Friday, May 27, 2005

Dropped a couple of $10+1 buy-ins the last couple of days. Par for the course. With five left in one SnG, blinds at 100/200, stack around 900, I go all-in with QQ. Get called by K6s. King on the flop. 6 on the turn for good measure. IGHN.

Almost identical scenario in the second one. I have JJ to KQ. Queen on flop. Buh-bye.

Not horrific beats. They happen in every single SnG. Someone beats 2-1 odds or 5-4 odds to pair an overcard. Nothing to get wildly pissed about. To cash in a SnG, you must win at least a couple of these. And, you’re not ALWAYS going to have the best hand with your money in the pot. Remember, AKs is an underdog to 33. A lot of people don’t seem to know this, bloggers included.

Remember that the next time your AK is cracked by baby pockets and you’re ready to bitch about the “fish” and “chasers”. If he had a pocket pair and you had the Ax, YOU are the fish, not him.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

“Journalistic ethics” has become an oxymoron.

Let’s say you have irrefutable information that you KNOW will result in widespread rioting and violence and the death of innocent people. Mind you, I’m talking about IRREFUTABLE evidence, like in Rodney King/Reginald Denny video taped evidence, not just hearsay from a guard or third-hand gossip or a shady MS-Word document dated 1968.

Do you publish it, knowing that it will cause chaos, violence, and death?


Put another way, if your son/daughter was studying abroad at a Middle Eastern university or your spouse was a contractor in Iraq, would you still publish it? Did your answer change?

Now let’s suppose you’re a pansy-assed, bleeding heart Euro-organization supposedly concerned with helping the oppressed, but really dedicated to supporting the rights of criminals and terrorists. And you know that screeching about the alleged mistreatment of terrorists will cause bloody unrest in an already de-stabilized part of the world. Do you shut your pie hole and protect the innocents in the de-stabilized area? Or do you throw a match into that tinder box and basically incinerate everyone left there, innocent or not?

Déjà vu. All over again.

Played with PartyPoker’s money last night [see yesterday’s entry] at $.5/1, turned the $20 into $30, taking a whopping half-hour to convert two hands and twenty folds into a 50% ROI. Took that profit, joined a $10+1 SnG.

And won.


Just like I did at Empire the night before.

Question: Why don’t I do that every night? Or at least try to do it?

Answer: I’m effing stupid.

I guess I really need to examine WHY I play. Again. No, really, this time I will.

1. Have fun – Well, I’ll probably always have some fun playing poker, since I have the discipline and intelligence to always play within my financial limits. I won’t be popping into the $15/30 or $500NL tables… ever. “A man’s got to know his limitations”

2. Make money – I might even amend this to “not lose a significant amount of money”. There is entertainment value in gambling, plain and simple. If I break even financially, I’ve won. After all, you have greater entertainment EV from playing online poker than you do spending $10 on an Adam Sandler movie, where you not only pay $10 to sit through two hours of dreck, but have ZERO chance of recouping that money. At my particular level of poker mediocrity, I probably have +EV at low limits, almost like having a 102% nickel slot machine. And I KNOW the dollar slots are 90%. Why even play those?

3. Improving my game – Oh, sure, I’m probably getting marginally better. Pot odds are more automatic now, as are quick player reads. Do I WANT to move up in limits? Um, no, not really. I think it’ll stop being fun at higher limits. This is one of the key points where I think I diverge from many of the poker bloggers (along with booze, strippers, and B&M play). Many bloggers seem intent on moving “to the next level” or improving their win-rate or playing X hands at each BB level. Bleah. Sounds like work to me.

To recap: I have fun playing online poker, as long as I don’t risk too much money. I can beat the low limit games consistently enough to stay afloat indefinitely. Better players move up, meaning the low limit games will always replenish with crappy players (either newbies or people who lost at the higher limits moving down) to finance my hobby. Therefore, I will continue to play Party/Empire $.5/1 and $10 SnGs in perpetuity with very very little risk. Makes sense to me.

Quick hand from last nights’ $.5/1 debacle: I have A9s in early position. Ten-handed, at a passive table, I call the BB. Raised from MP, called from button and both blinds, getting about 10-1, I call. Flop is QT8 with two of my suit. I bet, MP raises, one call, I passively call, not wanting the lose the guy in the sandwich seat. Turn makes my nut flush. I check, trying to drag the sandwich along for one more bet. MP bets, sandwich folds (crud), I raise, MP three-bets, I cap. River is a brick, I bet, he calls with TT.

No big deal, right? Wrong. He starts bitching about “Damn PartyPoker players”, “Lucky ass”-this, and “Chaser”-that. I keep my mouth/keyboard shut and tag him. Usually people who complain at low levels have every reason to complain. Listen, if you don’t want your flopped trips to lose, DON’T PLAY LIMIT POKER! I had odds up the wazoo that hand. In fact, I probably should have raised on the flop with my dozen outs. Had it been heads up, I probably would have.

That’s one place where my game has definitely improved: making the adjustment back and forth between limit and no-limit SnGs. I rarely play Ace-rag sooted in no-limit. Even if you pair your Ace, you’re gonna have kicker issues and you’re gonna be forced into a passive calling mode if you flop your ace (which I hate). You’re taking bad pot odds on flopping at least two of your suit or flopping two pair, which are the only hands you can reasonably hope to win with.

But in Limit poker, Ace-rag sooted is booootiful. You can limp in and try and catch the sooted flop for a low price and high implied odds, even if someone raises. If you pair your ace, you can immediately bet out. If you’re raised by the preflop raiser , you’re probably outkicked, and can comfortably get away from the hand. Remember, this would all be pre-turn, meaning you’re only betting half the BB, so you have very little risk.

Anyway, I won’t presume to be a poker strategist. I’m just a fair poker player learning how to feed off the bad ones. And happy to do it. When looking for fresh meat and thinking about moving up in limits, just remember “Never eat anything bigger than your head”

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Ahhh, the stink of corporate desperation is in the air. PartyPoker has now coughed up a $20-thank-you-for-breathing bonus, similar to the EmpirePoker $10-thank-you-for-not-being-a-bonus-whore bonus. It’s funny how they will just throw money to get me to revisit their skin, especially since I am a net-minus player for them (withdrawn more than I’ve deposited). And similar to the Empire offer, I have to complete a bunch of raked hands to “keep” the bonus money.

Fine and dandy, assuming I feel like doing that. Which I don’t. If you remember (or even if you don’t… ), I had several options for using Empire’s $10. I chose to play $.5/1 Hold’Em for a few hands, try to double up, and use the money for SnGs. And it worked. Y’know, sometimes I forget just how bad the low limit players are at the Party skins. It took almost no time to turn the $10 into $23. I stopped there, figuring that $23 was good enough to fund one $10+1 and two $5+1. And guess what? First try, I won the $10 SnG to boost my previously dormant bankroll to over $60. Now, I really don’t give a shit if Empire comes around asking for their money back.

I’ll probably use the exact same strategy for the Party bonus. Try a few orbits of $.5/1 and look for an opportunity to make a quick hit-and-run for an additional $15-20. Parlay that money in the SnG barrel for a quick bankroll. If it works, fine. If it doesn’t, fine.

It’s funny though… I’ve found that I really like these hit-and-run sessions. I fold, fold, fold and wait for either a premium hand or a good drawing hand in late position. While I’m folding, I’m watching the hands that make it to showdown, noting who will play any ace, small pairs, two-gappers, and in what position. Most of the $.5/1 tables have five or six limpers who are perfectly willing to call a preflop raise, so you’ll get paid off handsomely for your patience. Several players seem to be Chad-ites who think that Ax is worth seeing to the river, as are small pairs even with paint on the board. Multiple times, I showed down top pair with a high kicker to beat small unimproved pockets. I have NFI why they would stay in with 88 with KJx on the board for that 2/46 shot, but I’m willing to make them pay for it.

Once a few of the Chad-ites have busted and left, I’ll wait for the blinds then I’ll leave too. Think about it. If you have crappy players getting up and leaving, the odds are that the replacement players will be BETTER (not necessarily good, but better), making the table incrementally tougher. You’re better off seeking out fresher hunting grounds.

I’m still waiting for my company to suddenly offer me a $20-for-sitting-at-your-desk-writing-a-blog bonus or a $10-for-managing-your-rotisserie-baseball-team bonus. Oh well, look for me at Party for the next week at $.5/1 or $10+1 SnGs where I’ll be playing with the house money… again. And again.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Monday Monday

- What do they call annoying mass emails in Germany, spam or schnitzel?

- No matter what anyone says about the quality of play in the poker blogger quasi-community, it must be better than the quality of poker play in the reader community.

- Does anyone else think Jeff Probst is sick of dealing with all of the dysfunctional dipwads on Survivor and is just cashing paychecks at this point?

- If they take Vegas odds on the smaller events at the WSOP, I think there will be a lot of last-minute drunken blogger money flowing into Joe Speaker, Wes, Russell, and Bobby Bracelet. The sooner you get your money down, the better your odds. By the time all of the bloggers hit the strip, all four of them will be even money.

- Empire just gave me a $10 just-for-living bonus. Trying to decide whether to play a few orbits of $.5/1 and just try to double up quickly, or play a few of their $1 mini-tournaments.

- I’m on a mini-winning streak on Full Tilt, cashing in five of six small stakes SnGs, either $5 two-table or $10 single table. Whoop-de-freakin’-doo. I’m back into the mode I was in last year where I’m getting to the money, but with an impossibly short stack. Gotta crank up the pressure a little earlier to give myself a chance to WIN these damn things.

- Why does every show that is on the air for more than two seasons have a “Farewell” episode? Ever since MASH, sitcoms have felt the need to tie everything up into a big bow long after the ratings have dipped into Nielsen purgatory. Bad idea. And Raymond is still a relatively popular show, particularly among married people who spend the entire half-hour nudging each other in the ribs saying “She sounds just like you” or “Your mom is just like her”. Most single people don’t understand the relationships in the show. The lazy husband who just wants to be left alone (but still wants the occasional nookie), the angry, harried housewife who doesn’t get any help from the lazy husband, the interfering in-laws who butt in at exactly the wrong time. It’s all too real for many of us.

- And this is probably heresy, but I never got into the 90’s juggernauts, Seinfeld and Friends. Too East Coast for me. Home Improvement, even though set in Detroit, was at least about family and suburbia, and featured more than a bunch of self-absorbed single white people whining about their empty lives. When watching Seinfeld or Friends, you always KNEW that the only place people act like that was in New York. With Raymond, it could be in Nebraska or California or Minnesota and the family dynamic would still be the same.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Hit ‘n’ Run thoughts

- That asshole father in Illinois confessed to beating and stabbing and killing his daughter and her best friend in a rage when she refused to come home when he demanded. No matter how you spin this, this guy should be killed… now. Don’t even try to justify keeping this filth alive. Cut him up, sell his body parts on Ebay, feed him to the guard dogs, I don’t care, just ELIMINATE HIM.

- Thank God Romber lost in The Amazing Race. That guy is the biggest weasel in reality TV history, especially given that he’s slithered through three different shows and shown no compunction about lying, cheating, and deceiving. On the other hand, Amber… yum.

- Seal and Heidi Klum?

- Jennifer Garner, I’ll give you one more chance to dump the bum.

- Onomatopoeia. I just wanted to write that once.

- OK, now that the Giants have DL’ed their top position player, top starter, and top reliever, I think the season can officially be called a “rebuilding” year. Is it football season yet?

- Can we petition ESPN to take Norman Chad off of the six-month-tape-delay broadcasts of the WSOP? He's not funny, he's not knowledgeable, he's not insightful... he's just an ass. Hell, I'd rather listen to a drunken Dave Foley and Phil Gordon... or an all-too-sober VVP and Mike Sexton...

- Is Shana Hiatt's departure from the WPT broadcasts a parallel to David Caruso leaving NYPD Blue? Or a Sherry Stringfield (who left ER and came crawling back a couple of years later)?

- And ER is still on the air?!

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Being a 349th tier blogger has its advantages. I’m sitting on the sidelines for the big blogger beatdown of cut-and-paste thieves. I’m basically ignorant of the profit-making aspects of websites, banner ads, affiliates, and all those other interwebby thingies, so my interest is purely voyeuristic. Well, some of it is educational… Like I said, I’m still learning how clicking on someone’s banner ad earns them $.000001 or how click-thrus work. Anyway, to show how 20th century I am, I only recently started using SharpReader as a blog aggregator (is that what it’s called?), mainly so I can read blogs at work without having splashy artwork plastered on my “work” computer whenever my boss might decide to visit my cubicle.

I get pissed off at work when I finish a project and someone else takes credit for the idea and effort without giving me some credit. So I know I’d be irritated if someone was profiting from my words and thoughts without my permission. But are they actually profiting? I mean, it’ll take a shitload of clicks before they make their first dollar for their effort, won’t it? And don’t most bloggers/readers use aggregators, or at worst, follow someone else’s blogroll? I can’t imagine that (or whatever they’re called) gets a significant amount of random traffic or even search engine traffic… Is it the principle or the money? Or both?

I guess poker bloggers are beyond the stage where “any attention is good attention”. Now, poker bloggers (I hesitate to say “we”, lest I include myself in a much bigger phenomenon) are a big enough target to start attracting the parasites who like to profit from the latest greatest crazes and fads. These content-thieves probably also squat on domains, sell Amway and phone cards to foreigners, and have scrapbooking parties; anything to make a buck, quickly and with minimal labor. They are the high-tech equivalent to the Antiques Roadshow garage sale scrounges, trying to find someone’s else junk, buy it for nothing, and sell it for a profit. And they don’t even have to leave their mom’s basement to do it.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Some quick hits:

- Didn’t cash in a SnG last night. With six left in a two-table SnG with a low-medium stack, I raised 4xBB from UTG with AK of diamonds. BB calls and sees a T88 flop with two diamonds. I push. Turns out he called my preflop raise with T4o. Of course, my diamond doesn’t arrive and I’m out. Y’know, I’d almost be OK with it if he had 22 or JT, because that MIGHT have merited a call of a 4x preflop raise… but T4o?!

- It might be interesting to have a special tournament where every winning/calling hand MUST be shown at the end. I think it would be entertaining for railbirds and challenging for the players. We’re spoiled by the HoleCams on televised poker, and I’d love to see all the hands just like we do on the telly.

- Is anyone else sick of ubiquitous Eric Clapton commercials for SBC? Jeez, if you’re rushing to get high-speed Internet access just to get “Layla” ringtones, or to get video streams of “Layla”, or get tracks of “You Look Wonderful Tonight” to annoy your wife,… well, you’re a frickin’ loser.

- It’s about time Scott Savol got booted. He can sing better than Federov, but I don’t think the word “Idol” should be used for a girlfriend beater. And what is it with fat, white guys who adopt the hip-hop culture and start talking like gangstas?

- Netflix rules. Worth every penny. Their distribution system is amazing. Send a DVD back on Monday, get a new one by Thursday. Great way to catch up on theatrical releases you missed in 2004 or favorites from when you were in high school.

- Fox’s Poker Superstars II is the worst televised poker event ever. Every hand they show is an all-in hand. Ridiculous. And it’s not poker anymore than ESPN’s lame ass Blind Man’s Bluff during the WSOP.

- Funny, because Fox also had the best poker event ever. Last year’s live telecast of the American Poker Championships (Ivey vs. D’Agostino) was riveting to watch. We saw every hand, every bet, every bluff, every laydown. Much better than the all-in crapfest that is PS2.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Mean Gene’s recent blog regarding “Five things I’d like to do before I die” probably sparked some similar contemplation from other bloggers. Not wanting to be unoriginal, most of us probably just mentally created our personal checklists rather than blogging about it. After all, the worst thing a blogger can be is unoriginal…

I mean, think about it. Even being uninteresting is better… A blog is a reflection of your life. An uninteresting blog simply means that you’re going through an uninteresting stretch of your life. But being unoriginal means that you’re not even living your own life. You’re merely parroting someone else’s blog and thus trying to vicariously live their life. How weak is that?!

Anyway, the funny thing is that I couldn’t think of “Five things…”, even tongue-in-cheek (although two chicks at once is intriguing, at my age, I’m not sure I could keep up with two… and that would be devastating). My list would more likely have things like “put the kids through college”, “walk my daughter down the aisle… ONCE”, “play ball with my grandkids”, stuff that is not related to travel or money or vice.

Of course, being tight-weak, I tend towards the practical, achievable goals. I’d LOVE to take batting practice at PacBell Park, or even shag flies, but that’s not bloody likely, so it’s pointless to hope for that. And if I really really wanted to play in the WSOP, I could write a check to them today. Since I’m not writing that check, I guess I don’t want to play that bad (and badly)…

So what’s the point of all this? Dunno. Does there have to be a point?

I guess one of the five things I’d like to do before I die is… WRITE something of value (not a blog, not a Christmas letter, not a training manual, been there, done that). The quality of writing and the verbal dexterity in the poker blogging community is staggering, and more than a little intimidating. I’ve written a blog with a couple dozen regular readers for a little over a year. I’ve written position papers for a (failed) Republican congressional campaign. I’ve written Christmas letters extolling the virtues of my kids. Other bloggers have had articles published for magazines/blogzines, still others are working directly for online poker sites as reporters and/or programmers. Sheeesh, it’s enough to give one Blogger envy.