When your bankroll gets kicked in the nuts

Dropped $300 in about 45 minutes of $5-10 shorthanded Party play last night. Just painful. These two clowns at my table were catching EVERYTHING. My top pair, good kicker was wiped out about 10 different hands as I watched my stack help build theirs. Grubby says that he gets competitive and won’t quit until he gets his money back from the lucky opponent. I definitely played this way last night, but these guys were catching everything. Not fun.

I was tired and I think you need to have energy to get revenge, so I hopped on a $15-30 table, resolving to play until I won or lost 1 big pot. I ended up playing 3 orbits… and losing $5. A bit sad that I don’t even get much adrenaline anymore, even at teh $15-30 level. I think knowing the odds makes gambling somewhat less exciting. Anyway, I only played 4 of the 30 hands I think… I won 2 pots with semi-bluffs… I called a blind-steal raise (SB raised my BB) with Q9o and checked through the flop. The turn gave me a 4 straight, and I bet out and was called. The river was a rag, and I bet– I was psyched when he folded, but I collected only 2.5 big bets ($75) on this hand. The guy seemed like a decent player, which meant that my river bluff had a decent chance of succeeding. Pretty tough to call there with Ace high…

Anyway, on my final hand I get TT UTG. I raise to “limit the field” (see Iggy’s blog for more on this), and it actually works… a short stack in middle position reraises, however, which knocks out everybody else. He’s got $20 left in front of him, so I raise it up to roll the dice against whatever hand he has. I want to be all in since he’s going to bet the flop anyway. He puts his last $5 in on the flop, and I call… the flop has a K, and I’m putting him on AK, but when another K comes on the turn I like my chances. But no help to my tens, and sure enough he’s got AK suited. Well, I had a slight advantage preflop, but I’ll take this beat… had I won that hand I would have been up $130 or so on the table, but instead ended up down $5. Ah well.

Some good Blogging goin on out there. Finally got to the infamous Decker‘s site. Lots of material here, Decker doesn’t miss a day. Also, the poker penguin offers some great theory on multi-table tournaments. The Fat Guy offers diatribes on everything under the sun, even Robbie Fulks.

So it looks like this Blogger poker game is gaining some momentum… it looks like everybody wants to play a NL SNG (damn, I voted for limit ring game!), so I guess I’ll have to reread my Doyle. I’ve put up a new poll, please vote!

Limit Ring 1
NL Ring 1
Limit SNG 1

Check out McGrupp‘s meeting with Phil Hellmuth in Vegas. Here’s my tale of my only brush with poker royalty:

My buddy and I went to the Bicycle casino in LA to see the WPT event being held there a couple months ago. We got there about an hour after the tourney started, and the seats were all taken, so we were stuck watching on closed circuit TV in the room adjacent to the WPT set. Anyway, after about an hour this old floorman comes by, and we start chit-chattin. He says that they’re playing 3,000-6,000 Hold ‘Em out there on the floor. These numbers are staggering, and we immediately take off to see who the hell could be playing in a game with stakes this high.

So we take a stroll out there, and finally come to the “big” table. There are about 2 people watching, and as we get closer, I recognize Jennifer Harman. “Wow, must be a big game” I was thinking, when I saw Johnny Chan sitting across from her. My eyes continued around the table, finally landing on a Jabba-the-hut like presence in seat 3. Yep, big old Doyle, wearing a Paradise poker hat. What a monster table. I think I recognized Mickey Appleman in seat 1. As I watched them play their HORSE game, I wondered why anyone would play at this table. One of the guys I didn’t recognize must have been a sucker… otherwise it wouldn’t make sense. 5 minutes later Gus Hansen takes the empty seat. WOW. We stood their in awe for a couple minutes, until half the table got up to take a smoke break. Doyle didn’t move though, and I felt like I had to say something to the legend.

“Doyle, you scared em off” was the only thing I could come up with. He smiled and nodded his head. Oh well.

More recent celeb sightings:
1. Ben Stein at lunch yesterday in Beverly Hills. Work lunch with the marketing guys, they took us to some fancy place that served “filet mignon tacos”. I got the cheeseburger. I had to resist the temptation to go up to him and say “I want to win your money!”.
2. Hank Azaria walking out of the Beverly Center movies on Saturday while I was walking in. 2 minutes after that, I saw a preview for a movie he was in.

Pic of the day:
An eyeful

Drunken Master and Football 101

WILD night at party. I had a rockin and rollin 11 hour total marathon session (2 tables, so 5.5 hours realtime). I feel like a real poker player. I have the suspicion that this blog entry will suck, as I think beer number 7 has just gone down the hatch. I feel like Jackie Chan in Drunken Master. For anyone that hasn’t seen it, our hero is a karate master who can only fight optimally after taking in a good amount of alcohol. The catch is, if he drinks too much, then he loses his skills. So the trick is to drink just the right amount (cool idea, no?).

Anyway, although poker tracker doesn’t keep track of number of beers ingested, I found that I was “in the zone” after about 4 beers. Making great calls, stealing pots, everything. I dominated during this period, and built up a nice stack for myself… but after that it started going downhill… 5 or 6 beers saw me getting sucked out on, and making crying calls at the river… the drunken master had clearly had a little too much.

Anyway, I ended up winning a whopping $435 on one table, and losing $300 at the other table. What the hell? I looked through the logs and saw I got rivered 4 or 5 times to lose big pots on the losing table, and was able to catch a couple rivers at the winning table. I think Abdul’s quote is, “at the turn of a card, a dominating hand can become dominating.” Too bad I didn’t cash out at beer number 4, as I was up $550 on the lucky table. I guess I can’t complain.

I managed to go 7-6 for my NFL bets, netting me a huge win of $3.00 after the juice. I didn’t like the spreads this week, but kicked myself for not betting the house on Dallas. Here we have 2 junk teams… one with an excellent coach, one with a terrible coach. We’ve got a second string QB who wasn’t even on a practice squad a couple months ago… and a tough Dallas defense. Dallas beats up on bad teams, because they play disciplined, smash mouth football, and let the other team make mistakes. Washington is a team with no strengths, and got lucky when Ramsey was hot at the beginning of the season. And Dallas was giving away a single point! I don’t know how I missed this one.

Warning! Football rant following… skip ahead if you don’t like football.

It’s tough to explain how important coaching is in the modern NFL to someone who’s never played football before. The complexity of the offensive systems is really amazing. On any given play, each player has a series of reads on the defense:
1. Pre-snap read: what defense are they playing? zone? man?
2. Pre-snap play read: for every play that’s called, there is a different set of reads that have been memorized, based on the read in 1.
3. Post-snap read: we know what are route/block is, but if the defense does something that counters our expectation, we have to adjust.

Here’s an example from my days of playing Tight End:
Coach calls: Kinger 685 F-flare
Explanation: Kinger means I backfield, tight end right. 685 are the pass patterns– first receiver runs a 6 (an in), second receiver (me in this case) runs a post, and the third receiver runs a 5 (an out). F-flare means the fullback runs a flare.

1. Presnap read: I line up and read the defense. I check the safeties… if there are two safeties equally deep, I know they are in a cover 2 zone, meaning that they divide the deep half of the field in two. If there is one safety in the middle, then they are in cover 3, meaning one safety takes the middle, and the two corners take the deep thirds. Let’s say in this case they are in cover 2.

2. Presnap play read: I know that in a cover 2, my post route goes right between the safeties, so I am the primary receiver. In a cover 3, my job is to make the Deep safety run with me, so either the back or one of the receivers comes open. Since they’re in cover 2, I expect the ball.

3. Postsnap read: I release inside the defensive end, and make a move to get past the linebacker. I look at the safeties, and see that it was a disguised cover 3, because there is a single safety in the middle of the field. So my job is to run straight at the safety and make him cover me. I break on my post, and run by the safety.

This is the key moment of the play. The QB’s read is to check down the receivers based on the coverage. If he did not see the disguised cover 2, he will look to hit me in the middle of the field. If he sees it, then he will look at the other 2 receivers, and if covered, then to the fullback. This is where the “system” ends, and the quarterback’s skill begins. The quarterback can choose to “disobey” the system that the coach has installed… it’s kind of like calling when the pot odds don’t quite justify it. In this case, the system says “if all 3 receivers are covered, dump it to the fullback for a short gain, or throw it away”. But if the QB sees that I have ran past the safety, he can go for the home run, and risk interception or an incomplete pass.

Whew. Ok, the point of that was that NFL football is incredibly complex. Every single play has a different set of complex reads for all 11 players. In this way, it’s a lot like poker. But it also shows you the importance of coaching. A team is really only as good as the “system” that its run by. Watch Belichek’s team or Parcells’. These teams know their system well, and it works. They don’t gamble much, and their offenses are designed to take what the defense gives them– no more, no less. They are the “grinders” of the NFL, where teams like the Vikings might be more of the “gambOOling” type– watch how many home run balls they throw to Moss in double coverage.

Which brings us to the Philly (+3) at Miami game tomorrow night. Andy Reid: great system. Dave Wannstedt: horrible system. But I can’t figure Miami out… Ricky is a good back, and their defense is tough all the way through, but they just don’t seem to have much heart. Philly baffles me as well, but I think they are pretty much solid.

Saddam captured: The first thing I thought of when I heard this was a story I wrote when I was 12 or 13. It was this long, rambling war story about a marine who fought through all the iraqis and got Saddam. It must have been during the first gulf war. I read the headlines today with no real surprise, awe, or joy, although I was surprised when I found out that no shots were fired. When I thought about my story, it was strange to think how much has happened since then. In some sense, I’ve been anticipating this event for over 13 years, if that original story ever meant anything. Maybe the joy was dampened by all the death required to accomplish the mission…

Ok, if you made it this far, congratulations, I thank you! I think I’m sobering up now, so I guess it’s time for another beer. I hope nobody drowned in the river…

The Great Blogger Hold ‘Em Experiment

Following up on Iggy’s idea to have an all-blogger table (“One of these days we’ll need to get a private table and have a poker bloggers only game”), I’ve created my first poll (see right). Boy Genius says he’s in. So’s that’s 3 to start. Who else is in? I nominate Iggy to set up the table (he’s got all the hookups and his Blog has been around the longest), but I believe it’s pretty easy to set up a private table on Party. I think this table would have -EV, but for the trash-talking rights it would be worth it. Personally I don’t want to take on any of my fellow bloggers for high stakes, and because everyone should be able to play, it is probably best to have it be a microlimit game (or small buy in tourney). Place your vote!

Just finished a 2 hour session play 2 $5-10 tables. My poker endurance really sucks. I started getting distracted towards the end, but managed to stay on my “A” game. I can sit in a B&M for 8 hours, but I guess sitting behind the computer screen makes me feel like I’m at work, so I get the itch to run away. Anyway, I fought my way to a $54 win (not enough to cover my stud losses this morning, but hey!) after battling the maniacs. One of these tables was probably the best $5-10 table I’d ever seen, and I ended up pullin in $156 on this table. So what happened on the other?

Unlucky Ladies. Pokertracker says I was dealt QQ 5 times (5 times!), and my total loss for all 5 hands was $151. Ouch. Most of this came when my overpair was overpaired by KK, and I played it hard and lost $60 to some punk with KK. Oh well. The ladies went 1 for 5 and did not help my winnings very much. Wait, it gets better–
I flop my set of queens with 3 players in the pot for 3 bets, and manage to cap it when the flop is Qs 8c Ts. Re-raiser bets the turn, which is 3h, and I raise, and we lose the third guy. I make sure I have the nuts here, and get ready for the river, which is… take a guess? Of course, the 5s. I check and call, and I’m completely shocked when the raiser turns over… A8s! Big surprise. I hate when people reraise on the come and hit their card on the river. It ain’t right poker gods, ya hear me! So that was $65 more down the drain.

In sad news, I just took a disheartening surf through RGP. Spam, spam, spam… “Hookers in Vegas,” “I want sex,” etc. etc. A couple months ago this stuff didn’t dominate, but it’s getting out of hand. I think I may have learned more from RGP than any book, and there are some great posts in the archives. Sad to see such a great forum for poker knowledge slowly get polluted. It would be cool if someone would create some sort of great posts Archive as a separate site… you could probably just run a script that takes in a list of names of prominent posters (Abdul, Howard L, etc.) and grabs all those threads and weeds out the trash. But I’m not writing the code…

Movie night tonight: gonna see the Farrelly brothers new movie, “Stuck on You”. Can’t wait to see our boy from Rounders as a siamese twin… hate to miss out on the Party action though. Good luck to everybody out there!

I don’t want no stud

After reading a Russ G. post claiming that Hold ‘Em is the worst game for a pro to play, since it requires the least skill to play, I decided to try my hand at stud. Russ seems like a horrible person, but he is a microcosm of RGP– if you sort through enough of his crap, eventually you’ll find something interesting. I just finished Yardley’s book, which advocates super-tight play, and discusses all the old school forms of poker (no Hold Em). He gives a few simple rules for starting hands, and I figured I’d give it a shot. I’ve played some $1-2 stud, and it does seem that less suckouts happen here, since there are no community cards. You also have to pay attention to other players up cards, giving someone with memory an advantage.

Of course, all the $1-2 tables were full, so I had to bump up to $3-6.

I started out pretty well, and was quickly up $50. The pots in stud can get pretty big relative to hold em, since there are 5 rounds of betting. But after I missed my share of 4-straights and 4-flushes, I ended up cashing out down $80. Much to learn. What’s worse, I discovered that PokerTracker doesn’t handle stud games! Oh well.

In Hold ‘Em news, I finally got back to winning last night. $160 in 35 minutes on 2 tables! Felt good. I think I earned most of it too.
–$92 win when my pocket tens held up to a board of Jh 3s 2s 5h As. I bet them the whole way, and was able to chase a couple players out, and managed to checkraise on the turn a guy with pocket 8s. Finally I made a good read on someone.
–$54 with QQ
–$57 when my pocket sevens flopped a set

Nothing too exciting. But I finally was able to make some decent calls with my non-top pair hands, and that made the difference in the short session. The wife came home, so I cut the session off, pocketing 16 BB.

It had been a while since I’d played any SNG, so I thought I was due for a $30 NL tourney. I’ve done pretty well at these, and really liked them when I was learning. But the EV here is so low– it’s not too hard to get 3rd, but for 1 hour of play and a $30 win, the return is pretty weak. I checked pokertracker, and it had me at a ridiculous win rate:
10 $30 tourneys, with a net amount of $347 (3 firsts, 2 2nds, and a 3rd). There is a bias here, since I didn’t request hand histories for a bunch of the losses I’ve taken, and it doesn’t include all the $6 SNGs I played when I was getting started. I’d say I’m probably about even overall… I play very tight until the blinds go up to 50/100, when I start making moves and trying to pick up chips.

The tourney started out in the usual fashion, with 4 or 5 limit limpers playing every pot when the blinds are low. After mucking for a while, I picked up 75o in the BB, and called 15 after 3 players limped in. I’ll take the implied odds… Beautiful flop– 7 7 9 with 2 diamonds. I bet out 250 (too much? but I’m afraid of the flush) and get one caller. The turn is… a 7!!! I pee in my pants and check it, hoping that the river is another diamond… and it is!!! All-in time… and he calls! He shows the ATd, and my quads draw oohs and ahhs from the peanut gallery. A lesson in implied odds.

Anyway, that gave me a lot of chips to work with, and I waited it out while the fireworks went off around me. Actually the table was pretty tight, and it ended up being one of the longest SNGs I’d ever played. I made some steals, and survived to make the final 3, with the chip count like this:
hdouble: 3280
seat 2: 3200
seat 8: 1320

Seat 8 was very tight, and I was able to steal liberally from him, but I didn’t have much of a read on the other guy. On the SB I got A9o, and figure I could steal seat 8s BB (button folded) with an all-in. But he calls, and says “Watch out now”, and his pocket rockets hold up. Ok, he got me, but I still like this play. So I’m down to 2160, but I like my chances. Then comes this hand:
I’m in the BB (which is 400 at this point), seat 2 is on the button. Seat 2 calls, which confuses me, because he seems to be tight and more or less solid, so I question the limp. Seat 8 calls from SB, and I see AJs on my BB. I figure my hand has got to be best, and I have a chance to pick up 800 chips. I think for a second and go all-in, and the board does not help… I know I’m beat, and to rub salt in the wound, Seat 8 turns over… AA! Bullets, twice in 3 hands. Ouch.

Anyway, I think I played this hand poorly. I should have taken the Hellmuth approach… I knew I could outplay the other 2 players, so all-in bets should be used sparingly. The tight player limp should have rang the warning bells, and I should have waited it out a few hands, even though the blinds were up to 400. Some of you readers would have played this better than me… advice???

Check out the wild and wide-ranging Blog of
Boy Genius (thanks Iggy).

If you want to hear some new music, check out this track from my best friends band (yours truly on lead guitar):
I hate you

Well Blogger doesn’t allow images, but if anybody’s interested… HDouble… revealed!

Pic of the day:
Rudolph sighting

Where are they coming from?

A lot of my graduate research was spent on web-log analysis, so I still have a little place in my heart for web logs. I got a few laughs seeing how visitors found their way to this page, at least how they got here from search engines. So below is a list of my favorite searches that resulted in the user actually visiting this page…

1. Google: holcomb’s baseball suckers
2. Dogpile: texas holdem percentage hand strength
3. (my favorite) Google: brad pitt left college 4rth year
4. Google: poker and movie rounders and “the wheel”
5. Google: “smaller the stakes”
6. Google: “poker tracker” crack

Great stuff.

No real football picks this week– I don’t usually play games with big spreads, and all of them are big this week. However, here’s my picks for every game, although I think it’s mostly a crapshoot this weekend.

(Home teams in Caps)
Minnesota (+3) over CHICAGO
CINCY (-2.5) over San Fran
INDY (-7.5) over Atlanta
Detroit (+14) over KANSAS CITY
NEW ENGLAND (-7) over Jacksonville
NY JETS (-3) over Pittsburgh
ST. LOUIS (-6.5) over SEATTLE
TAMPA (-6) over Houston
Buffalo (+6.5) over TENNESSEE
DENVER (-10.5) over Cleveland
Baltimore (-6.5) over OAKLAND
Dallas (PK) over WASHINGTON
Carolina (-6.5) over ARIZONA
Green Bay (-5) over SAN DIEGO
NEW ORLEANS (-7) over NY Giants
Philly (+2) over MIAMI

Season Record: 29-21-2
Last Week: 3-2 (2 unit win on Monday night)

Can’t wait to get on the tables tonight… Friday night is Party night on Party!