Grinding and Taking a Shot

“Certain individuals come here just to make money. They grind, grind, grind in the small-stakes games, they make a living and they have no down side. But they have no gamble in them, either, so they will never know the enjoyment of the high roller, the romance of gambling.”
–Mickey Appleman

After a long week at work, its good to be back in blog lang and getting the energy to blast out a long post. For you loyal readers, I’m fighting through a cold that is threatening to put me to bed, but hopefully I can stay awake long enough to finish the post.

After sleeping in this morning, I finally got a chance to do some grinding, after an undesired 3 day break. Between working late, hanging out with Mrs. Double, and the site migration, I just couldn’t click that “log on” button. Despite being sick and not remembering how to play poker, I fired up Party after breakfast, wondering what kind of crowd would be playing on a Saturday afternoon. I found a decent $3-6 table, and proceeded to get my ass handed to me, dropping $150 in record time (20 minutes). I played too loose, and suffered some horrible beats… my 2 pair getting flushed on the river, 2 pair losing to Quad 6s, and missing a bunch of 10 out draws. Ahh it’s good to be back.

But the tide began to turn– I remembered how to play (funny how losing 25 Big bets will do that to you), and started picking up some cards and some chips. I picked up $75 profit when my nut flush hit on the turn, and I slow-played 2 aggressive players, one who hit his set of 8s on the turn, the other with a smaller flush. After donating 6 BBs to a great player who hit a set of 4s on the turn (to beat my pocket Kings), I turned the nut straight in a huge 4-way pot for a $100 profit. This brought my stack back to life, and the vultures circling over my monitor flew away to find some better prospect. I picked up KK again a few hands later, and this time they held up for a $39 profit. I left down $60 after an hour of play, but after throwing away 25 BB in the first 20 minutes, it was a moral victory.

Becoming a Grinder
It’s subtle, but I am beginning to feel myself becoming a true grinder. One of the indicators was my ability to emotionally handle the bad beats and the 25 Big Bet loss in 20 minutes. A few months ago, I would have been on tilt– not full on, play any two cards tilt, but a subtle tilt, playing hands that shouldn’t be played. I remember the drive home from my first terrible (50 BB loss) B&M session, thinking about the hands I lost with. I was pretty down, but I didn’t think the loss tilted me.”I’m untiltable,” I thought, “I played the way I always play.” And then I remembered getting outkicked by KQ after playing QTo from middle position for a raise. It dawned on me then that tilt’s most dangerous form is not a Hellmuth chair throwing fit, but rather a very subtle slide from playing poker as a game of skill to playing it as a game of chance. Any time you play a hand without firmly believing that you have a positive expectation, you are on tilt.

The grinder plays when he knows he his bets have positive expectation. One trait of the true grinder is that he will muck his hand in marginal situations (when the expectation is zero). I find myself avoiding marginal calls lately, and I think I have profited from it. For example, suppose you’ve got AhKd in the BB, and there are 4 limpers ahead of you. You check, and the flop comes Qs Js 8c. You check it around, UTG bets, and second to act raises. The third and fourth limpers call, and now it’s your turn to act.

At best, you’ve got 4 outs with the T, although you can’t like the Ts. And maybe you can add 6 more outs if you pair one of your cards, but again, if one of those cards is a spade you’re in trouble, not to mention that an A or K on the turn could give someone 2 pair or a straight. So at best you have 10 outs, so you need at least (if we assume our 10 outs don’t make someone else’s hand) 2:1 from the pot to call. The pot is laying you 6:1 here… IF we think all of our 10 outs are good. If so, it’s an easy call, but there is no way we have 10 outs– subtract all the spades from our outs (one of these guys is likely on a flush draw), and we are down to 7 outs. Ignoring straights, trips, and 2 pair hands, that gives us 5.7:1 that we get our hand on the turn. So, expectation is still positive, but barely.

The grinder will always muck this hand. Whenever we can’t confidently determine which hands make someone else a better hand than ours (the negation of outs), we probably aren’t getting the proper odds to draw. There are just too many hands out there that can beat us, so we throw away big slick without much thought with a board like that.

Joey Knish vs. Mike McD
The grinder vs. the gambler. Of course, a romantic roots for the guy who lays everything on the line. The audience sides with Mike when he tells Knish that “you see all the angles, but you don’t have the stones to play them.” But to me, Knish is the real poker player. Most likely Mike blows his stack after a couple bad sessions in Vegas, or if he does succeed, he’ll go broke a few times on the way, after some whale catches a few cards in the $100-200 game.

But there’s a middle ground. You have to be opportunistic– once you’ve got enough bankroll to take a shot, you wait for the softest “big” game you can find, and lay it on the line. Which in a sense, is what Mike does in Rounders– he beats Teddy, acquires a new bankroll and puts himself on the road back to success. Alas, we can’t imagine Mike going back to the grinding style that treated him well… he’s going to take another shot as soon as he gets to Vegas, methinks.

I had a suspicion that a lot of the young stars were those who had taken a couple shots and hit their mark. I know Chris Ferguson won a blackjack tourney before he really began his poker career, and that gave him the bank to produce a tourney victory. Daniel Rentzer parlayed a few hundred bucks on PokerStars to save up enough money to play some satellites to get into the WPT at the Bike, and he ended up taking home 2nd place. The great Howard L was a big loser in the low limit games for a couple years, and eventually scored when he played way over his bankroll in a soft $50-100 game, and caught some cards (check out this RGP post for details). But to be sure, I had to ask one of the stars…

One of my favorite all-around people in the poker world is Daniel Negreanu. He’s honest, cares about poker players, and was nice enough to reply to one of my emails. Here are Daniel’s replies to my questions:

1. How did you build up your bankroll when you first began playing?

The truth is that most of the young guys playing in the bigger buy in tournaments started out severely under bankrolled. Basically taking shots here and there. I did it several times. With a bankroll of $2200, I’d often play a tournament with a $1000 buy in! This isn’t the best way to go at all, but it worked for some.

2. Is there anything I can do to move up the ladder more quickly?
Right now (when I’m not at my 9 to 5) I’m playing 2 or 3 $3-6 games
online, or the $6-12 game at the local cardroom. I’m having excellent
luck and have been successful just playing tight, solid poker. But I’d
like to move up to the $10-20 game as soon as possible. My plan is to
build a 500 small bet BR before playing in this game– is this a decent
bankroll in your opinion?

Yup. That’s a decent bankroll in my opinion. One thing you need to understand is that you don’t need to be as careful as Sklansky/Malmuth advise. Why? Because you can step down in limits any time you want. Example: Say you have just 100 big bets t
o play with in a 10-20 game ($2000). Well that’s a short bankroll yes, but you could take “a shot”. Meaning, play the game anyway, but if you lose say, $800 step back down until you’ve recovered.

That’s how ALL the high limit players got there. If you did it Sklansky’s way, it would take 147 years!!! 🙂

There you have it. The algorithm for becoming a high limit player:
WHILE (bankroll not sufficient to take shot) {

IF (bankroll > threshold) {
IF (SHOT = success)
Move up in limit;
Exit and return to start;

Or something like that. And no, I’m not really a computer geek.

Back to the Grind
After working on finishing a secret business plan that my partner and I are looking to turn into a multi-million dollar company (I’m serious!), I hopped back on the tables for some more fun. And boy, was it fun. I returned to two table play, being a bit to worn-down from the cold to “work on my game”, which I feel is much easier to do at a single table. After an hour of play, I found myself breakeven at one table, and up a monstrous 34 big bets on the other table. Most of this came from 3 hands:

1. The first hand I played, I get AA in my BB. Amazing, of the 67 times I’ve been dealt rockets, 26 of them (39%) were in the blinds! What does this mean??? The rockets miraculously hold up even though the flop is 6 7 8 with 2 hearts, and I pull in $57 profit.
2. A monster $82 pot when the board pairs on the river, giving me my boat in the face of someone who flopped the Ace high straight. I’ve been on the other end of this one too many times, and I actually felt bad when I checkraised Mr. AK on the river. For about a second anyway.
3. After my suited connector post, big 87s came through, winning me a $67 pot. I heeded Izmet’s advice and jammed preflop, and was rewarded when the flop came J 5 6 with a single heart. The lucky 9 came on the turn, and I punished some poor guy holding a set of jacks.

So it’s 5 pm Saturday, and I’m up 25 BB for the day (after a horrible start). Yeeeeeee haw… I guess grinding can be fun when you are catching cards. Anyway, the fish should be hittin the tables soon, so if I can manage to fight off this cold, you’ll find me at the $3-6 tables…

This post is getting out of control… so much more to say, but I’m not sure if anybody can survive this many of my words without passing out. I haven’t even mentioned the BIG GAME, in which Belichek will use Jedi mind trickery to force Jake D to throw several interceptions. Patriots win this one easy. Oh yeah, and the big WPT event before that. My head may explode from too much visual stimuli… a Super Bowl and WPT championship back to back.

Poker Blog Patrol
Man, oh, man there is some great stuff out there. I think Iggy’s Pokersavvy article really raised the bar, and all the bloggers stepped up their game. It took me 2 hours to get through all of the great blogs last night… I had a lot of highlights to share, but I’m running out of steam, so I can only tell everybody to keep up the great blogging.

Saturday night on Party! What could be better? Oh yeah, check out the images at my BlogSplat plus site, if I get around to putting them up. Surely the final product will be better than Russ’s site.

And I leave you with the agony of playing THE HAMMER!

***** Hand History for Game 364847345 *****
Table Card Room Table 3689 (Real Money) — Seat 4 is the button
Total number of players : 10
buggirl posts small blind (1)
Islander posts big blind (3)
** Dealing down cards **
Dealt to hdouble [ 2d, 7s ]
sharp2403 folds.
tcaldaro folds.
nordbanken raises (6) to 6
hdouble calls (6)
sammyq folds.
bossman48 raises (9) to 9
pruspapaw folds.
buggirl folds.
Islander folds.
nordbanken calls (3)
hdouble calls (3)
** Dealing Flop ** : [ 4h, 2c, 4s ]
nordbanken checks.
hdouble bets (3)
bossman48 raises (6) to 6
nordbanken calls (6)
hdouble calls (3)
** Dealing Turn ** : [ 8h ]
nordbanken checks.
hdouble checks.
bossman48 bets (6)
nordbanken calls (6)
hdouble calls (6)
** Dealing River ** : [ 9d ]
nordbanken checks.
hdouble checks.
bossman48 bets (6)
nordbanken calls (6)
hdouble folds.
** Summary **
Main Pot: $76 | Rake: $3
Board: [ 4h 2c 4s 8h 9d ]
hdouble balance $148.50, lost $21 (folded)
bossman48 balance $129, bet $27, collected $76, net +$49 [ Ks Ad ] [ a pair of fours with king kicker — Ad,Ks,9d,4h,4sKs(kicker card) ]
nordbanken balance $203, lost $27 [ Td Ah ] [ a pair of fours — Ah,Td,9d,4h,4s ]

Building the bankroll… the hard way

Between work and migrating the blog to another server, I didn’t even get to play any poker today. This week’s been rough at work, but my deadline is tomorrow so it should ease up after that.

Migrating the blog is another story… I hope my pic didn’t scare anybody away, and I’m looking forward to getting movable type installed, as well as putting some images up on the site. I built my linux box today, now I just gotta find a way to get it from work to home. They’ve got these silly rules about these things…

Since I didn’t PLAY any poker, I thought I’d take a quick run through my favorite loose-game theorist, hoping that some of his wisdom will rub off on me.

Izmet’s 4 rules of thumb
1. Build pots preflop with big suited cards, suited connectors and pairs above 77.
2. Jam your flush draws if you expect three or more callers.
3. Seldom call if you can’t raise.
4. Don’t try to bluff the fish.

My pocket 8s haven’t been nice to me, but I still like the 1st rule the best.

Izmet on Axs
Raising with Axs becomes profitable when there are enough loose limpers in play. For example, A4s will win more than 14.3% (which is about fair share of the 7-way pots) against 6+ opponents and will therefore profit from the six+ limping opponents putting more money in the pot preflop.

So, play your Axs hard when you’re sure you’ll get 6 callers.

Izmet on Responding to a raise
When raised, stop, think, reevaluate. A raise is an incoming message. What is the sender trying to communicate? Does he have something to say or has he just pressed a wrong button at the wrong time? Bets and calls are often automatic, not so with raises. When in doubt, fold. If you like winning, you’ll have to do lots of folding. Flea and live to tell.

Izmet on the learning curve
Be happy if you break about even after a few months. You proved yourself better than most, you have beaten the house. Not everybody can.

Izmet on playing with the fish
The best strategy in loosest games is to maximize fish mistakes, build big pots when having the best of it and get the hell out preflop when in marginal situations. As the fish are often calling correctly postflop (good pot odds), it is imperative to hit them with raises when they are not. The time to do it is usually preflop, where they are apt to call with anything. If there is a reasonable chance that your hand is best, you should raise and reraise right there to destroy the implied fish odds. This is the time to maximize their mistakes. Sure, they will try to offset this with correctly chasing postflop, but to no avail. Big mistakes preflop cannot be compensated in any way. Please note that fish very often chase incorrectly too, a good example is when they try to hit a set with their small pairs all the way to the river. This is another reason to raise liberally when having a reasonable chance to collect.

Whew. Reading that makes me wanna hit the tables, but my bed sounds even nicer at this point. Thanks for reading, back to the good stuff tomorrow (I promise).

Loosening up, and “The Migration”

”. . . to be acutely conscious is a disease, a real, honest-to-goodness disease.”
–Dostoevsky, Notes from the Underground

It’s been a while since I posted anything about theory, but recently, I’ve felt like my game has hit a plateau. So I’ve been hitting the books to try to get over the hump. I’ve been running good lately, but it’s been mostly the cards, not my play. I’ve always been extremely critical of myself in whatever I do, and poker is no different: good plays are expected (and therefore forgotten), while bad plays stick to my memory and beg for a fix.

My time at the wild no-fold-em $6-12 tables at Hollywood Park have also inspired some thought about hand selection. The juiciest of these games involve huge multi-way pots (at least 5 seeing the flop) and few pre-flop raises. Obviously, the implied odds go through the roof here, and if you flop to your hand, you can collect a lot of bets.

How strong are suited connectors?
Much has been written about the value of suited connectors, and Abdul and Izmet say that we should happily ram and jam with these hands, since they will win more than their fair share of multi-way pots. But other writers have said that the medium suited connectors are overrated.

In his excellent no-fold-em simulation, Todd Mummert says that Sklansky, among others, overrates the strength of the medium suited connectors:

“In fact, as the games become looser there is a clear trend visible in Table ___ for the showdown linearities to dominate. Even if you think you’re playing under the ideal conditions for medium suited connectors, if one player leaves or a new player joins the game your assumption may suddenly no longer be correct and inertia could easily lead you to end up playing what are just relatively weak hands.”

His point is, since these hands are so dependent on the number of players in the pot, it is easy to misplay them. However, if you have a good handle (well, as good as one can get) on a loose game without too much raising, then it is clear these hands are extremely strong.

Lets looks at some odds: the medium suited connectors have excellent odds to flop to a strong draw or better. Medium suited connectors are 5:1 to flop either a draw with 8 or more outs or a made hand. 5:1! I found that a little bit surprising, since the odds of flopping a set is 10:1. This illustrates the power of the suited connector, and we see why it is so popular in No-Limit. With a few passive players in the pot, we can be fairly confident we’ll get enough callers if we flop to a draw or a made hand.

However, it’s not that simple. Suppose we hold 87c and the flop is 2c Jc Qd, with 5 players in the pot. Although we’ve flopped the flush draw, we have a lot to worry about. Expert players are good at accounting for the “negation of outs,” or outs that will make our hand but make someone else a better hand. There is a good chance we are drawing dead on a flop like this: someone may be holding Axc, and we are drawing dead. Someone may hold QQ, JJ, or QJ, and that eliminates a bunch of our outs, and guarantees that it will be expensive to make it to the showdown.

So, the theory tells us that while these hands have great implied odds, they are extremely dangerous. They require excellent post-flop play, and if you aren’t able to read your opponents well, you will end up discovering that you just threw away 7 or 8 big bets to someone holding a bigger flush than yours.

But what does the data say? Although the sample size is small, PokerTracker gives me some empirical evidence:

T9s  34  -.33  59%
98s  119  .26  58%
87s  38  .26  53%
76s  36  -.22  25%

Well, it’s not very conclusive, but it’s interesting. Why did I get 98s 4 times more than the other medium suiteds? I’ll have to ask Russ Georgiev about that one… but the -.33 BB/Hand with T9s I attribute to poor play, such as going to the showdown with the idiot end of the straight a couple times. 76s I only played voluntarily for 9 hands, so the sample size is way to small.

So my conclusion: suited connectors are big money hands, but make sure you aren’t drawing dead. Thanks, Captain Obvious. What I really mean is, play suited connectors strong, but realize that a lot of your outs might make someone else’s hand a winner.

Poker Blog Patrol
My favorite entry of today has to be Royal’s attempt to answer the question, “Why do I play poker?”

“I play poker to get better at poker.

As mentioned above I’m learning a lot about table selection, but it goes against every competitive bone in my body. I want to play the 9 best players in the world…”

I’m with Royal here (check out my attempt to answer this question in a previous post), but I’m still on the fence as to whether tough games should be enjoyed or not. As an ex-footballer, I always wanted to play my best against the best. But what do you do when you crush Johnny Chan in a single session? Celebrate that you got good cards and made good plays? The great players view poker as one long session. You win by having more knowledge than your opponents, so why play against the best? Just ask Ignatius.

Speaking of the guinness fiend, Iggy hit the big time, and represented all us poker bloggers in his new PokerSavvy article. Check it out! Igs writes in his own blog that he’s going back to the grind after a long run on the multi-tables. I’m sure you’re tired of hearing me pimp his blog, but how can you not when you get gems like this:

“But I’m glad I shifted gears for a bit. Stasis in poker = death. You constantly need to be evaluating your game, your mentality, your emotional quotient. The difference between the long-term winners and losers is character. Discipline.”

I can barely keep up with Pauly, who posted his Foxwoods trip report. It took him 4.5 hours to get in a 2-4 game! I get mad if the wait is longer than 10 minutes in LA. Pauly knows a sucker when he sees one:

“Although I dropped $50 at Foxwoods, I made all my money back when I took some of Haley’s friends for $200 betting on various Golden Globe categories (Bill Murray’s win was clutch!)”

Pauly emailed me to let me know he may be in LA sometime in the future… I hope I don’t have to watch his back when he starts a rumble in the $2-4 game after dropping the Hammer. I really miss the East Coast (but not Foxwoods), even if it’s freezing over there… Yesterday I saw in the log files that 55% of my readers are coming in from the East Coast… confirming my suspicions about the literacy rate in LA.

I wish there was some sort of BlogCenter highlight reel for BG’s posts… he put up SIX today, and I’ll be catching up at work tomorrow…

In the low limit world, Sean sounds like he’s climbing the learning curve after a trip to Borgata… and my man Paul is battling a “frozen wave of cards” to go with the cold weather.

Lord G takes us along on his Vegas trip, and concludes with a brilliant victory in the Orleans tourne
y. Congrats LG, you da man! The guy goes to Vegas for the first time and wins a tourney. Keep an eye on his blog…

Felicia got great news from the docs and was nice enough to give up some tourney play, and play cash games with her lucky husband. I’m sure the regular tourney crowd was happy.

Actual Poker Content
For a little variety, I sat in the $50 max buy in NL game on party last night. My NL game is much weaker than my limit game, but from my limited experience on the $50 tables, if you sit and wait for the nuts and pick off the bluffs at the right time, you can make a lot of money. I found a very weak-tight table and started throwing my chips around. I’m sure you’re wondering when this post will end, so I’ll keep it short:

Hand 1: On the BB I have T3o and see the flop for free. 3 limpers. Everybody checks all the way to the turn, and the board is 9 Q 5 5, with 2 hearts. The river comes Td, and it’s checked through, but the guy in last position bets $10. I feel like this has to be a bluff, and I know that I’m outkicked if he has the ten, but my gut says its a bluff. I call, and he shows KJ for the straight. I told you I was a bad NL player.

Hand 2: The very next hand, I get AKo in the SB. Amazingly, everyone folds to me, and I overbet ($5), trying to convice the BB that I’m stealing. He raises it up to $10, and I have to decide if he’s got a pair or overcards. I call, waiting to see what happens on the flop. Flop is 2c 4d 2s, and I check. He bets 15, and this screams bluff to me. He could have a pocket pair, but this guy has been bluffing, so I put him to the test, pushing all in for $37 more. He calls, and I get ready to rebuy for $50. The turn is Jh, and river 9s, and I am sure I lost, but he turns over… KQo! Nice call, fishie. HDouble doubles up, and I can’t help but think my horrible play on the previous hand won me this pot.

Hand 3: I get AQ on the button, and raise it up to 4 after 2 players limp in. the BB calls, and the limpers also call. Flop is 9d 2c Ac, and I don’t want to mess with a flush draw, so I bet the pot ($15) and I get one caller. I fear AK here, or a set, but I’m here to win money, so I bet $20 when the turn shows Js. He calls again, and the river is 8s. He checks, and I check, raking in the $45 pot when he shows T9c. Dodged a bullet there.

I mostly folded the rest of the time, but the above three hands put me up $70 for 25 hands. That’s why they say it’s the golden age of poker. Even if your play is a bit fishy, you can still escape with a nice little win.

Party sinks to new low
I received the following email from Party yesterday (this is not a joke):

Dear Henry (hdouble),, the World’s Largest Poker Room, brings you the opportunity to be at the venue of the most happening event of this year – The Lingerie Bowl.

The sponsored “Lingerie Bowl” is the biggest and the most talked about Super-Bowl party. The event will feature two teams of supermodels who will play a seven-on-seven tackle football game.

The Lingerie Bowl will take place on Sunday, February 1, 2004 at the Los Angeles Coliseum.

For more details check out

To be present in this extravaganza, immediately mail us back at

We have limited tickets to the show and they will be offered to our esteemed clients on a first come first served basis.

Regards, Team

The migration begins
In Geek news, I’ve begun migrating my blog to my server at home. This should please Chris and TFG (who has been hounding me to move to a nicer home– are ya happy Scott???), and the next step is to install movable type. But for now, please click on the link below… I’m not sure if my PC can handle the massive amount of traffic this site generates (all 10 visitors), so I’ll have to see how it holds up over the next few days.
The Cards Speak, now with images! (warning: probability that server is down = 80%)

Good luck and keep the blogs rollin…

Killing skill and choking on THE HAMMER

A post-first-anniversary champagne filled blog, we’re going on a run through the WSOP, one of my greatest Party sessions ever (including a hammer victory!), and who knows what else… read on…

WSOP Highlights
Thanks to Chris H., who was kind enough to send a copy of the WSOP DVDs, I was finally able to see the WSOP in it’s entirety. Great coverage and terrible beats, and the intensity seems to be a lot greater than the WPT tourneys. It’s a lot more interesting to see the progression of the tourney, rather than just the last 6 players at the final table. Even Mrs. Double was hooked, and we ended up going through the first 4 days in a single sitting, for a whopping two hours of poker on TV. However, when we popped in the disc for the final table, we found that it was a repeat of day 3! My wife pulled a Hellmuth and nearly flipped over a coffee table, and I think I heard her scream something about KJ offsuit.

Anyway, here are the most memorable moments from the first 4 days:

5. This Tomer Benvinisti guy is about 350 lbs, and his job title is “expedition leader”. Where’s the expedition go, to the fridge???

4. All interviews with Dutch Boyd. This guy got his law degree before he was 20? He sounds like Rocky. And I love that he thinks he can intimidate guys like TJ Cloutier by rolling chips across the table.

3. Grizzle vs. Hellmuth. Sam’s mocking of Hellmuth, especially in song, had me dying. The close-ups on Hellmuth as the entire room laughed at him were priceless, especially after Sam called him a “goofball who catches cards”.

2. The agony of the Ivey. Oh man, poor Phil. The two bad beats he took were painful. Moneymaker’s miracle river card was like a knife in the back, and I was only watching the DVD. I’m too lazy to plug it in to the “bad beat o meter” on PokerSavvy, but that’s got to be one of the worst ever… remember, the prize money here was 2.5 mill. I strongly believe that if Money didn’t catch one of his 7 outs (I think that’s right) against Phil, then Phil woulda have been the champ. He deserved it gosh darnit, and after watching his WSOP performance (he came back from another horrible beat put on him by Freddy Deeb earlier), he’s up there with Lederer in the “poker idol” category. And he’s the same age as me.

1. Of course, the number one highlight from the WSOP is the walk through the life of Hellmuth. I can’t even begin to write about the unintentional comedy provided by Mr. Hellmuth, although I will mention that seeing him shirtless and brushing his teeth nearly put me over the edge.

Seeing all the bad beats made me ponder the benefits of tournament play. Imagine being Phil Ivey– making no mistakes, playing perfectly, and catching great cards to boot. Then you lose all of your chips on two suckouts, where your opponent has a 1 in 10 chance at both of them. If I played a perfect football game, and the ref called me for offensive interference on the greatest catch of my life, I think I’d be on tilt for a couple months. I don’t know if I can stomach the notion of losing all of my chips when I am a 90% favorite. But that’s tournament poker. At least in ring games, you can always reach back in your pocket and have more ammo in your quest to get to the long run.

Short term luck is the skill killer.

The hammer swings back
Finally, after 6 attempts, I achieved victory with THE HAMMER! Not your regular hammer, I played the Hammer from the Hammer (the cut off postion)!!! Here’s the hand history:

***** Hand History for Game 353798148 *****
Table Fuzzy Navel (Real Money) — Seat 5 is the button
hdouble posts small blind (1)
KingpinKilla posts big blind (3)
** Dealing down cards **
Dealt to hdouble [ 7c, 2d ]

The hammer in the SB!!! My table image is superb, since I’ve been dominant since I sat down. The table is tight, so I know I’ve got a shot here.

Nguyenvan folds.
skinnydawg calls (3)
Rounders24 folds.
icheckraise2 folds.
zion4lyfe folds.
shadysam calls (3)
hdouble calls (2)
KingpinKilla checks.
** Dealing Flop ** : [ 9d, 8d, Ad ]

Three diamonds, I might as well take a shot…

hdouble bets (3)
KingpinKilla folds.
skinnydawg folds.
shadysam folds.

Wait a minute… everyone folded???

** Summary **
Main Pot: $15 | Rake: $0
Board: [ 9d 8d Ad ]
mpark67 balance $150, sits out
icheckraise2 balance $156, didn’t bet (folded)
BIGBADBUG balance $146.50, didn’t bet (folded)
zion4lyfe balance $246, didn’t bet (folded)
shadysam balance $73.50, lost $3 (folded)
hdouble balance $360, bet $6, collected $15, net +$9
KingpinKilla balance $293, lost $3 (folded)

Wait a minute, where is the chat??? NO NO NO!!! I wasn’t able to uncheck the “Muck all uncalled hands” box in time! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!! The agony! The humanity!

Well, that’s what I get for reading Sklansky and chatting while DROPPING THE HAMMER. What a travesty.

Ah well. It’s not over till The Fat Guy sings, so maybe I’ll get one more shot. I’m still livid over this. What a choke. Anyway, that $15 was a nice addition to my $210 win in 75 minutes on a single $3-6 table, for a whopping 28 BB/HR. My hands were holding up, I was sucking out, and I was making bluffs at the right time. I took 46% of my hands to the showdown when I saw the flop, and won 82% of those hands. It’s nice when the cards hit you in the head.

You’ll notice that I only played one table. This is a change for me, as I’ve always felt that ABC poker on 2 tables is much more profitable than playing a single table at 100% focus. After analyzing my game, I realized that playing 2 tables just encourages quick, sloppy play. Not only are you reading 20 players when playing 2 tables, you don’t have nearly as much time to take in all the variables coming in from the 10 players at a single table. The flow of the game, the mood, and the last hand has a huge influence on the actions of the current hand. These variables get lost in the chase of trying to play 2 hands at once.

In addition, playing 2 tables encourages bad habits. While ABC poker on 2 tables may increase your short term profit, the bad habits you pick up (as a player who is still improving) will hurt your bankroll in the long run.

So after making too many mistakes at Hollywood Park yesterday, I knew I had to tighten up my game. I’m committed to the true grind, a single low-limit table, selecting the best game I can find, and playing as the pot odds dictate. The true winners in the poker world are not the Moneymakers or the Mike McD’s, but the real grinders who play the odds. Yeah you take your shot when the odds are good, but not until you’ve sharpened your game until it’s like a razor’s edge.

I know I have a lot of room to improve, and I’m going back to the basics. I’m hoping bet counting and a deeper knowledge of pot odds will take my game to the next level. I hit the books today, and was reminded of the following interesting stats:

–Suited connectors are 5:1 to flop a straight OR flush draw or better
–2 suited cards are 8:1 to flop a 4 flush or better (note: this is considerably better than flopping a set, which is 11:1)
–2 sequenced cards are 10:1 to flop a straight draw or better

And the most interesting:
–1 gap suited connectors are 6:1 to flop a straight OR flush draw or better

I also reviewed A
bdul’s great lecture on the art of sucking out. In the wild, no fold-em 6 or 7 way pots, it’s surprising to see some of the draws that you can still call with a positive EV. For example, on a ragged flop with bottom pair, you are getting proper odds to draw to trips or two pair with 6 bets in the pot. Warning: this only works if you are sure your trips or two pair will be the best hand if you hit.

After 25 years in academia, you’d think I’d be able to quickly learn the stuff I read, but I’m finding that going back to Sklansky and Cloutier with more experience under my belt is makes grasping the concepts a lot easier. My long term goal is to get to that $15-30 B&M by building my bankroll, discipline, and knowledge on the lower limit games. By the time I get there, all of the calculation you need to do at the table will be branded into my brain. I have to say thanks to Ignatius, who inspired me to think more critically about my goals and my game. I am looking forward to sharing a few six packs with Iggy after he cashes at this year’s WSOP. Yes, I am serious.

Poker Blog Patrol
Yeah, I’m a little slow, but I finally got to Lord Geznikor‘s blog. Check out his gripping account of his 2nd place finish in a huge party multi. I’m not jealous or anything.

I also made it to The Poker Coder’s site… PC, I feel your pain:
“I’m at Party playing dumb *ss poker getting spanked by a bunch of guppies. Actually, I had a 70 pound tuna slap me in the face. I was then kicked in the groin by a group of gold fish. And to top it off, I stayed up way too late on the eve of a very important day. My bankroll took a 50% hit.”

Speaking of Bankroll
You gotta love Daniel Negreanu… he does not pull punches, even in his current article for CardPlayer magazine:
“It just wasn