Poker Through the Eyes of an Amateur

July 29, 2006

New Reading Material



Last night I ordered Sklansky's Tournament Poker For Advanced Players from the Pokerstars FPP store. I've heard that it's good reading, so I'm eagerly anticipating it's arrival. Hopefully it will not take too long.

I used the points I got as a consolation prize a few weeks back when I was bad beat out of my seat to the $370 WSOP qualifier. I still have 2000 more FPPs, but I'm not sure what I will be using those for yet. I may save them for some satellites into a Sunday million tournament, or I may end up using them to get another book when I'm done with Sklansky's.

---

I'm doing well, as far as poker goes. I'm going to refrain from posting specific results, though, as that always seems to bring on a massive swing of variance. Suffice it to say that my bankroll is at the highest it's ever been, and it is growing steadily each day. Here's hoping that I can keep this level of play up. If I can continue in the manner that I have been this past week, I will be moving from $50NL to $100NL in the near future.

July 27, 2006

Blogger Rebuy Madness OR How jjok Almost Cost Me $80

I love blogger tournaments. I love rebuy tournaments. When Jordan and Tripjax had the brilliant idea to combine the two for DADI 8, I pretty much peed myself with delight. (NOTE: All affected clothing was changed prior to the event.) I went into this event with great anticipation, especially coming off my deep run in the $5 rebuy last week.

I had a pretty tough starting table, featuring such heavy hitters as Gracie, Derek, Bobby Bracelet, Tripjax, GCox, and lots of others who I'm forgetting but probably don't read me anyway. If you do, I'm sorry! (Sorry I forgot you, not sorry that you read. Please don't leave! Wait! Come back!) Well, who needs them anyway, right?

The game started off rough for me. I got maybe three pushworthy hands the entire first hour. I lost all of my pushes, except the last one just before the break where I rivered a straight to crack TripJax's pocket aces. I added on at the break, and I think I was in the event for a total of $30 or so, which is nothing compared to Jordan, who rebought an alarmingly high 14 times! Thanks for contributing to the prize pool, my man!

Once we got down to the real poker, I started doing a lot better. I was able to build my chip stack by winning ALL of the races that I played. That's right, I was 100% in my races, but I was also always the favorite. This is definitely a rarity for me, as I usually always lose the stupid things. Yay for variance!

The final two tables was where it really started to get tough. The blinds and antes were huge, and everyone's M hovered near the single digits, except of course for Smokkee and Weak Player who had gargantuan stacks. I survived by stealing and re-stealing. I had one really scary hand against jjok where I raised UTG with the suited lamer (AT). jjok calls me, and we see a flop of 778 I believe it was. I put out a large continuation bet, but he comes over the top of me all in. My read of him, based on the way he'd been playing, was that he was on a draw, and I had the best hand currently. So I called him, and he flips over 56. My read was correct, but unfortunately he hit his draw on the turn, crippling me down to T6500 with 600/1200 blinds and me now in the BB.

However, I staged pretty much my greatest comeback ever by stealing where I could and finally doubling up through Dave when my JJ held up against his AJ. I continued to play aggressively, and that's when we get to a pretty key hand.

brdweb raises in middle position, and I decide to call with JJ to see what the texture of the flop looks like. I had a deep enough stack at this point where the call didn't really hurt me. However, GScottW to my left pushes in for his last 10k or so. This is where I think brd made a big mistake. GScottW's raise was not enough to push either of us out, but brdweb pushes over the top all in before the action gets to me. He has me covered, and since we're two places from the money, I decide to fold my jacks and fight another day.

brdweb flips over AQ, and GScottW flips over AT. I couldn't believe it. How can you come back over the top of someone who can help you bust a player with just AQ?! Luckily, GScottW did not spike a ten, and he was eliminated. If he had, though, he would have almost tripled up, and that would have been bad for everyone. What I think brdweb should have done is call GScottW's bet and allow me into the hand, so there are two chances to bust him. If I had been in the hand, GScott's chances of winning would have been almost nil. Any ace would have been beaten by brd, and any ten would not have been enough to top my jacks. He would have had to hit runners for two pair, trips, or a straight to stay alive.

Unfortunately for me, I folded the best hand there, which would have busted GScottW and severely crippled brd since he went all in. No aces, queens, or tens came on the board, and the river was a jack. I probably would have gone much deeper had I called on this hand, but I am happy with my play, and I think I made the right decision.

Soon after this we made it to the final table where Dave was the first one out, when he lost what I think was a race with 99 against KQ. Bobby Bracelet went out next, and we played a couple more orbits with very few flops seen. Then came my death hand where I was dealt 88 on the button. brdweb made a raise from the cutoff, as he had been doing the whole game, stealing blinds where he could. I decided to push here, and he insta-called with KK. There's not much I can do about that, and I go home in 7th place and a prize of almost $80. Congrats to brdweb, who ended up taking down the tournament in the end!



I definitely had a great time, and I would like to thank Jordan and Tripjax and anyone else who had a part in setting this up. I think Gcox helps them out too. I've definitely been able to see an increase in the quality of my late stage tournament play of late, and I have been regularly making in deep in these MTTs. Hopefully I can keep this level of play up and make a big score in the near future. Good luck to the rest of you, and have a great rest of the week!

July 26, 2006

Buy Scott's Book!




If you don't want to play like a lamer, then you need to pick up a copy of Pressure Poker. I will hopefully be updating my status to non-lamer very shortly. Now clicky on the pretty picture.

July 24, 2006

The DADI Returns!


And you know I love my rebuy tourneys. Be afraid.

July 21, 2006

Exhausted

I just finished playing in the $5 rebuy tournament on PokerStars, and I am exhausted. I was in that game for five and a half hours and ended up with my second best MTT finish (in terms of position) yet.



I finished in 19th out of 1427 entries, putting me in the top 2% of the players in this tournament! I was pretty heavily invested in this tournament (for a five dollar game; I usually only end up being in for $15), with me putting in $30 before the first break. I ended up making that back and then some with a $140 payout for finishing in 19th. If I'd finished in 18th, it would have jumped up to $250, but there's not much I can do about that.

The death hand came when the blinds were incredibly high. We're talking 10000/20000, and my stack was about 150k. It folded to the BB who put in a min raise. I have to put him on a steal attempt here, and my A7s might still be good even if he had something legitimate, so I pushed. He called with AQ, and he hit two pair. I'm satisfied with my play on that hand, though. He was the chip leader and had been stealing blinds at the table, so I felt that was the time to push.

Thanks to Weak and Surf for railing me and providing support. It's always nice to have people to keep you company through the times when you're completely card dead.

I hope the rest of you are doing well. Have a great weekend!

Hmm...

Hand 1:

You're nearing the end of a large MTT. You've been playing for hours and doing pretty well, but now the competition is getting really tough. When it's folded to you, you look down to see pocket eights. You decide to open the betting with the snowmen and lead out for a raise. You get only one caller; not a bad spot to be in with a pocket pair.

The flop comes K92 rainbow. Ugh, not the best flop for your hand at all. You decide to check it and see what your opponent will do. He leads out $30k, a suspicious bet for the pot size. In fact, you think, it looks like a steal. Your opponent only has $120k more behind, and if he beats you, it's a hit you can take. You decide to come over the top. Your opponent insta-calls and flips AA.

You start counting out chips to pass across the table when one of the black 8s hits on the turn. The entire table freezes. The immediate surroundings have become eerily quiet. The river is a four of hearts, and your set holds, busting out another player in the process. It appears luck is on your side.


Hand 2:

You're down to ten people now with one more player to go before the final table. You look down to see AQo, and you open the pot with a raise to $60k. Two people call. The flop comes down Q6Q with two spades, and you nearly pee your pants. This is almost the best flop you could have hoped for. You decide to lead out with a small bet of $70k, and you get a call and fold behind you.

The turn comes a 9c, and you decide to bet out $200k. Surprisingly, your opponent moves all in. You have him covered, and you decide that you have to call with your trips and top kicker. Your opponent flips over 99, and you stare in shock. You're drawing to one queen, three sixes, and two aces. Only six outs! Amazingly enough, the ace of diamonds comes on the river, propelling you into the chip lead and the final table.


The House That Luck Built:

You are Chris Moneymaker, and you have survived in the 2003 WSOP main event with two major suckouts. As we all know, Chris went on to take down the whole thing and sparked the biggest poker boom the world has ever seen. The guy is obviously a good player; you have to be in order to make it as deep as he did in the WSOP main event.

However, if he had lost either of these two hands, the results (and not just of the tournament itself) could have been drastically different. All of the other eight players at the final table were pros or semi-pros. The two players he knocked out were Humberto Brenez (hand 1) and Phil Ivey (hand 2). If he'd lost either of those two hands, he would have doubled up an extremely dangerous player.

I'm sure this has been discussed on tons of sites much better than mine, but I'd never thought about it until recently. I wonder. If Chris Moneymaker had finished anywhere other than first place, would I ever have started playing poker? Would the nation have cared that an average Joe from Tennessee finished, say, 2nd if Farha had taken him out heads up? Would this blog exist? Most likely not. Variance can be cruel, at times, but it's interesting to look back and see how a couple of hands can change the course of many people's lives, including my own.

July 19, 2006

For Teh Ipods!

I’m registered in the BloggerPods poker tournament on pokeronamac.com


I'll be playing in the Blogger Pods $1 tournament on Sunday! Yes, I know I've already won an iPod in a blogger tourney, but I didn't win an iPod video.

July 16, 2006

Yeah, So I Cheated

I'm supposed to be taking a week off from poker. Basically, it was making me a lot more angry than usual, not because I was making bad decisions, but because my good decisions were not holding up. I needed some time off, and I needed to get some perspective. I need to realize that while this is a game of skill, there will always be some chance involved, like with almost anything you do in life. I need to learn to not be so results oriented, and this goes both for the good plays that go bad as well as for the bad plays that turn out well. I needed some time off.

But I cheated.

As jjok pointed out last week, there was a $25k ADDED tournament today on Sun Poker for those people who had earned 500 player points in the span of a couple of weeks. Well, since I had been chasing a PSO promotion there, I happened to be one of those people, and this was the only such tournament I was going to be able to play.

So I talked it over with my wife, and she agreed that I should play it. The overlay was just massive. The field was only 300 players, the buy-in was only $20+$2, and first place took home over $8k. I had to take my shot at this.

I ended up starting a little late, but when I got home and logged on, I had only lost around $150 of my starting stack. Amazingly enough, I logged in right as a hand was checking around at the river, and I had been in the big blind. I won with a pair of jacks and was suddenly up $90. Not bad!

I played pretty well for a while, but soon the blinds and antes were eating me up. I was forced to push with AJo, and I got called by AKh. The flop came with two hearts. Crap. I don't think I've ever hit a two outer. The turn was a blank, but the river was the magical Jc! I doubled up and was able to continue on.

I played for another hour or so, and we were nearing the bubble. The lowest pay tier was $115 or so, which would be nice for a $20 buy-in. It folded around to me with J3 in the SB on one hand, and I decided to push, as I desperately needed the blinds and antes at this point to survive. The BB saw right through me and called with Q7. The flop came with not one, but two jacks, and I sucked out yet again. This must be karma payback for the $370 tournament seat I was bad beat out of last week.

The bubble burst soon after, and then I lept into the chip lead when the chip leader decided to double me up when I had two pair with KQ and he had bottom pair. Another player doubled me up when I held KK to his JJ, and there I was. I probably should have slowed down, but I was getting crap for cards over the next few orbits, and each orbit cost about 10% of my stack (yes, even as chip leader, although that didn't last long), so I had to try and steal where I could. I had a couple of steals go bad that I had to get away from, and in the end I was forced to push with KQ... right into AQ. No magic suckout for me, and I busted out in 27th place. I can't complain about the nice $230 prize, though.

So, I cheated. But this was a one time shot that I knew I had to take, and it looks like it paid off for me. I'm going back into my self-imposed poker exile for a few more days. I will be back on the virtual felt on Friday. I won't be entirely absent, though. I'll probably rail people throughout the week, and observe some blogger games, maybe learn some new tricks through observation. So if you're playing and you want some company, check and see if I'm online. If I am, I'll probably be more than happy to root you on to the final table.

Good luck to everyone this week!

July 14, 2006

Matt's Musings #2

On The Lamer

With AJ, you can shoot yourself in the foot playing it. With AT, you shoot yourself in the foot, then you play it.

I Understand Now!

Why is online poker bad/dangerous/{scary adjective}? It's like this, see. The internet is a series of tubes. And poker chips, see, well, if you bet poker chips then you can clog up the internet.

I can now understand why so many of our leaders have backed the ban of online poker. We must inform the masses!

July 13, 2006

So Close, Part Two

Last night I should have won a $370 seat in the PokerStars 150 Seat Guaranteed tournament for the WSOP main event. I literally played the best poker of my life in this game. It was a 700 FPP rebuy tournament where a seat was offered for every 23000 points. I had 731 FPP points prior to this tournament. So I bought in, knowing I couldn't rebuy and knowing that I was going to get called down by less than stellar hands for the first hour in the hopes that they would double up.

I made it through the first hour pretty easily, doubling up my original buy in with two pair vs an opponent's top pair and open ended straight draw. After the rebuy/addon period, we got down to the real game. I had a fairly short stack compared to everyone else who had a million FPPs to rebuy with at the beginning, but I held on. I tripled up when my AA held over QQ and some other guy's hand (he folded when the other caller pushed on the flop of 662).

From then on, I was mostly card dead. However, I had a great read on the players at all of the tables I played. I knew who I could steal from and who I couldn't, and I was able to stay alive. I made what I think was a good call when some guy pushed over the top of me after I raised with KQo from the cutoff. I had stolen from there a few times before, and my read was that he was sick of it and didn't really want a call. I called, and my KQ won the race against 33. This was the only race I was involved in during the entire tournament.

About 170 players registered for this tournament initially, and when it got down to the final 30 or so, things started to tighten up a lot. Fourteen places paid, with 9 through 14 getting FPP points.

It was at this point that I made a poor call. I had A3o in the BB, and there was a limper and caller in front of me. I checked, and the flop came down Axx, rainbow. I checked, and the initial limper bet out. The caller folded, and I decided to raise. He thought for a minute and then pushed. I had him covered, and I thought about it for a while. Would he really have limped with an ace? I can't put him on AA here, and I doubted he had a set. I ended up calling, and he turned over AJ.

That cost me dearly and put me at the bottom of the ladder. I doubled up my next hand after it folded around to me in the SB, and I pushed with K7h. It held up against T8o. I was in 23rd of 27 at this point, but I wasn't really worried. I knew I was in the zone. About ten or fifteen minutes later, my wife looked over at my screen. "Hey, how'd you get in second place?"

I looked over at the tournament window. How did I get in second place? I had seen maybe one or two flops since I doubled up, but nothing big. That's when it dawned on me: I had stolen my way to second place. The table had become extremely tight near the bubble, and the few hands I had shown had either won big pots or busted people out. (Ironically, the guy with AJ that I lost to when I had A3 lost the same hand in reverse. I took him out a few hands after that when he pushed with 45s.) It was to the point where no one wanted to call my raises.

I was right where I wanted to be.

With this new chip status in hand, I made it down to the final twelve. I had dropped to about 7th in chips, but at this point, the blinds and antes were enough to move you up and down a couple of places on the ladder. I woke up with QQ UTG+1. The aggressive big stack UTG raised it up 3x. I reraised it to 15x total. The guy behind me pushes for his whole stack, which wasn't a whole lot more than what I raised. I had him covered by about 6000 or so. The original raiser calls, and I do too. (I'm pretty sure I thought I was going to be all in, otherwise, I would have pushed here.) The flop comes 89J rainbow, and the big stack checks. I insta-push my measly 6000, and he folds.

It's down to me and the guy to my left, and he flips over his dominated AQo. I'm two cards away from moving into a HUGE chip lead and a guaranteed $370 seat.

The turn is a blank.

At the time, I thought he was drawing dead to a tie; my mind just didn't register that one overcard for some reason. I was sure I was going to win. When that ace came on the river, I didn't even realize I had lost until my wife said, "No ace!"

And that's when it hit me. For the second time in as many days, PokerStars had pulled back with all it's might and delivered the massive three-outer kick straight to my junk, right when I was about to move into a great chiplead, and right when I was about to hit the major prizes. It happened in the WWdN, and now it happened again.

And you know what? I don't even care that I didn't win the seat. I would probably have unregistered and just sold the W$ anyway. I wouldn't be able to make it to Vegas this year. What really pisses me off is PokerStars' unflinching consistency in bad beating me out of tournaments right in the spot that matters most. I can take the bad beat in the first hour, maybe even two hours of play, and shrug it off with "That's Poker."

But after investing almost four hours, playing the best poker of my life, coming within inches of the big prize, and going into the hand as a HUGE favorite in a situation that, if I win, will let me coast the rest of the way to the finish line...

I mean, what the hell?

July 11, 2006

So Close

I played in the WWdN tonight, and I was doing pretty well. I wasn't getting crap for cards, but I managed to survive to the final two tables. It was a pretty rough field, but I managed to get my few playable hands in good spots and make a few steals to keep a semi-decent stack to the final 12. I ended up getting all of my chips in as a big favorite (33 vs A3), but of course, this being PokerStars, they hit their three outer on the flop, and I get nothing. Oh well, there's always next week.

Speaking of the WWdN, has anyone heard anything about the Tournament(s) of Champions that should be happening? Last I heard the first one was supposed to happen pretty soon, but that was a couple of months ago. I hope that these don't fall through because they could be really fun. I don't remember which WWdN game I won, but I think I'll be in the second or third ToC if they ever get started.

July 10, 2006

Variance, You So Crazy

These bankroll swings are crazy. I drop $250 last night, and then I make it back today. Up, down, up, down. Can we just stick with the up for a while? I'd be very appreciative.

I'm sad that I didn't have a chance to go to Vegas with all of the bloggers this weekend, but I'm happy that everyone had a great time. It's been fun reading the trip reports, and they're so great, sometimes it feels like I was there. Once of these days I'm going to get to meet all you fine folks. Good luck at the tables everyone.

July 09, 2006

Sometimes I Hate This Game

It was a bad day today. I'll just leave it at that.

July 06, 2006

n00b Watches WSOP, Plays Online For Three Days, And Gives Advice; Hilarity Ensues

I was going back through my archives on my old webpage and found my first "strategy post" from January 2005, back when I first started playing Texas Hold'em. It will be readily apparent why I used quotes once you read it. My comments will be in italics.


BEGIN SUPER AWESOME STRATEGY

When playing with a relatively full table (4 or more):

So four is relatively full? Maybe for a six handed game?

1: Never call before the flop with anything less than a face card, unless you are suited and connected. If you are suited and connected, and another player raises the blind a significant amount, get out.

Haha, I fail this one on a regular basis in cash games when I have position and a bunch of limpers.

2: Face cards alone are deceptively strong, in that they aren't. Kickers come into play more often than you think. Don't call with a face card unless your kicker is 8 or 9 or higher. Seven is questionable. I'd play a seven with maybe a king or ace. The queen loses strength with seven/eight and below. Jacks are fairly worthless without a good kicker.

Yes, A7! The Tourist was in full force before it was even The Tourist. Apparently eights and nines are undefeatable.

3: Call the blind if you have an ace. Maybe raise it if you're A/10 or higher.

MAYBE raise with AT+? Oh, dear Lord.

4: Pocket pairs are also deceptive. Only raise the blind with a pocket pair if it's 9 or higher. Pocket jacks are probably the most dangerous. You may raise on the blind, but if your opponent calls with an A/K/Q combination and one of those lands on the flop (which it likely will), you're immediately playing catch-up. Call the blind with any pocket pair. If someone raises, you may want to call depending on the amount raised.

I fail this one on a regular basis as well. I love me some pocket pairs.

When playing with three or less:

Because you're not short handed until you're down to three!

1: When you are playing with three or less people, face cards pretty much double in value. If you are dealt a hand with a combination of 10s and/or face cards, raise the blind. Call the blind with any face card if you have a good kicker.

We don't need no stinking position!

2: Aces are gold. Call.

Because if you have an ace, no one else will have an ace, ever. Guaranteed!

3: Pocket pairs are almost sure wins (provided it's a decent pair and not 2s or 3s). Call, if not raise.

Very true, heads up, but not really three handed. I'd play 2s and 3s for cheap, though.

END SUPER AWESOME STRATEGY


Oh this is so ultra-simplistic that it's just plain awful. I had no idea what position meant. I never even mentioned anything about post-flop! I think back then, if I didn't hit the flop at all, I wasn't betting. I didn't know what a continuation bet was, and I don't think I ever bluffed.

The amazing thing is that this style of playing was profitable for me at one point. I turned $30 into $540 on TruePoker playing this way. I must have just been incredibly lucky that I didn't bust out. Either that, or I was playing with people who were donking it up even more than I was. I may have to check back at that site and see how people are playing now.

July 05, 2006

The STROBE Effect

Well, I busted out early in the Mookie tonight. I ran QQ into AA. Oh well. However, I have been doing just great in the cash game. I have managed to build my bankroll back to over $1k! Now I just need to maintain my game and not get cold decked.

July 03, 2006

Roadmap: S.T.R.O.B.E.

I've spent the past few days thinking about my play and trying to figure out where I'm going wrong when I make bad decisions. I think my biggest problem is rushing when making a decision. There have been many times where I've thought that the decision was very obvious, but if I had just slowed down and examined the play to that point, I would have realized that my initial thought was wrong. I believe that this is currently the biggest leak in my game. In an effort to fix this, I have come up with steps I will try to walk through every time it is my turn to act. With that said, I present to you STROBE, because ELA (everyone loves acronymns).

S: STOP! This is just a reminder to myself to slow the hell down. My gut may be telling me something, and it may be right a lot of the time. However, that's no reason to just forget about Mr. Brain. I need to take my time and look at each piece of the situation.

T: THINK! This goes hand in hand with stopping. I need to slow down, think things through, and balance what knowledge I have so far with what my gut is telling me before making a decision.

R: READ/RANGE! I'm generally pretty good at reading my opponents in terms of deciding whether they have a hand or whether they are bluffing, but I need to put some more effort into putting my opponents on an actual range of hands, which will help enormously when making decisions that fall into the grey area.

O: ODDS! Calculate your pot odds. I do this without even thinking about it anymore, but it's good to have some vowels in your acronymns.

B: BET! Only after I have thoroughly thought out the current situation should I think about how much to bet. I need to think more percisely about the amounts I bet in order to convey the (mis?)information I want my opponent to see.

E: EVALUATE! Watch my opponents carefully for their reactions, and evaluate this new information for use when the action is back on me again.

So that's my plan for the next few days, and I'm going to see if these little reminders will help me put more focus on my game and plug some of my leaks. I will be sure to let you all know how it goes.

July 01, 2006

I Still Suck

First person out of my homegame and bad beat out of at least three key hands. Why can nothing go my way?