Rambling and Gambling

“Better pass boldly into that other world, in the full glory of some passion, than fade and wither dismally with age.”
–James Joyce
I don’t have too much time before my favorite band hits the stage, but I thought I’d bang out a rambling post before I head out. I haven’t had much reason to write lately… I haven’t been spending too much time at the tables (work and a side project are keeping me busy), but hope to return in full force shortly. I’m actually going to be in San Francisco for a conference next week, so if anyone has any advice about good games at Lucky Chances, let me know.

  • I’ve been indecisively bouncing back and forth across games lately, and I can’t seem to find the “sweet spot” that I’m looking for. The robotic play of $3-6 is just too much of a grind after a long day of work, and like fellow gamblers, I find myself pining for games where more skillful plays are possible. I 4-tabled the $5-10 full ring games with dull results– these games are extremely tight, and even more boring. Some advice to fellow grinders: the $5-10 full rings games are the worst games on PartyPoker by far. They are populated mostly by extremely tight players (although it depends on the hour of the day), and the pots you win will be relatively small. Just click on the $5-10 window and check out the average pot size– usually around $60 (again depending on the time of day… they seem to be better around 8 pm eastern time). 6 big bets. In comparison, most of the $15-30s and $3-6s are coming it at a much juicier 7, 8, or 9 big bets, and exhibit far worse play. So avoid the $5-10 games.
    Which leaves me stuck in the middle… I am still adjusting to the bigger games, and definitely don’t have the bank to multi-table $15-30. The dollar swings in the single table $15-30 sometimes send me reeling, although in terms of big bets they aren’t too bad. The play is fast and furious, and I still have a lot to learn. A friend has been crushing these games lately, and rightly mocks me for not making the step up already. The roll is slowly building, however, and hopefully soon the bankroll fortress will be well enough equipped ot handle mighty variance. All in good time.
  • I read Phil Gordon’s “The Real Deal,” which was cowritten by Jonathan Grotenstein, who is a friend of both The Film Geek and Bill, and also is apparently a regular at Hollywood Park. The book was surprisingly good (the subtitle “Insider Tips from the co-host of Celebrity Poker Showdown” lowered my expectations). I admit that I wouldn’t have read it if I hadn’t gotten for free (from the author himself!), but I definitely recommend it if you’re looking for a light poker read. The book starts out by saying that it is NOT a strategy book– there are plenty of those out there. This book is about the “poker lifestyle.” Phil’s humor is present throughout the book, and there are some hilarious quotes that had me chuckling. A couple gems as illustration, from a section on “inducing tilt”:

    If you’re playing poker ‘correctly’– that is, calling or betting only when you have the right odds– you’re going to suffer more bad beats than you inflict. The theory of implied tilt odds (or ITO), however, suggests that the correct way is not always the best way. ITO relies on the notion that calling a bet when you have no mathematical business doing so, then winning the hand, will leave your stunned opponent muttering obscenities and chasing his money for the rest of the night.

    Whether it’s phrases like “Cha Ching!” and “Ai-yah!” or more physical expressions like karate chopping the table and standing up on a char, many of the Asian greats have an uncanny ability to put their opponents on tilt. Study them carefully.

    Phil Gordon rules.
  • Thanks to Halverson 3K, I’ve been slowly catching up on my poker tv. I thought Fox Sports Net’s coverage of the tourney at the Plaza was superb– a shorthanded structure for most of the way, along with the commentary of Howard L and Michael Konik made for excellent poker television. I was thoroughly impressed by both Daniel Negreanu and Ted Forrest– these guys are just on another level. Some of the reads they were making show me just how inexperienced I am at tournament poker, and I would be eaten for lunch at a table with these two. I highly recommend watching this tourney as a lesson in how to play tournament poker. I’ll take Lederer, Negreanu, and Forrest over Shana Hiatt any day. (Bonus points with the wife!)
  • Head over to the poker pub and thank Iggy for a year’s worth of excellent posts. The guy has saved me hours of digging through RGP by serving up gems on the regular for the last 12 months, not to mention great stories and good times. Hoist a Guinness for the man, and then get ready for the next Blogger/Reader tournament, which the Blogfather just announced:
    The next poker blogger and their readers tournament:
    October 21st, Thursday, at 9pm EST.
    Poker Stars

    Hot Damn! We’ve finally made it– Stars has the best interface of any site, and I’m really looking forward to this one. Maybe for once I’ll get some cards and make it to the final second table.
  • PokerTracker now has the capability of reading hand histories directly off your hard drive (Party/Empire has gotten rid of the emails, and is delivering them straight to disk). Big deal. But wait… the folks at Party have finally thrown the diligent Hand History Harvesters a bone (although most likely it was bad program design). As Ftrain (link long overdue, sorry FT!) wisely points out in this post (he beat me to it):
    While working on the patch, the PokerTracker folks discovered that Party’s new client also saves hand histories for hands a player merely observes — that is, hands for which the player is not even seated at the table.
    This means that you can collect hand histories 4 tables at a time, collecting information on 40 players every minute of the day. I’ve gotten used to having 4 tables open all the time, and my PokerTracker database is growing rapidly. More information = more profit. PokerTracker can be a bit overwhelming, but there is a rumor going around that a guide to all the features is forthcoming. Anyone not using PokerTracker is throwing away positive EV.
  • Almost time for the show. I hate politics, and the debates have got me in need of a little humor. Check out The Gourds in action by downloading a couple of videos here. Check out their bluegrass cover of Snoop Dogg’s “Gin and Juice.” And then go sign up for EmpirePoker here and use bonus code HDOUBLE to get a 20% bonus up to $100. It’ll cure all your economic woes (no guarantees though), and I’ll even be your coach if you need one.
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