Catching the non-poker bug and the wisdom of a champ

“A man with money is no match against a man on a mission.”
–Doyle Brunson
Last night was fun: highlights include rolling over to cough up a solid phlegm bullet and trying to figure out a place to put it so I don’t have to get out of bed. Not good times. But it’s been a while since I’ve been sick, so I can’t complain. Probably the 2 hours of sleep and a fair bit of drinking in San Francisco is the cause of the current bug, but whatever it is really sucks.
Or maybe I caught something on the flight home, when the sweet young thing next to me put her two big bets right under my nose while leaning over to take a picture out the window with her cell phone camera. I almost stuck a dollar in there, but then I remembered where I was… She and her friend must have been about 20, and within 5 minutes of our conversation, one of them asked me if I had any weed I could sell them. Ye gads.
My impure thoughts must have brought me some bad karma on the tables today, as I dropped $80 after an hour and a half of play on 3 $3-6ers. For the most part I played pretty well… I had my usual number of brutal rivers, but the hands that broke me were two slowplayed hands that I capped on the river and lost. Capping and losing is very rare for me, and maybe the cold shorted a fuse in my brain that allows me to say when I’m beat.
The first beat happened when I held AKs and the flop came KK8 heads up. I checked the flop, and just called when my opponent bet the turn, hoping that the Ten on the turned helped him. He bet out on the river 4, and I raised with no flush or straight on board. Only 88 or TT (no way he has 44, K4, or K8) beats me, so I felt pretty good about my hand, even when he 3 bet me on the river. I went ahead and capped, and of course he had 88. We were both slowplaying! -6 BB on that hand.
The second killer hand was worse: I’ve got KQ, and call after 1 player limps in early position. Flop is QQ2, and this time I bet out, and limper calls. The turn is the Ace, and I’m hoping this paired him up, but he checks. I get tricky here and check also, trying to show I’m afraid of the Ace. The river is the second deuce, and he bets out, and I eventually throw in the 4rth bet (I put him on AK or a deuce, but not A2). I’m shocked when he flips over rockets for the turned boat. We were both slowplaying! -5 BB on that hand.
So those hands pretty much ruined my session, which was pretty good otherwise. “That’s poker” as they say, and I’m not sure if I could have saved the fourth bet on the river in either of those two hands.
Ah well. Luckily I pulled in $85 on a shorthanded $5-10 table while lying in bed with the laptop in the hotel earlier this week. I have a full day of poker ahead tomorrow, and it looks like Empire has replaced the huge overlay $50,000 guaranteed tourney that Grubby has been crowing about for weeks. In its place, Empire is offering 3 guaranteed seats to the WSOP.
I debated playing in the $200+15 Vegas Dreams tourney on Empire at 9 pm EST today: for every 60 entries, one seat to the WSOP is given out. I expected to see way over 100 players, but only 61 ended up entering. Tomorrow night’s Empire tourney (with the aforementioned WSOP seats as prizes) may be my first shot at getting into the big one, although my chances are slim if even the mighty Davidross hasn’t been able to win his way in after several tries. I’m guessing the field will be huge, although only 35 are currently signed up (as of Saturday 9:30 PM EST). The $18+2 qualifiers are looking mighty tempting, and I’m sure I’ll end up hawking a loogie on my keyboard after getting rivered early in one of these things. (UPDATE: the first hand I played I got rivered holding 99 when the fourth spade hit the board on the river– opponent had 86o)
I’m still on the fence about playing in the WSOP. I’m not a no-limit player, and of course I’d be dead money in the big one, but how many times in your life do you have a shot at this thing?
Book Review: Poker Wisdom of a Champion
One of the few productive things I accomplished on the trip to San Fran was finishing Doyle’s book, which has been republished with a new title to capitalize on the poker boom. It’s basically a collection of Doyle’s favorite anecdotes over the years, and offers some insight into the world of high-stakes poker. It’s a very quick and easy read, and I enjoyed Doyle’s tales, but don’t expect anything that will help you improve your game.
The three major points I took from the book were these:
–No-limit cash games take a lot of courage, and the “all-in” is a big weapon that doesn’t exist in limit. NL is all about putting your opponent to the test, and there’s no better way to do that than going all-in. The drama and display of courage in NL are pretty attractive, and I figure once I build my bankroll and get tired of the limit grind I’ll be playing mostly NL.
–You’ve got to give action to get action. A lot of NL is feeling out the other players at the table, and your table image is much more important than in limit. Too-tight players will get crushed in an NL game, because it’s so easy to put them on a hand.
–You’ve got to shift gears in NL, and Doyle stresses the idea that a gear shift must be drastic. Go from first to third, don’t bother with second. If you’re gonna loosen up, do it fast, and your opponents won’t know what hit them.
–You’ve got to have a big bank and nerves of steel to play high-stakes poker. I don’t think Doyle even mentions a pot that’s smaller than a couple thousand in the entire book.
Another thing I took from the book is the drastic difference between the online game and the live game– online, the players move in and out so fast that you really don’t have much to go on, and table image is much less important. Anonymity rules in the world of online poker, so you can play as tight as you want without worrying about what the other players think of you.
If you want some light reading and some interesting and funny poker tales, check out “Poker Wisdom of a Champion”.
Need a coach?
I spent some time this weekend review a couple friend’s hand histories in PokerTracker in a “coaching” role. I actually enjoyed it more than I thought. Hopefully my comments helped the players involved, but even if they didn’t, I found that critically analyzing their play helped me to elaborate my own tactics. So… (prepare for shill) if anybody wants to sign up for Empire, use this link and bonus code HDOUBLE and I’ll be happy to review your hand histories and offer my humble advice (in addition to the 20% bonus you receive). I’m by no means an expert, but I think I’m a decent teacher and can help a beginner get up the learning curve more quickly than they would by just reading Sklansky. If you want to switch over from Party, send me an email and the same offer holds.
Poker Blog Patrol
Check out the dynamic duo over at PokerGrub, where Grubby continues his uphill battle to accumulate enough points to play in the Empire freeroll, and an angry Grubette almost puts the smack down on a helpless fish who dropped the hammer on her:
“On the phone with Doug I said, ‘I would love to kick her freakin’ ass’ and the pit boss heard me and laughed. I’m sure it seemed funny.”
Remind me not to play the Hammer against her…
Expert Java programmer and low-limit all-star Chris Halverson is in town, and we’re planning on meeting up next weekend to terrorize the fish in Compton. Although I’m sure we’ll end up downing scotch and dodging thrown cards at Hollywood Park, I can’t help but think the time would be better spent coding up a Java bot.
Boy Genius came through for me, winning the Michigan Blogger crossover game as I predicted. I left this comment in BG’s blog before the tourney:
“It’s time for the GZA to shine. I can feel it. Prediction: domination from the boy wonder.”
Also check out Lord G’s take on the tourney.
The Poker Hermit continues his ride on the low limit roller coaster, going from tilt to solid play overnight.
Ok, I’m off to play in Empire’s WSOP Satellite qualifier. Top 4 (of 41) get an entry into tomorrow’s tourney. But first, I’ve been waiting for this for a year. In a pre-St.Patty’s day shopping trip, I saw it: A 12 PACK OF GUINNESS BOTTLES! No more carting around 6 packs from the corner store. I know somebody‘s happy.

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