Party Poker ate my Tax Refund

McGrath: Are you crazy? We could all end up in the clinker for this. You can’t put a bounty on a man’s head.
Hangs up, Phone rings again
Dave ‘Killer’ Carlson: Coach, I want that hundred dollars.
Reggie Dunlop: Ya gotta earn it, Killer.
Dave ‘Killer’ Carlson: My attitude’s right.

I never thought I’d have this much fun doing my taxes. And I never thought marriage could be a money-making endeavor, but today I discovered that filing jointly gave me a return 12 times greater than if my wife and I had filed separately. So I had to kick myself after the TurboTax numbers spit out a finger-licking good slab of dough that I’ll be receiving soon. It took me 20 minutes of online research to make sure I wasn’t doing something wrong, but it turns out the IRS rewards marriage heavily.
So what to do with the unexpected windfall? Be like BG and Grubby and go buy myself a shiny new laptop? Or dump half of it in the poker bankroll and climb up a rung on the poker ladder? Play a few WSOP satellites and take a Moneymakerish shot?
Nah, I’ll probably just keep grinding away at the Party $3-6 games. My streak continued last night, catching a ridiculous run of cards on one of my 3 tables to put me up 17 BB after 30 minutes. It’s sessions like these after a bad day at work when that creeping notion of “going pro” crawls up to the back of my mind. I don’t have any real desire to play for a living, but I do think that one could make a steady, livable wage from these games. ABC poker on 3 tables allows you to play over 150 hands an hour, with very little variance if the tables are passive. If you have an edge at a table, your profit is determined by the amount of hands you can play, getting you closer to the mythical “long run” in which the skilled player will always win.
The ability to grind out 150 hands per hour online has ruined me for B&M play. I was about to hop in the car and head to the B&M, when I realized that the negatives were just too great:
1. The B&M drops $5 preflop EVERY HAND, compared to a maximum rake of $3 on Party.
2. The wait for a table ranges from 30 minutes to an hour
3. The drive can take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour
So in a 5 hour period at a B&M, best case scenario I play around 130 hands. Online, I can play 750 hands with a lower rake and the ability to choose from a wide variety of fishy tables. These quick computations told me I should NEVER hit the B&M if my goal is to make money. A sad conclusion, since 3 table online poker just doesn’t feel “real” to me. I guess if I can ever build the bank to play $15-30 I’ll avoid the cheaters and stick to the B&M. But until then, it’s PARTY TIME!
That said, I logged on this afternoon to test the Party waters. And I was appalled to find the tightest games I can remember at the $3-6 level. I sat at table after table, trying to find the usual table with 4 or 5 seeing the flop. But alas, the tables I found I ended up stealing the blinds from early position several times with a preflop raise. Where am I? Where are the fish?
I guess all the sharks come on early on Saturdays to get ready for the evening feast. Note to self: avoid Saturday afternoons on Party.
Carson’s Wisdom
After reading hundreds of exremely negative and annoying (although occasionally hilarious) RGP posts by Gary Carson, I never could bring myself to buy his book, despite the excellent reviews I’d heard. But I could no longer ignore the book when an online expert said it was the best hold ’em book out there. Of course, he’s right– the book contains what is probably the best all-around Hold ‘Em advice anywhere. Here’s some wisdom that I came across today:
“Game conditions dictate a theoretical perspective to take on the game.
A tight game is a struggle for the antes.
An aggressive game is a game of strategy and deception.
A passive game is a game of money flows from the bad players to the good players.
A loose game is a game of money and odds.”

Simple but powerful points. When you start connecting these theoretical perspectives with the appropriate starting standards and betting tactics, you’ve come a long way as a player.
The last perspective is the most relevant for the $3-6 games on Party: “A loose game is a game of money and odds.” What this really means that pot odds are the most important variable in loose games. Izmet echoes
Carson’s points, stressing the idea that in loose games, you win the big pots by ramming and jamming your draws.
My quick session last night confirmed this: of the 5 pots I won, 3 of them were open ended straights which I rammed and jammed to build the pot on the flop. The fish couldn’t lay down their hands, and when I hit my draws, they paid me off. I strongly believe that in loose-passive games, building the pot with your 8 out draws will win you the big pots that make for a big winning session (when you hit) or a small losing session (when you miss). Ram and jam on the flop, check-call on the turn (many times your raise on the flop will allow you to see the river for free). Warning: don’t make the mistake of betting out on the flop, allowing a raise from the player who acts after you. This will force the players behind you to call 2 bets cold and they usually will not do this. Ram and Jam only when nearly all of the fish have already committed to 1 or 2 bets, and you can be sure that they’ll pay one more extra bet to see the turn.
Besides, it’s more fun scooping that big pot when you hit one of your 8 outs and the underdog wins.
Poker Blog Patrol
Lots of great new poker blogs out there, and it’s time I finally caught up. Thanks to the linkmaster for directing traffic…
Fish With A Pole rambles through the low limits with flair, offering a good description of what it feels like to bounce back from a drought:
“But once I started catching some cards and raking a few chips in my direction that dark cloud over the poker table seemed to lift and I felt some confidence again.”
PokerFish 2.0: in addition to having a cool name (what happened to version 1.0?), PokerFish offers some advice to low-limit players:
“Don’t laugh at my low limit playing. I believe in consistent and steady growth, moving from one limit to the other after all the lessons of that limit are learned. I believe a big mistake for new players is jumping up levels too soon.”
Ironically, one of the first pieces of poker advice I ever heard was “Move up the limits as fast as you can.” I tend to agree with this, but only after you’ve established yourself as a winning player, which can take a while.
Tp’s Tidbits recounts a 3rd place finish in his home game, complete with the rookie who somehow amasses a ton of chips:
“The big surprise was that Mr. Dead Money and his friend – who was wearing sunglasses in a hilarious attempt to improve his game – had made it to the final table. And even more surprising, Mr. Dead Money was close to the chip lead.”
You gotta love it when the calling stations catch a few hands early in the tourney and end up having 5 times more chips than you going into the later round. It just goes to show how much short term luck is involved in tournaments.
Chicago Phil offers insight into the world of a big time SNG player. His “Don’t Tap on the F-ing Glass” post recounts his heroic efforts to jump in and save the fish being berated by some idiot poker “expert”. Follow CP’s example and fight the idiots who insist on tapping on the glass.
Dead Money = Al Can’t Hang, who’s Friday workday mirrors my typical Friday routine:
“Nothing but reading blogs and websites. Try and fake my way to a 2pm conference call.”
He’s also a fellow Page 2 reader, so I expect good things from Big Al. Page 2 was a good site a few months ago, with regular posts from Hunter Thompson, Bill Simmons, Gregg Easterbrook, and Ralph Wiley. Now they just have articles about Anna Kournikova. Buncha sellouts.
Bullets in the Hole: the two man team of Rod and Don take on the lowest limits at Party, and find a 40 Big Bet pot. No typo, thats four-zero.
Poker Grinder offers an excellent argument for playing at one of the smaller sites, rather than Party/Empire. I don’t agree, but the idea that the greater information gathering capabilities on a smaller site is the best argument for not playing at Party.
Good luck to the Vets
Veteran poker blogger and american idol Grubby is in Vegas this weekend. Odds are pretty good he comes back with some great stories. And better luck to Ms. Felicia, who can’t seem to catch a hand down there at the Belle.
Old time poker. Doyle Brunson. Eddie Shore?

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