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Playing Scared

Silent Hill: Pyramid Head
Though my wife and I are getting slowly acclimatized to our new surroundings, the list of things that need to be done at the house is growing. However, after running around like a madman last night, we still found time to sit back and relax for a while.

After work, I had to hit a lot of different places to visit before I could finally go home and relax. First stop, the insurance agent to drop off various insurance-related documents. Next up, Best Buy to return the wireless-N router and wireless-G network card.

I actually took a few minutes to take a look at the LCD monitors in stock. After being unable to find a single monitor capable of 1600 x 1200 resolution, I asked one of the grunts in blue. He told me that they don't carry any monitors capable of displaying in such high resolution. When I pointed out the fact that the video being played on all the LCD monitors kept touting "an amazing 1600 x 1200 resolution", he told me that he had no idea what they were talking about. I cut my losses and moved on.

I then hit up a video store to pick up Silent Hill. I've never played the game, but I've been waiting to see the movie since it came out. Don't know why...I guess I was just anxious to give myself nightmares.

Movie in hand, I made a few last stops at the grocery store (bananas and bagels), Home Depot (screwdriver and tape) and the old apartment (pick up air conditioner).

I finally got home at 7:30 and was pretty tired. After speaking with my wife for a bit, I sped out to McDonald's to grab us some dinner. Although I was starving, I forced myself to pick up only two sandwiches (bacon cheeseburger and junior chicken). Although I'm sure that I've now gained enough weight to become a "heavy hitter" at McD's, I've got to force myself to continue eating a "normal" amount of food.

I returned home - greasy fast food in hand - and we ate dinner while watching King of Queens: my wife said she wasn't too keen on eating a cheeseburger while watching gory horror movies. I was quick to concur. Once, as a teenager, I almost passed out eating cheap beef stew while watching The Operation on TLC.

Now for my impressions of Silent Hill: overall, it was quite well done. I was expecting a cheesy, poorly acted movie containing a number of gross out scenes and a number of jump scares. Instead, I got a movie that provided solid acting from a cast of B-list and C-list celebraties: Radha Mitchell (Man on Fire, Pitch Black), Sean Bean (Lord of the Rings), Laurie Holden (X-Files, Fantastic Four, The Majestic), and Deborah Unger (White Noise, The Game, Payback).

The screenplay seemed well written considering that it was adapted from an old Playstation game. The story itself contained a few twists and turns, but held together well all things being considered.

What really stole the show, so to speak, were the atmosphere, the scenery and the creatures in the movie. Nothing was outright startling or vomit-inducing; yet, many things were disturbing to look at. With very few (if any) jump scares, the director relied on the scenery and the creepy inhabitants of Silent Hill to really set the mood and get the pulse racing.

All in all, I'd give it a solid 7 out of 10. And if we compare it to other video-game-to-movie adaptations, I'd probably give it a 10. Although those numbers might be different had I played the Silent Hill games, I still think the movie deserves its due props. It's damned hard to make a watchable movie based on an old video game containing corny Japanese-to-English dialogue.

Ok, enough about movies. Let's get back to poker, shall we?

I managed to slip in three $10 + $1 Turbo SNGs at Party before going to bed. I almost screwed myself by not first withdrawing my winnings from Party prior to playing. When I first sat down, I had about $130 sitting in my account. The smart thing to do would have been to take out $100 and leave myself only the $30 bonus money with which to play.

Instead, I started playing immediately and quickly dropped out in 6th in the first SNG. Nothing spectacular about this one: I pushed with AA when I had T2500 left in chips with the blinds at 200/400. I got called by another player holding the K3 s00ted. Flop gave him a 3 and he rivered the king to knock me out.

The next SNG I played, I managed to hold on and pick up 3rd spot. When I went out, the chip leader had T12000, I had T6500 and the other guy had T1500. I picked up AJs in the small blind and pushed after the chip leader limped: he insta-called with KQs. I was out on the flop when he flopped the flush. In hindsight, I should have just called with my AJs, hoping to induce the all-in from the short-stack: this would have allowed the chip leader and I to double-team him to get heads-up: instead, I got greedy and paid for it. I'll get 'em next time, I guess.

After my third place finish, I came to my senses and withdrew $97 from my account, leaving me with only the $30 in bonus money.

I played one more turbo SNG and finished in 6th spot yet again. This time, I suffered a huge beatdown when I got it all in pre-flop with two other guys with the blinds at 100/200. I had T3500 at the time and was in third place. With a raise and re-raise to me, I jammed with KK and got called by both opponents: Donk #1 showed a 75s and Donk #2 showed KTo. Needless to say, the flop came down T 5 7 and I lost the hand.

After that hand, I was left with only T1500. The blinds jumped up to 200/400 and I found myself pushing with AJs from middle position. The chip leader, sitting directly to my left, insta-called and showed QQ. And that, as they say, is history.

I would complain about some of the bad luck I had last night, if not for three things:

  1. I'm totally freerolling at Party right now.

  2. I got extremely lucky the night before last, so I deserved a few bad breaks.

  3. SNGs are a total crapshoot given my skill level: I know it, my readers know it, my opponents know it too...

My plans for tonight are pretty simple: drop off the apartment keys, change the address on my driver's license and health card, and mow the lawn. After that, it's all about relaxing with my wife and playing a little poker. It won't be a late night for me though - I think I'm coming down with something and I need to be at full strength this weekend.

By the way, looking for a change of venue when it comes to online poker? Why not try out InterPoker and Doyle's Room: both have generous bonuses and crappy players. Do us both a favour and sign-up! I'm starting to sound desperate, aren't I? I have no shame and I'm damn proud of it...

Ok, I'm done here. Have a good one!


Quick update: It seems that the Ontario government now allows ordinary folks, like me, to use the Internet to update my address with the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Transportation. That just saved me a whole bunch of time tonight!

Ok, back to work...

Keep reading "Playing Scared"

Changes at InterPoker

For any of you playing at InterPoker, I just wanteed to point out two things:

  1. Starting September 1st, you'll need to enter a bonus code when depositing in order to receive the 100% up to $100 match bonus. You can get the code from InterPoker's web site. And unless things have changed further (I can't check myself due to firewall), the bonuses clear at a rate of $1 for each 5 raked hands (500 raked hands required to clear full $100 bonus).

  2. And some good news for those bonus grinders out there: I just read on 2+2 that InterPoker is going back to counting any raked hand at $1/$2 and above (applies to limit and no-limit) count as a "full" raked hand. In recent times, you only received 1/4 of a raked hand for any raked pot less than $20. This is a definite deal sweetener for all limit players and mid-stakes NL players, but may upset some low-stakes NL player. Oh well, works for me...

So if you're not playing at InterPoker right now, go ahead and sign up! And if you're still playing at limits less than $1/$2, now may be the time to make the move onwards and upwards!

By the way, you can also sign up for InterPoker via RakeTheRake.com. RakeTheRake is one of the most reputable rakeback sites out there. They are wonderful to deal with and they like to throw in free mega freerolls for their members all the time. To put it bluntly, RakeTheRake is the shizz-nit!

If you do sign up via RakeTheRake, please be sure to let them know that I referred you when you get to the e-mail part of the sign-up procedure. My account number is RTR03302. Oh, and this does not affect the amount of rakeback or any other bonuses your receive.

Whaddya know? Another win-win situation ...

Keep reading "Changes at InterPoker"

Wireless ass kicking!

Linksys WRT54GS Wireless-G Router

There are 10 types of people in this world: those who understand binary and those who don't.
- Author Unknown

I went straight to Best Buy on my way home from work last night, anxious to pick up a cheaper (yet more stable) wireless router (Linksys WRT54GS) and a wireless network card (Linksys WPC54GS) for my laptop. My plan was to try the new router and see if I could get that working with my laptop and existing internal wireless card; if not, I could always try it again with the Linksys network card in place. I really wanted to make sure that I had everything I'd need to get the damned network up and running at home.

When I got home, I helped my wife put some felt pads on the bottom of our new living room furniture. It's very nice looking, although potentially a little too large for our space. I think we're going to keep it since it matches the decor of the house quite nicely. Unfortunately, the love seat has a rip in it, so I'll need to call The Brick and get them to fix that shit right away.

A few minutes after we got the furniture set up, one of my wife's friends called, giving me the opportunity to run downstairs and get my wireless network going - I was strangely optimistic at the time. I grabbed a beer and headed to the basement.

As unbelievable as it sounds, I managed to get the network running in less than 20 minutes. Although I was worried that I'd need to use the Linksys network card, I never needed to break the seal on that puppy. I plugged the router in, changed my router's password, set up the MAC filtering, and encrypted the network with WPA2 security.

Once I knew that my network was secure, I decided a quick jaunt around the house was in order to test the router's signal strength (this also resulted in me sweating through yet another shirt...damn it!). Basically, I get excellent reception in the basement and the family room (located one floor above the router) and I get very good reception for every other room in the house. All in all, I was extremely satisfied and ready to give everything a try with some poker and other gambling-related activities.

After enjoying a quick dinner with my wife and the King of Queens, I fired up the laptop.

First off, I gave The Mansion's sportsbook a visit and made my $1100 wager on the Steelers to beat the Dolphins by five or more points on September 7th. If you don't know why I'd do such a thing, go check out this post by Scurvydog. And being the tightwad that I am, I also signed up at Pinnacle Sports and wagered $537 on the Dolphins to beat the five point spread on the same game.

If my math is correct here (and I'm sure it is based on this information), I'm guaranteed to win about $462 USD next Thursday. Nice!

After betting on the game, I decided to stop by Party Poker and play a couple more $10 + $1 SNGs. I've got the $30 of bonus money sitting in my account until this coming Sunday, so I might as well do what I can with it before Party yanks it out of my account. [ed. I know I said I'd only play $3/$6 LHE, but free money is free money, right?]

Long story short, I got extremely lucky in both SNGs and took them both down with first place finishes. I guess when the cards are falling just right, SNGs can be pretty profitable. However, I can't shake the feeling that these things are total crap shoots. Still, if I can keep taking down AK with my AQ, I'll be rich by the time my $30 bonus expires.

Finally, remember to sign up at Doyle's Room! Lots of bad players, loose NL tables, and probably some pretty bad SNG and tournament players too! If you sign up, I'll get to keep my affiliate account and you'll get to make lots of money: it's what we gamblers like to call a win-win situation.

See you at the tables!

Keep reading "Wireless ass kicking!"

Kicking wireless ass!

After spending 5 hours shopping and setting up our home theatre system, the last thing I needed was to have problems with the new wireless router. And yet, here I stand yet again, unable to get my Linksys router working properly. You'd think a university degree in computer science would give me an edge somehow: inexplicably, it most certainly does not.

The cable guy showed up and, as expected, was unable to place cable outlets in the wall. He assured me that while the cable company does hire contractors that do that type of work, he was not one of said contractors. He told me that I should have told the cable company that I needed outlets installed. When I assured him that I had, the only solution offered was to reschedule and hold off on getting our cable installed for a couple weeks.

Jebus! And I thought blogs were gay...

Anyway, I figured out a way to trick the contractor into putting an outlet in one wall. All I had to do was give him step by step instructions on what I wanted and how he could do it. If I knew how to use that cable cutter tool that they use, I could've done it myself.

As for the cable connection for the TV, we've been forced to use a loosy-goosy setup: basically, one giant length of cable strewn on the floor. Hopefully, my brother in law will be able to feed the wire through the wall and install the outlet for us.

After getting the cable installed, my wife and I went out for dinner and a little shopping at Walmart. A "little shopping" turned into 2 hours of wandering the overcrowded store filled with teen, tweens, and frantic parents, all scrambling to pick up the Back to School essentials.

Is there anything worse than waiting in a checkout line for ten minutes, only to be told that it is the express 8 items or less line and you've got a full basket of crap? I had so many people giving me the stink eye that I was forced to move to the back of an even longer line.

Thankfully, my wife and I managed to escape unscathed.

Once we got home, I setup the home theatre. It took me an hour and half to get the thing set up the way I wanted it. I think I sweat through my shirt two or three times over. Why is it always so fucking hot when you're trying to thread speaker wire along baseboards, between couches, and into the small plugs in the back of the receiver? Pain in the ass, I'll tell you, but well worth it, I think.

And then, it was Internet time.

I got the Linksys WRT300N router out, plugged in, and set up according to the setup CD that came with the product.

I set up PSK-2 encryption for the network, set the SSID, set up the MAC filter, and disabled SSID broadcast. I then unplugged the ethernet cable from the laptop and turned on the wireless network adapter in my laptop.

Within seconds, I'd found and connected to my wireless network! Sweet!

And then I tried to surf the Internet. For some reason, I was completely unable to connect.

So I reset the router, decided to use WEP encryption this time. This time, I was able to find the network but unable to connect.

I'm going to return the WRT300N router and exchange it for the cheaper (and supposedly better-valued) WRT54GS router. I really hope I can get this thing working.

I'll put the question out to my readers yet again: what are the steps to follow when it comes to setting up my wireless network, assuming that all I want to do is play poker? The only stipulations I have is that I'd like the network encrypted, I don't want the SSID broadcast, and I'd like MAC filtering to prevent all computers, other than my laptop and desktop PC, from connecting to the network.

Any advice would be much appreciated. In the meantime, I'll check out the Linksys site for more information.

That's it for today!

Keep reading "Kicking wireless ass!"

In the middle of the street...

I wish I could say that I had an exciting, fun-filled weekend, but I'd be lying. Moving everything from one place to another sucks the big one. Thanks to a lot of help from friends and family, though, it was mostly painless.

First, let me fill you in on the poker that was played over the weekend. I only managed to play on Thursday night. I hit Party Poker's 3/6 tables for about an hour using the free $30 they gave me along with $470 of my own Neteller-fresh money.

I found two juicy tables (ie. any two tables at Party) and managed to walk away with about $80 in profit. However, I had a few surprises in store when I checked Poker Tracker and my Party bonus details:

  1. In one hour of multi-tabling, I'd only managed to clear 91 raked hands of the 300 required.

  2. In my one hour of play, I'd managed to pay $21 worth of rake and $3.50 worth of "monster jackpot" tax!
Upon seeing these numbers, I withdrew my winnings from Party leaving me my original $30 in bonus money. There is no way that I'm going to put in another 2 or 3 hours of poker at Party if I'm going to end up paying another $30 - $50 in rake. Although I guess those numbers are inflated due to the heater I was on...may have been a little hasty in withdrawing...I'm sorry Party Poker...but you have to admit that this "monster jackpot" silliness has got to go...

Plus, what does Party call a raked hand? I'm pretty sure I saw more than 91 flops in my time at the tables. I will say that the games were pretty soft and I will go play at Party when there are no other games available. I guess I shouldn't worry about $24.50 in assorted rake-like payments when I'm able to clear 12 BB/100 - 113 hands is an adequate sample size, right?

After withdrawing from Party, I decided to try my luck at a $10 + $1 turbo SNG. I know, I know - what the fuck am I doing playing SNGs? I'm supposed to be focusing solely on LHE games, right?

Honestly, the $30 of bonus money was just sitting there at Party doing nothing, so I thought I'd give it a shot. Thirty-five minutes later, I'd finished in second place for a $19 payday. I would've come in first had I not hit the most unbelievable run of shit cards ever.

I started heads-up being a 3:2 dog to my opponent. I managed to work my way up into the chip lead and almost busted my opponent when my AJ got all in against his AT pre-flop.

With only T2500 left in chips (and blinds at 200/400), my opponent gave up and started pushing all in on every hand. I was looking for any excuse to call. Unfortunately, after picking up 93o five hands in a row and 62o three times (I wish I was exaggerating), all in the space 12 hands, I was pretty pissed.

And then, I pick up AKs in the BB. I was hoping that I'd end it right there, but my opponent mysteriously folded on the button. Hmmm - could he have been getting good cards this whole time?

The very next hand, I pick up A6s and limp in from the button. I know my opponent's gonna push and I know I'm gonna call. He pushes, I call: he shows KQo. Flop comes K x x and we have a game on our hands yet again.

I lose the chip lead when my opponent doubles up with his KK against my AJ (damn TPTK!).

I lose another sizeable pot when my J9s runs into another KK (damn TPWK!).

I lose another sizeable pot when my KJ runs into JJ (damn two pair on the river!).

I finally go out with the blinds at 400/800 when my T9 loses to QT.

Still, $19 is pretty good money and I'll take it! I'll have to see if I can get lucky by gambling it up with the $30 of bonus money still sitting there at Party. I will make sure to withdraw all my winnings once I've pissed away the $30 or when the bonus expires and is removed from my account.

After Thursday night, however, the rest of the weekend was spent packing, moving, cleaning eggs off our garage door (punk kids), finding out that the garage door opener mysteriously broke two days before the move, picking up yet another vacuum cleaner for the house (the other two broke), finding out that the local (to our new house) Chinese food buffet restaurant had closed down, wandering into random liquor stores looking for boxes, sweating my ass of vacuuming the new house's basement, sweating my ass off moving boxes around, shopping for various odds and ends, cleaning the old apartment to help stave off the exhorbitant "cleaning fees" charged by the landlord, eating my own weight in meat at Denny's, and finally, picking up new 5.8 GHz cordless phones and a Linksys Wireless-N router from Best Buy.

If that last paragraph seems cramped, claustrophobic, busy and disorganized, then I've managed to effectively convey the overall feel to the weekend. I'm just glad I'm married and didn't have to do it alone. I couldn't imagine doing it all while being pregnant, so my wife wins extra points for that! I don't know how she does it, but I owe her a lot.

So I've got the wireless router purchased and the new 5.8 GHz cordless phones. I should be able to get my home wi-fi network all set up tonight, assuming that:

  • The smell of varnish from the freshly refinished family room floor is not too strong: if it is, my wife and I will have to leave and sleep at a friend's place.

  • The cable guy actually knows what he's doing and is able to give us cable. This may seem trivial, but I need him to install two cable outlets for us. Cable guys up here in Canada seem to refuse to put jacks into the wall, but I'm sure he'll be able to come up with some awful-looking hack job that will have me on the phone arguing with the cable company for the next week or two.

  • I can actually figure how to set up the wireless network, including MAC filtering and WPA encryption (although I may go with WEP if I run into problems). The Linksys router I got should be pretty easy to set-up: I'm hoping that the claims of 12x the range and 8x speed found on the product's box are not just marketing BS. I don't have a wireless-N card for my laptop, but I do have a pretty solid internal wireless-G network card: I'd settle for 12x the range and 1/6 the speed if it meant I could reliably access the network from anywhere in the house.
Anyway, I'm extremely tired and it's gonna be a busy month or two from this point on. However, I'll do my best to gamble it up for you, my readers.

By the way, could someone out there please sign up for Doyle's Room using my affiliate link? It seems that my account is "dormant" and I think I just got chewed out or something for being a drain on the Tribeca teet.

Doyle's Room is a part of the Tribeca network, which provides a good assortment of awful players (especially at the low-limit NLHE tables). Doyle's Room also offers good sign-up bonuses, gives you lots of opportunities to win seats to the WSOP, and is totally compatible with Poker Tracker. Oh, and the Tribeca network no longer offers rakeback, so you're really not losing anything by signing up with me.

Plus, all my links come with good luck built right in. Ask Huma and Drewspop - they both ran really well when they signed up with InterPoker! And for you bloggers out there, I give out a free pimpin' post in your honour each time you sign up with a site using my affiliate links!

So whaddya say? Sounds pretty good, huh?! So sign up here and start winning some money!

Ok, gotta go! Time for more house-related nonsense.

Good luck at the tables everyone! Especially these tables...

Keep reading "In the middle of the street..."

Movin' on up

Well, this is my last post before my wife and I move into the new house. Tonight, I'll get a chance to relax (kinda - I have a feeling my wife wants us to go through the storage locker which'll take 2 or 3 hours...) before the moving day on Saturday. This house better be worth it: the last couple months have been pure shit with all the crap we've had to do and deal with at the house.

No more talk about the house. I've discussed it enough and I'd rather focus on more pleasant things...

First off, I wanted to touch on the wireless networking stuff again:

  • Does anyone out there have a wireless network at home that they use to play poker?

  • What's your setup like?

  • How reliable is your connection?

  • How many problems will I have if I have cordless phones and baby monitors in the house?

  • Will I be able to get a signal on each of the 3 floors of the house?

  • What is the optimal set-up?

  • Tips?

  • Tricks?
Anyway, I didn't get a chance to play any poker last night. I was moving furniture until about 10 pm last night. After having dinner, it was 11:30 and I was too exhausted to do anything.

Actually, I did manage to set up some new affiliate codes for PokerRoom and CasinoRoom. Why not sign-up? We can get rich together! Well, you'll get rich anyway: mind if I live vicariously through your bankroll?

Tonight, I'll probably end up at Party Poker to clear the 300 raked hands required for my $30 bonus. Who knows - maybe I'll actually make 2 BB/100 at 3/6 and end up clearing an extra $36! That would be pretty sweet for a couple hours work.

You know, it was really depressing when I stopped to take a look at my PokerDominator numbers last night. It seems that I've only managed to make $521 from actual poker winnings since last November. My hourly win rate is pathetic $0.91 per table hour.

I really hope that the 3/6 will change that. I'm actually embarrassed by my craptastic numbers. Sure, I'm a winning player for now, but just barely. All it would take is for me to lose 2 BB/hour over the next couple months to put me in the red.

There won't be any updates tomorrow to the blog. I'll be too busy slaving away on house stuff and moving prep.

I'll should be back on Monday though, exhausted but living in a house.

Have a great weekend!

Keep reading "Movin' on up"

I'm confused...

Just a quick note: I updated my Sink or Swim Challenge.

Since my bankroll is currently in flux right now, it's become a little too difficult to track my working capital from the money I've set aside to buy stuff.

Long story short: my one and only goal for now is to hit $12K in career earnings (which I now track in my sidebar) by October 2007.

Now that I'm finally coming off tilt, I must be giving off that multi-personality disorder vibe.

Sorry 'bout that.

Me too...

Keep reading "I'm confused..."

Tired, busy, bonus whoring...

You know you're tired when you suddenly look up from your computer monitor and realize that you have no recollection of the past hour and a half. I think the grind of working on the house every night is starting to takes its toll.

After some more running around last night, I wasn't really in the right frame of mind for poker. Instead, I spent an hour with Sora, Donald, and Goofy saving Hollow Bastion from the onslaught of the Heartless in Kingdom Hearts II. Yup, I'm a PS2 nerd...

Tonight will most likely be more of the same. My brother-in-law will be giving me a hand with moving a bunch of stuff into the new house. I've also got to mow the lawn and vacuum the basement. Busy, busy, busy...

Once my wife and I make it back to the apartment, I'm guessing I'll be too tired to play poker again. That's a mighty shame too because Party Poker has heard my cry for overlay at the $3/$6 tables: they've got a $30 bonus sitting in my account right now.

Sure, $30 isn't a lot, but I'll take any overlay I can get. With a small 300 raked hands requirement, I should be able to clear the $30 in just over two hours by two-tabling the $3/$6 games.

I also got a note from VIP Casino informing me that they miss me and would like me to come back and play for a bit. To that effect, they've given me $10 to lose at their casino. The only question is whether to bet it all on one hand of blackjack or to try and hit it big with video poker.

And Bonus Whores has just let me know that PokerRoom is offering a 40% up to $200 reload bonus (bonus code RIVERRICKI). The OnGame network is pretty good for $3/$6 games too! I clear about $9/hr for each $3/$6 table that I play, so I may deposit the full $800 (still haven't take the money out for the TV, so I have some play in this regards) and spend 10-15 hours playing at PokerRoom over the next couple months.

Man, poker just got exciting again, didn't it?!

Lastly, I read an article about problem gambling and Internet poker. Though the article discussed the cons that sites such as Party Poker have on society at large (especially unstable teens), I couldn't help but look forward to the continued influx of young fish into the game we all know and love tolerate like a three-legged farting dog that can say "I ruv you!".

Have a good one.

Keep reading "Tired, busy, bonus whoring..."


I don't know how wise a decision it was to start playing poker at 11:30 last night...after spending countless hours doing an assortment of chores at the new house...many of which were back-breaking in one way or another. Even more troubling is the fact that I forced myself to settle into two 2/4 games at InterPoker when I couldn't find any 3/6 games going anywhere.

Although the stakes were lower, I took a hit to the bankroll. As a reader, isn't it nice to read those words? A big hit to the bankroll means that number of funny bad beat stories and tilty ramblings are on their way. Now, you're probably wondering how much money I lost, how I lost it, and why I lost it. Well, no real train wreck here: I think I'll categorize my night as a fender-bender.

After two tabling for an hour, I dropped about $60. I'd feel worse about it if I really felt that I played badly. I do feel that the bulk of my losses were not totally my fault.

I lost a $30 pot when my opponent hit two-pair on the river with his K9o.

I lost a $28 pot when I missed my straight draw. I raised first in on the button with my JT and got raised by the aggressive prick in the BB. I flopped the OESD and called BB's flop bet. Hit top pair on the turn and decided to just call the BB's turn bet as well. The river missed me but I felt I needed to call with my top pair getting 7:1 odds: the BB was quite capapble of firing on all three streets with an AK, AQ, or any pocket pair. Unfortunately for me, he'd hit top set with his pocket jacks on the turn.

I also lost about $40 over the course of five missed flush draws. There's nothing worse than picking up a flush draw in a multi-way pot and missing it on the end. You get the river and check, one player bets, another calls, and you're forced to retreat with your tail between your legs. Embarrassing...

Finally, I lost a couple good sized pots with AK. I folded my first AK on the river when I missed my draw. And I lost another big-ish pot with my AK vs QQ. I hit my K on an all-spades flop and bet, but my opponent hit his Q-high flush on the turn when a fourth spade fell. We both checked the turn and I called my opponent's $4 bet on the river. I probably should have folded to the river bet but I figured that 5:1 pot odds coupled with my weak turn play kinda forced me to make the call on the end. Judging from my opponent's overall aggression, I don't think my decision to call was all that "correct".

All in all, my night wasn't terrible. Not a full kick in the taint, but I did get winged a little. Live and learn. It's not all bad news though: in the hour of playing, I did manage to make another $3 of rakeback and $11 of bonus.

I really hope that PokerStars or Party come up with a reload bonus soon. I want to give their 3/6 tables a go, but I'd really like a little overlay to help me out. However, the $11 of overlay that I made last night, compared to the $59 that I lost at some relatively tough tables, does not seem that impressive. Perhaps I should focus a little more on finding good games?

I guess choosing the right site and the right tables are important...I guess CC and Falstaff were right...and Matt...and Wes...and Doubleas...and the Law School Dropout...live and learn...

Have a good one.

Keep reading "Winged"

What a lovely grind it is...

"As I was cashing in my measly $2,000 at the window, Gus Hansen comes up beside me and casually drops $800,000 in loose chips from his pockets into his security deposit box. Suddenly my meager successes don't look so impressive."
-Law School Dropout

I guess if the Law School Dropout can feel underwhelmed by his success at online poker, it's only natural that I'll feel the same way from time to time. As most of you are aware, my last bout of poker apathy resulted in me cashing out a large portion of my bankroll and jumping up a couple levels to the 3/6 limit tables. That's not all I did this past weekend, but it's a start...

Last Friday, I decided to go ahead and order the 42" plasma television for our new house. However, after going with my wife for her birthday dinner and doing a little shopping for house-like things (light fixtures, light switches, lamps, Sweet Chili Heat Doritos, etc.), I decided to hold off on my big-ticket purchase.

I have a couple big fears in purchasing a big screen tv right now:

  1. I'll pay for it, get it home, and then realize that I've overlooked something really expensive that needs to be done with the house.

  2. I'll get the tv home, get it all set-up, and then realize that I'm too busy to actually enjoy it.
Either way, I think it's best if I hold off for a couple months on the tv purchase. I'm now looking at a late-September, early-October purchase date. As for the Xbox 360, I may hold off for the PS3 launch in November: maybe Microsoft will drop the price of their gaming console in an attempt to hold off Sony's inevitable video-gaming world dominance.

After my wife's birthday dinner and the house-stuff shopping trip, we got home and I played a bunch of video games until I couldn't see straight. I finished off Indigo Prophecy. All in all, it was a very good game.

The only thing that stopped the game from being all-out great is the unexpected turn for the worse that the game took about 3/4 of the way through.

I can see the story writers sitting there and going, "Ok. We have a pretty good suspense-thriller going on here, but it needs more. Hold on! How 'bout we throw in a little Matrix and a whole lotta X-Files? Oh, and let's have so and so turn into a giant what-not: man, that'll be so cool!".

The plot developed so many holes that I had problems following the end of the "movie". Still, the game gets good marks good voice acting, good sound, great atmsophere, and solid character development. And the start of the story was also quite good: it's been a while since a game grabbed so my attention as well as Indigo Prophecy did right from the get-go.

So that was my Friday night.

Saturday, my wife and I got up bright and early (y'know, 10:30 or so) and headed out to the house. My plan for the day was to paint two ceilings, put a coat on the spare room's walls, and paint a second coat in the basement. Three and a half gallons of paint, a sore back, and a wrecked right hand and wrist later, my wife and I are just about ready to move in next weekend. Just a couple more nights and we'll be good to go!

We got home fairly early on Saturday night. After eating and showering, I decided that I was ready to hit the virtual felt for the first time in a week.

$3/$6 fixed limit. I was scared and excited: finally, I was going to be playing at stakes that were capable of producing significant hourly returns.

Based on the original terms of my Sink or Swim challenge, I loaded up a single $3/$6 table at InterPoker. My goal for the night was to play one table for one hour - no more, no less.

It was a little scary at first seeing some of the other stacks at the table. The guy to my left had $460 and the guy to my right had just under $300. Keep in mind that I've grown accustomed to playing the $25 NL tables where the biggest stack you'll see is in the $75 range.

I bought in for $400, trying not to look out of place. I was immediately dealt in for a hand, having sat down just as the big blind found its way to my seat. I was really worried that I'd be outplayed. I was afraid that I'd be overpowered by the constant big bets, raises and re-raises of the other players.

And I was really surprised when I found that the other players played at about the same level as the $1/$2 opponents I was used to. Sure, there were some good players sitting there. But there were also enough poorer players to help build up the pots and make a few bad calls along the way.

In my first hour of $3/$6 limit poker, I was up $73 after getting hit in the face by the deck (7 full houses!). With my bonus and rakeback overlay, that's an awesome hourly rate for me. Of course, 12 BB/hour is not sustainable in any way, shape or form, but it was a nice little boost for me when I most needed it.

I managed to put in another hour at Pokes Poker's $3/$6 tables last night (InterPoker had no 3/6 tables running) but finished down $30. Mind you, being down 5 BB is nothing to cry about. My original plan was to earn 1 BB/table hour: I'm currently sitting at 3.5 BB/hour so I'm happy.

I've decided to make a few changes to my current Sink or Swim challenge, in light of my play last weekend (NB: some of these changes have already been reflected in my original post outlining the challenge).

  1. I'm going to start throwing in $2/$4 tables whenever there are no $3/$6 tables available. I'd much rather play at a site that can offer me a good bonus (with rakeback as well) than to play somewhere that can offer me neither. Even at $2/$4, I should be able to clear a good amount of money if I keep on top of my game.

  2. I'm going to start multi-tabling the $3/$6 tables; however, I'll limit myself to two tables only. Adam wrote me an e-mail and strongly suggested playing at least two tables at a time. I don't think that I give up much by playing two tables at once and the increased clear rate of bonuses and rakeback will all be welcomed with open arms.

  3. I'm going to force myself to play no more than one hour poker a night. I find that I'm most focused within my first hour of sitting down at a table. I really don't want to fool around too much at these higher stakes, so I should only play when I'm really paying attention to what's going on.

  4. I'm forcing myself to make notes on the players I'm up against instead of solely relying on Poker Tracker and PokerAce. The reasons for this are much the same as outlined by Wes: go check out his latest post.

  5. Instead of adding another table when I've increased my bankroll by $900, I'll add a third table when I've added at least $1000 to my bankroll (and if I feel mentally ready to handle another table). In fact, what I'd most like to do would be to buy a laptop with a 17" WUXGA screen so that I can play 4 tables at a time with no overlap. I figure a laptop of that nature will run me about $1350 USD; if I can pay for that using $3/$6 winnings, all the better.
Anyway, I'm starting to like poker again. Thanks to everyone for the comments and suggestions. And thanks for listening to me bitch and moan about poker.

For the time being, I'm back and healthy again. If you're looking for me, I'll be grinding away my new laptop and home theatre system at a site near you.

Oh! And if anyone knows of any solid wireless routers to use when playing online poker, please let me know. I've recommended LinkSys to others myself, but I'm wondering if any of you high-stakes players out there know of a wireless router that would be good enough to give me a reliable Internet connection all throughout my new house. The router could be placed in either the basement, main floor or upper floor depending on whichever would be best.

Game on...

Keep reading "What a lovely grind it is..."

Sink or Swim Challenge

GOAL: $12,000 in career earnings by October 2007

For the past little while, I've been over-bankrolled for the limits I play. While it would be far safer to continue along this same path for the next couple of years, I can't do it any longer. I need to find out whether I'm cut out for this poker thing or not: it's time to sink or swim.

Starting today, I will force focus solely on full ring fixed limit games.

Instead of sticking with my usual stakes, I'm forcing myself out of my comfort zone. I'll now be playing the $3/$6 tables almost exclusively ($2/$4 may be played when no $3/$6 tables are available). Although I plan on making certain frivolous expenses over the next few months, I plan on maintaining at least 300 BBs worth of working capital on hand to use in the $3/$6 games.

With only 300 BB at my disposal, I'll have to be fairly careful. I'll do my best to pad my winnings (or cover my losses) with bonuses, rakeback, and various casino bonuses.

I'll continue playing two tables of $3/$6 limit poker until one of two things happens:

  1. I'll continue to add one table to the number of tables that I play for each $1000 that I earn, depending on my overall comfort level.

  2. If I lose 300 BBs , I'll re-evaluate what I'm looking to get out of poker and come back with some long, philosophical post about destiny, fate or some such thing.

My ultimate goal is to be able to win enough by playing $3/$6 to buy myself a new home theatre system ($1300 USD), a PS3 ($500 USD), a new laptop computer sporting a 17" WUXGA screen ($1500 USD), and some other goodies. I'd like to purchase all these things within one year's time (in addition to the purchase of a 42" plasma tv and Xbox 360). In that line of thinking, I'll try and hit the $12K in career winnings mark by October 2007.

Please don't misinterpret my intentions here. I am not trying to commit bankroll suicide here: I just want to find out if I can make it or not. For those of you out there just starting out at the micro-limits, I'll do my best to give an honest account of the time I spend playing with the slightly-bigger boys.

And if I happen to fall, I'll always have my wife and kids to support me emotionally, and my toys to keep me forever busy.

Finally, if anyone has any advice on the best places to play $3/$6 (excluding Bodog - Canadians not allowed to play there), please drop me a line via comments or e-mail.

Have a great weekend everybody!

Ready or not, the challenge starts now...

Update: I've added a footnote to this challenge in this post.

Keep reading "Sink or Swim Challenge"

Birthdays and Changes

First off - I'd like to say Happy Birthday to my wife! She's been a real trooper lately, busting her ass at the new house, all the while carrying our new baby! She's the best!

Secondly, all my ongoing challenges and goals have been cancelled, effective immediately.

Worried that I'm about to drop off the face of the poker world?

Worried that I've lost my mind?

No worries! Stay tuned for further details.

Keep reading "Birthdays and Changes"

Getting by...

I got a bunch of comments left for me after yesterday's post, so I thought I'd go over some of the comments and take the time to respond to everyone.


PokerWolf said:

Is there a game you haven't learned that's garnering your interest?

What's wrong with "just playing for fun" (while earning a small profit)?

It sounds like you're looking at poker solely as a grind, which it doesn't have to be.
Honestly, there have been games that I've been interested in trying; however, the allure of hanging on to my money is stronger than my desire to broaden my horizons.

I honestly wish that I didn't view poker as more than a hobby, but I do. I'm very competitive and it really bugs me when I can't beat something with minimal effort on my part. It'd be nice to just play for fun, but money gets in the way. As soon as I get paid to do something, I find that it becomes more of a job to me than a strict "let's have some fun" hobby.


Wes said:
I could certainly see people stop playing poker after it loses its initial luster. If I were in poker for the enjoyment, and the enjoyment of that game is now gone, I would probably quit also. I have just been fortunate enough to win a lot of money (by my standards) and not run horribly in my short career. The money, which parlays into poker being a grind after a bit, is what keeps me coming back.

You've hit the nail on the head here, Wes. When I'm winning money, poker is fun. It's that same game that I sat down to play a year ago: the pots are big, the wins are sweet, and I'm having fun raking it all in.

When I'm not winning, though, poker becomes a boring, pointless grind. Without love of the game, it's really only a poor paying part-time job for me.


Giraffe said:
After three years of the standard ups and downs in online (and a little live) poker, I hit a huge cold streak. A couple months in a row of losing (after doing nothing wrong in my game) mixed with a couple months of breaking even (which felt like winning, comparitively) I finally got back on track. Read some books. Evaluated why I play and is it worth it. Took a month away from the tables. After a $600 loss in Vegas (ouch!), things turned around. I won a tourny and placed high in some others. SNGs are my friend again. Cash games are about even.

It's all cyclical. If poker is what you enjoy, and you have the money to get you through the low times, keep it up. If you're worried about losing money, go down a limit level, read some books, evaluate what you're doing. But whatever you do, don't grind out the micros for bonuses. That's not poker.

Well, it's good to see that others have these downturns in their games as well. My biggest problem when I hit a bad run of cards is that I really don't like to lose money. There's nothing worse to me than grinding out $500 over the course of 15 days, only to lose it all in a few awful sessions.

Much like Sisyphus, I once again find myself at the bottom of the hill. And just like Sisyphus, I'll probably start moving the boulder again. I just need to muster up the desire to give it another shot.

As for not grinding it out at the micros, I have a proposal that I'll post soon...


derbywhite said:
What a nice blog. Stumbled across it from littleacorns.

I'm just a micro limit player trying to learn the game. Poker is an education. It's also a grind especially at the low limits. I'm just trying to earn a few quid to make my experience at the tables more enjoyable.

With your bankroll and (I wish I had it!! ) surely poker doesn't become a grind it becomes a license to buy new things.

Good luck at the tables :)

I was speaking with Mr. V. earlier today about my bankroll. While many newer players might like to have a substantial bankroll (substantial for micro-limit play, anyway), I've found it to be a burden.

I spend so much time monitoring the bankroll and making sure that I take good care of it that it's become both a blessing and curse. It's great to have the money, but I'm always afraid that I could lose it if I'm not careful. Isn't there a fable or something along those lines? Wait, no, I'm thinking of that squirrel from Ice Age...

However, I will use the bankroll to buy new things and use what's left to work on my game.


I agree with pokerwolf. If you're finding poker as a grind, then make the withdrawal and spend the loot and feel good about what you've accomplished.

If and when you're ready and you find it a thrill to build that BR again, then start playing again.

That's what I like about how I started - the worst I can ever get is back to only freerolls and a BR of zero. And I know I can build that up to $2K in less than half a year.

Another way of looking at things is that even if we NEVER move beyond 1/2 limit, that's enough to grind for a couple of hours a month to cash out around $100 in bonuses.

That's one free PS2 game a month!

Doubleuwhy knows about building bankrolls: whereas I started out with a free $5 from TigerGaming, he started out with nothing and has built up most of his bankroll from freeroll winnings. Crazy!

Anyway, you're right Doubleuwhy - I find there's more of a thrill in building the bankroll than there is in maintaining one. Most of my bankroll will be withdrawn and spent on "fun" stuff (ie. 42" Plasma TV and Xbox 360).

The rest will be used as an investment into my possible poker future. I'll have more details about this later; however, please know that I'm thinking along the same lines as outlined in your comment.

As for never moving beyond $1/$2, I don't think I can do that. With my job and other factors in my life, I can't justify spending the bulk of my spare time trying to grind out 2.5 BB/100 at the low limit tables. If I'd known that it was going to be this hard to move up in limits a year ago, I'm not sure if I would have pursued poker as long as I have.

I need the allure of the big money. I need to know that I'm working towards something bigger than I can imagine. I think I'm fast approaching the "Sink or Swim" threshold of my poker career.

It's time to get busy living or get busy dying...


cc said:
Ahhh, something so familiar.

I've done three things (which might actually be two). One is get away from all of it, including the blog. Just walk away and proactively do other stuff. Then if you want to return, do.

Second is online donking, meaning either play different games or just play at lower stakes for the enjoyment. Blogger tourneys are a part of this as they seem to bring the joy back into all of it.

Third is live donking. I've done much more of that lately rather than grinding, playing lower stakes again than I normally would because I just didn't have the energy, time, or motivation to get after it.

I'm not sure how one works through this if you do it for a major source of income. Then, I'm assuming it is more complicated than that.

Get away from it all? Check...well, maybe not. I'll probably keep blogging simply because it's something to do when I'm bored. It may not always be about poker, but I'll try to stick with a gambling-related subject matter. However, if you notice that it's been a couple days since my last post, know that I'm probably just stewing in tilt but will soon return better than ever.

As for stepping away from the grind of online poker, I've done that for the past little while and my hiatus from the poker tables is nearing an end. I've decided on a course of action (one that most would not recommend but I think it's time) and the decisions I've made have invigorated me somehow (as have all the comments left after yesterday's post).

Online donking...Honestly, I'm too afraid to just go out there and "purposely" lose money at lower stakes games or at tables spreading games other than those I'm familiar with. I think donking away $8 at Full Tilt's $0.50/$1 tables helped put me on tilt in the first place. Yet again, the power that my bankroll has over me at this moment is quite difficult to ignore.

Live donking would be a solution. Unfortunately, I only know one person who plays poker and there are no casinos within a 300 mile radius of my current location that spread hold'em or any other form of poker. Online is as live as it gets around here, I'm afraid.


I think the cc's suggestion to step away is helping me the most right now. The batteries are getting charged and I should be ready to go soon. I think the stresses of house, baby, and poker have proved to be a little too much to handle all at once. But we move in next week, so I should be less stressed and better rested at that point (especially once we get the Xbox 360 and the new TV - both of which my wife thinks will be great additions to the new house).

Last night, I was too tired to play real poker or to play the PS2 after getting back from the house - I had to sand down the spare bedroom's walls with the help of a friend - so I did the next best thing: no deposit casino bonus.

I got a free $25 at Cirrus Casino and I'm currently 80% of the way through my wagering requirements. I'm clearing the bonus by playing video poker and it's been fairly relaxing. I actually hit a couple royal flushes, but at $0.01 per line, the payout was crap.

I'm now playing 10 lines at 5 coins per line (that would be $0.05 per line), which puts the Royal Flush payout at 800:1. I keep thinking: what if I were to play 10 lines at 5 cents per line and what if I got dealt a royal flush? I'd take home a cool $800 right there! Maybe I should play 52 lines...

Anyway, thanks to everyone for leaving comments yesterday: I really appreciate it.

You'll notice a few changes to the site (hint: take a look at my current goals...) over the next day or so. Tomorrow, I'll post about my intentions regarding my poker career and my online poker play.

Until then, see you at the tables? Maybe so, maybe no...

Keep reading "Getting by..."

Is it worth it?

I've just spent the past few minutes going over a list of things I'd like to buy...

Let's see here:

Add up those numbers and we get $4609 CDN. Throw in the tax and we're looking at about $5255 CDN, or roughly $4702 USD.

That is the cost of purchasing enough entertainment to keep me busy for the next year. That is what it would cost for me to give up poker for a long, long while.

It's scary what can happen to a poker player who's hit a bad streak. Some have the mental fortitude to work through it while others fade away, never to be seen at the tables again.

If I were to take $4700 out of my bankroll, that would leave me with just enough to cover any play at the $1/$2 tables.

Coincidental? Possibly.

With my cash game having gone to shit, I'm left with very little to do on the poker front. I can work through it and lose a little more money. I could spend some time analyzing my game, seeking out my strengths and weaknesses in order to develop a more sound approach to the game.

Maybe I could fall back on SNGs and tournament play to help me out. Although I seem to follow the Matt Maroon Tournament System, SNGs and tournament play are not without their benefits.

Worst case scenario, I follow Doubleuwhy's route and try to build myself back up by playing freerolls and grinding out casino bonuses.

I don't like the idea of giving up on poker altogether; however, the thought of grinding out a few bucks here and there by playing micro-limit poker does not appeal to me either. I'm not good enough to make the jump up to the next level nor am I patient enough to stay where I am.

What are the pros to playing poker?

  • It's challenging and mentally stimulating.

  • It's loads of fun to win money.

  • It gives me an excuse to keep this blog going, even though I can see my writing quickly deteriorating to a series of silly insights and out-of-place fart jokes.

  • It's a cooler hobby than playing video games, in much the same way that video games are cooler than playing Dungeons & Dragons or attending comic book conventions.

What are the cons to playing poker?

  • It's challenging and mentally stimulating.

  • It requires patience, focus, and drive.

  • It is an assault on one's beliefs of right, wrong, mathematics, justice, and fairness.

  • In order to succeed at the higher limits, it requires countless hours of playing poker, reading various blogs, articles, and books, and the careful analysis of one's game.

  • It is a hobby that promotes a solitary lifestyle. Even when you play poker with family and friends at hand, you are never truly "there" with them: you are stuck at the virtual table praying to God that your overpair holds up for the win so that you can get unstuck for the night and turn off the damned laptop.

I've never felt a dislike or apathy towards poker quite as strongly as I am now. Has anyone been here before? If I leave the tables for a while, will they wait for me? Will I forget all that I've learned? Will I ever reach the high stakes games?

These questions are easy to answer. The hardest question I'm facing now is whether or not I want to return to poker...whether or not it's worth the grind...whether or not I want to continue down this path that has no end in sight, no concrete goals, and no ultimate sense of victory.

Should I stay or should I go? Do I take the money and run? Or do I allow seven pixellated cards to forevermore determine my sense of worth and accomplishment?

I guess we'll all find out soon enough...

Keep reading "Is it worth it?"

Haven't played yet...

Sorry, still no poker here. Lest you think I've given up the ghost, let it be known that I'm currently reading King Yao's book, Weighing the Odds In Hold'em Poker. Poker's still kicking around in my head: I'm just not letting it out to play.

My wife and I were out at the house again last night. Less than two weeks to our moving day and there is a lot to do.

I finished putting the first coat of paint on the walls in the basement. We also removed the last of the ugly pink carpet from the house, pulling a huge amount out of the living room and dining room.

Although the bulk of the painting is done, we still have a number of things that need to take place before we move in:

  • Plumbing still needs to get fixed in the kitchen.

  • Hallways need to be painted.

  • Spare bedroom walls need to be sanded down.

  • Wallpaper needs to be removed from the spare bedroom and from one of the bathrooms.

  • Second coat of paint needs to be put on the basement walls.

  • Floor in the family room needs to be (hopefully) refinished again due to my wife’s dissatisfaction and mine with the last attempt made by the flooring company.

  • Hardwood needs to be installed in the living room and dining room.
Nice short list, eh? I've left out things like painting all the doors and trim: we'll handle that nonsense once we've moved in.

Anyway, by the time we got home last night, I was too tired to even consider playing poker. Instead, I kicked around in the world of Indigo Prophecy yet again.

The game is pretty addictive if you're into the whole cinematic approach to video games. Voice acting is pretty good, story is interesting, the characters are fairly well-rounded - all in all, I'm enjoying it. Although I like playing the "kiddie" platformers like Sly Cooper and Jak & Daxter, it can be a nice change of pace to play a game made for adults.

There is another game that I'd like to pick up, but I've only seen it at Toys R' Us: Fatal Frame II: Crimson Butterfly. It's supposed to be well-written and scary as a mofo. I scare easily so I may see if I can find the game again.

That's the great thing about poker. When things are going well, it's incredibly fun to play and all consuming. But when things go south, it's very easy to change your focus to other aspects of entertainment until you feel ready to return to the tables. I consider my "tilt" time as a period of growth as a player. My brain will take everything that's happened during the course of my downturn and figure out what's wrong. By the time I return to the tables, I should be completely relaxed again and at one with the game.

Tonight, I'll probably play some more PS2 and I may pop onto Pokes Poker's $1/$2 FL tables if I'm feeling non-tilty enough (or if my wife wants to watch TV).

Have a good one!

Keep reading "Haven't played yet..."


I played poker this past weekend. Or should I say that poker played me? Just like Waffles, I think I'll need to take a little break from poker to get my head straight. Unlike Waffles, all the money I've lost over the past week and a half has been solely my fault.

It all started on Friday night. First, I was given a free $65 to gamble away with at Club Player Casino. Unfortunately, I could only clear the 30x WR by playing slots, keno, or European video poker (I have no idea what this is). It took me an hour to lose all my money.

I also played some $25 SHNL at InterPoker. In the space of ten minutes, I got stacked twice by the same guy.

First hand, I picked up an OESD and a flush draw on the flop. Rather than push right away, I waited until the turn when I "thought" I could semi-bluff all-in and take down the pot. One of my opponents (ie. the one who smelled weak and who made a rather large raise) folded immediately to my push: unfortunately, contestant number two called my all in with his flopped two pair and I didn't improve on the river.

The second awful hand happened when my opponent fast-played his flopped set of tens against my stupid pocket aces. I thought I was slow-playing him...boy was I wrong. AA is now a losing hand for me at $25 SHNL, according to Poker Tracker...how embarrassing...

I chased my ugly $25 SHNL session with some $0.50/$1 SHFL at Full Tilt Poker. It took me all of 45 minutes to drop $20. I didn't play quite as badly here. Still, it hurts to have the same opponent river his flush three times against you.

I spent all of Saturday painting and doing stuff around the house.

Yesterday afternoon, I finally sat back down at the tables. I hit Pokes Poker for some $1/$2 FL, hoping that a change of scenery might help my game.

I played three tables and held my own for the most part. One bad call and three awful river cards helped me post a loss of $20 in just under an hour.

At that point, I shut down the laptop and stepped out to buy a new PS2 game, Indigo Prophecy. It's fun and is helping me take my mind off poker for a bit.

I will play poker again this week (possibly tonight): I'm not going on hiatus and I'm not feeling super tilty or anything. I am starting to feel a touch of poker apathy (why bother playing for so little money, I'll never amount to anything, maybe I should just give up, etc.); hopefully, I'll be over it soon.

I hope everyone had a great weekend!

See ya around...

Keep reading "Hiatus?"

Where am I?

The week's finally coming to close, and none to soon for me. This week saw me driving around town, painting my ass off, and then getting what little ass I had left kicked at the tables. After losing another buy-in yesterday, I thought I'd step back and take a look at my $25 SHNL numbers to see how I was doing (in the "bigger-picture" sense).

In the money and BB/100 sense, I don't think I'm doing too poorly:

  • Hands Played: 5519

  • Total Won: $195.38

  • BB/100: 7.08 (I'd like to get this around 8-10 BB/100)

If we take a look at my Poker Tracker numbers, I think I'm on track as well:

  • VP$IP: 26.4%

  • PF Raise: 12.01%

  • Folded SB to steal: 83.08%

  • Folded BB to steal: 65.55%

  • Att. to steal blinds: 27.54%

  • Won $ When Seeing Flop: 35.66%

  • Went to Showdown: 18.86% (a little low, I know...)

  • Won $ at Showdown: 48.82% (This was higher before my recent rough streak...)
After looking at these numbers, I thought I'd take a look at the hands I've been getting dealt:

  • Most dealt hand: ATo (77 times, -$0.05 won, 0 BB/hand)

  • Least dealt hand: Q7s (9 times, -$1.40 won, -0.31 BB/hand)

  • Best $$ hand: AKo (48 times, $74.12 won, 3.09 BB/hand)

  • Worst $$ hand: 88 (19 times, -$27.50 won, -2.89 BB/hand)

  • Best BB/hand: 99 (12 times, $40.25 won, 6.71 BB/hand)

  • Worst BB/hand: 88 (19 times, -$27.50 won, -2.89 BB/hand)
Pocket eights have been pretty good to me. In the past week, I've run into a set over set situation and a overpair vs. set situation: these two hands cost me about $35.

Finally, I took a look at some of the worst hands that I've had over the past couple months. Both of the hands below exemplify what's been happening over the course of my cold streak.
$25 SHNL @ InterPoker
Seat 1 is the button.
Seat 1: Villain ($77.91 in chips)
Seat 2: Ricky ($15.75 in chips)
Seat 3: Hero ($21.11 in chips)
Seat 4: Elmo ($23.95 in chips)
Seat 5: Pinball ($13.38 in chips)
Seat 6: Kurt ($3.75 in chips)
Ricky: posts small blind $0.15
Hero: posts big blind $0.25
----- HOLE CARDS -----
dealt to Hero [Kh Kd]
Elmo: calls $0.25
Pinball: folds
Kurt: folds
Villain: calls $0.25
Ricky: calls $0.10
Hero: raises to $2 (My raises were not being respected...)
Elmo: folds
Villain: calls $1.75 (This guy was the ultra-laggy player who liked to play big pots)
Ricky: folds
----- FLOP ----- [Jd 8s 9c]
Hero: bets $3 (I don't like the flop - try to take it down)
Villain: calls $3
----- TURN ----- [Jd 8s 9c][8c]
Hero: checks (Villain had bet each time I checked the turn after betting the flop)
Villain: bets $2 (As expected...)
Hero: raises to $16.11 and is all-in
Villain: calls $14.11 (This didn't surprise me)
----- RIVER ----- [Jd 8s 9c 8c][Td]
----- SHOW DOWN -----
Hero: shows [Kh Kd] (Two Pairs, Kings and Eights, Jack high)
Villain: shows [Qs Jc] (A Straight, Queen high)
Villain collects $40.62 from Main pot

This next hand really hurt. The Villain in this next one had been raising and pushing with nothing. I finally picked up a hand and knew that I could get it all in pre-flop with the best of it:
$25 SHNL @ InterPoker
Seat 5 is the button.
Seat 2: Hero ($20.20 in chips)
Seat 3: Hoppy ($14.35 in chips)
Seat 4: Crackers ($27.95 in chips)
Seat 5: Samosa ($51.25 in chips)
Seat 6: Villain ($15.35 in chips)
Villain: posts small blind $0.15
Hero: posts big blind $0.25
----- HOLE CARDS -----
dealt to Hero [Qd Kh]
Hoppy: calls $0.25
Crackers: folds
Samosa: folds
Villain: raises to $2 (Geez, what a surprise...)
Hero: raises to $6 (Time to make a stand...)
Hoppy: folds
Villain: raises to $10
Hero: raises to $20.20 and is all-in (Here we go...)
Villain: is all-in $5.35
Returned uncalled bets $4.85 to Hero
----- FLOP ----- [8s 6h 9c]
----- TURN ----- [8s 6h 9c][2c]
----- RIVER ----- [8s 6h 9c 2c][7h]
----- SHOW DOWN -----
Hero: shows [Qd Kh] (High Card King)
Villain: shows [Jd 5c] (A Straight, Nine high) (Well played...)
Villain collects $29.45 from Main pot

It's been the rough hands like the two above that have got me off-center. My game has started veering towards the tight-weak end of things more and more as doubt has found its way into my game.

The biggest leak that has hurt recently is constantly paying off my opponents' value bets on the river. Last night, I paid off the same guy two hands in a row. In the first hand, he hit his gutshot on the river and I still paid off his extra large bet (I made two pair at the same time). The very next hand, I paid him off again when I hit another two pair on the river: this time he showed me the boat he'd made on the turn with his K5 s00ted.

I guess my next post will have to be called "Going broke with (top) two pair"...

Although my wife and I will be working out at the house again this weekend, I will have time to play tonight and on Sunday. Rather than take a break from poker, I'm going to work through this and try to beat the demons of doubt and variance.

However, I'm playing a dangerous game. If I play poorly and/or suffer a number of bad beats this evening, I risk putting myself on hiatus-inducing uber-tilt. If you enjoy reading this blog, I would greatly appreciate any luck or advice you could send my way.

I hope everyone has a great weeekend! I'll be back on Monday to let everyone know whether or not the hiatus is on.

Keep reading "Where am I?"

No post tomorrow

Just thought I'd pop in and let everyone know that I'm not going to post tomorrow. I try to write five times a week, but I haven't played any poker at all since Monday. For those who care, I'm almost reached a zen state with my paint roller.

Anyway, I'll be back on Friday with some more ammunition once I've had the chance to play poker again.

Have a good one...

Keep reading "No post tomorrow"

Going broke with TPTK

"Don't go broke with top pair."

If you're a cash game player, you tend to hear this little nugget of truth from time to time. You'll hear it from others. You'll hear it from yourself. Like any rule in poker, though, you need to understand when to follow this advice and when to cast it aside.

I've only played poker for less than a year, so I consider myself fully qualified to examine this issue...

In deciding how to play solid pair (top pair with a good kicker or an overpair), you need to answer a few questions. While blindly laying down TPTK in the face of a big raise from an opponent will certainly leave you safe from a sound stacking, I believe you end up leaving too much money on the table by not fully examining the situation. And in all honesty, if you do anything 100% of the time at the tables, you'll eventually get picked clean by the more observant players.

I believe that true poker is played in between monster hands. When I'm dealt AA and bust another guy holding KK, I'm not playing poker. Cold-decking another player is much like hitting a jackpot in slots: the cards play themselves.

Many hands in poker play themselves: if this weren't the case, we wouldn't see people casually playing eight or more tables at one time.

No - poker is played when you hold a mediocre hand and are forced to outplay your opponent. If you lay down your marginal hand to another better marginal hand, you win. If you sniff out weakness in your opponent and take down the pot with your bottom pair, you win. If you force your opponent to lay down his two pair on the river when you throw out a large bluff check-raise when that third spade hits the board, you win.

TPTK is both a marginal hand and a monster hand. You hear the term "way-ahead or way-behind" thrown around a lot and I truly believe it applies to the situation where you hold a solid pair and are faced with a raise from one of your opponents.

For example, I'm playing $400 SHNL at Full Tilt Poker (it's my example so I get to choose my stakes). Two limpers to me on the button and I look down (or up at the screen) and find AJs. I decide to make it $24 to go and one limper stays in it.

Flop comes down J 7 3. Limper checks, I make a good-sized continuation bet of $40. The limper pauses every so briefly then re-raises to $120.

At this point in time, I consider myself way-ahead or way-behind. Without considering my opponents, my table image, or the texture of the flop, I've either got a strangle hold on the hand or my opponent's got me soundly beat. While it's possible that he might have two pair or a gutshot draw, my opponent will most likely show me one of the following hands: KJ, QJ, JT, or JJ - 22.

If my opponent is holding JJ, 77 or 33, I'd be better off handing over my wallet than calling the check-raise.

But if my opponent is holding KJ, QJ, or JT, I'm way-ahead and I'm about to start the flabby-armed spanking machine.

Then again, what if my opponent is bluffing?

I believe the trick to playing a solid pair requires a pot big enough to warrant staying with your hand and an educated guess as to where you stand in the hand. Easy no-limit poker decisions don't always exist. It's not all finite mathematics and fun. In fact, when deciding how to play your solid pair in the face of a raise, you may need to rely more on instinct than on math to make the call. Although, some might argue that instinct is nothing more than mathematical equation factoring countless variables and constants, all solved in a split-second by the subconscious by the mind.

Before going broke or busting chumps with your solid pair, be sure to consider some of the following factors before pushing the slider all the way to the right and clicking the All In button:

  1. Full-Ring vs. Short-Ring Games
    In full-ring games, one pair is not the type of hand you want to take to showdown against a large bet. However, in short-handed play, don't be afraid to give your solid pair a fighting chance to make you some money.

  2. Pre-Flop Betting
    If you took control of the hand pre-flop by betting, know that your opponent's aggression probably means something. Your opponent may be running a play on you, but in most cases, a rose is just a rose and you should fold.

  3. Big Pair Strength
    If your top pair or overpair is not one of AA, KK, or QQ, or if you don't have top kicker, be more inclined to drop your hand in the face of aggressive betting. Although you may be ahead at the time, playing for your entire stack when you've got no redraws or when you're dominated can be the kiss of the death to your dwindling stack.

  4. Flop Texture
    When the board is showing possible straight draws or flush draws, you need to understand that your opponent may be betting on the come. Be more inclined to put your opponent to the test on a draw heavy board as opposed to an uncoordinated board.

  5. Table Image
    If you've been raising a lot pre-flop and playing agressively post-flop, you need to be prepared to defend your stack when someone plays back at you. Your opponents will be frustrated and looking for revenge. Trust me, they don't know you have a solid hand to back up your betting. You may push your opponent all-in with your solid pair and find that you've got them beat or dominated.

    If you've only shown down strong hands in recent history, be more inclined to throw away any hand less than two pair in the face of aggression. You may be ahead at the time, but why risk it. Your opponent may put you on a big hand and still feels he has you beat. In this case, most opponents are able to beat top pair or an overpair.

    If you feel as if your opponent may be making a play (eg. flop comes down all low cards and your opponent raises your c-bet because he may believe the flop actually missed you), you can try challenging your opponent by re-raising. However, don't try this move against a straight-forward player and stick to folding if you're being forced to play for your whole stack.

  6. Number of Opponents
    The more opponents in the hand, the less likely you are to win with one pair. Although an overpair is slightly better, it is still just a single pair. With more than 3 or 4 opponents, don't be afraid to choose a better spot to get all your chips in.

  7. Opponents' Styles of Play
    This is another extremely important factor in deciding how to play your solid pair after getting raised or check-raised. If your opponent is extremely loose and aggressive, be prepared to play for your whole stack. These types of players are not patient enough to wait for a good hand to bust you. Normally, the maniac will show you top pair with a weak kicker versus your top pair with a strong kicker.

    When my opponents are passive or tricky, I really hate getting my bets raised. If the pot is small and you think you may be forced to play for your whole stack, it best to just give up on the hand and pick a different spot.

    The one exception is if a tricky player has pushed you off a number of pots so far: in this case, be prepared to pull a Doyle and just push if you find yourself with a solid pair and outs to straight or flush. If anything, you may find the tricky player less inclined to screw with you on future hands.

  8. Bet Size vs. Stack Size
    If both you and your opponent have big stacks, be very careful about playing your solid pair hard. It's ok to play for all the marbles when you're playing short-stacked poker, but deep stack poker prefers big hands such as straights, flushes and boats.

    When an opponent raises you and you've got a lot of money behind, it's best to interpret the aggression as a legitimate sign of strength.

    On the other hand, if your opponent check-raises you with his large stack versus your small stack, don't be afraid to go for the quick double-up.

    One last thing: if you're going to play back at an opponent who's raised your flop bet, don't be afraid to push all-in if the pot size and betting size has grown large enough to warrant it. For example, if you bet $5 into a $7 pot and you are re-raised to $15, you should push if your stack is $50 or less or fold. The decision to play for your whole stack on this hand has been made by your opponent's $15 raise: it's up to you to step up or step out.

When I started this post, I thought it'd be easy to break down the different factors affecting my decision to raise, push, call, or fold a big pair when faced with an opponent's bet or raise on the flop. Unfortunately, that's not the case: there are a lot of things to consider.

For example, I lost a big pot the other night and here's how it went.

$50 NL, 10-handed @ Pokes Poker.

I picked up AA in the BB. I'd stolen a number of pots recently so I raised to $3 after the fishy player in MP limped into the pot, along with the aggressive button player. Although I was hoping for a possible raise on the part of the aggressive button player, I had to content myself that both he and the MP called.

Three of us saw the flop: 9c 4h 4c.

Although I'd c-bet a number of times over the course of the evening, I didn't like the fact that the flop had two clubs. I knew that if I bet out, the MP would most likely call (he liked to do that), and this would give the button a number of choices with the hand.

I decided that if I were to check, the button would most likely try to take the initiative in the hand and make a large bet. At that point, I would check-raise and collect a nice-sized pot.

I checked and the fishy MP bet out. Given the MP's play as of late, I put him on a possible pocket pair or a 9x hand. Although a 4x hand was possible, fishy players rarely bet when they flop trips.

I was expecting a raise from the button and he didn't disappoint: he raised the MP's $2 bet to $17! The action was back to me and here's what I was thinking:

  • After the huge raise on the button's part, the pot was sitting at about $28.

  • I had $45 left in my stack, MP had $15, and the button had $50. My options were to fold (ie. the safe "don't go broke with top pair thinking") or to push. Anything less than a push won't get my opponent to fold and any raise of less than my entire stack leaves me pot committed anyway.

  • Given the texture of the board and the fact that the button had limped pre-flop, I put him on two suited cards, a 9x type hand, or an A4s. The big raise had me leaning more towards the A9, J9, T9, or 98.
In the end, I figured that there were a lot of hands that I could beat given the current action and decided to push. The button showed 99 and I missed my two outs on both the turn and the river.

I made two mistakes in my analyis that resulted in my stacking:

  1. I hadn't been playing loose or aggressive at any point and the button still chose to make a bold raise knowing I could act behind him.

  2. The button made a huge raise knowing that I had a big enough stack to call his raise or to re-raise him all in
Even though I ignored these two factors in my decision, I went with my gut on this one and ended up choosing poorly. For now, all I can do is work on my poker skills, continue to develop my instincts, and work towards being able to trust my gut when it comes to pushing or folding my TPTK hand with confidence.

Admittedly, that's a pretty big goal, but I've got time and the bankroll to do it.

Keep reading "Going broke with TPTK"

Suck my balls, Mr. Garrison...

I'm back from the long weekend and I'm pissed off. Although it was a great weekend from a relaxing, spending-time-with-the-wife point of view, poker made me it's bitch this weekend.

How bad was it? When I got into work this morning, I started looking into buying a home entertainment system and an Xbox 360. If you've read any of my stuff over the past ten months, you'll notice that things have got to run pretty bad for me to look into giving up poker for video games.

For those of you who take pleasure in the pitfalls of others at the poker tables, this post should be fairly satisfying.

Until last Friday, my poker game had been rolling along quite nicely. Not only was I doing well at NL hold'em, I'd been holding my own at triple draw (my newest flavour of the month) and blackjack. But Friday night...Friday night, it all came apart.

First it was blackjack. Blackjack has been my bread and butter for about three months: a simple set of rules and low wagering requirements meant easy money. Unfortunately, both William Hill Casino and Littlewoods Casino decided that I was to lose money this month.

Starting at William Hill, I transferred $40 into my casino account and got the $40 monthly bonus added to my account immediately. In the space of one hour, I dropped from $80 down to $16. Terrible...

At Littlewoods, I started with £66. It only took me 45 minutes to drop down to £23. Although I got my £25 bonus to put me up to £48, I still had a rough go of it (actually, I may have mistakenly cleared the bonus twice - I'm an idiot).

I'll be the first to admit that I got a little greedy. Instead of betting one hand at the minimum bet allowed, I was playing two hands at the minimum bet allowed. Not a big change, but big enough to royally screw me over, I guess. I'd say I got unlucky, but I'm not going to complain about that when it comes to blackjack: losing is part of the game.

However, it does bother me when the bad luck carries over to poker.

I played three sessions of poker this weekend: one on Friday night, another yesterday afternoon, and one last session yesterday evening. All three sessions left me wondering what was wrong with my game.

While drinking on Friday night, I played some SHNL at InterPoker while Marl, Mr. V. and my wife looked on. Although I managed to post a winning session ($0.77 to be exact), it was a rough ride. At my lowest point, I was down two buy-ins. However, I kept playing because I felt that my results did not reflect my play. I was getting unlucky, plain and simple.

After finishing up at the SHNL tables, I hit up Ultimate Bet for a little triple draw. Unfortunately, my poor luck continued and I dropped $20 in the space of 45 minutes. The bulk of my losses came when I played some solid one card draws and kept pairing up on each street. There is nothing more annoying then drawing one card with a 2-3-4-7 and constantly hitting 2s, 3s, 4s, and 7s and then losing to your opponent's K high at the showdown.

Oh well, that's triple draw. I'm sure I tilted a little bit after missing my draws on four straight hands. Luckily, I was only playing $0.50/$1 blinds.

I spent the next couple days working at the house, watching some movies with my wife, and spending some time with family.

Yesterday, I felt ready to tackle the tables again. That was a big mistake, hindsight and all...

Yesterday afternoon, I played for about one and a half hours at Full Tilt and InterPoker's $25 SHNL tables. I dropped two buy-ins. One buy-in was dropped when I pushed with my KQo in a head's up pot with the board showing Q 4 4. Unfortunately, my LAGgy friend had limped in the CO then called my pre-flop raise with an 84o. Touché, my clever little friend.

In my defense, I was definitely on tilt after losing 3/4 of a buy-in two hands prior. I'd put my opponent all in on the turn with my top set and he called with his gutshot draw and hit on the river. Am I right to start tilting here or was that a little premature?

Anyway, I left the SHNL table to give the $50 NL full-ring tables a try: I dropped $7 in 45 minutes at Pokes Poker.

At that point, I shut down the laptop and took a little break. Although I told myself that I'd stay away for the rest of the day, I decided to tempt fate by playing again last night.

First up, InterPoker's $25 SHNL tables. One hour at the tables and another buy-in lost. Damn...

Finally, I decided to try Full Tilt's $50 NL full-ring tables. Although I hadn't had any luck at these tables in the past, I was hoping that I'd be better able to handle myself given the vast improvement in my play over the past few months.

Well, I was wrong. I dropped just under two buy-ins in the space of an hour.

In one hand, I got rivered by a gut-shot straight, losing about $40 in the process. In a second hand, I lost a full buy-in with AA vs. my opponent's flopped full house (flop came down 9 4 4 and my opponent had pocket nines). I know you're not supposed to go broke with an overpair or TPTK, but you can't fold against an aggressive opponent either, can you?

That's it for my rant. I got unlucky at times this weekend, I played poorly at other times. It'll turn around eventually: if not, look for my post describing my new Xbox 360.

If thing do turn around, I may be in the market for a new laptop. The purchase would be completely frivolous and would therefore need to come out of my bankroll. I'm looking for a laptop that comes with a 17" WUXGA screen: a 17-inch LCD screen that sports a 1920x1200 resolution. I'd be able to four-table anywhere and anytime.

See ya!

Keep reading "Suck my balls, Mr. Garrison..."