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I played a little more PLO the other night and my results were pretty standard. I only played for about an hour, got all my money in as a slim favourite against a short-stack, and lost. We both played the hand in standard fashion so there's no one to blame and no complaining to do. I'm still pleased to see that I've earned quite a few Sklansky Bucks in my first 400 hands at the $50 PLO tables. If I can keep making good decisions, I'll start to win some money eventually. Thankfully, I have rakeback to tied me over until I'm playing profitable poker again!

I ended up playing a pretty big pot when I found myself getting all-in pre-flop against a somewhat loose and donkey-ish player. I had AAQ9 and he held AAJ5: he missed his flush draws, I missed mine, and we ended up splitting $0.90 after the rake was taken out of the pot. If I'd been allowed to use three cards from my hand, I would've won the hand with aces up.

I'm going to continue watching PLO videos and working on my positional play, pre-flop raising standards, and playing in raised and re-raised pots. I think the key to playing winning PLO at the micro-stakes is to play good hands in position and seizing hand initiative pre-flop when possible.

I tried to raise a little more last night and things almost worked well. I ended up running into a number of calling stations at my tables which greatly reduced my post-flop expectation when missing flops. But I still think I played well enough and look forward to improving my game further in the coming weeks.

My plans for the weekend include playing 3-4 hours of PLO, playing a little Far Cry 2 on my Xbox 360, watching a movie or two with my wife, playing with my kids, sleeping, drinking, and relaxing.

My wife and I will also continue to look into bedroom furniture and HDTVs. We're looking to upgrade our bedroom from a simple playroom for our kids to an adult bedroom complete with HDTV, Blu-ray (PS3?), and other amenities and features appealing both to the adult male and female of my household. My wife is looking into the furniture and decorating aspects of the room. And I'm looking into picking up a reasonably priced LCD or plasma TV and, depending on price, an inconspicous speaker system. I was under the impression that prices would be good now given that we're in a recession but that doesn't seem to be the case.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Keep reading "Weekend!"

PLO champ? Not yet...

I played some pot-limit Omaha last night at Full Tilt's $0.25/$0.50 tables. Although I had no reason to worry, I always get a little nervous when stepping up a limit. My initial and irrational fears were completely unfounded. Many of the players at the $50 tables were either playing too loose and either too aggressively or too passively.

I had a slight losing session, of course. This is usually the case when I deem myself to have an insurmountable edge over my competition. According to PokerEV, I was well ahead in Sklansky Bucks for the night despite ended up down 10 BB overall. I'll take the theoretical victory in this instance. Pot-limit Omaha is a game where short-term results are not really indicative of overall performance. If you can consistently get all your money into the pot in +EV situations over the course of your session, you'll stand to win in the long run.

I don't have any hand histories today. I didn't win or lose any big pots over the course of my session. My session was punctuated by the following hands:

  • I made a lose call against a pre-flop 3-bet with A♣ Q♥ J♥ 6♣. I'd raised first-in on the button and got 3-bet by a somewhat aggressive SB. I folded my naked flush draw to SB's pot-sized bet on a T♣ 7♣ 7♥ flop. Pretty standard, I think.
  • I flopped middle set in the SB in a four-way pot (my 6553 vs. a T♥ 5♠ 2♣ flop). The BB, a new player to the table and complete unknown, raised pot. I called the extra $6 after it folded back to me. I'm not sure why I called given that I check-folded the turn when a relatively safe 6♦ hit the board. I guess I was hoping that Villain would check through with a draw or marginal holding and only make a big bet with top set.  I folded my set when BB bet pot.  Is this too tight?  I've read about PLO tells me that middle set is not a great holding but I'm probably being too literal in most spots. Maybe I should have led out on the turn and folded to a raise?
  • I flopped top two-pair on a mono-suited T 7 x flop. I bet half-pot and got only one caller (the table's fish). I turned the overfull boat, bet half-pot and got insta-called. On the river, I simply bet pot and got called by the fish's flopped nut flush. I much prefer hands like these over the tricky "play your middle set out-of-position" hands.
That's all for today. I'm going to keep studying and practicing my PLO. I'm hoping to get some better competition in the $50 games and kick up my learning by a notch or two.

Have a good one!


Want to play some pot-limit Omaha at Full Tilt? Be sure to sign up for rakeback with RakeTheRake before you do anything else!

Keep reading "PLO champ? Not yet..."


I'm still not sure if I'm going to play PLO tonight. But after watching a couple PokerSavvy videos last night, I've really got a hankering to hit the tables despite my fatigued state. Seriously - the PokerSavvy pros make PLO look so easy. You've got Mike Matusow killing the mid-to-high stakes 6-max PLO games. And Tom "LearnedFromTV" Chambers handles four $50 PLO tables without breaking a sweat. There's no better aphrodisiac - at least in regards to playing cards as opposed to humping them - than watching another player kill the game.

I'm going to get myself an affiliate link to PokerSavvy and really start promoting the site. Of all the poker training videos that I've seen so far, PokerSavvy's instructors come across and the best and brightest I've seen. Even Mike Matusow knows what he's talking about despite the fact that many of his correct poker decisions are made without thought or hesitation due to the Mouth's huge amount of experience. I like watching Matusow kill the games and provide useful insight into his thought process during a hand. I've yet to witness a "Matusow Blow-Up" but maybe he'll post one such video for comedic value at some point in the future.

PokerSavvy has many poker instructors that I admire and respect. For example, I really feel that both Foucault and IStrong have helped my NLHE game immensely.

Andrew "Foucault" Brokos is an online pro (and fellow blogger) who's had a great deal of success playing high-stakes no-limit hold'em, including a 35th place finish at last year's WSOP Main Event. Foucault's approach to the game and his approach to teaching are quite different than the usual "sweat session" videos that you'll find on other sites. Foucault uses mathematics, logic, and common sense to help guide his viewers through the proper way to play hands and think about easy and difficult situations at the tables. Foucault's videos are as close as you'll come to taking a university-level course in no-limit hold'em.

As for Kaveh "IStrong" Samani, what can I say? Although he's not a full-time instructor at PokerSavvy (yet?), his approach to 6-max and heads up NLHE is refreshing and inspiring. IStrong's "ABCs of Heads Up NLHE" series of videos introduced me to heads up no-limit hold'em and gave me the skills necessary to start immediately beating the low-stakes games.

Of course, PokerSavvy has many instructors that can help you with all forms of poker played at low, mid, or high stakes. Although PokerSavvy has many more NLHE videos than any other form of poker, it's good to see that pot-limit Omaha is growing increasingly popular as well.

Finally, PokerSavvy's site is well-organized and their video section makes finding interesting videos fast and easy. Their videos are available for download and DRM-free. PokerSavvy even offers many videos in MP4 format for your iPod and Zune. There is a download limit of 30 videos per week but that's pretty generous considering how cheap it is to sign on with PokerSavvy. And speaking of cheap, PokerSavvy also offers a free 7-day trial to take a look at their site, download a few videos, and get acquainted with the perks and privileges of being a PokerSavvy Plus member.

PokerSavvy is responsible for my eagerness to play poker this evening. They're also responsible for the confidence that I'll feel when I fire up those tables on Full Tilt and start playing...and winning!

Have a good one!

Keep reading "PokerSavvy"

No Buses, No Sleep

The public transit strike is still going strong up here in Ottawa. My exhaustion levels are reaching new heights as I find myself getting far too little sleep every night. And my youngest boy is waking up all throughout the night screaming his head off. I want to play PLO but I'm finding myself too exhausted to fire up my laptop at night. I really hate it when this happens...

When I started back with poker at the beginning of the month, I was doing so thinking that the bus strike would soon end. As soon as public transit is reinstated in Ottawa, I'll instantly get an extra one-and-a-half to two hours sleep a night. I'll also pick up an extra couple hours of study time a day to read poker books and watch poker training videos.

For now, the situation could not be worse for playing solid poker. I'm not sleeping enough. Work is extremely busy. I get very little time to work on my poker game away from the tables. The situation is really starting to piss me off.

When I do play PLO again, I'm planning on playing the $50 pot-limit games. Even though I've only played 2500 hands at the $0.10/$0.25 tables, I don't think that I have much more to learn there. My opponents are all too happy to draw to their hands and fold on the river if they miss. No one plays aggressively except for the very infrequent uber-LAGs who lose their stacks quickly. I can play tight and peddle the nuts to come away with a profit most times that I sit down. It's easy money but it's not very much money. By jumping up to the next level, I'm hoping that the increased stakes at the $50 tables will help to further spur my interest in pot-limit Omaha and continue to pad my bankroll in a more meaningful way.

Seriously though - am I the only one who has difficulty playing when exhausted? I can usually push through for a couple weeks but after that, I'm done. Until the bus strike ends, I'm kind of at a loss as to what to do. If I play through the pain and fatigue, I stand a greater chance of playing losing poker. And losing poker puts me on tilt. And tilt puts me on hiatus.

Stupid bus strike...

Keep reading "No Buses, No Sleep"

Not this again...

Every New Year, I tend to fall back on my poker hobby as my primary source of compulsive, addictive fun. It's not that I like neglecting video games: poker just offers other perks and benefits (i.e. money). That being said, I'm going to try to find some sort of balance between video games and poker in my life. I've tried to do this many times before and, of course, things have never worked out. I'm a man of extremes, preferring to dive headlong into my endeavours rather than practice moderation in any way, shape, or form.

The simple fact is that both poker and video games represent significant time commitments in my life. To be a great poker player, one must study the game and play as much as possible. The downside to poker is the crippling frustration of wasting an entire evening playing poker with nothing to show for your efforts.

Video games are also a huge time sink - especially games of the role-playing variety. It's very hard for me to justify spending 60 hours playing games like Fallout 3 when I know that I can clear anywhere from $30 - $60 per hour playing poker. Then again, if I don't play video games, why do I need to earn money playing poker?

With an on-going public transit strike going on in my hometown (Ottawa, Canada), my resolve to play poker on a nightly basis is greatly diminished. Frankly, I'm just too damned tired at the end of the day to sit quietly and watch virtual cards fall on virtual felt. My biggest concern is that my current level of exhaustion will result in the loss of significiant sums of money. And so, I have a plan that may keep me sane and happy:

  • If I'm too tired to play poker, I'll play video games.
    Easier said than done but I'll see if I can stick to this. It can be hard to judge my level of fatigue - especially when I'm too tired to think straight.

  • If my current session of poker is not going well, I'll turn off my laptop and fire up my Xbox 360.
    I'm quite good at realizing that I'm not playing well when it comes to poker. I just need to get into the habit of firing up my 360 when things go sour at the poker tables instead of simply shutting everything down and sulking.

  • Follow up an evening of "losing" poker with a fun and stress-free evening of video games.
    I'm not one to chase losses at the poker tables. However, my losing tends to occur in streaks of three or four sessions at a time. I have a problem admitting that I'm not playing my A-game and try to force my way through a stretch of bad poker by playing a lot of suboptimal poker. Following this last "rule" will be extremely difficult for me. I hate losing and constantly feel the need to reassert my dominance at the poker tables at my earliest possible convenience. Sometimes it's better to take a step back, read some poker books, watch an instructional video or two, and partake in an activity that can free my mind and uplift my soul.
As I've mentioned time and time again, I do love video games. I'm especially psyched about the future of video games in terms of story telling, cinematics, and emotional/psychological impact. My biggest problem with video games as a hobby is that I feel selfish taking part in a hobby that provides zero benefit to my family. Poker provides money that I use to help around the house. Video games, on the other hand, act only as a means of escape from the sometimes-demanding realities of life as father and husband.

On the other hand, perhaps there's something to be said about the mental well-being and happiness that result from playing my Xbox 360. If I'm happy and well-adjusted, there have got to be some intangible benefits to my family...right?

I'll see how things work out over the next few months of attempting to balance my two favourite hobbies. If I can somehow continue working towards meeting some of the poker goals that I've set for myself for 2009 while also managing to finish off a game or two every month, I'll be happy.

This post has been cross-posted at both Klopzi's Mediocre Poker and The Greedy Gamer.

Keep reading "Not this again..."

Casino Report

Last Friday evening, a friend and I visited our local casino to play some hold'em. Although I enjoyed giving live poker a shot, it's definitely not something that I'd do regularly. The games were definitely much weaker than what I've grown accustomed to online.  But I was surprised by the broad range of skill on display by my opponents.

At my table alone, I was up against four rocks (all seniors), three Internet wannabe-pros (early/mid twenties), two donkeys (early thirties), and a regular loose cannon (middle-aged French guy who knew everyone working the poker room). Having never played real live poker before, I took my seat (between the two Internet "pros"...yuck) without saying a word, bought into the game, and focused on just watching my opponents and not getting stacked.

Over the next three hours, I remember eight of the hands that I played.  I was surprised by the number of pots that got raised pre-flop. I'd estimate that 70% of pots were raised to roughly 5-10 BB pre-flop. The game just wasn't as passive pre-flop as I'd hoped. Post-flop,  the game was still played somewhat aggressively despite the fact that many of the players would call down with any pair, any draw. I even saw a few sick river cards that put some of my opponents on uber life-tilt. One guy looked like he was going to cry after getting rivered in a $200 pot. WTF?! If you can't stand to lose $100, why are you playing $1/$2 NLHE?

Here's a list of all hands that I remember playing on Friday:

  1. I limp in MP with 86s. Four of us see a flop of Q 5 4 (rainbow) and the flop is checked around. Turn is 9♣, giving me a flush draw to go with my gutshot straight draw. When the action checks to me, I decide to bet $5 into the $8 pot; only the rock sitting two spots to my right calls. The river pairs the 5 on the board and the action is on the rock. I'm a little upset at this point because I'm not very keen on showing down my semi-bluff since this could kill my squeaky-tight table image. I wasn't even sure if a bet on the river would scare off the rock since he called my turn bet and I couldn't see him doing so without at least a pair.

    Before I could do anything, the rock suddenly folded his hand instead of checking. Then he looked over at me and said, "No point in me checking since I know you were going to bet anyway.". Unbelievable...
  2. I picked up AA UTG and made it $8 to go. A Montreal Canadiens fan (donkey) called as did the rock (from hand 1 above) in the SB. Flop came down a fairly ugly 8d 7h 6c. This type of flop is likely to hit my opponents' calling ranges in this spot. I check and donkey bets $15 into the $25 pot. SB folds. I give the Habs fan a look and he's just staring at me. After thinking for a minute, I decide to test the donkey's resolve by check-raising to $50. The SPR for the hand was about 7: not the greatest for stacking off with AA but not too bad. My c/r left me with enough chips to safely fold should the donkey decide to shove over the top of me (not that I was sure whether or not I'd fold to a shove at this point).

    Donkey tanks for a few minutes and finally calls. I put him on a draw (99,55, 98, 65) and decide to shove a safe turn card. I'd seen the donkey make some very questionable turn calls with only draws. Turn is Q♥ and shove for my last $120 into the $125 pot. Now the donkey really tanks and asks me if he should call. I say nothing and wait. I would have been happy with a call or fold. After three minutes, donkey mucks his hand; he tells everyone that he had the 98.
  3. I've got K♣Q♣ on the button. Three limpers to me and I make a small pot-sweetener to $5. Six of us see the flop ($30). Flop comes down A♣ Q♠ 8♣. Everyone checks to me on the button and I bet $25. The regular loose cannon (in BB) decides to c/r my bet to $55 and shoots me a little smirk; all fold to me. After having watched the loose cannon play for a couple hours, I'd noticed that he never, ever bet his strong hands on the flop or turn. He did like to bet his draws and top-pair hands though. After thinking things through, I decided to simply shove, making it $225 total. Everyone at the table sits up and starts buzzing (I was the only player that night to shove prior to seeing all five community cards) and the loose cannon sits back and starts looking me over. He finally decides to let his hand go, claiming that he had paired the Queen.
  4. I also set-mined with 22, 44, and TT, missing the flop with all of these hands.
  5. I played JJ in position against a donkey who came to sit to my right. I took down the $23 pot on an A-high flop with a simple c-bet.
  6. I took down two pots pre-flop by raising the limpers with my AJs and AQs in the BB ($10 and $12 pots, respectively).
Unlike my friend's table, my table was pretty aggressive and somewhat tight due to 50% of the table being rocks (myself included). Over the course of the evening, I didn't show down a single hand. I maintained my stack by taking down a few pots here and there by throwing out some standard bluffs. I also got three-bet a couple times by the French loose-cannon, forcing me to fold my speculative hands that I'd raised from early position out of boredom.

After roughly 75 hands played, I found myself up $100. Not too bad for my first live casino experience. I re-deposited the money back into my bank account, keeping $30 to buy dinner for my family the following evening.

As I said earlier, I found the casino to be somewhat interesting. But I prefer playing online. The games are much tougher online but there's quite a bit to be said about playing from the comfort of your own home. Multi-tabling is also preferable to sitting quietly in one spot and waiting 2-3 minutes for the next hand to be dealt. I also found the experience to be rather lonely as well since I don't speak to strangers and have no desire to make friends with the gamblers, the retirees, or the young punks making up the bulk of the casino's poker players.

I'm sure I'll visit the casino again but it may be a little while.

Have a good one!

Keep reading "Casino Report"

Casino Night!

Tonight's the big night: my first visit to a brick and mortar casino for some real live poker. This is actually only my second visit to a casino (read about my first visit here), even though the casino is only a 30 minute drive from my place. I've heard that the games are pretty soft at the $1/$2 NLHE tables. I should have a fun night regardless of whether I win or not.

I'm bringing a couple buy-ins with me which should be enough for me to test the waters of live poker. I know that I have a ton of poker tells but I'm hoping that most of my opponents won't notice. For example, when I get a big hand, my face turns red and I typically stand up and cheer. I'm thinking of following the same routine on every hand to properly disguise my good holding from my bad holdings. I wonder what casino policy is on incessant and needless cheering for one's self at the tables.

I have been brought up to to speed on how the live poker works at my local casino. When I first arrive, I'll approach a customer service desk (or something along those lines) and request a player's card. I'll then hand over some cash and my card will be loaded up and ready to use at the tables.

With my player's card in hand, I'll use a machine to have my name placed on the waiting list for the $1/$2 games. At that point, I simply need to sit back and wait for my name to flash up on a couple big screens to inform me of a seat waiting for me. Once I find my table and seat, I simply sit down, swipe my card to buy chips using the money on my player's card, and I'm all set to play.  The one sore point that I have regarding this process is that there's a very good chance that my friend and I end up at different tables.  I realize that this is quite normal for live poker.   But when I go out for a night of poker with a friend, it seems silly that I'll likely spend the bulk of my night alone with strangers.

The poker itself is played like online poker. Cards, stack sizes, and pot sizes all appear on either a personal viewing screen or on the communal screen located in the centre of the table. To see my cards, I need only cup my hands over my personal viewing screen to have my cards displayed. All betting, raising, and folding is played out exactly as it is in the online world: hit the appropriate buttons, set bet sizes, and pray that your hand holds up.

As for the game quality, I'm told that the games are loose-passive. Aggressive action should be taken at face value. However, a number of players will typically overvalue pocket pairs (sometimes shoving pre-flop with any pair) and top pair. Of course, gender and racial stereotyping is always a good fallback when in doubt. I'm not racist or sexist but let's be honest: stereotypes are there for a reason. I'll mainly be on the lookout for raises and check-raises since these will typically indicate strength. Other than that, I'm going to stick with playing ABC poker à la online micro-limit poker.

I've also been informed that I was a little off in my criticisms of my local casino. It seems that the casino does allow eating and drinking at the tables. I'm also told that free non-alcoholic beverages are served, as well as candies to help combat boredom and bad breath. I'll likely stick with coffee and pop, though I may have a couple drinks towards the beginning of the evening.

As for dinner this evening, my choices are fairly limited. While downtown Ottawa has many dining choices, I work in a part of town that typically shuts down at 6:00 PM. Those few restaurants that stay open get very crowded resulting in some inconvenient wait times.   Although we could drive a little further to find a restaurant, we'd have to find and pay for parking followed by wandering the frigid streets of downtown Ottawa looking for a place to eat.

The casino does have a few on-site restaurants: an upscale gourmet restaurant, a mid-to-upper scale buffet, and an upscale bistro . Notice the trend?  I hate upscale restaurants: they're overpriced and the food is never worth it.  With my allergies and broad palate, I'm equally happy with fresh Maine lobster as I am with $1.39 McDonald's Junior McChicken sandwich.  

Unlike casinos in other parts of the world, the food is really not cheap at the casino. According to what I've read online, meals typically run about $30 or more. I'm really cheap when it comes to spending money on food; in fact, I've never spent more than $11.99 on an entree for myself. I also refuse to spend more than $7.99 on a burger though I have been known to bend this rule if the burger has bacon and cheese on it and comes with an order of fries (e.g. $8.49 for a bacon cheeseburger with fries is acceptable).

In any case, that's all I can say about my evening for now. I'll have more to say on Monday after experiencing the casino and live poker firsthand. My only goal for tonight is to have fun playing good, smart poker. As for food, drinks, and everything else, whatever happens will happen.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Keep reading "Casino Night!"

Birthday Fun!

I had a pretty good birthday yesterday. I spent the day relaxing (as best I could given that I have two young boys), playing poker, eating, and spending time with my wife and kids. All in all, it was everything that I could have hoped for and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. After the jump, I'd like to discuss food, Sam Farha's book, PLO, and my plans for tomorrow evening.

We all have certain meals that we associate with different special days. For Christmas, it's turkey. For Thanksgiving, turkey. Easter? Turkey...Wait a second? Why the heck am I eating so much turkey every year? I'm not even a huge fan of poultry and here I am gorging myself on the stuff on every single special occasion.

Thankfully, my birthday is all about me. And I can tell you that turkey does not ever make an appearance. Instead, my wife makes me a huge dish of lasagna. This is not the normal shit lasagna that 99% of the world makes with their bland tomatoey sauce and wet noodles. To put in frankly, my wife's lasagna is better than your wife's lasagna so suck it! The dish itself take about 8-12 hours of prep work and 3 hours of very specialized cooking. The end result is a one f*ckign amazing dish of lasagna. I gain about 5 pounds a year eating it and it's well worth it!

As for my special birthday dessert, my wife knows me all too well. "Birthday cake" is typically shit. Let's be honest: sponge cakes with icing are among the most boring and tasteless of desserts. When you're five years old, it's fine to get a spongy piece of shit covered in pounds of too-sweet icing or oily butter cream icing. But when you reach my age, there's no call for having to put up with that crap. 

For my birthday dessert, my wife typically makes special brownies containing any number of ingredients (and not the "special" ingredient that you're thinking, hippie) including such fan favourites as Reese peanut butter cups. Last night, my wife outdid herself yet again with a Peanut Butter Pie. Imagine a cheesecake permeated by the intense and unbelievably rich taste of peanut butter. Now cover the thing with a couple pounds of Reese Peanut Butter Cups and serve it all on a semi-sweet graham cracker crust. And that is what I call an awesome birthday dessert! I had another piece of the pie for breakfast this morning. If I listen closely, I'm sure that I can hear myself getting fatter!

Besides lasagna and peanut butter pie, I also ate a half-pound of Swiss cheese served on a couple cheddar cheese buns dripping with grease. Diet starts up again on Sunday! In the meantime, I'll see if I can pick up the latest strain of the stomach flu to help thing move along a little more quickly.

I'm currently reading Farha on Omaha. My books all arrived in the mail on Tuesday - less than 24 hours after I ordered them from Amazon! For those who don't know, Amazon is the best and cheapest way to buy books!

Farha's book seems pretty standard and uninteresting. Most disappointing is the minimal content for pot-limit Omaha. There are three sections in the book: limit Omaha, Omaha/8, and pot-limit Omaha. Does anyone even play limit Omaha? As for the PLO stuff, Farha's advice seems pretty standard and intuitive thus far. I think Farha's advice boils down to the following points:
  • Always come in raising so that your opponents can't put you on hands.
  • If you get three-bet, your opponent usually has aces and you'll have a better chance of outplaying him/her after the flop.
  • Look for good spots to bluff (not applicable when playing against micro-limit donkeys).
  • Build pots with your good hands (ie. AAxx, KKQQ, AKQJ, etc.) and don't be afraid to build pots with your "gambling" hands (ie. rundown hands such as 9876, 8764, etc.).
  • Omaha, especially pot-limit Omaha, is the future of poker.
Don't get me wrong: Farha's advice is sound. But it's also pretty straightforward and basic. I haven't seen any hand examples yet but I'm hoping that Farha threw some in to better explain some of the points he brings up.

I haven't finished reading Farha on Omaha so I'm not sure if the book is worth the $13 price tag. But for $13, you can't really go wrong!

One of the birthday presents that my wife gave me yesterday was a invitation to go play poker at my local casino. She arranged for me and Mr. V. to hit the casino tomorrow night for some live no-limit hold'em. I haven't been to the casino to play hold'em yet and I've never played live cash game poker (excluding playing for pennies with friends).

I'm really looking forward to the experience. The local casino does not use chips and cards; instead, the game is played via computer screens embedded in a poker table. I've been told that the level of play is pretty random though obviously a little weaker than what I'd find online. I'll be playing the $1/$2 game which is the lowest stakes game available.

The only downside to the experience is that:
  1. The casino does not offer comps of any kind.
  2. The casino does not permit eating or drinking of any kind at the table.
  3. The casino is located 5 minutes away from downtown Ottawa on the Quebec side of the Ontario/Quebec border. Much of the table talk will likely take place in French which is a little annoying; however, I speak French fluently so I can't really complain.
I'm going to get Mr. V to brief me on how the whole casino process works. Hopefully I'll be up to speed and ready to play come tomorrow night.

One last concern with casino play is that the games are all played 10-handed. I haven't played no-limit hold'em regularly since the Fall. And I haven't played full-ring no-limit hold'em for two years or more. Here's hoping that I don't LAG it up and get stacked by your typical casino nits.

Here are some gross PLO hands that I played yesterday. I'm trying to force myself to give my opponents bets a little credit, especially on the river when there are no further cards to come and my EV is either one or zero.

Full Tilt Poker $0.10/$0.25 Pot Limit Omaha Hi - 5 players
The Official DeucesCracked.com Hand History Converter

SB: $42.10
Hero (BB): $25.50
UTG: $23.80
CO: $9.05
BTN: $31.25

Pre Flop: ($0.35) Hero is BB with 99 of clubs 99 of spades AA of clubs 33 of hearts
1 fold, CO calls $0.25, BTN calls $0.25, 1 fold, Hero checks

(Not a bad hand to play in position. I'm sure this will be a raising hand once I'm more comfortable with PLO; for now, I'll play the hand like a fish and limp.)

Flop: ($0.85) 88 of clubs 33 of spades 99 of diamonds (3 players)
Hero bets $0.85, CO folds, BTN calls $0.85

(I'm out of position and flop top set so I bet pot. There are no flush draws so I'm going to hope that no cards in the 5-J range fall on the turn.)

Turn: ($2.55) TT of hearts (2 players)
Hero bets $2.55, BTN calls $2.55

(Since I'd bet my strong draws on the flop, I decide to fire a second barrel at the pot. I was going to fold to a button raise but he just smooth-called. I'm not going to put any more money into this pot unless I improve.)

River: ($7.65) 66 of spades (2 players)
Hero checks, BTN bets $3, Hero folds

(Another terrible card for me on the river. I might have called BTN's half-pot bet had a blank hit. As played, I think I have to fold given that I've shown a lot of strength in the hand and BTN is still willing to bet the river after I check. Is this a terrible line to follow or is this a standard play?)

Final Pot: $7.65
BTN wins $7.30
(Rake: $0.35)

Full Tilt Poker $0.10/$0.25 Pot Limit Omaha Hi - 6 players
The Official DeucesCracked.com Hand History Converter

Hero (MP): $28.25
CO: $50.00
BTN: $45.90
SB: $28.60
BB: $37.00
UTG: $14.85

CO posts a big blind ($0.25)

Pre Flop: ($0.60) Hero is MP with 77 of hearts 99 of hearts 66 of clubs TT of hearts
1 fold, Hero raises to $1.10, CO calls $0.85, 3 folds

(Pretty good hand that I don't mind raising with to help mask those times that I raise with AA...not that anyone playing $25 PLO is actually paying attention to these things. CO had been sitting out the whole time that I'd been at the table and decided to call my raise in position.)

Flop: ($2.55) 88 of spades TT of diamonds QQ of spades (2 players)
Hero bets $2.55, CO raises to $5.10, Hero folds

(I'm hoping that a c-bet with take this down. If called, I have outs. When CO raises, I think I have to fold given that I know absolutely nothing about my opponent.)

Final Pot: $7.65
CO wins $7.30
(Rake: $0.35)

Full Tilt Poker $0.10/$0.25 Pot Limit Omaha Hi - 5 players
The Official DeucesCracked.com Hand History Converter

SB: $15.80
BB: $37.60
UTG: $25.00
CO: $35.20
Hero (BTN): $25.00

Pre Flop: ($0.35) Hero is BTN with AA of clubs AA of spades 88 of spades QQ of clubs
1 fold, CO calls $0.25, Hero raises to $1, SB calls $0.90, 1 fold, CO calls $0.75

(Although I like seeing double-suited aces, I'm really unimpressed by AAxx type hands in PLO. I never know how strongly to play them and always seem to lose to straights, flushes, or garbage two-pair hands.)

Flop: ($3.25) 66 of spades 33 of clubs 99 of hearts (3 players)
SB checks, CO checks, Hero bets $3.25, SB calls $3.25, CO folds

(Pretty dry flop so I c-bet. SB, a pretty passive and somewhat loose player, calls. He'd typically folded to my c-bets in other pots we'd played.)

Turn: ($9.75) 55 of diamonds (2 players)
SB checks, Hero checks

(Given the flop texture, Villain usually has a draw, a set, or two-pair. I don't really like my hand all that much anymore since I've only got my one pair and only two outs to the set. Maybe a better player fires again in this spot and commits to the pot with an overpair.)

River: ($9.75) KK of hearts (2 players)
SB bets $9.75, Hero folds

(This is a big bet from a passive player. I don't think that my show of weakness on the turn helped SB make this play. I think my hand is pretty transparent in this spot and I don't think there's any way that I'm ahead on the river. I choose to fold even though the NLHE in me tells me that I'm folding the best hand. However, I'd be surprised if Villain shows anything worse than two pair in this spot.  My guess is that he was holding 78xx and hoping that I'd bet the turn.)

Final Pot: $9.75
SB wins $9.30
(Rake: $0.45)

I've got another 2000 hands to play before I jump up to the $50 PLO games. I've been watching some videos from DeucesCracked and PokerSavvy to speed up the PLO learning process. So far, so good.
Have a good one!

Keep reading "Birthday Fun!"

More Spending, More Cake, More Poker

I know I said I wasn't going to post today but I couldn't help it. It's my birthday and if I want to post, I'll post. I just wanted to show you a couple winning PLO hands that I had the other night. Of course, that's not to say that these hands are well-played. I always invite helpful criticism and advice on my play. In addition to some PLO discussion, I also made a couple impulse purchases to help in my quest to dominate the online poker world.

Let's start off with my recent purchases. If you're like me (old and spend too much time using computers), you've not doubt felt that tingling in your fingers after some late night online poker sessions. I've tried to remedy this situation in a couple different ways:

  1. I bought some fancy wrist-guards to help keep my carpal tunnel at bay. This solution doesn't really work for me because the wrist-guards smell strongly of chemicals, I find it hard drink pop/beer with the wrist guards on, and I feel claustrophobic wearing them.
  2. I bought a special mouse that I could hold in one hand. The mouse cursor could be moved using a tiny plastic ball housed in the mouse that I could manipulate using my thumb. Unfortunately, the shoddy design of the mouse and table-less design made the whole experience frustrating and ultimately unsatisfying. Had the mouse been constructed of good quality metal or hard plastics and come with a hand-strap and an optical trackball, I would have probably loved it.
My newest approach to reducing the strain of online poker on my wrists is the use of a Logitech Marble Mouse. A stationary mouse is quite good at reducing wrist and shoulder strain. And the optical trackball means less cleaning and more precise on-screen control of the mouse cursor. I went with a cheap finger-controlled (as opposed to thumb-controlled) trackball mouse because I first need to determine if I can successfully use a trackball for multi-tabling. I'm told that finger-controlled trackballs take a little getting used to but are awesome once you hit the groove. The mouse has four programmable buttons that could be used to aid cursor navigation.

I made a second birthday purchase and picked up a high gain antenna for my wireless router. Although I rarely lose my internet connection, there are times when my connection quality drops down to one or two bars. There's nothing more frustrating than realizing that I'm lagging while gambling away my free time. I'm hoping that the high gain antenna will keep me at 4 or 5 bars no matter where I play in my house (and perhaps the backyard in the summer months).

And now onto the shame and glory of my recent pot-limit Omaha play.

Full Tilt Poker $0.10/$0.25 Pot Limit Omaha Hi - 6 players
The Official DeucesCracked.com Hand History Converter

BB: $32.65
UTG: $33.95
MP: $24.65
CO: $27.90
Hero (BTN): $27.50
SB: $3.40

Pre Flop: ($0.45) Hero is BTN with JJ of diamonds 88 of spades 66 of hearts TT of diamonds
UTG calls $0.10, 1 fold, CO raises to $0.70, Hero calls $0.70, 2 folds, UTG calls $0.60

(CO is a little LAG. I've got a hand that plays well in position.)
Flop: ($2.45) KK of diamonds QQ of diamonds 44 of hearts (3 players)
UTG bets $0.75, CO folds, Hero raises to $4.80, UTG calls $4.05

(I don't have any solid reads on UTG. That being said, I've got 15 outs and I'd like to get all the money in...right?)
Turn: ($12.05) 33 of hearts (2 players)
UTG bets $12.15, Hero raises to $22 all in, UTG calls $9.85

(Hmmm. UTG is either on a combo draw like me or holding a draw with a pair or set. I'm getting 2:1 on a call with about $10 behind. I decide to jam hoping that I have some sort of fold equity; I'm mainly thinking "I've got a huge draw" and doing some level 0 thinking. Villain insta-calls and shows top set. I'm about a 2.5:1 dog.)
River: ($56.05) 99 of spades (2 players - 1 is all in)

Final Pot: $56.05
UTG shows KK of spades AA of hearts JJ of hearts KK of hearts (three of a kind, Kings)
Hero shows JJ of diamonds 88 of spades 66 of hearts TT of diamonds (a straight, King high)
Hero wins $53.35
(Rake: $2.70)

Full Tilt Poker $0.10/$0.25 Pot Limit Omaha Hi - 6 players
The Official DeucesCracked.com Hand History Converter

CO: $25.00
BTN: $6.00
SB: $17.25
BB: $28.90
Hero (UTG): $25.00
MP: $61.65

Pre Flop: ($0.35) Hero is UTG with QQ of clubs JJ of diamonds AA of hearts KK of clubs
Hero raises to $0.85, 2 folds, BTN calls $0.85, 1 fold, BB calls $0.60

(Good PLO hand so I raise. Button is a little loose.)
Flop: ($2.65) TT of spades KK of hearts JJ of hearts (3 players)
BB checks, Hero bets $2.65, BTN folds, BB calls $2.65

(I flop the nuts and pot it. I think the safe PLO play in this spot is to check/call a bet from the button and check/fold a bet/raise from Button/BB. PLO is weird...)

Turn: ($7.95) 44 of diamonds (2 players)
BB checks, Hero bets $7.95, BB raises to $25.40 all in, Hero calls $13.55 all in

(With only one street to go, I decide to get all the money in. Hopefully the Button doesn't have the same straight as me with a flush redraws. When the Button shows his hand, he's got the sucker straight with a redraw to the heart flush. I just need to dodge nine outs...)

River: ($50.95) QQ of diamonds (2 players - 2 are all in)


Final Pot: $50.95
BB shows 99 of spades 99 of hearts 22 of hearts QQ of hearts (a straight, King high)
Hero shows QQ of clubs JJ of diamonds AA of hearts KK of clubs (a straight, Ace high)
Hero wins $48.45
(Rake: $2.50)

Have a good one! I'm off to play some PLO, relax, eat some birthday cake, then watch a movie or two with my wife.

Keep reading "More Spending, More Cake, More Poker"