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.

In the poker game of life…

Women are the rake! A little harsh, but I haven’t been able to play much lately because of family, and my wife’s friend is in town from Sweden, so we’ve been entertaining. What’s worse, they got a two night trip to Vegas (I’ll be at work) next week for $300, airfare included. And they’re staying at New York, New York. No, I’m not jealous.

Great blogging going on out there. My boys Chris H. and TFG both hit royal flushes last night. Again– No, I’m not jealous. I think I hit my only royal flush after about 7000 hands, and do you know how much I won for it? $30 pot in a $5-10 game. So I won 1.5 BB. Bah humbug. Iggy has moved on to Multi-table NL, where I think he should have been all along. Pretty soon you’ll see “Congratulations to HornyBabe2003 for winning multi-table tournament,” and we’ll just have to wonder if that was Iggy’s screenname.

Since my play has been sporadic, I’m going to offer a little bit of theory, and since it’s playoff time, I’ll give a full treatment to NFL playoff predictions. I love the $3-6 tables, and I’ve definitely found a new home… I was up $50 after 45 minutes last night, but ended up pissing away my winnings playing too loose and attempting some ill-advised semi-bluffs. As a tribute to Mean Gene, I even tried a semi bluff checkraise with bottom pair and a flush draw, but it failed miserably. Obviously, use this play cautiously.

Theory: Decisions on the river
Feeney’s “Inside the Poker Mind” really has me thinking. I think this is probably the best book for Intermediate players (which I would classify myself as), and really breaks down poker into its most crucial elements. Between draughts, veteran poker blogger referenced Feeney’s “strategic moment” concept, which basically says that there are moments in the hand where the player must use all of the inputs given to him, and use that information to choose the best action.

One of these strategic moments is “what to do when you are heads up on the river and first to act”. I think this decision is one of the hardest to make in poker, and I often find myself making the wrong move here. Let’s take an example hand here (here’s how my thought process would work)…

I’ve got KQo in middle position, and limp after 2 other limpers with 2 players (it’s a passive table, so we’ll play this in middle position). The Button and BB call. Flop is K 7 8 rainbow. BB checks, and the 2nd limper folds. We’ll ignore the strategic considerations until we get to the river for now, but I bet out, trying to protect my hand and making straight draws pay. The button and BB call, and the turn is 7d, putting 2 diamonds on the board. I bet out again, and button calls while BB folds. The river is 2d.

Now for the strategic moment…
We have some choices here.
1. Bet our top pair for value. We believe we have the best hand, and we believe that the Button will call with second best hand, perhaps KJ. If the button was on the straight draw, he will fold.
2. Check, since we are afraid we might be beaten. It’s possible that the Button has A7d, a reasonable hand to limp in with, considering the hand was 3 way before it got to him.
3. Check in the hope of check raising. If we put the button on something like AQ, we may induce a bluff. If the button bets, we call, and get an extra bet (since he probably would have folded had we bet)

Sklansky and Krieger argue that 2 is often the best choice… unless we know a lot about the player, we don’t know what kind of hands he will play on the button, and it is definitely possible he has caught trip sevens on the turn, or backed into a flush. On the other hand, given no evidence to the contrary, and knowing that most low-limit players tend call too much with second best hands, we don’t want to miss a value bet.

This is a very tough decision. Probably what I would do is bet out, and this will put the button to the test. If we are reraised, we can probably fold (the bluff check-raise on the river is very rare, so we can assume that he backed into the flush or turned trips). Since if we check he will bet anyway (and we have to call, because there is a decent chance he is bluffing), our betting out gives us a chance of winning an extra bet, but exposes us only to a bluff-check-raise, which is rare.

This example shows how valuable the ability to read players is… if we had any read on the button, the amount of information we have available at our strategic moment is far greater. In B&M play, we can use visual input to help us– loosely stacked chips might tell us that the guy is more likely to hold KT than A7 (maybe), or a neat stack might tell us the guy was on a straight draw and will fold to our bet.

Ok, I suppose I should do some work now, so the Playoff picks will have to wait. Keep up the great blogging, and may karma reward you. Comments? For all you Sklansky disciples, I’m debating if I should reread HFPAP and/or Theory of Poker. I think I probably missed a lot of stuff, and haven’t reread it since my “beginner stages”. I didn’t like his stuff that much, as it seems to apply mainly to tougher games. But I’m listening to recommendations.

Careful! Cards are very hot and will burn mouth

Finally! A rush! It had been a long, long time since I’d gotten a good run of cards, but here is the bottom line from last night’s short session:
$3-6 53 Hands
Amount Won = $201.50
BB/100 Hands = 63.36
Percent of times going to showdown when seeing the flop = 68.75
Percent of times winning at showdown = 72.23

All this with a measly pre-flop raise percentage of 7%. I guess that means I was hitting my draws! Anyway, this monster session had to be ended prematurely when my wife and her friend returned from the bar and demanded to play a no-limit tourney (for fun, not money). She promptly knocked me out when she trapped me with pocket kings, and flopped a set (I rivered 2 pair), and knocked me out again when my trip Jacks lost to her trip Jacks when my 9 was outkicked by her Queen. I felt like pulling a Hellmuth and throwing furniture, but she played very well.

Anyway, the fish were out last night at Party. I remember 3 or 4 large-sized pots where scare cards hit on the turn and river, and I was forced to check and call, relatively certain that I didn’t have the best hand. Here’s an example:

Table Card Room Table 1389 (Real Money) — Seat 3 is the button
wayne28 posts small blind (1)
RosyScenario posts big blind (3)
** Dealing down cards **
Dealt to hdouble [ Ts, Jc ]
ElProfessor calls (3)
BlackHawk89 folds.
Rixy37 calls (3)
baddplayer folds.
LilSketchy folds.
JMP23 calls (3)
hdouble calls (3)
tideguy folds.
wayne28 folds.
RosyScenario checks.
** Dealing Flop ** : [ 9d, Qd, 8c ]

(I flop the nut straight, but with the diamonds out there and 3 other players, my hand is not a monster.)

RosyScenario checks.
ElProfessor checks.
Rixy37 checks.
JMP23 checks.
hdouble bets (3)
RosyScenario raises (6) to 6
ElProfessor calls (6)
ElProfessor: we need to change the name of this table to check/raise
Rixy37 folds.
JMP23 calls (6)
hdouble raises (6) to 9
RosyScenario calls (3)
ElProfessor calls (3)
JMP23 calls (3)
** Dealing Turn ** : [ 2d ]

(I didn’t want to see that card. Check and call from here on, fearing the flush. One of these guys must have been drawing to the flush.)

RosyScenario checks.
ElProfessor checks.
JMP23 checks.
hdouble checks.
** Dealing River ** : [ Kh ]
RosyScenario checks.
ElProfessor bets (6)
JMP23 folds.
hdouble calls (6)
RosyScenario calls (6)
** Summary **
Main Pot: $67 | Rake: $3
Board: [ 9d Qd 8c 2d Kh ]
hdouble balance $246, bet $18, collected $67, net +$49 [ Ts Jc ] [ a straight, nine to king — Kh,Qd,Jc,Ts,9d ]
RosyScenario balance $105, lost $18 [ 9s 2c ] [ two pairs, nines and twos — Kh,9s,9d,2c,2d ]
ElProfessor balance $78.50, lost $18 [ 8s 7d ] [ a pair of eights — Kh,Qd,9d,8s,8c ]

The guy bets a pair of eights with a flush and a straight on board??? Wow. Anyway, that kind of stuff was happening all night. Just horrible players.

The man of Guinness has shown me the light, and resulted in the first commandment of PartyPoker: “Thou shalt not play $5-10 and $10-20 on Party Poker. Thou shalt seek out the fish, who swimmeth only in the waters of $3-6 and below, and $15-30.” I have obeyed this commandment in my last couple sessions, and the poker gods have rewarded me.

Philly cleaned up yesterday, so I got a good start on the NFL weekend. Two more wins today would give me an excellent regular season record, and set me off for a big playoff run. Check out BG’s playoff analysis, this man is on the money.

I got mail from Hollywood Park Casino, and there was some interesting news– they are now serving smoothies! Actually, there is now a super satellite every thursday to win a WPT Satellite. I’m not sure exactly what this is, but here’s what it says on the brochure: “Buy-in: $50 Entry Fee= $15 [yikes] Multi Rebuys [yikes] Win seats, airfare and accomodations to the WPT Satellites on April 17, 2004.”

I guess this is the three-tier WPT structure I read about somewhere… a small satellite (step 1) to get in the big satellite (step 2), to actually get in the tourney (step 3). I’m sure I’ll wind up playing one of these, although I don’t like the multi-rebuys, and your chance of actually making the damn tourney is very slim. I would like to win a free Vegas vacation however, so it might be worth a shot. I really need to get back to playing the tourneys at Hollywood Park… lots of dead money and a cheap buy in. My best finish was 21st out of 220 players, 2 off the money. This was a limit tourney, and I was still pretty fishy back then, but I wasn’t all that far off of grabbing some of that 25K total prize money.

Alright friends, good luck tonight, Sunday nights are hard to beat on Party, so don’t miss out!


Although I’ve had a great Christmas, and my family is here through tomorrow, I miss poker! I was able to sneak in a late night session at $3-6 last night, but I was exhausted so I wasn’t on my “A” game. This is very unfortunate, because one of the tables I was at had a true maniac, who played 75% of hands and capped probably 50% of the betting rounds. This guy was out of control. I even started to suspect collusion, as the maniac and another guy ended up trapping one other player between their capped betting rounds quite often. Who knows.

Anyway, in PokerTracker here are the guys stats:
34 hands, $32 won (12 BB/hour)
Percentage of time player voluntarily put money in the pot: 80%
50% pre-flop raise

So the guy played 80% of his hands, and raised 50% of the time preflop. His biggest hand was a $124 win with 67s, and the next biggest was a $103 win with QJo.

Unfortunately the maniac is not me. This guy was obviously a maniac who could play, and he set the whole table on tilt (including me). I know how to play against a maniac when I can get him heads up, but in this game there were always 2 or 3 other players in the pot. My top pair, top kicker would end up getting sucked out on by a flush or straight draw– the pots were so big that it was incorrect to fold, so there would always be 1 or 2 chasers on the river.

Anyway, I ended up even for the night after doing quite well on another table. I wish I could have stayed up and played all night, but I was just too tired. If I was serious about making some profit playing poker, I would play all my hours on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. The games just seem so much juicier on the weekend nights, and your win rate will be so much better on these nights.

Alright I gotta wrap this up as the family is on the way… I just lost probably $500 bucks in future playoff bets as Tom Brady’s ACL probably just got demolished in the Buffalo game. I had the same exact thing happen to me in my sophomore year in college… a 300 lb guy lands right on your knee, and snaps the rubber band that attaches your femur to your tibia. Poor Brady. What a year. Hopefully I’m wrong, and the MRI will show a sprain. But it don’t look good folks.

WOW. Brady is staying in the game! The trainers must be on crack… you could almost see the ligament tearing on the replay. Their up 21-0 in a game that only has home field implication, and Belichek doesn’t pull him. This is a terrible move, but maybe the trainers are confident that it’s only a sprain. We’ll see…

Quick Picks:
Last week in the regular season, 3 picks.

Philly (-6.5) at Washington: Reid vs. Spurrier, and the Redskins have already mailed it in for the season.

Denver at Green Bay (-6.5): Brett rises up again, this time at home after an emotional roller coaster week. Portis won’t play, and the game is meaningless for Denver, so I’ll take my chances with Brett this week.

Dallas (-2) at New Orleans: The Saints coming off probably the toughest loss in NFL history after they made the miracle “lateral play” comeback and the idiot kicker botches the PAT. Parcells is a bulldog, and won’t let his team lose this game in preparation for the playoffs. The Saints have nothing to gain, so I think the Dallas D will come up big in this one.

Shout outs:
Iggy’s Poker Blog never disappoints.

The Poker Penguin discusses money and its abstraction.

A Poker Odyssey offers up one of the best “betting systems” I’ve ever seen in his “Sophomore Poker” project.

TFG rambles about a variety of topics, and offers up some great quotes:
“No-Limit is like playing against Danny DeVito in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.”

I think tonight is gonna be a great night on Party, and I’ll do my best to be on. Good Luck!