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Oops!

Although I was going to play at PokerStars in August, I've changed my mind. Have any of you had the chance to check out Full Tilt's new software? Full Tilt finally has a game selection filter! Hallelujah! It only took five years but it's finally here and it works wonderfully! In fact, I think that Full Tilt definitely went above and beyond with their new software update. They've gone with a widget concept for their lobby software that allows users to customize what, where, and how much information they'd like to have at their fingertips.

And on top of the great new software, Full Tilt is also offering an easy-to-clear bonus! And that's why Full Tilt has secured my business for August (and years to come, obviously).

The only issue that I had with the new software last night had to do with the random number generator. Over the past four years, I've managed to hit sets roughly 1 out of every 16 pocket pairs that I pick up. And unfortunately, 70% of my sets seem to come when I pick up Aces or Kings in blind versus blind battles. It's not fun crushing the deck when there's no chance of getting paid off. Last night, I picked up pocket fives in the small blind. I hit a set on a mono-suited board and managed to get it all in with the "fishy" player at the table. And here's what happened...

Full Tilt Poker $0.25/$0.50 No Limit Hold'em - 3 players - View hand 212676
The Official DeucesCracked.com Hand History Converter

BTN: $94.10
Hero (SB): $79.65
BB: $80.95

Pre Flop: ($0.75) Hero is SB with 55 of diamonds 55 of spades
BTN calls $0.50, Hero calls $0.25, BB raises to $3, BTN calls $2.50, Hero calls $2.50

(BTN is 60/16/2.4 and he was the weak spot at the table. I'd been picking on him the whole session.)

Flop: ($9.00) 55 of clubs 22 of clubs 77 of clubs (3 players)
Hero checks, BB bets $5.50, BTN calls $5.50, Hero raises to $40, BB folds, BTN raises to $74.50, Hero raises to $76.65 all in, BTN calls $2.15

(I made a big check-raise here. I wasn't too worried about BB in this spot since I had no reason to think that he'd flopped a monster. I was focused on getting as much money into the pot and hoping that the BTN would make a mistake and call. I believed that the BTN was the type of player that would call me with worse in this spot (e.g. flush draw, pair + flush, straigth+flush draw, etc.).

When the Villain raised, I was sure he had either the made flush or a flush draw+ type of hand. I needed to call about roughly $40 to win $120. My large flop check-raise priced me in to make the call in this spot. Given that I was planning on shoving the turn had the Villain simply called my check-raise, I couldn't back down now. Still a bit of a gross spot playing for 150 BB stacks in a spot where I'm almost certain to be behind.

Villain snap called my shove and showed TT of clubs KK of clubs. The race was on...)


Turn: ($167.80) 66 of diamonds (2 players - 1 is all in)

River: ($167.80) TT of spades (2 players - 1 is all in)

Final Pot: $167.80
BTN shows TT of clubs KK of clubs (a flush, King high)
Hero shows 55 of diamonds 55 of spades (three of a kind, Fives)
BTN wins $166.80
(Rake: $1.00)

Despite losing that one big hand, I was pretty happy with my play over my session last night. The only other sore spot occurred on another table where a 60/10 calling station sitting to my left managed to value-bet me relentlessly. He also snap-called a couple river bluffs on my part. I'd failed to read him as a calling station until it was too late. Silly me...

I'll be playing at Full Tilt this weekend. I've got a bonus to clear, new software to play around with, and a new mouse to break-in.

Have a great weekend!

Keep reading "Oops!"

Of Mice and Men

I got my new keypad yesterday and my new mouse is waiting to be tested. I wonder if the new mouse will have any positive effects on my win rate? Probably not but I can dream, right? I tested out the new keypad while playing at Full Tilt last night and I think I may have wasted my money. My laptop keyboard has its own keypad so I'm not sure why I bought a separate number pad in the first place. I wonder if I was planning on using the keypad in my left hand...? I'll give that a shot tonight to see how well that works out.

My session last night was average. Nothing much happened at my tables. I made one bad play when I felt that I'd under-represented my hand and was forced to call down my out-of-position opponent. But a friend pointed out that my turn raise adequately described my hand strenght to my opponent. A slightly fishy river call for 20% of my stack soon followed.

I also made a solid (in my opinion) 3-bet/squeeze play from the big blind against a loose button raiser and somewhat laggy player in the small blind. Unfortunately, the button 4-bet shoved forcing me to fold my hand. I seriously love 3-betting. I do it so often that my poker buddy's starting to wonder if I ever lay down a hand - especially when I find myself on the button. Short answer: no. Long answer: noooooooooooo!

Another interesting point brought up by my studious poker buddy. It seems that there is a much bigger leap in difficulty when moving from the $50 to $100 NLHE as opposed to $100 to $200 NLHE. If that's the case, what am I waiting for? 3,800 more hands at $50 NLHE and 17,500 more hands at $100 NLHE, if you must know.

Poker's awesome! Have a good one!

Keep reading "Of Mice and Men"

I can make how much?

I decided to not play any poker last night. The kids got to bed late, my wife and I watched a movie, and then it was too late to fire up any tables. No sweat though. I'm planning on hitting up the tables for a bit tonight. No epic sessions: just a few tables of the micro-stakes stuff and then maybe a bit of time playing some games on my PS3. I'm all about the balance now...

A friend of mine sent me a list of the top players' win rates at $1/$2 NLHE. The list is a year old but still significant enough in my mind. It looks like the top 1% of players pulled in about 9 BB/100 (or 4.5 PTBB/100) over sample sizes of 75,000 hands or more. Throw in some rakeback and $1/$2 NLHE seems like a pretty profitable game.

Of course, please note that I said the top 1% of players at $1/$2. I'd suspect a good player might be able to earn somewhere in the 3-6 BB/100 range ($6-$12/100). That's not too bad and seems fairly reasonable for your non-professional poker hobbyist. I wouldn't mind pulling in an extra $300 - $600 plus rakeback every month for what amounts to a fun little nightly diversion.

But for now, I'm still suck earning 5 BB/100 at $50 NLHE. And the $25 a month that I'm earning comes pretty close to covering the costs of the energy drinks that I consume in order to stay awake and play poker. It's all coming together rather nicely...

Keep reading "I can make how much?"

Shopping!

I sent an e-mail to PokerStars support yesterday asking about customs and shipping charges on purchases from the Stars FPP Store. I'd been burned with a fairly high customs charge on some books I'd ordered a couple years ago and I was not about to get dinged again. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that PokerStars has since opened a warehouse in Canada to handle all FPP Store purchases. No customs charges, no shipping charges, and no surprises!

The first thing I did upon reading the news was order a quarter-zip fleece from the FPP store. I've been looking for a spring/fall jacket and I like the PokerStars branding. I have a windbreaker-type thing right now but it's looks like something an old man would wear, if my wife is to believed.

As for my FutureShop gift certificate, I'll be sure to earn my Silver Star VIP status in August. I'll have enough FPPs to order my $250 gift with points left over to pick up a PokerStars shirt or a couple of stuffed animals for my kids. I love rakeback but it's nice to get schwag from time to time. And the fact that PokerStars' $50 NLHE games seem quite a bit easier than Full Tilt's is all the justification I need for the time being.

I ended up playing a short session last night at Stars. I found that my concentration was starting to slip after I played a couple of hands badly and decided to call it a night. There are a couple points that I really need to work on:

  1. When playing against bad players, there's more value in waiting for a great situation rather than flipping for stacks with a marginal hand.

  2. Don't overestimate steal equity; don't underestimate showdown equity.
I ended up losing $30 with a drawing hand against an opponent who would have given me his chips had I just waited a few hands. But there's only one way to learn and that's to do. I lost the hand, lost some money, and will try to do better next time.

Thankfully, I got lucky to get all-in pre-flop with my AA versus a weak/tight player's KK. The same situation happened when I played last Friday night but things didn't turn out well: the community cards put a straight on the board and we split the pot. Last night's hand ended a little more definitively: I flopped a set and Villain was drawing dead to running Kings.

On the PLO front, both of the books I ordered - Advanced PLO: Small Ball and Short-Handed Play and Secrets of Short-Handed Pot-Limit Omaha - are delayed. I guess Amazon's Canadian warehouse is having difficulties stocking these two books. No worries on my part: I'm happy playing NLHE for the time being.

In other news, I also ordered a couple items to better help me dominate the online poker world without causing further carpal tunnel damage. I picked up a numeric keypad and a trackball mouse. I'm assuming that I'll cause less irritation to my wrist if I use these two items while playing online poker. We'll see how well things work out in the coming months assuming I can actually get past the learning curve of using a trackball mouse.

Have a good one!

Keep reading "Shopping!"

Weekend Poker and the Stars FPP Store

I played a bit of no-limit hold'em over the weekend. I put in about 1,000 hands which is quite a bit compared to how much I've actually played this year. I'm sitting at about 6,000 hands played at $50 NLHE. I'll be putting in another 4K hands before I move back to my usual $100 NLHE game. It'll be good to get back to the $100 games. It's been a while but I think I'm ready.

I also played a bit of $25 PLO at Party Poker using the bonus money given to me. I'd like to say that things went well but I'd be lying. I lost most of my money by overplaying a gut-shot straight draw, nut-flush draw, and pair on the turn against an opponent's flopped set. I had a feeling that my hand wasn't quite as strong a PLO holding as I'd first believed. I stuck all my money in anyway and paid the price. I lost the rest of my stack in a three-way pot when my single-suited AAxx hand fell to a 95/60 player's rivered flush. I'll get 'em next time, I guess.

My playing was entirely focused on Friday evening and Saturday afternoon. I decided to spend Saturday night relaxing with my wife. And I put poker aside and focused on finishing Resident Evil 5 on Sunday. Great game, by the way, for those of you who enjoy shooting zombies and other grotesque monsters.

I think that I may focus my play at PokerStars in August. I've got enough points to get my $250 FutureShop (a.k.a. BestBuy) gift certificate. I was also thinking of picking up some PokerStars shirts, hoodies, pullovers, fleeces, underpants, coffee mugs, tattoos, pens, cards, and anything else I can get my hands on. I've always liked wearing branded clothing ever since I was a little kid. I used to love that little crocodile logo on the shirts I wore as a toddler (Lacoste - if the Internets are to be believed).

There are only two problems that may come up with becoming a PokerStars-only player next month:

  • Will I get dinged with customs charges yet again if I order from the FPP Store? The last time I ordered a couple books from Stars, I got dinged with $20+ in customs charges. The books were not worth the money I paid.
  • Can I even get Silver Star VIP status - required to order my $250 gift card - playing only $50 6-max no-limit hold'em? In the old days, I used to clear about 33 VPPs per table hour at $100 NLHE. I think I'm only clearing about 15 VPPs per table hour at the $50 tables.
I'm currently waiting for Stars to respond to my questions about customs charges on FPP store purchases. I hope they give me good news. I love getting rakeback at Full Tilt but it'll also be nice to get a gift card and some clothing from Stars.

After that, my next real goal is to reach 25,000 points at Full Tilt. I'd love to order a customized Full Tilt hockey jersey. I'll see if I can get that done by Christmas. Only 14,000 more points to go!

Keep reading "Weekend Poker and the Stars FPP Store"

Party, PLO, and The Weekend!

Party Poker is one of those sites that peaks my interest from time to time - namely when they offer me a cash bonus. When I checked my e-mail last night, Party informed me that I had a $420 bonus waiting to be claimed. Unlike other sites, Party tends to release bonuses to your account before you've cleared them for withdrawal. And let me tell you: there's nothing better than free-rolling your way to clearing a bonus.

I soon realized that the $420 bonus was not one of those "we pay to you play" bonuses. Instead, I was given 30 days to clear 2520 Party Points for the full $420 bonus. For those of you who care, I would need to play roughly 2600 hands of $100 NLHE every day for a month to clear that bonus. Pretty sick and completely not do-able for non-professional players. Of course, Party does release the bonus in increments of $84 for every 504 Party Points (~15K hands). Considering that I've probably played less than 100K hands in the past four years, you can understand my reluctance to even try to clear even $84 of the $420 bonus.

My story doesn't end here though. Party also offered me a second bonus offer of $35. This bonus was deposited directly into my account. I love free money! I took my $35 to a single $25 PLO table. Over a three hour period, I turned my $35 into an amazing $18.93! I guess I still have a lot to learn about PLO. Over a three hour period, I played 169 hands. In that time, only a couple hands of note took place.

In my first big hand, I flopped top set of nines in a multi-way pot. One opponent stuck around after I check-raised the field and he spiked his two-outer on the turn to overset me. I figure that I lost about $8-$10 more than I should have on this hand. I've got to remember that opponents at the micro-limits are more likely to play passively when they don't hold the nuts while refusing to lay down anything better than top pair. And, of course, there is very little, if any, thin value betting going on.

The only big hand I won ended up being a lucky one for me. I ended up getting all my money in on the turn with a 16-card nut wrap. Unfortunately, I was a 2.5:1 dog at that point since I was up against a pair and a flush draw. In my defense, the pot was laying me 4:1 at the time. PLO can be a frustrating and confusing game at times.

My plans for the weekend include some more PLO and some NLHE. I'm just going to get some hands in and see where the chips fall. Since my Advanced PLO: Small Ball and Short-Handed Play has yet to arrive in the mail, I'm going to keep reading Pot-Limit Omaha Poker. I never realized that the second half of the book deals with limit O8 and PLO8! How cool is that? I'd been looking to try PLO8. I guess I may just end up continuing to work on my O8 game though I may try the pot-limit variety. It seems like it could be fun and pretty profitable too with the right discipline (check) and attitude (my personal "kryptonite").

Have a great weekend everyone!

Keep reading "Party, PLO, and The Weekend!"

Broken

After yesterday's post, I decided to go back and re-evaluate where I am in terms of the goals I set for myself in 2009. I opened up Poker Tracker 3 and Poker Tracker Omaha last night to look over my stats. Frankly, I'm shocked at how poorly I've performed this year. I'm not upset with my actual results. I'm quite upset with how few hands and sessions I've played overall.

Let's take a closer look at my current state of affairs.

In early January, I set six goals for myself in 2009. I tried to keep thing reasonable though there's one goal that is pretty ridiculous in hindsight. How are things going? Let's see...

Play at least 60K hands of cash game poker
According to Poker Tracker, I'm way off pace to hit 60K hands this year. At my current pace, I'd be lucky to hit 26K hands by December 31st. This is pretty unacceptable. Many of my goals were based on playing more hands this year. From a financial point of view or a mental point of view, I need more hands to help reduce the effects of variance on my game.

As of last night, I've played roughly 4600 hands of NLHE ($0.10/$0.25 - $0.50/$1.00), 3330 hands of HUNL ($0.25/$0.50 - $0.50/$1.00), 4800 hands of PLO ($0.10/$0.25 - $0.25/$0.50), and 2600 hands of limit Omaha 8 ($0.50/$1.00 - $1/$2). I'm a little embarrassed to call myself a poker player right now. But I'm also willing to make amends...

Learn to play Pot-Limit Omaha; play $50 PLO regularly by year's end
It's hard to say that I've really "learned" PLO. But I strive to learn more about PLO whenever the mood strikes and I enjoy playing the game. It's been a while since I've really played PLO. I'm looking forward to jumping back in. I'd like to put in 10K hands at $50 PLO by year's end. I think that should serve as a good introduction to the game and give me a solid foundation to build from in the coming years. If things go well, I may even make the jump to the $100 games and try for 10K hands there as well.

Continue beating the 6-max $200 NLHE games; play the $400 NLHE games by year's end
My 6-max NLHE game took a bit of a nose-dive in these past 7 months. Although I've had limited success at the $200 games, I was just on a small heater. I'm currently reworking my game at the $50 tables with renewed focus on aggression and fearlessness. I think the key to beating the small stakes NLHE games is solid aggressive play and a desire to force others out of their comfort zones. Once I've reached 10,000 hands at the $50 games, I'll move back to the $100 NLHE games.

I should also mention that I failed to take into account the necessary bankroll requirements for playing $400 NLHE. If Ed Miller, Matt Flynn, and Sunny Mehta are to be believed, a professional poker player needs roughly 100 buy-ins to play at any given level. Since I am a recreational player who is quite willing to move down in stakes at any time, I should be able to get away with 50 buy-ins. As it stands right now, my bankroll is not ready to withstand the $400 6-max games. My current skill level is nowhere near optimal to beat the $400 games either, to be perfectly honest.

Over the next 5 months, I'd like to play another 7K hands at $50 NLHE and another 10K - 20K hands at $100 NLHE. I may even get back to the $200 games if things go well. I can say with near-certainty that the $400 games are well out of reach for 2009. Poker's not easy and it's about time that I accept that fact while doing my best to surprise myself.

Consistently beat the $50 HU NLHE games; play $100 HU NLHE games by year's end
With only 3300 hands played of $50 HUNL, it's hard to make any decisions about how well or poorly I've played so far. I can say that I'm not happy with my results. More importantly, I really feel that I let my game go to hell in a number of matches that I've played. It's so easy to go on tilt or misread an opponent to the tune of a couple buy-ins when playing heads-up. I'm going to put in at least 10K hands of HUNL by year's end and I'll see if I'm ready and confident enough to play the $100 games.

Focus, focus, focus
My original plan this year was to focus on fewer forms of poker. I totally forgot about this goal and started dabbling in mixed games. While I understand the need to try different games for fun and profit, I need to settle myself down and play what I know best. I believe that I started playing O8 and other games out of fear of failure at the NLHE tables. My results were poor, my confidence was low, and I was afraid to keep trying beat the no-limit games. If I'm ever going to elevate my game from mediocre to "Phil Ivey", I'm going to have to check my pride at the door and take the bumps and bruises of NLHE (and PLO) as they come.

Have fun playing poker!
I've had fun playing poker at times. But as is always the case, I start to focus too much on results. Looking at my bottom line on a nightly basis is a catalyst for my frequent bouts of poker apathy. When I win, I'm happy; when I lose, I'm crushed. If I'm to learn to be a good poker player, I have to ignore the daily ups and downs. I need to play poker because I enjoy the challenge and the fun of the game itself. Money and results should never be valued above my enjoyment of the game.

On the flip side of the coin, I've done a good job (too good?) by forcing myself to not play poker when I'm not in the mood to play. There's nothing wrong with taking a night off to enjoy other hobbies.

Honestly, I don't know if I'll play all of the hands that I want to play by December 31st. But I'm going to try the best I can. 2009 was supposed to be the year to make or break me as a poker player.

I don't need to tell you where the chips have fallen so far...

Keep reading "Broken"

Lost


I've hit a bit of a funk with poker lately. Anyone who chooses to play poker inevitably hits this wall at some point.

In some ways, it's awful to lose the desire to play poker. I love riding the bus, watching a poker video on my Zune, and counting the hours until I can sit down and play. But that feeling's gone right now. All I feel right now is a pervasive "meh" feeling towards the game that has given me so much over the past four years.

Unlike other hobbies, poker really makes you work for "it". It's fun, it's challenging and, if you're dedicated to a continuous learning process and putting in the hours at the table, it can be a financially rewarding hobby as well. But none of that matters to me right now.

Sometimes all it takes is a little taste of a non-poker existence to put me on a bout of poker apathy. I played some great video games over the past couple weeks and realized that the world didn't end when I stopped playing poker. And so I played some more video games. For me, video games are a way of recapturing my youth. Poker, on the other hand, is much more grounded in my present reality.

Poker takes work. Poker makes me money. I need to work and make money for my family to survive in this crappy dog-eat-dog world that we've created for ourselves. And as soon as I start to think this way, my desire to play poker becomes exclusively dependent on my short-term results. I'm a busy many and I don't have time for a broader view of my time at the tables. If I play tonight, will I make money: yes or no? And when that answer comes back "No" just as often (or even less) than a "Yes" answer, I stop wanting to play poker.

I think an ideal job for me would be to manage a number of web sites or blogs focusing on the games and hobbies that I love. I'd also look to get into some form of video game journalism and play poker semi-professionally to make ends meet. Of course, the term "ideal" is perhaps a little too strong. For any job to be truly ideal, I'd have to be able to make a lot of money doing it. Mortgages, car loans, dentists, doctors bills, home repair, kids, clothing, and food are extremely expensive. If I were to pursue something that I liked to do in life, I would fall well short of making my nut every month. And that sucks...

Nothing will change for me in the near future. I'll continue doing what I must and not what I want. Hopefully I'll want to play poker again soon. Even a little extra money every month helps out. I believe that my recent book purchase,Advanced Pot-Limit Omaha: Small Ball and Short-Handed Play, should be in my mailbox tonight. Maybe that will give me the inspiration I need to get back to the online poker tables.

Keep reading "Lost"

EuroPoker

Variety is the spice of life. And when it comes to online poker, nothing could be more true. If you find yourself always playing the same sites against the same competition, maybe it's time to broaden your poker horizons. I find that one of the best ways to do this is to find yourself a nice poker room with some good bonuses and solid freerolls. And I just happen to have just such an online poker room for you: EuroPoker.

EuroPoker has a number of great features that help it appeal to players new to online poker. First and foremost, EuroPoker offers great poker strategy. There claim is that they'll have you ready and learned enough to play online poker within five minutes. Having looked at EuroPoker's eleven easy steps to playing online poker, five minutes could be all it could takes. Of course, it's one thing to beat the free poker games online versus the $1/$2 no-limit hold'em tables but I digress.

EuroPoker also offers its players a full schedule of poker tournaments. If you take a look at their tournament calendar, you'll see that EuroPoker offers a full tournament schedule that includes your standard hold'em tournaments as well as some Omaha tournaments and more. A little variety can go a long way to helping you get the most out of your poker hobby. This is definitely something that I've come to realize lately and highly recommend that online poker players broaden their horizons whenever possible.

And for those of you looking for great bonuses and overlay to your poker play, EuroPoker offers a number of interesting promotions including:

  • $49,000 cash added to their July tournaments
  • A 100% first-time deposit bonus up to $50
  • $5,000 in daily freerolls!
  • Free software, great new games, and more
If you're looking for a little variety in your online poker play, visit EuroPoker today!

Keep reading "EuroPoker"

A Night in the Life

I hit a new low for lack of sleep last night. I'm not sure how it is that I'm still standing and alert. Who knows - maybe I'm dreaming right now? How sad would it be if I were simply dreaming of writing up a post right now? I'm not even sure if I'd remember all that I'm typing if I did happen to wake up. That would suck: I hate having to re-type posts.

Check out my night after the jump.

8:30 PM: Eat dinner and watch The Pink Panther 2 with my wife. Dinner comprises a couple guacamole/bacon-stuffed hotdogs and a makeshift pasta salad made from the leftovers from my kids' dinner earlier that evening. My wife did not have any pasta salad claiming that the pasta was pretty gross and I could "eat it if I want". My wife knows that I always need a side dish, God bless her. I added some parmesan cheese and voilá: gourmet pasta salad!

10:15 PM: The Pink Panther 2 is done. Pretty funny. Not the greatest movie ever but it's a comedy and it made me laugh: mission accomplished.

11:00 PM: Teeth brushed, boys tucked in, and ready for bed. Decide to fire up inFamous (i.e. best video game of 2009).

12:00 AM: Still wide awake but so is my wife. Keep playing inFamous hoping that I'll start getting groggy.

1:00 AM: Wife goes to sleep. I continue playing inFamous, trying to finish up all the evil side missions in the game.

1:45 AM: Still not tired but stop playing because that's what grown-ups do, right?

2:10 AM: Lights off, laying in bed listening to the fan and the crackle of the baby monitors. My left arm's bugging me - it tingles from time to time due to some suspected nerve issues in my left shoulder. Always worried that it's a symptom of heart attack or something. My doctor looked me over a year ago and said that it was a nerve issue likely resulting from my work on computers and my hobbies of video gaming and poker. Doesn't stop me from thinking about heart attacks.

2:45 AM: This is the last time that I look at the clock before falling asleep.

2:55 AM: The alarm on my wife's wrist watch goes off. I jump out of bed thinking that the smoke detector is going off. I find the watch, stop the beeping, and go back to bed. Heart now racing and fully awake.

3:04 AM: The alarm on my wife's wrist watch goes off again. I let the alarm run its course but I'm now really awake.

3:10 AM: My oldest son start crying. My wife gets up to go check on him (my kids get too excited when I go into their rooms at night because they think it's time to get up). Bad dreams? Scared? Who knows.

3:15 AM: My son start crying again. We have to leave him since we've already weened him off the whole process of us coming in and soothing him back to sleep. Parents know where I'm coming from here: give an inch and you're f*cked for a couple months.

3:20 AM: A loud cry rings out in the night. But I'm still awake. Contemplate turning on TV but I don't want to bug my wife.

3:25 AM: Son drops the hammer...again.

3:30 AM: "Daddy....Daddy!....DADDY!"

3:35 AM: Whimpers heard over the baby monitor.

3:40 AM: I hear a cry and something about water or a shark. Not sure which.

3:45 AM: Crying and a story about Lightning McQueen.

3:50 AM: Crying.

3:55 AM: Soft talking followed by a loud cry.

4:00 AM: And you get the picture. This goes on in five minute intervals until...

4:35 AM: The last time that I look at the clock. My body goes into shutdown mode. One minute I'm there and the next, I'm gone.

7:30 AM: My alarm goes off. I turn off my alarm and pray that my kids will somehow sleep in until noon. If I miss an entire morning of work, so be it.

7:45 AM: My youngest son starts crying and screaming. Good morning world!

And that was my night. Insomnia is bad. Insomnia coupled with crying kids is even worse.

I haven't played any poker this week but I'm reading as much PLO literature as I can. Jeff Hwang's book is terrific. I recommend buying it right here because it is dirt cheap. I guarantee an ROI of at least 100% within a month of reading it. It's really that good.

I've also watched a Mike Matusow PokerSavvy PLO video which was quite entertaining. Matusow is definitely a confident poker player and really goes with his reads. And I suspect he's right more often than he's wrong when playing the "low stakes" $200 buy-in tables. I also watched a PLO video from DeucesCracked. I'm not sure how much of what I saw applied at the micro-stakes tables. I'm not willing to felt with top pair against any $50 PLO villain.

No poker for me tonight. I'm simply too tired. I guess my plans of poker world domination will have to wait for the weekend.

Keep reading "A Night in the Life"

I'm up...

I haven't played any poker since the weekend. And even then, I played very few hands overall. I mentioned that I've been having a mild bout of insomnia for the past few weeks. I can't seem to shake it. I find myself tired all day long. In fact, I could probably lay down right now and go to sleep. But come ten o'clock at night, something inside me starts to wind up. From that point on, I find it next to impossible to fall asleep before two-thiry in the morning. I've given up on trying to go to sleep earlier because I just lay awake for hours until my body finally shuts down.

I'm pretty sure that my current level of exhaustion is bad for my day-to-day life. I find that my memory and alertness levels are way down. It's taken a while for the insomnia to really start taking its toll though since I'm only sleeping an hour or two less a night. But I can really feel the drain now.

I've played less poker because I'm afraid to play when I'm this tired. I could chug an energy drink but I'm trying to avoid taking extra caffeine at night when I'm already unable to fall asleep. On a positive note, my insomnia has given me more time to catch up on my video gaming. I don't need to be alert to play games. And unlike poker, I find video games very relaxing - even more so than the slow grind of limit Omaha 8. Last night, I went to bed at 1:50 and was sound asleep by 2:30. I remember looking at the clock at 2:25 but that's all I remember. I was still exhausted this morning but at least I hadn't wasted my evening staring into the black and worrying about how tired I would be the next day.

On the poker front, my recent foray into Omaha 8 has got me wanting to play some pot-limit Omaha again. I'm currently re-reading Jeff Hwang's excellent book - Pot-Limit Omaha Poker. If you're coming from a hold'em background and want a quick starter course on how to start beating Omaha, Jeff's book is a terrific resource. I'm really looking forward to his next book - Advanced Pot-Limit Omaha: Small Ball and Short-Handed Play - which is due to arrive in my mailbox in a week's time.

I don't plan on playing any PLO tonight but perhaps I'll be ready by the weekend if I can get some sleep. But for now, I think playing a little more inFamous is probably the safest route to take for my sanity and my bankroll.

Have a good one!

Keep reading "I'm up..."

WSOP Main Event Live Updates at Bodog!

With the World Series of Poker Main Event well underway, it's getting close to the time that I'll be looking for live updates from this year's Big One. I remember following Foucault and Iggy as they climbed the leaderboards last year. I was surprised at how exciting it was to follow and cheer for someone making a deep run in such a huge event. I guess I'm not immune to the "reality TV" mentality that seems to have permeated society over the past eight or nine years.

If you're looking for some great 2009 WSOP Main Event Live Updates, check out Bodog. Even though I can't play poker at Bodog (one of the very few downsides of being Canadian), it's nice to see that Bodog is still able to give me a reason to visit their site. Bodog is reporting back from this year's WSOP Main Event with live Twitter updates, blog posts, videos, and photos. It's about as close as I'll get to Vegas this year and it's completely free! Throw in live updates from Bodog pros such as J.R. Bellande and Justin Bonomo and you're bound to find something you like.

And if you happen to be a non-Canadian online poker player, I highly recommend signing up to play at Bodog if you're able to tear yourself away from the constant Main Event updates. Seriously - Bodog Poker has a ton of great promotions. The biggest sellers for me as a poker player are Bodog's incredible monthly reload bonus and the quality of play at Bodog. Did you know that Bodog has a monthly reload bonus of 100% up to $500? That's a neat trick in this post-UIGEA world of online poker. More importantly, I'm sure you heard that the average Bodog poker player tends to be much weaker than players that you might encounter at other sites. I don't mean this as a slight to Bodog players...but it's true, right?

If I could sign up at Bodog, I'd be playing there right now instead of writing this post. I could always use an extra $500 a month and the chance to play against opponents who know less than I do about the great game of poker. I guess I'll settle for Bodog's 2009 WSOP Main Event Live Updates since I don't plan on changing my citizenship any time soon.

One last thing note before I finish up. I wanted to mention that Bodog is also running the 2009 Bodog Mini Poker Series. This series of thirteen $10 + $1 tournaments could see you win your way to a free seat ($12,000 WSOP package) to the 2010 World Series of Poker Main Event. Once again, I'd give this mini poker series a shot myself but I'm too big a sucker for poutine, parkas, and maple syrup.

Enjoy following the rest of the WSOP Main Event at Bodog and good luck at the tables!

Keep reading "WSOP Main Event Live Updates at Bodog!"

Weekend!

I've a had a few frustrating days of playing around with my laptop. I was trying to get some video games to work. Silly me for thinking that computers could be used for something other than Internet poker (and various other amoral diversions). If you're interested in reading about my PC gaming exploits, check out these three posts from The Greedy Gamer: here, here, and here.

If you're here looking for poker content, I've got that for you too! Check it out after the jump.

Despite playing a bunch of no-limit hold'em last week, I started playing some more Omaha Hi-Lo the past few nights. I'm determined to get back to even at the $1/$2 O8 games. At last count, I'm roughly 25 BBs in the hole. Not too bad but not good either.

I've been playing the 10-handed games at Stars recently. Although I love Full Tilt, Stars has more full-ring O8 games going right now. I'm still working my way towards getting a $250 FutureShop gift certificate with my growing pile of FPPs. I'm getting pretty close too! I don't know what I'll buy with the gift card when I get it though. I have all the video games and toys that I need right now. Maybe I could start building up a Blu-Ray home video collection...?

I'm also thinking of getting back into pot-limit Omaha again as well. Though I dabble here and there, it's really a great game to play. And it's much easier to beat than any 6-max NLHE games played at comparable stakes...for now.

To confuse matters further, I've started watching some (fixed-limit) 2-7 Triple Draw videos. Unlike some of the other draw and lowball games out there, triple draw seems quite a bit more complex. I never realized how important a decision it can be when deciding which cards to discard, when to draw, when to stand pat, and when to "snow". Throw in the fact that hand equities are all close from first draw to last and you have a game with some pretty high variance for good and bad players alike.

My focus this weekend will likely be on NLHE and O8. I'd like to read up on PLO again before I start playing the game regularly. Besides poker, I'm also planning on playing a lot of Ghostbusters: The Video Game. A friend lent it to me and I'd like to get it back to him quickly. I've actually got a whole slew of video games to play but I'm enjoying poker way too much to focus exclusively on games.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Keep reading "Weekend!"

Late Night Poker

I've had a little case of insomnia for a few nights in a row now. A little unusual for me given how exhausted I am all the time. I don't recall not being able to sleep since well before my first son was born almost three years ago.

Rather than toss and turn in bed, I decided to fire up a few tables of $1/$2 Omaha Hi-Lo at Stars. Although I've focused quite a bit on no-limit hold'em over the past week, I've not given up on my plan to build up my mixed games skills.

At the lowest limits, Omaha Hi-Lo is pretty straightforward: wait for quality starting hands, flop the nuts or draws to the nuts, and always aim to scoop pots. It's not hard to play micro-stakes O8 when tired or tipsy so tonight's game selection seemed like a good fit for my current state of mind.

Here's the hand that defined my session this evening.


Poker Stars $1/$2 Limit Omaha Hi/Lo - 10 players - View hand 176616

The Official DeucesCracked.com Hand History Converter


Pre Flop: (1.5 SB) Hero is SB with 33 of hearts 22 of hearts AA of diamonds AA of hearts

5 folds, MP3 calls, 1 fold, BTN calls, Hero calls, BB checks

(I pick up a monster hand in the SB. But I've played so few hands and a raise OOP from the blinds looks so much like AAxx or A23x that I decide to limp to disguise my hand. Unlike hold'em, there's more value in having more players in the pot - even with AA and even when hopelessly OOP.)

Flop: (4 SB) 44 of hearts TT of clubs AA of spades (4 players)
Hero bets, BB calls, MP3 calls, BTN calls

(Great flop for me. I've got the nut-high and I'm drawing to the nut-low. This is exactly where you'd like to be in Omaha Hi-Lo. I bet out because my hand's disguised and I'm going to get call by anyone with a low draw and some random high-hands too.)

Turn: (4 BB) 88 of diamonds (4 players)
Hero bets, BB calls, MP3 calls, BTN raises, Hero 3-bets, BB calls, MP3 calls, BTN caps!, Hero calls, BB calls, MP3 calls

(I've now got nut-nut so I'm looking to scoop. When the BTN raises, I know that I'm getting quartered on the low. Hopefully I can dodge a 2 or 3 on the river and possibly a K, Q, or J to give one of my other opponents the nut straight. Again - I don't see any reason for slowplaying here: if my opponents are drawing, I want to get as much money into the pot as possible before they realize that they're drawing slim or dead.)

River: (20 BB) TT of spades (4 players)
Hero bets, BB calls, MP3 calls, BTN calls

(Great card for me. I'm pretty sure that I'm winning 2/3 to 3/4 of the pot. It's a shame that the BTN didn't raise my bet.)

Final Pot: 24 BB

BB mucks QQ of spades KK of diamonds JJ of diamonds AA of clubs
MP3 mucks 33 of spades 99 of diamonds 44 of spades 55 of diamonds
BTN shows 33 of diamonds 44 of diamonds 88 of clubs 22 of spades (HI: two pair, Tens and Eights; LO: 8,4,3,2,A)
Hero shows 33 of hearts 22 of hearts AA of diamonds AA of hearts (HI: a full house, Aces full of Tens; LO: 8,4,3,2,A)

Hero wins 17.625 BB
BTN wins 5.875 BB

That's it for me. I'd like to say that I'm going to sleep but I can still feel that tingle that tells me that my body's not quite ready to sleep. At least I won't make the mistake of laying in bed and trying to force myself to sleep. Time to see what's cooking on the Food Network.

Have a great night everyone!

Keep reading "Late Night Poker"