Saturday, September 30, 2006

Event #17 ($1050 Limit Hold'em) Recap

Event #17 was the penultimate event of the WCOOP and was my last event. With the big buy in and the fact that it was limit and not no limit, this event only drew 685 players. But, with 5,000 starting chips and 30 minute limits it was clear from the start that this would be a long event.

One of the biggest advantages limit has over no limit for a player like me is that you can't go broke (or even take much damage) on one hand in the early stages. This benefit came into play for me on the second hand of the whole tournament. I was in the small blind with 33 and after a few players called the 20 chip big blind the button raised. I called as did the big blind and all of the other callers. The flop came down 3 5 6 with 2 hearts. This was a sweet flop for me and I bet 20 hoping to get raised. Happily, I got two callers and the button raised. The pot was already big so I decided to keep my foot on the gas and I made it three bets. After a player in between us called, the button capped the betting at 4 bets (by rule there is a maximum of a bet and three raises in limit hold'em). The turn was another 5, we lost the other player, but the button and I got three 40 chip bets into the pot. I was sure he had a big pair and didn't want to see any aces or kings to show up. The river was the Q of hearts and after I bet, he raised me. I thought there was some chance he'd hit a flush, but I was pretty sure it was QQ so I just called. Sure enough, my opponent had made a full house on the river. In NL I easily could have gone broke on this hand and certainly would have lost a large percentage of my chips. But, we were playing limit so I only lost 280 chips and was left with 4,700 of my 5,000 starting chips. Yeah limit hold'em! Since it was only the second hand, however, I found myself in 681st out of 685 and my opponent found himself in 1st! HA!

The rest of the early levels were pretty uneventful. I won some pots here and there and managed to work my way up to about 8,000 by the end of round 4. Then I had a few hands go against me in round 5 and found myself down to 3,000. This was one of two times during the tournament where I was not feeling good about my chances. But then in round six I got a total gift.

With limits of 200/400 (note that in limit the "limits" and not the "blinds" are used to denote stakes - in this case the blinds are 100/200) I raised to 400 from first position with AQ. I got called by the big blind (who it turned out had 55) and the flop came down Q Q 2. BINGO! He checked, I bet, and after a short pause he called me. I was happy to get any action as I was almost certain to have the best hand here. The turn was a 7 and he check raised me! I reraised to 1200 and he called. He also checked and called a 400 chip bet on the end after a 9 came on the river. This guy way over played his hand and allowed me to pick up some stress free easy chips.

A few hands later I picked up some more chips when I busted a player who had around 1,800 chips. For some reason he decided to go nuts with J9 and I took him out with AQ. All of a sudden I was over 9,000.

During level 7 I came across maybe my favorite hand of the entire WCOOP. With limits at 300/600 I found myself with JJ on the button. A crazy player who'd been in almost every hand raised to 600 and got reraised to 900 by another player. I considered making it 1,200, but decided to just call instead. We took the flop three way and I did a double take as I saw J J K on the flop! I'd flopped quads! After a check from the crazy player and a bet of 300 from the other I decided to play it slow and just called. The crazy player folded and the turn was an 8. My opponent bet, I raised, he reraised and I capped it. The river was a 5, putting three spades on the board, and my opponent checked. I bet 600 and to my surprise he raised me! I made it 1,800, and he made it 2,400! I wished that I could have raised again. On the turn I suspected that he was holding KK and by the time the betting was over I was sure, so it was no surprise when that's exactly what he showed. This took me up to 16,700 and put me in 16th out of 460. Take that suckers.


During level 8 I moved up again when I flopped two pair with 63 after getting a look at a free flop in the big blind. I won another pot or two on level 8 and then on the 1st hand of level 9 I picked up AA! I raised and desperately hoped for callers, but found none. I was, however, now in 13th place out of 267 with 27,500 chips. I was starting to think a money finish was in the bag when it seemed like everything turned against me.

I lost AK to 66 when another player foolishly called a bet on the flop with a board of A J 4 and ended up making a flush with one of his 6's. Then I found myself in the big blind with KK and lost a big pot to A2. After those two I was down to 17,500 and not feeling great. By this time the limits were 800/1600 with blinds of 400/800 so every 9 hands I was losing 1,200 to the blinds. I got ground down to around 14,000 in this manner and then after a failed bluff, I found myself with 10,000. The limits went up again, this time to 1200/2400 and I was blinded off all the way down to 5,500 with about 150 players left. I kept thinking about how I'd had 27,000 not too much earlier and was kicking myself for not being able to hang on to them. I was also thinking about how pissed I was going to be to fall just short of the money...again.

Then I had a change of mind set. I started to think about all of the times that I've come back from nothing in other tournaments. I've done this kind of shit before. I'm not done yet. A couple of good hands and I'm right back in it.

Just like clock work, I started to make some head way. I stole the blinds once. And then I picked up AK and won a small pot with a bluff on the flop.

I was getting back into it when I picked up AQ during level 11 and raised to 2400. I got called by the big blind and the flop came down A 7 3. My opponent bet and I raised him. The turn was a K, I bet and he called. The river was another K, I bet my last 1,500 chips and he called with what turned out to be A5. This may not seem like heavy action, but this late in the tournament taking a hand all the way to the river and winning is a huge deal. I picked up almost 10,000 on this one pot and found myself in solid shape as we approached the money.

I managed to pick up enough blinds to keep me even during level 12 and sometime during that level we lost our 595th player. 90th place paid $1,668, so I was very happy to be in the money. I only had 20,000 chips, with the average stack being 38,000, but found myself in 63rd place. It took over 6 hours and I played over 500 hands(this is a much higher hand per hour rate than you'd normally expect) to get this far, but I was still hoping for more. The next money jump was up to $2,085 which would come when we made it under 60 players. In order to make it that far I knew I'd need to make some moves.

The blinds ate up a small chunk of my stack and I found myself with just under 16,000 at the beginning of level 13. With limits of 2,000/4,000 I picked up AK and made it 4,000 to go. I got called by the big blind and the flop came down K 4 2. This was a sweet flop for me and I was happy to see my opponent bet. I raised, and he reraised, and I raised again. We both knew I was going all in before the end of the hand so why wait to get it in there. On the turn I got my last 4,000 or so chips into the pot and when the cards were turned over I saw he had K8. When a harmless 9 fell on the river I was up over 32,000 chips.

A little later, after flopping a flush draw with K6 out of the big blind, I turned a 6 and rivered a K to win a small pot. I was up over 40,000 for a brief moment and then I made a second best hand that took half of my stack. Still in level 13, I raised to 4,000 with KQ of spades and got reraised by the big blind. I called and the flop came down Q 8 3 with one spade. He bet 2,000 and hoping top pair was good, I raised to 4,000. He paused for a moment and I thought that my hand must be good and he was going to fold. Then he made it 6,000. Uh oh. I figured I was behind, but there was already 23,000 in the pot so calling 2,000 more to see the turn was an easy decision. When it came out, the turn was the ace of spades. This was a great card for me since it meant I had 9 cards left in the deck that would make me the nuts (the nine remaining spades) and 5 cards (2 Q's and 3 K's) that might make me the best hand. So when my opponent bet 4,000, I called and hoped for a spade. The river was a disappointing 7 of hearts and after I called another 4,000 chips (this time just to make sure he wasn't getting out of line) he showed me AQ and took down a 41,000 chip pot.

Around this time we dropped under 60 players and I picked up another $400 in guaranteed money.

On level 14 with limits of 3,000/6,000 I picked up AK and raised to 6,000. I got called by the big blind and the flop came down J 10 6 all clubs. My opponent checked and even though I had no pairs and no clubs I had to bet. I got called and the turn was a red 4. Again my opponent checked. I only had 6,500 left so I wasn't happy when my 6,000 chip bet on the turn got called. The river was a red 3 and we both checked (I only had 500 left anyway so it really didn't matter). I was very happy to see my opponent turn up A7 with the A of clubs. If he'd had a pair instead of a flush draw I'd have been gone here.

Soon after, we dropped under 45 players and moved up another pay level, meaning I was guaranteed just over $2,700. After winning another baby pot I found myself in 30th of the 40 remaining players with 47,000 chips. I had my eye on the next pay level which would happen when we got under 30 players

On level 15 with the limits at 4,000/8,000 I reraised the tournament chip leader with 10 10. He just called and after I bet 4,000 into a 25,000 chip pot with a flop of K J 5, I was thrilled to see him fold. This pot took me up to 55,000 and is also an example of a "bluff" (I had 10 10 but it might as well have been 22 with a K and a J on the flop) that worked. I know I mention plenty of "failed bluffs" and few that work so I wanted to point this one out.

A few hands later I got AK again (I must have had AK 10-12 times during this tournament) and got some good action. After raising preflop, I bet and got called on a 10 7 2 flop. The turn was a beautiful A and I bet again, this time with confidence. I got called again, but after another 7 on the river my opponent folded to my bet. At this point I was up to 88,000.

We lost the 31st player and I moved up to the pay level where I was guaranteed $3,600.

I picked up another pot and found myself at 105,000. I started to look at moving up to the next pay level which would be with 18 players left, but this was still a mile away. Even though it was only 12 players, those 12 represented 40% of the remaining field. Sadly, I would stall at the $3,600 level.

When level 16 started with limits of 6,000/12,000 it meant that the big blind would be larger than the entire stack that we all started with. Clearly every hand was serious from this point on and I just didn't connect with some flops. First I lost 24 thousand with 88 and then another 18 thousand with AJ. Of course the blinds didn't stop chewing up my stack and soon I was running low again.

I lost both of my final 2 hands to the same guy who made a few weird plays that hurt me. First he raised with Q9 in first position and I made a loose call out of the big blind with K5 of clubs. The flop was K 9 4 and after I check raised him he was all in on the flop. I was in good shape and just needed to dodge a queen or a 9, but he got both when the turn was a 9 and the river was a queen.

After that hand, I was down to my last 15,000 chips, so when I picked up A3 it was a clear decision to raise with it. My friend from the last hand reraised with Q10 putting me all in. I was 60% to win before the flop, but he made a flush and I was eliminated in 21st place. It was 8 hours and 50 minutes after this tournament started when I got eliminated and 12 hours after I started playing that day so I was pretty tired.

I was 3 places away from another $2,500, 14 away from another $20,000 and 20 places away from another $150,000. While I was pleased to pick up a few grand, I was a little disappointed to be a few good hands away from a major pay day.

With that said, I was still very happy with how things went and it was nice to close out the WCOOP with a victory. I'll give some final thoughts in a recap of the WCOOP as a whole tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Event# 13 ($320 6-Handed PL Hold'em) Recap

WCOOP event #13 kicked off with 1741 players seated 6 to a table. Despite small blinds relative to the chip stacks, with fewer players at each table, people were taking more risks and going broke quickly. Like I said in the preview I felt very comfortable with the format was hoping to do well in this event.

One part of playing well short handed is playing well in the blinds. After all you're in one of the blinds a third of the time in this format. Unfortunately the player who was in the small blind when I was in the big blind, gave me a lot of trouble. I didn't get to see his cards often and is possible that he was just hitting plenty of flops, but it seemed like he was putting me to the test every time and unfortunately I never managed to connect with a flop out of the big blind.

Another part of playing well short handed is about chopping out a bunch of small pots and I succeeded in doing this during the first two hours. At one point I had my chip stack up to about 5,000 (after starting with 2,500) without winning more than about 500 chips in any one pot. Around this time I picked up AJ on the button. With blinds of 50/100 the player in first position raised to 300. I thought about reraising but decided to just call. The blinds folded and the flop came down J 7 6. My opponent bet and I decided I'd just call and pop him on the turn. The turn came another J and while I was almost sure to have the best hand I thought this card would kill my action. As I expected my opponent checked, but after I bet he raised me! Great! I moved all in and hoped for a call from a hand like QQ or KK. I got the call I wanted, but not the hand. He also had AJ and after an A came on the river to make us both full houses, we split the pot.

After two hours we'd played exactly 200 hands (roughly 80 more than you'd get in 2 hours of 9 handed play) and were down to 683 players. Unfortunately I'd given back some chips and found myself with around 3,000.

During the 6th level is when I met my demise. With blinds of 100/200 I had about 2,700 chips and found myself with QJ (with the Q of spades)in the small blind. I raised to 600 and got called by the big blind who had close to 15,000 chips. The flop was A 10 5 with two spades. Normally I might bet here, but I decided that with so many chips the big blind might call me with a wide range of hands. So, I checked. I expected the big blind to bet, but he checked behind me. The turn was a 7 of spades. I figured if my opponent had anything he would have bet the flop so I bet out 1,000 and found myself facing a raise that would put me all in. I only had 1100 left, there was 4300 in the pot and the average stack was over 8,000. I had a flush draw a gut shot straight draw and some chance that a Q or a J might be good if it hit. It was a call that I had to make, but I wasn't happy about it. My opponent showed A3 and after a nothing came on the river I was eliminated in 494th place.

Tomorrow is another Omaha event and I've decided to cut out the $530 Stud-8 event that was on my original schedule so I'm "off" (meaning I'll be playing single tables and chopping wood) for two days. All that's left for me in the 2006 WCOOP is a $1,000 limit event on Saturday. I also plan to play a special $280 satellite to the $2,500 main event. Pokerstars has guaranteed 100 seats will be given away in this tournament and if I win one (or if I was to go deep in Saturday's event) I'll be playing, but other wise I'll be skipping it.

Now to finish with a splash of good news. I'm sure those of you reading who don't know me well sometimes think "how does he do this for a living? All he does is lose!" Unfortunately the stuff I write about is big buy in tournaments that have very high fluctuation. On a day to day basis the money is much more steady. In fact, if you neglect the WCOOP I'm on an 8-day winning streak and have netted somewhere in the $2,500 range during that time (this is actually a pretty low number for an 8-day winning streak - normally I'd expect closer to the $4,000 range for a streak like this one). Event #17 preview coming soon.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Event #13 preview

Event #13 is $320 6-handed pot limit hold'em. In this torunament instead of having 9 (or 10) players at a full table, there are only 6. Also instead of being played no limit, this event will be played pot limit.

If I had to choose any WCOOP event to put all my money on, it would be this one. As I mentioned in a previous post I seem to do slightly better with pot limit than I do with no limit. More importantly I feel I have a strong advantage playing short handed. While most players spend almost their entire poker lives playing against 8 or 9 other players I've made my living playing against 4 or 5 players. This goes all the way back to when I was a prop player at The Oaks Club and my job was to keep short handed games from breaking up. Perhaps more significantly, when playing single table tournaments, as players are eliminated you get to play against fewer and fewer opponenets. As a result, I have many practiced and proven strategies for playing against 4 or 5 players. Another thing that helps is I've played about 15,000 hands of 6 handed NL cash games in the past 6 weeks.

Taking out those three extra players means a whole new range of starting cards become playable. More hands are taken to the flop, and there's more room for creativity. Some of you might remember that in the 6-handed event at the WSOP I took my starting stack of 2,500 chips up to over 10,000, before losing AJ to A4 and then QQ to AQ.

Of course anything can happen and I might find myself broke and scratching my head on the first hand, but I like my chances in this one. I'll let you know how it went down.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Event #11 ($320 7-Card Stud) Recap

There's good news a bad news. The good news is this event was $320 instead of the $530 I thought it was. The bad news is I've never been eliminated in a stud event so quickly. I finished 621 of 657 and I'm not even sure how it happened. I think the problem was, other than during the first 15 minutes or so (when I made two flushes and won a whopping 200 chips)I just never improved my starting cards. I'd start with JJ10 and end up with J J 10 9 4 3 2 and loose to someone who made 5's and 4's. Or I'd start with AQJ of diamonds, catch two black small cards and have to fold.

In the hand that really did me in I got caught between two guys who both seemed to think they had the nuts (one of them started with 555 and the other only had a pair of 7's, but had a scary looking board and was foolishly trying to get rid of two people who clearly weren't going anywhere). I had a flush draw and if I'd hit it I would have had about 1.5 times average. But, I missed.

Nothing tomorrow, but look out for an event #13 preview.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Event #11 Preview

Event #11 is $530 7-card stud. I expect a much smaller field in a stud only event with a $500 price tag. Somewhere in the 500-800 player range would be a good bet. I haven't played many big stud tournaments, but neither has anyone else, because there aren't any online.

If anyone is wondering how Jen and I did in our attempt a glory in the party poker moster, we both stunk it up and were both eliminated during the second hour of play. I also lost $300 in satellites. It was a weak, weak poker day for me today.

Event# 10 ($1050 NL Hold 'em) Recap

WCOOP event #10 started with 2458 players and a first prize close to a half a million dollars. There isn't a whole lot to say about how this tournament went.

I got dealt KK twice in he first 10 minutes and won only the blinds both times.
By the second break I'd been dealt 154 hands and only won 4 pots that were more than the blinds.

Shortly into the 5th level, with blinds of 100/200 I got dealt 55 in the small blind. The first player to act made the minumim raise to 400 and got called by the second player to act. I also called, as did the big blind. The flop came down J 8 5 (giving me three 5's)and I checked hoping someone would bet. The initial raiser bet 1200 into the 1600 chip pot. After starting the torunament with 5000 chips I had 3600 when the hand started and 3200 left. My only goal here was to get the maximum number of chips in the pot. I decided to just call in the hopes that the player who had been in the big blind would also call the bet. But he folded. The turn was a 6 and I checked hoping my opponent would bet again. I also wanted to give him a chance to connect with a hand like AK or AQ or make any kind of hand that he would call me with on the river. The river was not a great card - a 7 - meaning if he had a 9 or a 3 in his hand (which I didn't think was likely) he'd have a straight. I figured if I checked again I might get him to bluff with a weak hand, and I didn't think there was much he could have with which he'd call a significant bet. So I checked, he bet 2000 and I called. When the hands got turned over he showed me 99 for a 9 high straight. I was eliminated from the tournament and couldn't help wondering if he would have folded if I'd raised on the flop or moved all in on the turn.

This tournament sucked.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Event #10 preview...AND MORE!

Event #10 is $1,000 no limit hold'em, the big daddy tournament of my schedule. I've been playing good NL hold'em lately so I'm hoping to put in a good showing.

For those of you wondering what the hell happened to the party poker monster series of tournaments I have an update. I've played 5 of the weekly events and only made the top 2000 in 1. This is pretty sub par, but I don't think there's much I could have done differently (I went broke with big pairs or after big flops all of them). But, I did make the top 2,000 in one which won me a "monthly freeroll" entry. The first monthly tournament which has a prize pool of $1,000,000 and will start with a max of 8,000 players starts tomorrow morning at 9:30 a.m. If I make the top 1,000 I'll win some amount of cash and an entry into the monster final which right now has a prize pool of 12.5 million dollars. I'll give a brief recap of what happened.

For those of you wondering about my huge pile of firewood I've made some progress. It turns out that some of the logs are much denser, harder wood than others. Also part of the problem is the bark is still on the logs which helps absorb the shock of the axe and keep the log together. Once I break the bark it's much easier to split the rest of the log into nice sized pieces. Luckily my good friend E.B. has provided me with a sledge hammer and a wedge, which together are able to defeat even the toughest logs. It's loud, hard work, but it's great exercise and burning wood that you've split yourself feels much more satisfying than burning purchased wood.

Event #9 ($530 PL hold'em) Recap

What's going on here? I thought you were playing donkey or mule or some kind of animal nonsense today? I was surprised to see that in addition to the HORSE event the $530 pot limit event was also being played at 1:30 today. So I spent the day playing two WCOOP events.

The way pot limit hold'em works is at anytime you can bet an amount between the amount of the big blind and how ever much is in the pot. So if the blinds are 25/50 and there is 500 in the pot you could bet anywhere from 50 to 500. Easy right? It gets a little more tricky when someone bets in front of you. When you're trying to figure out how much is in the pot you count: how much was in the pot before the bet, the bet itself and the amount you call before you raise. For example lets say there is 200 in the pot, someone bets 100, and you're next. You can make it up to a total of 500 (you call 100 and then raise 400).

Pot limit is very similar to no limit. If you bet the pot on every round or raise the pot back and forth once or twice all the money can easily go in on one hand (or one betting round). Traditionally I've done very well in pot limit events and in fact both of my WSOP cashes came in pot limit.

Almost nothing happened during the first few levels. Then while I was making tens full in the HORSE event I picked up AK in the small blind with blinds at 50/100. The button raised to 300 and I made it 1000 to go. After some long thought he moved in for 1955 total and I called. He showed me AQ and after turning a K, I was up to 5700.

After my turbulent stud round in the HORSE I decided I needed some milk and cookies. On the break I fueled up and got back to business.

With the blinds at 75/150 I found myself in the big blind with KQ of diamonds. A player in late position raised to the max to 525. I decided to call and see a flop which came down K 5 2. Just what the doctor ordered. My opponent only had about 1,500 left and I was about 90% sure that he'd bet if I checked. Just like clock work, I checked and he bet the pot. I raised him all in for his last 300 or so chips and he called with AQ. The turn was a very nice looking K and I won the pot.

A few hands later I picked up 99 on the button and raised to 525. I got called by holla@yoboy in the small blind and the flop came down 8 3 2. Just about the best flop not containing a 9 that I could think of. Holla checked and I bet 750. I was surprised to see him call and not happy to see a K show up on the turn. He checked, and I checked behind him. The river was another 8, we both checked and he showed me A3. I think his boys should holla at him a tell him not to call raises with A3 or 3/4 pot sized bets with a pair of 3's. After chopping out a few more small pots I found myself with 10,400 chips.

I picked up more chips a few hands later after calling an early position raiser with 10 10. Another player had actually called in between us, and I was a little nervous when I saw the flop come down 8 5 3. Clearly this was a great flop, but if I was up against a bigger pair, I could get stuck and lose a lot of chips. My opponent bet 750, the other player folded and I raised to 2250. After some thought he folded and I was up to 12,000 chips in 50th place out of the remaining 400.

Later with the blinds at 100/200 a player raised to 600 in front of me. I reraised to 1800 with KK. They immediately moved all in for about 3500 and I was hoping to see a smaller pair. Instead I was up against AQ. The board came with not one, but two aces. But, on the very next hand I got dealt QQ and managed to recoup about half of the chips I lost.

On the same level I found myself in a tight spot. I called a 600 chip raise with AQ of diamonds and the flop came down 10 J Q with 2 spades. Normally flopping top pair with top kicker is pretty strong, but in this case there wasn't much I could beat. If he had any pair 10 10 or higher or AK I was totally dominated. I sort of ignored this fact, called a 900 chip bet and hoped to pair my Q or make a straight with a K. On the turn when my opponent bet 2200 I briefly considered moving all in, but I did the smart thing and folded. Unfortunately I was now under average for the first time in a long time with about 8,000 chips.

With 220 players left, I had 7000 chips and the button who only had about 2500 chips raised to 1400. With AK in the big blind I put him all in and he showed me 86. The flop was 4 4 2 the turn was a 10 and the river was...an 8. SHIT! This hand really took the wind out of my sails and I could feel another just short of the money finish coming for me. On the very next hand I raised to 1400 with 77 and got called by two players. After the flop came with an ace I was forced to check and fold. Now I was down to 3,000. Shortly after I went all in with AJ v AK and lost finishing in 198th place, 48 spots short of the money.

I feel like I played very well in this tournament and that's supposed to be all that matters. Unfortunately I don't feel the least bit good about it. I'm really sick of losing hands like KK to AQ and AK to 86 in key situations. 150th place paid $876 and if I could have just avoided getting screwed I could have made it easily.

Event #8 ($215 HORSE) Recap

The HORSE tournament started off with 1798 players and a first place of $79,112. I'd been looking forward to this tournament for a while since it something much different than I normally play. I wrote this entire blog as I went along so if things seem a little disjointed that's why. Also you'll notice that I referenced WAY more hands than usual, but in less detail.

The first level was hold 'em as was totally unremakable even though I managed to take my chips stack from 2500 up to about 3,000. But, once we got to Omaha I picked up a few good hands. With limits at 30/60 I picked up A 10 6 3 3 of us put in 90 chips before the flop. I was happy with the first three board cards, 6 9 7 with 2 hearts. I had the second best low draw and the nut flush draw so I bet. I got raised and just called. When the turn came out the K of hearts I bet again. I had the best possible high hand and was surprised when I got raised. I reraised and my opponent put in the 4th bet (which is the maximum number of raises). The river was the 5 of hearts and again we went 4 bets. Clearly this guy had not played much Omaha. He turned over a king high flush and no low and I scooped the pot. I was up over 3500.

A few hands later I had Q 3 8 5 with the 8 5 of spades in the big blind. This is a fairly weak hand, but I called a raise out of the big blind hoping to catch hit right away or get out of there. The flop came down 6 7 j with the 67 of spades and I decided to be bold and bet. I imediatly got raised. Whoops. I called and the turn was the 4 of spades! YOOOOO, STRAIGHT FLUSH! We got 4 bets in on the turn and 3 more on the river which was a 2. When the cards got turned over my opponent showed that he'd made an ace high flush and no low. SHIP IT! This pot took me up to 4,300 chips.

On the second hand of the razz section I stared with 456, made a 6542A and got action all the way taking me to 4700 chips. Then I made a 65432 against someone who pushed an A that was showing (with a 10 in the hole) and made an 8 low. Shortly after I started with A35 against 643. By the end of the hand I had a wheel and he had a 6543A. After an hour and a half, I was in 7th of 1751.

When the stud potion started I made tens full against nines full on the third hand and moved up to 6505 and stood in second place behind one player who had 6506! Then I got totally jobbed for the rest of the stud section. It seemed like I was in every hand making just enough to be forced to trail along and never improving. When I did improve I kept running into full houses. SHIT! I was still in good shape back at 4700 and in the top 150, but starting to get a little frustrated.

After the second break I came back and scooped two big pots with Aces up and a flush. But then I blew back all of those chips after missing a slew of low draws. On one hand my first 5 cards were A2569 with 4 spades. I missed my flush and made a 7 low which lost to a better 7 low. I don't recall ever feeling so much like I was getting killed when I still had 1.5 times the average stack. It was very strange.

The next hold'em level was uneventful, but once we got back to Omaha I made some serious progress. I started with A K 10 2, made a king high flush and scooped a nice pot. On the next hand I won the low half of the pot when I made the nut low. A few hands later the chip leader of the entire tournament raised to 300 from late postion. I called with AKJ7 out of the small blind. This guy was super loose and I thought he could have anything. The flop came down KK7. BINGO! FULL HOUSE! I checked and called as a slow play. Then the turn came out and it was the fourth K! This time I check raised and he reraised me! I had the nuts so I made it 4 bets and he folded. Two hands later I made aces full and won another pot. All of a sudden I was in 65th of 950 with a stack that was twice average (9,300). I thought Omaha was my worst game of the 5? What the hell was going on?

It took 4 hours to lose half of the field which I found a little surprising. Over the next hour I bounced around a fair amount dropping as low as 6500 and as high as 10,600. Then I lost a pot to this total nut job who had been playing almost every hand in every game but was in fact in 1st place in the whole torunament for a while. During the second stud section, I started with 10 J J and he started with 6 9 in the hole and an A showing. The limits were 300/600 and he raised the bring in to 300. I decided to just call and one other player with a Q showing also called. On 4th street I caught a 5 and the bad guy caught a Q and bet. I knew this card didn't help him because two of the other Q's were already gone so I raised to get rid of the other player. And...he reraised me with no pair! I called and on 5th street I caught a 9 and he caught a 4. Again he bet with no pair and I called. On 6th street he caught an A and I caught a 7. I considered folding to the open aces and I probably should have, but the pot was huge and I thought a J or and 8 would make me the best hand. On the river I made two pair and so did he by catching a 4. I was back down to 7,000 going into the stud-8 section.

About half way through the stud-8 section I had the 120 chip bring in with a 2 showing. I had A 8 in the hole and called when someone with a 4 showing raised to 400. I caught a low card on 4th street, an ace on 5th and a Q on 6th and the river. My opponent made a smaller two pair and paid me off the whole way. At the start of the hold 'em section I was up over 11,000 chips with about 370 players left and an average stack of around 12,000.

During the third hold 'em section I picked up a good number of chips, when I made trips against top pair. Also, I won two pots out of the big blind when I called late position raises with Q5 suited and K8. I flopped a straght draw with the Q5 and then paired the Q. With the k8 I check raised the flop and bet the turn as a bluff with a board of 10 7 3 3 and my opponent surrendered. Going back into the Omaha I was up over 20,000.

After the first two tries at Omaha went so well I had high hopes for the third. With limits of 750/1500 this was getting serious. Unfortunately I blew off some chips on a bluff, went through the blinds a few times and found myself with around 13,000 chips when we went on the 15 minute dinner break. I was in 147 of 213 needing to get down to 176 to make the money.

I put on the major stall during the razz so every hand would take as long as possible and give players at other tables a chance to go broke. With 177 players left (1 short of the money) I was dealt 2 4 5 and raised the 300 chip bring in to 1,000. I got called by a player with an 8 up card and raised by a player with a A showing. On 4th street I caught another 5 and my opponents caught big cards. We all checked. On 5th street I caught a 3 which was a great card and I bet. One player folded and the 3rd street raiser called. On 6th street I caught a K, he caught a big card and we both checked. On the river I caught another K making my best hand a K high. Yuck! After catching 2 kings when all I needed was some kind of low card, I decided my only way to win was a bluff. So I bet 2000 into the 14,900 chip pot. My opponent thought for about 15 seconds and called with a 9 high.

I made the money, but with only 4,000 chips. Since the antes were 300 on every hand, clearly I was looking for any kind of hand to get in there. When I got down to about 3000 I picked up KK7 and beat someone who started with a pair of Q's. Counting the antes that I picked up I was up to about 8,500.

I made it up to almost 20,000 when I made a straight against someone who had two pair. While this seemed like a lot of chips the limits were 2000/4000 so it was only 5 big bets. When we switched to stud-8 I picked up KKQ which is a great hand in regular stud, but marginal hand in stud-8. But, it was plenty good to go with, given my short stack status and the fact that we'd just moved up another pay level. I started the hand with about 17,000 and raised the bring in to 2,000. I got action from THREE other players who all looked to be on low draws. The pot got HUGE fast and there was no way I could fold. By the end, one of the low draws made a flush and eliminated me from the tournament.

I finished in 102nd place which paid $539.40, 8 hours and 10 minutes after the tournament started. This is the third longest amount of time I've ever spent playing an online tournament. I feel pretty good about this event and my solid finish helped get the bad taste out of my mouth that I had after the other event I played today.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Event #8 Preview

WCOOP event #8 is $215 buy in HORSE. Most of you are thinking "what in God's name is HORSE and what does it have to do with poker?" The way HORSE works is, the tournament is played using 5 different forms of poker: (H)old'em, (O)maha hi-lo, (R)azz, 7-card (S)tud, and 7-card stud hi-lo (E)ight or better (sometimes called just stud hi-lo or stud-8). You start off with hold'em and after 30 minutes you switch to Omaha. The next round is razz, followed by stud and then stud-8. All of the games are played limit (as opposed to no limit or pot limit). Assuming you all know about hold 'em, razz, and 7-card stud from previous posts, I'll give you a brief run down of how you play Omaha and stud-8.

Omaha is actually short for Omaha hold 'em (as opposed to Texas hold'em). In Omaha, the betting and the way the cards come out is just like Texas hold'em except each player is dealt 4 cards. At the end of the hand, players must use EXACTLY TWO cards from their hand and EXACTLY THREE cards from the board to make their best 5 card hand. Sometimes this game is played where the best hand wins the whole pot, but it's usually played where the best hand and the worst hand split the pot (hence the hi-lo). You can use different cards to make your best high hand and your best low hand and aces are both the highest and lowest card. The only rule for making a low is you must use 5 unpaired cards 8 and below. Since you need to use three cards from the board, if there aren't three cards 8 and lower on the board it's impossible to make a low hand. In this case the high hand wins the whole pot. For example let's say you're dealt A K 2 5 with the A and K of hearts and the board is 3 6 8 K Q with 3 hearts. You're best high hand is the flush using the AK and your best low hand is 8632A using the A2. In this case you should win the whole pot, since you have the "nut high" and the "nut low." But if someone else had an A and a 2 among their 4 cards then you'd get the high half of the pot and split the low half with the other player who also had 8632A as their low hand. Confused yet?

Stud-8 is also a game where the highest hand and the lowest hand split the pot. It works just like 7-card stud and razz in terms of how the cards come out and the way the betting takes place. Also as you may have guessed by the name, in order to win the low half of the pot you have to have 5 unpaired cards 8 and below. In both Omaha and Stud-8 straights and flushes don't count against you in terms of making a low hand. For example A 2 3 4 5 is the best possible low hand, but it's also a straight which will often times will be the best high hand as well.

The bottom line is I'll be playing 5 different games, in one tournament with the limits going up every half hour and the game changing every half hour. I'm hoping since I'm familiar with all of the games I'll be able to beat anyone who's only comfortable with 2 or 3.

While this may seem like a funky gimmick (and it sort of is), there was a $50,000 HORSE event at this years WSOP. It only drew 142 players, but probably 98 of the top 100 tournament players in the world played and other than the main event it was maybe the most prestigious title to win.

In this years WCOOP there is also a $5,000 HORSE event which will be filled with the best players the online world has to offer as well as many of the big names from in person poker. To my knowledge it will be the highest buy in online tournament in history.

I don't know what my recap is going to be like, but I'm sure it will be confusing for those of you who are not particularly poker savvy. Feel free to post or e-mail me your questions.

Event #7 ($215 limit hold'em) Recap

Event #7 started with 1872 players, a first prize of $70,012, a 9th place prize of $4,493 and a 270th place prize of $374. It's interesting to note that if this was a NL tournament there would have been at least 5,000 entrants. Limit hold'em is just not that popular.

The tournament started off with a little excitement. One minute before start time I went down stairs to reload my coffee cup and when I came back I saw that it was my turn, I was in the big blind and I had KK! The limits were 20/40 and one player had called the 20 chip big blind. I raised to 40 and he reraised to 60 and I reraised to 80. The flop came down A 5 6 with 2 diamonds. I hated to see the ace, but the pot was already pretty big so I decided to check and call when he bet. He did in fact bet, I called and the turn was the 2 of diamonds. I had the K of diamonds and I thought there was maybe a 10% chance I could get him to fold if I bet. I bet 40 and he raised me to 80. I called and the river was a blank. At this point I checked and he bet 40. The pot was so big I had to call just in case he was a nut bag who was just getting creative on the first hand. He wasn't. When the cards got turned over he showed me AK and won the pot. If this had been a NL tournament, all the money could have gone in before the flop and I'd have gone broke on the first hand. Instead I still had 2280 of my original 2500 chips. One of the nice things about limit is you can't get killed early by one hand.

For those of you not familiar with limit hold'em you should notice that all of the bets and raises before and on the flop are in increments of 20 and all the bets and raises on the turn and river are in increments of 40. This is how limit hold 'em works. No matter how good your hand is you can only bet and raise in set amounts.

As predicted this was the most boring tournament that you could imagine. So boring that I'm only going to share the details of one hand. With the limits at 100/200 I raised to 200 from the button with AK with the K of clubs. I got called by the big blind and the flop came down 4 6 7 with 2 clubs. He checked I bet 100 thinking that I might get him to fold and I might have the best hand. He raised me to 200 and I called hoping to hit and A or a K on the river. The turn was the 9 of clubs and he checked. I made a semi bluff figuring a A, a K or a club would make me the best hand and there was a chance I could get him to fold. But, he raised me again. Whoops. Happily the river was the 3 or clubs. He check and called and showed me 3 5. He'd flopped a straight and it took a miracle runner runner flush for me to win the pot. He squawked on and on about his bad luck, but it was his own fault since he should have folded before the flop.

That was about the only good thing that happened to me in the whole tournament. I played a few hands, won a few pots, but never got above 3,000 chips. About 3 hours into the tournament with the limits at 200/400 I lost my last 1000 or so chips with A5 against QJ. I finished 793 out of 1872 and definitely went out with a fizzle instead of a bang.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Event #7 Preview

Event #7, $215 buy in limit hold 'em, is perhaps the most boring of the WCOOP events. Traditionally I've done very well in limit hold 'em events so I have high hopes of making the money. In the spirit of the most boring event this will go down as the worst, most lackluster, half assed event preview of all time! Well, it's really 3/4 assed. I wrote something didn't I? If it was half assed I would have said "215 hold'em yall, look out," and left it at that. It's not as easy to write an event preview while watching Celebrity Duets as you might think. You try writing something while Cheech is singing in the background. He's just so terrible it makes you sick.

Event #6 ($215 w/ Rebuys) Recap

WCOOP Event #6 started with 2081 entrants and the promise of being one of the longest WCOOP events. We started with 2500 chips, but anytime you were at or below 2500, you could rebuy and add another 2500 to your stack. 7 out of the 8 other players at my table rebought before the first hand was dealt. I decided to hang back and feel out the table before I invested another $215. While most of the players were acting like rebuys cost actual money, two were treating them like they were free. One player, westmenloAA ended up spending in the neighborhood of $3000 on rebuys and succeeded in accumulating ZERO extra chips by the first break.

I spent most of the rebuy period folding unplayable hands, but I did pick up KK about 25 minutes in. Big pairs are like gold during a rebuy period and I easily could have found myself all in against one or two marginal hands. With blinds on 10/20 I raised to 60 and got called by 3 players. The flop came down 7 8 9 with two clubs. Not the greatest flop in the world, but it could have been worse. I bet out 240, got called by one player, and then raised all in by westmenloAA. I knew he could have anything so it was as easy call. I wasn't too surprised when the other player also called since I figured he was on a draw of some kind. When the hands got turned over the other player had A 10 and westmenlo had 5 6 making him a straight. Time to rebuy.

Towards the end of the rebuy period I dropped another 2500 when I lost 88 to KK. At this point I did a double rebuy giving me 5,000 chips and after the add-on (which gave me an extra 3000) I was up to 8,000 chips. 248 players were eliminated from the tournament (meaning they chose not to rebuy at some point) before the first break. About half way through the first hour someone had their stack up to over 50,000 chips, but by break the big stack in the tournament was just over 40,000. With 8,000 chips, 30 minute limits and blinds only at 25/50 (roughly the same chip stack and exactly the same blinds that the main event of the WSOP started with) I knew I was in for a long day.

Towards the end of the 4th level I had a little drama when my computer crashed and I had to dash down stairs and jump onto my lap top. I managed to work my way from 8,000 to 12,500 by winning a series of small to medium pots mostly with AK. I picked up AK five times during the 4th and 5th levels and won 4 out of 5.

During round 6 I made what I thought was a good lay down and missed out on a pretty big pot. With blinds of 100/200 I raised to 600 with KQ and got called by both of the blinds. The flop came down K 10 4 with 2 clubs and they both checked. This looked like a great flop and I bet out 1400 into the 1800 chip pot. To my surprise the small blind called and while I was thinking about what I was going to do on the turn, the big blind moved all in for 7500! If I was up against one of them I could maybe put that player on a draw, but I thought it unlikely that they were both on draws. I thought I might be up against 44 or K10, but even if I was up against QJ or a flush draw there was no guarantee I would win the pot. I folded, the small blind called the all in bet with 89 of clubs and the big blind showed KJ. Whoops. After no clubs materialized I saw the 18,000 chip pot that could have been mine slide into the big blind's stack.

I made some progress a few hands later when I picked up AJ of hearts on the button. The cutoff, who had over 60,000 chips, raised to 600, and after giving some thought to reraising I just called. The small blind also called and the flop came down J 8 2 with one heart. Sweet! Unless I was against an over pair I almost certainly had the best hand. To my surprise the small blind bet out 1,000. Normally the preflop raiser starts the action on the flop and it was a show of real strength to bet out like that, but I had a very solid hand. After the other player folded I made it 3,600 to go. I decided that there was no way I could fold this hand and I thought it likely I was up against QJ or KJ. I got called and the turn was the 6 of hearts. Other than an ace or a jack this was about the best card in the deck for me. There was almost no chance it helped my opponent and it gave me a flush draw to the nuts. My opponent bet out again (1500 this time) and I thought I might be in trouble, but I knew I at least had the flush draw so I moved all in. After some thought he folded I picked up a nice pot.

I picked up a few more small pots along the way and found myself with around 18,000 when the blinds went up to 200/400 at the start of level 8. I picked up AJ and raised it to 1200. Not that this impacted my decisions, but AJ had been a pretty strong hand at my table. In the past few hands one player had lost with KK and QQ to two different players who had called him before the flop with AJ. He was going on and on (for the most part correctly) about how stupid it was to call a preflop raise with AJ. So when he moved all in for his last 4,000 against my AJ, I figured he might be on tilt and I knew he would go bananas if he went broke against AJ. I called and he showed me 33. When an ace fell on the turn I'm sure his mouse paid the price.

I was up to 22,000 which was just over average with 660 players left and feeling good about my chances. Then I dribbled away a good chunk of my chips as I waited for some kind of hand. Some players are very good at picking up chips without much in the way of cards. This is not one of my strengths. Most of my advantage comes from accurately assessing the strength of my opponent's hand once I get involved. I'm not good at getting in there with garbage and making it work somehow. Thus when I have a long drought it can take a toll on my stack.

After what felt like forever I found myself with 15,000 chips, blinds of 400/800 and KQ on the button. The cutoff who was among the tournament chip leaders raised to 2400 and after a brief thought of moving all in I decided to call. The flop came down 6 7 8 and my opponent checked. I figured he had big cards and had missed the flop so I bet out 4,000. He quickly raised to 12,000 and I was forced to fold. All of a sudden I was in bad shape.

Before I knew it the blinds had gone up to 600/1200 and I needed to make a move with any kind of hand. After a few trips through said blinds, I was just under 6,000 (in third to last chip position in the whole tournament) when I picked up KQ in late position. The first player to act, who had a ton of chips, just called the 1200. I had hoped to pick up the blinds without a caller and I thought it very unlikely that he would fold to my pittance of a raise, but KQ was a good hand and I couldn't wait for anything better. I moved all in and got called by the small blind. I was expecting 3 way action, but the first player folded (maybe fearing a big hand from the small blind). I was fearing AK or AQ so I was happy to see him turn up 44. I was even happier when the flop came with a K. The turn was a blank and the river was...a 4!?!? DAMN IT! This was the worst way for that hand to play out. Although the result would have been the same if I hadn't flopped a K, this was the most painful way to lose.

Apparently Jenn (my sister), Damian, Mike, Jake and Matt were all watching and have indicated that they were also swearing when that 4 showed up. 270th place would have paid $1,184 so it would have been nice to make it that far. Instead I finished 363 almost 6 hours after the tournament started. I felt like I played really well in this event and it always sucks to fall just short of the money.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

WCOOP Event #6 Preview

Event #6 is $215 NL hold 'em with rebuys. Some of you must be asking yourselves "what the hell is a rebuy?" The way rebuy tournaments work is when you have below a certain predetermined number of chips you can "rebuy" and pay more money to add more chips to your stack. Usually the number of chips you need to be at or under is the same amount you start with, so you can immediately rebuy when the tournament starts. Also at the end of the first hour you can "add on" more chips regardless of how many you have at that time.

For example if you're playing a $55 with rebuys tournament (my favorite level of rebuy tournament) and you start with 1500 chips, you can immediately rebuy for another $50 and add 1500 more chips to your stack. If you lose a hand and find yourself with zero chips you can rebuy 1500 for $50 more dollars or 3000 chips for a total of $100. Then if you managed to lose 1700 chips and found yourself with only 1300, you could rebuy again and add another 1500 to your stack (making it a total of 2800) for $50. But, if you only lost 1000 of your chips you'd be stuck at 2000 and unable to rebuy. At the end of the first hour regardless of how many chips you had you could add 2000 (you get more for the add on) additional chips to your stack for the same $50.

Rebuy tournaments have tremendous value because the house only makes money on the initial buy in. As a result you can find yourself in a tournament where players have put in an average of $200 per person, but you and everyone else have only paid $5 to the house (instead of $15 or $20). There is also value generated by people who over do the rebuys and people who under do them. Some people take the approach that they are just going to do the initial buy in and hope for the best. Almost all of these people go broke in the opening stages and leave their money behind to be split up. Other people go totally nuts during the rebuy period (especially in the $5.50 or $11 with rebuy tournaments) moving all in on almost every hand regardless of what cards they have, in an effort to accumulate chips while they can still rebuy. Neither of these strategies is optimal. One reason why some people don't like this flavor of tournament is "they take forever." The blinds move up in a standard fashion, but the rebuys and add ons add an insane number of chips to the tables so it takes MUCH longer to play rebuy events to their conclusion.

One interesting story involving a rebuy tournament is during the 2005 World Series of Poker (WSOP) $5,000 with rebuys Pot Limit Omaha event Daniel Negreanu (one of the best players in the world and 2004 WSOP player of the year) did 22 rebuys at $5000 a pop trying to pick up enough chips to take him to victory (it didn't work). For someone like him the WSOP bracelet is all that matters.

In WCOOP event #6 I'm looking at $215 plus rebuys. This is at least a $615 commitment and could easily run into the $1015 range. But, there will be tons of chips in play and I'll have plenty of time for my skill to come into play.

In other news, Jen and I have had a little bit of good fortue when it comes to free firewood. Jen saw this truck on the side of the road that said "free firewood, help yourself" so knowing about my insatiable love of a crackling hearth she pulled over to grab a few logs. The truck bed turned out to be about eye level, however, and she wasn't exactly in the best of neighborhoods, so she decided to jot down the phone number which promised a full truckload delivered to your home. So we called said number and got a shit load of wood delivered to our house for free. The catch is it's not nice fire wood, it's 50 pound cross sections of trees that need to be split. So I went to home depot and bought a "log splitting" axe (makes sense right?).

Being a fairly burly, lumber jack sized man I expected that when I swung said axe at said logs that they would go bursting apart in fear. Instead they just got pummeled and did little or no splitting. I think I might just need some practice and I really need to "go for it" with the axe. It turns out that swinging a full sized axe at full force seems dangerous. Who knew. Mom, if you're reading this I promise to use all due care in protecting my appendages first and foremost and actually think there is little or no danger (unlike in college when we decided to demolish perfectly good furniture with an axe for no good reason and then decided to see who could throw the axe the farthest, only to have the axe head fly off the handle. That was dangerous.).

After a few tries I managed to split one log nicely and gave up for the night because it was, in a word, "dark." I plan to try again tomorrow when certain neighbors won't be disturbed by the sounds of amature lumberjacking. For now here are some pictures of our pile of wood (it looks much smaller in the pictures) and of me crouching in front of a non split huge log in the fire, holding a piece of the log that I successfully split.

I'll let you know what happened in event #6.








Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Event# 4 ($215 heads up matches) Recap

As expected the $215 match play event started with 2048 players. I found myself matched with "gcave777." We each started with 1500 chips, blinds at 10/20 and 15 minute limits. On hand #2 I took a small lead when I rivered an A while holding A7 against my opponent's 10 7 (he'd flopped a 10). While the pot was only 240 chips it was nice to be in the lead. It was clear from the start that go old gcave was not comfortable playing heads up. He was either betting 20 chips into 200 chip pots or betting 500 into 150 chip pots. I slowly ground him down to 1070 chips during the first 26 hands and then on hand 27 I got the rest of his chips.

He just called in the small blind (SB) and I checked with 10 4 in the big blind (BB). The flop came down 10 3 9 and I bet 40. gcave raised me the minimum and I just called. I wasn't sure what he had, but top pair is a strong hand heads up. I figured if I was behind I'd lose less, by checking and calling and I might get him to bluff off some chips if I was ahead. The turn was a queen (not a great card for me) and I check. My opponent immediately bet 400 into the 200 chip pot and I thought "ah ha!" This is not the kind of bet one would make with a strong hand. I moved all in and got called by AK. After no J's, K's or A's showed up on the river I won the pot and the match. Good thing he didn't raise before the flop like he should have. It took all of 8 minutes to win my first match.

In my second match I got unlucky and I blew it. Usually it's one or the other, but in this case I should have been able to overcome the bad luck. I the first 20 hands or so I picked up a few raising hands that turned into junk and my opponent seemed to connect with every flop. I quickly found myself down 2,000 to 4,000 (the chips and blind are doubled in round 2 - this is stupid because all that matters is the ratio of the chips to blinds which is exactly the same). On hand 35 I flipped things around when I made a full house against my opponents 3 of a kind. Then I began a long process of grinding him down. He was a pretty straight forward player who bet when he had something and checked when he didn't. This is the easiest type of player to beat, especially heads up.

After about 120 hands I had him down to 500 chips and I was already getting ready for the next round. Then over the next few hands I had him all in 5 times and he won every time. First I had A2 against his A4 and we split the pot when neither of us paired our kicker. Then I had A 10 and he had A 7 and we split when two pair showed up on the board. On my third try I had QJ, he had A 9 and he flopped an A. Then I had A4 and he had 55 and he doubled up again. This was one of the hands on which I blew it. I never should have put in so many chips with A4 when I could just take him down a piece at a time. At this point we were back to even and I was extremely frustrated. I let this frustration get the best of me and all the chips went in before the flop a few hands later. I had 99 and he had 10 10. I didn't catch a miracle 9 and I was eliminated after almost 150 hands. This was another situation where I should have been more patient and waited for a spot where I was pretty sure I had the best hand.

But I did get kind of screwed. Here are the exact percentages I had of winning each of the hands on which I had him all in. 1) 27% 2) 66% 3) 43% 4) 30% 5) 17%. It sure seems like I should have hit one of these. In fact if you put it all together statistically only 8.3% of the time would I lose all 5 hands.

Event #5 is another Omaha tournament so I'll be either taking the day off or having a normal style work day. Starting with event #6 I'll be playing 6 in a row and 8 in 9 days so there is plenty of action on the horizon. Look out for an event #6 preview tomorrow.

WCOOP Event #4 preview

Event #4 (I skipped event #3 $320 pot limit Omaha with rebuys) is $215 buy-in heads up matches. The way this event works is all of the entrants are paired against one other player and they play, one on one, until one of them is eliminated. The winning player then waits for all of the first round matches to be completed and is then paired with a new opponent who has also won a first round match. When one player remains from this new pair, they wait again for a new opponent who has also won two matches. This continues until one player remains. Last year they capped the number of entrants at 1024. This event was my best performance at the 2005 WCOOP. I won my first 5 matches and was eliminated 30th. This year they are allowing 2048 entrants. Unlike the other events where I have to beat thousands of opponents, to make the money, in this event I only have to beat 3. If I win 11 matches in a row I'll win the whole thing. Sounds pretty easy when I put it that way. I spent the better part of the day today gearing up for this event by playing $50 heads up tournaments so I feel ready. I'm really hoping to at least make it past the first match. I'll let you know how it all went down.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

WCOOP Satellite Update

Aren't satellites those things that orbit the earth and beam TV shows and stuff down at us? What the hell do satellites have to do with poker? Nothing you idiot! HA HA!

Actually a satellite is a name for a specific kind of poker tournament where instead of cash prizes, the top finishers win entries into larger tournaments. For example, let's say you wanted to play in the $530 NL WCOOP event so you could compete against yours truly. But, $500 is way more than you'd normally spend on a poker tournament. You could enter a satellite. Let's say you found one that had 100 players who each paid $55 to enter. After $5 from every player goes to the house, you've got $5,000. Instead of first place getting $2,000, second getting $1,000 and so on, all of the top spots (in this case 9) pay an equal $530 entry to the WCOOP event. The remaining $230 would go to 10th place (or sometimes 10th-13th would all get $55 and 14th would get $10). This is a great way to build up big fields for special tournaments. After all there really aren't that many $500 tournament players out there and they're not too excited about just butting heads with each other when they can chop up a bunch of yahoos instead.

Not surprisingly pokerstars has gone buck nuts with the satellites for the WCOOP. Some kind of satellite for one of the WCOOP events starts AT LEAST every 15 minutes around the clock. There are regular cash satellites, there are rebuy satellites (where you can buy more chips if you go broke for a certain amount of time), there are turbo satellites (with 5 minute limits), there are satellites you can buy into with frequent player points (FPP's) and to answer the million dollar question....yes, there are turbo-rebuy satellites that you can buy into with FPP's. If you want in, they want to help you.

Also as a VIP member (ummm yes just put my monocle next to the martini that my butler just made for me) I get the bonus of playing in a few FPP buy in events where pokerstars has juiced up the prize pool. Basically the way FPP's work is every time you do anything on pokerstars you earn FPP's. You can trade them for merchandise of all shapes and sizes from cups and T-Shirts to IPOD's and flat screen T.V.'s to a Porche (It's 3,000,000 FPP's). You can also trade them for gift certificates or tournament entries and if you do the math you'll discover that there are exactly 62.8 FPP's to the dollar. So how does pokerstars juice up the prize pool? Well, you can buy a $215 WCOOP seat directly from the pokerstars FPP store for 13,500 FPP's, or you can play an FPP buy in satellite where they give away one seat for every 13,500 FPP's in the prize pool. But, a few times a day they run satellites where they might give away a seat for every 6,250 FPP's in the prize pool (sometimes it might be a $1050 seat for every 33,000 FPP's instead of every 66,000 FPP's- they do it for all buy-in levels). This is the same as just throwing extra money into the pot and I've tried to catch as many of these as I can.

So how have I done in all of these various satellites? If you're one of my backers I'm sure you'll want to know, because although we haven't talked about it in a month, you are all in for the satellite action as per our agreement. So far I've played 33 of various flavors with buy-ins ranging from $16 to $100 (in the case of FPP buy-in events I just did the math and noted them as if they were cash buy-in events since FPP's effectively have cash value). I went 0 for my first 15, but then I turned things around a little winning a $320 seat on try number 16. I picked up a $215 seat on my 19th try, but then went cold again and found myself stuck $513 after 28 attempts. Luckily on attempt 29 and 32 I won $530 seats! One of these was today before I started WCOOP event #2.

While the money won in these satellites is supposed to go to a specific event, it is transferable to other WCOOP events. The bottom line is I'm ahead $303 on satellites to go with the $154 I'm ahead in the two events so far. Tomorrow is Omaha so I won't be playing, but look out for an Event #4 preview. For now I'll just say that it has a unique format and was the event that I did best in during the 2005 WCOOP.

WCOOP Event #2 ($530 NL Hold 'em) Recap

With the bullshit razz tournament out of the way the WCOOP kicked off for real today with 4,495 players (50% more than last year) putting up $530 to play no limit hold'em. First place was $365,218, 9th was $22,475 and 600th was $899.

Once again we were playing 30 minute limits and started with 2,500 chips. After folding just about everything for the first level, I found myself first to act with a pair of red kings during the beginning of level 2. With blinds of 15/30 I raised to 90 and got called by two players. When the action got to the big blind he reraised to 270. I had the second best possible starting hand so there was no way I was backing off. I made it 810 to go and the two original callers folded (like cheap lawn furniture!). My opponent thought for 30 seconds before just calling so I knew he didn't have AA (the only hand I was worried about) and I figured he had either AK, QQ or JJ. The flop came down 10 7 4 with 2 hearts. He checked and I immediately went all in for my remaining 1,600 chips. There were already 1,800 chips in the pot and I didn't want to screw around with my tournament life at stake so early on. After about 45 seconds (an eternity in online poker) he called with 99. Sweet! And then...the 9 of hearts came on the turn. AHHHHHH! What a bad beat! I screamed for a heart and the poker gods must have heard me because the 5 of hearts made me a flush on the river. I was up to over 5,000 chips.

We were down to 3,800 players after the first hour and I was in pretty good shape. Unfortunately a failed bluff took me back down under 3,000. With a board of 8 7 4 3 I put someone all in on the turn figuring it was unlikely they had a solid piece of a board with a bunch of junk cards. But I got called by K8 and lost a good chunk of my chips.

In round 4 with the blinds at 50/100 I dodged a bullet. The first player to act raised to 300 and I made it 800 to go with JJ. Another player moved all in for 5,500 and the first player called. Yikes! There haven't been many times that I've thrown away JJ before the flop, but this time I was pretty sure I was way behind. When the cards got turned over the player who moved all in showed AA and the original raiser showed JJ! Good thing I didn't call.

A few hands later I picked up Q10 in the big blind and got aggressive. Everyone folded to the small blind who raised to 400. I figured a raise to 400 was a little too much to be raising if he had a strong hand so I decided to put him to the test. He only had about 1,500 chips total and while I didn't have many more than him, I'd still be alive if I lost. I moved all in and he quickly called with KQ. Whoops. Luckily I had the 10 of clubs and managed to make a flush when 4 other clubs showed up. I definitely caught a nice break here.

After a few miscues I found myself with 2,110 chips in the big blind looking at AK of hearts. When the button raised to 300, I decided not to mess around and moved all in. He had 1700 chips, instantly called, and showed me AJ. I was happy to see a flop of Q 8 7. So far so good. To my great dismay the turn was a J, and as if to rub it in the river was also a J. Damn it!

I was down to 410 chips and thinking about how I was going to spend the rest of my day when I made a great comeback. First I beat A7 with KJ to get to 900 chips. Then I beat A5 with QQ to move to about 2,000 chips. Then in a big hand I beat AK with 10 10 to get to 4,000 chips. A few hands later I picked up another 1,200 chips when QJ moved all in against my JJ. Suddenly I was right back in the thick of things and feeling pretty good.

The next big hand showed up during round 6. With the blinds at 100/200, the first player to act just called 200. I was on the button with AQ of clubs and made it 800 to go. Everyone folded to the caller who put in 600 more chips. The flop came down 6 6 4 with one club. Not exactly my dream flop. My opponent checked and I stopped to think. Normally I would bet here in an attempt to pick up the pot, but I thought the most likely hand for my opponent to have was a medium pair like 77 or 88. If I was up against that kind of hand or if my opponent thought (correctly as it turns out) it was likely that I just had big cards, I might end up facing a check raise. I decided to check and see what the turn brought. Another advantage to checking here is some players would check the flop with a big hand (like AA or KK) in an attempt to induce a bluff, so if I bet the turn after checking the flop my opponent might give me credit for having a monster hand. When a 10 of clubs showed up, giving me a flush draw, I decided I would bet the turn if it was checked to me. Instead of checking, my opponent bet out 700. Given the fact that the pot already contained 1900 chips I made an easy call. The river brought the 9 of clubs. Bingo! I was pleased when I saw that I was facing a bet of 2,000 and I quickly moved all in for 3600. I got called by Q 10 and took down a nice pot.

A few hands later I put a button raiser all in with A9. He only had 2100 chips, but after he called, I was not happy to see him turn up KK. But, I was happy to see an ace on the flop and his chips added to my stack. I was up over 12,000 chips and with about 1,800 players left and and the average chip stack just creeping over 6,000 I could see the money just over the horizon.

As level 7 started with blinds of 150/300 I made a few plays that ended up costing me a good chunk of my chips and left me feeling a little shaky. After two hands where I raised before the flop, got called and unsuccessfully bluffed on the flop I found myself back down around 7,500. Ouch. Shortly after these minor blunders, while feeling like I was going down the tubes on a rocket powered jet ski, I picked up 88 on the button. Not exactly a freight train of a hand, but plenty good for a player on the button. I raised it to 900 and the small blind made it 2100 to go. Uh oh. He was a pretty frisky player and I'd seen him be fairly aggressive so I didn't think folding was the right thing to do. On the other hand I didn't want to move all in because I was fairly sure he'd call and I didn't want to put the fate of my whole tournament on a marginal hand like 88. So I just called. The flop came down 10 7 4 and he instantly moved all in. If he had a strong hand there's no way he would bet so much. Even though it was for all of my chips it was an easy call and I made it with great haste. He showed AQ and after a couple of bricks on the turn and river I took down a big pot. The call I made on the flop here was the type of call I wish I'd made during the main event of the WSOP. I'm thinking of the hand where I had 97 and was facing a big all in of the river and all I had was top pair...I should have called. I guess the important thing is I learned from that occasion and applied it here.

I was up to almost 16,000 and was in 166th place with 1633 players left. And then I went totally card dead. I'd been dealt about 200 hands at that point and taken 14% to the flop. Over the course of the next 105 hands (online you can go back and look at what happened in all of your previous hands and they keep track of all kinds of stuff so that's why my info is so specific), I played two hands, stole the blinds on both, and folded the other 103 before the flop. Although this kind of sucked it was much better than being faced with many tough decisions.

Most importantly, during this stretch the 3,895th player was eliminated and I cruised into the money. I bet some of you thought I wasn't going to make it since I didn't start off by saying, "I MADE THE MONEY!" Shame on you. :)

I was down to about 9,000 chips with the blinds at 300/600 and an average stack of 18,000 so I wasn't in great shape, but I was still alive. A few hands into the money play, I picked up AK and made it 1800 to go. A player to my left reraised to 3,000. This is a scary raise. If he was trying to win the pot before the flop he'd have made it at least 4,500 and this mini raise told me that he wanted to be called. But, there was no way I was throwing away AK. We were down to about 530 players and when we got down to 525, I'd pick up another $235 which was barely a consideration considering the amount of money involved. But, it helped me make a close decision about whether to call or move all in. I called the extra 1,200 and the flop came down K J 9. Now I was locked in. I figured if I bet and I was behind I'd certainly get called, while if I was ahead he might fold. But, I was about 95% sure that if I checked he'd bet no matter what he had and if I was ahead I wanted to get paid off. So I checked and as I suspected he put me all in. I made an easy call and was thrilled to see him show 77. I was 90% to win the pot and it would have left me with 19,000 chips...but the turn was an 8 and the river was a 10 making him a back door straight. SHIT!

I finished 528th which paid $899 for a net profit of $369. Not too earth shattering, but a solid showing and a good confidence booster. Also I feel fantastic about it when I think that I was down to 410 chips in level 4.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Event# 2 Preview.

Now it's time to get this party started. WCOOP Event #2 is $530 buy-in no limit hold'em. Last year this event had 3,062 entrants and a first prize of $306,000. Pretty straight forward.

My plan is to win around $6,000 in this event so I'll be free rolling the rest of the way. My back up plan is to make the final table and get even for the WSOP as well. My third option is to win the whole thing and pour champagne over my head. I'll let you know what happens.

WCOOP Event #1 ($215 Razz) Recap

The WCOOP (which my sister has kindly referred to as the world chicken coop competition) kicked off today with a $215 buy-in razz tournament that drew 1297 entrants. First place was $58,365, 8th was $5,706 and 136th paid $259.40.

With 30 minute limits and 2500 starting chips this tournament stood to be a long one by online standards. You can check out this link to learn more about razz if you've never heard about it or don't know the basics. http://www.fulltiltpoker.net/razz.php (it's just 7-card stud where the worst hand wins).

Razz is famous for being fairly boring and notorious for being insanely frustrating. In hold 'em (and many other forms of poker) if you start with a strong hand (like a big pair) you're hand is frequently strong enough to win the pot on it's own, unimproved. In razz, on the other hand, no matter how good your first three cards are you have to catch TWO MORE good cards to make a good hand. I'm not as used to recounting razz hands so I'm not sure there is going to be the level of detail and flavor that you can expect when I'm talking about hold 'em.

In a typical no limit hold 'em tournament online, about half of the field is usually eliminated in the first hour of play. In today's razz event it took 49 minutes for the first player to be eliminated. With limits starting at 10/20 with a whopping 2 chip ante it's not surprising that things started off slowly.

I struggled early on and never had more than 2600 chips at any point. After playing almost no hands in the first level I played a few in the second level and made a few second best hands. First I lost with 87523 to 8652A and then I lost a more disappointing 7532A to 7432A. There was no way I could get off either hand and by the first break (after level 2) I found myself with 1800 chips. You'll notice that even though I lost a few hands I still had 72% of my chips. This is contrary to NL hold 'em where if you make a strong second best hand you'll be on fumes or on the phone telling your friends what happened.

At the beginning of the third level I got a taste of the famous razz frustration when I had two very strong starting hands turn into garbage. In the first hand I started with 235, came in raising and got one caller. On 4th street I caught a 9 and then on fifth street a K fell like a big fat turd. I was forced to fold when my opponent, who had called my raise with an 8 showing, caught a 3 and an A and bet into me.

The next hand was worse. This time I started with A 3 5 and was up against the same guy who was a total whack job. Again I came in raising and he called me with an 8. On 4th street he caught a 9 and I caught a 2. Sweet! I've got this guy right where I want him now. On 5th street I caught a K and he caught a 7. There was heavy betting and raising at this point. Even though it would appear that he has the best hand at that point, I was still the favorite to make the best hand by the time all 7 cards were out. All I needed to do was catch a 4,6,7, 8, or 9 sometime in the next two cards. Factoring in the cards I'd seen in the form of other players up cards and my own cards I had 17 cards left in the deck out of the remaining 38 that would make me the best hand (Of course he could have a pair already which would mean I was in even better shape or he could catch two great cards and improve - these thing balance each other out to some extent). Sadly I paired my 5 on 6th street and my A on the river (the last card is called the river in stud games too) making my best hand K532A. Yuck!

I did have one good hand along the way. During the 4th level I started with A 3 5 and of course came in raising. I got heavy action the whole way from a player who started with 752 and improved to 75432 by 6th street. After my strong start I caught an ugly Q on 4th street and a beautiful 4 on 5th street. 6th street brought an even uglier K and I knew I was in big trouble. On the river, however, I caught the perfect card - the 2! I made a wheel (5432A), which is the best possible hand in razz, and took down a nice pot.

After 2 hours we'd only lost 70 of the starting 1297, but I was in the bottom 20% of the remaining players. During the next 2 levels I hovered right around 1,200 chips. I won a few small pots here and there, but never got much above 1500.

When the 7th level started with a 30 chip ante and limits of 150/300 I knew if I played a hand I'd pretty much be committed to going to the end. When I was down to just over 1,000 chips I picked up a strong hand in the form of A46 and got action from another player showing a 4. On 4th street I caught a J and he caught a 2. I decided to take a stand since the pot already had a significant number of chips in it and I didn't have many left. All of the money went in on 4th street and when the cards got flipped over my opponent showed me 642A. Yikes! He paired on A the 5th street and the 2 on 6th street and I could see the light at the end of the tunnel. Sadly he caught a 7 on the river and the best hand I could muster was a lowly 10 9 6 4 A. I finished in 857th place. :(

Luckily, like I mentioned before, this event was sort of a warm up, and while I liked my chances against the nut balls I found myself playing against today, razz isn't exactly my best game. While it would have been nice to get off to a strong start the $215 is only about 3.5% of the total that I'll be using for buy-ins so I'm not worried about the loss.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

WCOOP Event #1 Preview!!!!!!!

Good news for those of you out in blog land! The World Championship of Online Poker (WCOOP) kicks off this Saturday! It's just like the WSOP...except it's for 1/10 of the money...and 1/100th of the prestige. I guess it's nothing like the WSOP, but it is the biggest thing in online poker and unlike the WSOP you don't have to dodge 1,400 floosies every time you go to the bathroom.

I am looking forward to playing some non hold 'em varieties of poker and I plan to update the blog daily with results and accounts of the key hands. I am going to play 12 of the 18 events for sure and maybe 1 or 2 more if things are going well. All in all it should add up to about $6,000 in entries. I've got Gerry, Matt, E.B and Jake backing me again (very bravely I might add after the WSOP) and Mike has boldly jumped on the bandwagon and taken a full one percent of my action. Thanks to all of them again for their confidence in me.

All of the tournaments start weekdays at noon and weekends at 1:30 (pacific time). If you want to watch me play you can download the software at pokerstars.com and do a player search for AceSedai (that's me). If you need help with this process send me an e-mail and I'll give you detailed instructions. Of course you won't be able to see what I have, but you can check on my progress and make mocking comments about me in the chat box.

Event #1 is $215 buy in Razz. Razz is simply 7-card stud where the WORST hand wins. Straights and flushes do not count against you (A 2 3 4 5 is the best possible hand). Last year there was no razz in the WCOOP and pokerstars hasn't offered razz in any form until a few weeks ago so I'm hoping to run into a bunch of people who don't know how to play. This is basically a warm up for everyone and while there are 330 players already registered, I can't see more than about 500 more putting their hard earned coin at risk on this silly game.

Wish me luck!

Friday, September 08, 2006

Time Collection vs Rake

Ryan, a survivor from the Cloyne home game where I first learned to play poker, asked the following question in a comment he recently posted: "I remember some time ago that you had mentioned that you liked playing at the Oaks because it was by the hour. I was just wondering if you opinion has changed since then? Personally I prefer to play when there is a rake. My thinking is that if you plan to fold most of your hands pre-flop, why pay until you are ready to play?

There are two main ways that casinos charge you to play in their poker games. The first way is a "rake." The way a rake works is every hand, the dealer takes (or rakes) a predetermined number of chips from the pot. At the end of the hand these chips drop into a locked steel box attached to the table. The boxes get emptied every 8 hours, by men the size of small SUVs in security uniforms. Usually it's $3 (sometime $4) regardless of the amount you're playing for (at the very lowest games like $1/$2 limit it's $2.50). Some places have a rule that if the hand doesn't make it to the flop the casino won't take any money. In the lower limit games (anything $9/$18 or less), in addition to the standard blind structure the player on the button puts out $3 (these are the chips that are physically removed from the game and end up in the steel box). This money "plays" for the player on the button and counts towards any bets they make before the flop. So for example if you're playing $3/$6, there will be $1 in the small blind, $3 in the big blind and $3 on the button. If no one has raised, the player on the button gets to see the flop without putting in any more money.

In some of the dreary, ass backwards poker rooms in Nevada where there are three poker tables sitting in a space that has all the glitz and glamour of an area used for broken slot machine storage, they do the rake a little differently. Instead of taking a flat $3 they take 10% of the pot with a max of $3 (or sometimes $4). This approach works great online and is in fact what almost all of the websites do. In person it doesn't make much sense because it means the dealers are always fiddling around with quarters and dimes and loonies and twoneys and whatever. It's a big pain in the ass for the dealers and since now there are quarters on the table they get tipped 50 cents sometimes instead of a dollar.

At the bigger games the casinos get their money a little differently. They do what is called "time collection." The way this works is every half hour the dealer collects a fixed amount of money from each player. This amount varies with the amount you're playing for (it's $6 at $15/$30, $7 at $30/$60, $12 at $100/$200 etc.). An easy way to think about it is, the players are renting the seats for the half hour.

In the past the Oaks Club was one of the few places that took time collection instead of a rake for all of their games.

Ryan's question is, is it better to pay time collection or a rake in low limit games. The argument for rake is that if you're using proper strategy you'll be playing fewer hands than your opponents, thus winning fewer pots and paying less than everyone else. While this sounds good, this theory has a few holes. First of all let's look at the math for a standard $3/$6 game. Time collection costs each player $8 an hour. Easy right? For a game with a rake it's a little more complicated. A standard dealer will deal 35 hands an hour so with $3 a hand coming off the table in rake we're looking at $105 per table per hour. In a nine handed game you're looking at $11.67 ($105/9 players) per player, per hour which is clearly more than $8 an hour (it's $10.20 per player for a 10 handed game).

But wait, we're playing tighter than everyone and you only pay when you win a pot right? The problem is when you add that extra blind on the button it becomes correct to get involved in many more pots. A third of the hands you're going to be in one of the blinds and even when you not, the action that this extra blind stimulates is going to force you to play more hands. Another way to think about it is in a time collection game you're paying $4 a round in blinds while in a rake game you're paying $7 a round in blinds. If you fold every hand for three rounds all of a sudden you're stuck $21 instead of $12.

Let's say you've found a game where they don't make you post that extra blind and just take $3 out of the pot anyway (a few places do this). You're still going to end up paying more. Your share of the pots is about 4 an hour (3.5 an hour for a 10 handed game). Even if you play fewer hands than everyone else you're still going to need to win 3 hands an hour to come out ahead in the long run, meaning you're paying $9 an hour instead of $8.

Let's look at another consideration. In a rake game there is no penalty for being away from the table. Every time someone want to go to the bathroom or take a short break they get up the hand before their big blind and come back a full round later. Since there is no penalty for being away from the game, in practice at least 1, if not 2 or 3 players are always away from the table. In a time collection game if you're away from the table, you're paying anyway so people have a tendency to stay in the action. Not only is a full game generally preferable, if a few players are missing in a rake game all of a sudden the number of pots you're due to win per hour goes way up. If you're in a game where there are an average of 7 players being dealt into every hand all of a sudden you're paying $15 an hour instead of $8.

Another consideration is it's good to have plenty of money on the table. I can tell you from experience that the games where everyone has three racks in front of them are way better than the games where everyone is nursing 2 stacks. Even if you were paying the same or slightly less than everyone else, If the casino is taking more money, there will be more short stacks and the game will not be as profitable.

While it may hurt to shell out those extra dollars, especially when you're losing, time collection is much better.

Another question might be "why are you squawking on and on about pennies? Who cares what the rake is?" I'll have to address that in another entry about "The evil power of the rake" (AHHHHHH hide the women and children!)

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Poker Lessons

I've recently decided to get into the poker lesson for money game. My good friend Matt seems to be doing well for himself in this arena so I'm jumping in too. I've got myself 1,000 business cards and a shiny new website www.huffpoker.com.

I keep hearing from friends that they've all told 8 people about my blog and they've all been reading it. I suspect that some of the readership has long forgotten about me now that the WSOP is over, but if there is anyone out there in blog land interested in lessons, check out the website and give me a call or shoot me an e-mail. Keep in mind I'll gladly do lessons over the phone, if you're a friend I'll give you a generous price break and if you're one of my in-laws I'm going to charge you double. Just kidding. Many people have heard me say that I have the best in laws you could ever hope for (both my wife's family and my sister's husband's family).

Speaking of my in-laws, I've been giving some regular lessons to my brother in-law Damian and he's making good progress. I'll post a blog entry soon about the process of taking him from someone who doesn't know what a flop is, to a poker god who throws flaming bolts of destruction upon the helpless citizens of pokerland, causing massive explosions of chips which then rain down from the sky and land in his overflowing coffers. Either that, or at least I'll help him become a break even player.

Giving them too much credit

When I used to play at the Oaks Club on a daily basis, I often played against a fellow by the name of Walter Brown. Walter is an international grandmaster in the world of chess and won the U.S. chess championship something like 6 or 7 times. It's apparent when you talk to him that he has an IQ that is off the charts. He'll be sitting there and out of the blue he'll mention something about the efficiency of some mundane process that the Oaks Club employees are engaging in or mention some way the world could be improved. It's clear that he's always got that big brain cooking something up.

You'd think Walter would make a sensational poker player. But, while he's always been a solid winning player (and a nice guy), he's never made the jump to being great and I never had any trouble beating him regularly. His biggest weakness is he gives his opponents too much credit. He is so logical in every action and thought that he can't conceive of someone making a totally irrational play that was based totally on impulse.

When people play poker they do some weird shit. It never ceases to amaze me. Sometimes it's out of boredom or anger. Sometimes it's because they "felt like gambling." Other times it's "just because." I had a hand come up recently in a $100 single table tournament that fits into the "just because" category. We were playing 4 handed with blinds of 200/400. The blinds each had about 2000 chips, I had 1300 chips and the other player, we'll call him Mr. X, had the remaining 8200 chips. I was first to act and moved all in for 1300 chips, Mr. X called and the other two players folded. I had a weak hand and was hoping to simply win the blinds before the flop so I wasn't happy to get called. When the hands were turned over I was thinking "If he doesn't have a pair or one of my cards I'll at least have a chance." But instead of a pair or an ace he showed 2 3! This is the worst possible hand to have heads up (yes worse than 7 2). What did he think I had? He couldn't beat anything. Did he have a psychic premonition that told him to get in there? Of course, he wasn't making a judgment about what I had or what he could beat. He didn't think things through at all, he just acted. Maybe he decided that he had so many chips he'd just throw a few around and see if he could get lucky and knock me out (which he did). Maybe he decided he was on a hot streak. Who knows.

The point is, you have to consider what I've heard called (in print mind you) the RBF or the Random Berzerko Factor. If you haven't played with someone before, they could be a berzerko waiting to strike down your AK with 9 5 when you least expect it.

More importantly you can't assume that everyone out there is playing the way you do. This is one of my big weaknesses. Sometimes I'll be agonizing over a decision and shocked at how off I was in my read. I'll have AQ, the flop will come down A, 9, 5, I'll bet, someone will put me all in and I'll think "He's either got Ak or AJ with a slight chance that he could have three 9's, but I have to call because there's so much in the pot already." I'll be crossing my fingers hoping for AJ, my opponent will turn over K9 or 44 and I think to myself "I'm giving these guys too much credit."

What really drives me bananas is when I have what I think is a close decision in a big pot, I decide to call, find out I'm WAY ahead and lose the pot anyway when a terrible card shows up on the turn or the river. That kind of thing might make you throw your dry erase markers across the room, causing your sleeping cat to tear out of the room in horror, leaving you eliminated from your tournament and feeling guilty that you scared your peaceful pet. Not that I have any experience with that kind of thing.

In person it's easy to make some pretty solid assumptions about what kind of player you might be facing, by noticing how they look, act, dress and speak. I can spot a beginner a mile away just by seeing how they hold their cards and if you see someone expertly doing tricks with their chips at least you know you're up against an experienced player. Online it's much more difficult. Everyone is just a blinking name and chip total. It's easy to assume that if you've never seen someone before they are playing more or less the same way that you are (hopefully a little worse). Sometimes when you have a decent hand you just have to get in there and cross your fingers. Hopefully when you do, you'll knock someone out and think "I've got to stop giving these clowns so much credit."