Friday, February 27, 2004


i had a nice little session today playing two $.50/$1.00 tables. but i have a great concern. now, mathematically, if there are ten people at a table, and the cards are truly random, it offers everyone the opportunity to average their fair share of one win out of every ten hands. this is if everybody just played every hand they got, and everything was truly random. but my win % over the past few days have been at around 5%. even today, i only won 6% of the hands i received. although i came up big, i am concerned because this just won't get it done at the higher limits. i know that stealing pots isn't an option here which might be possible in the higher limits, but still, i don't think that i'll be able to play if i don't win at least 10% of the pots.

the people winning at least their fair share are the loose people i see on every table, which pros deem as "fish." but because these fish play every single hand, they still get to win their fair share of hands and end up with mostly winning sessions.

looking at my stats, i saw 25% of the flops today. out of those, i won 26% of the time. now rounding off, that means i win 1/4 of 1/4 of all my hands. which translates to 1/16. this is well below average. my question is, should i be seeing more flops? or is it because my hands just aren't hitting when they're played? or is it some other reason? i would like to bring my win percentage if flops seen up to around 50%. when i used to play the no limit tables, 40% to 50% were the average win percentage after i saw the flops. but for some reason, it ain't happening at these micro limits. is it because i was able to steal more in no limit? or is this just the nature of micro limits? i think i'll be looking into some 2 + 2 posts or rgp posts for the answer. but i'm sure most of them will say that 10% average is the minimum. so how can i fix my game?

Thursday, February 26, 2004

down to the felt

if you can't spot the sucker in the first half hour at the table, then you've lost half your money by the time you realize you're it...

i've come to realize that it's really difficult trying to make money playing the micro limits on poker stars unless you get a good rush of cards. after several sessions there this week, i've noticed that almost nobody ever leaves the table a big winner. maybe a couple of bb here and there. but most of the money just gets passed around for a while until the rake kicks in. the only winner at poker stars' micro limits is poker stars. so i've decided not to play there anymore. (besides, i just went broke there). sigh. yes, i know i'm not a strong poker player, yet. and i'll need to work on things. but for now, i'll be sticking solely with party poker where finding even worse players than me is easier.

current bankroll at partypoker: $89

funny how i thought i'd be doing better on poker stars at the beginning of this "poker plan." well, i'll just have to build up my bankroll. and perhaps transfer some money over to stars again later on after i have enough at party.

winning low limit hold'em

i've been re-reading the book because i haven't been doing too well lately, and i must say that it's surprising how many things i missed the first time i read the book. i realized that i was playing way too tight, and my card selections were all wrong. it's a good thing i'm looking over this book again. it has helped me to stay disciplined throughout my session this late morning. following the book's strategy, i believe i have stabilized my play more. what i mean is that i have a clear knowledge of what i'm going to play before the flop, how to play it according to how many calls or raises there are, and other basic things which i thought i already knew. so i take back all of my previous comments about lee jones' book. it's very helpful once you read it again after having played for a little while.

i'm dabbling in the low buy-in sit and go's on poker stars right now, but it seems that the server is down as everyone is disconnected, and play won't continue at the table. how frustrating. i've seen a lot of terrible network connections these past couple of weeks. probably the worms and d.o.s. running around. sigh.

well, i had a positive morning (even though school sucked), and i'm looking towards a good afternoon and evening. good luck at the tables.

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things that cannot change; courage to change the things i can; and the wisdom to know the difference. - reinhold niebuhr

cold deck

on party poker, last night's sessions:

hands played: 186
hands won: 4%
showdowns won: 45%
flops seen: 23%
win % if flops seen: 20%

not numbers to be proud of. i couldn't get any hands the entire night. i believe this is the second night in a row where my win % was below 10%. many may attribute this to poor play, saying i played too tight. but if they saw the hands i was getting, then maybe they'd understand what i was feeling. the deck was just freezing cold. or is it really because i simply suck? i don't believe i played too tightly. i'm gonna go over my hand histories and see which hands i didn't play and if i should have played them. there were a few times that i folded hands when the odds weren't there for me, but of course my lucky cards would have hit had i stayed in the hand. but fortunately, i ended up mostly even for the day. i couldn't play much at pokerstars. play is extremely tight there. the payoffs just aren't there as at party. but we'll see. i need to work on different aspects of my game anyway. so i'll be playing there for a while.

bankrolls as of this morning:
$70.25 at party
$41.25 at stars

i really need to get moving to try and build my bankrolls. this is either really pathetic play by me or just a run of bad luck. we'll have to see in the days to come.

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things that cannot change; courage to change the things i can; and the wisdom to know the difference. - reinhold niebuhr

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

just one of those days?...

my last session ended in about an hour with me hitting only 4% of the board. my pocket pairs were always dominated, my biggest ace was an ace-jack offsuit which i got once. plenty of crap hands though, which i foolishly played. and the flops kept missing me by miles. to be honest, i only suffered a couple of draw outs, but that's not what got to me. it was the inability of any of my hands to hit anything. and i guess poker players go through dry spells like that. it's just frustrating when the guys playing J4o under the gun keep winning all of the pots. funny thing about hold'em, any two cards can win...just not mine tonight.

so after a failed attempt at a multi rebuy no limit tournament on pokerstars, my bankrolls have dwindled down. here's where i stand so far:
$42 on stars
$65 on party

what a bad, bad day.

calling stations

i've changed the names to protect the calling stations. i hope to win money off of them one day soon...

0.50/1 TexasHTGameTable (Limit) - Wed Feb 25
Table Card Room Table 2027 (Real Money) -- Seat 7 is the button
Total number of players : 10
Seat 1: calling station #1( $10.75)
Seat 2: some guy 1 ( $19.50)
Seat 3: the lucky calling station for the session ( $92.75) this guy ended up winning over 50 bb in the session i played with him. river after river...
Seat 4: some lady ( $10)
Seat 5: some guy 2 ( $22.50)
Seat 6: calling station #3 ( $56) this guy ran hot to win over 50 bb in about half an hour and then started losing to calling station #2
Seat 7: some guy 3 ( $55.75)
Seat 8: TeLePaTHiC ( $20.75) me...yes, i know, i know...hey, i've got an ego
Seat 9: some rounder ( $41.50) this guy was playing three tables at a time and was up in two of them. probably a grinder
Seat 10: some guy 4 ( $46.50)
TeLePaTHiC posts small blind (0.25)
some rounder posts big blind (0.50)

here we go

** Dealing down cards **
Dealt to TeLePaTHiC [ Td, Qd ]
some guy 4 folds.
calling station #1 calls (0.50)
some guy 1 folds.
lucky calling station #2 calls (0.50)
some guy 2 folds
calling station #3 calls (0.50) yup, these three played every single hand to the river
some guy 3 calls (0.50)
TeLePaTHiC calls (0.25) suited high cards in small blind is an easy call for me. not worried at all about what the calling stations have. they are loose.
some rounder checks.

** Dealing Flop ** : [ 6d, 9s, Qc ]
TeLePaTHiC checks.
some rounder checks.
calling station #1 checks.
calling station #2 bets (0.50)
calling station #3 raises (1) to 1
some guy 3 folds.
TeLePaTHiC calls (1) now let me tell you my thought process as we go along. calling station #2 and #3 had a tendency to bet or raise whenever they have top pair any kicker. i've noticed this several times, so i wasn't worried about my kicker.
some rounder calls (1) uh oh. i hope he's on a draw
calling station #1 calls (1)
calling station #2 calls (0.50)

** Dealing Turn ** : [ 4d ]
TeLePaTHiC checks.
some rounder checks.
calling station #1 checks.
calling station #2 bets (1)
calling station #3 calls (1)
TeLePaTHiC raises (2) to 2 thought i'd try a little check-raise to see where they're at. if calling station #2 has a real hand, he'd re-raise me as was his tendency.
some rounder calls (2) uh oh. now, i'm really concerned about this guy. check-calling two bets cold.
calling station #1 calls (2)
calling station #2 calls (1) just what i was looking for. he probably has top pair weak kicker.
calling station #3 calls (1)

** Dealing River ** : [ 7h ]
TeLePaTHiC bets (1) harmless card, gotta bet out. unless...
some rounder folds. whew.
calling station #1 folds.
calling station #2 raises (2) to 2 uh oh. by now, i know i'm beat. but i really want to see what he beat me with.
calling station #3 calls (2)
TeLePaTHiC calls (1)

** Summary **
Main Pot: $23 | Rake: $1
Board: [ 6d 9s Qc 4d 7h ]
calling station #1 balance $7.25, lost $3.50 (folded)
some guy 1 balance $19.50, didn't bet (folded)
calling station #2 balance $110.25, bet $5.50, collected $23, net +$17.50 [ 7s Qh ] [ two pairs, queens and sevens -- Qh,Qc,9s,7s,7h ]
some lady balance $10, sits out
some guy 2 balance $22.50, sits out
calling station #3 balance $50.50, lost $5.50 [ Tc 9c ] [ a pair of nines -- Qc,Tc,9c,9s,7h ]
some guy 3 balance $55.25, lost $0.50 (folded)
TeLePaTHiC balance $15.25, lost $5.50 [ Td Qd ] [ a pair of queens -- Qd,Qc,Td,9s,7h ]
some rounder balance $38, lost $3.50 (folded)
some guy 4 balance $46.50, didn't bet (folded)

ouch...he hit his three-outer on the river, and i lost a MONSTER pot. that stung for a while.

i have several more, but re-writing all the hand histories is getting to be a pain. and i'm sure you're tired of hearing me whining. like i said, i managed to lose only 4 bb by the end of the session, and i'm fine with that for now.

on another note, i played another session today for about an hour. i looked over at pokerstars, and i noticed that only two or three guys were in each pot, (and this was at $.50/$1.00 limit!...yikes!). so i logged on to the dreaded party poker, and saw maniacs on every single table. i just hoped i wouldn't get sucked out on like i did last night. so i ended up playing on two tables and came up 29.75 bb for the session.

my bankroll as of now is:
$76.75 on party
$73.00 on stars

i plan on playing a couple more session later on in the evening since i'm pretty much free for the rest of the day. i think i'll try stars again at night when it gets a tiny bit looser.

both sites have pros and cons. the pros of party is that games are loose, mostly passive, and people will pay you off in the end if you have the nuts. the cons are that you can't bluff, and you must come in with premium hands to try and get the nuts. the pros of stars is that it looks better, and the competition is much tighter making bluffs a playable tactic occasionally. the cons are that it gets too tight a lot of times, and players will usually fold if they think they're beat, thus leading to lesser payoffs at the river.

we'll see which is more profitable in the long run.

also, i'm thinking about giving paradise poker a try. from what i've read on the net, the competition there seems to be in between stars and party which might be a good fit for me. we'll have to try and see in the near future.

struck down by the poker god of river deaths on party poker

the ethernet connection at ucr is the crappiest online connection ever. not to mention the stupid bandwidth limits that prevent students from even watching streaming video anymore, the ethernet connection here is the flimsiest piece of trash in the world. i remember my dial-up 14.4k on aol back in the old days being more reliable than this shit. ok, enough ranting about the stupid school's internet connection. on with rants about bad beats.

the poker gods of party poker must really have it in for me.

i thought i'd give party poker another try, seeing how so many people are making money off of the micro limits at party. so i deposited $50, and off i went to the tables.

god, i really didn't miss the gaudy interface nor the stupid skin of party poker. poker stars is so simple with their design, but it works. it's doesn't look like a cartoon when i play. not to mention the oversized cards for people who are blind (excuse me, the politically correct term is "visually impaired," my bad). party poker just ain't pretty. but i didn't come for the looks, did i? so i picked the best table i could find.

i sat down at a $.50/$1.00 table with three huge loose maniacs in the game. they're just throwing all of their money into every single pot until the river, and i'm thinking about the great amount of money i'm about to earn! i was licking my chops.


yes. it happened. bad beat after bad beat after bad beat after bad beat...rivered hand after hand after hand. it doesn't matter how far ahead i was in any hand on the flop or turn. by the river, they were all second best to the maniacs who just kept building their stacks.

looking back at my stats, i saw the flop 35% of the time which i know is high. this could be a combination of two things. 1) i was playing sub-par hands with the thoughts of beating these guys. 2) i was on tilt after all of my river deaths.

the amazing stat is the win percentage. 5%. that's right. 5%. out of all the hands i played, i won 5% of them. the best hands i saw during the two and a half hours long session was a pair of pocket jacks, an ace-king offsuit, and an ace-queen offsuit was the final hand i played. the jacks got cracked on the river (of course) against a guy who kept raising with ace high on the flop and turn only to hit the ace on the river. i knew i was dead when he bet into me, but i had to call to verify, and yup, he had 'em. an ace-nine, giving him top pair on the river.

i was partly card dead, partly on tilt. i played too many hands when i didn't get the cards i wanted, because i was desperately trying to build my bankroll through these guys. this was a terrible, terrible mistake, an awful strategy, a losing proposition. but luckily, i went on a mad rush towards the end and caught two guys on bluffs with my second pair holding up. i know i am very, very fortunate to have come away with only a 4 bb loss.


i went into the session expecting to win at least 10 bb an hour against these maniacs, only to come away thankful that i didn't lose too much. sigh.

i was seriously losing it after i continuously got rivered. you may think i'm exaggerating, but as soon as the hand histories get sent to my e-mail (i've requested them three times used to be very prompt with providing hand histories), i will post some examples up.

the best hand of the night was when i got pocket fives in the small blind. flop came [Th-8h-Jh]. neither of my pair is a heart. i check, big blind checks, cutoff checks, button checks. turn [6h]. i check, big blind checks, cutoff checks, button checks. river [Kc]. i check; everyone behind me checks, and i win the hand with a pair of fives.

well, that's partly why i believe luck plays a bigger part in poker than pros are willing to admit, especially at these micro limits where it's no fold'em hold'em. as i build my bankroll and move up in limits, i'll see less and less of these type of beats. perhaps then, true skill will be the primary factor in every hand played. but until then, i just have to hope my opponents don't get lucky.

so after 2 days on the "poker plan," my bankroll is thus:
$47 on party poker
$73 on poker stars

i'll move up in limits according to the tables set by poker odyssey as soon as i reach the amount needed on each of the sites separately. it looks like i'll be moving up quicker on poker stars, probably in about 2 to 3 weeks. and barring another session like this, i think i can get to the $1/$2 on party poker in about 4 to 5 weeks. i'm going to split the time according to whichever site i think is better for that session. (i must say that i've never ever witnessed such loose maniacs ever on poker stars. the players on poker stars are a million times tighter than on party) i'll continue to list my progress and bankroll as i go along. but i wouldn't be surprised if i even go broke within the next few weeks, looking at the terrible luck i've been having and my poor play thus far. i seriously need to fix my game, fast!

may the poker gods smile on you at the tables. see you later.

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

wild swings in play

after great success in the very first session of the "poker plan" (my name for the online poker challenge), my next several sessions were not so great. let me list my winnings/losses so far. this is play at $.50/$1.00 limit hold'em on pokerstars:

session 1: up 20 bb
session 2: down 25 bb
session 3: up 17.25 bb
session 4: up .5 bb
session 5: up 7 bb
session 6: down 12 bb
session 7: up 5 bb
session 8: up 7.25 bb

each session lasts about an hour. longest is hour and a half; shortest is session 8 at 40 minutes. again, because of school, i can't devote long hours to each session.

i've been getting wild swings in my stack. i'm sure the swings of poker make this variance normal, but very few can be attributed to bad beats, i'm afraid. looking back at my two huge negative swings, i can honestly say that i was on tilt. after consecutive bad beats, i have a tendency to go on tilt. one bad beat? fine, i'll try to deal with it. but two in a row on consecutive hands? it got to me. and it negatively affected my play.

so if i know all this, why do i continue to go on tilt? i don't know. it's hard, really. sitting there trying to control yourself when nothing goes right for you no matter how much the odds are stacked in your favor early in the hand, and by the end, you end up losing a bunch of chips to some lucky guy who drew out on you...not once, but twice in a row...and sometimes to the exact same guy? i should smile back at them and try to play smarter next time, i know i should. but it's just difficult for me to do so. i try to force my hand in a futile effort to get back the chips i lost by immediately raising like a maniac on the very next hand. of course, it's easy for people to tell i'm on tilt and they just take even more chips away from me.

i've been playing at two tables at times to try and make up for my low average winnings. but i'm not sure if i can handle it properly right now. it's not making much of a positive impact for me. instead, i think i'm focusing less on the details of each game and just trying to play whatever hands i deem "acceptable" starting hands and try to ram and jam them.

here are some statistics for my last few hands:

Hold'em (Real Money):

427 hands played and saw flop:
- 21 times out of 52 while in small blind (40%)
- 36 times out of 51 while in big blind (70%)
- 87 times out of 324 in other positions (26%)
- a total of 144 times out of 427 (33%)

Pots won at showdown - 29 out of 57 (50%)
Pots won without showdown - 27

the large percentage of pots seen on the big blind can be attributed to the fact that the majority of hands are played passively at these micro limits allowing a free flop for the big blind most of the time. i think i'm seeing too many flops on the small blind though. i need to increase my showdown win percentage, and it's very difficult for me to win pots without a showdown in no fold'em hold'em. 56 wins out of 144 flops comes out to about 39%. i'd like to raise this percentage as well. perhaps i'm bluffing too many times.

mind you, this is at the micro limit, and i'm getting beat! wow. i really thought i was better than this, but i'm rediscovering my poker self and learning the whole game over. i've really been out of limit hold'em so long that i've been forced to go back to my books and read them over again when i can.

i just need to calm down. i believe i will get better, and i will build my bankroll, and i will move up the limits. but i can't force it. i must take my time.

i've ordered inside the poker mind by john feeney and middle limit hold'em poker by the "coach," bob ciaffone. i believe the former book will help with developing my psychological outlook towards the game, and the latter will help me with situations that i am negative ev in. although it's for middle limits, i believe it can still help my game after a few adjustments.

if you happen to read my eccentric ramblings, any comments posted would be appreciated...especially if it's constructive criticism to help improve my game. i may not agree with you (due to my over-inflated ego which i'm trying to the way, why do so many poker players have such big egos? it a natural way to think when playing poker?), but i would like to know other people's opinions.

good luck at the tables...

early exit, yet again

i've noticed a strategy that a lot of the better no limit hold'em tournament players are using. i've had the fortune to sit at tables in tourneys with many tournament leaderboard leaders (basically guys who are prolific in their number of high finishes at tourneys which are documented and calculated by some formula pokerstars came up with). i've sat with the three previous weekly leaders in my past three tourneys, and although they do play a bit differently from each other, i've noticed this one point: they are extremely aggressive and overbet the pot quite often early on. in fact, one of them always goes all-in before the flop hoping to get called whenever he has a good hand. they play semi-tight, but they're not afraid to get all of their chips into the pot early in the tournament and to continue repeating this process over and over again. which led me to this conclusion: luck plays quite a big factor in their wins.

i believe that they get all of their chips in early, hoping to double up as soon as they can...and then double that up and so on until they can build a huge chip lead. just one wrong all-in push, and they're gone for the tourney, which i've seen quite often and have been very surprised at. but they play so many tournaments, that it's a chance they're willing to take. they'd rather get lucky and win that one tournament with a huge chip lead early on rather than grind it out to place in tourney after tourney. and then i thought, if i had a large enough bankroll, that's not such a bad strategy, contrary to what many top professionals will tell you.

one of the cardinal sins of tournament play is overbetting the pot in relation to the blinds. for example, the tournament starts with 10/20 blinds no ante. if these guys are coming into the pot, they'll either open for around 300 or simply go all-in preflop. that way, if someone calls, they're guaranteed to win a huge pot and build their stacks quickly. if no one calls, they take down the blinds and wait for the next time. but sooner or later, they'll come across players that are always willing to throw their money away and challenge these guys (whether they are just loose maniacs trying to get lucky, "sheriffs" trying to put them in their place, or short-stacks in critical stages of the tournament in need of a lucky win to continue on due to blinds rising and being so high in relation to their own stacks). this is when these super-aggressive players thrive. and throughout all the stages of the tournament, these callers exist. and then these players just have to hope that their hands hold up. here's one example:

a tournament leaderboard leader is at the table in early position. blinds have gone up to 15/30 no ante. average chip count at table is around 1600. as this is only the second round of the tourney. the "leader" opens for 500 in early position. all fold to the button who reraises all-in. the blinds fold. the leader calls and turns over pocket 2's. the button player shows ace-jack offsuit. the pocket pair holds up for the win and a quick double up.

now, although the leader did have the button beat preflop, i believe he seriously overplayed his hand. what if the button had any other pocket pair which would put the leader at a 4.5 to 1 disadvantage. two overcards are only a slight dog (i believe around 3 to 2) against a low pocket pair. this is an extremely risky move in my opinion. unless the leader had absolutely read the button for two overcards and was just praying for his hand to hold up, this is not how i would have played it.

with that said, i am not a successful tournament player (at least not yet). i don't consistently finish in the money playing my conservative "survival" type game. if i open, i would open for around three to five times the big blind like almost all of the poker advisors say. i would see the flop as cheaply as possible and play it onwards from there. so who's right and who's wrong?

i don't think there is a right or wrong to this question. each player has their own style of play. one style works better for one person than another. but i also do believe that luck plays an extremely important part in these tournaments no matter what style you play. will your pocket pairs hold up against overcards? will your top pair hold against a person drawing to the flush? yadda yadda yadda. the many scenarios go on and on. and you do need to get lucky to win. you do need to outdraw your opponents at various times in a tournament. and your nut hand at the flop needs to hold up 'til the river. but just one mistake in no limit, just one "unlucky" outdraw by your opponent, a fifteen-outer that doesn't hit for you on the turn or river, and you're gone. but as they say, that's poker.

much like in life, some people are born with all of the right situations into the type of setting that everyone else in the world dreams about. or a person works his way to success when the right venture comes along at the right time to hit big. but there are also countless others who aren't born lucky, whose opportunities don't fall through as planned. but as they say, that's life.

you just gotta take what you're given and do the best you can with it, and with a little bit of luck, you just might win.

Monday, February 23, 2004 i lied...

i couldn't stay off the $22 sit-and-go tables. and i ended up paying for it dearly. i won't mention how i lost. i'll spare you the bad beat least for now.

i came across an interesting webpage (poker odyssey) basically this guy talks about trying to earn a sufficient bankroll to move up in the limits. and his goal is to basically start with $50 at the $0.50/$1.00 limits and climb up the ladder to where he will have a sufficient bankroll to play $15/$30. pretty ambitious. but i like being ambitious, and i like challenges. so i thought i'd give myself a try at his plan as well. so i returned to basics: the $0.50/$1.00 tables, only this time, i'm sticking with pokerstars. i'm limiting my mutli-table tournament play to a minimum and staying the hell away from sit-and-go tourneys from now on.

so my first hour at a live game wasn't too bad. about 20 bb profit after an hour. but i definitely can't play too long everyday because of school and whatnot, so i'm going to have to try to play as much as i can when i can and make sure i maximize my profits for each session. i know i'm not going to make 20 bb an hour consistently, but that's a good goal to have for now.

my impressions of the $0.50/$1.00 were mixed. at times, the table seemed like a "play money" game. there were at least eight out of ten players seeing the flop on each hand. then at other times, the table would get strangely tight with only two or three people in the pot per hand. the less a person comes to the table with, the more they seem to be calling stations. the more a person comes to the table with, the weaker (tight/scared) he plays. i thought it was very odd for a little while. but i came out on the good end of that one hour session which isn't too bad.

next up's a $20+$2 multi-table no limit tournament. this is the first and last tournament i'll be playing for the day. i'm really trying to limit myself. but i really want to improve my play at these tournaments, so i gotta play at least once every two or three days. results and thoughts will be posted later on...

as promised, i will list the top professional poker players that i am a fan of. i would love (and be terrified!) to sit at a final table with these guys. i encourage you to check out their stories and watch them play when they can. it's like following basketball superstars, except they play poker.

1. phil hellmuth, jr. - he's just someone i think would be fun to know
2. t.j. cloutier - a real, classy player; one of the best
3. howard lederer - stoic and his stare downs can be scary; i'd just love to stare right back and make a goofy face at him
4. layne flack - another one of those fun players to be around (when he's winning), but when he's losing, better watch out...
5. daniel negreanu - a young, up and coming pro; great personality from what i've read so far
6. paul phillips - interesting personality and a millionaire who plays for fun
7. johnny chan - the legend
8. barry greenstein - cuz he's a nice guy
9. evelyn ng - cuz there is no better looking poker player in the world =)

well, that's it for now. tournament's starting. wish me luck...i'll need all the luck i can get.

some cheese with my whine?

be upbeat...think optimistic...

i'm on the button with two ladies. a very loose early position player who has been beating people with absolute crap limps in. a mid position player raises all in preflop. i reraise all in on the button. the loose player calls. his cards? king of daimonds, 5 of diamonds. the mid player? ace of diamonds, ten of diamonds. ok. i'm in the lead so far.

flop comes king-5-blank, all spades. the loose player just called and flopped two pair!!! but wait, they're all spades, and thankfully, one of my queens is a spade. i still have a good chance of winning this thing until another 5 falls on the turn. this fool just made a boat by calling all in with a king of diamonds, 5 of diamonds?!?! a spade falls on the river, but it's too little too late. only another queen could have saved me. but no. not today.

be calm...take deep breaths...sigh.

if this was the first time, this guy outdrew the table, i would give him some slack. but he also called all in previously with a jack of clubs, 3 of clubs to hit another boat ealier on and bust out two other people. this really makes me wonder. can he be so lucky that within the span of 30 minutes quadruple up his money by calling all-in with crap against big pocket pairs? this guy is really fishy to me.

so being a loose player, you'd expect him to play every hand, right? not really. he's folded quite a few times before the flop. yet, when hands like these come along, and he's a longshot to win, he always manages to come out on top. what bs. there must be cheating going on at pokerstars. this is unbelievable bs what i fell victim to today.


blow off some steam. lay off poker for a while. a long while. and we'll see if i can play in some fair games.

Friday, February 20, 2004

now or never...or maybe later, but i chose now

ok, so i didn't fare too well in the other multi-table tournament which started at 2 in the morning. i just couldn't build my stack enough, and i knew i was going to get blinded out later if i didn't make a move.

so here's the key hand...

i was in mid position. with about 2,800 in chips. blinds at 100/200 with $25 ante. blinds would rise in about two minutes to 200/400, so i felt a bit desperate here, i admit. the king of diamonds, 7 of diamonds show up in my hand, and i feel good about this hand for some reason. (hey, i was card dead for about an hour; by this time any face card looked good to me.) but i was really thinking that no matter what, i was just going to outplay whoever was in the hand. i really didn't care whether i hit the flop or not. i would outplay them.

so under-the-gun limps in, i limp, late position player limps, and the blinds limp. we see the flop. ace of diamonds-10 of diamonds-blank. two diamonds! a monster flop! well, not actually, but it felt like a monster to me. (i know i still had only king high, but like i said, i couldn't hit any hand for an hour, so i felt good about this one.) the blinds check, under-the-gun checks, i check, and late position player throws in 1,200. i immediately smelled weakness. i mean, i knew this guy was just trying to buy the pot right then and there. everyone folds. and what do i do? i call with a four flush draw.

the turn brings out a 5 of spades, not the card i was looking for. but i still had nine outs. i check. late position bets 600, and i knew he had a weak hand. i check raised him all-in. and he immediately calls. uh-oh...

he turns over ace-7 offsuit for top pair and a 7 kicker! what the hell was this guy thinking? unless he absolutely knew i was on a stone-cold bluff. the call left him with only about 600 chips left for the tourney. was this guy for real? defending his top pair with a 7 kicker?!?! oh wait, i had a 7 kicker too. but i didn't have even top pair! oops...

well, no help came for me on the river, and i was out in sixty-something place. in retrospect, i believe that i should have just check-raised him all-in on the flop or just let go of my hand. but i still believe he would have called me on the flop. i couldn't believe my eyes when i saw his 7 kicker. but who am i to talk? i'm the one that semi-bluffed all of my chips on a flush draw. sigh...

but i don't think i made too bad of a play there. if i had enough chips, i would have avoided that situation from the beginning. but i needed to build. after the blinds rose, we would get a 5 minute break, and the blinds would start to climb very quickly. without chips, i would have been gone anyway. and i believe fatigue played a big part in it as well. i was up since 7 in the morning. playing cards until 4 in the morning (when i busted out). not a good plan.

at this point, i would like to recommend two books for people who are aspiring to play no limit hold'em tournaments. t.j. cloutier and tom mcevoy's championship no limit & pot limit hold'em and championship tournament practice hands by the same authors. i credit these two books for improving my game a whole lot.

in fact, i'd like to share with you all the books in my library and a quick comment on what i thought of them. i'll list them in the order i bought these books.

winning low limit hold'em by lee jones. i alluded to this book in my first post. it was not a very helpful book for me. this was my very first book on poker strategy, so it gave me sound basic foundations on what strategy should be like. positional play, starting hands, pot odds, implied odds, outs, betting, folding, and raising were concepts that were introduced to me in this book. but even when i followed his advice, i really couldn't win much. maybe it's because i played the micro limits with this book, but either way, it wasn't as good as the other book i was about to buy.

hold'em poker for advanced players by david sklansky and mason malmuth. this is the book that really got me thinking about poker. the concepts and strategy they present here were eye-openers for me. a lot of times, i was naturally playing hands a certain way. and it turned out that i was playing them right. this book explained to me why. for example, the semi-bluff was something i was using in my game well before i even knew what it was. but they explained it pretty well and got me thinking about a whole lot of different things. they introduced real math to the game of poker for me.

play like the pros by phil hellmuth, jr. one of my favorite poker players of all before i got to know a lot more different people on the tournament circuit. i remember watching a little side-bit story the travel channel did on him for the world poker tour. it was hilarious. not because it was meant to be funny, though. just looking at him go through his daily routine of yoga and meditation made me laugh. but that's not to diss on the guy. the self-proclaimed "poker brat," the youngest winner ever of the main event at the world series of poker, is an awesome player and a pretty nice person if you get to know him...i think. his antics at the table lead people to view him as a whiner and a loser, but you have to understand why he's thinking and acting in such a way. it's because he plays the game so well, and he knows how to play so well, that when he gets drawn out by lesser hands, he has a hard time accepting it. but if you ever read his articles in cardplayer magazine, he always mentions that he has a beautiful life, and he has a positive outlook towards things no matter the outcome and to try harder next time. that's the kind of view i want to adopt as well. oh yeah, about his book...for limit games, i think he did a nice job of going over practically everything. but what really made this a good book for me was the ideas he presented about how different people play the game differently. i know player types were touched upon in the above two books as well, but mr. hellmuth really went into how they play and illustrated it many times by showing examples of well-known players. his "animal types" really gave me a perspective on how i'm not just playing my hand with the board and mathematics, i'm playing against another person. and i can outplay anybody if i can figure them out. he also goes into detail about omaha, stud, and other games, but i'm only interested in hold'em. i recommend this book to all poker players.

like i said earlier, championship no limit & pot limit hold'em and championship tournament practice hands are probably the two best books i have on tournament play. mr. cloutier and mr. mcevoy give very sound advice and strategy for tournaments. highly recommended by me. and plus, the stories they talk about are very interesting. it was an entertaining and educational read.

championship satellite strategy by tom mcevoy and brad daugherty was the last book i bought. i bought this book because they advertised it saying that they will teach you how to win one table satellites online. well, they don't discuss much about online one table satellites at all. but i think you can get the drift of it by reading their "on-land" strategy. but the book wasn't very coherent for me. it was pretty dull, and presented very basic, general strategy. nothing too useful for me. i felt i got ripped off. at $25, this book isn't worth it. even at $15, i would not recommend this book. you can get just as much stuff reading mr. cloutier and mr. mcevoy's books.

i think i'll end this blog here. next time, i'll talk about some of my favorite poker players, and why i like them.

until next time...

Thursday, February 19, 2004

in the money...finally...

february 19th, 2004
$30+$3 buy-in no limit texas hold'em multi-table tournament
518 entrants
place: 15th

this is the highest i've ever finished at a multi-table tournament. i had my doubts at the early stages of it as all of the loose opponents kept drawing out their miracle cards to crack people early and take an early place atop the leaderboard. but i just kept thinking to myself, that i will remain positive. i will have a good outlook towards this tournament, and i will take it one step at a time. and hey, i think i did ok.

overall, i played the tournament as methodically as i could. i played hands when i had the best of it. laid down others when i had my doubts. with about 9,000 in chips, half my stack took a hit in the middle of the tournament when i flopped bottom two pair with my jack-9 offsuit, and a loose opponent called with top pair kings only for the board to bring out an eight on the turn and an eight on the river giving him higher two pair. but i quickly came back stealing a couple of blinds and calling an all-in bet against a weak player with my ace-queen on the button. the player showed king-ten suited and was out in like 125th place.

at around the beginning of the second hour, i had made it a goal to have at least 10 times the big blind by the end of the third hour which translated into 20,000 chips. i looked toward that goal as i made my decisions, and i'm glad to say that it worked out well for me. about three and a half hours into it, i took a big loss as i overplayed a couple hands against a guy who flopped a set. i was just thankful i survived that hand with 8,000 chips. i built it back up to around 11,000, but i had to make a move as the blinds were killing me. a few minutes later, against a preflop raise from early position, i moved in with my king-ten suited. i thought he had a weak ace, and i tried to come over the top to try and scare him away. he called and showed 7-7. his pocket pair held up, and i was out in 15th place.

it wasn't as bad a play as it may look. short-stacked with the blinds rising in about a minute, i knew i had to make a move, and took a stand with the king-ten. although i was a slight dog, i knew i had to win some of these "coin flip" hands if i expected to make it to the final table. well, it didn't work, but i am happy and upbeat.

i also won first place on a $22 single table sit-and-go earlier today. after that win, i was truly upbeat and positive.

and as i am writing this blog, i just busted out 7th out of a $22 single table sit-and-go. i didn't mean to register for this tournament, but i was stuck. i didn't play very patiently, and i overplayed weak hands. but i'm still happy that i had a good day so far with the other tournaments.

next up, a $20+$2 buy-in multi-table no limit hold'em tourney starting at 2 a.m. pst. will i be able to place in the money again? will i be more successful in this tournament? will i be able to stay awake and pay attention to the game? i don't know, but i sure hope so.

well, i'm off to unwind and get mentally prepared.

oh, and if you ever wish to look me up on pokerstars, my screen name is "pokerlife."

until next time...

i hate bubbles...not those kind... last one table sit-and-go ended up with me busting out on the bubble...again.

here was the key hand...

table was four-handed; the short-stack of the table with about 650 chips left and blinds at 75/150 was under the gun. he raises all-in. table folds to me in the big blind. i see that i have the ace of spades and the 9 of spades and with about 1700 in chips with the 150 already in the pot. i figure him for a king high and call. he turns over the queen of spades and the 5 of spades. i'm about at about a two to one lead.

the flop comes 4-2-blank, rainbow. ok i'm still in front here. turn brings an ace. ok, now i have top pair, and he's drawing dead, except that i remember he has a 5 as a 3 comes on the river to give him the straight...


well, with about 1050 in chips, i went on a downward spiral as that previous short-stack pounded me into oblivion, and i went out on the bubble.

honestly though, i have never seen so many runner-runner draw outs in my life as i had at pokerstars in the last week. i play about 2 to 5 hours per day. i'm sure that's enough to see some fantastic draw outs, and i have seen some crazy ones, but to consistently get beat by runner-runner has been getting on my nerves lately. and i realized that it damages my game.

i also tried the two-table sit-and-go tournament last night. it's just an extra table set up and gives the feeling of a mini-tournament. i went out in fourth place, again, after being the chip leader towards the end, again.

i think i tried to bluff too much, and i finally got called by a guy with a bottom pair of two's. and after my chips took a hit, a european player started bullying me around, stealing my blinds. but i never had a good enough hand to come over the top of him with. so i dwindled down to the short stack when the european player raised huge on the button with my in the big blind. i saw a ten and a nine, and i thought, "what the hell" and called. he turned over the king of diamonds and the 6 of diamonds and i was out in fourth place.

my play during the beginning and the middle of the tournaments are fine. pretty good, even. but it's my short-handed play that's killing me. i can't seem to adjust to the short table and raise, call, or fold when i should. i need a lot of practice.

well, last night, i decided to stop blaming the cards for my losses, and i decided to have a brighter, more positive outlook on life. i may not have won, but i still have many things to look forward to.

win or lose, you gotta just play the best you can with what you're dealt.

good luck at the tables...

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

top pair gets cracked by overcards

heads up, i am in the small blind (dealer button). i raise to 3 times the big blind with 8-7 suited. opponent reraises me the minimum on the big blind. i call knowing that he probably has an Ace high card, possibly A-K or A-Q, and i decide to play him hard if no face cards come on the flop. the flop falls 7-3-x, two clubs. he checks, i bet all-in hoping to just pick up what's in the pot with top pair. after about ten seconds, he calls turning over A-K offsuit. now, i'm thinking to myself, "ok, i just have to avoid six cards, and i'll double up." the next card is a 9 of clubs, and then i realize, "oh no. he has the king of clubs." so now, he has thirteen outs, but i figure that the chances of hitting runner-runner flush is slim, so i settle back into my chair when the river comes a Jack of clubs, and i'm out...

i guess you can look at it from different points of views. one is that he probably thought i was bluffing and that his Ace high was good. or, perhaps he likes to gamble a lot and was hoping for his six outs. either way, i consider his overplaying of the A-K to be a flaw in his game, yet he still comes out on top. sigh...

so to continue my story of my poker adventure...

i had kept hearing highly of pokerstars' online tournaments, and i wished to try one. but i was held back until recently because it was near impossible for me to deposit money into pokerstars. neteller, firepay, and other methods of depositing by way of credit card were no good because my credit card company barred sending money through them. and the last time i checked, minimum deposit by way of western union was $200 which was out of my league. but i checked pokerstars again last week to find, to my delight, that the minimum deposit was only $50. so i wired a hundred bucks into my account, and off i went to the tables!

the good thing about pokerstars' tournaments are that you start with a lot more chips than at partypoker (1500 no matter what buy-in at pokerstars vs. 800 for lower buy-ins at partypoker), and that the blinds went up after a specific amount of time, not by the number of hands. this is a huge advantage in the later rounds as you patiently wait and try to catch a good hand to play with when you're in the critical stage. also, the level of competition at pokerstars is generally higher than at party reducing the chances of people sucking out on you with crap (although it does happen a lot more than i wish it ever would!) playing in their multi-table tournaments, you never feel rushed into going all-in because you won't get blinded out as long as you win a decent amount of chips, and this doesn't require you to play too many hands either.

so i found myself, for the first at pokerstars, trying their various "sit-and-go" tourneys (one-table satellites) at different buy-ins. i made it into the money in the $11 buy-ins regularly, the $22 about 40% of the time, and could never win a $33 buy-in. so i settled down at the $22 level and have been playing it everyday since with a few $22 buy-in multi-table tournaments thrown in here and there.

the first week, i was on a roll. i could not miss the flop. i got monster hands at critical hands and won huge amounts of chips and money. i ended up winning over $320 in the first week. now, to many professionals, this is nothing, but to a starter like me, this is huge! i was gaining confidence, and i felt that i could beat the game regularly enough to make it profitable for me.

and then came this week.

i have played over twenty $22 buy-in sit-and-go's and have been in the money only four times. i am barely staying alive with about $250 left in my account. and i am wondering desperately "why?" why am i going through sudden hour-long stretches of frozen decks? why do i always keep getting outdrawn after i'm leading on the flop? why? why? why?

i know whining does no good, but i can't help myself at times like this. i want to run out, find t.j. cloutier and ask, "why?" what am i doing wrong?

well, i've noticed a couple of things in my gameplay which has led to my losses.

i have recently purchased and studied t.j. cloutier and tom mcevoy's championship no limit & pot limit hold'em, and i find that i agree with many of the strategies presented there. except that t.j. cloutier seems to stress "survival" above all else. his style resembles tight/passive play to me. limp in with big hands, fold if you don't flop well. i've been trying this out, and i realize that although this is very sound advice, it only works if you can catch the right hands at the critical stages of the tournament: when you're on the bubble, and you're a short-stack. if you don't catch, you can't win. this has led me to getting blinded out a few times in tourneys.

another factor is that i'm simply getting drawn after i have the advantage on the flop. whether this is due to bad luck or bad play by me, i have to reconsider my strategy. maybe i shouldn't go all in when i have way the best of it, and try to beat them at the river when they know they're beat. maybe i should be less aggressive. i don't know, but people just won't fold to me no matter how tight or solid of an image i try to make at the tables.

my last problem is that i play too tight, and i don't bluff. i have come to realize that there is absolutely no way for a player to make it into the money consistently in these tournaments if he/she does not win a pot off of a bluff at certain times. this is impossible. so i need to work on finding and picking the correct spots to bluff at the pot.

keep in mind though, it doesn't mean i can abandon my tight/solid image and just play every pot.

i have newfound wonder and awe for players like gus hansen, layne flack, and daniel negreanu who play so loosely yet manage to pick the perfect spots to win key hands to get massive amounts of chips. these guys are the best when they are at the top of their games.

and then i come to realize that "luck" or "chance," or whatever you wish to call it, has a bigger impact in these tournaments than is let on by players. and although many players refuse to believe in it, i wish myself lots of luck when it comes down to key hands and that i don't get unlucky.

well, my poker journey continues, and i'll share with you more results of my play and certain hands that i found to be a great experience.

until next time...good "luck" at the tables...

my first post first post...

i guess i'll start off with why i'm doing this...

i'm seriously interested in supplementing my income through playing poker on the side. i also have serious aspirations of playing in (and winning of course) a major tournament (and several more throughout my lifetime, hopefully).

a little background on my poker beginnings perhaps...

i started getting interested in poker back when i was 14 years old. i ran across a website that discussed earning a living by playing poker in home games. play poker for a living?! this was a revolutionary idea to me. i associated poker, at the time, with other casino games such as blackjack. all i thought was that the odds were always stacked in favor of casinos, so poker was a gamble and was essentially throwing your money away, until i came to realize that poker wasn't played against the casinos.

wait a minute, so if poker isn't against the "house," then that means that one of the players must always come up as the winner at the end of a session. so if there's a way for this player to consistently win, there must be some skill involved in this game. the site went on to discuss five card draw in home games, but i found it to be mostly about the psychology of poker, and maintaining discipline, but it didn't go into any further details of how to play certain hands or whatnot. so my interest in poker faded...until...

the movie rounders came across my lap when i was turning 21. (i should clarify. the movie came out in like 1998. but i first saw the movie last year.) my curiosity in poker peaked again, as i watched people play a totally different type of game than i had ever come across: texas hold 'em. very few people that i knew had even heard of the game. but watching michael mcdermott explain how there were certain hands to play at the beginning really blew my mind away. you mean you actually fold hands before the flop? this idea of strategy in poker made me realize that poker was more than just a game of chance, it also required skill.

my first delvings into hold 'em was online on yahoo for play money. it wasn't very fun as everybody basically kept betting everything all the time no matter what. and the lucky guy came away the winner at the end of every hand. i knew that play money was no way of learning how to play or gauging skill level for this game. i also played about five bucks worth of poker at my friend's house about once a month. we would just gather to have a good time, and nobody was really serious about the game. this just wouldn't do for me. i had greater goals.

around this time, the world poker tour was just starting, and i immediately caught the "bug." i would set aside two hours every wednesday to watch and study these players on t.v. and my thoughts about skill in poker were confirmed. there was just so much i didn't know about poker, and i absolutely had to learn!

so i deposited $50 in partypoker, and sat down at the $0.50/$1.00 games. i was pretty much even money for about three months. i would play the hands that looked good to me, and continue after the flop if i felt that i could win it. no consideration of position, hand selection, chip counts, or pot odds whatsoever. basically i played whatever i felt like.

then came lee jones' winning low limit hold 'em. win? hey, that's what i was trying to do. after reading the book, i sat down at the lowest of the low limits again with a renewed attitude. play such and such hands in this position. play such and such a way after the flop if i have odds or fold if i can't win. well, i lost all my money that day.

but this had to be a fluke, right? of those wild swings poker players talk about...because i was actually reading books, studying poker, and trying to play "right." so i bought in for another $50 which disappeared in a matter of about two days.

what was going on? i mean, i bought what is considered to be the book on low limit hold 'em, and i was getting killed!!! i was pissed off. i thought poker was supposed to be a skills game, yet i couldn't win with what the book was telling me to do.

after getting bummed out, i searched around for some advice. is making a living off of poker for real? or is it just a "pipe dream?" well, sklansky and malmuth came highly recommended wherever i turned to on the web. so i invested $25 on sklansky and malmuth's hold 'em poker for the advanced player (even though i was a pure novice) and read that book from end to end. i actually studied it, taking notes, like i did for my other classes at my school.

after i figured i thoroughly understood the basic concepts of poker, i plunked down $100 into my partypoker account and restarted my poker journey. i abandoned the $0.50/$1.00 games for some tinkerings in $25 buy-in no limit tables and (a very new concept to me at the time) limit and no limit one-table satellites. my play at the live games were so-so, but improving. but what really got me wired into online poker were these low buy-in satellites. party offers $6 one-table satellites, and i was hooked from the beginning. i won my very first time at the table, and i came to realize that if i consistently won these satellites, i could make some nice cash, indeed. but of course, $6 buy-in tables barely got me any money, so i slowly moved up the ranks to $11, $33, and eventually $55 single-table tournaments.

consider this: i had only turned legal about four months before, i had been playing online for about less than that, and i was already on my way to playing $55 single-table tourneys. i mean, i thought i was the "man" and single table no limit texas hold'em satellites were the way to go for me. by this time, i hardly played any live games and concentrated all of my efforts soley into playing and winning these satellites.

now of course, i didn't win every single one of them. in fact, i only got in the money about 35% of the time i played. but because i ended the day with more money than i had started, i didn't give a damn about such petty details and neglected to take a serious look at my game. then of course, came those horrible bad beats and swings in my bankroll.

you have to understand that a single-table tournament on partypoker starts out ten-handed with the blinds at $10/$15 and rising after every ten hands. this means that the game gets very, very fast by the fourth or fifth level. add to this, the fact that many people play a very, very loose game. and crazy all-in betting in the early levels leads to the table being five to six-handed by the fifth level. this means that the blinds come at you quicker, but it also rises after only a couple of rounds at that blind level because there are less people, and ten hands pass by quickly five or six-handed. so if you aren't above par by the end of fifth level, the blinds are devastating against your stack.

thus, many times, if you don't get lucky by gathering some chips early on in the tournament, you will be fighting a very tough, uphill battle the rest of the way to make the money. of course, having a lot of chips doesn't guarantee a place in the money if you play your hands incorrectly. many times, i have busted out on the bubble after being the chip leader for most of the tournament. of course, most of these were against bad beats...(of course they were). and i blamed my huge losses on bad beats.

nonetheless, after playing for about 8 months on partypoker, i cashed out more money than i had deposited...barely. this was horrible, and i was forced to re-evaluate my game play.

i came to realize that i just wasn't able to win those satellites without a substantial amount of luck on my side. if i took a big lead and just tried to survive, i would end up losing when i can't catch any hands during the critical rounds of play. if i was short-stacked and made a stand with a mid-to-strong pocket pair, i would always get drawn out by big aces or vice-versa. now of course, it's easy for me to point fingers at bad beats and neglect the numerous times i had drawn out on opponents, but these beats hurt me psychologically. and i was ready to give up poker after i went broke for the last time on partypoker. i would never play another hand for money, ever again...

then came pokerstars...

but i'll save the rest of the story for my next blog. a little more history leading up to the present (the term history is used loosely here, i mean, this happened only last month...), more comment on my strategies, and some detailed hand histories of the greatest, and worst, hands i've ever played...

i'd like to end this blog with my philosophy on the poker game of life...

sometimes, you can be dealt a great hand, play it right, and win...
sometimes, you can be dealt a great hand, play it right, and lose...
sometimes, you can be dealt a great hand, play it wrong, and win...
sometimes, you can be dealt a great hand, play it wrong, and lose...
sometimes, you can be dealt trash, play it great, and win...
sometimes, you can be dealt trash, play it great, and lose...
sometimes, you can be dealt trash, play it wrong, and win...
sometimes, you can be dealt trash, play it wrong, and lose a whole lot...

win or lose, in the poker game of life, you just gotta take what your dealt, and do the best you can with it...

until next time...