Sunday, May 30, 2004

From top to bottom

Aww, maaan! Can ya believe it?

Every Sunday in the park here, there is a flea market. I buy a plastic bread basket and a set of measuring blades (a kit with metal blades of varying thickness, from 0.1 mm to 1.0 mm). After that, I go into my office nearby and surf the net, and I also check into an online poker playing site.

I enter a multitable tournament, No Limit Texas Hold'Em, where the buy-in is $5 and playing fee $1. Not many entrants, only 101. Early on, I get 38 on hand as Big Blind and only have to check it. The flop comes 38K, so I have two pair and can go along with it. Someone raised to 200, I call. The turn is a three, I have full house... Someone bets 240, I raise to 720. On the river, I bet 800, one other player calls and I, who started with 1500 now have 4985. This puts me in the top ten, "in the money" (ten first places paid).

Careful play, I don't think I go any further than the flop for a long while, and with 66 players of 101 left, I'm in fifth place stack-wize. Then it suddenly goes downhill. I get AA as pocket cards but instead of playing aggressively, I only raise the minimum default, thinking I can wheedle more out of the cards. The flop comes 86T. One player goes all-in with his 1610 chips and I call that. Turn is a ten (I now have two pair, aces and tens, and feel moderately safe). River is a nine. But! The player who went all-in had a ten in his pocket, giving him three of a kind tens and I'm suddenly in 32nd place of 43. If I had gone all-in or bet a few thousand with those aces, I probably would have scared off that guy and at least raked in the blinds.

More bad plays, and the level of the blinds suddenly leave me with not much at all, and with 38 as big blind I have to go all-in post-flop (which was K38, giving me two pair threes and eights), which I win and I'm still alive. 3A in diamonds, I go all-in with the 600 chips I have and the board comes 7675A, meaning two pair aces and sevens. Still alive, but in last place (39 of 39).

A pair of nines in the pocket, I go all-in with 1440. It is called by two other players. If I get this, I can still have a shot. Nope. My two pair nines and fours lose against queens and fours and I'm out at 31st place.

From top to bottom in thirty minutes play. That's poker!

Saturday, May 29, 2004

I won at WSOP 2004!

A $500 freeroll. Nope, out at 368th place of 1271. Before that, I had warmed up with some Play Money heads-up play. Whooped one guy four times in a row.

But I did win some (real) money on poker today. Or from poker. By poker? With poker? Poker-related winnings, OK?

The place where I play online poker, Ladbrokes Poker also has the usual bookmaking, sports betting and such. You could bet money on who would win World Series of Poker 2004. I bet 100 Swedish crowns yesterday on Greg Raymer winning, which would give the odds 5/2. He was chip leader at the final table. I also bet, for patriotic (fellow Swede and all) and greedy reasons, 100 crowns on Mattias 'PokerMats' Andersson winning. That gave the odds 16/1 since he was short-stacked. Hedging my bets here...

Greg won, giving me 350 crowns, and I had put in 200 in total. +150 SEK.

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

More Hold'Em failures

First I enter a $5 ten-seater tournament where I'm the short-stacked guy for most of the time but I survive at least. Until there are only four players left after an hour's play, and I'm one. I haven't won any big pots, when I do get good cards I mostly only rake in the blinds. I have 1400 in chips and AJ on hand as BB, the blinds are 200/400, the bases are loaded and we're fourth down on the ten yard line (what, me mix sports metaphors?). The flop is 37A which gives me top pair, but the bets make me have to go all-in. It's a make-or-break situation. Oopsie-daisee, the only remaining player shows that he has 77 on hand, giving him three of a kind. I'm beat! But wait, the turn is a jack giving me two pair and the possibility of a full house. But no, the river is a lousy four and I'm out at fourth place, not "in the money".

So, I enter a $2000 freeroll. Ha! On the very first hand I get 78 on hand in middle position and call, as do some others. The flop gives me a pair of eights, which is top pair and also a straight draw and I go along with it. Oh yeah, the turn gives me a straight, nine high but there's heavy betting from another player. I call (or raise, don't remember) and the river gives me straight, ten high. The only remaining other player in this hand goes all-in. Well, one does have to take one's chances. If I win it, I'll already have a good stack from the beginning. If I lose, I'm out early and don't have to trudge along for two-three hours. Call, all-in.

He lays down a flush, spades. I'm out at 1832nd place of 1888 entrants. Goodnight everybody, I'll be here all week. Try the veal. It's veally good.

Monday, May 24, 2004

If you fold it, they will come

I receive a bonus from Ladbrokes Poker and decide to put it to immediate use. First, I partake in a ten-seater $5 tournament table with a $1 table fee. It went so-so, I was not best but not worst. Chip leader for a while, then some Full Houses come crashing down on top of me. Finally out at third place (which paid $10!). Yay! Low hourly wages but better than nothing.

I then enter a $1000 Freeroll which starts out pretty damn well. On the very first hand dealt, I get a pair of nines. The flop gives me three of a kind nines. The river gives me four of a kind nines. Oh yeah. The network had some kind of hiccup but I'm still there, out of 1500 entrants, 1200 remain. After half an hour about 920 players left. But... I'm out at 874th place, having had to go all-in with a draw for straight or flush since the blinds are getting quite high and my stack was getting short.

Oh well, I enter a $10 ten-seater tournament which was "Turbo", meaning the blinds go up every five rounds instead of ten. Out at 8th place after playing KT hearts giving me pair of tens on the flop but nothing else after I have to go all-in against another player. He had a pair of jacks.

Welly-well, more freerolls will come. Some time I will win. Checking my statistics, it seems that I'm good, but not quite good enough.

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

That's not "playing aggressively"

I don't understand some of those playing online poker with "play money". It's an endless cavalcade of all-ins. At the fixed limit tables almost everybody call almost every hand and if you're lucky you're lucky. At the no limit tables, there's always at least one all-in guy that scares away the other players and rakes in the blinds. Until someone calls him on it and takes his play money whereupon he just checks out another batch of it.

And another thing. I see that I'm what Gary Carson and others call a "book player" and that's maybe why I just place well in tournaments but not in a winning position. But some other players seem to also have read books that say "when you have a good hand, play aggressively". The other day, in a tournament where everybody started with 1500, a player with a pair of jacks in pocket (we saw later) went all-in and plonked down about 3000 in one of the earlier rounds in the tournament. Everybody folded. So what did he get? The blinds that were 10/20 and maybe a call or two. If he had played he could have gotten more. That's not playing "aggressively", that's a foaming-at-the-mouth, seeing-red, let's-take-off-and-nuke-the-site-from-orbit-it's-the-only-way-to-be-sure murderous rage.

Monday, May 10, 2004 comments

W00t! The nice guys at Blogger have made a Great Relaunch. One nice new feature is the possibility of comments, yay! It was possible before if you used an external resource but now it's built in. I'll see if it works. Hmm, maybe it's only for new posts, can you add comments to the older posts too?

Oh yes. But you have to go in manually and click in a Yes button for each post. Enabling now, sah!

Thank you.

I wonder, is anyone reading this? If you do, please make a comment. Hello? *thumps microphone* Is this thing on? I said: "Is this thiNG O ~/#SQUEALING FEEDBACK#\~".

Sunday, May 09, 2004

The river gets me every time

I, yes, play in another online Hold'Em tournament. $1 real money entry fee. A thousand players max, but there were only 302 participants. Thirty places paid, from $82 to the winner down to two bucks for the guy in 30th place.

I play extra carefully, evaluating the few turns and rivers I'm in, not just autoplaying. I never go "on tilt". In the middle of the field all of the time until when the one hour break nears. I get to 28th place of 102 remaining with a pair of threes, calling a short-stacked sucker who went all-in. Then I get to 13th place of 94 with a nice flush. After an hour of play, a break for five minutes, then we start again.

I'm chip leader of my table for a while, but it dwindles away when I call some draws that could have gone somewhere. The blinds are getting higher, you see. We're up to Level 9, 300/600 blinds and I have 5710 in chips. 34th out of 57 remaining players. I barely play, but my bankroll shrinks and shrinks with the blinds and calls. I get KJ(clubs) in the pocket and go for it, after the flop I have to go all-in since I have pair of jacks, am shortstacked and I won't do better. And I could have won if one other player hadn't gotten two pair with the nine on the river. Out at 48th place after ninety minutes of play. Drat, dang and fiddlesticks. I coulda bin a contenda!

Friday, May 07, 2004

Flush beaten by straight flush, film at eleven

I get trapped.

Yes, yet another Texas Hold'Em story. I enter another freeroll tournament at Ladbrokes, no entry fee, first prize $125 down to 40th, $2.25. There are 919 entrants and for fifteen minutes I never go further than calling to the flop when it's cheap and I'm in late position. That works well, because there are "only" 675 left already and I still have 1400 out of the 1500 I started with. This because of the stupid eager ones that go all-in pre-flop all the time when they have anything and we wave them goodbye one after one.

The action starts. I get pocket kings, out of which one is a club. This I play, but only raising the default amount suggested by the interface (blind). The flop is all clubs out of which one is an ace. I still hang on, only raising the default. The turn is another club and I have a flush hand with A and K. Good, but I still only raise default. The river is something and... I read an article by James McManus from when he played in WSOP, he also had decided to play carefully and by the book and yet his hands (the ones with fingers on them) seemed to throw the chips in by themselves. Only I and one other player to the right of me were left.

I go all-in you see... That's not something you should do early in a tournament I think, but I didn't think. Much.

What did I do wrong? It was a good hand. A flush with AK in it is unbeatable, no other flush can beat it. There was no outs for full house or four of a kind. But there is one other hand (or two, really) that can beat it. The straight flush!

And what did the other player have? A straight flush, five high, I see when he calls me.

What I should have done was
a) to have looked more carefully at the cards and spotted the outs, seen that it was indeed beatable. But it was a low straight, The Wheel.
b) just raised, not all-in.
Then, if my opponent had
a) called or raised I might have called it and just lost a moderate amount and still survived.
b) gone all in I'd have thought more carefully, probably folded and griped about it.
c) folded , I'd have won a nice pot.

But there I was, afflicted by what Gary Carson calls FPS (Fancy Play Syndrome), "Ha, let's knock this guy out of his shoes and socks!", and knocked out at 627th place without a shot at the $125 first prize or indeed the $2.25 40th prize. I guess I'm the stupid eager one. The opponent's comment: "Bet you felt really safe with that king."

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why they call it gambling.

I then go to a normal No Limit table with blinds 0.25/0.50 and sit down with $10 in real money. With the first hand I play to a showdown, I win (with a pair of tens, the other one was probably bluffing) and now have $23 in real money. The next hand I play to a showdown (and win, with two pair K2, can you believe it?) makes me have $46 in real money. I've more than quadrupled my "bankroll" just by winning two hands. Play where it matters, play only when you can win! I leave the table with $39 (real), a few dollars were eaten up by blinds and calls that didn't go anywhere.

Sunday, May 02, 2004

Omaha is close to Texas

I win! Real! Money!

I enter an online one table tournament poker game, real money ($5 entry). But I was a bit too hasty, I just saw that there was a seat available at a table and jumped it. I'm a bit surprised when I get dealt four cards.

Oops, it's Omaha, not Texas. I should have looked more carefully in all the columns. You'd better learn how to play, and learn fast, pardner!

Google, clickety-click. OK, it's basically the same as Texas Hold'em, but you get dealt four pocket cards instead of two. You can and must only use two of the pocket cards to make a hand.

Same strategy as my other tournament games, survive in the beginning (let the eager ones strike themselves out). And it works, just check or fold, call when you have "the nuts". And I even manage to without too much risk bust one all-in guy out, leaving six players including me. First time I sort of actively outplayed someone in a real tournament, I think. And for a while with four players left, I'm chip leader. This is going much much better than I expected. I feel like Wil (Uncle Willy).

I finish in 3rd place, earning me $10. I lost with three of a kind deuces. That was what my opponent also had, but he had better kickers. And that's why they call it gambling... No too bad for a first-time Omaha player.

Well, that's enough excitement for me. Or is it?

Tomorrow night the NBC documentary "World Poker Tour Battle of Champions" is on (Swedish) cable/satellite TV. I'm so there. Before that, on the same channel, it's the premiere of the drama series "Las Vegas" (with James Caan and Nikki Cox). Vegas, baby!

Nope, it wasn't enough excitement. I enter another 10-player tournament, real money, $5. I just sit there and let the others drop off. Never chase. When someone is short-stacked, they usually go all-in just to get out of the game gracefully. Don't chase even those, thinking "easy money".

In online poker, there are no tells per se. But keep a poker face; don't chat, don't comment. Another player jabbered constantly about the other games he was in on simultaneously, and how well he was doing. Annoying, and he could be bragging or bluffing. Try to avoid using "autoplay" buttons that many poker interfaces have, where you can select bet, call, fold, raise (BB), call/raise any and such beforehand. That looks eager and is a sort of a tell.

Oh, back to the game. Suddenly there are only five left, then four. I am the short-stacked guy and the player before me is stealing blinds, plays aggressively and is chip leader. 7000 to my 900. After a while I only have enough chips left to go all-in and do so. Busted out at fourth place.

I got a confirmation from the bookstore (online of course) that Carson's Complete Book of Hold 'Em Poker that I ordered has been shipped. I'll probably get it tomorrow Monday. Hopefully I'll go from "busting out early" to "slightly above average" (where I'm now, since I end up in the middle of the field in multitable tournaments) to a winner.

Saturday, May 01, 2004

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why they call it gambling

I'm sorry to bother you, but more poker stories...

I enter another little tournament of online NL Texas Hold'em, 132 entrants, 10 places paid, prize pool $660.

We start with 1500 each. I win the very first hand dealt, I rake in 2020 with my four tens. This places me in fifth place. A few won rounds later I, li'l ol' me, am actually in the effing lead! For a while. Quite a few won and lost rounds later I'm still in the top ten when I lose 3000 against an all-in with pair of queens that lost against pair of kings. On one hand I plummet from top ten to bottom ten.

I work my way up the field, I'm in the middle. A player after me goes all-in pre-flop. I have JJ, everybody else folds but I tag along, going all-in too. Pocket cards are turned over, he has AJ! My hand is winning! Flop gives me three of a kind, I'm liking this, I'm still winning this. But as I (figuratively speaking) already am grabbing for the pot, the river gives him a straight and me the 57th place.

But hey, at least I lose with good hands.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why they call it gambling.

Hmm, there's another $1 tournament coming up soon. I enter it.

It starts, with 251 players. I do very well, I'm in the top quarter of the field consistently. I win most hands I play in, and win big by careful raising and betting in some hands where I have straights. Just sit there and watch the eager ones go all-in pre-flop (I dread that phrase) with purdy cards and say bye-bye. Sift out the chaff...

At the one hour break I'm in 7th place of 87 players. Chip leader of the table. Not in on many pots, and then I rake in some medium ones with a straight and some (heh, feeling like a hustler now) raising in a late position where everybody except the blinds have folded or checked, or buying the blinds. In 18th place of 50 remaining.

But, you know the score by now. J6 on hand, I scare away all except one pre-flop. Flop gives me pair of jacks but there's an ace there too. Check to the turn, I before E except after C. The other player goes all-in. Me too. He has an ace in the pocket and I'm out at 46th place. Why, oh why did I chase that hand? It was beatable, and I could have stayed on, just ignore the hundreds I already put into the hand. But, and those of you that have read this and my earlier postings on my poker play can say it in chorus:

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why they call it gambling.

And hey, since in a tournament everybody starts with the same amount and you don't play with "your own money", so to speak, I've overcome my fear of No Limit Hold'em. I used to play some Fixed Limit Real Money, but there you can be scared away with your measly few bucks by the big boys with many chips.