Rushing Headlong and The Final Table

“Any poker player knows that, despite what mathematicians say, there are phenomenal runs of luck that defy explanation. The poker player learns that sometimes both science and common sense are wrong. There is such a thing as absolute premonition of cards, a rock bottom surety of what will happen next. A good player knows that there is a time to push your luck and a time to retire gracefully, that all roads have a turning.”
–David Mamet, “The Things Poker Teaches”
What is it about a rush that makes you play better? Poker felt perfect today– not only did the deck hit me in the head, but I felt like I was in “the zone,” and everybody else’s cards were face up. I knew when my hands were best and when I was beat. Of course, it always helps to have a maniac at the table. The sad thing is, the maniac’s win rate (52.78 BB/100) was only slightly lower than mine (54.17 BB/100) over 70 hands. Of course, he probably gave it all back over the next hour, but its tough to know that even when I’m playing my best, some goofball catching cards (TM) is winning just as much as me.
But hey, 54.17 BB/100 is fine with me. Here are the PokerTracker numbers for what probably is the biggest rush I’ve ever had online:
Limit    Hands     BB/100    $Won
$3/$6    68    54.17    $221
$3/$6    68    21.08    $86
$5/$10    18    39.60    $99
After catching up on some of the early David Ross posts (see below), I was inspired to go back to playing 2 tables simultaneously. I think this probably teaches bad habits, but since the Party $3-$6 crowd is so soft, ABC poker on 2 tables is considerably more profitable than playing perfect poker on a single table. Profit won out in the profit vs. learning battle, and my bankroll is glad it did. I cleaned up against the maniac at one table, and suddenly I was in the zone– reading hands perfectly, making the right raises and the right laydowns with my marginal hands. This carried over to the second table, and I ended up with a total win of $307 in an hour of play on the $3-6 table. Add to that the morning quicky on the $5/$10 shorthanded table and I finished with $406 after 2 hours of play.
When my wife came home after a rough day at work, I was in the middle of capping the turn with KK against the maniac, and took down a monster pot. Torn between playing my rush and being a good lover, I signed off and hoped the poker gods would forgive me. It was probably for the best, as it’s hard to imagine I wouldn’t give some of the winnings back.
While we’re on poker vs. love, I came across this hilarious bit from David Ross’ second week of play:
“Now here is something you never have to deal with in the casino. I start my afternoon session and as usual the afternoon games are quite tight. I’m playing good solid poker and I’m ahead around $80. Now my wife, who is home this week comes to visit me with a grin on her face and asks if I would like to join her in some afternoon delight. Poker or sex. Hmmm. So of course I played around to my blinds and took a break. Modesty prevents me from giving too many details but lets just say I didn’t get back in time to keep my seat. Now of course when I get back and finally get seated again I quickly drop $450 and start blaming my wife for the bad mojo. Maybe there’s some truth to that lucky at love unlucky at cards thing.”
There’s a lesson in here somewhere. Any sentence that begins with “Modesty prevents me from giving too many details” usually ends in something that will anger the poker gods.
I know I’ve been pimping the David Ross posts for a week now, but I have really enjoyed reading through the journey of an online pro, and I think there are a lot of lessons to be learned from these posts. This is not some genius poker player with years of experience who is writing, it’s a Canadian guy playing from his house every day. It’s really interesting to follow his development and learn from the massive number of hands he’s played. Here are a couple more snippets:
On the average player’s biggest weakness:
“Played 3 hours in the afternoon and ended up exactly even. It has occurred to me that the biggest weakness in many of my opponents games is their inability to let a chance to bet go by, even if they have nothing. If it’s checked to them they are going to bet. It makes playing the blinds so much easier because you get so many chances to check-raise and drive out the borderline hands that might outdraw your pair of 8’s. There is too much macho in a lot of these players and taking advantage of them sure helps me win a few pots a night.”
On the stages of learning Hold ‘Em:
“If I was going to give advice to new players trying to learn the game I would tell them to approach it in stages. Eventually you will have AA against KK, and KK against AA. You’ll flop sets, and they’ll be flopped against you. Step 1 in becoming a winning player is making sure that on your fair share of winning hands, you win the max, and on your losing hands you lose the least. Doing that properly will make the difference between a loser and a winner. I think I max my wins pretty well. And when I’m running well I do allright with the minimizing losses. But on days like today, I lose it. I can’t believe my big hand has been cracked again, even though the evidence is right there in front of you. And I keep paying off. No one in the world could have won money with my cards today. But I should have lost around $300. That’s $130 I won’t have at the end of the week. I need to do better.
For what it’s worth I think the 2nd stage to go through is winning more than your fair share of hands with selective semi-bluffs and strategic raising to force out hands that could beat you later in the hand.”

If the damn 2+2 Search Interface wasn’t so horrible (as Iggy said of their webmaster, “eff Mat Sklansky”), I could actually give you some links to his posts, but your best bet is to go and search on the last 500 posts by username “davidross”. It’s worth the effort.
I also signed up for the 2nd Poker Blogger Tour tourney on True Poker, which our kind host has graciously set up for us. Be sure to sign up through this link so that the bloggers get a cut of the bonus.
After an hour of getting my butt kicked on the $1/2 table (I missed on AK, AQ, and AQ), I have to say that I’m very impressed with the site. It took 10 minutes to download, since I wanted to try out the super-nice graphics and sound that True Poker is known for. It was worth the wait– the graphics and sound are excellent, and it’s about as close as you can get to playing in a B&M.
Despite the super hi-res graphics and the shouting of “raise” and “fold” from the players, the game moves along quite fast. Kudos to the True Poker programmers. The avatars are actually pretty cool, and you get to pick from a pretty wide range of characters (Bonus: I’ll pay someone’s entry fee in the next poker blog tourney if they can guess which character I chose… email me if you have a guess).
Go check out Grubby‘s account of our joint effort to take down the $6-12 games at Hawaiian Gardens. The famed playwright does a much nicer job of wrapping it up than yours truly. Also check out the pictures from the auditions for his latest play. In the second picture, I believe the playwright is alluding to the triumphant victory dance of Hon Le, while the guy on the right is inspired by a beaten Phil Hellmuth. Or maybe not.
As I’m typing this I’ve somehow managed to hang on in a 60 player $20 NL tourney on True Poker. The tourney is down to 18 players, after I knocked out somebody when my dreaded AQo held up with 3 hearts on the board. The big hand that doubled me up (from 1K to 2K) came when I was all in from early postion with JJ… only to be called by KK. My luck continued when the third Jack hit on the river, and I lived to fight another hand.
Ended up 10th of 60, with the top 8 places playing, going out with AJh with the blinds threatening to bust me out. BB had JJ and I was 2 off the money. Overall I feel like I played pretty well, but made 2 or 3 minor mistakes. As Mr. Reilly once said, “One mistake in a no-limit tourney is one too many.” It also helps to catch a few cards.
I suppose I should be happy, as this is my highest multi-table finish and it was fun to make the final table, but I don’t think I ever could be content knowing that I made even a single mistake. But my NL game is improving, so at least that’s something to feel good about.
Poker Blog Patrol
I finally made it to Lion Tales, the superb blog of Richard Brodie, a high-stakes player who chronicles his attempts to get to the final table in a WPT event. Unbeknownst to me, I have actually read one of Brodie’s books many years ago, “The Virus of the Mind” (which is excellent). Not to mention that he is the creator of Microsoft Word– as much as I dislike Microsoft, Word is about as good as it gets when it comes to software (besides that damn talking paperclip). I have no clue why it took me so long to get to his blog, but I’ve got a lot of catching up to do.
Liquid Swords has a nice new layout for his blog (much easier on the eyes). Check out his latest adventures in the Party sit-n-goes, where he’s building his bankroll at a nice rate.
MT king (he wrote the Poker Hand Macro) Chris Halverson writes about his first SNG experience. I can barely remember my first $5 SNG, but I do know that after getting my butt kicked I immediately went out and read TJ’s tourney book, and even bought Sklansky’s horrible tourney book. Chris is also fooling around with TTH, and seriously working on his game. I think that programmers are well-trained to see patterns, so the more hands we see, the more quickly we can develop an optimal strategy. Note that Paul Phillips and Phil Gordon are among the many ex-programmers (see Brodie above) that are regulars in the WPT final table. This may only be because they struck it rich in the dot-com boom and have the cash to pay the 10K buy-in, but who knows…
MT prince TFG was nice enough to send me a template for comment viewing, but I mucked up the PHP and can’t get it to work. I’ll have to sit down and read some of the MT documentation to figure all this out (I hate PHP!). I also found out that TFG is a big Tungsten fan (the new color handheld device that everybody will be walking around with in the future). I’m doing some development for the Tungstens at the hospital I work at, and hopefully I can convince them to buy me one. I’ll be check-raising the Party Fish from the lunch room in full color if I can get my hands on that thing. TFG and the Tungsten rule.
TFG also hooked up Felicia’s dandy new site, which is much easier to read than the old yahoo group. She’s put up a repost of some of her online tourney experiences in her most recent post, check it out.
There’s no need to pimp Iggy, as everybody is already reading him (and I’ve already linked to him twice in this post). But I had to recount my favorite offhand remark from his latest post:
“TruePoker CEO David Gzesh actually called me a while back after I wrote and asked if they would host our tourney.”
Yeah, major poker sites usually call me up too. Ignatius keeps pimping us poker bloggers in deep, dark caverns of the internet, and we should all be grateful for his blue-collar efforts.
Keep on truckin…
“Jammin’ gears has got to be a fever. ‘Cos men become addicted to the grind.” –Merle Haggard, “Movin ‘On”

Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply