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Stars, Reloads, and Weekend Poker

[UPDATE: PokerStars Bonus]

I took a night off from the tables last night. My intention was to spend time relaxing with my wife. Unfortunately, my youngest son is still not ready to give my wife and I time to ourselves. I was exhausted, my wife was exhausted, and my son was wide awake and full of piss and vinegar. I'm looking forward to the day when my wife and I will be able to celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, and the Hallmark holidays - Valentine's Day, Mother's Day, and Father's Day - appropriately.

Luckily I still have some poker-related stuff to talk about today.

First off, I rely on BonusWhores.com to fill me in on any good reload bonuses available. Today I noticed that there's mention of a reload bonus at PokerStars for 20% up to $120 in BW's RSS feed. My only problem is that I can't verify this directly at the moment (damn firewall) and I don't see any mention of this anywhere else on the Internet.

If the bonus is real and not just some old news dumped into BW's RSS feed, I'll definitely be partaking of this new (and stackable) bonus. I have my $120 bonus at Stars pretty well cleared and it'd be nice to add another $120 to the mix. I hate the fact that Stars doesn't offer any rakeback but they do offer the best NLHE cash games that I've seen in a while. FPPs are nice but they don't pay the bills. Things do get better if I can hit the GoldStar VIP membership level though.

Bonus or not, I plan on hitting up Stars this weekend. I'm still trying to figure out the $1/$2 NLHE games. I think there are many times when I give my opponents too much credit for a hand and other times when I grossly undervalue my opponents' possible holdings. I'm sure I'll figure out the ebb and tide of these games soon and start climbing quickly towards the $2/$4 NLHE tables.

In the meantime, I'll leave you with a hand that shows me successfully overbetting for value on the river. This was one of the first hands that I played at the $1/$2 tables. I got a big confidence boost from this hand. It helped pave the way to a great first session and helped me believe that I could hack it in the $200 buy-in games.

PokerStars, $1/$2 NL Hold'em Cash Game, 4 Players
LeggoPoker.com - Hand History Converter

SB: $205.35
BB: $457.05
Villain (UTG): $656.30
Hero (BTN): $100

Pre-Flop: T J dealt to Hero (BTN)
Villain calls $2, Hero calls $2, SB folds, BB checks

(I'd just sat down and didn't have any solid reads on the players I was up against at this table. I could have raised on the button here. Generally it's something I'd do at the lower stakes but this was only the third hand I'd played at $200 NL. No reads on the players and out of my element, I hoped to see a cheap flop in position.)

Flop: ($7) 4 T Q (3 Players)
BB checks, Villain bets $8, Hero raises to $20, BB calls $20, Villain calls $12

(With a pair and flush draw, I'm looking to get all my money into the pot quickly. I was hoping that my raise to $20 and the subsequent call by the BB might induce a push by the Villain holding a hand like top pair, a straight draw, or even a (hopefully not) set. When he calls, I plan to check through on the turn unless I hit my draw or hit trip tens.)

Turn: ($67) 4 (3 Players)
BB checks, Villain checks, Hero checks

(The board pairs and makes it quite unlikely that I'm up against any big hands. I have a ten in my hand which makes it unlikely that either opponent holds a ten. And I'm sure that someone would have raised QQ pre-flop. Still, I'm not sure if I'm ahead or behind here so I decide to take the free card that I bought for myself on the flop. I have showdown value right now with second pair and could pick off a river-bluff if the diamond draw doesn't come in.)

River: ($67) T (3 Players)
BB checks, Villain checks, Hero bets $78 and is All-In, BB folds, Villain calls $78

(Sweet! I missed my flush but hit trips tens on the river. Backing into trips means that I could easily get a call if I overbet for value. I jammed all-in. I expected the BB to fold and I was hoping that the Villain had a hand like KQ or QJ and would think I was bluffing with a busted flush draw. The Villain insta-called.)

Results: $223 Pot ($2 Rake)
Villain mucked 7 Q and LOST (-$100 NET)
Hero showed T J (a full house, Tens full of Fours) and WON $221 (+$121 NET)

I've made calls similar to the Villain's in my time at the NLHE tables. In fact, I made one the other night with my very own Q7.

But the real question is: would I have played this hand the same way as the Villain? The answer is no. I would have either folded or raised Q7 pre-flop. And I would have probably folded on the flop after a button raise and an overcall by the BB.

This weekend will be all about growing my bankroll and growing as a poker player. I'll be back on Monday to let you know which of these predominated my weekend sessions at PokerStars.


PokerStars Bonus Update:

Looks like I was only partly right about the Stars bonus. There is a PokerStars bonus available right now; however, the terms and conditions preclude me from cashing in:
Poker Stars is offering a 50% up to $50. Bonus is only available on your first eCheck deposit during promotion period and is only for Americans. Use bonus code echecks2007 Must earn 15 base FPPs for each $1 in bonus money. Valid until December 17th at 11:59 PM ET Bonus released in one lump sum Bonus expires after 90 Days
-Source: BonusWhores.com

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