Killing skill and choking on THE HAMMER

A post-first-anniversary champagne filled blog, we’re going on a run through the WSOP, one of my greatest Party sessions ever (including a hammer victory!), and who knows what else… read on…

WSOP Highlights
Thanks to Chris H., who was kind enough to send a copy of the WSOP DVDs, I was finally able to see the WSOP in it’s entirety. Great coverage and terrible beats, and the intensity seems to be a lot greater than the WPT tourneys. It’s a lot more interesting to see the progression of the tourney, rather than just the last 6 players at the final table. Even Mrs. Double was hooked, and we ended up going through the first 4 days in a single sitting, for a whopping two hours of poker on TV. However, when we popped in the disc for the final table, we found that it was a repeat of day 3! My wife pulled a Hellmuth and nearly flipped over a coffee table, and I think I heard her scream something about KJ offsuit.

Anyway, here are the most memorable moments from the first 4 days:

5. This Tomer Benvinisti guy is about 350 lbs, and his job title is “expedition leader”. Where’s the expedition go, to the fridge???

4. All interviews with Dutch Boyd. This guy got his law degree before he was 20? He sounds like Rocky. And I love that he thinks he can intimidate guys like TJ Cloutier by rolling chips across the table.

3. Grizzle vs. Hellmuth. Sam’s mocking of Hellmuth, especially in song, had me dying. The close-ups on Hellmuth as the entire room laughed at him were priceless, especially after Sam called him a “goofball who catches cards”.

2. The agony of the Ivey. Oh man, poor Phil. The two bad beats he took were painful. Moneymaker’s miracle river card was like a knife in the back, and I was only watching the DVD. I’m too lazy to plug it in to the “bad beat o meter” on PokerSavvy, but that’s got to be one of the worst ever… remember, the prize money here was 2.5 mill. I strongly believe that if Money didn’t catch one of his 7 outs (I think that’s right) against Phil, then Phil woulda have been the champ. He deserved it gosh darnit, and after watching his WSOP performance (he came back from another horrible beat put on him by Freddy Deeb earlier), he’s up there with Lederer in the “poker idol” category. And he’s the same age as me.

1. Of course, the number one highlight from the WSOP is the walk through the life of Hellmuth. I can’t even begin to write about the unintentional comedy provided by Mr. Hellmuth, although I will mention that seeing him shirtless and brushing his teeth nearly put me over the edge.

Seeing all the bad beats made me ponder the benefits of tournament play. Imagine being Phil Ivey– making no mistakes, playing perfectly, and catching great cards to boot. Then you lose all of your chips on two suckouts, where your opponent has a 1 in 10 chance at both of them. If I played a perfect football game, and the ref called me for offensive interference on the greatest catch of my life, I think I’d be on tilt for a couple months. I don’t know if I can stomach the notion of losing all of my chips when I am a 90% favorite. But that’s tournament poker. At least in ring games, you can always reach back in your pocket and have more ammo in your quest to get to the long run.

Short term luck is the skill killer.

The hammer swings back
Finally, after 6 attempts, I achieved victory with THE HAMMER! Not your regular hammer, I played the Hammer from the Hammer (the cut off postion)!!! Here’s the hand history:

***** Hand History for Game 353798148 *****
Table Fuzzy Navel (Real Money) — Seat 5 is the button
hdouble posts small blind (1)
KingpinKilla posts big blind (3)
** Dealing down cards **
Dealt to hdouble [ 7c, 2d ]

The hammer in the SB!!! My table image is superb, since I’ve been dominant since I sat down. The table is tight, so I know I’ve got a shot here.

Nguyenvan folds.
skinnydawg calls (3)
Rounders24 folds.
icheckraise2 folds.
zion4lyfe folds.
shadysam calls (3)
hdouble calls (2)
KingpinKilla checks.
** Dealing Flop ** : [ 9d, 8d, Ad ]

Three diamonds, I might as well take a shot…

hdouble bets (3)
KingpinKilla folds.
skinnydawg folds.
shadysam folds.

Wait a minute… everyone folded???

** Summary **
Main Pot: $15 | Rake: $0
Board: [ 9d 8d Ad ]
mpark67 balance $150, sits out
icheckraise2 balance $156, didn’t bet (folded)
BIGBADBUG balance $146.50, didn’t bet (folded)
zion4lyfe balance $246, didn’t bet (folded)
shadysam balance $73.50, lost $3 (folded)
hdouble balance $360, bet $6, collected $15, net +$9
KingpinKilla balance $293, lost $3 (folded)

Wait a minute, where is the chat??? NO NO NO!!! I wasn’t able to uncheck the “Muck all uncalled hands” box in time! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!! The agony! The humanity!

Well, that’s what I get for reading Sklansky and chatting while DROPPING THE HAMMER. What a travesty.

Ah well. It’s not over till The Fat Guy sings, so maybe I’ll get one more shot. I’m still livid over this. What a choke. Anyway, that $15 was a nice addition to my $210 win in 75 minutes on a single $3-6 table, for a whopping 28 BB/HR. My hands were holding up, I was sucking out, and I was making bluffs at the right time. I took 46% of my hands to the showdown when I saw the flop, and won 82% of those hands. It’s nice when the cards hit you in the head.

You’ll notice that I only played one table. This is a change for me, as I’ve always felt that ABC poker on 2 tables is much more profitable than playing a single table at 100% focus. After analyzing my game, I realized that playing 2 tables just encourages quick, sloppy play. Not only are you reading 20 players when playing 2 tables, you don’t have nearly as much time to take in all the variables coming in from the 10 players at a single table. The flow of the game, the mood, and the last hand has a huge influence on the actions of the current hand. These variables get lost in the chase of trying to play 2 hands at once.

In addition, playing 2 tables encourages bad habits. While ABC poker on 2 tables may increase your short term profit, the bad habits you pick up (as a player who is still improving) will hurt your bankroll in the long run.

So after making too many mistakes at Hollywood Park yesterday, I knew I had to tighten up my game. I’m committed to the true grind, a single low-limit table, selecting the best game I can find, and playing as the pot odds dictate. The true winners in the poker world are not the Moneymakers or the Mike McD’s, but the real grinders who play the odds. Yeah you take your shot when the odds are good, but not until you’ve sharpened your game until it’s like a razor’s edge.

I know I have a lot of room to improve, and I’m going back to the basics. I’m hoping bet counting and a deeper knowledge of pot odds will take my game to the next level. I hit the books today, and was reminded of the following interesting stats:

–Suited connectors are 5:1 to flop a straight OR flush draw or better
–2 suited cards are 8:1 to flop a 4 flush or better (note: this is considerably better than flopping a set, which is 11:1)
–2 sequenced cards are 10:1 to flop a straight draw or better

And the most interesting:
–1 gap suited connectors are 6:1 to flop a straight OR flush draw or better

I also reviewed A
bdul’s great lecture on the art of sucking out. In the wild, no fold-em 6 or 7 way pots, it’s surprising to see some of the draws that you can still call with a positive EV. For example, on a ragged flop with bottom pair, you are getting proper odds to draw to trips or two pair with 6 bets in the pot. Warning: this only works if you are sure your trips or two pair will be the best hand if you hit.

After 25 years in academia, you’d think I’d be able to quickly learn the stuff I read, but I’m finding that going back to Sklansky and Cloutier with more experience under my belt is makes grasping the concepts a lot easier. My long term goal is to get to that $15-30 B&M by building my bankroll, discipline, and knowledge on the lower limit games. By the time I get there, all of the calculation you need to do at the table will be branded into my brain. I have to say thanks to Ignatius, who inspired me to think more critically about my goals and my game. I am looking forward to sharing a few six packs with Iggy after he cashes at this year’s WSOP. Yes, I am serious.

Poker Blog Patrol
Yeah, I’m a little slow, but I finally got to Lord Geznikor‘s blog. Check out his gripping account of his 2nd place finish in a huge party multi. I’m not jealous or anything.

I also made it to The Poker Coder’s site… PC, I feel your pain:
“I’m at Party playing dumb *ss poker getting spanked by a bunch of guppies. Actually, I had a 70 pound tuna slap me in the face. I was then kicked in the groin by a group of gold fish. And to top it off, I stayed up way too late on the eve of a very important day. My bankroll took a 50% hit.”

Speaking of Bankroll
You gotta love Daniel Negreanu… he does not pull punches, even in his current article for CardPlayer magazine:
“It just wasn

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