when you think there is no freaking way he bet the K5o all the way down with freaking air, you call him with pocket 6s cause you’re here now and theres over a rack of chips sitting out there just waiting for a home and he does in fact show you the king and the five of the off that hit on the river for one pair of fives and the table is just like “whoa”. The thing is that most of the table goes “whoa” but thinks the hand was an abberation or for some reason lacks the mental machinery or testicular fortitude to man the fuck up and call the him down with king-high.

Moving right along…My history with WTK is getting longer and already sordid. At first the only emotion I could muster when he sat at my table was fear. This was a 40/80 player slummin’ down a the kiddy table. He bets, he raises, he drags pots…and the first few sessions that is all he did. I’d be sitting there and WTK would go on a 5 rack heater, as the man who raises K8o from EP is apt to do from time to time. I reacted to this fear by over-compensating in all the wrong ways. I tightened up preflop, knowing that “there would be plenty of chances to get him” and played every hand like a fit or fold tag-fish after the flop. Both of these playing decisions were, in a word, awful.

This stage of our relationship ended when WTK toileted me in a blind steal. I flopped a flush draw, he flopped a bigger one, and wouldn’t you know it we both got there on the turn and by the river I’m standing there with my dick in my hand while he’s got 260 of my dollars in his. After this I had a discussion with Pete about how to handle the beast that is the WTK and his advice was directly on point, as usual. “Don’t try to out-crazy him, cause you can’t.” The words make perfect sense. Why try to out-crazy a crazy person? Dude’s freaking crazy! Why fight the fight on his terms? 3-bet him light, preflop, with the cover of position, and play the hands the way you always play hands…last to act and in control. Since taking this advice to heart I no longer cringe when WTK rolls up to my game. I don’t exactly lick my chops, but I do text Hank in the other game and deride him for his non-clairvoyance. Then I batten down the hatches and call the chip runner for some more bullets. Also, as you’ll see, I do everything I can to make him think I’m a complete nit that he can gobsmack along with the rest of the unshaved masses (I usually don’t even shave to further drive this impression home). Then I call him down with 4th pair as he bets all three streets and I stack the chips.

An aside….The first night I was staking Yoda he got a seat quickly in a game that was not mine. He asked me for a quick run down of the players which I happily gave as I was sending him into battle with my little round yellow foot soldiers:

“2 and 3 are loose passive loosers. Seat 5 is a winning professional who plays as high as 80/160. 8 and 9 are better than most regulars, but not better than you. But honestly, all you need to know is that’s WTK in seat 4. He’s a lunatic and the entire game will revolve around him and the pro 3-betting him with napkins”

Yoda was getting the 6 seat, and was in for quite a freaking ride as it was a mere one seat to the left of the jesus seat. Also, as an aside to this aside, the chip runner overheard this conversation as she was selling Yoda chips and looked at me with some combination of disdain and amazement. It was just a funny moment you had to be there for I guess, me pulling a fat wad of bills out of my pocket and handing Yoda $400 (my half of his buy in), giving him the run down and basically a pat on the ass and a “go get em tiger” speech. Anyway….back to the man aside….

I get to the table and as previously mentioned Yoda runs like Reggie Wayne. A hand I left out, though, goes like this:

WTK open-raises like UTG minus 2 or something. Yoda pulls out ye trusty 3-bang, I fold to get out the way and go about the rootin’. The flop goes off without a hitch heads-up and I’m practically already counting the money in my pocket. I told Yoda that WTK was a maniac, but he’s still playing high and probably not 3-betting as light as I would…Oh Jesse, ye of little faith. The board comes down with a paired paint and a low card…something like:


WTK simply checks and calls. Warning bells go off in my head…Check/call? That’s not in the WTK playbook! Danger Will Robinson, Danger!!!! The turn is a brick....let’s call it like an 8 that puts a flush draw up. WTK checks again, and Yoda bets. The check/raise is swift and merciless. Yoda looks at me and I can’t say anything but every shred of my being is scream “CALL HIM DOWN!!! YOU HAS PAIR YOU CALL HIM DOWN NOW!!!” Yoda eventually makes the call. The river is actually a pretty crappy card, I can’t remember specifically but I do remember thinking “Lots of those in WTKs range at this point” which admittedly you could probably say about deuces here but whatever, and Yoda calls a bet. WTK rolls A7o for…ace-high. No draw. No nothing. Yoda rolls…Pocket 6s. The pot is dragged and I may have actually done a fist-pump. That closes our aside, and two pages of word doc in (I’m on the plane again) I’m going to set about writing what I set about to write about.

WTK raises my big blind from reasonable position (the high jack probably) and I go temporarily insane and simply call with AJo. This is a 3-bet all day long against him. Twice on Sunday. If he caps, I’m not even in that bad of shape, honestly. But I just call, because like I said I’m temporarily insane. My image to him is “weak tight nit” probably. The flop comes down:


In other words, I have flopped the nuts. For some reason (probably the fact that I just went insane) I just check and call, instead of taking the “old reliable” check/raise line, or the “would have been sexy” bet/3-bet line. I vow to check/raise the turn. It bricks off, I don’t remember what it was as this hand was weeks ago and I check. WTK checks! Mother father, now what am I going to do? I’ve been reverse-gobsmacked! The river pairs the bottom card on board and this voice in my head says “if at first you don’t succeed…” so I check. He hems and haws and thinks and eventually…checks. I table my hand and Yoda, the pro in 5, and I all have a good laugh. I say “It’s my pot for sure” and the pro says “Well yeah, but where’s the rest of it?”

20 minutes later….

I have regained my mind and raise KQo after WTK limps in (his range is probably only slightly stronger than ATC here, due to the fact that he’d have raised like the top 40% of holdings…for example, he can’t have like, you know, a pair). The flop brings the dreaded:


And I’ve got the nut sqaudush with a redraw to second pair. WTK checks and I bet, just going through the motions really. Then I realize “Wake up man, this is WT freaking K and you just proved to him that you’re a weak tight nit-burger! It’s time to go postal!” He check/raises me (of course) and I…3-bet. He frowns disapprovingly and I can see the AJ hand replaying in his head. He check/folds the turn. I probably only make a stone cold bluff like this a few times a week, and when it works I get that rush that’s usually reserved for dragging 3-footers with rivered nut flushes. The joke goes unnoticed, but I turn to the pro and say “There it is.”

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Run like the Jesus, you must

Now that you’ve listened to be talk about the boring stuff that is the rest of my life, time to get onto some hands where I own people, get owned, or somehow have the bejesus beaten out of me. Oh wayt…first my new found staking situation, which so far has netted me a nice profit.

So Yodaman is a friend of mine from two plus two. He’s a good guy, and I even had dinner with him once a while ago (which is more than I can say for any of my other two plus two friends). He’s a student, has a job, and recently got robbed (specifically his car got jacked up while parked in San Francisco). He mostly plays live 8/16 but was hoping to move up/take some shots at bigger games. At the moment, though, the prospect of getting raped for 3 racks at 20 is a little more than his heart, head, or wallet could bear. Enter Jesse. Twice recently Yoda has met me at the casino and we have made the gamble together at the 20/40 table, sitting next to each other with me taking half of his action. Now each time I have done this it just so happens that I have gotten the snot kicked out of my personal stack. The second time Yoda basically broke even (he lost 5 bets, or 200, total, only 100 of which was mine). The first time, however, Yodaman ran like, well, Yoda. He was unstoppable. To wit:

I’d just moved to the table to sit with my horse and watched him raise a limper from late position. He got 3-bet from somewhere (the blinds I think) and didn’t cap. This is always a bad sign. The flop came down AJX (Not sure what the X was) and Yoda went to absoulte war. He got like 3 bets in on the flop and two more on the turn. By the time the big blind called on the river with his AK, it was pretty apparent he was no good. Yoda rolled AJ for top two. A few hands later Yoda got into a 3 or 4 bet pot preflop and proceeded to nut the sucker with top set of Jacks. Then his Kings held up, he made a flush or two, I can’t even remember what all happened. Within an hour Yoda’s 800 dollar buy in had morphed into 4.5 racks of chips. It was just beautiful to see. He finished the day with something like $2040 and I got to put 620 dollars of profit into my right pocket. Not before, however, the following awesomely fantastic hand happened:

Yoda opens on the button. This is a bullshit raise, and he’s doing it with some preposterous percentage of his preflop holdings…like…50. I behold the ace and the queen of the spades and turbo three bet him from the small blind. The big blind fails to see the do not disturb sign we’ve laid out on the hand though and calls. Yoda caps, and now I’m a little concerned. Away we go 3 handed:

KJT rainbow

Why oh why must I flop the nuts against my horse? Such is the way it goes. I check/raise him (probably should have donked it) and we go to war, with me putting in either the 4th or 6th bet (the big blind got the picture pretty quickly). The turn, however, is a queen, and some more bets go in…perhaps 3. I’m not sure. On the river he just calls me and says “we’re chopping” as he rolls AK. This hand was fantastically fun to play, but net profit for Yoda and I….73 dollars. The pot was massive, something like 700 dollars, and the dealer had to chop the whole thing up. Pretty funny.

Final result for the day, Yoda wins me 600 bucks. If you're gonna stake someone, it might as well be a Jedi.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Home for the Holidays

As I write this I am 40 minutes outside of Washington DC at 35,000 feet. Once I land I’ll be hanging out in the airport for about 90 minutes, then on a quick flight to Pittsburgh, where I’ll be spending the holidays with my family (read: Mom and Dad). So for the next 6 days I won’t be playing a single hour of poker. This saddens me greatly, but such is life.

Fortunately for all of you I’ve saved up some good stories to write about during the break. Hopefully I’ll have time to post a few of them so everyone can have something interesting to read during the holidays. If not, for once I’ll apologize in advance of being lazy…

I just finished a second reading of How to Turn Your Poker Playing into a Business by Ann-Margaret Johnson. For anybody aspiring to turn this game into more than a hobby (or simply to avoid getting in trouble with Uncle Sam), I strongly suggest this book. It’s written in language anybody can understand, provides examples, and can be finished in a 2 hour flight. The book goes through a lot of topics, the first of which is how you can determine if you’re a “professional” or merely a “hobbyist”. The primary distinction appears to be “Do you do anything else?”. In my case the answer is most definitively no, which seems to qualify me to file as a professional in the calendar year 2009. As such, I have generated a check/list of stuff that needs to happen in the next few weeks to make sure I get off the ground on the right foot:

1. Find out if I can deduct meals? Sounds like no.

2. Open separate banking account with Etrade.

3. Write business plan.

4. Get/convert a credit card for business use.

5. Transfer health insurance to said credit card.

6. Transfer cell phone bill to said credit card.

7. Create milage log. Use "mileage method" for any trips.

8. Open SEP IRA

I’ve actually already written the business plan (it’s only a page long), the purpose of which is to fight back in case I somehow manage to get audited. Most of the other points deal with the advantages of filing as a pro, namely the ability to write off expenses, effectively paying for them with income before it gets taxed (this in turn lowers your Adjusted Gross Income, which is directly correlated to how much you owe the IRS on April 15th…which coincidentally happens to be my birthday).

I have two or three more days to play this year, and I’m going to generate a poker income somewhere in the region of $50,000. By reporting this income to the IRS, I’m basically being a “good citizen” and writing a five-figure check to bail out Detroit (those rat bastards…don’t even get me started). Why am I doing this, you ask? Well, a number of reasons. First of all, it is the right thing to do. Cheating on your taxes is wrong, even if you don’t get caught. If you do, you’re royally fucked and in for an extra dose up Uncle Sam all up in your business every year for the rest of your natural life. I don’t want that. Second of all, Danielle pretty much demands I do it this way. That my sound harsh, but to be blunt there is really only one person in this world who can tell me what to do at this point, and it’s her. She’s looking out for my long term best interests and playing the much needed role of “conscience” in this stage drama, and for that I’m greatly appreciative. Finally, at some point in the near future I’m probably going to be applying for a mortage. If I want any hope of being accepted, I need to show this income on my tax return. The “Hey I want a loan for $500,000 but oh by the way my income last year was less than a twentieth of that” really isn’t going to fly.

As a final note, this Christmas I am going to explain all of this to my parents. They are probably going to go batshit, but as per the previous paragraph there really isn’t anything they can do about it. They haven’t written a tuition check since my 6th semester (of 10), which was in the Spring of 2003, practically (gulp) 6 years ago. Has it really been that long? Hayah!!!

Friday, December 19, 2008

You've gotta learn the language

I recently was in a situation where I was forced to explain what I do to a large group of "older" people who didn't really have a clue what playing poker for a living was like. It went OK, but afterwards it was pointed out to me that I used "a lot of lingo" that they just couldn't understand. Readers of this blog have told me the same thing. In an effort to overcome this obstacle, I give you to you a text message I sent to Captain R (Pete), verbatim from my phone, along with English Translation:

"Fish limps. I raise t8dd otb. Blinds clear hu. Q96 black ops double gutter IMO. He c/c. Turn 8. Nut against this guy. He c/c again. River 7. Yahtzee. He calls and shakes his head. Table gives me a collective look of disdain."

Here is the translation:

Fish limps

A bad player calls the big blind. His position is unimportant, as he is the only one who has yet entered the pot when it becomes my turn to act.

I raise t8dd otb.

I raise holding the Ten and the Eight of diamonds. I am on the button, the last player to act before the blinds and in the best possible position post flop.

Blinds clear hu.

The blinds both fold and the limper calls. The pot will be played heads up.

Q96 black ops double gutter IMO

The flop is Q96. The suits of the cards are not important. I have flopped a "double gutter" straight draw, which in this case means that either a 7 or Jack will give me a straight. It is very unlikely that my opponent can see that this draw is available. It is also very unlikely that he will even consider the fact that I might be holding Ten-Eight suited. In my opinion.

He c/c.

My opponent checks, then calls after I bet.

Turn 8. Nut against this guy. He c/c again.

The fourth community card is an 8, giving me a pair. Against my opponent's possible range of hands this stands as a very strong made hand that is likely to win at showdown without further improvement. He checks and calls when I bet once again.

River 7. Yahtzee. He calls and shakes his head.

The fifth community card is a 7, which gives me a ten-high straight. My opponent checks, and I bet. He shakes his head in dismay, realizing that his hand is likely beaten. Then he calls my bet, placing an additional 40 dollars into the pot.

Table gives me a collective look of disdain.

I table my hand first, since the player who is called must reveal his hole cards first. The other players in the game look at me with confusion and general disagreement apparent on their countenances, mainly because they do not feel it is appropriate to raise with a hand such as ten-eight suited. Also, they are unlikely to realize just how strong my hand was at every point during the hand. They remember this hand, and remember that I am a lunatic who will just "give it all back" eventually. My opponent mucks his hand, as it cannot defeat my straight. I drag a $305 pot.

I guess I have to post them

A few people have requested/suggested/demanded I post the few pictures I snapped of Lamont Jordan from last Saturday. This at first seemed a bit unethical to me, but after some thought I've decided to comply. So here we go.

First, we have Lamont Jordan wondering why oh why he didn't check behind on the river.

Second, we have Lamont Jordan studying diligently for a test to be administered by Professor Beli-cheat later that evening.

Like I said, Lamont was a joy to play with, and I'm looking forward to the next time he comes to town.

A few other interesting things happened on Tuesday, including my flopping quads twice in the course of 30 minutes. The first time I had a pair of Jacks in the hole, raised preflop and got almost no action (which is sadly often the case when you flop a full blown monster). The second time, however, a friendly Englishman named Gordan found himself haplessly bumbling through the pot with me. Gordan is a prop player, and boy is he bad. He does strange things, plays too many hands, and in general is a bit clueless for someone who is supposedly a professional poker player. Anyway, I hold black kings and raise it up preflop. Gordan is of the opinion (1) that I am a maniac, (2) that he can outplay me, and (3) that I never have anything postflop. Ever. He is right right on about one half of these things. Anyway, he cold calls next in because as I said he's awful, and a few other people see the flop of:


I don't really remember what X was to be honest. I bet, Gordan calls, and so does somebody else I think. On the turn something with a little paint on it (or like a ten maybe) peels off the deck and I bet once more. Gordan, seated immediately on my left, looks at me and puts out one hand in a thumbs up motion, then jerks his hand upwards about 6 inches to indicate that he is raising. I have my headphones on and say "raise?" and he says "raise". I 3-bet him before he's done cutting off his chips and he looks kind of sheepish as he calls. The river is a low card which is kind of a shame cause he tells me afterwards he had a straight draw and was attempting to use points (2) and (3) from above. Anyway I bet and he folds and I table my hand for fun declaring "two pair", because the last time I had quads Gordan said nothing irritates him more than when people table quads and declare two pair. This time I figured it was ok since he'd already folded and all....

Shortly after this they open a 4th 20/40 table, and I realize that despite the reeling economy, there is nearly infinite demand for mid stakes hold 'em in San Jose. This puts a big fat smile on my face, as does looking to table 39 to see four two plus twoers on the same table...Good game selection guys....very good.

Wednesday finds me at Garden City, sticking with my plan of never playing 3 days in a row in the same building. I play some 20, then take a shot when they open the must move 40/80 game. Unfortunately I'm second on the list when they call down the game, which means I'm only in the must move game for 30 minutes before I have to pick up my chips and sit down in the main game. The main game, as is often the case, sucks, as it's full of props and regulars who while by no means are experts play well enough not to avoid losing their shirts while playing 40/80 all day long. When you move to the main game, though, you can come in behind the button for free, so I play my free orbit then grab an empty 20/40 seat for the rest of the day.

Around 2pm, in walks Max, one of my favorite Garden City regulars. Max is a full blown lunatic preflop, but he plays semi-non-retardedly afterwards. He also has the "run like Jesus against Jesse" cheat code apparently, and as Professor Ben sweats me I tell him as much. I honestly think I've lost 4 figures to Max over the last 6 months, and hands like the one I'm about to tell you would tend to back me up. But first, an aside....

Professor Ben is awesome. Last I checked he's a Stanford Grad student, but in reality he is a professional gambler of much higher quality than myself. He has played hold 'em as high as 100/200 and bets sports for profit (most recently "devastating" the WNBA season). His recent post on two plus two regarding pushing thin preflop edges should be enough to prove that he knows what he's talking about (or at least more than me). For those who don't want to read the post, the basic idea is this: In sports betting, the Kelly Criteria tells you how much to wager on each bet based on how big of an edge you think you have. Ben's post shows that in a 6 way pot with you holding suited broadways in the big blind, you have a large enough edge that Kelly would suggest you raise to something in the neighborhood of 60 small bets (assuming you have a 300 big bet bankroll). This is because you have about a 26% chance of winning but are only putting in 1/6th of the money.

So anyway, Ben is sweating me and I pick up the King and the Queen of the clubs in the small blind and promptly raise like 4 limpers. The big blind 3-bets and and only one of the limpers goes away, so I cap it up. The hand is uninteresting, as I flop the living daylights out of the sucker when KK4 rolls off the top and bet it all the way. Afterwards as I'm stacking the mountain of chips I turn to Ben and he says:

"Yeah, that Kelly girl's a bitch sometimes, but she's really good in bed so that makes up for it I guess"

Ben takes his 5-200 seat to "donk around with [his] friend" and I proceed to run over the entire table except for Max, who again displays his "run like Jesusness" wit....

I try to steal Max's blind with K7 of spades. The flop comes down QT4 with one spade and Max check/raises me. I call. The turn brings a King and I call Max down to be shown J9 for a straight.

Max raises and I defend my big blind with Q9 suited. The flop comes 9-high. What does Max have? Pocket 9s only.

I raise....Max makes flush.

I raise...Max makes flush.

And finally, the real donkey puncher of the day....Max raises somewhere in early position and the next guy calls. I three bet it from the small blind with AKo and Max calls. The other player caps it, which means he has a suited connector or something and thinks I'm retarded enough to check to him on the flop. The flop brings down a glorious, glorious:

Ac Kc 6s

And I "donk" because I'm not in fact retarded. They both call.


Ouch. Now that sure is a fun card. I bet, and Max calls again. At this point alarm bells are going off in my head, but there isn't much I can do. 3rd player now raises because he has made his flush (I know this to a moral certainty). I however have top two and 4 outs at a boat in what is now an 11+ bet pot. I call. Max now unleashes the fury and 3-bets. I laugh out loud and practically point at the cold-calling/back capping idiot sitting next to Max as he calls. Now the pot is even huger and I call again. The river bricks off and I fold my top two after Max bets and the other player calls. What does Max have you ask? Pocket 6s for...quads. Ergo, run like Jesus.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

A new poker term

The last three days have gone pretty well for me...all winners, for a total of almost 2000. Monday and Tuesday I spent at Bay 101 playing 20/40, and managed to generate a few interesting stories.

I sit down in the game and haven't even posted yet. Eric, a "semi-pro" from what I can gather is in the small blind. Eric is one of those guys who doesn't chop when it folds to him in the blinds (most players just agree to take their bets back, to avoid the house taking rake on the hand) and this hand turns into a nightmare for him. He raises the small blind, and the big blind turbo 3-bets him. Eric thinks (as he always does) before 4-betting, and the big blind turbo-5 bets him. Once more Eric thinks, and a 6th bet goes in. Before he's even done cutting it off the big blind 7-bets him. Eric thinks and calls. Timeout:

Eric is a good player. He would NEVER have stopped with Aces. Therefore, he does not have aces.


I am excited for Eric, as he has a set here 100% of the time. He donk-bets, the big blind raises, and he 3-bets. So far I think I've got this one figured....KK vs AA. Tough break big blind, Eric just flopped the bejesus out of you. Big blind calls only, which is odd merely because he's already raised 4 times this hand.


Sort of an interesting card. Eric bets and collects a call.

T, for a final board of KQJT4

I stand up and laugh out loud....I look away from the table because I can't bear to watch...Eric looks at me and shrugs. "What can I do?" he says and checks. BB bets. Eric calls. And it happens...the big blind rolls 98 of diamonds for the runner runner idiot end of the straight. I don't even think there was a diamond on the flop. It doesn't matter....Eric is beside himself. The entire table is dumbfounded. I've never seen Eric loose his cool (he's great to play with) before, but this was more than he could bear. To be clear, the man 7-bet 9-high preflop, then flopped himself a 1.6% chance to win and got there.

In quick succession Eric's nemesis makes another gut shot, and a few more are made over the next orbit. Finally I call a raise from the big blind with A3s and this happens.

5 players in or some such for a flop of:


I call a bet and we see a turn of


Bang! Gutshot Magic Baby! I check/raise the field, yet somehow there are still three of us in the pot to see the river of:


I bet and am raised...I sheepishly call and am shown 78 for the nut straight. Whatchagonna do? It is at this moment that lay claim to the poker phrase "Gut over Gut", as in "When you get gut over gutted, you're supposed to lose a lot of chips".

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

When to go 17 bets preflop

The last week has found me struggling to get out of a downswing. My San Diego trip was a definitive loser, and adding to that a 3 rack loss the day before I left and a 1 racker the day after I got back, I found myself in a near replica of the downswing I suffered in late October. Specifically, about $4500 in less than a week's time. My confidence has been rattled, and while the last two days have seen me book solid wins, I feel I've been playing kind of badly, making mistakes I'm not prone to like, such as calling down with hands that don't justify it and raising hands preflop that don't warrant it. Yesterday I did better, and I just need to remind myself that when I'm in a pot the goal is to win the money in the long run, not to win this pot right now. If I can just remember that, I should be OK.

Last Friday night I made my first trip to The Oaks, as I found myself at Oracle Arena at 4pm after watching Danielle play basketball on the court there as part of her Oracle Rec League Playoffs (shelling out 8 figures to name an arena, it would appear, does not come without some perks). I've heard that the Oaks 30/60 is a wet dream of a game, and I wanted to find out for myself. I arrived at about 4:30pm and immediately spent 10 minutes circling the building. Apparently you really do have to make a U-Turn, but I didn't believe that, then I did and found there was no parking left, so I ended up going to the valet which was kind of insulting. Once I got inside, I put my name up on all the lists and took a seat in a 6/12 game just to get a feel for the place. I found myself with 2 Artichoke Joe's regulars from back in my "good old days" and was comfortable immediately.

I quickly got called for the 15/30 game, and only spent 30 minutes there before hearing my name called for the 30/60. And away we go. The 30/60 game was a must move table that at first was close to full. The Oaks even has 10 handed tables, instead of the 9 handed ones I'm accustomed too. The game, however, didn't have much of a waiting list and we kept losing players. Eventually we were 5 handed, then 4, then even 3 for a bit, then back to 4. I played in the game for 2 hours with a known 2p2 professional short handed and only managed to lose about $100, which I felt was well worth the experience I gained. My table broke, with one player leaving and the other two getting seats in the main game. I sat on my arse for 30 minutes waiting for my seat, which I have to admit was rather irritating; this type of thing doesn't ever happen at Bay 101, and I tend to take it for granted.

Once I finally got a seat in the main game (nearly 3 hours after I got to the club), I found it to be not as great as I'd heard. The players were pretty bad, and it was definitely beatable, but I just wasn't that impressed. The aforementioned 2p2 pro later told me that the game was "usually better than you saw that night", but I'm not too convinced as he's obviously a much better player than I am (as our 2 hour short handed session proved). I'll certainly be giving it another shot though, sometime in the near future. I left the Oaks up $100 total, $400 of which I won in the main 30/60 game (that 30 minutes of 15/30 was expensive!).

This leads me to Saturday, which I spent at Bay 101 trying to get my Mojo back. At first I was having little success, playing bad and running bad all over the place, until...what's that I see? Was it really him? Sweet mercy it was! Lamont Jordan is at table 37! Floorman!!!! I put in for a change and get it three minutes later. The seat that opens is remarkably just two to Lamont's left (not quite the Jesus seat, but close enough). Lamont proceeds to play as badly as one can possibly play, calling down and raising with anything that even resembles a draw (at one point he flashed me his T8o on a board of 56J-2-Q after putting in tons of action and saying "I never get there"). I call him down with King-High (he of course has trips), but in general win some money back. Then it happens....Jared, a regular in our game who for some reason hates me and I don't really like either, sits down at the game and raises preflop from the blinds. Lamont had limped in, and 3-bets. They are heads up now and the dealer declares "No Cap". Jared 4s, Lamont 5s, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10....I'm not sure how many bets they went, but I think it was about 17, and when Lamont had about 3 bets left Jared stopped, claiming to "save a little for the flop". It's obvious Jared actually had Aces, and were Lamont a normal human being it'd be obvious he did too. The flop brings two diamonds and Jared checks his hole cards...."Shit, I don't have the diamond" he says as he and Lamont put the last 3 bets in. The board runs out something like Ten-high with a pair and Jared rolls his rockets. Lamont rolls...Q9o. Then he calls for chips, saying "I just wanted to go all that that's out of the way...." All in all Lamont lost about 4 racks while I was at the table, and spent the last 45 minutes reading his "Lamont Jordan's Week 14 Game Plan Book: Patriots at Raiders" and drawing blitz pickup formations (did you know that the Oakland Raiders blitz 21% of the time, and bring pressure from the secondary 16% of the time? Now I do, and apparently so does Lamont). I leave the game stuck a rack, 15 minutes before Lamont. I know this because his driver came in to inform him that the meeting he had was at 7pm and that they were only 10 minutes away, so he could stay until 6:45. As before, Lamont was a joy to play with, taking and dishing out bad beats with a smile on his face.

The last two days I've spent at Bay 101....and I'll write about them either tonight or tomorrow.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

San Diego

I again apologize for the long delay, but as many of you are aware I’ve been in San Diego since last Sunday. My friend Chris (he of the awesome airline traveling abilities) was in town for business and I decided to fly down and share his expense account (rental car/hotel room) and hit up Ocean’s 11 in Oceanside, CA. Between making the gambool, 60 mile round trip drive, and drinking a near otherworldly amount of beer, there simply wasn’t time to jot it down as I went.

For those of you who don’t know, food is free in SoCal casinos if you ball up high enough. Fortunately for me, the “high-enough” line is drawn just south of 20/40. Therefore, between the free breakfast at the hotel, comped food at the casino, and complimentary beer/cheese/wine/burgers spread at the hotel at night, it was challenging for me to pay for anything the entire trip (I still manged to do so, though, as Chris and I went to about 2 bars per night). In short, I’ve managed to fatten myself up right smartly just in time for Christmas. I feel like a ham.

So I land Sunday about 30 minutes before kickoff of the Steeler’s game and Chris and I opt for the Rock Bottom Brewery for our viewing pleasure. He is a Patriot’s fan (each man has his fatal flaw), and is also embroiled in an epic fantasy football drama in which 4 teams are tied for the last two playoff spots going into the final battle. Our powers combined (my iPhone and his Yahoo account with StatTracker upgrade) have us sitting in the restaurant watching six tvs drinking 22 ounce beers constantly checking the latest fantasy scores. Chris has to win to get in, but he also needs help, as his team has scored “a few” less points than the others he’s fighting. Every time a touchdown is scored we have to figure out what team’s chances were affected. When the smoke settles, Chris not only loses his game, but gets neither of the help options he would have needed. The Pats, however, win, because they are protected from on fucking high and even the power and glory that is the Chad Pennington/Brett Favre and Tom Brady/Matt Cassel exchange system seems not enough to knock them off their high horse. The Steelers basically lay an egg for the first 54 minutes but then the Cowboys manage to snatch defeat from the jaws of certain victory. Steelers on defense having just tied it up, Romo with 1:50 left and 2 timeouts. First and ten, gain of 3. Timeout. Steelers. Romo looks confused and quite frankly insulted. I mean, the game is tied right? Cowboys have the ball. Shouldn’t the Steelers just be trying to force a little bonus football? Nope, not when your defense is the best in the NFL statistically since the ’78 version of your team. Mike Tomlin goes deep into the defensive playbook and calls the “Pick 6” on the very next snap. Ball game. There is much rejoicing.

The rest of the day is a bit of a blur, as Chris and I meet my Sigma Nu little brother Akash for Mexican food and I continue to drink beers. We are offered a comp’ed dessert due to an order screw up, and try to turn it into a margarita with mixed results (margarita does appear…but we pay for it). Then we somehow wander to another mexican place for coffee and to watch the end of the Raven’s game. A good time is had by all, and eventually Chris drives us back to our hotel room (unbeknownst to me, he stopped drinking a while ago). Before the hotel though, we drive to Thrifty to add me as a driver on the rental car and exchange it for one that has cruise control. This is to be the first in a series of rental car incidents. As we leave the rental car lot Chris notes that the “idiot light” on the car seems to think the back right tire might be a little light. We inspect the tire and it seems fine. Carry on....

7:30am, time to go to work. Chris and I eat the free breakfast and I eventually arrive at Ocean’s 11 around 9:30. The first thing I notice is that no one is manning the board up front, which is a giant projection on the wall listing all the games and the like. The reason? She’s playing in the 8/16 game. She gets up to help me, and tada! I have a seat. I sit down and play for about 75 minutes (There was no 20 game yet, and in fact I was the first person on the list for it. A regular told me the game broke 15 minutes before I got there and would probably fire up again in an hour or so. Given this it was clear my “No 8/16” policy would not hold for this trip), win a good bit, then promptly lose everything back and more in one hand. It’s a full kill game, and it’s a very passive table. Very little raising going on, preflop or otherwise, and that which does go on tends to indicate some sort of near-nut holding. It’s raised and re-raised in front of me by two of the nittier players, but I peek down and find two lovely ladies in the hole. Honestly this is the worst pair I’d have played; Johnnies were going in the muck. You simply can’t lay down queens preflop in a limit game so, “Cap it up!” I declare. This is a kill pot, so it’s actually played at double stakes (16/32) and the killer is yet to act. He calls 3 bets cold, and we see the flop 5 ways for 4 bets each….the mountain of chips is preposterous already, as each bet was 8 chips….there are 160 chips in the pot already with one player exactly all in.

The flop comes off ten-high and the killer donks it. The original 2 and 3 bettors call and I pop him one time. His response is a turbo 3-bet, and the two players in between us now fold (LOL…the 3-bettor HAS to be making an awful fold now given his possible holdings and the size of the pot. I am happy) and I call, going into show-down mode. The turn and river stay small keeping the board ten-high, and the killer then reveals to me a fine pair of kings. As I muck my hand the grizzled old regular next to me declares “I think that’s the biggest pot I’ve ever seen in this game”. I got skillz.

I leave the game stuck a little over a 100 and find myself in one of the best 20/40 games I’ve ever seen. I mean, this game would be noteworthy at either Bay 101 or Garden City. There are 3 guys playing almost every pot for almost any number of bets. They go too far with their hands, yet are passive post flop. It’s incredible. 5 hours later I’m stuck a mere 3 racks and decide to pick ‘em up for the day. Nothing terribly interesting happens, I just can’t flop a hand to save my life. I didn’t want to check bags on the flight, so I left my scooter at home….

I drive back to the hotel and Chris, myself, and his co-worker Matt resolve to go to the KarlsStrauss Brewery. We walk outside and find our Santa Fe sitting on an impressively flat tire. “Did you drive like that?” is the question from the group. “Obviously not, as I’d be dead” was my answer. I had checked the tire in the morning and when leaving Ocean’s and found it not notably low. Now the car had been sitting in the parking lot for 90 minutes and the tire was completely flat. We drove over to a gas station (200 feet away), filled the sucker up with air, and were amazed to actually be able to hear the air hissing out of the tire. This was at about 6:30. By 8:30 we had changed the tire, driven the 20 miles to the airport at 48MPH on the 5, waiting patiently, explaining the situation to the manager at Thrifty, and rented a Sebring Convertible. To say the least we were not amused by the entire situation; less so when Thrifty attempted to make us pay for the “damage” to the car. Sure, we shouldn’t have driven off the lot with the idiot light on. But we checked the tire and it seemed fine. Chris and I manage to go to the Yard House for dinner around 9pm, and as if we’re owed some karma the waitress informs us it’s happy hour thanks to the Monday Night Football game. Sweet.

The next morning I arrive at Oceans around 9:15 and find the 20/40 game going. Heads up. I cannot resist and take a seat in the game, with a younger Asian guy on my left and an old white man on my right. They have both been playing all night (and admit so) and are both stuck pretty bad I would imagine. Asian kid has about 2 racks on the table, and whitey 3. Twenty minutes later I am all in and the Asian kid is showing down his 4th flush. He wins the pot and I buy more chips. The rush he was on was unlike anything I have ever seen. He was showing down hands that would be considered incredibly strong at a 9 handed table. I raised preflop with Ace-Jack and proceeded to flop broadway. Turn and river? Heart heart. He makes the flush. I flop second pair Ace kicker. What does he have? Top two. Rivers the boat. I raise AK and the flop comes down raggedy. He raises me and I just call. Then he checks behind on the turn, and the river deuce makes his A2o good over my nut no-pair. He toilets me (I make a flush, but lose to a bigger one…only 3 diamonds on board). Interspersed with his repetitive anal rapings of me were penetrations of the old white guy. In 20 minutes he had taken a rack off of whitey and both of mine. Then a fourth guy sits down, and almost simultaneously Asian guy quits the game. I glare at him, but it’s his money now and he can do whatever he wants with it. 25 minutes later I have every chip on the table…New guy flops top two on a board of J84. I have Ace-Jack and quite a bit of action goes in. Turn is a queen and at this point I’m a little worried and have entered call down mode. River queen, and MHIG as his pair of 8s get counterfitted and my Ace kicker drags the pot. This busts new guy, and I presume the game is dead. No no, whitey hasn’t had enough. He wants to play heads up. OK, I say, sure. The dealer has to explain to me how it even works (who is which blind and what not), and then I promptly win like 4 or 5 hands in a row, first spiking a set of 7s on the turn to crack his AQ, then value banging him 3 times with K3 on a board of 234-4-J and watching him show Q2, and culminating with my Q5 cracking his AA on a board of QJ3-7-5 when he gets it all in on the turn. Now I’m sitting all by my lonesome and count up my chips: 2177, for a win of…$177. This experience actually gave me “the rush” I used to feel when I played higher or went on big hot streaks. It was incredibly awesome.

Then I sit in the 8/16 game for 90 minutes and lose my customary 200 dollars.

Time for more 20/40, and it’s again an awesome game. I play for almost 6 hours and post a loss of 55 dollars. This hand can basically sum up the game.

A good young probably pro (only decent player at the table) open-raises and like 4 people cold call to me in the big blind. I behold the Queen and the Deuce of the spades and call, accurately estimating my pot odds at 11:1 with fantastic relative position post-flop and a bunch of mouth breathing donkeys on my right practically braying already. The flop comes off and the door card…the Jack of spades. Great I think! The next two cards are…the red deuces! I have flopped gin! I check, young kid bets, like everybody calls, and I raise. The young kid tries to fold but can’t and everyone calls. The next card is a small spade and I lead out, collecting two calls from the aforementioned mouth breathing donkey chorus. The river brings a 3rd spade, and my hand goes from fantastic to just really freaking good. I bet and mouth breather A raises me…I almost have a stroke, declare after some thought “I call only” and he tables K4 of spades for a winning hand. Everyone is stunned, and does the whole “double take look at the flop what did you call with there sir ah yes I see you had a non-nut back door flush draw on a paired board that is a fine call sir yes most excellent”. My composure does not break, but I get up soon, resolving to bring my scooter tomorrow and make these guys pay.

That night I learned to play “Sliders” from Chris’s coworker, and it was quite a good time. We were lazy and stayed in the hotel, mainly because of the free cheese/crackers/wine/beer spread they put on in the lobby that we hung out at for almost 90 minutes. Afterwards we didn’t really want to drive anywhere, and there was nowhere to walk to, so we just played cards and ordered a pizza. Good times.

Wednesday was a marathon/clusterfuck/disaster/debacle/any other bad words you can think of describe a day of gambling. I get there and there is one table going. 2/3 no limit. I sit in and am dealt cards 4 times. On my very first hand the flop comes down K83 rainbow and the player on my left is min-check/raised. He goes into the tank for I’m not kidding here over a minute. Then the min-raiser flashes him a king. The player continues to tank for another minute, and then folds, showing A8. How the fuck do you need a minute to figure out you should lay down second pair in a no limit game when somebody just showed you top pair? It hurt my brain and offended my dignity even to watch this crap, so when they opened a 4/8 limit game I jumped right in. That game was also awful from a “wow who are these people” point of view, and I lost 20 bucks in 45 minutes. Then the 8/16 game opened up and I proceeded to lose pot after massive pot for two hours (still no sign of a 20/40 game. I am irked) until I finally made queens full of aces on my final hand before moving to the Omaha game up 75 dollars (a massive win for me in 8/16). I decided the 20 had to go soon, and that I wanted to take a break and clear my head. Omaha is a great way to do that. Turns out I was wrong, and ended up in the Omaha game for over an hour. I got up to ask the board lady “So are you guys gonna get the 20 going soon?” She says “Sorry, I can’t start anything until I have more back up on the 8/16 list”. I say “You can put me up for 8/16.” For some reason her mood does not improve. I return to the Omaha game and play the following pot:

I see a free flop with something like 345Q and the flop comes down 337. Not bad I say, and I bet. Two people call. The turn is another 7, and so I bet again. I am called once more. River ace, for 337-7-A and I bet and get raised. I call and am shown AAA5, a terrible, terrible starting hand. I drag half the pot, as my 45 wins the low, but his aces full crack my set of 3s. Alas.

Finally at 1pm the 20 game gets called down and starts 6 handed (despite the fact that there are now over 15 names on the list). I play for 2 hours, drop 200 bucks mainly because for the first time I can ever remember I laid down aces on the flop in a live 20/40 game because I felt I just had to be beat…not only was I good, but they held up, too. I then make a bad call down with red nines on a jack high board that finishes off with 4 clubs. What’s the solution here? Play bad? Run bad? Move up! They open a 40/80 for the first time and I grab a seat. I proceed to play like a donkey mis-reading my opponents and being confused by the massive amounts of aggression in the game. I miss value when I should 3-bet the turn. I call down when my opponents actually have top set. In general I can’t do anything right, and leave the game 2 hours later stuck 400 bucks.

My net total for the trip was a loss of nearly $2200, which I have to say isn’t exactly what I wanted to have happen. The last night Chris and I went out in the Gaslamp Quarter and had an absolute blast, walking from bar to bar to bar with live music and dueling pianos, one right after another. Watching a guy spend 20 dollars to stop “Sweet Caroline”, only to have someone else trump him with more cash and have the song play out to completion on the piano, was absolutely priceless. The trip was fun and I wouldn’t think twice about doing it again; I’ll just remember to bring my scooter next time.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Just quads?

Friday was a Bay 101 day, and I showed up good and early (around 10:30am) to make sure I beat the masses. I played 8/16 like I'm not supposed to do and managed to win a stack (40 bucks) before getting a 20/40 seat at 11:15. I then promptly lost $1000, during which I won relatively few pots but always seemed to do so with utter monsters that nobody would pay off. To wit, I flopped quad-queens against Jerry the prop and two other players, but Jerry donk-bet from the blind and both other players folded, so extracting much value was difficult (on a board of QQ9 when you hold QQ, there isn't a whole lot for the other guy to have that isn't a total bluff). Net profit on the hand was around $180, or 4.5 big bets. Nothing to sneeze at, but quads could stand a bit more action.

Myself and two other 2p2ers are texting back and forth commenting on the locations of the various fish spread throughout the 4 games. Hammerin' Hank actually puts himself on the seat change list in anticipation of the next known fish coming off the list (we will call him K). K gets called to my table, and I am instantly deluged with texts from Hank and Pete deriding my luck box nature. I simply smile. K doesn't play nearly as awful as usual, and eventually Hank takes his table change to another game with other fish to fry and Pete actually comments to me on a break that my table is "pretty bad". I disagree and stick it out, until my arch-nemesis shows up. In my 4+ months of doing this poker thing there has only been one human being who has really, truly, and deeply pissed me off. His board name is cobra, and he is the most righteous, arrogant prick I think I have ever met. I put up for a table change instantly as to avoid insano monkey tilt and soon get a change to Pete's table. Then the feast begins.

At first things are just a roller coaster, with me moving up and down between stuck 400 and stuck 900. I win some, I lose some. I make trip aces and get called down, I make a 7 high flush and lose to a queen high one. Same old, same old.

Then, in the course of about 20 minutes, the following three hands happen (perhaps not in this order, but that's not really important).

Somebody limps and an awful player raises in the cutoff. Will, the biggest fish of record at the table who plays 80% of his hands preflop and never raises, calls two cold because that's what he does, and I behold the Jack and the Ten of hearts in the small blind. I call 1.5 cold, Pete comes along for the ride in the big blind, and the limper calls. The flop is:

QJ4 with the queen and jack of diamonds.

It checks through. Interesting I say. PFR has worse than a jack (AK or a little pair), and it's fairly likely nobody has a flush draw. I might have the nuts!

QJ4-7 three diamonds now.

See my previous point about nobody having a flush draw. I bet. Pete goes into the tank and eventually calls. The limper and preflop raiser fold, and Will calls because nobody took his cards away yet (he probably has a 7).

I don't remember the river, but it was a non-diamond lowish card and I bet it. Pete went to the tank again and eventually folded. Will turbo-called, I tabled my hand, Will mucked and Pete put his head in his hands, telling me he folded AJ. So I got the best hand to fold and still collected a bet from a losing hand. Things are looking up.

I then limp in with QTo from a bit too early and see a flop of K94r in an unraised (read: small) pot. I call a bet on the flop getting about 7:1 when I'm 11:1 to hit my hand, but I accurately assess my implied odds to be "large". Of course a jack slides off the deck and I check/raise my opponent. He calls me down and I collect 6 more small bets total on the hand.

I find Aces and 3-bet somebody. Will has of course cold-called in between (he's on my right, where the resident mega-fish must always reside), and I think somebody else played as well. I flop four aces and bet all three streets when checked to, collecting calls from Will all the way. On the river as he's calling I declare my hand "Quads" and turn it over. He looks at me and says "just quads?" and mucks.

At this point or shortly there-after I was up almost $1500 for the day. I hung around for another 90 minutes to wait out traffic and posted a $900 win for the day. Now it's time for another session.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Where do you find these people?

Yesterday I played 6.5 hours of 20/40 at Garden City in which I posted a $1200 win. On Tuesday it was 8 hours at Bay 101 in which I broke even. Tuesday I made a command decision (which I discussed with Captain R, previously mentioned here as Pete with names changed to protect the innocent, and he claimed to have actually made the same call last week); no more 6/12 and 8/16. I either run bad or don't adjust to the difference in the game and it's just not worth it. Suppose I'm a winning player, which may not even be true. How much EV do I have in 30 minutes of live 6/12? $6? $10? Is it really worth that small amount of EV for the times like Tuesday where I get absolutely demolished, make a few mistakes, and sit down in my main game already 1 step away from full blown insano monkey tilt? I just don't think so. So no more killing time in the little games; I plan to just wait patiently for my mid-stakes seat and read more.

On to yesterday's session at the wondrous establishment of Garden City. I'm not even on the main floor yet when the prop in the game sees me and points right at the empty 5-seat. I swear he almost licked his lips; it amazes me how even decent players such as him still occasionally think I'm a live one who has come to make his daily donation to the game. So I sit down and promptly get "run the fuck over", having pocket Kings cracked twice in 20 minutes by the same player, and turning 88 into a bluff after 3-betting from the small blind and watching the board run out something like AJ9-T-4 and getting called down by the big blind who just happened to have, you know, Ace-King suited. The demolition continues through the following hand:

A late position player (either in the high-jack or cutoff...close to the button) open-raises. He is Indian and wearing sunglasses, so I can only assume he is loose, aggressive, and bad. Also, in the back of my mind he looks familiar and the word that keeps coming up is "lunatic", but that could just be stereotyping on my part. It's hard to say anymore. The 35 year old female Asian bookie who has already cracked my kings twice and is above average in the game but misses way too much value and seems to play like an idiot against me because she once saw me open raise K5o from the button and bet it all the way down and will therefore call me down with pocket 2s forever cold-calls on the button, and I call with QTo from the big blind. The flop is:

QT6 with two diamonds

Not too shabby, you could say. I check and the Indian Guy bets, as he will with 100% of his range if my read/stereotype is correct. If I'm wrong, he'll still bet like 95% of the time, but the hands he won't bet will include all 3 sets, which means I wouldn't want to check/raise him anyway. Bookie Lady folds (I'm actually happy about this, as I just know she's going to spike whatever she needs to beat me), and I raise. Indian Guy 3-bets and I turbo (and I mean TURBO like I have my chips out before he's done raising) 4-bet. He calls.


I bet almost dark. He calls without a moment's hesitation. I put him firmly on a good queen, Kings, or Aces.

QT6-7-9 with the flush coming in

I hesitate due to the 3 diamonds and bet. He hesitates and thinks and goes past that and starts hollywooding. I am concerned. He raises, and I unfortunately have to call, as I do have top-two and he could totally have Q9 or T9 or as we'll find out in a minute here basically any two cards in the entire deck. He rolls K8o, no diamond. The dealer is visibly stunned, and pushes the 4 cards on board up to indicate a Ten high straight. I don't see it at first, then take a look and say "What is that?" as dark reality hits me squarely in the face. The dealer declares "Straight, ten high" and I just cringe as I toss my hand into the muck. To further agitate me Indian Guy racks up 30 minutes later, taking 800 easily winnable dollars with him.

In case anybody missed he, he 3-bet the flop, presumably to get a free card, when he had no draw. None. He has King-high on a fairly scary board and not even a gut shot straight draw to help him out. Raising for a free card is a valid strategy, if said free card can help you. If you have no outs, it's usually folly to try this sort of thing.

So anyway I persevere, and eventually find myself stuck $900. This really isn't a big deal at all, but with the way I've been running lately it's a little unnerving for me. I bunker down, and things start to go my way. I bet the nut flush draw all the way down and river a 5th heart. I raise AKs from the SB preflop, flop an ace, turn a 3rd, and get called all the down by not one but two players who had pocket pairs below my ace (at this point I'm confident my table image is absolute crap...when you lose people often call you down even lighter than usual, because it looks like you're betting garbage and "never have anything". I prefer a "solid" table image because it makes it easier to take down small pots with nothing after the flop). I can feel things turning around. And then, it's time for the Death Blow.

I raise in early position with pocket 7s. Mario cold-calls next in (Mario is the biggest fish in the game. I changed seats to get on his immediate left, and 30 minutes later he changed seats to get on my immediate left. This irritated me, but you can't win them all). The big blind also calls, and all in all I'm happy about my situation. You raise with pocket 7s in early position to try to get the pot short handed (heads up or 3-ways) so you can try to win it unimproved. If you wanted to try to set-mine here, you would just limp and hope for 5 or more opponents to come along and then annihilate them every eighth hand when you flopped a set. Here we go:

T53 with two hearts

Again, things are going nicely here. I have a very solid hand for this flop. The big blind checks, I bet, Mario calls, and the big blind calls. OK, I say, there's lots of stuff they could peel this flop with here. Two overs, some hearts, gutterballs, heck, Mario can have almost any two suited at this point.


Ouch. Things are suddenly not looking so great. The big blind checks, and I bet, planning to fold if either opponent raises. Mario is bad, but he's passive. If he raises, he's got the goods. The big blind is a decent player, but being the blind his range is pretty wide and I just won't be able to put 2 big bets into the pot to have him show me T9 or whatever he has if he raises. Confusingly, they both call. Now I don't really know what's going on. They could both have flush draws, but it occurs to me that one of them might be playing a bad ten very weakly. The pot's gotten pretty big, and it's getting hard to believe I'm winning. If I am, I'm dodging a lot of bullets on this river.

T53-5-7 and the flush doesn't get there

Sweet merciful Plastic Jesus I do believe I've done it! The big blind checks and I bet. Mario now goes into what can only be described as "a big freaking production". He's a fairly spastic person, one of the players who can barely manage his chip stack and often has trouble cutting off raises and the like. One of his favorite moves is to cut off a raise, put the chips in his right hand, and then quickly muck his cards with his left, just to "put a scare into you". This time he slowly and methodically creates 4 stacks of 4 chips in front of him, then combines them into two stacks of 8 (this takes about 10 seconds, maybe more). He then removes the 5 dollar chip from his cards (which is protecting them) and places a pair of 1 dollar chips on there. He then looks at the dealer, and adds a 3rd chip (another 10 seconds pass). This is clearly meant to be the dealer's tip for the hand and by doing this he is declaring "I have you now!" He then pushes the two stacks of 8 chips forward, and inches his cards forward behind them with his other hand, and is in general looking very smug and full of himself. The big blind folds, and the instant he does so I pick up an entire stack of 20 chips and cut off 4 stacks of 4 next to my original bet, raising him once more. Mario cannot believe this just happened, mumbles something about "do you have aces" and calls the 3rd bet. I table the 3rd nuts like it's, well, the actual nuts, because I know it's good for sure. Mario is stunned, and tables his Q5s for trip 5s, and the dealer pushes me the pot. Mario then basically throws a temper tantrum (he's looks exactly like you think he looks...hes in his late 50s or early 60s, short, gray hair, fat, mustachioed, and wearing a short sleeved button down Hawaiian style shirt that is unbuttoned two buttons too far so all his chest hair is flying all over the place), knocking over his chips and walking around the room after throwing his cards at the dealer. He is rather polite to me, saying "nice hand" and then goes on a tirade about how this has happened to him 3 times and he's explaining it all to me in great detail and I just have to sit there and nod and say "ouch, that's rough" and "sorry it had to be you", etc etc. The table is astonished. The thing to realize here is that he made the trip-5s on the turn, but elected to make an expert slow-play with them to trap the big blind (who obviously had a flush draw and was going to pay any number of bets) in for one more bet. Had he raised the turn, I'd have folded and he'd have won himself a nice pot. Instead....yikes.

5 minutes later...

I raise pocket Jacks because someone once told me that's a decent hand. I flop like the aforementioned Plastic Jesus on a board of KJ6 with a flush draw and bet and get 2 callers. The turn is an offsuit 9 and I bet, a blind calls, and then the guy on my right check/raises. I tank for a minute and confirm that the only hand he can have that beats me is the Queen and the Ten (he can't have Kings here...he just can't...he hasn't raised yet this hand and we're on the turn). I think, sack up, and 3-bet it. The blind folds, and he promptly 4-bets my sorry ass. I call, planning to fold the river unimproved (which makes the 3-bet much less expensive and probably correct). But the river pairs the 6 giving me yet another full house and he check/calls my bet and I drag another monster.

Soon thereafter I table change because my game has gotten bad and Mario has decided he's going to play tight from now on, I am dealt AA and KK back to back, drag two smallish pots, and then drive home. I repeat again, where do they find these people?

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

November Stats

I'm not going to apologize again for waiting so long to post. It's the holidays, and I've got stuff happening, as evidenced by these numbers:

Mid-Limit hours played: 138

This is painfully low. Add to that the fact that almost 20 of them were in the Artichoke Joe's 15/30 game, and my 20/40 hours for the month totaled only 116. I've decided I'm not playing that 15 game anymore after this Thursday, when I stop in for 2 hours while I get my car serviced at Melody Toyota.

Current win rate at 20/40 lifetime: $61/hour

This is a great number. Seeing it in print makes me even more upset that I only managed about 27 hours a week of live 20/40 this month. What on Earth was I doing?

Current 6/12 session losing streak: 6

I end up playing the smaller games here and there while waiting to get into the 20 or 15, and of late I seem to just always lose. In fact, in my last 40 hours of live 6/12 (dating all the way back to April), I'm stuck an astonishing $1400 dollars. This is a truly incredible number, the equivalent of playing a week of 20/40 and losing over $5,000 (which I suppose I've basically done once in about half the time, so....perhaps not that incredible).

Winning 20/40 sessions in November: 19
Losing 20/40 sessions in November: 2
Days I went without a losing 20/40 session: 23

People probably play for years without having a run like this in a single game. I lost at virtually every other game I played (6/12, 8/16, 15/30, and 40/80), but at 20/40 I could do practically no harm.

Net Profit: ~$13,000

Looking at my records, I realized that the trend this month was for me to win a bunch of money and quit my session early. It's ok to do this once in a while, but this month I really took it too far. In December I'm going to make sure I get in enough hours, regardless of how I'm running.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Happy Holidays

It's that time of year, and I feel that I have a lot to be thankful for. Specifically, the heater that I've been on for the past month just continued burning right on through the weekend, like so:

21-Nov 20/40 Limit Garden City 2018
22-Nov 20/40 Limit Garden City 1033
24-Nov 20/40 Limit Bay 101 696

My win rate at live 20/40 has gotten above 1.5 big bets per hour, and my standard deviation is just a tad over 11 big bets per hour. Using this tool with those numbers, you can see that I have reason to be happy. Mason Malmuth's bible on gambling for a living explains that the ratio between your expectation and standard deviation is the most important number in determining how successful and stressful your career as a professional gambler will be. He sites 1:10 as excellent. Mine is 1:7.3, which is clearly fantastic. If these numbers are accurate (and there is a chance they are not), then I have almost nothing to worry about :)

Now, on to the poker. As you can see above I continued to devastate the Garden City 20/40 game on Friday and Saturday. Over the course of those two days I ran hotter than the sun. In my very first hand Saturday I posted in and made a one card king high flush. On my 3rd hand I was dealt pocket jacks, bet them all the way down, and won the pot. In 3 hands and 5 minutes I was up over 15 big bets. I could simply do nothing wrong. Later in my session, just to illustrate the point further, the following happens:

A fellow two plus two-er (bakku) is waiting around to get into the game. I need to run to the bathroom, as I drank a round of beers with Stockton Thunder (who coincidentally asked me to go to Vegas with him "you know, just for a night or so, play a little, kick the tourists asses,"), so I decide to take advantage of the new Garden City rule that someone can play up to a whole round in your seat. I ask bakku to play my next hand and head off...when I return, the cards have just been dealt (I barely missed it, but wouldn't have gotten a hand) and get to sweat bakku. He beholds the monstrous pocket 3s and open-raises from a "few" spots off the button (perhaps only 2, but I think 3). This is a close play, and my default is to fold. The situation is then complicated by a 3-bet from the incredibly nitty button. One of the blinds joins the party and bakku flops just well enough to ensure he's gonna have to put more money into the pot: 652. He calls a bet, and all the while I'm standing behind him (at some point I finished my Guinness). The turn brings him no help, but the blind donks all in. In theory he probably has 6 outs (2 to make his set, and 4 more to the straight) so he can call profitably if the button isn't planning to raise. He hollywoods a bit, tries to get a tell, and eventually just calls. On the river.....4. bakku bets, the button calls, and he drags a pretty big pot. I cheer whole-heartedly and retake my seat to set about stacking the spoils.

Later on in the evening I open-raise the button with King-Five offsuit. I of course flop a king and bet all 3 streets. The same woman from the hand with bakku calls me all the way down and on the river asks "Ok, what is it?" and I respond "I've got a king". She says "What's your kicker?" and I respond "Oh that can't be good" and roll my pair, no kicker. She laughs out loud before mucking her hand (which I can only assume was like 2nd pair or something). I probably won't hear the end of that one for a while. Good players open-raise lots of stuff on the button, and the bad players in the game don't really know that. They seem to think that it's rude or impolite to raise on the button like that, when in fact it's just part of the game. Anyway, I was hearing about that raise for the rest of the night.

In closing, this poker thing is awesome.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

This will be long, but hopefully good

Today is my day off, and I'm spending time taking care of those nagging little things that seem to keep piling up. My fantasy football co-manager is on a plane from NYC to Hong Kong as a permanent move, so I've assumed full responsibilities for this week. Last week we started John Carney, which to say the least was foolish. We're 7-4 and need to make a playoff push.

Believe it or not I also bought some ETFs today, since I figured if I was buying stuff 3 weeks ago I should be buying more now that the prices are even lower, right? I'm buying stuff that is like 50% off it's 52 week high....that has to be a good move right? Time will tell.

I also finally booked a trip to San Diego that I've been thinking about for a week or so now. My college roommate/best friend is going to be in town for like 10 days on business, and I figured I don't have much of an excuse not to go visit him. If you live in the area and play at Ocean's 11, I'll be in town December 7-11 and should be easy to spot.

Now, on to the pokers....

My fantastic run of late continued the last two days. On Tuesday I started the day at Bay 101, won 2+ racks in the 20/40 game, and decided to go home so that I could attend obedience class with Tyson. Afterwards I drove to Artichoke Joes and tried to get unstuck lifetime in the 15/30 game (200 dollars would have done it), but instead dropped 200 waiting in the 6/12 game and 900 more once I actually got into the 15/30 game, leaving me with a profit of 80 dollars for the day. The 15/30 game was putridly bad, with only one player who was even close to a fish, but I felt like I'd put in so much effort to get into it (driving home early, then driving up there, then playing 90 minutes of 6/12 waiting for a seat) that I couldn't give up so fast. I then played a couple of hands badly, tilted a little, ran bad, and that was the end of it. I'm putting myself on probation from that game for the short term future.

So yesterday, as I drove to Garden City, I was a little bit nervous. I had played pretty poorly the day before and my confidence was not, shall we say, high as a kite. Garden City has cured what ailed me in the past, though, and yesterday again proved to me why I still go there despite the fact that my car was broken into in the parking lot. Through just under 7 hours of play I booked a massive win, almost 2300 dollars, which could have been even higher had I not missed 4 flush draws in a row at one point. The three 20/40 games were filled with fish of all colors and varieties, my favorite of which I will detail now.

Stockton Thunder (his real name is Matt, but the first day he showed up at Bay 101 he was wearing a Stockton Thunder T-Shirt and claimed to be a part owner of the team. Jared (or Jerry, I'm not sure), a regular in the game used the nickname and it has stuck like glue) was at Garden City yesterday. I think I've written about his exploits before, but I can assure the legend only grows. I was sitting in what was already a fantastic table (with Orange Shirt Guy and Max on my right) when in comes Thunder to the 4 seat. After an orbit or so of folding, I enter my first pot with him.

Thunder power-limps from the high jack (calls the big blind, as the first one to enter the pot, from 2 spots before the button). The cutoff and button fold, and I complete the SB with the monstrosity of a hand that is Ten-Six offsuit. The big blind checks, and off we go:

AJQ all diamonds

I hold the Ten of diamonds, and normally I might consider a bet as a semibluff here, but not against the Thunder. He will show down any piece on this flop. So I check. The big blind checks, and Thunder bets cause he has two cards. I call, and the BB folds.

6 of diamonds

I now hold the second nuts, and again make an expert check. Thunder bets, again because he has two cards. I call only...the Thunder is bad, but nobody is stupid enough to call a raise here without holding a diamond...a normal human being would probably play almost perfectly against my hand, folding practically everything I'm beating and re-raising me with the nut king of diamonds. Stockton would call with more, but I have a problem....against one of those normal human beings I could probably fold safely to a 3-bet. Against the Thunder, I'd have to pay it off, and that is not what I want to have happen.

The river is a brick. I still hold the second nuts. I check once more, and the Thunder bets. For the same reason I call only, and he tables T8 with no diamonds for...Ten high. Had I raised at any point in the hand he'd have dropped it, but I got him to bluff off 100 dollars. He is visibly upset by this, and seems to understand that I just owned him. Sure I got lucky and am being a bit results oriented, but ownage is ownage.

A few hands later I end up in a large pot with 65 off from one of the blinds (I think it was 5 handed and I called a Stockton Thunder raise from the big blind). The flop comes off

678 with two of a suit

Giving me a curious holding. I go ahead and donk bet it, and Thunder raises. Max calls and is almost all in, which is the only thing that stops me from 3-betting (the other two players dropped out).

The turn is a black 3 giving me no help. I check and Thunder bets. Max calls all in for less than a full bet, and I seriously consider raising. Against a normal human being I could barely call. There is a player all in who cannot be bluffed out, so logic would dictate that Thunder must have some sort of hand. This pot is "protected". He can't be bluffing, he can only be value betting. But logic and Thunder do not co-exist, and I know this, and I think after yesterday he might know I know this. I call only.

I believe the river was an 8, for a board of 876-3-8. That's a great card for me, since I wasn't beating anyone who had an 8 anyway. I check and Thunder does his thing again. I call, and he tables KJ for....king-high. No draw. I table my pair of 6s and he is dumbfounded. Max actually laughs out loud before tabling The Hammer for a pair of sevens, deuce kicker, with which he called a raise (cold) preflop. As he's dragging the main pot and I'm collecting the modest side pot, we exchange a look. Max is a bad but aggressive player, and he's a smart guy. In the regular GC lineup he might even be a small winner, since he exploits players well. Against 8 of me he'd get demolished, but whatever. He realizes that something odd just went down, and looks at me knowingly.

10 minutes later during a setup change Stockton Thunder table changes. Max actually says "A moment of silence for the departed, please" and I actually bow my head. Then I order some fried rice and start the clock. I vow not to change to Stockton's table for 60 minutes.

I post into Thunder's game in front of the button 65 minutes later and find a gem of a hand, 43 suited. I get a free flop and because we're at Garden City there are 7 of us still holding cards.

478 rainbow with one diamond (my suit).

That ain't too shabby, I say. I check first to act, one of the blinds bets, and I call closing the action getting like 11:1 or something ridiculous like that. Stockton is of course in the hand, two seats to my right in late position. And the turn is of course:


I just donk it. Why not, Thunder's in the hand and might raise for me. 4 people call, including Thunder. Pot is getting large, and I have an incredibly vulnerable fours up, 5 handed. There is a flush draw on board, I'm literally dodging probably like 30 cards or something on this river, but whatever. My heart actually quickens a little, which rarely happens to me anymore.


Gin! I do declare I have just made Gin! I bet, two people call, and Thunder declares, as is his custom, "Raise!" and begins the long arduous (for him) process of placing 16 chips into the pot. This often takes him 3 or more trips to his stack, and he usually uses two hands. I 3-bang him without declaring shit, and do so crisply and flawlessly by picking up one stack of chips and deftly cutting 4 stacks of 4 right next to my original bet (doing this just makes you feel hard core). Both other players fold before Thunder even realizes what has happened. The dealer tells him "3 bets now sir" and he calls. I table my bottom full and he reluctantly shows 94o in an attempt to gain some sympathy I suppose. Monster dragged, and I go about the stackin'. Stockton is looking a little bit upset and takes out his pack of Skoal and does the thing where you whack it against your thumb for a few minutes.

Like 3 hands later....

Stockton open-limps and the next guy follows him in. I raise AJ of spades and get a couple of callers....I don't remember how many, but a fair number. Stockton back-raises me, which again for a normal human being means "I has monster. MONSTER!!!" but for Stockton probably means "I am going all in. Watch and learn baby, watch and learn!" I of course cap it up and let's say we see the flop 5 ways (I think the limper between me and Thunder managed to fold).

KT7 with two clubs on board.

Gut shot. Not bad, not bad at all. Stockton bets, and he only has 9 chips left. I just call, and so does everyone else. Let's say there are now 26-30 small bets in the pot, and we're still 5 handed.

KT7-4 and now we have two flush draws, clubs and diamonds

Yikes. The small blind (an Asian female prop) checks, and Thunder bets 8 of his remaining 9 chips. I call with my 4 outs (two of which are mighty dirty), and another guy calls, maybe two. The small blind now raises, and Thunder throws his last chip into the pot. I count it down and supposing there are no more raises I'm getting about 20:1 on this call. I have two outs at the nuts, and 2 more that might be good. I consider folding, but declare to the table "I can't fold" and call. More people call, I don't know, maybe Thunder was playing two hands, and we see the river in this 800+ dollar pot.


Small blind donks and is called by the big blind. I expertly cut off my raise again, as I have the absolute stone cold nuts. She is furious and beside herself but calls anyway. Big blind folds, I table the cajones and go about the stacking. Stockton Thunder shows K8o and actually folds the cards in half before returning them to the dealer, who is now forced to call for a new setup. When the floor man brings over a package of new decks and asks who did it, I quickly take the blame. I don't think he fell for it, since I was still stacking 1000 dollars worth of chips, but perhaps he did, and perhaps this earned me a small amount of credit with Stockton, who just rebought for not his customary 200 dollars, but instead 2 full racks. He looks angry now, and I think he is plotting his revenge. 30 minutes later, after I have basically folded 20 hands in a row, he table changes a final time. I vow not to follow him this time. An hour after that I see him at the ATM looking frustrated...he walks away with no cash, undoubtedly because he's over his limit for the day. Then he disappears, not to be seen again until, I hope, Friday.


I swap tables one more time to sit with Vernon, a loose passive fish of the outstanding caliber, and find myself with Max again, who had left but came back. I cooler Max out of two pots in which I river and turn the nut flush (I had AK and AQ suited respectively) and he turns the nut straight and a smaller flush. In general I run like God, and eventually go home, slightly concerned that Stockton Thunder might own a hand gun.