He’s heating up

I don’t know if anyone else played NBA jams a couple years back, but when you made two shots in a row, the announcer would say “he’s heating up!”. When you hit the third shot, he would say “he’s on fire!” and your players shooting percentage would go up to about 90%. Well I had my second big session in 2 days, and I feel like I’m heating up– I’ve been on my a game (except for last night when I was tired), and it feels good to make the proper reads and steal a pot here and there.

I did play poorly last night however. One leak in my game is when I’m playing a lower limit game, and I’m tired and up a bit, I tend to make poor calls (e.g. with second pair and I feel there is a reasonable chance I am beat) or dumb semi-bluffs. While not terrible plays, they are clearly negative EV, but I let my tiredness and the boredom weaken my discipline.

Anyway, I had one of my best $3-6 sessions ever, pulling in $211 on one table in a little under an hour. I lost $34 on the second table, but I’m not complaining… I was getting some cards, but I was also making pretty good reads with top and second pair. Of course, when the rockets hold up on a loose table, and you pull in a $116 pot, that doesn’t hurt either.

I tried to follow my own advice and think more carefully about my river bets, and ended up collecting a couple of extra bets with my top pairs.

Shout outs: I got an email from Mean Gene, who said he has an insane success rate for the check-raise bluff on the turn. I was never a big fan of this move, but I may have to add it to the arsenal… here’s when it seems to work for me: heads up against a blind stealer when I’m in the BB, if there are no face cards on the board, you can check and call until the turn. If you check raise the turn, often the raiser will muck his Ace-high and give you credit for having a hand. The reason I like this play is because I often play Ax aggressively heads-up against the blinds, and most low-limit players aren’t tricky enough to pull a bluff check raise, so you have to give them credit for a hand. Obviously this will not work against calling stations, who will call you down with their ace high.

Iggy also communicated that he’s all bonus-whored out, and not quite sure what to do with himself. I think he should go for the big one and try to win one of the multi-tables, and then blow it all playing WSOP satellites to get in the 1000 player field this year.

The ITC is still building his bankroll, valiantly battling off the minnows in the .50/1 game. I think he’s 0 for his last 8 with rockets, which just goes to show you how tough those games are to beat.

Also, the joy that people get out of Hellmuth-bashing or just talking about Hellmuth is a little surprising to me. To me he’s just another one of those insecure guys you knew in high school, good at one thing, and trying to use that one talent to compensate for their low self-esteem. I mean, the guy is a great player and somewhat interesting, but I’ll take Gus Hansen, or Kirill Gerasimov anyday. These guys are more interesting than Hellmuth, and maybe almost as good. Another player who I was either impressed with or appalled by was Daniel Rentzer– if this guy’s story is true, he belongs up there with Moneymaker in the pantheon of online poker heroes– he claims to have built his $50 poker stars deposit into 11K, which he parlayed into a 250K win in the WPT tourney. Check out this hilarious and interesting thread. I don’t know if I believe him, but it’s possible and gives all us $3-6 players hope.

I’m rambling again, but I’ll share my only Hellmuth story. This guy I know met Phil Gordon, and said his favorite part of the WPT was when Gordon pulled out the “hand ranking chart” in Aruba when he had a boat (I think) to knock out Hellmuth. Gordon told him that move actually cost him a considerable amount of money: “My buddy called him up 2 months after that to invite him to play golf with us… Hellmuth is a terrible golfer and was always good for a few grand every outing. Anyway, Hellmuth answers ‘What? Are you kidding? After that hand ranking crap in Aruba??? No way!'”

I’m rambling… but here are my playoff picks, as promised:

Wild card weekend
–Titans at Ravens
This may be the best game of the playoffs. Steve McNair against Ray Lewis. The toughest offensive player against the toughest defensive player. Lewis has owned Eddie George and the Titans for the last couple of years, and he will own them on Saturday. But McNair’s poise and desire may outshine Lewis, as he always finds a way to get it done. The team with less turnovers will win this game, and special teams will be extremely important, since the scoring will be low. Wright will throw an interception that leads to a Titan TD, and the Titans win a defensive battle.

–Cowboys at Panthers
A game between two of the worst playoff teams. Parcells and Fox have both squeezed the most out of their teams, but the talent is lacking on both squads. I don’t know who to pick here, but I think Parcells leads the way in another defensive battle. My man Roy Williams is a playmaker and I gotta go with Dallas, even though Quincy is one of the worst QBs in the League.

–Seahawks at Packers
Favre. Lambeau. Seattle on the road. Bye bye Hasselbeck.

–Broncos at Colts
Will Peyton earn his wings? With an injured Portis, the Broncos may keep it close, but the Colts have a big edge here. Plummer will make at least one mistake, and Peyton won’t. If I was a betting man, I’d take the Colts and give away the 3 points.

Divisional Playoff
–Packers at Rams
Another great game. It will be Favre against Martz masterful offensive scheme, and a healthy Marshall Faulk. Don’t underestimate the value of a bye week at this time in the season, and don’t underestimate St. Louis at home. I’m taking St. Louis here, but if Favre plays his “A” game, Green Bay could roll. St. Louis wins in a shootout.

–Titans at Patriots
Ahh the Pats. Belichek is my man, and I’m rooting for New England, but I really think Brady’s knee is a lot worse than they are letting on. They’ll brace him up, but the tough Tennessee D-line will pressure him all game. The Pats are outclassed by half the teams in the league talentwise, and there are only so many rabbits Belichek can pull out of his hat. However, he does have an extra week to prepare… I’ll be rooting for the Pats, but I think the Titans will take this one.

–Colts at Chiefs
Interesting game. We have Peyton and the Colts, who choke every year in the playoffs, and the Chiefs, who can’t stop the run. I think Edge is still only about 90% healed, so this game will be close. On paper, the Colts are much better, but I have a “feeling” (a poker player’s famous last words) that KC will take this one. Maybe their stellar special teams will come through.

–Cowboys at Eagles
A great run for Dallas, but it stops here. Philly outclasses Dallas in a blowout.

Conference Championships
–Titans at Chiefs
Tough game to pick. These teams match up pretty well, and I think it will be a low scoring battle. In an even game, look to the team who makes fewer mistakes… the Chiefs specials are the best, but McNair has made fewer mistakes than any other QB this year (at least it seems this way). I’ll go with Tennessee in a close one– McNair finally gets them there, with the help of the tough Titan defense.

–St.Louis at Philadelphia
Another go
od matchup. But I think the Rams are just a little too talented for Philly. McNabb doesn’t have the receivers, and with Westbrook out, they lose a little speed. St. Louis will break a couple big plays, and Philly’s offense will have to play catch up. Don’t be surprised to see the old Kurt Warner making an appearance in the playoffs. He should be healthy now, and people don’t realize how good this guy was… his numbers are off the charts for his short career, and I can’t believe he’s lost all of that.

Super Bowl
pregame: WPT on NBC???
–St. Louis vs. Tennessee
Bulger/Warner vs. McNair. The Freak vs. Leonard Little. This should be a great one. The Rams are so much better on turf, and they will be playing on the grass in Houston’s new stadium. This hurts them… but everything depends on McNair’s health. If he can survive until the super bowl, I think the Titans take it in a close one. But don’t bet on it.

Whew. I’m going to bed. If you made it this far, have yourself a beverage… happy new year, and let’s all double our bankroll in 2004, and welcome in the golden age of poker.

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