Tuesday, August 31, 2004

A quick review of my August play at Pacific Poker:

I played in 25 twenty-seat SnG tournaments at Pacific (2 @ $8.80, 23 @ $17.60)

I cashed in 12 (2 firsts, 2 seconds, 4 thirds, 1 fourth, 3 fifths)

Total Profit from SnG tournaments : $313.60

Tidy little ROI for my time.

And all because I wanted to play in the Monty.

Monday, August 30, 2004

---From my blog of 8/10/04---

"Quick note about the blind structure (and this could have a major impact on the upcoming blogger tourney). Strategy on manipulating the blinds may have just as profound an effect as Strategy on playing cards or position. If you manage to double or triple up early, it might be advantageous to start slowing down the game (think Dean Smith with a ten-point lead), get the blinds higher, and force the shortstacks into desperation mode. If you’re lucky enough to catch decent cards, you could pick them off when they’re forced to move in with sub-premium cards, or steal blinds when they’re reluctant to push all-in. Also, with the escalating blinds, the medium stacks will also be vulnerable to blind stealing because they’ll be protecting against being the next ones out. This structure definitely favors someone who gets an early lead and is an effective bully."

Granted, this didn't prove out exactly true, but don't say you weren't warned about the escalating blinds. It seems the best way to play in this MTT blind structure is to be very aggressive in the beginning and try to double up (possibly with 2nd tier preflop hands) or build a large lead over the table and immediately begin bullying for blinds, all the while taking your sweet time and letting the blinds rocket skyward. The problem for many of us is that we're tight players by nature, and the fear of an early exit made us even tighter. mstephan (a reader) seemed to play this way and made it to the final two, possibly because he didn't have some sort of image to uphold... Sometimes the rules of the game need to dictate the style of play....

Sunday, August 29, 2004

Iggy wins the Monty!

This is comparable to Byron Nelson winning the Byron Nelson Golf Tournament or maybe more like Bing Crosby winning the Crosby....

I busted out (to Iggy) in 18th place. I had AKs, so I was all-in at the right time, but it was the wrong place because Iggy called with QJs (and my suit, no less, making me a 2-1 favorite) and the board hit KQQJx for his boat. I may have out-thought myself because I was in BB and Iggy raised from SB. I made a modest raise. Why a modest raise? Because I WANTED him to push me all-in... I thought I had him. Damn Karma anyway...

I saw 116 hands and put money in 43 times, more than I typically do, but I was getting some good hands. Problem was that our first table was horribly tight and those good hands were winning blinds and not much more. We didn't even see a RIVER until 20 hands in. In one four-hand stretch I had QQ twice and AK once, and only won the blinds when I raised.

I got my first scalp on hand 52 (NemoD) with, what else, the Hilton Sisters. After I raised from MP to 250 with 1925 chips, he pumped all-in with his 1600 stack. I thought a moment, figured him for Ax or a smaller pair (AA or KK he might have smooth called) and called. Pacific Poker's incredibly FUBAR all-in mechanism upchucked the cards 6-3-J-8-3 and mucked his cards before I even saw what he had.

After that, I pretty much played by the numbers, since the table was so tight. Maybe this was a bad move, because right about then, the cards dried up for me. I won exactly ONE of my last 50 hands (not counting everyone folding to BB), and that one was KK when I went all-in with the shortstack at the table, hit my set, and doubled up on... hdouble. Just a few hands later, I made my final ill-fated push with AKs.

Thanks again to Iggy for setting this up (although a proper host would expand the prize pool to, say, the top 18 or so) and to Pacific for... um... kinda hosting it... um, once they got their shit together. Of course, since Iggy won this one, this means that he is still responsible for setting up the NEXT ONE! I'll be there and looking to crack that final table. Hey, I made the top quarter, so I'm pretty satisfied with my finish.... this time.

::Edit::: After the Monty, I decided to try a $16 20-seater at Pacific. I saw VARoad of the Poker Roadtrip at the other table. Sadly he busted in 11th. Me? I won the damn thing. So, my luck at those 20-seaters continues...

Friday, August 27, 2004

The outpouring of sympathy and support has been amazing. First, I had no idea people were actually reading this blog. Second, the reaction online has been more heartfelt and sincere than I received at work. I'm not sure whether that says more about the blogging community or my workplace. Thanks to all of you.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Every Sunday evening after dinner, my dad and my uncles used to play poker with my Grandma (Bachan, for those other buddhaheads). It wasn’t the kind of poker you see on ESPN. It wasn’t even the kind of poker you see on Bravo. It was five-card draw, jacks back, no betting, just a quarter to ante. They’d sit on the floor for hours and play while the moms would gab around the dinner table, and the kids were expected to entertain themselves by reading comic books or watching TV.

I’d sit and watch the poker game. I learned Uncle Howard could squeeze cards tighter than anyone else, and after seeing the tiniest micron of paint, know whether he filled his two pair or hit his low hand. Since there was no betting, my dad and Uncle Kaz were prone to picking up their draw cards and slamming them face up on the table to declare their hands. Uncle Benson used to randomly flip cards while he was dealing, just to be a pain in the ass. Bachan had this funny high pitched cackle whenever she got a good hand, and would frequently ask my uncles (in pidgin) which cards she should keep.

As I got older, she would ask me to help her more and more. “Bachan, nobody opened, so it’s low. Throw away the king and queen.” Or “Howard opened, keep your pair of sixes and draw three.” They played with a joker, so she loved trying for gutshot straights and would pick up her cards yelling “Jo-kah! Jo-kah! Ohhh-hhh God-damm-ma!” before mucking her cards. And on the rare occasions that she hit a strong hand, she would spread her cards carefully and smirk at everyone and reach for the pile of quarters at the middle of the table. Sometimes, her strong hands were beaten by stronger ones and we would have to tell her “Bachan, so-and-so has a full house. They won.” Sometimes, we wouldn’t tell her and let her collect the pot.

All of my cousins eventually started bringing quarters so we could play, and the uncles gradually faded to the dinner table to talk rather than play. But with eleven grandkids (and eventually some spouses), there was never a shortage of players. I think she really enjoyed connecting with her grandkids that way. Her English was spotty at best, so long conversations were out of the question. And as she got older, it got spottier until the only words I could understand were “Toddy! Po-kah?!” That was my introduction to poker, such as it was. No crap about implied pot odds, no check-raising the turn, no slowplaying a set, no Big Slick or Pocket Rockets. Five card draw, jacks back, quarter ante. Simpler times. I miss them.

Bachan died yesterday. She was 94.

Monday, August 23, 2004

OK, I've got a bit of a dilemma... I'm still semi-pissed at Pacific over the Monty snafu, but the SnGs there have been frighteningly lucrative lately. I've played five of the 20-seat, $16 tournaments in the last week. I've have one first, two seconds, and two thirds for a total profit of $312 for about five hours of play.

I pulled all but $55 out of Pacific last night (un-cashable bonus money), then they go and be nice to us and give us $25, and I win a 20-seater, so now I'm back up over $170. Sheesh. I feel like a liberal who saves money from a Bush tax cut. I wanna be pissed off, but sticking around these people is just so darn cash-a-licious.

Well, it looks like we ALL won money at the Monty this weekend. I'm $25 to the plus side for the tournament, plus we have an additional $500 in built-up equity for the next one. If you are on the entrant list and can't make the next (first?) Monty, you should be able to sell your reserved seat (only 75 available!) for about $26.67. That would be the entry fee of $20 plus the bonus purse factor ($500/75 entrants = $6.67).

It seems like what Pacific lacks in skilled technical personnel and real-time customer service, they try to make up for with CASH and mea culpas. Believe me, cash is a wonderful bandage for the scab they peeled last night, and while it won't get me to re-deposit what I've already withdrawn, I will put away the online blowtorch I've been wielding.

Of course, if they fuck it up again, I'll fire up the old blowtorch again, and this time, there will be no pacifying me!

Unless, of course, you give me more money.

Here was my decidedly enterprising email to Pacific last night. I wouldn't be terribly surprised if they received, oh, around 70 of these.

Dear Kim,

While I don't hold you personally responsible for the "non-start", I am rather disgusted with Pacific's shoddy treatment of the entire group. Clearly, you had everyone's email address and log-on names and could have updated us as to your efforts, but we had to call tech support and/or wait on hold. Many in the poker blogger community had arranged their schedules around this tournament and it was expected to the be the highlight of the year thus far.

Personally, the only reason I deposited money with Pacific Poker in the first place was to participate in this particular tournament, and I have heard of many others who did it for the same reason. The only way to compensate us for the lost time and scheduling hassles would be to offer some kind of "make-up" tournament and make it a free roll for the original registrants. I would recommend offering a CLOSED free roll tournament to the Monty registrants perhaps a week or two out. We WANTED to play together... the chat was one of the main draws of this tournament... the rail was going to be full of our readers... we had being sending business to you guys for weeks.

And you guys missed the ball.

It's up to YOU to convince US to stay.


Sunday, August 22, 2004

Dear Member/Blogger,

Please accept our sincerest apologies for the non-start of the Monty Memorial Tournament as organized by “Iggster”.I can assure you that this matter is being fully reviewed by our technical department, and you will be contacted by our Promotional department regarding this matter as soon as possible. We do appreciate that this has caused great inconvenience to yourself and the other players, and will be taking this into account.Your satisfaction is our top priority and we are always willing to listen and understand our member's needs and concerns. We value your time and thank you for your patience.

Member Support Representative
Pacific Poker

Three words for you. $1500 free roll.

And just for the 75 people signed up for the Monty.

Or it's bye-bye blogger money....

What a bunch of frickin' douchebags!

75 of the most passionate online poker players in the world, and they fuck it up! After all, these are people that either write about poker almost every day or read about poker almost every day or both... and now it's 75 of the most passionate online poker players who are gonna steer everyone they know away from Pacific Fucking Poker.

I've pulled out all of the money that I can, excluding the un-cashable $50 of bonus money which I'm gonna use in tournaments. As soon as I win one or two tournaments, I'll pull that money out too... I'm basically gonna play with THEIR money, and all the winnings will be mine. And there's not a damn thing they can do about it. I encourage everyone else to do the same.


Man, this Pacific Poker thing is pissing me off. First, wifey is barking at me for sitting down at the computer on a Sunday night, and then the Tournament is 86'd.

At least if I had played in the tourney, I would've felt like I had some fun to compensate for the nagging...

Saturday, August 21, 2004

For the sake of complete disclosure (and so I can finally figure out if I'm ahead or behind), here is my monetary history at the various poker sites:

UltimateBet: Deposited $80, Withdrawn $0, Current balance $0

PartyPoker: Deposited $100 (bonus $10), Withdrawn $100, Current balance $1.81

EmpirePoker: Deposited $150 (bonus $75), Withdrawn $225, Current balance $98.50

PacificPoker: Deposited $150 (bonus $50), Withdrawn $150, Current balance $170.70

Total: Deposited $480, Withdrawn $475, Current balance $272.01

I’m not sure what this means, but it must mean something.

Friday, August 20, 2004

I finally saw where the hand histories are kept in Pacific Poker. Y'see, there's a little bar at the bottom of the lobby page titled "Hand Histories". When you click that, you get a splashy, graphically intense page broken out by game and type. When you finally make your choice, the history is presented in reverse hand order with your bust-out (or winning) hand first. You can see your hole cards, the board, the amount you bet, the amount (if any) you won, and your running chip total. You can click on a little movie camera icon to see the hand played out. Sounds cool, doesn't it? Well, it ain't.

1. You have to be running Pacific Poker. Tough when you're blogging from work or are using a work computer to download the client.
2. It's painfully graphical, meaning you actually SEE the cards in all their colorful glory. If your boss happens by, well, I hope your 401K is well funded.
3. You have to pull up the gameplay one hand at a time rather than seeing the entire history in one fell swoop.
4. There's no easy way to condense the play for analysis or discussion (cut/paste) since it's graphical rather than text-based.

All that being said, I'm up $120 for my time there. I placed 3rd in a 20-seat $16 last night for a plus $46. I didn't do anything spectacular and much of my success is due to simply making it to the final table, and being seated behind the big bully of a chip leader. He was stealing blinds left and right, and made it really easy for me to fold my borderline trap hands. If he raised when I had a good hand, I would simply call and hope I hit the flop. If I hit, I could let him lead out and take him down for a decent pot. If not, I could bail right behind his big bet with very little harm done. He was stealing enough blinds to bankroll his bully strategy, and the other stacks dwindled fast. If I had a good hand and he folded preflop, I would raise it up and get some chasers who were sick of being bullied by the big stack. This worked really well for me, and to use a racing term, I "drafted" him to get to the final three. Me and the other stack were close to even with about 3K-4K vs. the 8K-10K of the big stack for a few orbits. I ended up pushing back on what I thought was a blind steal with AQ. This time, he had KK and flopped a K to put me out.

Everyone else is coming up with predictions for the Monty, so I go ahead and post mine.

1st - Otis. If a horse wins two legs of the Triple Crown, would you bet against him in the Breeders' Cup? I don't think so.

2nd - One of the readers. Everyone seems to be picking bloggers for the top five. I think one of the readers will be a ringer, and will step to the cash window.

3rd - PokerGenius. Seriously, how can you not pick a genius?! And a Poker Genius to boot! Plus, he's a buddhahead. And you know those Asians do nothing but play cards...

4th - (tie) Sean and Iggy. Once we get to the final five, Sean and Iggy will go all-in with AK facing QQ and lose to a reader who hits a straight after a KQ9 flop.

All I'm trying to do is make it to the first break. If I'm knocked out first, I'll be embarrassed... if I'm knocked out early, I'll be miffed... if I make top half, I'll be content... top quarter, I'll be happy... top ten, I'll be shocked. See ya Sunday!

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Took the day off of work yesterday (I’m a training specialist) to take my son to Registration for middle school. Ended up writing about $300 worth of checks for PE Clothes ($40), Organizer/DayTimer ($20 – whatever happened to PeeChees?), school lunches ($100), yearbook ($20), school pictures ($50), school logo t-shirts ($60), plus some other crap I don’t remember. That’s not even counting the new backpack, bicycle lock, shirts, jeans, etc that we bought at Penney’s this weekend. What a racket!

Taking my daughter in next week for elementary school. Oh joy. All these hands reaching out for money to pay every conceivable fee, almost none of which my parents ever had to pay. At some point, they’re gonna need to modernize the process. Maybe have you register your child in person to avoid school boundary abuse, and then pay online. I ain’t used to writing checks anymore. I do all my bill paying online, and I actually had to THINK about how to write a goddamn check. “Let’s see, the amount goes here… who do I make this out to? What’s the date? What’s my frickin’ name?”

School boundary abuse is rampant here in Pleasanton, CA. We have pretty highly rated schools and people are trying all kinds of devious ways to get their kids into the district, using the addresses of grandparents, friends, churches, and places of work to squeeze little Johnny into the school. Hey, if you want your kids to go to a particular school or district, move to the right frickin’ neighborhood!

Anyway, since I spent a lot of time at home, I thought I’d try some of the longer multis on Pacific. Got into a $10 tourney with 300+ other deadbeats, finished in the top third. Don’t remember much about it, just know I didn’t cash. Jumped to Empire for a O8 $10 SnG, bombed out in 5th there. Fired up Ghost Recon, killed some Ethiopian rebels, and felt better about myself. For some reason, even with an empty house, I’m not focused in the afternoon, at least when it comes to poker.

After cooking up some great Coho salmon on a cedar plank for dinner for me and wifey, I went back to Pacific for 20-seater. (Side note for married/committed men: Cooking a nice dinner always gets you some nag-free computer time for online poker). Placed 2nd for a $80 purse, and really played well enough to win, but the cards didn’t cooperate. Head-to-head for the $32 difference between 1st and 2nd, I had a 2-1 chip lead and a really good read on my opponent. I checked with Ax and an ace on board, knowing he would bet big with nothing and small with the ace. He pushed all-in, and I knew I had him. And I did… until his middle pair on the flop turned into middle two-pair on the river. Now he had the power and eventually took out my Kx with his Ax. I really can’t complain, because I got him all-in when I had a fairly sizable advantage, and just got out-drawn. Que sera sera.

No bonuses for knocking me out of the Monty, although I can send you some lovely educational CD’s I got free from a training gig I had at a children’s software company. We can make the Monty like a White Elephant party… I think I have an Onion Blossom maker around here somewhere…

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

24th out of 720. Not bad. Tried the $10,000 guaranteed $15 tournament on Pacific last night. When I signed up, there were only 600 entries, giving a bit of an overlay, but the typical last second sign-up blitz assured Pacific that they wouldn’t be out of pocket for the tournament. I hadn’t done well in these BIG tournaments at UB, Party, or Empire, so my goal was simply to cash (60th or better) and prepare for the Monty.

First hand was pocket queens in MP. Well, that’s nice. Raise to 4xBB, get a few callers; after all, it IS the first hand. Flop is Axx. Sigh. With multiple callers to a raise, odds are pretty strong that there are some aces out there. When SB bets and gets raised immediately, my queens go nighty-night. Right move because K comes up next.

Second hand… pocket Aces. Well, that’s even nicer. It even helps my table image as a total nut job when I raise this to 5xBB. I get two or three callers to this. Flop is Axx and two hearts. I figure they just think I’m a retard already, so I bet 10xBB. I get one caller. Turn is a brick and I bet 15xBB hoping the last guy will just think I’m raising by formula. He calls and I put him on either a nut flush draw (KQ or KJ, and he doesn’t know the concept of pot odds) or Ax (possible two pair) or a smaller set. The river is a blessed black brick and I bet 20xBB. He calls (!) and mucks to my set. Now, I’ve almost doubled up after only two hands.

Fourth hand… pocket tens. Well, that’s nice. I decide to limp this one now that I’m in early position and give me the chance to muck quietly after a flop with a lot of paint. Sure enough, the flop is AJx, and the tens take a dive. Then, damn those laws of averages, the Crap Fairy showed up for about an hour. With the low blinds, I could play the folding game with an occasional steal. In fact, when I had really bad hands, I would sometimes let the clock run out so they would think I just left the computer. I would pop back in for the blinds, but otherwise coasted to the first break. Card-wise, I seemed to have shot my wad in the first four hands.

By the time we got to the second break, it was down below 100 people, and people tightened up like Ricky Williams filling a specimen cup. Blinds would see maybe one caller, or the big stacks would steal by raising enough to put the shortstacks all-in. I was hovering near the lower third of chips with no real hands to speak of, just playing tight-weak while the chip Darwinism was exacting its toll. I knew I had to double up soon to feel confident about cashing, but the hands just weren’t there. There was an interesting stretch where I folded J9, J9, JT in order. And all three times, they would have won on flops of T87, JJK, and Q98. Un-frickin-believable.

Finally, I got Big Slick UTG and raised to 3xBB. I got two callers and cheered the flop of A85. I put out the same bet, got only one caller. The turn was a 6 or 7, and I immediately pushed all-in. The chip leader paused, and mucked, but I was back in business with middle stack at the table. This freed me from the blind-stealing since the big stacks wouldn’t molest my middle stack, fearing a showdown that would cripple their stacks. It also allowed me to steal more blinds since I had the shortstacks covered 2-1. I tested my theory with pocket sixes. The blinds were shortstacked and the chip leader came over them with a raise from MP that would’ve put them all-in. I re-raised from the button and they folded a tidy little pot to me.

Midway through the third hour, I knew I had cashed, so that hurdle was cleared. The money IIRC was $43.20 for 51-60, $53.60 for 41-50, $64 for 31-40, $75+ for 21-30, so now I decided I wanted to make top 30. Without a bunch of monster hands, I wouldn’t be able to get much higher than that. Strangely, right here, I hit my coldest streak of cards yet. I must have folded thirty hands in a row. Funny thing was, I had a really tight-weak player to my right and he kept folding his SB to me, essentially paying for my orbit. Soon, with blinds at 1K/2K and my stack at a piddly 6K (and everyone else at the table at 12K-40K), I was at the dreaded “all-in on any ace” territory. I sighed as I looked at A7s UTG. I checked the tournament control center and saw 36 people still in and knew that I’d have to double up to make top 30 or be blinded out. I pushed all-in and was bummed to be called by the BB with AQ. Pacific spits out the board cards like a machine gun, 8-6-5-7-6. I look for the straight. Nope. Then I realize that I have two pair and the chips are being slid in front of me. Whoo-hoo!

With 12K, I know I’m safe for a couple of orbits, but I want to build my stack so I can compete for top 10. I steal some blinds with a 6K raise with KQs. I fold J9 again, and see KJJ flop. Shit. I’m getting no playable cards, no suited connectors, no small pocket pairs, nothing. Now I’m blinded back down to 7K and get QJ sooted UTG. Blinds are the onerous 2K/4K and there are only 25 players left, meaning the average stack is around 23K. Since I don’t think I’ll get anything better in the blinds and sure as hell someone is gonna try to steal them, I decide to make my stand. Only one caller with A7 meant I had a fighting chance. Ace on the flop kills that chance and I’m out with $75 in 24th. About three hours work for $60 profit.

Pacific really needs to tweak their interface, especially for all-ins. The cards just stream out, making it impossible to build any suspense from flop to turn to river. The hole cards get flipped at the same picosecond the board cards start spewing out, practically all five at once. Part of the excitement of NLHE is when someone is all-in and each card on the board is flipped and scrutinized to see who has the lead. Y’know the moment when the dealer taps the table twice before dealing and flipping the turn. Then taps twice again before dealing and flipping the river. The most exciting moments in poker. And Pacific effs it up.

Monday, August 16, 2004

Lucky Chances, my ass. I had a buddy come into town on Sunday and agreed to meet him at the local card parlor, misnamed Lucky Chances. Jeff had played there before and had some luck, and though I hadn’t been played poker in a casino for, oh, about eighteen years, I agreed to give it a try.

When we got there at 11:30 or so, the list for 3/6 was pretty short, so we passed some time watching one of the 3/6 tables from the rail. I had already pegged a couple of the people as calling stations and a couple as being pretty tight. The calling stations both re-bought multiple times while we were watching, and when two seats opened up a few minutes later, we were called to join. I sat in 7s to the left of a tight player, and to the right of a short stack who kept yelling “Jackpot, come on Jackpot” whenever the board paired. Jeff plopped into the 2s with a talkative oriental woman calling station to his right and a couple of locals to his left. Here, you’re required to post from the button and the money goes to the Jackpot fund, so each round would cost you $7 just to see your cards.

As soon as I sit, I get the button and post my $3 and pick up …. Presto! I check since four people have already called the blind, and have already proven that they’ll call with almost anything. The board hits 974, all clubs. A bet,, a fold, a raise, and I muck the fives disgustedly. Turns out the bet was on overcards (KQ, I think) and the raise was on 87 which ended up winning when a 4 hit the river for bottom two pair. Jeff and I popped our eyes when we saw the hands. The KQ had stayed till the end with a J on the turn, hoping for the gutshot. Man, oh man, this was a different game.

Next hand, I pick up A4o. Yeah, I know, Ace-rag. But I was there to play. I limp in with four others. Flop comes AK4 with two diamonds. UTG bets after the blinds check, next guy calls, a couple of fold and I raise, trying to price out the flush draws early. Blinds fold and we’re three handed to see a brick for the turn (9, I think, but two suits the board). UTG bets, middle guy folds, I raise again, and get called. After another brick for the river, UTG finally checks, I bet, he calls. I show my two pair and he shows KQ again. He bet into an Ace-high board with a pair of kings and called two raises! I gather up my chips, trying not to let my hands tremble as a pull in a decent $50+ pot.

And guess what, that’s about it. After that, it was nothing but 84o, 83o, 94o, T3o, a whole bunch of total garbage. My next playable hand was AQs. I raised from MP, the woman to Jeff’s right called along from BB with the other calling station joining in. Flop is the luscious QT6. Checked to me, so I bet. The woman beat me to the pot with her chips, and the other guy bailed. 8 on the turn, she checked, and I bet $6. Again, she called quickly. River is a 3, and she checked again and called my bet. I turn my AQ, the old guy to my right said “Good hand”, but I looked across the table and she shows 63o for the rivered two pair. Not only did she call a preflop raise, but she called TWO bets with bottom pair and no kicker to speak of. And I watch my chips get pushed in front of her… Jeff was shaking his head, but was laughing at me too. Asshole. Toto, I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore.

It was that way the whole time, I'd raise with QQ preflop, get three callers, and see AKx on the flop. A bet and a raise later, I’m mucking the ladies (rightfully so, it turns out). I get AT head to head with Jeff. Flop is AKJ, he bets, I raise. Turn is A. He checks, I bet, he raises, I call. River is a brick, he checks again, I bet, he raises again, I call again. He turns AQ to outkick me. Asshole. He said he figured me for Ax and knew he had me outkicked. Asshole.

Anyway, every time I had top pair, someone would river bottom two pair… I flop a boat with 33 down and a flop of 883, and everyone folds to my minimum bet after chasing every other hand. For some reason, I was incapable of shifting gears to meet the play of the rest of the table. I was treating this place like I was online, and my usual tight play wasn’t paying off. I tried to open up my play with a bluff and was called down with middle pair. It was simply frickin’ brutal.

I stopped the carnage at -$140 even though I had another $100 in my pocket. I had to admit that I couldn’t adjust to that table. I sweated Jeff a while and saw that he played pretty much the same as me, but raised on more speculative hands, and got more callers when he had the stronger hands. I guess I was easier to read by playing too tight. He ended up winning around $100, around half of that from me. Asshole.

So last night, to wash the taste out of my mouth, I played a $10 O-8 SnG and placed 2nd. I made a remarkable comeback starting at 57 chips and six players left. I went all-in with T322 and doubled up to 114 when I boated on the flop (882). I was praying for high cards, but I ended up splitting the pot after 43 finished off the board. Two hands later, I’m UTG with blinds at 100 and I push all-in with ATT4. Amazingly, I flop QUADs and I quintuple up over 600 chips. After whittling back down to 450 or so, I triple up to 1350+ after flopping a set of kings, pushing all-in, and rivering the nut straight. One more double up with the nut straight, nut low scoop, and I end up in the final two. A nice run, but I’m unable to close the deal, though it definitely helped to clear my mind of the lunacy at Lucky Chances.

Lessons learned:
- I’m an open book in person. Apparently, I was the sucker at the table, at least for three hours. - Apparently, white people and black people don’t play cards in card rooms. Only Asians.
- Reading the table is easier when you’re sweating a player rather than actually playing.
- Jeff is an asshole.
- Representing a good hand is useless. I raised after two checks with an A86 board to represent aces (I had QJ) and got called with bottom pair.
- I’m more comfortable online at my desk, in my chair, in my boxers.
- Oh, did I say Jeff is an asshole?

A rant of Olympian proportions:
- Ummm, Misty May and Kerri Walsh are not attractive. Just because they frolic around on the beach in bikinis and have no discernible fat doesn’t make them attractive. And photographing them after an Extreme Makeover for their NBC publicity shots that appear over Bob Costas’ shoulder is comparable to bait-and-switch. Sure, they’re great players, but why do they have to keep saying how “attractive” they are. NBC sucks.

- The 12-18 hour tape delay for the West Coast is kinda helpful in planning the evening. If my wife wants to watch a swimming race or gymnastics round, if I don’t want to watch it, I can just look up the results, and announce them to her so she won’t want to watch it either.
Wifey: Oooh, I want to watch the swimming tonight. Michael Phelps is in the relay.

Me (at the computer, typing quickly): Why do you want to watch that anyway? The US only gets the bronze.

Wifey: You’re a turd. And you better not tell me what medal the gymnastics team gets…

Me: No problem, it’s just the preliminaries tonight, and they come in second to Romania anyway.

Wifey: You’re a turd. I’m going into the other room to read a magazine.

Me: While you’re up, can you turn it to Celebrity Poker?
- Why does NBC shut down the coverage on peripheral channels (Bravo, CNBC, MSNBC) during primetime? Some of the best stuff is shown on these stations LIVE (table tennis, field hockey, shooting) during the day, but NBC wants to dominate the evening with their Phelps-watch and stupid versions of “Up close and personal” vignettes. Show the frickin’ competitions and keep your human interest stories to a minimum!

- Why isn’t Melissa Stark wearing a bikini when she interviews the swimmers? I believe that it should be mandatory for pool interviewers to be in bathing suits. Unless it’s Jim Gray or something…

- Cynthia Potter is remarkable. I’m astounded at her ability to pick out minute flaws in dives that I can’t see. She’ll say stuff like “Ziang Chow Mein’s second toe was a little bent on the entry, that’s why there was such a big splash.” Sure enough, when they show the replay, the toe is bent about .005 inches.

- NBC sucks. Bob Costas is beginning to sound more and more like Jack Whitaker, a tired voice trying to sound poetic and epic at the same time, trying to mix lyricism with jingoism, and failing at both.

- Oh, NBC sucks.

Friday, August 13, 2004

Some quick political thoughts:

· Fighting in a war doesn’t qualify you to be Commander-in-Chief any more than playing in a baseball game qualifies you to be Commissioner. If so, we have 50,000 Vietnam vets that are just as qualified as John Kerry. It’s a shame they didn’t bring their 8mm cameras with them, or they might be leading the ticket now. Funny how those that were willing to overlook Clinton dodging the draft are suddenly gung-ho for war veterans.

· Bush isn’t a great president. He might not even be a good president, but there’s no proof that he’s a liar. The intelligence communities of Great Britain, Russia, and the US all reported that Saddam had WMD. Idiots like Michael Moore and most of Hollywood continue to throw the word “liar” out there like they’re in the 3rd grade… “Liar, liar, polls on fire!” If they simply called him a stubborn, vindictive, unsophisticated administrator, well, then they might have a point. As it is, they’re their own worst enemies my almost making Bush a sympathetic character with their childish name-calling and finger-pointing.

· Now, is it possible that on September 12, Bush called in his intelligence staff and told them “Goddammit, I wanna blow these bastards back to the stone age! Find me a reason!”???? Sure it is, and the CIA/FBI may well have decided “Hey, we have this old report about WMD, we’ll just change the dates and use this.” Could this have happened? Probably.

· IF the Republicans have any brains at all, they would (a) Move Cheney to the Intelligence Czar position, citing health reasons and his lifetime of administrative work in the DOD, (b) Put McCain on the ticket as the VP candidate, countering the Vietnam vet pandering of Kerry AND setting up McCain as the presumptive 2008 candidate (hopefully against Hillary), and (c) Make sure Teresa Kerry has a fully stocked bar at every campaign stop. Will they do it? Sigh. Probably not. But you heard it here first.

· Hollywood liberalism: I have a buddy (who lost in a Congressional primary) that has the perfect answer for why Hollywood is so liberal. “They’re all about MAKE-BELIEVE, they’re not living in the real world.” It’s true when you think about it. They step out of their Bel-Air mansions on the way to their limos and spout how the Democrats are the party of the people. Please. Like they’ve ever installed a garbage disposal or put up drywall… If they really believed the pablum they spout, they’d be living in Compton, and using their $20M per film to pay for new schools and teachers in the inner cities. Instead, they hide in their ivory towers and criticize the very system that made them rich.

· Media liberalism: Face it, the media says what they think people want to hear. And the Democrats are waaaaayyyy more optimistic and idealistic than the Republicans. So the liberal message is much more “happy”: universal health care, social programs for the underprivileged, international amity, stuff like that. If you were the average American (Theory X, for those baby boomers who remember) who is essentially lazy and unmotivated, it’s a pretty attractive theory of government. “Let’s see, I don’t have to work… and the government will pay for my food, housing, and porn with the wages of some guy who is working his butt off. Sounds good to me.” And the media gets paid by how many eyeballs they attract, not by how much truth they tell or ideas they convey. So they’ll always pander to the lowest common denominator…

Whew, that went on longer than I thought, and probably pissed off more than a few people. But, WTF, if I’m here and you’re here, doesn’t that make it OUR time?! And certainly there’s nothing wrong with a little rant on OUR time….

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Well, I finally copped a feel at Pacific Poker. I was going to use the “lost my cherry” metaphor, but realized that just cashing (3rd out of 20) isn’t quite going all the way. Interestingly, after bombing out twice in the 20-seat $8+.8, I decided to bump up into the $16+1.6 following my theory that increased stakes leads to increased competence leads to increased predictability. I placed 8th in my first shot Tuesday, but broke through to pull the $64 prize for 3rd last night.

Since Pacific has NO hand history utility and I didn’t take detailed notes, I can’t recap specific hands. One thing I remember is that I made two of the most spectacular suckouts of my life to come back from 65 chips to be the chip leader briefly before settling back into 3rd. On my first all-in from the BB with four callers, I had 86s and was already checking out the TV listings. The flop was a Q95 rainbow and I sighed as everyone called a small bet. The turn paired the board (I think) and I flipped on the TV. The river was the suckout 7, and I was back in for at least another circuit with 325 chips.

I was still one of the shortstacks (eight players left) with around 600 chips (and blinds at 150/300 IIRC). I had A5s in middle position and figured it was my best chance, so I pushed all-in. I got two callers to see a KQ2 flop, followed by minimum bets from the other guys. 3 on the turn, and two checks. Hmmmm, Sportscenter is on now with Greg Gumbel no less… Oh, here’s a 4. A FOUR?!?! Holy shit, I rivered a gutshot wheel! (how’s that for mixing in a lot of poker lingo?). I tripled up to 1800+ and immediately went back to my regular game, stealing blinds from the known tightwads to my left, and mucking just about everything else.

When it got down to four, everyone had 3200+/-500 and we started riding the Blind Stealing Carousel, with the chip lead following the button around the table. After about twenty minutes of this, it finally got to three players and blinds got up to 250/500 before I finally got a taste of my own medicine. My steal attempt of 1500 chips with Kx lost to Qx (again, IIRC) when a %^$&^#! bitch Queen shows up on the river and crippled my stack. Man, it really bites when the river changes directions.

So, the $64 prize means that I’m up a whopping $11.20 after four SnGs on Pacific. I still find the interface a little clunky, and the sliding bar for raises stops at some interesting intervals (not nice round numbers), so there were raises of 68 chips and 233 chips, shit like that. The lack of hand histories makes it difficult for Monday morning quarterbacking, so I suppose you’d have to buy PokerTracker to properly analyze your play over the long haul.

However, I really like the two-table payouts and blind structure here. Once you get used to the rapidly increasing blinds, you can get into a good rhythm with the other players. The betting clock starts immediately meaning the pace is pretty well maintained, unlike Party/Empire where they wait ten seconds, and THEN start the twenty second clock. Pacific also has more buy-in levels (2, 5, 8, 10, 16 etc.) and more tournament sizes (2, 5, 6, 10, 20, etc.) giving plenty of choices to all players. Unless you want to play tournaments in something other than Hold’Em, in which case Pacific sucks. C’mon guys, put in some Omaha tourney tables….

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Here’s a news story that stopped me in my tracks. Rick Fox has filed for divorce from Vanessa Williams. Read that again. Rick Fox has filed for divorce from Vanessa Williams. Vanessa-freakin’-Williams! For my money, the greatest Miss America ever. And still a babe. Astounding.

I’d have much less trouble digesting the converse. After all, he’s a marginal NBA player who probably frequents strip clubs and only won championship rings because he was in the right place at the right time, namely somewhere on the wing when Shaq and Kobe were scoring all the points for the Lakers. Plus, he just got traded to the Celtics and Vanessa probably didn’t want to move away from Hollywood and those lucrative Radio Shack commercials.

Maybe I’m just remembering back to 1984, when I was in charge of ordering magazines for the San Jose State bookstore. When rumors broke about Bob Guccione buying nude pictures of the gorgeous reigning Miss America, I ordered 100 copies of the October Penthouse for the college bookstore. My manager questioned my judgment at the time, but the magazines sold out in less than a day. Of course, as the assistant manager, I had to review the issue carefully to make sure that it met the lofty academic standards of the university. I’m pleased to report that the issue exceeded all of my expectations. The black-and-white photos were, um, both artistic and provocative. That issue stayed under my bed for a long, long time… I knew the photos wouldn’t hurt her career, in fact, one could argue that they MADE her career.

Quick, name a former Miss America. Odds are if you’re around my age (40), your first answer would be Vanessa Williams, even though she had the shortest reign ever. If you’re older, you might say Phyllis George or Mary Ann Mobley, maybe Tawny Little Schneider. But Vanessa trumped them all. And now, some scrub is divorcing her?! Bastard. Time to look for that issue, that is, if my wife didn’t throw it away fifteen years ago…

Started my Pacific Poker experiment last night in an $8+.8 two-table NLHE. Interesting prize structure with five places playing, more than Empire’s two-table payouts of four places. I don’t remember it exactly (possibly because I came in 9th), but it’s something like $56-44-32-20-8 (ratio of 35 : 27.5 : 20 : 12.5 : 5) as opposed to the 40:30:20:10 ratio of Empire. Play was seemingly standard and in line with the $10 tables at Empire, although I never figured out how to get hand histories, so recaps will be difficult.

On the very first hand, I started auspiciously with KK in big blind. Five limpers and I made a 3BB raise, folding two out. Flop was the very ugly AJx, three spades. I take a peek at my cowboys… no spade. Shit. I test the water with a bet, and get raised immediately, followed by a second raise all-in. Easy muck, but I get a bad vibe right away.

Next hand in small blind… JJ. Well, at least the opening hands are nice at Pacific. This time, two callers and a raise on the button. Sigh. I call along with both of the limpers. Of course, the flop is AKx and after I check, someone pops all-in, and I fold. Well, now that I’ve exhausted my allotment of premium starting hands (and lost with both), I settle into a nice little game of fold, fold, oh, and fold again. I make a couple of ill-timed blind stealing attempts, getting re-raised back both times and mucking baby pairs and AT before ending up at the final table as the second lowest stack. Blinds escalate by time, making it easy for the big stacks to stall until the shortstacks get blinded out. Which is what happened to me until I ended up all-in with crap (I think it was 98o), got called with QT, and lost on the river when a Queen smacked down my flopped 8.

Quick note about the blind structure (and this could have a major impact on the upcoming blogger tourney). Strategy on manipulating the blinds may have just as profound an effect as Strategy on playing cards or position. If you manage to double or triple up early, it might be advantageous to start slowing down the game (think Dean Smith with a ten-point lead), get the blinds higher, and force the shortstacks into desperation mode. If you’re lucky enough to catch decent cards, you could pick them off when they’re forced to move in with sub-premium cards, or steal blinds when they’re reluctant to push all-in. Also, with the escalating blinds, the medium stacks will also be vulnerable to blind stealing because they’ll be protecting against being the next ones out. This structure definitely favors someone who gets an early lead and is an effective bully.

I also dropped a $20+2 Empire SnG again. I read back through the recap, and I couldn’t find any major errors until the final hand, unless you count folding Q2 of diamonds from the button and seeing AKJ of diamonds appear on the board. I played about as well as I could given the cards I was getting. My chips were in the pot when I had good hands and pot odds on my side. I’m not really sure why I pushed with six players left and pocket sixes. The 2nd stack had been stealing blinds and I had basically made up my mind that I was cracking back with any decent hand. I guess I thought pocket sixes constituted a decent hand. Fortunately, I was right and he folded. Unfortunately, the top stack was still in and called behind me. I ended up all in against his AQ of spades, putting it to a coin flip. The 432 with two spades kept odds even, and the 8d turn made me the 2-1 favorite. The 9s sent me home.

If I had won that hand, I would’ve taken over 2nd place with three very small stacks still in the game, virtually guaranteeing I would’ve been in the money. (Yeah, I know, if my aunt had balls, she’d be my uncle) I had a read on all four players behind me, and feel confident that I would’ve ended up head-to-head. Did I play it perfectly? Tough to say, since most poker bloggers seem to feel that you have to win a couple of coin flips to win any tournament, and this was only my second showdown of the night. So, down $31 for the night, and I still think I played well. Am I self-delusional or what?

Monday, August 09, 2004

It’s official. I’m mediocre. In training terms, I’m at the stage of “conscious competence”, where I need to concentrate and focus on poker to be competent. I can’t casually play (and do three other things) and expect positive results. Played two $20+2s on Saturday and got blown out in both, playing indifferently and half-heartedly. I’m not even sure the second one even happened, I was out so quickly.

I needed to get some dignity back, so I went back to the old reliable .50/1 Omaha8 tables at Empire to make back $20 in a couple of hours. It’s almost like playing Omaha8 is like my minor leagues, where I can work to get my confidence and my “stuff” back. The no fold-em mentality of those tables is a good place for me to get back to playing the percentages, calculating pot odds, and gauging individual betting patterns (calling station, raising maniac, no-free-card players, etc.). I think it was good for me to re-establish some basic poker fundamentals before I go back into the SnGs… or maybe I’ll just stick with the consistently profitable .5/1 Omaha.

Typical hand, I’m UTG with QJTx, call BB, and end up calling two raises preflop. Flop comes KJJ (!) with seven players in. After the blinds check, I checked, wanting to keep everyone in with probably the best hand and presumably the best draw. Everyone else checked too (disappointing, but not surprising). The turn was the case Jack giving me quads. BB bets $1, I call, and see it called by three more, making five seeing the river with me already having the mortal nuts (I had the Q of suit, making the straight flush impossible). Last round (Ten on the river), I check again, someone bets, two callers, I raise and get THREE callers to drag a $25 pot. Each of the callers had a pocket pair (Aces, Queens, Tens), and while I can understand the Aces coming along for the right, the Queens and Tens were absolutely crazy to call in that situation. C’est la vie.

I keep hearing about Pacific, so I moved $100 over with some of my floating Neteller money and $125 immediately appeared in my account. I haven’t decided what games to play there though I’ve poked around and watched a few different games. The interface is rather primitive, and the look and feel of the cards reminds me of a old poker slot machine rather than actual cards. But, they do offer a nice price spread, allowing a newbie to start small and work upwards, and they appear to have plenty of guaranteed money games. I may dip my toe into the waters tonight to check it out, and see whether the blogger-reader tourney might be in my future. There’s probably more money to be made on the betting line for the tourney. Bet against me.

Friday, August 06, 2004

”One bad apple don’t spoil the whole bunch, girl…” – Donny Osmond

You know I must have effed something up pretty bad to be quoting Donny Osmond. Although I always liked Marie, even during her awkward manic depressive, multiple husband phase… but that’s another story. Suffice to say, one bad play DOES spoil the whole tournament.

4th place really sucks. Especially when everyone goes into the Final Four virtually tied with 2000+/-300 chips. I made an questionable call protecting my BB with Q6 over a single raise. After a flop of Q43, I made a horrendous push all-in. I think I was putting the raiser on Ax or Kx or pockets and wanted to push while I had the supposed advantage. Naturally he called. Naturally, he had pocket kings. Naturally, no queen or six came on the last two cards. Naturally, I fucked up.

I stared at the screen, astounded at my own stupidity. It was like someone else had clicked all-in. After a bone-breaking 42 minutes of play, one completely asinine play had wiped me out. I’m not sure if I just lost focus, or didn’t even consider that AA or KK or AQ might be out there (I don’t think he’d raise on KQ or Qx). It was simply the worst single play I’ve made in a couple of weeks, more so because of the lack of consideration and clear thought process. If I could honestly say I thought about all the possibilities and decided that a raise was the percentage play, I could deal with the result better. But I didn’t think. I just clicked. There was no rush. I just fucked up.

Some positive notes: I didn’t get caught with Ace-rag. I had pocket queens twice and won, and laid down pocket jacks when AKx flopped. Speaking of pocket queens, I really don’t like calling them the Hilton sisters, because they’re not queens to me… how about if we call pocket queens… “Wham!”. Two queens, hidden, in the hole. Sounds like Wham! to me….

Thursday, August 05, 2004

Damn Blogger anyway… I had a nice little four-paragraph blog written and it promptly disappeared into cyber-limbo. Now I’ll have to re-think and re-pontificate when the whole reason I started this blog was to purge my poker thoughts and random opinions onto cyberpaper, so I wouldn’t have to think about them again. Bastards.

Anyway, played one $20+2, came in second for +$38 for about 40 minutes of work. The transient nature of SnGs seems to fit well with my life…. I only have an hour or two a night to play at the most. Most of the poker bloggers seem to have significant free time to go to Vegas, Foxwoods, Commerce, Atlantic City, or any other B&M within a two-hour drive. I’m lucky to carve out two hours in the evening after the kids are bathed, put to bed, and the wife is satisfied with the “Honey-do” list. Once school starts, I should have more time since the kids will be swamped with homework (6th and 4th grades, if you’re keeping score), but I still doubt I’ll make time in the foreseeable future for a trip to any of the Bay Area card parlors.

True to Empire/Party form, the ten-seater was whittled (hacked?) down to five within twenty minutes. I got one of the scalps by checking in BB (three callers) with the powerhouse 64o. The flop was J32 with two spades and was checked around (!). The turn was the pretty little 5 and my 2BB bet was called by one guy. I had no clue what he might have had, but was pretty sure he didn’t have two pair or a set, based on his checking the flop. When the river came up J, I made a moderate bet, hoping he had tripped. He pushed all-in and showed Cowboys! Boy, talk about over-slowplaying… Any bet before the turn would’ve folded me instantly and he made no effort to cut off the knees of the flush/straight draws. Oh well…

After that manna, I was visited by the Crap Fairy for a full orbit, not seeing a single flop. In SB, I pick up 74s. Now, on Sunday, I folded 74 preflop twice and saw flops come up of 744 and 865, so I had already made up my mind that I was playing the next 74 I saw. So I complete with BB and bring along one limper. Flop was, no shit, 774. I checked and was horrified to see it checked around. I was saying “Ace, ace, ace, please give me an ace.”, but the turn was the disappointing 2, so I bet 50 hoping someone with overcards would make a play. All I got was one caller and one folder. When the river blanked with a 3, I figured WTF and bet 125, hoping he was holding 65 or something equally improbable. Amazingly, he called (T2 for two pair) but I still only got 3BB for my flopped boat. Sheesh.

More unplayable crappy cards and some questionable play by the rest of the table led to me making it to the final pair with a 4-1 chip disadvantage. The other guy had rivered FOUR straights, three times were gutshots or buttshots (my friends call A234 or AKQJ “buttshots” since they can only hit on the end), two times he was all-in and down to his last card, and two times he busted out other players. With blinds at 150/300, I had to double up pretty quick, so I ended up all-in with, guess what, Ace-fricking-rag! Some day I’ll learn… So, naturally, he calls with 98o and rivers a straight to beat me. I swear, I could be head-to-head for the WSOP with Varkonyi, and he could show me his hole cards are the Hammer, and if I have Ace-rag, I’m mucking the frickin’ cards!

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

When is a brutal beat not a brutal beat? When you chop a pot you had already counted as pocketed... I guess technically it wasn't a beat, right...? Down to three players in a $20+2, I'm in 2nd (3500-2300-2200) and pick up 99. I raise UTG from 300 BB to 1000. Chipleader in SB calls and BB bails. The flop was the nice, but dangerous KQ9 of diamonds. I go all-in and get a quick (too quick) call. Chipleader turns up KQ and I'm suddenly a 4-1 favorite to take a huge sledgehammer of a chip lead. Since I've already told you it was a chop, you probably figured out what the last two cards were... AJ of diamonds and we chop the pot with the runner-runner flush.

After that, I tilted away my chips in five hands, limping and calling raises with shit hands, finally self-destructing with A2s against AJo. Still, ignoring the last five hands ("So Mrs. Lincoln, aside from that, did you enjoy the play?"), I played pretty well, although I suffered again from overtight play early, only opening up when the stakes increased. I had a chance early three-handed to break one of the survivors, but that damn A2 lost to Q5 when a Q hit the turn. Y'know, I've written here about A-rag, and then I promptly go out and lose twice with that very hand. Even monkeys learn from their mistakes...

Also, I cashed out some of my Empire money, holding it off to the side waiting to whore it out, or maybe some special tournaments. Hell, if there's a blogger tournament, I'm willing to be dead money, just to see some of the poker bloggers play. The only one I've actually seen play is CJ, who I saw early in my online playing at UB pop into some of the micro-limit tables. I have no illusions about my play or my poker expertise (or lack thereof). I'm a reasonable player, though probably too predictable for astute players. I like the level I'm at..., the game is still fun. If I ever got to higher limits, it would be like work... or there would be too much pressure on my bankroll and time. I like being a nickel-and-dime player in a penny ante game.

Monday, August 02, 2004

I directed a buddy to this blog and he had only one question, "What about the AFC?"... My answer.... "New England and the fifteen dwarfs."

AFC East - The Pats will win at least 12, maybe 14 this year. Nobody in this conference is close to them. The J-E-T-S, jets jets jets will be make the wildcard, mainly because there will be six 8-8 teams in the AFC this year. Buffalo and Miami will win 6-8 games each, depending on their season series. Wannstedt will be fired midseason and begin stalking Ricky Williams at the local cannabis clubs.

AFC South - Indianapolis will win the division easily. Get used to the phrase "Manning is changing the play at the line of scrimmage". Sometimes I think defenses shift just so Manning will get tired flapping his arms around changing the play. Second place will be an interesting battle between sleeper Jacksonville and declining Tennessee. Interesting prop bet, who will get hurt first, Fred Taylor or Steve McNair? Big stats will come from Leftwich as he emerges. Poor David Carr. Houston will be better, but still come in last as he'll continue to take punishment.

AFC Central - Who cares? Seriously, does anyone predict anyone from this division going to the Super Bowl? Baltimore is the only team with a chance to make double digit wins this year, and that's only if Jamal Lewis isn't in leg irons. Cincy would've been better off with Kitna as the starter, and Palmer will lead the AFC in picks. Cleveland will be more exciting on offense, but will have to sweep Cincy to be 8-8. Pittsburgh has the chance to be a real stinker this year. I'm not sure why Cowher gets a new deal just in time to oversee a big decline.

AFC West - Kansas City and Denver will split 20 wins this year, mainly because they have Oakland and San Diego to sweep. Vermeil will cry after a comeback win "I'm so....::choke::: proud of these boys...". Wuss. Denver will realize that 1200-yd backs don't grow out of the dumpster, and they'll have 3 guys with 150+ carries. God, bay area football is going to suck this year. When the key acquisition for a team is Kerry freakin' Collins, you know the Raidahs are in trouble. 5-11. The Chargers will be right around there. LT will be spectacular, Rivers mediocre, defense horrific.

Division winners: New England, Indy, Baltimore, Kansas City
Wildcards: Jets, Denver (and a sleeper pick for Jax IF Fred Taylor plays all 16)

Conference winner : New England [LOCK]

I won my second straight $20+2 last night. Doubled up early with a set vs. TPTK, coasted down to shortstack with six players left. Doubled up to build a stack with AJ vs K9 and worked my way up to 2nd with three left (for a change). Caught the chip leader trying to bully with KJ and doubled up with my AQ to take the lead and never trailed after that. I noticed that I didn’t necessarily win more hands, nor did I get any powerhouse hands (boats over flushes, flushes over straights), I just played my high pairs well, bluffed occasionally, read the other players well, and got out of trap hands. I didn’t get sucked out by any horrid calling hands (83o kind of crap) although I lost some loose calls predictably with A-medium vs A-face, and only got lucky once all-in with A8 vs AT when the flop came AK5 and the turn came up 5 leading to a chopped pot.

My theories of why I fare better in $20 SnG vs. $10 SnG:

1. $10 SnG seems to be the tournament table for beginning online poker players. These people probably have gambled in the past and recognize the 20% juice at the $5 table as too steep. They’ve probably read one or two books, put in $100 because they were beating the local home game with the soccer dads, college students, or retirees (depending on their demographic). They are DYING to push all-in like their patron saint, Chris Moneymaker. Any suited connectors, Ace-rag, and paint are worth playing to the river. Responsible for huge swings and runner-runner suckouts. Table talk is infantile and way too hand-specific. After a flop of 664, some schmuck always says, “Damn, I folded a 6”. Stuff like that pisses me off no end.

I can’t start a tournament with 800 chips with these types of lunatics. I just get chipped away waiting for premium hands to double up and even if disciplined play gets me to the final three or four, I’m usually crippled since I haven’t trebled up with 54s against AQ like the top two chip leaders.

2. I concentrate more because it’s more money at stake. Hey, I ain’t rich and if I’m gonna play one $20 tournament rather than two $10, I’m gonna focus for that one hour on nothing else but that table. Often, at the $10 tables, I would get up for a hand or two and wander around because I was too irritated at the table talk and suckouts.

3. The players are actually paying attention at $20 to your early play. If you check raise someone on the turn and later show a big hand, they’ll actually REMEMBER you did that and respect the raise the next time they run into it. If you fold seven hands in a row preflop and then come in for a moderate raise, you can fold out all of the borderline hands. If you try to isolate one player all-in, the borderline hands will wisely back off and let you pick off the shortstacks.

4. The players seem to pay more attention to chip stacks at $20. At the $10 tables, people will sit across from a player and blindly click 200 (minimum bet) when the player across from them has 280 chips and essentially give them a free pass to hang around an extra card or an extra hand. For god’s sake, if you have the person in a hole and you’re standing over them with a shovel… BURY THEM!

Sunday, August 01, 2004

Two in a row! Looks like I may have learned something about my niche in online poker. More details to come.