Wednesday, June 29, 2011

I know this much is TRU

My wife and I recently went to the award winning restaurant, "TRU" for our anniversary. One of the many things we love to do together is going out to eat. We've been to TRU maybe 3 times before and have always had a wonderful time. We knew that since this would be our 4th time that we would probably try some other top tier restaurants for future special occasions so we decided to order the Chef's collection with the wine pairing. I won't go through the entire menu, but I would like to point out some of the most memorable items, as everything you eat at TRU is memorable. We always love the white sturgeon "Caviar", avocado, hazelnut paired with Santorini Santorini barrel sigalas 2009. It is served in a faux caviar can with an avocado "spread" served with, but a few chips.

The next course was one that I expected not to like, but was very surprised. Suspeneded foie gras, pineapple, mango, and pecan tuile paired with bonny doon vineyard le vol des anges arroyo secco 2007. It wasn't the traditional foie gras preparation, at least the times that I've had it. It was as if the chef had dried out the foie gras and pineapple, then placed it on a pecan brittle. The sweet fruity notes of the wine paired nicely with the citrus of the pineapple and the heartiness of the foie gras and pecan flavors.

Our third course was "inside of an English Pea soup with lavender" which at first may bring up images of dark bitter tastes, but this was different in that, it took the essence of Pea soup and mixed it with the flowery flavor of lavender in a creamy texture. The wine pairing was Chateau d'esclans garrus cote de provence 2009, a rose which surprisingly had depth and a little bite to it, if I recall correctly. I really loved the intensity of the flavor profile in the soup. Everything was so well balanced.

The first "meat" course was duroc pork belly, stone ground grits, and pickled ramps paired with wehlener sonnenuhr riesling kabinett m.f. richter mosel-saar-ruwer 2007. Once again I was pleasantly suprised, not because I loved the pork belly and the paired Riesling, but how much I loved the grits along with it. The chef was able to take out the negative texture of grits and make each facet soothing yet substantial.
The only course that I had any mixed feelings about was the Scottish Salmon and that was because of the preparation, which by no means was wrong or bad or poorly cooked. The Chef seared the outside of the salmon which is not really to my liking, yet the fish itself was wonderful. My wife and I always love eating at TRU, not only for the world class food and wine, but the cheese course and deserts that they give. The experience of TRU is truly a culinary massage for the palate and soul.
Bon appetite!

Monday, June 27, 2011

It was only a matter of time…

This summer is really flying by so far. My wife reminded me that next weekend is the 4th of July and I haven’t even put the air conditioners in yet. At least we’re saving money on the electric bill. My online challenge is moving ahead rather nicely. If you recall, I was moving in the wrong direction due to the fact that I took a few shots playing NLHE on a very small BR compared to what was required. I decided to stick to LHE until I have built up enough of an online BR to make the final and complete transition to NLHE from LHE. Perhaps I should think twice about that as I had my first losing session at live NLHE last night. I ended up down $300 which is 1 ½ buy-ins at $1-$2. In hindsight, I think I played rather poorly. There were so many things that I should’ve adjusted to better, but I decided not to. It wasn’t for not realizing, but I felt as though I needed to be in a sub-optimal situation and deal with it. Now this isn’t how I intend on playing in the future if I have anything to do with it, but I think I needed to feel uncomfortable and thicken my skin a bit. My previous 5 sessions were a bit too easy and things were just going my way.

One adjustment was seat selection. I had 2 intelligent LAGs on my right side (not directly) a bad LAG on my immediate left and some tighter players on the left side of the table. I would have liked to been to the immediate left of the bad LAG because he was straddling every orbit when I was in the BB and raising a very wide range of hands in limped pots because he wanted to gamble and get lucky. Time after time, I limped or call the straddle from the BB, the bad LAG to my left would raise with some hand like Q9s or A8o. I should have tighten up a bit with marginal hands and looked for a better spot. He was a bit of a showdown monkey, so I didn’t like the idea of 3! with a speculative hand.

Another aspect to my session that I felt I managed poorly was how I played preflop. The table was a bit LAGgy with a lot of limpers, cold callers and small raises. I became a bit frustrated with how things were going and started alter my preflop approach. I open raised some weaker Ax hands, cold called a few 3! preflop that I should have folded, and calling larger than normal raises after limping. I plan on rereading the NLHE: Theory & practice sections on preflop strategy again as well as going over the postflop sections too.

The other aspect to my game that I need to focus is playing scared when I have a big starting hand. On one occasion, I raised to $20 after 3 limpers when holding pocket Aces on the button. That was too much even though the table had been rather loose up to that point. Another example is when I raised $12 holding pocket Queens with one limper. I flopped top set on a flush draw board and made a pot sized bet which took down a smallish pot. Lastly, I raised pocket 10s from the button in a straddled pot and got one called. Once again I flopped top set on a flush draw board and made pot sized bet. I have a virtual strangle hold on the hand and should have bet less. My opponent in this last hand hemmed and hawed a bit before folding. Earlier he had cold called pocket Queens in the BB to my $20 preflop raise ( I had AKo with 4 limpers), so I was really hoping he had JJ-QQ and would either call or reraise me all-in. He didn’t. I feel as though playing with this fear/anxiety polarizes my holdings and basically gives away the strength of my hand. This helps my opponents to play perfectly against me which may be some of the reasons why I attempted to mix up my play which had some less than positive results.

One last thing that threw me for a loop was the overall bad LAGGy play which put me in spots that were quite uncomfortable and left me wondering if I had made the right decisions. 2 hands stick out in my mind, both of which were near the end of my session. Some new players had come to the table as we got shorthanded. I was in EP with AJo and I limp. WRONG!!! Normally I would either raise this or fold it with the latter being what I do the most. AJ is a very tenuous hand to play from EP. I thought that I had read in NLHE T&P that you should limp AJ from EP. I misremembered. Anyways, I limp and there are 5 of us to the flop.

The flop comes A 6 8 cc flush draw. The Small blind who is new to the table bets $40 into a $10 pot. I sit in complete confusion as to why he would do this. Does he have an Ace and a flush draw? Does he have 2 pair or a set? What hand would call that bet unless it has him beat? This was not a good spot so I folded. It serves me right as I shouldn’t have been in the pot to begin with. The small blind flips over A3o for Top pair bad kicker. Pretty soon he busts after raising mediocre holdings postflop 6 hands later and leaves. Thanks for giving my chips to someone else.

The other hand was, of course, the last hand of my session. I limp 67 suited diamonds in EP . My opponent in this hand, flopped top pair and a flush draw, turned 2 pair and a flush draw and decided to reraise all in on the turn. I called and he hit his 4th diamond that wasn’t a 5 to give him the winning hand and send me broke. I am still feeling the sting from this today as I hate losing hands like that even though the true reply is, “standard”. Like the title says, it was only a matter of time. Any comments on this blog entry or the hands involved are completely welcome, even if it’s critical. Talk to you soon.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Some poker and some truth

Well, my online challenge was doing rather well as I had been running 9+BB/100 until I got greedy which always seems to be the morale of the story. I have been posting quite a bit in the SSLNL forums on 2+2 and I haven’t had a chance to go to the casino to play some NLHE lately. Due to my small online bankroll at Cake Poker, I haven’t been able to play any NLHE games even at the lowest limits due to the fact that I only had about 4 buy-ins and didn’t want to risk losing all that I had built up playing LHE. Like I said, I got greedy and started to play some NLHE with a buy-in of 50 BBs and like Louis jamming on the Riverboats…

So, now I am back down to a little under $8 and will begin grinding it back up in LHE like I did before.

I’ve been reading quite a bit of older archive posts in the 2+2 uLHE library as of late and I really like some of the old wells and I really enjoyed reading Aaron W’s and Scary_Tiger’s. I am rather envious of how fearless he is, especially back then playing all sorts of nosebleed LHE games. The other interesting aspect was that he didn’t really play with a poker bankroll at the time and just had a certain amount for the level he was taking a shot at with a little extra for the next level down in case he ran bad. Needless to say he didn’t run bad often and he went on to do quite well for himself in many poker variants. According to some poker tracking sites, he’s made over $500,000 playing tournaments online. Amazing. Unfortunately, the uLHE forums on 2+2 seem to be fading rather quickly and could be merged with the next level up if things to get better which are unlikely due to Black Friday. Oh well…

As I am sure many of you have read, one of the stars of the “Jackass” movies and TV show, Ryan Dunn, was killed in a car accident a few days ago. Apparently he had had enough alcohol to put him more than 2 times above the legal limit. He then got in to his Porsche along with a friend who had worked on the second “Jackass” movie and was driving down a Pennsylvania road going more than 130 MPH. He went off the road into a guard rail and plowed into a bunch of trees which ripped apart his car and set it on fire. Needless to say, Ryan Dunn and the passenger were killed.

I am in no way a huge “Jackass” fan, but I have seen the first 2 movies as well as the first 2-3 seasons of the TV show. It’s amazing what these guys were willing to do to themselves and not have one of them killed already. I also liked their sense of humor and how down to earth (as much as a crazy person can) they were. These guys have cheated death more than their fair share which makes this accident all the more upsetting. If you are Ryan Dunn and want to take your own life in your hands by attempting crazy stunts then more power to you, but forcing others into your real life stunts are comparable to shooting a gun into a crowd.   

Another aspect to this story that I don’t like is the whole Roger Ebert involvement. By involvement, I don’t mean that I disagree with what Roger Ebert had “tweeted”, but his message was lost given the timing of it being posted. Basically, Ebert said, “Friends don’t let Jackasses drive drunk.”

Now there are 2 ways that we need to look at this. First is on a more personal level and the other is a more macro level. On the personal side, Ryan Dunn’s friends and fans are most likely devastated that he was killed, especially in the way that it happened. His close friends and family are going through incredible shock and most likely are aware of the painful truth that what he did was incredibly stupid and irresponsible, whether they’re willing to admit out loud or not. They’ve got to be angry for many reasons and the last thing they want to hear is the obvious truth about how Ryan Dunn decided to conduct himself in the hours before he died. Roger Ebert then tweets his 2 cents the day after it happens and sparks begin to fly. I think if Ebert wanted to send some type of message, then he and everyone else has the right to do so, but I also think that it could’ve been done with some tact and sensitivity to those who loved and cared for Ryan Dunn.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Chapter #6-The Downward winding staircase

As I have stated in earlier blog entries, I originally started this blog at Deuces cracked under then name of Figaro3000. The next 2 blog entries that you would read in chronological order are the first 2 under the titles of, "My poker history Jan-June 2008" and "My poker history, July-December 2008". Thanks again for reading and now back to our regular programing.

Rake back may have saved me from depositing. It looks as though my online challenge is still alive. I received .37 from rakeback and if you add that to the .05 I had in my account, that makes .42 or a little over 10 BBs at .02-.04. I quickly got on to a short handed FR table and am now a little over 1 dollar (American).
A little while ago I mentioned 2 brands of Scotch I was thinking of purchasing. I decided to go with the Ardberg Corryvreckan. I like it so far because it’s strong, smoky and has a little black licorice after taste that's nice. I am not partial for the sweeter single malt Scotch, as my last bottle, which was Bowmore 18 year. It’s just a tad too sugary tasting for my palate. If any of you nameless readers have any suggestions for me, please speak up.

One thing I just realized is that for all of the poker talk, I haven’t really gone into the specifics of what type of poker and stakes I normally play. Since January of 2008, I have been mainly playing FR LHE online, with the occasional trek out to the Casino. I mentioned in some previous blog posts that I started with SNGs and some tourneys, ya know, a little this and little that. The large swings that can be seen in one hand of NLHE gave me an incentive to focus on LHE, which back in 2004-2005 was the main cash games, whether you were playing online or live. As we all know, that changed rather quickly as the poker boom hit its Zenith in 2006-2007, especially with the popularity of TV shows like, “High Stakes Poker”.
Once UIGEA hit, I, like many players who were on the hobbyist side, cashed out a majority of my BR to see where things would fall. I redeposited some of that in early 2007, but was not as serious as I thought I was and saw some poor results rather quickly. Another important fact that I started to become painfully aware of was my ability level. The game of LHE was changing and becoming more complex which required not only more intense study on my part, but the use of software like Poker Tracker, so that I could get better reads and info on my opponents. I was not practicing these things and as a result I was losing money rather quickly.
My wife and I were expecting our first child in June of 2007 and we were both working busy schedules that didn’t always work well together. Being in retail at the time, I was working some nights and weekends, while my wife had a regular Monday to Friday 9-5 job. I didn’t have much time to spend studying and posting a great deal on poker forums, which in hindsight, would’ve done me a world of good. What I had to face up to was the fact that I just wasn’t serious enough about working on my game and I didn’t have any type of solid plan when it came to playing poker or improving, but my expectations were unrealistically high. 2007 was a year in poker that I would like to forget, but need to remember in order to understand how far I’ve come in my own development.
I’ve been looking back at posts that I’ve made throughout the past 4 years on the 2+2 forums and I am a bit embarrassed by the things I wrote and how I conducted myself to a large degree. I, like many others, was rather ignorant when I first got in to poker, but that changed very little from the time I started posting in different forums in June of 2005 through the end of 2007. I touched a little on this in a post in December of 2009 (link), in which I also discussed my ongoing struggle with tilt. What would’ve been good for me and my poker playing at that time was structure. Structure with regard to following how to post hands, how to respond to hands, researching how well other players were doing, and all in all, being in the middle of things rather than trying to be an individual within the poker community. I just kept myself at a distance which ended up hurting my game and stinting my growth. The main reason why I wasn’t aware of this at the time was that somewhere, I didn’t want to work at things. I wanted it to come easy. Epic failure.jpg.
Another reason for my low level of play was as I mentioned earlier, the fact that I was a new Father and was still quite busy at work. I couldn’t stay focused while playing and when I did have some time to myself, I was usually not in the best frame of mind to be playing my A-game. In October of that year, my wife and I talked about how difficult life got with having a newborn baby compounded with our mirrored schedules. We were doing well financially and rather than hire a Nanny for our son, we decided that I would quit my job and be a stay at home Father. I had some mixed emotions about it, but I never wanted to live an average life and being a stay at home Father is far from average.
Well, suffice it to say, 2007 ended rather poorly when it came to poker, but was quite fun and interesting in every other aspect. I started to get back in to playing on a more regular schedule and level of seriousness in December, but found out that things were going to be rocky for a while with regard to the results. In 2005 & 2006 I was mostly playing 2/4 or 3/6 FR LHE, but since UIGEA, the games had gotten much tougher than before and so the comparable ability level was around the .25-.50/.50-1 levels. I decided to start at .25-.50 FR LHE which at that point was the lowest limit I had really played, but it was where I should had started years before. It truly was the beginning of me learning how to play and think about poker.

Chapter #5-REVENGE!!!

Played some live No limit pokerz tonight at the local casino. I figure that I can now work on my NL game when I go to the casino since most all of the LHE games online have dried up, even at the new sites and live LHE stakes that I would be playing are like .02-.04 online at the moment. It was a bit of a rollercoaster ride for a while as the game was filled with action and some LAGGY-ass players. I finished +$107 for the night after 5 hrs. I still have quite a ways to go, but I playing rather TAP at the moment so that my mistakes may limit my variance, although I’m sure that is possibly hurting my WR as well. It’s still the beginning.
There is one hand I wanted to post for any possible feedback from the crowd. A little over halfway through the session and I had a rather TAP image. I wasn't limping from EP all that much and wasn't calling without a strong hand or draw. The table was rather LAGGY and had gotten even more so when I drunk short stacker bought in for $50 and another LAGGY talker joined the table. There were 2 online guys there, one of which constantly used familiar online jargon and another young guy who was wearing a Full Tilt hoodie and sun glasses. Very subtle.
NLHE $1-$2--live casino--9 handed
Hero is UTG+2--$197
Hero is dealt Kof spades Kof clubs
2 folds, HERO raises to $10, one fold, MP2 calls $10, 3 folds, BB calls $8 more.
FLOP--Aof clubs Aof diamonds 8of hearts
BB checks, HERO checks, MP2 checks.
TURN--4of diamonds
BB bets $15, HERO...
I feel as though I misplayed this hand. To give you a little insight, BB was one of the online guys with the shades, who liked to cold call alot of one-gap, 2-gap, and 3-gap-suited connectors. MP2 was a LAGGY player who liked to cold call weak Ax hands, middle to high suited connectors, and any pocket pair from 2s-10s without a reraise. I was most concerned with MP2 having an Ace before I saw the flop, but looking back, I think I should have c-bet as this flop hits my range and I don't want to give either one of these players a free card if I am ahead. Any thoughts are welcome.
One Friday night in late January 2007, my wife and I were out to dinner with our group of friends which consisted of 5 couples and an occasional straggler. I was informed that someone’s brother-in-law had a friend who was throwing a big tournament in his house which had 5 full poker tables. All of the guys were going the following weekend and the buy-in was $75 each. 1st place paid over $400 and the Top 3 players were in the money. Each player received 5,000 in chips and we were starting with 25-50 blinds. Each level would move up after an hour, which is quite a long time in between levels, but the NFL playoffs were on which was bound to slow things down and it was a friendly game, so people were going to start talking and eating, and drinking…yada yada yada…
I start off at a table with 9 other players I’ve never met. Most of them police officers, fire fighters or acquaintances of the host. I was set to prove to my group of friends that I knew how to play poker and even more so, finish in the top 3 and cash so that I could put to rest the shellacking I took a few years earlier during my friends Super Bowl Party. Things started off rather rocky for me as my pocket Queens lost to K10o, I missed a bunch of flops with hands like AQ, AK, KQ. Low pocket pairs were constantly facing a lot of action on flops that wouldn’t allow me to continue, the standard thing in poker. 3 hours in, I was down by half of my starting chip count and I was grateful that no one was paying attention to when the blinds should be going up which kept me in the game. Players started to get knocked out and it was nice to see my friend who had the Super Bowl party, we’ll call him Stan, to be one of the first players knocked out. Another one from our group joined Stan soon after. We were close to taking a break so that a few tables could be condensed and I picked up AKo in late position. It was folded around to me and I had a little over 12 BBs left. I wanted a chance to play after the break with more than 6 BBs, if it so happened that I missed the flop again, so I just pushed all-in. The Big blind tanked for a few minutes kinda smiling at me.
“I think we’re racing.” he half questioned.
I found a fixed point on the table and just stared at it so as to practice my “poker face”. This may be the closest I get to a serious live tournament poker moment, so I tried to be as blank as possible. The Big blind mucked 2 red 9s faced up and I was happy to go get a sandwich and beer. When we came back from the break I was one of the short stacks, not only at my table, but out of the remaining 30 players. I thought about it and I was going to have to start pushing preflop and hope to double up. 2 of my friends were still in it with rather healthy chip stacks. My strategy started to pay off as I was able to pick up some uncontested pots in order to keep from being blinded off and then had someone call my pocket 7s with A5o. I could see that there was still some loose play going on so all hope wasn’t lost. More players were being knocked out and now with the football game over on TV, the blinds were being raised much faster than before. Pretty soon we were close to being at one table and I was hoping not to get into any marginal situations with hands like KJs, A10, or small pocket pairs. The 11th player was out and we started playing at one table. I was about 7th in chips and I felt a renewed confidence about my chances. I had the chip leader on my left and some shorter stacks, who liked to talk a lot shit on my right. I took down a medium sized pot which gave me some more breathing room and put me up to 35 BBs or so which was about average at the time. No one player was head and shoulders above the others with respect to their chip count. One big hand was when I picked up AKs on the button and the CO to my right made a standard raise to 3 times the big blind. I reraised to 10 BBs with the blinds at 500-1,000. He looked at me, took a big breath and called. The flop came Ace hi ragged rainbow board. He checked and I put him all in which was about 14 big blinds left. He turned to me and asked if I had it and then called. I was astounded when he flipped over pocket kings. I kept my mouth shut and watched the turn and river seal the hand for me. I was now in 2nd with a strong image as well as chip stack. Players were being knocked out every other hand and we finally got 3 handed. The blinds were rather high to the point that the 3 of us were just about equal in chips, yet had around 15 BBs each. After being blinded down a few times, I picked up 910o in the small blind. The button folded and I shoved for my last 10 BBs. My friend, we’ll call him Randall, looked at me and said, “I don’t think you have anything” and called with J6o. I was stunned. I still don’t know how he could have called me with that hand, even if he was able to look into my soul. That type of hand cannot easily connect to a straight or flush and the kicker is terrible, not to mention the high card strength is mediocre, IMO. Nevertheless he made the “right” call and the flop came down Q83 rainbow. I just took away a few of his outs with the gut shot straight draw, but was still an underdog with the turn and river to come. A 5 fell on the turn and a Queen on the river to put me out in 3rd place. I was pretty disappointed, but happy for Randall who ended up winning the whole tournament. I was also pleased to show my circle of friends that I was not going to be pushed around in poker anymore.

Chapter #4—Making money

Unfortunately, my online challenge is not going that well. After an initial heater, running my .59 up to 2.60 or so, I have seen nothing work out for me in the past 2 days as most pots are 4-7 handed, even when raised and that means big swings in variance. When you only have between 50-75 BBs are you miss 5-7 big pots, then you can see where the difficulty in building a BR may be. Oh well, like Mandy Patinkin said in the Princess Bride, "Vizzini told me to go back to the beginning..."
In February of 2006 I left my job as a District Manager at a well known retail chain that rhymes with Cock mustard, and moved on to another retail Titanic that has been in the news as of late for the epic failure of their business acumen. I was starting to post a bit in the 2+2 forums (I will have to save that initial experience for a later date), and I began playing some live poker every now and then at some local casinos when I got the chance. I had learned that many players were basically depositing money on different poker sites and playing a concentrated amount of hands to clear bonuses which they would then cash out and move to another site and repeat. Now that I had a healthy bank roll that was approaching $3,000 I moved some on to Full Tilt and began grinding away at the $2-$4 tables there in order to clear my bonus. Around the same time, I heard about a live SNG satellite that could lead you into the 2006 WSOP main event, which of course, was what I had wanted a chance at since seeing Chris Moneymaker on ESPN. It was $40 and 1st place got an entry into a Super Satellite which had over 300 entries. Once again, this was a long shot, but what the hell. I played tighter than a nun’s pussy and ended up finishing in 2nd place which was nice at the time, but what I failed to realize was that I had cut myself off at the knees when it got 4 handed by maintaining a very tight starting hand range. There’s always next year.
Things in the poker world were going well for me and I had built my roll up to $3,500 by June with a little help from the FTP bonus. One thing I learned early was that variance, she’s a bitch goddess. She giveth with one hand and taketh with the other. I went on a breakeven stretch which, from what I recall was rather arduous. At the time, it seemed to go on forever, but in reality, it was a little over 2 months. I don’t have a lot of detailed records, but I can only assume that I was playing around 2,500 hand per month and so 5,000 hands of B/E poker is not all that uncommon nor bad. As the fall of 2006 rolled around I didn’t have as much time to be playing due to my job and my wife and I were planning a nice 2 week vacation to Europe. We were looking at the different cities that we both would like to see and it quickly dawned on us that this was going to be an expensive and possibly stressful trip. I quickly blurted out, “Why don’t we just go to Vegas for a week by ourselves?”
She looked at me as if I had just found the meaning to life. 10 minutes later we’re booked for a week at Mandalay Bay. We had a great view overlooking the strip, had a wonderful dinner at Aureole on my Birthday, and had a great time together going out to bar after bar after bar. What made the trip even better was that I, once again, hooked in to my live play “boom switch” and won over $700 on the pokerz which paid for 2 very nice dinners. Things couldn’t have been going better in poker…
In late September, the Safe Port Act was passed by both houses of Congress and signed into law on October 13th, 2006, by President Bush. I was rather worried about the future of online poker when this was passed and very concerned about my money. It suddenly got rather difficult to feel secure that your money was at your disposal. Paradise Poker left the US market, as did Party Poker. I decided to take most of my money off of the sites and leave a little on FTP just in case. It wouldn’t be until a year later that I would once again take a stab at online poker. The good news was that right after Christmas time, the moment that I had been waiting for was afoot.

Chapter #3

Things were running well in my challenge (see 1st post--basically trying to run .59 cents up to a healthy 1-2 bankroll or more) until today when I lost 30 BBs in an hour. Sometimes the ball goes where it wants to. I still have 7 golden tickets to sell if I need to. Back to the beginning...
Honeymoon bliss doesn’t always include poker results. I was reading Small Stakes Holdem and had it next to me at all times in the middle of a session. I felt as though I was gaining a better understanding of how to play LHE, but the results were still not there. Looking back this could be attributed to a wide array of reasons, which were mostly under my control. To name a few,
1) I was not taking any type of notes on my opponents which meant that I was not trying to assign any type of hand range to opponents in a general/specific manner.
2) I was not practicing any type of Bankroll management and would get upset when I lost, what I considered to be a lot of money relative to the stakes (2-4, 3-6).
3) I should have started at a lower limit in order to get my feet wet and not put myself in the situation of tilting when I lost a big pot. Losing 5-6 BBs at .25-.50 or even .50-1 isn’t as upsetting as losing that at 3-6.
4) I was playing too fit or fold type of poker at the beginning of a session and then go on tilt about half way through.
Another reason for the common occurrence of tilting on my part was due to the fact that I had unrealistic expectations. I would play 2 tables at a time for up to 45 minutes and get pissed if I hadn’t won any $$. This leads to #5…
5) I wasn’t keeping track of the specifics of each session (I think I mentioned this in my last blog), other than I knew I that I had won some money or lost it. I didn’t know what my winrate was, how many hands I had played in the session, how many hands I had played to date, what my stats were, seat selection, blah blah blah.
I was getting to the point that I didn’t think that poker was something I would ever understand or do well at. I wasn’t all that happy with my new job and it looked as if the company that I had been with for nearly 11 years was starting its freefall towards redundancy. Although I enjoyed my honeymoon 3 months earlier in Hawaii, I still felt as if my wife and I could use a vacation somewhere that I had never been before that would be fun. Have you said it yet?
It was my first trip out to Las Vegas and I was a bit stunned at the non-stop action of the place. There were 5 couples that went out there together which was nice for me because I could get a chance to try out some live poker which I hadn’t really done before. I went to the nearest 3/6 table and bought in for 30 BBs. I told myself that this was to be the barometer of how much I understood about the game and based my decision of whether or not I should continue online, on my results from that trip. The first session was identical to how my play on Paradise poker was going, a slow constant leak. It started to pick up a little and the trip ended with me being up $67, which was around 11-12 BBs for the stakes I was playing for the first time. As I look back on that trip, I remember how smart I thought I was and how much I acted like a dick towards other people.
“How could you call that? What did you think I had? How can you check raise that?” you know that ol’ chestnut. This poor etiquette is something that I have had to continuously work on.
After my Vegas trip, the Thanksgiving/Winter holiday season began and there wasn’t much time for online poker. I decided to give LHE one more try in late December of 2005 based on the fact that I was feeling more comfortable with basic strategy. I deposited $225 on Paradise Poker one last time and played only $2-$4 FR LHE with a max of 2 tables at a time. I must have been on Santa’s nice list that year because I ran hotter than Georgia asphalt in June. For anyone familiar with proper Bank roll management , $225 at $2-$4 is 56 BBs and it is recommended to have around 300 BB in your roll, so I was unintentionally conducting a 50 big blind experiment. I ran my $225 up to a little over $2,000 in 2 months. The only way I could describe how I felt at the time would be…

Chapter 2 of my poker beginnings

At the beginning of each entry, I’m going to attempt to throw in some thing unrelated to the meat & potatoes of that day’s Blog. For the past 2 years I have been trying different brands of Single Malt Scotch. I am in no way an aficionado, but I know what I like and don’t like so far. I am now finishing up a bottle of Bowmore 18 year purple label which seems a bit too sweet tasting for my palate. My two favorites so far are 1) Laphroaig 18 year and 2) Lagavulin 16 year. Both were a bit smoky and dark, which I personally prefer to the lighter flavors. Since I will be getting my Pokerstars roll pretty soon, I am looking to spring for a new bottle of something that I haven’t had before. I am considering either a bottle of Highland Park or Ardberg. If anyone actually reads this and has some opinions, please feel free to let me know.
Last time we spoke, I left off soon after the Super Bowl in early 2004. I was reading up on some basic poker strategy, but hadn’t had a chance to apply it as my group of friends were still into “Halo” on X-box, which was the thing we’d all focus on when a couple would have a dinner party. Time passed and the summer went by and I became engaged to my, then, girlfriend in August. There was still no chance of playing poker and I was getting annoyed by the thought that I’d be just as poor a player in 2005, as I was in January of 2004. Then, ESPN started promos for the 2004 WSOP from that summer. I started watching whenever I got a chance. Back then, they were still showing many types of poker variations. LHE, NLHE, PLO, Razz, and some 7-card stud. Many of the players were wearing hats and shirts made by the sites that supported their entry in to different events which helped to assuage my fear of playing poker online. Where did the money go? How did I know that playing online for money was reputable? These were not questions that bothered me.
I finally looked at some different poker sites that I could deposit a little money at. I came across Paradise Poker which had caught my attention due to the island theme of it. My fiancé and I had been going back and forth about our wedding which was tentatively planned for the summer of 2005, and we were increasingly becoming concerned about the cost. I was against the idea of a wedding in which we had to invite distant family members and co-workers whom we barely knew and then spending $200 a head. I threw out to her the idea of having a getaway wedding in which we knew that only a small group of people would be able to attend. Hawaii!!! The cost would be lower, but not by much, yet we knew that everyone would have a wonderful time. How could you not in Maui?
I loved the calm feeling that I had when I saw the island beaches of Paradise poker. The poker gods were already talking to me and I had yet to plan a single hand of holdem online. Like many a naïve customer, I happily deposited $50 online through my credit card and was off to the races. I looked around a little in the lobby for the different games they had. I knew I wanted to play in a 10 person tournament (Sit N’ Go) which seemed easy enough. Just finish in the Top3 and your making some money.
Well, the problem(s) was that, first off, I didn’t even understand what was meant by the term, best 5 card hand wins. Kicker?? What in the holy hell are they talking about?
Deposit #2--$50
Raise A3o from early position and go all in on an Ace high board.
Deposit #3--$50
Cold call any 2 suited connectors and Axs hands.
Deposit #4--$50
You see where I am headed with this. After my 4th deposit and utter annoyance with the fact that I wasn’t making money at the $10 SNGs forced me to find an alternative game in which I wouldn’t lose money so fast.
After my 5th deposit of $50, I decided that I would stay away from No limit for a while. How about LHE. How bad can that be? At this point, I can't say much other than, poker became more of a blur for me until March 2005. Now, I was getting better at SNGs and was playing a little LHE ($2-4, $3-6), but the losses were just slower at that point. That’s when I had had enough. I purchased what can only be described as the LHE version of the bible, Ed Miller’s “Small Stakes Hold’em”, and focused solely on playing LHE cash games. Each session was a live or die feeling as I had no clue about the long run, variance, EV (or whether I was +/-), proper sample size, or how players can run hot/cold. More importantly I didn’t know the true definition of “tilt” even though I was probably on it most of the time in one form or another. My ability to remain focused without tilt was challenged even more due to the fact that I wasn’t keeping any detailed records of how I was doing other than a basic balance and obviously I was not practicing good Bankroll management whatsoever. I was getting ready to fly to Hawaii for my wedding and I thought that it would be a good idea to take along the Miller and a few other poker books to read while on the beach.

Quick update & a little background

Pokerstars has decided to process refunds to all of the US players which is quite nice for all of us. I will now have a small live BR to start with when I have the chance to travel to my local casino for some NLHE.
I played some hands on CAKE today. I am sticking to .02-.04 FR LHE for the time being and I have moved my BR up to $2.76 which brings me to 69 BBs at that level. I was planning on moving up to .05-.10 once I had 50 BBs ($5 BR), but I haven't seen much happening in FR or 6-max, so I may have to see what the traffic is like on some other sites, like the Merge network and some how transfer money over if I can.
The other option would be to consider playing some NLHE once I get enough buy-ins for the .02-.04 level which would be $80, which takes into account that I would be buying in with 100 BBs/table and use 20 buy-ins as my lowest threshold. To get $80 in my bankroll would take a while. I will have to wait and see at this point.
So...To give you (I don't know who the hell is reading this, but if you've gotten here in this page turner...) some background.
I started playing poker, like so many others, back in late 2004 when the real take off of the poker boom was in effect. The actual beginning for me was when I came across the reruns of the WSOP 2003 main event which showcased an online country bumpkin with last name that made advertising wizards jizz their pants. A friend of mine was throwing his annual Super Bowl party and there was to be beer, football, beer, lingerie bowl, beer, and then some beer with a poker tournament. I remember this vividly because it was the year that Tom Brady led the Patriots to the Super Bowl and Janet Jackson had a ninja star nipple slip. I, of course had no idea about the whole Janet Jackson thing until the next day because everyone wanted to chip in for the pay per view Lingerie bowl, that was as exciting as watching 2 turtles reenact the Karma Sutra. So, the game ends and we start playing Texas holdem. I haven't much of a clue how to play, let alone, applying any strategy. I think I was playing 8 out of every 10 hands which if you are familiar with poker at all, is a tuurrrible strategy. Needless to say, I was knocked out 1st and sat watching for the next 2 hours, bored as hell. I was never into gambling, mostly because I didn't understand it and I hated to lose money. This probably would have been the end to my poker exploits, but something very important happened the moment I busted. My friend who was throwing the Super Bowl shindig started to make fun of me, which if you knew him, would be no surprise. He enjoyed telling everyone else how bad I played and how he knocked me out of the tournament in last place.
My friend had a long history of tearing down the self-esteem of other people. Whenever this friend found out that you did not know something, had not seen something, or did an activity poorly, he would pounce on it, especially in public. Months before, he had introduced me to the X-box game, "Halo". There was an option to fight each other on different planets/rooms and he enjoyed killing my character in the most sadistic ways possible. After each deathblow, he would razz me about how bad I was at the game and explain how he was going to tell everyone else how terrible I had played. The final straw was when he and I were battling one another on a frozen planet with nothing, but rocket launchers and I had run out of ammo. I purposely moved my character next to his, so that if he shot me with a rocket, his character would be blown up as well. Of course, "my friend", failed to explain to me that one could press a button on the controller to swing your weapon at your opponent. He proceeded to break my character's skull, all the while laughing like a psychopath and he then went on to exclaim in childish delight,
"I beat you like a baby seal!", followed by more uncontrollable laughter.
At that moment, I decided that I was going to purchase this game, which meant buying an X-box as well, and practice it until I could defeat him with my eyes closed. It took me about a month, but like Darth Vader, I became the master. Once he realized that he could no longer beat me, he quit playing Halo altogether, like a complete pussy.
Fast forward back to the Super Bowl Party. Once again, I had been reminded of how much "my friend" enjoyed rubbing my nose in it. As soon after the party ended, I went to the closet "Borders" and found some books on poker. I didn't buy them, but I was making multiple trips a weak to read up on basic poker strategy, none of which I truly understood, so that I could be ready for the next time that my friends and I played poker.
Well, I will leave you with this little begining for the moment and collect my memories so that I can move on to the next chapter.

From the bottom up.

Since I have decided to run this blog concurrently on Blogger as well as Deuces cracked for the time being, I thought that it would be a good idea to re-post my background entries as well. Thanks for reading and please feel welcome to make any and all comments.

I am starting this blog as a result of the Black Friday shutdown of the Big 3 poker sites. Like all US players, I am not able to transfer funds or withdrawl my BR from online, so I basically have 2 major options.
1) Drive to a Brick & Mortar Casino on a regular basis
2) Try to deposit $$ online on another US friendly site.
Neither one of these options seem all that good to me as I am a stay at home father of 3 boys all under the age of 4 and I no longer want to jump through hoops to get $$ online which I may not be able to get back if the DOJ keeps pushing the issue of online poker being illegal (which it's not). So therefore, I plan on doing 2 things, which are...
1) Drive to a Brick & Mortar Casino that has poker whenever I get the chance
2) Sell some tickets on Cake poker and begin my own BR challenge similar to the famous 0 to $10,000 by Chris "Jesus" Ferguson. The only difference, is that I do not plan on having specific rules to play by, other than sticking to LHE at the moment so as to limit the degree of variance, or what I should say, losing a large % of my online BR in one hand. Bellatrix would rightfully argue the difference in variance between LHE and NLHE and how LHE, depending on what you're looking at, has more variance than NLHE. Anyways...I sold my 16 cake golden cards for .59 and then started playing FR LHE (under rolled, not only from the reccommended BBs to play at that stake, but for the table as well). In about 30 min I more than doubled my BR to $1.24. I plan on continuing to build up on FR LHE and may venture into some 6-max when and if I hit 300 BBs or close to that at my current stake of .02-.04.
Now going back to my B&M plan. A few days before "Black Friday", I planned on entering the Sunday Million tourney online for the sake of having the experience of playing in it. Most of the tourneys that I have played online, even deepstack ones, have been low/micro-stakes buy-ins and have not had the seriousness that I assumed would be in the Sunday Million (I could be way off on that as the nosebleed players who enter this look at $200 the way I look at a $2 180-man multi table SNG. Obviously by Friday, I was no longer able to enter the Sunday Million, so I went to my local casino and entered a $210 tournament. Each player received 6,000 chips with blinds @ 25-50 with 30 min levels. I was holding steady at 6,000ish chips, give or take for about 4 hours and began to fall closer to 4,000. Needless to say, I tripled up when I needed to and was able to finish in 4th place for a $1,500 profit. I plan on using that along with my frozen online BR (when and if I get back) to focus on 1-2 NLHE cash games at the casino whenever I get the chance. I am one session in for 3 hrs and I am up $75, or 37.5 BBs.
We'll see where I go from here, but I hope it's an interesting ride.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

My poker history, July-December 2008

Last I left you was basically here ( My unrealistic expectations and low frustration tolerance were wreaking havoc on my mental stability when it came to poker. Looking back on how I reacted to running B/E for 5,000ish hands is embarrassing, but as I said in my last entry, it was for the best. If you haven’t already figured it out, I am very intense and competitive when it comes to my hobbies. I have a difficult time taking things lightly, which I don’t look at as a negative attribute, but something that can have negative consequences. Obviously I didn’t end up quitting poker, but I took about 5 weeks off and started to think about playing once again one night when my then, 1 year old son, couldn’t sleep. Once he went back down close to midnight, I was fully awake. I went downstairs to my computer and felt like donking around in a NLHE tournament. I had won a $26token on FTP and I saw that there was a Knockout Bounty tournament about to start. Things worked out and I came in 4th place, which seems to be a running theme for me, which paid out a little over $200. Not bad for a freeroll. These types of surprises are always good for the ego and it was the little boost I needed to slowly work back into playing cash games. I started up with .25-.50 LHE again, mostly on Pokerstars, but added then switched over to .50-1 in October of that year, which was another fairly bumpy ride.

In the fall of 2008, my wife and I had decided to take a short vacation to Las Vegas with some friends of ours. I was excited to go, not only because I love Vegas, but our last trip in the fall of 2006 was quite lucrative as I won over $700 playing 4-8 LHE in the week that we were there. This trip was to be a bit different in tone which began with some bad weather the week before we left. That fall the Midwest was experiencing heavy rain and winds due to some strong Hurricanes in the Southern part of the USA. One Saturday in September, I went to the basement to get some clean laundry and stepped into an inch of water. Apparently the Village’s drainage system couldn’t keep up with the sudden influx of rain water and in began to back up into many of the houses on our block. I didn’t realize how bad it would get so I took my time locating a sump pump and moving out clothes. Within an hour it was 5 inches and I was in shock. Luckily I saw our cat perched on a mattress that was about to start floating around and got her out of there. My wife, 1 year old son, and still dry cat went to her parents as I began to hopelessly grab things that I could save. In the end I borrowed 3 sump pumps that ran for 24 hours straight. I began ripping up carpet and trying to move furniture that was beyond recovery. In the end, we had the entire basement demolished to the foundation. The next weekend we were off to Vegas for 4 days. My wife and I went out there with another couple whom we had known for 6 years. We’ll call them Kevin and Marie. What could go wrong? It started with the 3 Bloody Marys that Kevin had on the flight out. He had another 2 Margaritas at the Venetian pool an hour after landing and then topped it off with 2 more Gin & Tonics at Sushi that night with a desert of 2 more Martinis at Tao nightclub. I think the rest can be summed up in this 2+2 trip report. (

The last half of 2008 was all about how I needed to work on my mental approach to poker which was difficult to change. One thing that wasn’t that difficult to change were the NLHE tournaments that I was playing. As I had stated before, I usually would play $2-$4 buy-in tourneys that had 2,000+ players. The payout was great if you were in the top 5, but not so much if you were on the bubble. When playing poker online, most sites have some sort of reward program, so that the more hands you play, the more points you earn. To be more specific, Pokerstars had a FPP/VPP program where you would earn points based on the amount of money in each pot you played. You would earn more points (fraction of points) when the pot was bigger, whether that was due to there being more players in the pot in a given hand or the simple fact that one was at a higher limit. Another aspect was that if you earned a given amount of points in a calendar month, then you would move up a level which would help you to earn more points in the next month. These points could be used for many different things. You could buy merchandise, tournament tickets, cash back rewards, and so on. I would use my VPPs to enter single table tournaments with up to 10 players, also known as a Sit N Go (SNGsmicrostakes players on the forums suggested that I play 180-man multi table SNGs rather than the 2,000+ entries because I would have a better chance at cashing for more money. In November and December of 2008, I started playing some 180-man SNGs and did well and finished in the Top 10 players 3 times and netted over $80. To me this was free money to help pad my bankroll, especially after moving up in the cash games and not seeing the instant success.

As 2008 drew to a close, I was rather happy how things turned out overall even if there were things that I did or said which I’m not proud of. I felt like I wasn’t the total luckbox in 2008 that I obviously was in 2005 and 2006. I felt that 2009 was going to be my year. I’m not sure exactly what that means, but all I can do is quote John Lennon when I say, “Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans…”

My poker history, January-June 2008

Although this is my first blog entry here, this is also posted on another poker blog of mine on Deuces Cracked under the name Figaro3000. Enjoy 

Not much is happening in the way of poker the past 2 weeks. I’ve been posting quite a bit in the LLSNL forums and to no surprise there are the same type of characters including the know-it-all, abusive, sarcastic, jackwagon. Oh well. My online challenge is moving along as I am up to $10.45 playing .02-.04 FRLHE mostly. Some of that is rakeback on Cake, but since Black Friday, I am up +$8.12 over 2,000ish hands running at 9.93 BBs/100. Now 2,000 hands is obviously a helluva small sample size and I could easily be running super hot even at these low stakes. It would normally take atleast another 8,000 hands to find out how reliable my winrate is, but I will be moving up as soon as possible. I have just about 100 BBs for .05-.10 so it looks like my uber-nano stakes will be behindme unless there’s some real bad run bad in my future.

Just as reminder, the other aspect of my poker game which has had a major shift since Black Friday was transitioning from live LHE to NLHE at my local casino. I’ve found, which is not that hard to conclude, that live $1-$2 tourists come to play hands. They don’t come to play hands well. They fully expect to lose and want to have some fun playing no limit and live the excitement of big all-in pots. Now, that’s not all $1-$2 tourists, but it’s a good amount to send their money my way if given the chance. I haven’t had a chance to make it to the Casino in the past 2 weeks as things have been busy with the family. So far 2011 has been the most profitable as far as dollars go. Obviously finishing 4th in a $200 buy-in tournament and running good at $1-$2 NLHE has been the reason, but it’s nice to see that I have been able to transfer what I’ve learned so far online, in to the live arena. Here’s to more success if I haven’t tempted poker fate enough already.

I took a little bit if a break from talking about my poker past, which mostly consists of online LHE play. I wanted to pick up where I had left off a few entries ago. My initial online experience could be described as tumultuous and ignorant. Tumultuous in that my results were erratic and any success I had, however, exciting, was brief. It was ignorant because I was very inexperienced and I wasn’t keeping any detailed records of my results. At the end of 2007, I was quite disappointed in my poker playing up to that point. I was arrogant for no reason, I tilted a lot, could not see the forest from the trees, and I wasted the valuable tool of the online forums that were free and interactive. This last statement I plan on delving in to further down the line, but not right now I would like to start at the beginning of 2008 which I would consider to be the 2nd part of my poker experience.

From what I remember, the beginning of 2008 was raher frustrating for me. I started to get back into posting on 2+2 forums, but as I have stated before, I hadn’t much of a clue beyond the basics in strategy. I began by depositing $400 back in the late fall of 2007 right when my wife and I decided that I was going to be a stay at home Dad. I started using PT2 in Feb 2008 even though I had purchased it a year before. You see, when it comes to using computer programs, I’m not that good. January started off a bit rough, but then took a nice turn in February in cash games, but also a surprise in a fixed limit holdem tourney. I somehow managed to win a $1 LHE tournament with over 750 entries which took a little over 6 hours to play. I pocketed $240 and was actually trying to get knocked out first when I made it to the final table. It didn’t work out so well which made this my first tourney win. Most of the tournaments I played were NLHE in the $2 buyin neighborhood. I usually played rather tight while most of the players LAGged it up. There were usually 2,500+ entries and I would finish close to the bubble quite often. The cash games were still a bit rough as my results were erratic and even though I was focusing on .25-.50, I would jump a level or two (.50-1, 1-2). Sometimes it worked, but most of the time it didn’t. When I focused on .25-.50 and .50-1 playing 2-3 tables max, then I would be able to focus on stay on my game. Through the first half of the year I played 27,000 hands and was winning at a 1.7 BB/100 pace which is decent considering that I was just getting back into poker in a serious manner, using poker software and working on my game. The problem was in my head. I felt that anything less than 2 BB/100 was unacceptable and I wasn’t going to give myself any slack for learning. Another mental roadblock that I put on myself was the fact that I didn’t understand sample sizes. I wanted to look at 5,000-10,000 hands and take that as a barometer of how I was doing. 10,000 hands online is nothing and there are so many factors that can go into the results. These were some of the many reasons why I would tilt so bad and focus in too much on each hand or session. When playing poker, one needs to have a good perspective of how to read the stats. On a sidenote, there’s a post on PT stats that was incredibly helpful to me and although it is from 2008, I still think much of it will be relevant even if some of the examples are possibly dated.

In June of 2008, I was facing some rollercoaster sessions over the period of 5,000 hands. Now any one who has played a lot online or plays live on a regular basis knows that 5,000 hands is quite a small sample size. I was going through a breakeven stretch and because I had never really looked at my results this closely before, I was rather upset that my WR was looking stagnant. In hindsight this was not that big of a deal and could have been a learning opportunity. Instead I went monkey tilt and decided that I was going to quit poker. The reason for my decision was out of frustration and poker immaturity at the time, but it was the best decision given how I was reacting. Now, obviously I didn’t quit poker for long, but it was good for me to take a break and come back a little rested.