Poker Through the Eyes of an Amateur

January 27, 2006

Putting The Pieces Back Together

If you've been following this blog at all recently, you're probably aware that I hit a bad run at the very end of December/beginning of January. At one point I was down to $6 I believe. I've been slowly putting the pieces back together since then. I've been playing almost strictly 45 player $1 SNGs and finishing in the money more often than not. Last night I played one while waiting for my wife to come home and came in 5th. I tried to make a move on a guy, but he actually had a hand, and I was out. I still won $5, though. Anyway, I didn't think I'd have time for another SNG before my wife got home, so I bought in for $4 at a .05/.10 (6 MAX) NL game. There was some fluctuation at first, but then I hit my stride. By the time I was done, I had more than quintupled my buy in.

I'm at the point now where my bankroll is secure enough to play at least two 45 player $5 SNGs. I will probably do these tonight. If I can money in either one, then I will probably be able to stick to that limit level. Otherwise, I'll need to money in a couple more $1 games.

Believe it or not, I think it was a Good Thing (TM) that I hit my bad run when I did. The following things have come about as a result of playing close to the bust out line:

1) It has forced me to play nothing but my A game, which is what I should have been playing from the beginning. I don't know why I wasn't. I was probably either being cocky, being stupid, or underestimating my opponents. It was probably a combination of all three.

2) It has also forced me to learn more, to make myself pay more attention and pick up reads on other players. This is something I've struggled with online, but I have gotten a lot better at it recently.

3) It has forced me to drastically improve my short-handed play. I've learned to drastically widen my hand ranges once the final table is down to six or less. I've also gotten better at reading others in these short-handed games and stealing when I can.

4) My first goal in MTTs is no longer to just make the money. I used to be happy with just making the money, satisfied that I'd beaten so many others for a little profit. Sure, I'd want to win, but finishing in the money was the most important. No more. This simply is not going to give me the ROI I need at the limits I currently play. I can't be happy playing for four hours and just making $2. My mindset has changed in terms of MTTs so that my first goal is going deep. I played a limit MTT about a week ago where I was on the bubble with a semi-short stack. I had a really good drawing hand (12+ outs), but I knew I was behind after the flop. I could easily have folded into the money, but that was no longer my goal. My goal was to go deep, so I went for it. I missed my draw and bubbled out, but I was very happy with my decision. If I had won that hand, I would have been set to go very deep into the money.

To sum it all up, I think I'm playing the best poker of my life right now. Granted, I've only been playing for a year, but I think that I have learned a lot. I know that I'm nowhere near where I could be; there's tons of room for improvement. I think the major difference between now and a few months ago is that I'm really ready to learn. We'll see how it goes.

January 23, 2006

Super Stud

I decided to mix it up a little bit more last night. Texas Hold'em will always be my staple game, but it's good to change pace every once in a while. There wasn't any Omaha going on, but there was a $1 seven card stud game starting at 9:30, so I figured I would give it a shot. I'd played some stud in college, but never online, let alone in a tournament. A total of 528 people ended up registering for the tournament. I got off to a pretty good start, picking hands where I started with a high pair, or three to a straight/flush. Before I knew it, I was two hours in!

I ended up playing to about 12:30. I should have made a bunch of money on my last hand, but instead I got knocked out. I had one 8 showing and another 8 in the hole, and I came out with a raise. One guy called me. I bet all the way, and he called all the way... WITH NOTHING. He would have been severely crippled, but he hit a Jack on the river to beat my eights. Seriously, what the hell? Would you bet past 5th street with absolutely nothing but a draw when it's going to end up costing you almost all of your chips? Absolutely insane. Anyway, I ended up coming in 42nd, which was in the money, but not nearly enough money to make it worth my while. In essence, I ended up staying up very late for like $.50. Just wonderful.

Oh well, that's typically how I get knocked out of MTTs. As Phil Helmuth said, "I'd win a lot more of these damn things if it wasn't for luck." One of these days I'll get first. Once of these days...

January 22, 2006

Game Day: Recap

The home poker game was a rousing success. As I posted earlier, we had fourteen people with a buy in of $5. The game ended up starting around 2:30 and lasted for seven hours. I ended up at table two to start, which turned out to be the serious aggression table. Almost from the get go, the minimum raise at our table was 5x BB. It was pretty intense. We had four people bust out in that room to the two people who busted out at table one. We then moved everyone to table one for the rest of the game.

The final table consisted of me, Mike, Courtney, Eric, Dan, Carly, Kim, and Matt M. My wife (Courtney) was the first to go out when her set of aces was beaten by aces full of queens. Eric was next to bust out, but I don't remember the hand he had. Mike followed with a bold bluff representing a flush; Matt M called him down with top pair. Dan's stack then got crippled when he bluffed with second pair, and Matt M called him out with his top pair. From there, Dan was forced all in a few times. He survived for a while, but ended up out on the bubble.

Matt M and I were pretty evenly tied for the short stack when we hit the money. I was ecstatic when I hit pocket Qs and instantly raised. It folded around to Matt M who went all in. I had to call of course and was very happy when he flipped over pocket 4s. The flop was a bunch of bricks, but the turn was a four, severely crippling me. I had to go all in a couple of hands later with A6 and Matt M called with pocket 8s. I never caught my A and took $10 for 4th place.

The table was down to two ladies and Matt M at this point. It was back and forth for a while, and eventually Matt M got his chips in with the best hand. I don't remember what it was that he lost to, but it was a bad beat. Not as bad as his 2% win against me, but it was still bad. Matt M ended up in 3rd and took home $15.

It was down to the ladies. Neither of them were very aggressive heads up for quite a while, and there was a lot of folding. Eventually, Carly started to get more aggressive and built up quite the stack. However, Kim sucked out several times, including one point where Carly was all in, so Kim ended up winning her first home game ever! Carly took home $20 and Kim took home $25.

It was a great time, and I can't wait to do it again! Nothing beats live poker with friends.

January 21, 2006

Game Day!

It's finally here! I always eagerly anticipate the days that I host a home game. Today's will be the biggest so far, with 14 players showing up. One table will have to be set up in the living room and one in the second bedroom, which currently has nothing but a desk in it. It will be awesome. The buy in is only $5, but the time spent with friends and playing cards is more than worth any money I might win. I've won the majority of the home games our group has had, and I hope to keep going strong. My wife won the last one, and we've started a bounty system this year. She'll be the first one with a prize on her head; she chose a gift card to Starbucks, which I'm sure most of the players would love to get. Hopefully by the time the night is over, the bounty will be on my head!

I'm pretty much down to the $1 SNGs on Stars. I have about $30 at the moment, and I don't want to spend too much at once, so even the $5 are out of my range. I consistently final table in the 45 player $1 games, so I'm not too worried. I played one today and finished 5th. I promptly used the meager winnings to enter a $1 Omaha MTT H/L tourney (which I did pretty well in, but did not place) and a $2 MTT NL Holdem tourney (which I also did well in, but did not place). One of these days I'm going to final table in one of the MTTs, and then I will be set for a good while. Until then, I need to grind it out. That means SNGs only, for now. The chance of ROI in the MTTs is just too low for me to play those anymore. Also, that unfortunately means no WWdN games until I build the bankroll up a bit more. The buy-in is just too much at the moment.

Have a good weekend everyone!

January 18, 2006

Attention Omatards!

Ok, I'm definitely no expert at Omaha H/L. In fact, I've only played in two tournaments. I've played in some cash games, but not nearly enough to give me any sort of credibility. However, I am still going to offer some advice to Omaha H/L newbies. I have seen a disturbing trend as of late online. Given the limits that I play at, this is probably just a mistake made by new players, but since I don't think the majority of the people who visit this page are H/L experts, I thought I'd throw it out there. I've seen it happen in cash games as well as at all levels of the tournament I placed in. It's blatantly obvious, and you'll probably think it's pointless, but it needs to be said:

Don't underbet the nut low hand.

"Well, duh," you're probably thinking to yourself. I know, I know. It's obvious. Yet you would be dumbfounded at the number of people I saw who were content to simply call with the nut low hand. This is "very bad." If there are multiple people in the hand, and you have the nut low, you should be raising like mad. 1) You can force out people who have a chance to possibly outdraw you. 2) Many people will call without the nuts, and you will take their money. 3) This is the best case. The nut high hand will raise you back. The ideal situation is to get into a raise war with the person with the nut high while you're holding the nut low and hopefully drag one or two others into the pot with you. The end result is that you usually end up splitting those other players' chips with the nut high hand.

So don't be timid with your nut low hand. Raise it up! You may not get all of the money. You may just end up chopping and getting your money back. But if you hit one of those situations where you can drag other people along for the ride, the payoff is great!

January 17, 2006

WWdN: Nolan Rules! Invitational

I don't really have a whole lot to post about this game. I decided not to blog it, since I was playing on the laptop, and it's a pain in the butt to blog and play at the same time. I only have so much screen space to work with, and touchpads suck. I need to get a wired mouse to hook up to that thing.

Anyway, I did well, finishing in 14th, five places shy of the money. I'm definitely improving in my game, though. I stole I don't know how many pots tonight. For the first time, I could actually sense weakness in other players online, and these were people that are good and that I respect! I was surprised how many correct reads I was able to place on people. I don't know what the deal was. I was final tabling an SNG when the WWdN game started, so maybe the rush from finishing 4th of 45 in that game carried over into this one.

Even though I didn't finish in the money, I had a blast. Playing in blogger games is always the best. It was also a good warm-up for my home game this Saturday. If all goes well, my friends won't know what hit them!

January 16, 2006

Adventures With Omaha

I would like to thank Jordan and TripJax for introducing me to Omaha H/L and getting me hooked. I'd never played before the DADI tournament, and since then I have been playing quite a bit. Here is one result:

PokerStars Tournament #18043544, Limit Omaha Hi/Lo
Buy-In: $2.00/$0.20
423 players
Total Prize Pool: $846.00
Tournament started - 2006/01/16 - 14:32:00 (ET)

Dear kaellinn18,

You finished the tournament in 34th place.
A $4.23 award has been credited to your Real Money account.


Now, $4.23 is not a lot of money, but I'm definitely proud of finishing in 34th place out of 423 people. I'd only played in the DADI Omaha H/L tournament before this one. I would have easily final tabled in this tournament, except that I got sucked out on three hands in a row. I went from 12th to bust that quickly. I'm starting to get good at picking out starting hands, and I look forward to playing more Omaha H/L in the future. I'm sure there will be another H/L DADI tournament, and I will be ready!

PS - I hit my highest hand ever in this game: a king high straight flush!

January 14, 2006

A Damn Good Read #2

I was playing a multi-table SNG today, when I got moved to a table to the left of a guy named Durti. Now, this guy was a pretty decent player, but I could tell that he was overly aggressive. I watched as he pushed people out of hands that he read as weak. When he actually had a semi-decent hand, he would be a little more cautious, which I found odd. So I decided to play the player. I limped in to a couple of hands when he was in the big blind and I was in first position. He would inevitably raise if it folded around to him, and I would let him push me off the hand. Just so I could pull this off when I got the cards:

*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to kaellinn18 [Ac Ts]
kaellinn18: calls 150
Rufus McLean: folds
Ms_PK: folds
RAH2: folds
SWEETY16: folds
fireranger7: folds
HardToLove: folds
durti: raises 750 to 900
kaellinn18: raises 750 to 1650
durti: raises 1202 to 2852 and is all-in
kaellinn18: calls 470 and is all-in
*** FLOP *** [3h Jc 7h]
*** TURN *** [3h Jc 7h] [2d]
*** RIVER *** [3h Jc 7h 2d] [Kd]
*** SHOW DOWN ***
durti: shows [8c 9c] (high card King)
kaellinn18: shows [Ac Ts] (high card Ace)
kaellinn18 collected 4315 from pot

January 12, 2006

DADI: Special Omalympics

Well, I didn't make my goal the other day, but I decided to play in the Omalympics anyway. Hell, I'd go bust for a blogger tourney; they're just too much fun. This was my first ever Omaha 8 H/L tournament ever, so I was a little nervous at first. However, I soon jumped to first place when I hit quad kings and, later, quad aces. However, being the Omaha n00b that I am, I played a bunch of hands in the middle of the game that I shouldn't have. "Hey, a pocket pair! That's good right?" Usually not.

Anyway, I'm pretty proud of how well I did for my first tournament, finishing in 11th out of 47 entries. I outlasted a ton of people who actually knew what they were doing! It was pretty cool. I ended up busting out with A223 with four to the nut low on the flop. However, the turn and river were Q and J, so I ended up going out. Boo to that, sir. It was still a great time, though. The chat is always hilarious, and good times were had by all. I think I'm pretty hooked on Omaha now, so I may have to try some SNGs and see how I do in those. I'll let you all know how that turns out.

PS - I demand a refund, Jordan!

January 10, 2006

I Was THIS Close...

I was so incredibly close to going on a full blown tilt last night. No one wants to hear bad beat stories, so I will try to keep them out of this post as much as possible. There's a minor one from here to the end of this paragraph, so if you don't want to hear it, skip to the next one. Suffice it to say that I lost 5 SNGs and came in 3rd in another, and I got knocked out of ALL of them with bad beats. The one that almost sent me over the edge was when I bet with top two pair on 4th street, a guy raises me, and I put him all in. He called it with absolutely nothing but a four outer draw, and he hit it on the river.

Ok, that's the only bad beat story, I promise. I'm not paying you a dollar either! You were warned and could have skipped it.

So I ended up losing all of my hard earned profits last night. I'm back down to just slightly over my buy-in amount. However, I have set some short term goals for myself. Tonight I am going to two-table a couple of $5 SNGs. If I finish in the money in either of them, I will play some more and do my best to build my bankroll back up to $100. If I do that, I will play in the DADI tourney on Wednesday. If I don't money in either of those first two tourneys, I will probably take a couple of days off to A) keep from tilting myself into losing my own money for the first time and B) come back fresh and rested. I will still sweat the rail on Wednesday, though.

Alright, I lied. I have one more bad beat story. But my bad beat is not the punchline. It's worth it. You should read it. I call it...

Poetic Justice

I'm sitting in seat eight at a $5 SNG. The table is still full, and the blinds were just kicked up to 25/50. I get QQ in first position, and I have about 1700 in chips.

"Hello, ladies," I think to myself. I love pocket queens. I almost never lose with them. Almost...

I raise 4x BB to push out anyone who isn't serious. I half expect the table to fold to me. It folds around to the button, who pushes all in. He was the short stack of the table, but he still had about 12M or 13M in chips. I thought briefly and called. He had A3 offsuit.

"WTF?" I think to myself. "Was he just bluffing and I caught him?" Of course, he catches his miracle card, and severely cripples me.

Aghast, I try to find out his reasoning behind this move. "You went all in with A3 after that raise I made in first position?" I ask as politely as possible while strangling my cat.

He doesn't answer, but the guy to my right pipes up helpfully, "He was short stacked." He will hereafter be referred to as "The Expert." Let's see... The guy had enough chips to make twelve or thirteen more orbits and "The Expert" to my right calls that short stacked. Beautiful. Mental note: Guy to your right is a dumbass. I decide to let it go at that without any further discussion.

The next hand is dealt, and the guy to my left raises. It folds around to "The Expert" on my right who pushes all in with his "short stack" of about 17M. I had rags and folded. The guy on my left thinks about it for a bit and calls with 88. "The Expert" has A5o. The flop comes with an ace.

"See?" quips "The Expert" smugly. I can just imagine him laughing at home, stroking his beard, and stuffing Cheetos in his face. The fool, he thinks. He called me with eights when I had an ace!

The turn is an eight. Oh sweet, merciful justice!

"See?" I say helpfully. You know, just in case he missed the other player's set. He could have missed it. I was just trying to be nice. There is silence in seat number seven. The rest of the table bursts into laughter. The poor guy was probably choking on his Cheetos. He's drawing dead now; the river card hits the felt, and his avatar fades away into nonexistence.

"Now that's what I call poetic justice," I say. "That was beautiful."

It was one of the prettiest things I'd ever seen.

January 09, 2006

"Rebuy!"

I don't remember which one it was, but there was an episode of the 2005 World Series of Poker that devoted some time to a rebuy tournament. At one point they did a montage of a bunch of different people yelling out "Rebuy" during the course of the game. Daniel Negreanu had a massive wad of $100s, and they showed him rebuying about six or seven times. I thought it was pretty funny.

Anyway, I lost my last $20 on Friday night to a bunch of people chasing stupid cards and sucking out on the river. (Isn't that always how it happens? It's never my fault.) I rebought Friday night, and I played in a bunch of SNGs this weekend. I'm currently slightly more than 1/3 of the way to doubling up my $75. I would be further than that, but I lost some races and got sucked out on some more. I've decided that I'm going to stick with the SNGs until I build my roll up. I'm tired of bad beats in cash games. At least if I get a bad beat in an SNG, I only lose a fixed amount of money. Plus, I finish in the money more often than not.

I'm not sure if I'll have my bankroll built up enough for the DADI tourney on Wednesday, especially since it's an Omaha H/L game, and I'm not very experience in that version. I played on some of the fake money tables and cleaned up pretty good, but I don't think I know enough to play in a money game against people who know what they're doing. I will probably just sweat the rail and watch everyone else get beat.

I should be able to continue to build my bankroll a little bit during the week now. My wife's new laptop arrived early, which means I get to have the old one. That means that I can play poker while I'm in the living room now, so I may be able to get a game or two in each night in between doing things with the wife. Go wireless!

January 05, 2006

DADI: Omalympics

Although I'm not sure if I will be able to play in this game yet, I thought I would at least advertise it for the guys. Jordan and TripJax are hosting the next Donkeys Always Draw Invitational, and this time it's going to be an Omaha 8 Hi/Lo game. I've never played this before, so if I do end up being able to play, I'll have to practice in the play money tables first. Details are below.

WHERE: PokerStars
WHEN: January 11th, 9PM EST
BUY-IN: $10+$1
PASSWORD: blogsaregay

Hit it up if you can. I'm sure drizztdj will enjoy your money.

January 03, 2006

Knowing Your Roll

I made a mistake on Monday.

I decided to play in a MTT that was out of the range of my bankroll. I played in one of the 180 player $20+$2 SNGs, thinking that I was good enough to play at that level. Well, I discovered something. First, I am good enough to play at that level. Second, my bankroll can't handle it. I did well in the tournament, but I did not finish in the money.

That one loss in and of itself was not hugely detrimental to my bankroll, but couple that with some other losses due to bad beats and cold cards at my normal levels, and it really hurt. I could definitely use the extra $22 that I lost in that one game now. So now it will be down to grinding it out on the micro limits for a little while. I refuse to buy back in until I bust out completely; it's just one of my things. I don't know why I do it. I've come back from $10 to over $400 before, so I guess I figure why invest more if I don't have to. I've already doubled up my initial buy in and withdrawn my initial investment, so I have yet to lose my own money at poker, but this was definitely a hit and a lesson learned. Know your roll and play within the limits it allows.