Friday, August 24, 2007

What a Douche

I noticed the poker tip section on the Aces Cracked's main page today and because I was bored at work I decided to read them. Most were very generalized but this one made me smile. Just read #4 and notice that you are nodding as you read. What a douche!

Poker Peeves

I have long been an impatient person by nature; those close to me will contest to that. Time is of the essence and I cannot stand when people waste mine. Impatience is easily my worst character trait, not to mention one of my fiercest adversaries at the poker table. Though I do love the game, I often find myself furiously tapping my feet underneath the table, impatiently waiting for a playable hand. The hulking hours and repetitive nature of the game make it easy for its players to develop pet peeves, which, for impatient people like me, can simply drive you nuts. I’ve given the matter considerable thought and put together a list of my top five poker peeves, most of which are strongly driven by impatience. Perhaps you can relate.

1. Tournament players asking for a count when the bet they’re considering to call clearly puts them all in. I typically see this one at least twice throughout the course of a multi-table poker tournament. Usually on the turn or the river, after a majority of the hand has already been played, one player makes a large bet that puts another player all in. After some mysterious deliberation, the player facing the decision asks “how much is it?” when it’s apparent to everyone else at the table that he will be all in if he decides to call. The question bothers me for two reasons: the first, it’s a monumental waste of time! Unless you have terrible vision or are color blind, you should be able to infer from eyeing the size of your opponent’s chip stack and comparing it to your own that you will be all in if you call. Secondly, asking the dealer for a count at this point in the hand is a likely indication that the player neglected to consider his opponent’s chip stack at the beginning of the hand, which is one of the most important factors to consider in tournament poker.

2. Players in a limit poker game who consistently ask questions like: “how much is it to me?” or “how much can I bet?” Now that I exclusively play no-limit or pot-limit games, I no longer have to deal with these ever-annoying questions. Years ago, however, when I first started playing poker, this one never failed to blow my mind. Limit poker games are called limit for a reason. That reason, as I hope all or most of you reading this already know, is the simple and easy-to-understand concept (or so I thought) that the game has predetermined, fixed betting amounts that, with the exception of kill games, NEVER change. In a $4-$8 game, for example, the most anyone can bet on the flop, EVER, is four dollars. No more, no less. Four. Why then, is there always one ignoramus at the table who insists on asking “how much can I bet?” It would be one thing if this player was new to the game and simply needed to know its structure. That’s fine. Ask once, maybe twice if you need reminded, but when you ask the dealer every single stinking time you play a hand, it makes me want to find all of the people responsible for your education and let them know what a fine job they did teaching you how to learn, comprehend and apply the most basic of concepts. Perhaps if teachers were paid more than cocktail servers and garbage men, we wouldn’t have this problem.

3. Poker dealers who average 25 hands per down when dealing a cash game, but no more than half of that when dealing a tournament. I am not generalizing here, as this does not apply to all dealers; only those lazy few who are content with trudging through their tournament downs because they do not get paid per hand like they would in a cash game. These dealers assume that their tips from a tournament will remain the same, no matter how they decide to pace the game, failing to consider that the average poker player is extremely perceptive and often will tip according to a dealer’s performance. Poker dealers who also play the game, tournaments specifically, understand that the more hands you see per round, the better, as the blinds are always on the rise. Fewer hands per level means fewer opportunities to apply your poker skills, instead leaving your fate to chance, in hopes that you will land a couple of premium hands before the blinds raze your chip stack. Tournament directors should ultimately be held responsible for ensuring that their dealers do not take on-the-job vacations during tournaments, especially when you take into consideration the substantial amount of fees subtracted from tournament buy-ins. Shame on you, lazy poker dealer!

4. Jamie Gold and his blueberry fetish. Although this one has nothing to do with my own impatience, it certainly speaks to the issue of wasting peoples’ time. Sure, we know that your “mentor,” Johnny Chan, kept an orange on the table during his back-to-back (almost three peat) main event victories, but he did so to use the scent of a peeled orange to alleviate the smell of cigarette smoke, not to try and add some self-produced, only semi-interesting and utterly extraneous tidbit of personality to his legacy. You don’t need to remind us that those who came before you left their mark on the World Series with character; Chris Moneymaker with his Oakley sunglasses and proper last name, Greg Raymer with his trademark fossils and holograph lizard glasses and Joe Hachem, forever immersed in accented chants of “Aussie, Aussie, Aussie…Oy, Oy, Oy!” I can accept that you needed the blueberries during the marathon sessions you put in at the World Series, but don’t stop the flow of a five hour, six player Poker After Dark sit’n’go, or a heads-up match on national television to try and infuse the name Jamie Gold with a bowl of blueberries. Sadly, your WSOP legacy has already been created for you, in the form of your endless and often senseless table chatter, coupled with the deal you reneged on with Crispin Leyser to share half of your main event winnings. A gambler’s word is his livelihood, perhaps second only to his bankroll, and once it’s broken, it can rarely be salvaged. Sorry, Jamie, but if this was a credibility contest, you’d be out like the fat kid in dodgeball. Please. Enough is enough. Leave the blueberries alone.

5. Set-ups! Topping my list of poker peeves, without question, is the superstitious old guy at the table who asks for a “set-up” when facing a cold deck. For those of you unfamiliar with the term, a “set-up” is a brand new set of cards, still in the box, and still neatly arranged by suit. Unfortunately, most card rooms have a policy of honoring any player’s request for a set-up, in order to maintain the integrity of the game. The policy is in place to protect the deck from visible wear and tear or from suspected markings made by cheats. Instead, these disgruntled old men abuse this privilege and ask for a set-up anytime they feel the cards have not been falling in their favor. In other words, when Pops McGrumpypants feels as though his luck is worse than everyone else’s, so much so that no one in the history of poker has ever seen such a terrible run of cards, the game gets put on hold while the dealer spreads, examines and shuffles the new decks for the eye in the sky. Players like Pops fail to recognize that streaks of cold cards come with the territory of playing poker. Sitting out a hand, changing seats or calling it a day (which is probably the best way to deal with a cold deck) are all reasonable methods of “affecting” the cards, if you will, without slowing down the game and subsequently cutting into the dealer’s earnings for the down. What usually happens to players who ask for set-ups? Their “bad luck” continues through the new cards and they eventually find themselves storming out of the poker room, mumbling expletives under their breath, with much lighter pockets. For peeves’ sake, say no to set-ups!
“When superstition is allowed to perform the task of old age in dulling the human temperament, we can say good bye to all excellence in poetry, in painting, and in music (and poker!).” (Denis Diderot)

By Gary Gates
- Poker Expert

+EV Small Bets

The value of small flop bets. Lately I have been becoming a more aggressive player pre- and post-flop.

Here are a few examples that are bringing me a much needed small pot game.

In position in an unopened pot I will often bet pot with my normal limp hands. Often I will throw out a small half pot CB in a 2- or 3-way flop or smaller CB on a 4-way flop whether I hit the flop or not. I am taking down a lot of these hands both preflop and on the flop.

Lately I will also limp in preflop from position (Co or Button) with any 2 cards. I am hoping to get called only by the blinds when in the CO so I retain position on the flop. Most of the time the blinds both miss the flop or only hit it lightly and both check. I will go for the steal every time they check it to me, because normally they only held their hands because it was free or cheap in the first place. Usually I come in with a pot-sized bet because that is enough to get maximum scare value and also because anything smaller will often induce a call because the pot call ratio for them with overs or bottom-pr. They figure I have some kind of hand anyways for limping in anyways. I take down a major majority of hands in this situation.

Also if it is just down to us in the blinds and I’m in the BB I will often now bet pot and take the blinds with any 2 cards. If he originally tried to limp he likely didn’t have much to begin with. If he calls, whether because he thinks I’m bullying or because he figured he’d just see a flop because he had already put in some money anyways, I usually take down the pot when I throw out my small CB on the flop. If not I am through with the hand and C/F if I missed with my junk. He is going to miss his hand 2/3 of the time and if he hits mid- or bottom-pr he often will sometimes even let it go to my aggression.

Another situation is when I go to the flop from the blinds and see the flop 3- or 4-handed. If a pair is flopped I bet out half pot even without position with any 2 cards. Often everyone folds and I drag the pot. They know that I could hold anything in the blinds. Also betting half pot looks like I want a call. Plus betting out of position looks stronger than I used a position raise. And who wants to fight for a pot if I might be holding trips. They often fold nice hands here because they can’t beat trips. If I get a call I know that I’m beat and fold to the first bit of aggression, especially if the SB smooth calls after originally checking the flop. This play also usually gives me a free card that might help my stance.

Another way that I’ve been tinkering with a small raise is when I hit a mid- or bottom pair or a draw on a 3- or 4-way flop after limping in and the board is scary. Often this small informational probe will take the pot right there or at least give me a free card if I get any takers. If I get reraised I can get out cheaply or now get OK odds on a call with my draws, especially if they have a big stack. I am happy with how this has been working.

These steals are working out nicely. And added advantage is this runs with the Hellmuth small-ball theory. The pot is staying smaller until I hit my turn monsters and I am also getting a chance to take a lot of smallish pots outright or by outplaying opponents with my reads on later streets. This also works congruent with my TAG style of play. By playing these extra hands it conceals that I am mostly a tight player and gets me some added playback when I get premium holdings. These extra small pots are helping to keep me even or above the blinds and rake while I wait for my big hands.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

SnG's and New Playing Shedule

I have been doing half-ass well this week. I’m not losing anyways and that is always a plus.

I haven’t been fairing as well in my acquisition of $26 tokens. I am barely keeping my head above water in these things. I’m currently averaging paying about $20 for ever $26 token. I guess that ain’t too bad But I would love to get to about $14 per token. I think I will soon. I always, or usually anyways, go pretty deep in these things. I almost always hit the final table but 2/3rds of the time I am not a big stack at the table and end up having to make a move around the bubble. I think sometimes I wait a little too long where my stack doesn’t scare away the bigger stacks and get a call with moderate holdings and often get sucked out on. A lot of these hands are little more of a coin flip. I am still getting used too this turbo structure. I think I am going to employ a new strategy and see where it goes. With the blinds going up so fast I sometimes don’t get enough good starting hands to make it to the final table with enough chips to hit the tokens without pushing with crap. I think to alleviate this pattern I will start playing more hands in the first few levels when I have a good chip to blind ratio and hope to hit some winning hands early on - especially in position. I then can tighten up to my regular game in the later rounds. I will also be able to then push my larger stack around a little and put pressure on the blinds more. I think this just my fair well in these turbos.

I will then start taking some shots at some higher deep tourneys and try to make a nice cash. If nothing else I will gain some much needed tourney experience. I am also finding these SnG’s a refreshing extension to my cash game grinding. When multi-tabling I just open one less cash table and start up one of these instead. I would also probably fair better in these if I was playing less tables, but with my attention span I just can’t stomach single tabling or going below even 6 tables.

Lastly I am going to change my current session timing. I have in the last few months been waiting for everyone to go to bed before I get on so I could spend more time with the family. You see I get obsessive with a lot of things I do to the detriment of my family. The problem is that I am now sleeping longer due to the all-nighters and thereby am spending less time anyways. So to remedy this I will now only play to get my daily points, which takes only an hr or 2, depending on the stakes. I will do this at sometime during the day or evening and just get off at that point. I will then try to stay on their sleep schedule and thus be a normal part of my family. My wife and I think that is a good compromise. I will still occasionally be on at night due to my crazy work schedule. But the majority of the time will now fall on their time frame. I am happy with this as will they be.

Friday, August 17, 2007


I have had a few bad days currently. Have had currently. Ah, continuity, you have to love it. Anyways the last few days I’ve lost around $200 total. Not a major downswing. It is only 2 buy-ins, but it still hurt because I was playing solid poker. Current roll is $1150 on Tilt. WPEX - $50. Stars - $40. - $9, they gave me $20 free. I’ve also cashed out $130 this week. Also in the last week I staked my Bro for 25% in 2 $200 buy-in ($100 total) Tourneys on Tilt. He made it deep in both but right out of the money on both occasions. I will do it again because he is a good player and plays tourneys often. He will make me some loot at some point because he has gone deep often. Damn that sounded sexual. LOL. I am currently up $880 for the year. I cashed out $4500 last year so I am hoping for a nice run in the last 3rd of the year to match that.

I put $50 on Stars to play with the Aces Cracked Team. I bubbled last week, when 4-handed I re-raised Sham’s open all-in and ran my *’s into his 9’s…OUCH. Hopefully I can redeem myself tomorrow night. Greb did well to make the money, because he was short-stacked most of the game. Sham and I hovered most of the time. Penn was the biggie the whole way. One hand that I was impressed with my play was against JB early on. I think I had TP the whole way. JB got tricky and checked the river with an over-pr trying to induce a bet out of me so he could CR me. I checked and saved myself some chips because I likely would have made a crying call when he pushed.

I’m not doing well with my $26 token accumulation efforts. I just started keeping track. I’ve lost 2 in a row so I need to win the next on just to make it even for this current token race. These 2 table $8 SnG’s are pretty plush so I should really start racking up some tokens. I will then take some shots at going deep in some bigger tourneys.

See you on the rail. Later, Ash out…

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Rolling Again

I’m running well again. I’ve made around $500 in the last 5 days or so. My rakebreak came in and I started with close to a Grand again. I decided to give $100NL another try. I made around $250 both first 2 days. I then played even poker for a few. If you add in the $160 or so of a FT reload bonus that was e-mailed to me I made around $300 anyways. I currently sit at slightly above $1300 because I cashed out $100 and staked my Bro for $50 twice in the last few days. He has been Satelliting into some $200 tourneys on Tilt with $26 tokens. I staked him for 25% both nights. He went deep both times but was always a pretty short stack and had to finally make a move. He doubled thru a few times but never really chipped-up enough to ride the wave into the money.

I’ve been tinkering around with the $8, 18-man SnG’s for $26 tokens. These games are pretty fat. Top 5 get tokens and 6th gets a small payday. Hell, you can sometimes steal a few blinds and hit the tokens when it is an aggressive game. Usually a double-up and a few blind steals will guaranty the payout. I usually get 7, $100 tables going and one SnG going. They fit on my monitor pretty well. I have 3 $26 tokens at the moment. I have been getting bad beat a little around the bubble lately though. I know I am getting more tokens than I pay out in tourney costs, but not by much. I will start keeping track just to see where I stand. I don’t count $26 tokens in my roll though. So even though I am playing even the last few days I am really winning buy-ins from my cash game play. I haven’t really thought about how I will spend these tokens. I will likely play in some tourneys with my Bro. I am also throwing around the Idea of playing SnG’s from $75 tokens with the same 2 table SnG strategy. I don’t like satellites because the way I see it you have to win 2 tourneys to actually get paid and going deep twice has less odds and ultimate will likely detrimental to my roll. I just don’t want to waste the effort that I put into acquiring them. But sooner or later I will get into some deep field tourneys and hope for a big score. Tilt runs a lot of nice guaranteed tourneys.

I haven't put in as much time this month, with only 3 days with 500+ point days. But I am still only 2 days from Silver status.

Hopefully your rolls swell and mine also. Later.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Online, Medical, and Live Updates

Poker has been a struggle lately. I was down to $350 at one time and made it back up to $550. I currently sit at $466. I still have $475 coming in rakeback. I think they are being dishonest with my accrual in rake from FT. I have noticed my rake going down a few times last month. I have just started keeping a daily running tally. If it continues I will ask for and explanation. I didn’t play one day this week and my rake went down $1 form one day to the next. I am just putting in the minimum time required to keep my IM status. After that I have been playing WoW.

On the live home game front I am still crushing the game. Latest 3 game go as follows: +$43, +$38, and +$28. Not a ton, but I am still winning and that is always positive. We have been a little strapped lately so every time I get some scratch built up I have to spend it. I do want to put a live roll together and start frequenting the casino and see where that takes me.

Update on the family work injury issue. On the medical front my wife is recuperating finally. At least she has diagnoses after a year of torment. She had some medical and psychological issues. I’m pretty sure that I have written about her work related injury in the past here, yet I am too lazy to go back and check. Quick background She had a 20lbs box fall on her head at work. She started having tremors some after the accident. She lately went in and got some pain shots in her neck. Once they took affect they took her off the meds that she was on for the prior year. The tremors soon after stopped. One of the size effects of one of her meds was tremors. She was also diagnosed with posttraumatic stress and clinical depression. After a year with no relief or closure, who would be depressed? And just the other day we got the results back from a test that they preformed. They put some kind of dye in her spine and X-rayed. They found a displaced disk in her neck where she had pointed to the whole time. Comp stopped paying over 6 months ago because two neurologists concluded that she had no physical injuries from the accident and it was purely psychological. We disputed at that time and have preformed tests for the last 6 months, with us taking on a lot of the medical bills. To see one Dr we had to pay him $1500 up front. Anyways, her Comp should definitely be reinstated, plus pay retroactive back to when we contested their decision. So hopefully things won’t be so tight soon.

Later, Ash out…