The Water’s Fine

“Sweet are the uses of adversity,
Which like the toad, ugly and venomous,
Wears yet a precious jewel in his head;
And this our life, exempt from public haunt,
Finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks,
Sermons in stones, and good in every thing.”

–Billy Shakespeare
Apologies for the dearth of posts, but between work and configuring the laptop yours truly has been out of action for a couple of days. There’s nothing like a short and sweet winning session to remind you how fun it is to swim with the fish at good old PartyPoker. The laptop arrived yesterday, and of course I spent all night setting everything up, including moving all of my PokerTracker data to the new machine. Don’t go fishing without it. Pat at PokerTracker is not only a great programmer, delivering a quality product to us growing sharks, but he provides excellent customer support, even when idiot computer programmers accidently overwrite their database, wiping out their registration information. If you haven’t bought PokerTracker yet, you’re losing money– you can make the cost back in a couple short sessions.
After a terrible weekend, the few hours I’ve put in this week have been excellent. Aside from better cards, the main difference in the upswing has been my drop back to 3 tables from my attempt to 4-table it. On the advice of a wise veteran, I realized that my ability to read players takes a big hit by adding that fourth table. Even if I could make 2 BBs/100 on that table, I feel like the marginal difference is far too great, since my reading skills take a huge hit with the extra table. I was glad to see that Jason at Poker Odyssey came to the same conclusion, along with DoubleAs, whose comment hit the nail on the head:
“My goal is to make enough money to play in bigger games with better players, which I consider fun (a lot more so than playing with bad players at the quarter tables). I’ve moved up a couple times to see that just because I can afford to be those tables, doesn’t mean that I’m good enough to sit there. My point is that grinding out more money per hour does nothing for you in the long run, because to make money at the bigger tables, you have to be talented enough. Getting good should be the priority, because being good will allow you to play the bigger tables, not a big wallet.”
Of course, it’s easy to say this after a couple nice 3-table sessions. Nice = 166 hands at 19 BB/100. But speaking of bigger games, I took a rare leap into the 10/20 shorthanded game thanks to the keen eyes of the mighty Lord Geznikor, who was busy swooping over a fishy $3-6 table and having his pick of the today’s catch. I sit down and catch a couple myself, but the big tuna quickly busts. With hawk-like precision, LG spots the fish at a $10-20 shorthanded game, and swoops over to the table to try to capitalize in deeper waters. After the fish puts a couple vicious beats on LG, sucking out like he was drinking one of those McDonald’s milkshakes, I decide that the open seat is just too good to pass up. I lose a couple hands, and then get dealt this beauty:
Party Poker 10/20 Hold’em (6 max, 6 handed) converter
Preflop: HDouble is BB with 8d, 8c.
UTG calls, MP raises, CO (TheBigTuna) calls, Button folds, SB folds, HDouble calls, UTG 3-bets, MP calls, CO (TheBigTuna) calls, HDouble calls.
Flop: (12.50 SB) Qh, Qc, 8h: (4 players)
HDouble checks, UTG checks, MP bets, TheBigTuna calls, HDouble calls, UTG calls.
Turn: (8.25 BB) 6d (4 players)
HDouble checks, UTG bets, MP folds, TheBigTuna calls, HDouble raises, UTG 3-bets, TheBigTuna calls, HDouble caps, UTG calls, TheBigTuna calls.
River: (20.25 BB) Kd (3 players)
HDouble bets, UTG calls, TheBigTuna calls.
Final Pot: 23.25 BB
Main Pot: 23.25 BB, between TheBigTuna, HDouble and UTG. > Pot won by HDouble (23.25 BB).
HDouble shows 8d 8c (full house, eights full of queens).
UTG shows Ad As (two pair, aces and queens).
TheBigTuna shows Tc Th (two pair, queens and tens).
Outcome: HDouble wins 23.25 BB.
Ahhh, it doesn’t get much better than that. I owe LG a nice dinner, but I’m afraid by the time I meet up with him he’ll be a high roller in Vegas. Check out his account here.
I also played a little bit of $5-10 full ring, which I hadn’t done in months… a couple months back, when Party was only hitting 30K a night, I did very well at these games. The games were so tight that it was easy to put players on hands, and the few fish that did make it to the table contributed a nice profit to the tight players there. I gave up on these games because it takes 10 minutes to get a seat, and you can’t choose a table since every one is full. I was surprised to see that the $5-10 on Monday night played much like the $3-6s, much looser and softer than they had been a few months back. I ended up getting sucked out on 4 times in the first 3 orbits, but eventually caught some hands that held up to get back to even. In the golden age of poker, I guess it’s safe to conclude that every game has softened up, no matter what limit. You could probably call this the “trickle up” theory, and write an article about it in Cardplayer, but you’d have to win a major tourney and get your face on TV before that was possible.
Getting over the hump
Future star Monk, who I claim to be “tutoring” ran his bankroll way up on the $1-2 tables, and quickly jumped to $2-4 passed his first major test as a player. He got a run of bad cards, and was promptly massacred, resulting in a demotion back to $1-2. He’s been thinking critically about the game, and studying his Izmet diligently, and he’s returned to his winning ways. He finally (after about a week) grasped why marginal hands such as KJ and QJ are dangerous from early position. He’s stopped cold calling with marginal hands, and is beginning to use his ability to read people to win a big pot every so often. I think the first major step in any player’s career is going through that first bad run of cards, and finally experience the swings that force us to play games that our bankroll can handle. After a couple months of solid play and catching a couple rushes, I remember thinking that I was good enough to beat the $15-30 game, and it was only a matter of time before I could take my couple grand and there’d be no looking back. But one Thanksgiving day I had my ass handed to me, and I could only take comfort in the word VARIANCE. Understanding that you can’t just will your way to 2 big bets an hour is a hard and necessary lesson to learn. No matter how smart or good you are, you’re going to hit some bad runs. If you aren’t prepared for these swings, you’ll never be a winning player.
Tutoring the brilliant Monk has also forced me to pore over a slew of hand histories. This has really helped my game, transforming the implicit knowledge of when to bet, raise, or fold into explicit knowledge. Seeing a questionable call, like drawing to a gutshot with two overcards in a small pot makes me calculate when exactly you CAN call with a hand like this. Some of the conclusions surprised me a bit, but luckily Izmet is there to explain why such marginal plays will often turn you a nice profit. Study your hand histories, folks, it’s like doing your homework.
Poker Blog Patrol
Occasionally I’ll get an email from a reader, who encourages me to keep writing these drivelicious posts and makes me feel that I’m doing some poker good by broadcasting my thoughts across the triple-dub. I recently got one from John H, who not only claims to enjoy my blog, but actually chastised me for my lack of postage lately! I view this as the highest of compliments, and I recommend everybody to go read John’s “why play poker post,” for gems like these:
“The richness of life is sitting at the table. So is the despair and sorrow. Concentrated juice, that’s what poker is. Intense and exhilarating, but too much also, too sweet, too thick, too much. But everything else seems so watered down by comparison.”
I’ve had the pleasure of watching The Poker Blogfather on an incredible run, winning 2 of his last 3 multi table tourneys, and placing fifth in the third. He’s too humble to say it, but the guy just does not make mistakes in tourneys. I’ve stocked my fridge with Guinness in the hope of increased reading skills, but so far it’s only made typing more difficult.
No one has bigger swings than G-rub, who tells a woeful tale of being viciously sucked out on at the $5-10 short tables. And this after he was consistently cashing at the $30 Sit-N-Gos, pulling way ahead of me in our $1K challenge (we make $1K in a week and then try to double up at a $15-30). Although I love competition, I have to say I’m a bit relieved that I actually get a chance to write a blog post rather than playing all night to catch up to him.
Pauly does his best Hunter Thompson impression, and has a wild week listening to Phish, losing to Fish, and finally beating the Fish.
The $1-2 games have hooked up Halv 2K up to the juvenation machine. No more no fold ’em for Chris, he’s moved into the realm of real poker, where people actually fold hands and aggression is mandatory for winning players. Look for Halverson to turn up the aggression and put that P4 processor for a brain to work in the next couple weeks. I predict a so-so week for Chris, followed by an extended rush that will bump him up where he belongs, the fishy $2-4 game. The turning point? Winning with the hammer.
A long overdue link goes out to Casino Gosain, who has one of the coolest poker blogger names in the universe. Much respect to anyone who has the courage to have a child, let alone someone who makes it out to a $5-10 game on the night of the birth of their son.
“Answer, “I believe I did.” He called me (the other three people in the pot folded after they had already put in one bet) and called my bet on the river to lose to my Aces full of 7s. That helped my table image tremendously. I got home and my wife went into labor one hour later (she got home from work at the same time I got home – working until one hour before labor!).
Tuesday night, the night my son was born, I’m home alone and I know that once he and my wife are home my time out is limited – so I grab a buddy and we head to Harrah’s East.”

Wow. I don’t think there are any babies in my near future, but I always picture myself going off on some Dostoevskyan rant upon becoming a father, and catatonically mumbling advice for the rest of my poor child’s life. Probably something about checking the river unless you’re pretty sure you have the best hand.
Lastly, no poker content but plenty of debauchery from Big Pimp Daddy Alcan, who forces a Jesse Ventura lookalike to fold after he raises him all in and applies the notorius Alcan Death Grip:
“I grabbed the man’s shoulder and in my best “I’m a bad-ass biker” attitude, informed the knuckle-dragger that I was the husband and it might be in his best interest to back off.
Luckily, I still have full mobility and was able to enjoy the rest of my vacation.”

Somebody stop me! The laptop generates so much heat I’m sweating, and even my most loyal readers are screaming, “enough already!”. Keep learning and good luck out there.

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