Thursday, March 31, 2011

My Take on the Whole Survivor Thing

First let me congratulate SmBoatDrinks and VeryJosie for making it to the final two in this glorious clusterfuck that is Survivor, Donkey Island. However I have to say that I'm a little surprised, and a little disappointed, at the reaction of the Survivor Poker community, of which I am strictly an observer, to Josie's success.

I hear a lot of grumbling about how she manipulated relationships to attain her ends. I hear how she takes basic strategy moves made by others over-personally. I hear how she's alienated the community to such an extent that it's far from certain that she has the votes to win el enchilada mas grande.

Now I'm not going to go into any specific element of strategy; for one, despite me having a reputation as one of her chief bootlicks, she hasn't really taken me deep into her counsels other than to paint a few big pictures (albeit with flashcards, charts with multi-colored lines, and an overhead projector that uses a bulb designed by NASA). For another, why would I lay bare any strategic knowledge I have before the votes are in? So bear in mind that this is more opinion than fact.

But what has Josie done besides play the game, play it well, play it aggressively, and play it with as much honor as can be contrived in a game such as this? I can guarantee you that her preparation and forethought were, to say the least, comprehensive. I believe she made no decision in haste, no decision based on personal factors like revenge or recrimination, and as far as my observations take me she has betrayed no alliance, no promise, no one.

So it seems what she's guilty of is wanting it, working for it, and bringing a certain Sicilian élan to its execution. Those with a vote in this game should remember that and cast their votes for the person who played the game best, even if it means voting for someone who defeated you at your own game.

Besides, if she wins, she promised to show me her bosom.

So until next time, please remember that there is NOTHING a man won't dare or do to see a set of titties.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A Tale for April

My father, may he rest in peace, would be 78 this coming Saturday. Brother Hrothgar and I will be going to the Bruins game together, more so I suspect to take quiet comfort in each other's company than to actually watch a hockey game.

Next month he'll have been gone for three years, and at some point you have to acknowledge that however wrenching his passing was, after a time you can't reasonably expect the old man to have survived the corrosive effects of time. Nobody on his side of the family lived to 78, and Dad wasn't exactly in robust good health.

If it sounds, by the way, that I'm trying to talk myself into tempering my emotions over his passing, yes, that is precisely what I'm trying to do. And so I guess it's in that vein that I want to tell you a story today, a story that precisely one person in the world knows besides me. The story has some drama to it but I swear to you, every word of it is true.

I was a horrible, willful, angry, contrarian, little punk bastard of a teenager. I was already well into a life-long love affair with the sound of my own voice and wasn't afraid to tell my parents that they were utterly full of shit, at every opportunity and with great vigor. My teen fuckishness came early; I began being a bastard at about 14 and was totally out of it by 17.

This particular evening I was maybe 16, and since it was a day that ended with a y, I was in an argument with my Dad. We were in my bedroom, nose to nose, first yelling at each other, then shortly thereafter, screaming. Dad was railing about what a fucking pigsty my room was (and it was); I was screaming about the unnatural constraints that he was putting on me. To my best recollection I was thinking that my father did not automatically deserve my respect, that he had to actually earn it from his little shitstain youngest son, inbetween the two jobs he was working to keep that son in Yoo-hoo and cable tv.

So there we were, screaming at each other from four inches away, not bothering to listen to each other, just pouring out rage and frustration and disappointment and exhaustion and angst with every screamed insult.

My memory of the event holds that it was a long-ish argument; we'd been going hammer and tongs for maybe five full minutes, which was an eternity in screaming-match time.

And then out of the clear blue sky something happened.

While Dad was screaming at me, I was somehow able to mentally take a step back and observe what was happening. I realized that this guy who was angry and hurt enough by his own son that he fell to screaming, was my father, my Dad, and I remembered just how much, even now, I loved him.

What the hell were we doing?

Mid-rant, mid-scream, and without a word, I grabbed him and hugged him tight, my smug gift of gab having wholly failed me. I just stood there, hugging him, crying a little bit behind his head.

And of course my Dad did the only thing an angry, frustrated father could do: he hugged me back, just as hard.

"Come on, Gary," he said, softly, as he patted my back. "We're both getting too old for this shit. Let's put this childish stuff away, ok?"

I nodded, still unable to speak, still unwilling to let him go. There we stood, hugging each other, neither of us wanting to break the spell.

I wish I could tell you that it all ended that day. Of course it didn't - there were fights and arguments to come, both in great plenty. I didn't stop being a willful teenage prick.

But that day is one of my most precious memories - the day I was able to see through the noxious black cloud of adolescence, just for a minute, and remember that I loved my Dad.

Saturday, March 26, 2011


Last night saw the debut of the Friday night Badugi game (time and date to perhaps be adjusted based on availability). Because of short notice and a wave of apathy, there were only three participants: Josephine, HeffMike, and me. Wolfie was planning on playing but stayed out late and missed the opening gun. He did send his apologies, though, so it's all good there.

The play? Well, the play was like three blind people trying to paint the Mona Lisa, where they keep moving the canvas.* Josie was first to go out; her evaluation of the game was "I liked it just a little more than being poked in the eye." Heff and I danced around for a while, trading the chip lead a few times, but based on a combination of skill, experience, and blind shit-ass luck, I persevered and won the inaugural Badugimania.

I would like to establish a regular Badugi game, or maybe some kind of irregular-game schedule, like 2-7 single and triple, maybe Razz -- you know, the oddball games. I'd like your input as to whether or not you think that's a viable idea.

The point has been made, what good is three people playing a game, none of whom have any skill therein, if the idea is to improve? It's a valid point, but whatever game you play, whatever skill level you play against, if you put a thousand hands of anything behind you, you naturally get an idea of hand strengths, strategy, etc. Yes, your notions of odds will likely be approximate but I contend that's better than no idea at all. And there's something about Badugi that I find oddly compelling; there seems a definite right way and wrong way to play a given hand, a concrete series of decisions that I'd like to learn how to make properly.

So feel free to make suggestions as to what game besides Badugi you'd like to play, and I'll assemble the suggestions (both of them) and consider them appropriately, or ignore them utterly, depending on whether or not I agree with them.

As a post-script to the evening, Josie, Heff and I decided to participate in a 90-person, doublestack, knockout SnG, $12 + 1.

My first hand I was dealt AA in UTG+6 (button -1), blinds 15/30. Three callers in front of me, so with blinds there was 135 in the pot. I raised it to 195. Got two callers, one on each side of me.

Flop comes A72, two clubs. I had flopped my monster set. The pot had 690. First to act checks. I bet 390 - guy next to me calls, other guy folds.

Turn is 10s. Pot has 1,470. I figure I got this one: no made flushes, no made straights, no pairs on the board so no boats or quads - at this point I have the stone cold nuts. I shove for my (and his) last 2,415.

SNAP CALL. Get this: J10c. He risked his tournament life, all of ONE HAND OLD, on second pair and flush draw. And of course, the river rolls over a beautiful (for him) three of clubs, filling his flush and cracking my aces with a combination of horrible decision making and slackjawed good luck**.

I mean, you try and swallow something like that when it comes up, but there's no question that a hand like that stays with you for a while. I knew I was on super-ultra-triple tilt, so I didn't dare play any other game. I closed FT and swore to myself.

So until next time, please remember that Aces fucking suck.


* Yes, I know the Mona Lisa, more accurately called La Gioconda, was not painted on canvas but rather on a panel of wood. Shut the fuck up. It's a goddamn simile.

** 78.12%/21.55% against.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Conversations with God IV: Josie meets the Groovy One, Blessed Be He

A couple, three times a year Tootsie and I invite Josie, FDD Spuds and Ursa Sucrosum down to the hinterlands of Rhode Island for dinner, a card game, maybe some pool, and generally a bunch of laughs. Tonight was one of those nights. Tootsie made a London Broil that was etherally yummy, the coffee had been drunk, U. Sucrosum was asleep on the couch, Toots and FDD Spuds were upstairs chatting and Jo and I were downstairs disgracing the great game of pool.

The conversation turned to our respective blogs, and those stories in which I imagine a conversation with God, which Josie doesn't really like.

"Here's what I don't understand," she said, sizing up her shot. "You're an unabashed atheist. Your stated religion on Facebook is Atheist. You treat the religious with that smug contempt that makes me want to strangle you. So why do you talk to God?"

I thought for a while.

"Maybe I like it," I answered slowly. "Sure, it's literary symbolism, but who's to say that it's not comforting, cathartic, and illuminative? When you get to pose a question so directly you can really think about the answer."

"OK," she said in a lilting, singsong way that indicated she thought I was full of shit.

"Seriously," I said. "It all comes from between the ears."

We were both startled by a cough and the thinly-disguised word "bullshit" from the corner, where the cue stand stood.

Of course, it was The Lord. Why wouldn't it be? As always, He was impeccably dressed, this time wearing an Oxford shirt with an argyle sweater, the shirttail sticking out just enough to be devastatingly fashion-forward.

"Who's your friend?" He purred, looking at - actually, leering at - Josie.

"Oh, sorry. Um, God, this is..."

"I know who she is," He said. "God, remember? Hello Josie."

Josie, a lifelong Catholic, dropped to her knees.

"Get up, get up, this isn't church."

Josie regained her feet and looked God right in the eye.

"God, what's Your deal?" she said, with customary brusqueness. "Are You really just in Gary's head, or what? Are You out there, and real? And why haven't I won a big tournament yet?"

God smirked.

"Sorry, my child," He said, and drew an imaginary zipper across His mouth. "I run on faith. Proof denies faith. No straight answers from Me, but do you not believe your own eyes?"

"Not often," she said, after a pause.

"Well, I'm here to tell you that whatever fountains of genius flow from the hirsute pate of THIS guy..." - here He cocked His head in my direction - "...he can try to take as much credit as he wants to, but it all comes from Me."

"Well I for one believe," Josie said softly. "I'm a woman of faith and if it's faith You need, You got it. There's only one thing I could ever ask of You in return."

"And what is that, child?"

"I'm in this game, Survivor, Donkey Island, see..."

"I know," saith The Lord. "That was a REALLY long game between Boat and Brain, wasn't it?"

"You...You rail the Donkey Island games?" she asked incredulously.

"Not exactly," He said. "More like just, you know, omniscient. Anyway, what about it?"

"Who wins?" she asked, eyes, brightening. She raised her fists in the air, closed her eyes tight and said "ooooooohhh, please please PLEASE let it be me!"

"Josie, do you know anything about quantum mathematics?"

"Oh God, You DO come from Gary's boring-ass brain," she said, eyes rolling. "No, not really."

"Ignoring that," continued God, "There's this issue with tiny particles: you can't know simultaneously a particle's exact position in space and its speed and direction. Because, among other reasons, the act of observing a particle disturbs it. In other words, if I were to tell you, it would alter the trajectory of the game."

"OK," she said, in that same lilting singsong that accused the Lord of bullshittery.

"For real," said the Lord. "No fake."

"Well, ok..." she said with unveiled disappointment.

"Sorry," said God. "But tell me this: Who's this NumbBono character, and why does everybody still vote for him?"

Shocking Error in Planning

The poker gods have FUCKED ME AGAIN. There was an error in the instructions I posted. Corrected ones follow:

- If you don't already have it, download the free PokerStars software
- Open the main poker lobby, then click on the Home Games tab
- Click the 'Join a Poker Club' button
- Enter my Club ID number: 375347
- Enter my Invitation Code: southpaw

From there, find the tournament --it's tonight at 9, doublestack limit Badugi, $5 + $.50, and join. Sorry for the mix-up. Please come and play - I'd be ever so disappointed if you all decided to ignore me en masse.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

It's Official

First tournament: this coming Friday, 9PM, Limit Badugi, $5 + $.50, 3000 starting chips. Info below:

NB: PokerStars approved my name; please note the Club ID below has been changed to so reflect.

You are invited to join my private poker club for Home Games online.

- If you don't already have it, download the free PokerStars software
- Open the main poker lobby, then click on the Home Games tab
- Click the 'Join a Poker Club' button
- Enter my Club ID number: Badugimania
- Enter my Invitation Code: southpaw

That's it! Once I've approved your membership request, we'll be ready to start playing Home Games online together.

If you want to find out more, visit

Never play a game you don't know well

Played SmBoatDrinks' Tuesday Night Booze Cruise yesterday, a multi-game affair. I believe 8 of the ten games were limit. I think these were the games (open to correction)

Limit Stud
Limit Omaha Hi
Limit Omaha Hi/Lo
PL 2-7 single draw
Limit 2-7 triple draw
Limit HE
NL Badugi
Limit Razz
PL Omaha

It was an unmitigated disaster. I haven't played a limit game for money in probably eight years. And though there were definitely some hands I lost because poker is a fickle bitch (just for one example, my king-jack high flush in Stud lost to another, slightly higher King-jack high flush - and remember, no shared cards), most of my chips just got bled out of me because I don't know how to play limit games to any extent. Determining my hand strength was mere guesswork, and brother, did I guess wrong. I finished penultimately; the only player who finished before me was pushmonkey, which is like pretending you're mentally challenged but only winning a silver medal in the Special Olympics.

I have two options going forward for me: To immerse myself in a perhaps years-long quest to achieve competence in limit games, or not to ever fucking play this ridiculous set of games again -- no offense, Boat.

My biggest regret is not lasting to the Badugi round. I might set up a private Badugi tournament to increase my exposure to it. Would you guys play some low-stakes Badugi if it were open to you? Let me know and I'll set it up.

Until next time, please remember my dear Aunt Sally. God, she was a fine piece of ass.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Non-Poker: A Walk in the Woods

There is something to be said
For a walk in the woods;
Pine needles underfoot,
A comforting closeness.
Walk in Nature's womb like that
For any length of time
And you learn to love it.
Rest when you want,
walk, jog,
stay put.
Your actions are your own.

But sooner or later,
Sooner or later,
One wants for the feel of sun on face.
To let it bathe you,
Fill you back up
Where you didn't even know you were empty.
And the woods seem too close,
suddenly inhospitable.
And you want the woods to thin out;
Move past the hoary old oaks
For a clearer vista
And a return to the sun.

It's so easy to love the sun;
It's easy to forget that the sun can be painful,
It stands so far away
Yet bare your chest to it
And it will kill you.
You turn your face away-
Hide yourself from the sun,
The hateful, bully sun.
And you're marked and in the open
And there's no place to hide,
So you run towards the woods as fast as you can.

And your lungs burn and your legs ache
And the sun laughs as it chases you here and there
Until you see a patch of woods-
With pine needles underfoot
And a comforting closeness
You now remember fondly.
It makes you ask yourself
Why you ever craved the sun-
Why you ever stood exposed
When the woods are so dark,
so cool,
And you find your solitude again.

There is something to be said
For a walk in the woods.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

What the fuck was that??

I just played the most oddly-formatted game I think I've ever played. 1500 in chips, that's normal. Blinds start at 10/20, that's normal too. Three-minute blinds, not so much. Apparently the coordinators (who earn my gratitude for taking it all on) wanted to structure a super-turbo, with 300 chips, but shot a little short of the mark.

My only real thought was, gotta hit the gas a bit, because the blinds are gonna be too big too soon for any kind of subtlety. As it happened I didn't even have to; I think the fourth or fifth hand I looked down at pocket queens. Twoblackaces called with AK, caught on the flop, and I was officially the first sorry sonofabitch out of the tourney.

I will say this: Not a fan of the fast-blind format. But it was a little bit of fun, and the hand I lost, like a trip to the moon on gossamer wings, was just one of those things.

So until next time, please remember this little rhyme: Blinds of 20 minute, or I ain't friggin in it.

Postcard from the road: Seabrook, NH, 19 March

Saturday, Josie and I trucked up to Seabrook to take part in their special Saturday tournament: a $100 buy-in gets you 15,000 in chips and 30 minute blinds. It's a good format for a patient player who understands hand selection. Or is it? The first round of blinds are 25-50, so everyone started with 300 BB's. This led to a lot of speculation, a lot of porkchops throwing in a call because they have no concept of one BB's value.

I didn't want to enter a firefight, especially early on, so I clamped down and waited for the mayhem to die down a bit. Unfortunately, one of the late entrants to the tourney was a loud-talking, Ed Hardy shirt-wearing, white-sweat-jacket-on-top-of-that-wearing, short-bleached-hair-domed 22-year-old idiot sitting down in seat two, betting like every one of his hands were pocket aces. He would raise 3,000 chips in a pot with maybe 200 chips in it, then would turn over 2-5 or somesuch similar garbagio hand. So I had a while to wait, as there was a good deal of mayhem to die down. Unfortunately that meant that any hand I'd play was immediately folded down to, as I developed a rep as the only rock at the table. I will say this: it was a different feeling, getting too much respect for a raise as opposed to not enough.

Unfortnately my attempts in the early going were met with the typical bad luck that has characterized my experiences in Seabrook: I lost a few thousand when my two pair were counterfeited on the board, another couple grand when my aces were beat by a 10-7 two pair, etc. At the first break I had failed to chip up and in fact was down by a few hundred. At the second break I was down to about eight thousand, having burned through half my stack with the above-mentioned string of unfortunate hands.

I had chipped back up a little - the blinds, now joined by antes, were enough to start having to play second-tier hands (A10, 99, 88, KQs, etc). This, joined with a nice little run of cards, got me close to my original stack size, when I look to my left and what to my wondering eye should appear but Josie herself, out of the tournament and wearing the JSF (Josie Sad Face). Now look: Me and Jo, we're boon companions, and I'm very loyal to my friends. What's good for her is good for me, but may the Flying Spaghetti Monster forgive me (Ramen, brother) I couldn't help but smile just a little bit: my luck (or play) has been so bad at Seabrook that I had never so much as outlasted her in a big tournament up there, not ever. So having outlasted her today was an actual achievement. She went off to play some 2-4 limit and I kept at it.

I caught some nice hands, won a couple of flips, and generally played well for the next, say, hour and a half, maybe two hours. I had chipped up nicely and was still playing smart.

But you know what they say: one bad hand, one bad decision, can wipe out a whole afternoon of solid play, and such was the case with me. Seat 10 was riding a nice wave, overbetting, overraising, and turning over garbage. So when he led out everyone who was paying attention started slavering over the prospect of a vulnerable pot.

Well one hand after the third break (blinds 600/1200/100) he does his thing, but instead of garbage, he turns over pocket aces and drags himself a huge pot - becomes either chip leader or close to it. The table is still buzzing about the hand when the next hand is dealt. I look down at AQ suited in UTG +4. I make a reasonable bet of 4,000 (remember, just blinds and antes are 2,000). Everyone folds except for seat 10, who raises another 4,000. Now this butt munch just turned over AA, so I was pretty sure he didn't have that hand, so that was one of four hands to which I was vulnerable that I could rule out. That plus the fact that his raises weren't worth a used kleenex, led me to make the decision to shove.

He snap-calls and turns over pocket aces, again. Two pocket aces back to back - what are the odds? Well, if one catches aces one time in 226, I suppose the odds are 51,076:1. Anyway, I caught neither running queens nor three clubs, and that was the story of me.

BUT, although I didn't cash in the tourney, I think I did well, I like most of my decisions, I took decent advantage of my table image, and hey: I outlasted Josie. I just had a good hand that went up against a better hand. That's poker, I reckon. And, of course, there was some reasonably yummy Chinese food afterwards. And Josie learned all about what made the song She Loves You so unusual for the time. In her defense, she tried hard not to look bored.

Until next time, please remember that someone else has my money, Bali Hai has some good lobster sauce, and with a love like that, you know you should be glad.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Finally, some hard data to work with

(All together, now: "That's what SHE said!")

So this may be a little too early for any real data analysis but I've played a hand or three since my first HEM reports so I thought I'd share with you what looks like a pretty significant turnaround in my fortunes.


Tourneys: 87
ROI: -31.3%
ITM %: 36.8%

Earnings: $-339.65
&/hr: $-10.08
Avg Duration: 23.5 minutes

Summed up in one word: GRIM. Maybe two words: FUCKING GRIM.

AFTER MARCH 6, 2011:

Tourneys: 27
ROI: 47.5%
ITM %: 40.7%

Earnings: 144.67
%/hr: $7.82
Avg. Duration: 41.1

Sure, kind of a small data pool, but it looks like a pretty decent turnaround. I'm lasting longer in tourneys, winning more often, and more money when I do. Really, it shows improvement by any indicator. BUT: $7.82 an hour? Not enough. ITM% not increased enough for my liking. Lots of work to be done.

I don't think I have enough data to glean value from a starting-hand-centric view of the data; currently the highest-yielding hand is A8o and the worst-yielding hand is A8s. So I'm sure there are some things to smooth out in the data. But as soon as I get them I will let you know.

Until next time, please remember how grateful I am to HEM, to the dude that made me aware of it, and the genuine good will of those people who help my cause with good advice and sincere encouragement. It's appreciated.

Monday, March 14, 2011

I won three, two-packs of resistors

When I was 18 I worked for Radio Shack, to the surprise of exactly nobody who's ever met me. I was the kid who took it upon himself to memorize the part number of everything in the store, where everything is, what it did, and how much I got paid for selling it.

It was in the pursuit of this exercise that I discovered the least expensive item in the joint: a two-pack of resistors, the least expensive of which cost exactly nineteen cents. Customers used to walk up to the counter with a solitary blister pack of resistors and a quarter, and would actually apologize for the smallness of the transaction.

We always said the same thing when this happened: A smile as the quarter crossed my palm and the phrase "Sir, we count them all." It came to represent our philosophy about customer service and how to properly show gratitude for a customer's business; but mostly it gave us something to say other than "why don't you make it worth my while to hand-write this receipt, you cheap fuck. I'm guessing you want your free fucking battery?"

The reason for that tale is this: Tonight I played in Survivor Poker's Donkey Island Event #9. It was a multi-entry, I could have signed up as many as four times, but I only signed up twice. I was actually doing quite well with both entries, until my pocket aces were cracked by (I think) Hoyazo, who connected with his 10's for a set. After that it was all attention paid to my last remaining entry.

Towards the end of the tourney my cards were so bad that I could do little more than keep my head above water and watch as people swung mightily with their stacks. Those who missed fell by the wayside and I ended up making the final table.

I was short stacked and needed to pee, and was raised by NY Rambler. Now I have nothing against the fellow but the fact is that his range for hands in the circumstance we were in was as wide as the Massachusetts Turnpike. I had QK suited, and almost no chips. I went in. Eight seconds later, I went out.

I cashed $11.62. Minus $10 for the entry, and $1 for the house, and my profit for just short of three hours of poker was sixty-two cents.

No, it's not a lot. But as Joanada said, it beats a sharp stick to the eye, which is true. The bottom line is, this adjustment I've made and have been discussing ad friggin nauseum, changed this game from an $11 loser to a tiny winner, and that's a damn good thing.

And anyway, like we used to say when they'd buy a two-pack of resistors, we count them all.

Until next time, please remember that sixty-two cents is indeed better than a sharp stick to they eye - or anywhere on the body for that matter.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

So this is what "Self-Destructive Behavior" means

I'm so pissed off at myself I can hardly speak. Well, let's not go too far, there's no end to the love I have for the sound of my own voice. Anyway, why am I pissed?

I'll tell you why: In the tournament that would mean either profit or loss for the evening, during the hand that was so important to finishing in the money, at what arguably could be called the most important single moment of the night, I lost hand, game, and evening, by playing a hand I swore I would not play again.

I lost more than half my stack by playing...wait for it...pocket sevens.

Look over my last few posts. You'll see my sincerity. You'll see the light of newfound knowledge. And for sure, there's no zealot like a convert. I saw the error of my ways. Promises were made and for a while, kept. I would NOT play 77. I would NOT play KJ. I would NOT play A2 (or any of its friends). I would NOT play QJ.

And the bitch of it is, it was working. I was winning more, going deeper more, playing more solidly, losing only when my great hand was up against a better hand (AK vs AA for example) and my opponent sucking out (which stings a lot less when you're not helping your cause by losing because you're an idiot). And as I mentioned to a pal a few days ago, if my game seems unimaginative and a bit ABC, well, that's fine as long as I start winning with regularity.

But I looked down at 77, one of which was a diamond, and a board of 346 all diamonds or something like that, and I couldn't help myself. Having forgotten all my teachings, for no greater reward than winning a small hand or even just the blinds, I make a giant bet with my 7's and held my breath.

I did not have to wait long. My opponent (I can't even with sincerity call him the villain) re-popped for all his chips, only a few hundred more than my bet. At this point I was priced in irrespective of what I had, so I called to find he (with KJ, how's that for irony) had his flush all made and happy, and I was dead to one card for a straight flush. Guess what? It didn't come. And I lost the hand.

And bubbled for the money.

Which meant a losing night.

Because I forgot what I learned and played a documented loser of a hand.

For want of a nail, the kingdom was lost. And I'm so pissed I can hardly speak.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Non-Poker: A Poignant Image

This photograph, whose originator is unknown, shows a bombed-out library in London, with its patrons still calmly perusing its shelves for something of interest to read.

If this image doesn't bring a lump to your throat you're either dead inside, or a Nazi, or both.  It conjures up such a classic British sense of moving on with life in the face of horrible, dangerous circumstances, and an unspoken, spine-straightening defiance of the warmongers who were bombing population centers with no military value.  We WILL beat you, even if you bomb us to powder.  We WILL perservere against you.  And we will live our lives in our own quiet way, even if it means finding something of interest to read in a heap of rubble.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Even AQ might be a trash ace...

4:19 Started a step 3 18-person tourney, seats 1-5 get a step 4 ticket. Two seats to my right is a pro, Adam Noone. He's first button so I'm first BB. Second hand, to an unraised BB, is KJs. Even notwithstanding my discount, I fold that shit like it was a shirt.

4:20 Smoke 'em if you got 'em.  Woo hoo!

4:24 QhQd as BB. SB-1 raised to 120. I raise to 320. Fold. CC 1710.

4:26 two black queens as button. Raise to 120. Both blinds call. Bet 360 on turn, two folds. CC 1950.

4:28 J10o. Sorry Josie. Foldaroo.

4:37 QQ #3. just got blinds, damn. Restores my last round of blinds and am back up to 1965, the year they removed silver from US coinage.

4:38 Folded A8o. May not sound like such a big deal but for me that's a disciplined fold 6-up.

4:39 Ditto the QJo that I just got as BB. Before I'd jump on that shit like a dung beetle jumps on ordure. Not now. Would have had a full house and knocked two people out including the pro. Still a good move though.

4:48 blinded down to 1715. Patience is not a virtue, It's for shit. Picking up odds-defying quantities of KJ, Q10, K10s. Killing me. Just fucking killing me.

4:57 Called neighbor's all in with AQ - he had QQ but I caught the ace and it held up. CC: 3250

4:59 that guy is out. he didn't say anything but it was clear he was steamed up all to hell. He had 1010, raised to 360, got called. Flop came 3AJ and he shoves, only to be called by AJ. The two pair hold up and he's o-u-t spells out.

5:00 QKs as button. I'll try to steal. - successfully! CC 3290.

5:05 first walk of the tourney with 35s. woo hoo!

5:13 dead. A9, high blinds, steal attempt, my opponent woke up with queens. Whaddayagonnado. I played well though, except for the last hand, I think I coulda stayed away from that. Lesson learned: A9 isn't much better than A2, A4, or any other bullshit ace. Adding that to the ledger. By that I mean Heath Ledger, who is absolutely as dead as I am right now.

I am officially staying away from all bullshit aces unless my opponent is a known douchebag.

Monday, March 7, 2011

First goddamn hand

Just jumped in on a 2 table tourney for a step 3 ticket - first hand out of the chute, UTG+3 was KJo.  After I stopped laughing I folded immediately.

Immediate Dividends

Hold Em Manager cost me 80 bucks.  Last night at the most recent Survivor Poker Challenge I took the barest amount of data gleaned therefrom (see post below) and parlayed it into a $94 profit ($97 minus $1 buy-in, $1 for the house, and $1 for the add-on after third level.  No rebuys, I'll have you know).   What did I do that was so special?  I took the hands that I thought were "worth a shot" and folded the fuckers. Did I fold too much?  I don't know; I didn't seem to be getting a lot of action when I raised, which I suppose I can use to my advantage. In fact there was one hand where BuddyDank went in and it was only 3BB to call, and I had a million chips, but I had A6, and that hand is a perfect example of the kind of hand that just does not win as often as you think it does, even heads-up.  Had I called, and BD told the truth, I'd have been up against pocket threes.  You can keep your coin-flips, your ego calls, all that shit.  I prefer to keep my chips, thanks.

When it came time to start stealing blinds (and here I'm thinking of you, Poker Grump; you did this frustratingly well), I just folded and folded until I had something I was reasonably sure beat a random hand and took him down.  I played Bayne and Mike Maloney to a draw and we split the pot three ways, and I'll take a 32 buy-in ROI any day of the week.

So HEM pays for itself in the first tournament I enter after I start using it.  Impressive, I must say. I'm still not playing with a HUD - quite frankly I can't get it to work but also it seems awfully busy and distracting, and I'm still not sure how ethical it is.  Maybe I'll try it later on.

BTW, I've heard that blogger tourneys are donkaments, but if you subscribe to the theory that tight is right, and tighter is righter, these guys play it right.  Call it a nittyment if you like but to call it a donkament is disingenuous.

So until next time, please remember that pocket 7's almost never pays off, and stay away from that wicked KJ offsuit!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Figures Don't Lie; Liars Figure

Having listened to PokerMeister's advice I bought a copy of Hold Em Manager, henceforth HEM. I installed it, pointed it to the right directory, and promptly forgot about it - it was an ocean of unintelligible acronyms, obscure data points, graphs and charts which my feeble simian brain just can't grasp.  Speaking of which, and a propos of nothing, I'd like a banana.

Anyway, today I remembered that I'd dropped 80 bones on a piece of software I wasn't using and ran it today.  It imported some four months' worth of data and even though I'm just scratching the surface of the data available to me, what I have been able to figure out is a staggering wealth of information that can only serve to plug some of the many holes in my game.

The report that has thus far provided me the most immediate benefit for my game is an analysis of win percentage and dollars won per starting hand. The very first piece of information I clapped my eyes on shocked me: despite the popularity of pissing and moaning about how pocket aces don't hold up, the simple fact is they do, at least for me.  Of the 17 documented instances of The Crafty One getting pocket rockets, I won with them 88.2 percent of the time, with (of course) a 100% VPIP, and "winnings" of $11,000 (tournament chips, not bux) I did notice that I PFR'd only 53% of the time; that smells like I'm being too cute with them, but I'll have to think about that later. So take that, you nattering nabobs of negativity! Aces rock!

Of course, the greater teachiing opportunities arise from adversity, and towards that end, would anyone care to guess the hand on which I've lost the most, or the most times? I'll give you my bottom four.

Honorable mention for Hands What Cost Me The Most Schiarole goes to...pocket 7's.  Despite winning with them at a 66% clip (16/24), I've lost more than $3700 T$ with them.  Tread lightly with 7's, lad.

Bronze medal is proudly worn by...A2 s00ted, with which I've lost twice for every time I've won (4/12) and lost big - T$5300.  Ace rag, man, it'll just friggin kill you every time - or 2 times out of 3.

The Silver medalist in the Hands of Ignominy competition goes to...QJo, which despite a 50% winning clip (23/45) had lost me T$5455. Like A2, when I win, I win small, and when I lose I lose big.   Not the winning formula.

And the Gold medal, the Bruce Jenner of the Bad Hand, with great honor, pomp and circumstance, goes to... KJo.  That's right - the Seabrook Nuts! That hand has lost me more than any other hand I have; $T5578 has gone right down the shitter because of KJo.

These four hands share the same commonalities:

  • A VPiP of over 75% (well, QJ was 74.4, but you get it)
  • I PFR'd at an over 50% clip
  • If I clean up my game to the tune of those four hands, my game would transition from slightly under break-even to slightly over it. 
FOUR HANDS turn me from a winner to a loser.  But at least now I know.

Until next time, please remember that knowledge is power, which is good because gas is $3.50 a goddamn gallon.

Friday, March 4, 2011

I'll take "Incredibly Inappropriate Overreaction for $2000, Please."

So I thought I'd follow in the footsteps of every luckbox sonofabitch who entered and won a supersatellite, then won the satellite for entry to the big dance, then won or cashed huge, to turn 50 full-tilt points into eighteen grand and a sponsorship deal.  I've been entering step 0 tourneys, the prize for which is a step 1 ticket, then parlaying that into step 2 tickets, etc.  My eventual hope is to cash big while risking no more than a buck. So far I've been collecting step 2 tickets as I muster up thr courage to use them.

Anyway, I decided to splurge and spend $3 (I was out of step 1'ers) on a six-person 1 table, the wages of winning is yet another step 2 ticket.  So I'm doing my thing, trying as best I can to pick my spots, find the opportunities for stealing, etc.  One such had I'm dealt JQ in position and I decide to raise.  I get called.  The flop comes A-A-J.  Now I'm either way out in front or I'm crushed.  I decide to bet out to see where I am.  My bet was probably bigger than it should have been, but either way, my opponent raises me big and I fold, which was the only thing to do.

Out of the clear blue sky the dude to my right, who was not in the hand, starts in on me.

other guy:  god your an idiot - why didnt u call
me:  what's it to you?
other guy: such a fuc' ing joke
me:  dude, it's a $3 game, why don't you just relax
other guy:  whats $3 got to do with it
me:  none of us are Doyle Brunson, that's why we're swimming in the shallow end.  Besides, you weren't even in the hand, so why don't you STFU
other guy: such an idiot

bottom line, it came down to heads up between mr. happy-pants and me. He sucks out on me with a miracle flush on the river.  He sucks out on me with a three-outer to almost tie the score.  All the while I'm saying precisely NOTHING. It's part of poker and I would never call someone an idiot, especially when they're playing poorly.  Why on earth would I want to clue someone in to the fact that they're playing poorly?  Besides which, it was all good as I got all my chips back within 10 hands.

Anyway, the last hand of the game came on my button (gross). He min-raised, which I took to mean he had a decent hand but not a great one. I had 79o, but it was only 240 to call and I had a 7000-2000 lead on him.  Call.

The flop came 599.  I had flopped a set.  Like an (let's all say it together) idiot, he bets 560.  I re-raise, he shoves, I call.  He turns over A8.  Before the turn he says

other guy: what a joke

He was drawing dead to running aces.  I took the opportunity to administer the needle just a little bit:

me:  yes, quite a joke, getting you to move in drawing dead.  One wonders who the idiot is now
me:  well nighty night big talker

Mmm-mmm! There is nothing tastier than an asshole getting his comeuppance.  Tastes like chocolate-flavored pussy. I could eat it and eat it until that membrane under my tongue rips and causes me three days of not-easily-explainable pain.

Seriously, how pathetic is it getting all bent out of shape at a $3 table?  What a tool.  And guess what?  CANADIAN.

So until next time, please remember not to fucking cross me if there's less than five bucks on the line.