It hurts, doesn’t it?

“It hurts, doesn’t it? You can’t believe what fell… All your dreams dashed. Hopes down the fucking drain. Your fate, standin’ right behind me.”
–Teddy KGB
Usually the cards turn around after a while. I popped some tobacco under my lip and spat, disgusted after watching AA go down for the 4rth time that session. But the cards never turned. I tried to think about variance and convince myself that it would turn around if I just kept playing well. But after so many beats you just start wondering whether the guy raking it in with his rivered two pair (T7 offsuit) is the sucker, or if its you.
The journey to the “long run” is full of obstacles, and bad runs are just another bump in the road. If you can remain calm and play your normal winning game, you’ll ride them out. But watching those big bets disappear, those virtual chips that you worked so hard to create a mountain out of… watching them go into some fish’s bank account hurts.
I’m talking about the Party/Empire $5-10 shorthanded tables. Pure poker… bluffing, raising, psychology– they’ve got it all. After reading David Ross’ description of these games in his quest to make a living from online poker, I couldn’t resist sitting in these games. I figured if he can win on 4 tables simultaneously, surely I could scrape out a couple big bets playing only 2 tables. And I did at first. And then the poker gods rained bad beats on me for hours, and when I finally logged off, a huge bite had been taken out of the bankroll.
I took comfort in 2+2 regular Clarkmeister’s post (thanks Iggy) astute observation that it only takes a few big pots to cause a big losing session:
” If you are playing in some nice juicy games, losing 4 or 5 pots that you “should” have won when you have the field drawing to say 4 or 6 cards collectively, has a devastating impact on your performance. Losing five 15BB pots over 2-3 sessons when you “should have” won 4 of those 5 has a sixty (60) BB impact on your bottom line.”
So it’s back to the grind for me. I’ve been doing very well in the $3-6 games, and it was probably a mistake to leave. But the fast-action pace and huge pots in the shorthanded games were just too much to resist. Ask Grubby, he lives on those tables.
Hollywood Home Game
I played in my first home NL tourney last night. A buddy from work hosted, and only 3 of the 8 players had ever played NL hold ’em before. I’m not a big fan of poker as a “social event,” but I figured it would be some easy money after getting kicked in the nuts on Party all day.
Of course it was chaos, between determining how much the different color chips worth worth, telling people to post their blinds, and telling everyone when it was their turn to act. The action was insane– people winning huge pots with Q high, and some of the players didn’t even know what hand they had. In the biggest pot of the night, the table maniac pushed all in with pocket 3s on the river with a board full of face cards. A newbie called the bet, and when the maniac showed the threes he said “you got me,” and began pushing his chips over without turning over his cards. Out of curiousity, I turned over his cards– 75s. The turn card was the 5, so I got a kick out of saying “The Cards Speak”, and pushing the pot to him. The maniac wasn’t very happy with that, but when are maniacs ever happy? It’s tough to put a player on a hand when he can’t even put himself on a hand.
How I lost the tourney: UTG I have AJs, and I pop it up for a raise. Maniac to my left reraises a decent amount, and the BB calls all in. he 75s guy calls, and I tentatively call. I really think my hand is best here (these guys have been raising with junk all night), and when the Jack and two rags flop, I push all-in. Of course they call, so the pot is monstrous. The turn is a 7, river a rag. BB has A6, so one down. Maniac, of course, has AA, and 75s hit his set of 7s on the turn.
I still like this play– the way these guys played top pair was a monster, so I think I would have played it the same way. If I had won that pot, I would have had a huge stack to work with, and could have coasted into first. I also knew that I could rebuy, and still have a good shot to win. Or so I thought.
I rebought, and stole a bunch of pots to get myself into 4rth place. 4 players remain– maniac and 75s with huge stacks, and one of the 3 solid players with a lot more chips than me. I play tight for a while, until I get AQc UTG. I make a big raise, hoping that maniac and loose guy will call, and solid player in the BB will fold. But they both fold and tight solid player in BB calls (uh oh). Flop is Kc 9c Qd, and now I have to decide if he’s on AK (maybe) or KQ (unlikely). I put out a feeler bet, and he comes over the top of me all in. I go into the tank…
–If he doesn’t have AK I have 14 outs– the clubs and the 2 queens and 3 aces.
–If I win this hand and double up, I think I can win the tourney.
–If I fold, I’ll be very shortstacked
So I call. He surprises me by turning over K9, and I’m happy that the aces are live. No help from the board though, so I’m out in 4rth.
After the tourney, everybody said they had fun but that it was a little “too intense” for them. Loose passive guy said “I like dealer’s choice… it’s more social, and you get to play those games with WILD CARDS.” Oh the humanity, as the man of Guinness would say. On the plus side, I did get free beer. Little consolation on my worst day of poker ever, and needless to say my head still hurts.
Poker Blog Patrol
Chris “Three Kings” Halverson pops his B&M cherry by winning the first hand he ever played. Lots of great quotes in here, but I think this was my favorite:
“I grab my son’s retro-1970’s sunglasses, my big hooded sweatshirt, and a big baseball cap and head out the door.
OK, no I didn’t. I didn’t bring anything like that, not even a cap.”

Pauly, Paul, and Mighty MG are running bad. But not as bad as me, so I take a little pride in being the best.
TFG is dominating the single table tourneys on Party, just like I said he would. If he ever gets off his damn tractor and learns something about pot odds, he’d probably be sitting with TJ at the final table somewhere. Those damn Texans have it in their blood. Of course, his nickname will have to be Scott “Texas Chainsaw” Chaffin, and his lucky charm will be his chainsaw, which he puts on top of his cards.
I was honored to find out that The Quiet Lion not only read my blog, but commented on it. Richard Brodie’s latest post details his latest attempt to win a WPT event– this one was the WPT Celebrity invitational. He didn’t do as well as he did in the LA poker classic, where he finished lucky #69 out of a record 382 entrants. It’s only a matter of time before we see Richard’s “monkey face” gracing our television screen…
Grubby is terrorizing the Party tables along with his new significant other laptop. He is clearly insane– has anyone else tried to play 4 tables on a laptop using a TOUCH PAD? I can’t even move the pointer around the screen with those things, let alone click “raise” on four tables.
Guest poster Grubette has 2 superb posts describing the insanity that is Southern California poker. She shows you how to save money using your looks:
” Then we’re heads up yet again, this time at the rag-rag-rag flop, me with AK suited, him with two rags. He checks and smirks, I check the whole way on the rag turn and rag river. He checks behind me and shows me his little pair of rags. Orderly next to me comments on Juicy’s failure to bet when I’m in the pot, ‘It’s nice to have a pretty face.'”
Maybe she could give me some fashion tips, it might help my hourly rate. I also enjoyed Grubette’s theories on the karmic balance and how poker can warp your mind:
“I’m getting off the exit to go to HI-G and the light is green, so I step on it a little to make the light. As I get closer to the guy in front of me and am nearly at the intersection, a Corvette tears through the opposite red light and whacks the guy in front of me in a dramatic plume of smoke. The Corvette is totaled and the other car sails through the intersection and stops. My first thought is not, should I call for help? or is anyone hurt? or even, good thing that wasn’t me. The thought was ‘there goes my luck.'”
Which begs the question… where the hell did my luck go? Grubs, I think you’re going to have to turn Grubette loose and get her going on her own blog. Apparently there is plenty of the “writing gene” in the grub family DNA.
Hopefully it will return in time for the next poker blogger tourney at True Poker, where our fearless leader has set up shop.
Felicia is trying to set up a weekly poker blogger tourney on Sunday nights, which I hope will come to fruition. Felicia’s been running bad as well lately, so maybe the poker bloggers have somehow angered the poker gods… bad cards seem to be the norm for most of us.
John jots about making THE LEAP to the WSOP. We’re all rooting for you John.
Good luck out there… don’t tilt, the cards will come eventually.

Cry Me A River

I was due for a big loss. The streak of winning days ended at 13, and I’ll be happy if I can ever do that again. Last night the cards finally turned against me, and I ended up down $200 after an hour and a half of triple tables. For 300 hands, my win rate was a monstrous -11 BB per 100 hands, but it could have been a lot worse. Reviewing the hand histories, I see that I didn’t play horribly, I was just outdrawn most of the time. I’m happy that I was able to remain “off tilt”, and kept playing my usual aggressive game (although I did cringe a bit every time a scare card hit the turn or river). Here’s a list of the biggest losses:
3. Rockets. Heads up on the flop, which is QQ5. No more aces, and I lose $27 when my opponent shows down AQ. Talk about domination.
2. QQ in middle position. Everyone folds, except one limper. I raise it, and BB calls and limper calls. Both these guys are loose. Flop is 8c 2c 9s. I know I’m good here, and I’m raised. 2 callers, and I figure there’s a flush draw and possibly trips, but more likely somebody’s got A9. The turn is another 8, and now I’m worried. I check and call the bet, and it’s 3 handed to the river. The river is another 8, and I think I’m good here, but the sneaking feeling that the Quads are out makes me check and call. Sure enough, 86o wins the $97 pot, and its -5 BB for me. Ye gads.
1. AQo in middle position, I limp in after 2 callers. 6 of us see the flop. Flop is Qs 5s Jh, and I bet out fearing the flush… the river is the Ace, and I bet out, and am raised, and we lose the other callers. The raiser is a loose aggressive player, and I think my two pair is good… I figure him for Ax spades, and he caps it. The river is 5d, but now I chicken out and check. Trip Jacks slowplayed? Trip Queens? I call, and he shows me KT for broadway, and takes down the the 15 BB pot. -6 BB for me.
So those 3 hands were -$220 for me, turning a small win into a big loss.
On my biggest win of the night, I did bluff a $55 pot with AK unimproved when the only caller folded on the river. Small consolation.
Hopefully the karmic poker scale is now balanced, and I can get back to winning tomorrow…

Trippin Up

Iggy and Grubby said they would like to see results for my triple table $3-6 effort. Your wish is my command, faithful readers. So a short post:
I played exactly one hour last night, beginning at 9 PM Pacific time. The tables were very loose aggressive, and there was a lot of 3 betting preflop. I guess once the clock strikes midnight on the East Coast, the calling stations turn into maniacs.
My wife had some friends (a married couple from England) fly in yesterday, and they’re going to be here until Friday. I may have to play from work. We went out to dinner, and after being tortured by reality TV for a few minutes, reluctantly hopped on the Party tables. I found 3 to my liking, and then the English guy popped over and watched the insanity.
English Guy: “Is this texas hold em?”
Me: “You got it.”
EG: “…is this for real?”
Me: “Real money, yep.”
EG: (pause) “Why are you raising with Ace King? You don’t even have a pair!”
I told him to pull up a chair, and tried my best to explain what was going on while I was battling the loose aggressive players. As if 3 tables isn’t enough, now I’ve gotta do my Sklansky impression at the same time. He’s a nice guy, but I wanted to focus on the tables, since there was a lot of bluffing and fancy play going on.
So I played terribly. Made a few big mistakes, but the poker gods looked the other way, and I ended up $47 (8 BB) to the good after 154 hands.
The good:
Pocket 5s UTG. Presto! I limp in, since I’m pretty sure that at least 4 will see the flop. It’s raised, but I’m ok since 4 people are in, so I call. Flop comes Qs 9s 4h, and I’m ready to dump my hand, but after I check, the next guy bets and 3 callers, no raise. I make the long call (getting 14:1), knowing that if my 5 comes I’ll get paid. And behold, mighty Presto comes through… the 5 comes on the turn, and I check raise and get two callers.
Result:Presto is good for $64.
The bad:
I call in early position with 99. Loose aggressive in late position raises it, after all fold (this table was tight), and I call. Flop is A 9 2 rainbow, and I can’t be happier… I’m hoping he has AK, and sure enough, he raises me when I bet out. I just call, so I can try for the check-raise on the turn. Turn is a 7, I check, he bets, and I raise. He reraises! Warning bells go off. AA? It can’t be… I decide to cap it anyway, and the river is a 6 with no flush on the board. I have a bad feeling, and I check, he bets and I call. AA it is.
Result:-$36 with the second set.
The lucky:
99 again, this time 4 of the button. I’m first in, so I raise it up, but the guy behind me 3 bets it. Here we go again. All fold, and we’re heads up for the flop of 666. Maybe the devil is telling me something… I bet, he raises, and I raise one more time try one more time to find out if he’s betting an ace of a bigger pair than mine (my notes told me this guy was very loose aggressive). He just calls, and I am not sure what to think now. The turn is an A, and I think I’m beat when he bets after I check. But I make the long call, and you can probably guess what the river is. Yep, the good old 9. I check raise, and it turns out he had KK.
Result:+40 with the miracle 9 on the river.
As usual, it’s better to be lucky than good. More tomorrow.

Breakin it down before Breakin it up

I’m exhausted. Between work, the Grublog Poker Classic, and trying to play solid poker, I’m worn down to the felt. A break sounds pretty good right about now. Iggy‘s brief hiatus seems to have invigorated him, and I’m hoping a few days off will have the same effect on yours truly.
HDouble goes Triple
5 months of blogging, and 10 months of poker, and I think I’m finally figuring this game out. Taking a page from David Ross’ book, I played a few sessions of 3 $3-6 tables over the past 2 days. A few months back, 3 tables was too much: I knew my starting standards and my odds, but I was still calculating everything. The last couple days I’ve noticed that all this stuff is now second nature, so playing multiple tables takes a lot less effort. I’m feeling the flow of the game at a deeper level… is there a short stack acting behind me that will go all-in with a marginal hand? Is the table passive enough that I can get away with playing my pocket deuces in early position? Will these guys pay me off if I hit my flush? A few months ago I could handle these questions on a single table, but 3 tables was just overwhelming.
So how did I do? Well, yesterday I posted 3 small wins on all 3 table for a total of $77 (13 BB) in half an hour of play. Today was even better. $200 (33 BB) in a little over an hour. The funny thing is, I didn’t even play that well. I took my share of bad beats, including capping one hand on the river when the board was 4s 7d 9d Qd 7c and I held pocket 4s. Guess what the re-raiser had? Yep, Q7 (Spades). Ye gads. I did catch 1 or 2 rivers, but most of my hands won without a showdown. I didn’t feel like I was on a card rush, but I did get AA twice and KK twice over the 250 hands (I think 3 of them held up, but as usual, the Party Hand Histories aren’t coming in).
I encourage everybody out there to learn fast, and get into these $3-6 games. This is the dawn of the “Golden Age” of poker. The players will only get better, and the games tougher, but for now there is a lot of money to be made. You can make a nice profit by playing only premium hands, since there will always be one or two fish that will pay to see the showdown. The money comes from that 1 hand in 100 when you hit big– those big multiway pots where everybody’s in, and you hit your flush or your boat. If you rathole those $100 pots, and don’t throw it away with fancy plays and long calls, you’re doin alright.
I’m going to see how I do with 3 tables this week, and see if I can continue winning at a decent rate. I’m sure the numbers won’t be as good as today, but I’m pretty confident that there are plenty of fish to feed on at the $3-6 level. Of course, if I had gotten rivered all night I’m sure I wouldn’t be as confident.
Don’t Look Back
I haven’t ever gone back and looked through all my posts, but it’s something I’m hoping to do this week. Everybody always wonders how they are perceived by others, and blogs give us a way to go back and see how we perceived ourself at different points in our life. I’ll try to come up with a list of my favorite posts over the past 5 months, although I guess it’s a little pretentious of me to hope people will read them again (assuming anyone read them the first time around). But it will be interesting for me to follow the arc of the blog.
Catching up
After “meeting” lots of new bloggers as the tourney last night, I realized I have a lot of catching up to do. I’ve done my best to keep up, but every time I find a new blog I end up going all the way back to the start and trying to find out what makes the writer tick. Liquid Swords made a comment a while back that I’ve come to appreciate after reading so many bloggers (I’m paraphrasing): “Blogs are like a real version of reality TV.” What he meant is that you get a look into the life of these poker players– their growth, their agony, and most importantly, their personality. Thanks to everybody for sharing– it’s not easy to sit down and write about your losses and difficulties, but if you’re struggling, it helps to know that there are others out there who are going through the same thing.
Hmmm, no mention of check-raising or Empire affiliation in the entire post, I guess it really is time for a break.
Keep on Truckin.

Gene, Gene, the Poker Machine

And so, after the dust cleared, one man was left standing. A man who outlasted 31 other snarling opponents with his wit and skill. The first poker blogger tourney crown belongs to MEAN GENE! The horse I bet on came in second after playing some great poker and catching some great cards. I doubled him up early on when I called his all in with pocket 9s, but he’d paired up his KJ when a jack flopped. I guess it pays to have a loose table image. Nice work Scott.
I could barely keep up with the action, doing my best to harass people in chat and still try to accumulate chips (in between beers). I was happy to finish 10th, although I didn’t deserve it. As usual, I made 2 or 3 mistakes, but luckily I played catchup pretty well and was able to get my chips in when I was a favorite and short-stacked. And I think I lost with AK three times to short stack Ace-rags when the rag came on the flop. Like TJ says, your tourney success depends on how you do with Big Slick. Here are the highlights I can remember:
Tourney Highlights
–First hand of the tourney: 72h, flop 2 4 5 one heart, I bet out on the flop and all fold. This has to be an omen.
–Grubby popping in and telling us that CJ’s AA was cracked by Jeremy‘s HAMMER.
–Seeing Boy Genius come back after his flush went down to a boat. He doubled up with AA, and then split a pot with AK in two consecutive hands.
–Knocking out Iggy. Sorry bout that my man. I was on Guinness number 5 if that makes you feel any better.
–Going on a rush where I won 3 straight hands, tripling up once when I paired my Ace on the river with A6 against Grubette’s JJ. The two times I’ve played with Grubette, she’s had pocket Jacks 3 times, and I’ve had an ace all three times. What are the odds? Ironically, I was forced to call Jeremy’s all in from the SB with the mighty 84o. The Poker Gods rewarded all of my futile attempts at winning with THE HAMMER, as Jeremy’s 72o went down in flames and I doubled up.
Bust out hand: I get AJo on the button and triple the blind (I think it was 600 at this point), which leaves me with 200 chips (oops). The Poker Coder goes all in from the BB, and of course I call. No help for me, and the coder takes it down with QQ. Ouch. The guy got pocket kings once and pocket queens twice in a span of about 10 hands. Kudos on a well-played tourney PC.
I was glad to see The Penguin made the long connection from New Zealand, and was able to keep people from picking up the phone during the tourney.
Chigins from Fish With a Pole took my $10 win from me in the pre-tourney $1-2 game with some monster hand. I need to catch up on his blog and steal his strategies.
Mr. Halverson went out early with pocket 9s, as his wife pulled a Vince Van Patten and encouraged him to go all in. Amazingly, on the hand I doubled up Scott with, I had pocket 9s and my wife was yelling “CALL!” in my ear. There is a lesson here.
Poor Pauly. I made a loose call with J2h in the big blinds, and flopped J2. Pauly called me to the river with his pocket 9s, and it didn’t leave him much room to work with. Pocket 9s seemed to be the big loser this tourney…
And of course Felicia outlasted me, although barely. She even had the balls guts to call me names when she wasn’t busy stealing pots. It was a pleasure to play with someone who plays NL tourneys nightly.
Lowlight: After busting out, I tried to figure out who this CDF12345 character was. I loaded up his site and my computer crashed and burned, and it took 10 minutes and many curses to get back to the tourney. I didn’t even get to see the hand that knocked my man Grubby out.
Thanks to everybody for playing. I had a blast, and I’m looking forward to the next one. Congrats to the champ, Mean Gene, runner-up TFG, and my man Sean who played superbly into a 3rd place finish.