The Hours

Apologies in advance for the quality of this blog– I’ll do my best, but I am coming off an 8 hour day of poker. 6.5 hours at Hollywood Park and 1.5 on Party $3-6. Not to mention coming off a hangover after giving 2 pints of blood yesterday and drinking a lot more than 2 pints of beer. Not good times.

But there were good times earlier today, as I finally conquered the fish at Hollywood Park: $320 to the good in six and a half hours, for a nice win rate of 4 BB per hour. However, the results were much better than my play. I played too loose, and made 5 or 6 seriously bad plays, and probably lost around $100 with those mistakes. I could make excuses like “I’m tired and hung over”, but the truth is I just wasn’t at the appropriate concentration level to maximize my profit.

Part of the problem was that the table began as a tricky, aggressive table full of solid players. I dropped nearly $200 in the first three hours, due to a combination of bad beats and bad play. But as the day wore on, a bunch of loose aggressive players sat down (the usual weekend crowd), and I didn’t tighten up my hand selection as much as I should have. There were 4 players at the table who would play nearly any two cards, so tight play was right. My problem is that in games like these, I loosen up a bit, because I know my ATo is probably the best hand preflop, since these guys would play any suited and any ace rag. What usually happens is something like this: I flop top pair T, play it hard, and the turn or river will come a J, Q, or K. Instead of slowing down, I’ll either bet out or end up calling, and the loose player will show something like J8s or K7s. If I just tighten up my starting hand selection I won’t have to deal with tough decisions like that.

Luckily for me, I benefited from a couple players who overplayed their hand badly. I got pocket queens on the button, raised it up (punish the limpers!), and got 3 callers. Flop was Q J 9, beautiful except for the possible straight. I bet out after being checked to, and got 2 callers. The turn was a 9, and it was time to get nutty. I bet out, was reraised, and called by the 2nd limper. Back on me, I figured that the raiser had hit his 9, and the 2nd limper had the straight. Beautiful. I reraised, trying to trap the guy with the straight between me and the raiser. To my amazement, he capped it… could he have pocket 9s? and the limper reluctantly folded. I happily called, and then the raiser smacked his head in some revelation (what did he think I had?), and checked the river. I bet, and he called, turning over 98o, and I showed the queens to rake in a $220 pot. The one eyed man is king in the land of the blind…

So was 6.5 hours enough? No! Saturday night on Party, I had to get in the action. And after playing horribly for 45 minutes (dropping $100), I got some cards and picked up my game, and ended $5 to the good. My head hurts from all the pot odds calculations.

So, my game needs more work than I thought. I’m going to work on some fundamental skills, such as bet counting, and the memorization of the odds for each draw. Not tough stuff, but I am spending too much mental effort doing odds calculations at the table, rather than just calling them up from memory. Flush and straight draws are easy, but overcard draws, or the odds of pairing your kicker, etc. is stuff I need to have memorized.

So which parts of my game need work?
1. Play tight to start, then loosen up if you have a good read on the table (e.g. don’t try to sneak in with A7s for one bet when you are in 2nd position).
2. Memorize the odds for all draws, beyond flushes and straights.
3. Make bet counting second nature (in other words, know the pot odds at all times).

Enough of this laziness at the table, I need to put my brain to work.

Poker Blog Patrol
Congrats to Grubby, whose play came to life last night in a sold out DC venue. Poker is great, but I have the utmost respect for the artist who creates something beautiful. I share the Grubster’s opinion on ambiguity:

“I tend to write ambiguity into my plays. Theater is more accepting of unanswered questions than film, and I try to take every advantage in this somewhat dying medium.”

The audience’s interpretation of the art defines the greatness of the art, and a work of art that causes the audience member to tell their own story is the goal of the writer. Ambiguity forces the attentive audience to tell their own story, and as a result, creates a story that touches the audience more than a force-fed moral or lesson.

Back to poker. The Penguin left this comment:

“Anyway, having conquered the hammer myself (see blog for details), I think everyone should start the Hdouble challenge – nothing in it but pride.

The person who has the best results in a month with 88 (ring games only, poker trackered or records on paper) becomes king of the middle pair.”

By a twist of fate, at the exact moment I read this, I was dealt 88 and actually won with it (a rarity for me). Before that hand, it was my biggest loser, at a rate of .5 BB per hand. So much for my lucky number. But maybe the Penguin has turned the tide… He seems to be lucky (and good) today, finishing second in a $10 multi, coming back from 9th chip position on the final table. Check out his painful excruciating bad beat on the final hand of the tourney. Ye gads. He also offers a superb breakdown of the meaning of bets in NL tourney hold ’em. Quality writing from PP.

Iggy cracked me up as usual, debating whether to go all-in on an ebay “hot foil stamping machine” contraption, so he could customize his chips for his next tourney:

“I can just picture a drunken Iggy trying to play with that thing. Hilarity would ensue. I’d either burn my house down or lose an appendage.”

I can definitely picture Iggy surrounded by a firestorm of melting clay chips, cackling as he pushes all-in with the hammer like some sort of poker Nero.

Pauly is back at Foxwoods, and if anyone missed his screenplay for the Phil Hellmuth show pilot, check out the entry for 1/21. My favorite lines:

“CUT TO: One of the girl’s fists attacking Phil’s head.

Sorority Poker Player 1: This will teach you to only play premium hands!!”

CJ at Up for Poker dropped the hammer, joining the Penguin and TFG as Hammer winners who don’t qualify due to the limit. The resulting chat cracked me up:

cusephenom: It’s the HAMMER!
BVGrimley: I wanna know how many notes that generated?
cusephenom: Yep… guess I’m on a few buddy lists now.

Mene Gene gives a detailed lecture on the different species of fish swimming in the Party Ocean:

“The fish I don’t like playing against is the Pseudo-Lederer, the player who, when the action comes around, sits there and thinks, and thinks, and thinks…”

This had me laughing, and Howie L can play at all speeds. Anyone catch the speed-chess-like battle between him and Chip Jett, going heads-up for the WPT Limit hold ’em title? Talk about playing fast.

Whew. Bedtime. Hope everybody’s Saturday night was both fun and profitable. My first wedding anniversary is coming up tomorrow, but unfortunately Mrs. Double has to work. And no, we are not eating 1 year old cake. Where do they get this stuff?

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