Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Stunned - Part II

And no, this isn't about the twins.

It's about this:

Read on, if you care.
(And, I have to admit, I hope you do).

"There's no secret. Tight players like me (and you) do well when they catch cards and go out early when they don't."
— GCox (who I should link but it's late and I need to go to bed)

I yahooed Gary, a.k.a, G-Cox during the Mookie last night to see if I could find out why he was making so many damn final tables lately. We are soul brothers, Gary and I, firm believers of Tight is Right, a.k.a. The Blinds The Rest Of You Maniacs Love To Steal.

He answered that he had been re-raising a bit more, but otherwise he was still playing his (our) style.
And that's when I decided that that's who I was. I was going to play my style. I was NOT going to try to raise with Q,10 in mp. I may try to steal and I may not.
It gave me some confidence to play the way I wanted to play.
And we would just see what happened.

Well. I honestly figured that God or Budda or Tom Cruise or whoever you subscribe to was to take it easy on shocking moments in my life. I mean, I kinda just had one lately. Scroll down a bit if you don't know what I'm talking about. The one with the ultrasound photo.
Those girls.

And then I win this? The Mookie? The toughest damn tournament I play on a regular basis?
Are you KIDDING me?
If you think this is false modesty, trust me, it isn't. I am a winning player, yes, and a good one, but I am tight, and my hole is I"m too conservative most of the time. So in other words, I can be outplayed by those who know what they are doing. And The Mookie, like any blogger tournament, is STUFFED like a Christmas Goose with players who know what they are doing.
Early on I doubled with with QQ versus 9,9, but anyone can do that, and soon after I'm dealt A,K. I raise it up, and Mr. Subliminal, who just limped, calls my raise. A trash flop comes down, and I continuation bet.
Mr. instantly calls me. When I check the flop (weakness, I know), he bets and I have to fold. More of the same, I figured. It's possible he had something there. It's also more possible that he knew exactly what I was doing and outplayed me. Just like always, I figured.

But then I started to pay attention. And (I've tried to leave names out for the most part so they don't think I am showing them up because that is not my intention here at can read the live blog if you must know) when a raisy-daisy raised yet again and I was down to 1,700 chips and I have K,Q, I call because I don't want to push just yet and I hate K,Q, but I also don't want him picking on my blind all day.
And I flop a straight. Broadway, in fact.
I double up.
Soon after I get KK. I never got AA all night, but I got KK 5-6 times. Yes, I was lucky. So very, very lucky many times. I am very proud of the way I played. Never ONCE did I suckout. But I got good cards and I won several key coinflips. In a row. For the first time EVER.

Maybe the keyest moment was my 9,9. I had 3,500 in chips and knew I needed a double up to make the final table. I was 12th out of 14. When I get re-raised, I push, figuring I need to take a chance, and I win versus A,Q. I was lucky. Yes, I was ahead, but I was lucky. Now I have 7,500, and I coast to the final table:

Yeah, I don't exactly have a tower of chips there, do I? I get A,J in ep and raise, hoping that no one calls. No one does. I get KK soon after that, when we have eight left (two from the money, which at this point was my only concern), and I raise again and get no callers. I get K,A on the next hand and raise AGAIN and I get a caller from a short stack. K high flop, I check and he goes all in and boom. Now I have some chips.
I would say to play with, but we know better.
To hang onto like they were my children.
OK, maybe that's a bit much.

So I"m barely hanging on when I win two coin flips to stay alive, including 6,6 and Q,J, and I'm still kind of floating around with three left, although I am second at this point (this is getting long, we'll cut to the chase, shall we, it's like midnight here now and I ran five miles earlier tonight) when I get 8,8. I do have some chips so I raise and I get a call.
Flop 6,8,J.
Are you kidding me?

I bet...opponent raises...I just call. Yes, there are two hearts out there, but he's protecting a hand, not drawing to one. On the turn I check, he bets, I push, he calls.
He has 6,6.
But yay.
Because now I have a huge chip lead.

And it occurs to me that a tiny thought in the back of my head just got a lot louder.
You know what? You could WIN this thing.

Well, we were heads up soon after that, and I had a big lead, which promptly got whacked up and down, and so I figure I'm gonna lose. I even tell Love Elf that. But I started playing aggressively.
Heads up I bet and bet and bet, and I don't think my opponent expected that, given that I played so conservatively throughout. In fact, I bluffed five times in a row, and he never called. I think he figured I had it. I don't blame him. I pecked and pecked and pecked and won a big hand and suddenly I had a big lead again. Then I'm dealt JJ, and I actually make a move.
I slowplay it. When the flop comes 6,6,2, I check, he shoves and I call and he has a 2 and I win and yell a huge holla, which I hope didn't wake up Jayden, and if I do that this summer when the twins are outta da nest I really think my wife will beat me purple.

I would say this is my greatest accomplishment ever, but that's not true. That twin thing, for one, is kinda cool.

But this is my greatest poker accomplishment. So I'm pretty damn excited, and so sorry for going on and on about it. It's honestly not bragging. It's just feeling good about the fact that I can now call myself a blogger champ, a title I never, ever thought I would own.

And if you do think I've got a big head despite my saying it's not so, well, cheer up.

The twins will humble me up come June.

If I'm not....

• Growling at weather reports that have temperatures here plummeting to a -25 wind chill Friday...
• Shivering at our whopping high of 15 degrees today...
• Looking up my own SnG stats on Sharkscope (an incredibly vain, navel-gazing thing to do, I admit; how many others look up their own stats more than their opponents?)...
• Working on my next iMovie about Jayden and a just-started project entitled "The Twins"...
• Reading a blog, "The Twinkies," about twins recommended by Gracie (and freaking my own shit out after I read about how stressed, tired and busy she is).
• Listening to
• Bothering other bloggers on X-chat, a fun thing for me to do, even if you all are saying "Who is that guy again?" I talked to that Star Trek guy last night and found him to be a cool fellow and actually funny (I'm certain jokes like that probably seem older than my dead grandmother, so I apologize)....
• Trying to clear my last PSO bonus before PSO decides to skip town...
• Wondering if my $700 frozen in Neteller will ever get released...
• Avoiding "American Idol" like the stomach flu I unsucessfully dodged last week...
• Running 5 miles out of sheer stubbornness even though it really isn't much fun in this weather....
• Doing laundry (sigh)...
• Watching this week's "High States Poker" (Jamie Gold actually played well, if not a little reckless, which bummed me out to no end; I REALLY want that guy to go broke)...
• Pouting about missing the razz second chance last night...

Then I'll be here:

Having fun.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

A weekend so bad, it made me hurl

OK, so I don't need to go through another weekend like that one for a while.
Like, maybe, NEVER.
It had so much promise. I dropped Jayden off at Grandma-ma and Granddadas and met my brother and his family for dinner at my favorite sub place (and saw my super-cute niece) and was looking forward to a longtime friend's home poker game.
I went up to the counter and confidently ordered a cheesy crab. Now, I've been in love with the Cheesy Crab since I was a freshman in college, or about 75 years ago (drum kick). I used to order it at least once a week, but it was an occasional affair, as I could only get them when I visited Lawrence, Kan.
And then...paradise. The shops chained out and even made Denver. They aren't in Greeley. Yet. So I'm still limited. But not QUITE as limited as I once was.
So I ordered my love. And the counter guy smacked my hand.
"I don't have any crab," he said. "I discontinued that. I'd only sell like one of those a week."
But...but...but...I wanted my cheesy crab!
I wound up ordering a chicken sandwhich with red sauce and quickly discovered that a sub place is only as good as a treasured item (translation, it wasn't nearly as good as the crab).
So then I thought the poker would make up for it. And it did. For a while.
Until I started to feel funny.
Wifey, Kate, had a bit o' the stomach flu earlier in the week, and I really, really thought I wouldn't get it. Ha. I started to feel worse an hour into my arrival, and then, I had to visit the restroom.
And puked and puked and puked.
I knew I wasn't going skiing the next day. I really thought I could continue to play poker, and I did, doubling my buy-in, but after a few more minutes, I prepared myself for the miserable drive home.
I drew on every ounce of my past experiences driving home exhausted and sometimes sick after a day in the mountains, and after a stop at McDonald's and waiting 20 minutes for a Powerade after being so thirsty I would have drank from a men's room urinal, I made it home at 2 a.m. I growled at my wife and hit the sack, praying that I could hold down the drink.
I did not get up until 5 p.m. the next day.
I haven't slept through the day like that in several years. I did manage to keep down the drink, and wifey Kate fixed me some grape Jello, which I ate and then ate some chicken noodle soup. Then I played some online poker just to be up for a while.
And I troll around for an hour and make some great folds, including a fold to two pair when I was tempted to push, and I'm rewarded for my effort by getting dealt AA. I'm the last one in, so I raise, and I get one caller, and the board flops J-high.
He bets the pot, $5, and I'm convinced he has K,J or maybe J,Q. So I re-raise, he pushes, and I gladly call.
And I'm right. When the third A hits, I figured I have it.
Until the fourth club comes down, and he wins with J,K os runner, runner, runner, runner FLOOSH, which floooshes down $62 and a good portion of my Ultimate Bet profit that I had worked hard to build for the last month.
Occasionally it's very hard not to get cynical about poker, even as it's going away and I'll miss it when it does. I work hard for three weeks and see all that work get crapped away when my 9-1 favorite doesn't hold up.
What a great way to end the night.
And the weekend.

P.S. The lone highlight was reading "The Road" by Cormac McCarthy. God what a great book. You must read this now.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Still stunned

I'm still trying to wrap my brain cells around the shocking news. I can't help but talk about it because that's all I've thought about lately, interspersed with the occasional blip about what to do with A,K in an SnG after someone puts you all in and their stack size is about the same as yours and its in the middle of the game as well as what my wife used to look like naked before we stuffed two Cabbage Patch Dolls in there (and I've already been cut off, so it's gonna be a long winter, spring and probably summer).

Mostly the twins though.

I was looking at non-baseball twins Web sites the other day, and for the first time, the news really hit me, like it blasted through beneath the protective layer known as denial and dug into a small portion of my gut.
This is the kind of news that you read about but don't ever expect it will happen to you. Sort of like winning the lottery, losing a family member to a car crash or winning more than three times your buy-in at a poker table. News like that might as well be written by Stephen King or E.B. White, as the people it happens to don't even seem real (even though I've interviewed several crash victims myself, even done projects on them).

And now this news!

I'm excited about it too. Don't get me wrong. Seriously, the other day I had a vision of two little ones crawling around on the floor and thought about how much fun it will be. But what I feel at one moment is not what I feel the next. Guilt (about the environment, about Jayden, about our own marriage) gets replaced by excitement and wonder, which gets replaced by fear, which gets replaced by a thousand other feelings, including a sudden urge to plan out my life for the next five years.

I know I can do it. I know I'll be fine. I think I've proven that I have a lot of determination. You don't climb 54 14ers over five summers if you don't carry a little bit of bullheadedness. But the thing that frightens me about this is eventually the trip ends. The longest one trip lasted was 24 hours on a single climb. But that was just a day. I have been on climbing expeditions that lasted several days. But that was just a week. I have spend summers climbing every weekend and sometimes during the week. But that was just a season.
Raising a child, especially when they are younger, requires constant energy, almost constant movement and constant, consistent and caring patience. It is not just a day, a week or a season. That's almost the most challenging part of raising my 2-year-old is matching his almost atomic energy step for step, regardless of if we're tired or sick or just a little fed up with it all. And now we've thrown two babies into the mix. I remember when we spent 10 days with my Mom and then my Dad in Kansas over the holidays, and I remember saying to Kate as I was chasing Jayden, "We're on vacation. When do we get a vacation from being a parent?"
You don't.
Yes, it's a joy, and I can't imagine my once-full (or so I thought) life without Jayden and now these two little girls who will soon enter my life. But it's also the hardest thing you'll ever do in your life. At least that's what I thought before this news.

I'll try to leave some of those concerns on the slopes this weekend, when I finally get to go skiing for the first time this winter. It will be me, my thoughts and my iPod shuffle. And Friday I'll be spending some time with a longtime poker buddy, whose home game is responsible for hooking the poker needle into my arm in the first place.

Oh, and here's where I'll be Thursday (I will Mookie next week):

Bring your best poker, your funny stories and a little encouragement, please.
I need it.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Do you see what we saw?

That's Friday's ultrasound.
Take a closer look.
Not all ultrasounds look like that.
That's right.
A pair.

Kate is 21 weeks into cooking up our second child, so today, Friday, we had our ultrasound. We are planners, and I'm probably one of the most impatient people on the planet (Christmas Eve was always torture; my purist parents refused to let us open even one present that night, so I usually pulled an all-nighter). So there was no way we were going to not now what the sex of the baby was.
We both thought it would be a girl. In fact, we ventured to say that we would be shocked if it were a boy. We had a boy last time, and this pregnancy felt, I dunno, different. Kate was sicker, longer, and there were days she was so exhausted that I'd have more energy after one of my half marathons.
"Every day is a half marathon for me," she would tell me.
Well, we got our shock.
"I've really felt a lot of movement lately," Kate told the ultrasound technican.
"Well, you're having twins, dear," she said.

I've never had the crushing of two opposite feelings coming together like that, and I never will again. It felt as if I had just hit my one-outer to win a huge tournament. And it also felt like I'd just lost to a one-outer.
It was, at that moment, a cross between pure, utter elated joy and YOU'VE GOT TO BE FUCKING KIDDING ME.
Kate started bawling, and at that moment, the technican realized that we had no idea we were blessed with a pair of Hiltons.
"Um, I gonna go get the doctor," she said as I held my head in my hands and shut off the video camera.
Yeah, that would be good, I said.
Daddy's gonna need a moment.

"They're having twins," she told the doctor.
"No, they're not," doc said.
But she came anyway, and she took one look at the ultrasound.
"Oh, wow," she said.
I was pacing.
Maybe because I'm already a parent, I was suddenly scared for my daughters.
"Are they separated?" I said.
"Yes," everything's fine.
So there's that.

As it turns out, the one-outer analogy isn't that far off. The odds of having twins is 3 percent. If that's isn't a one-outer, I don't know what is.
I called Mom, who couldn't speak. I texted my brother, "Big News," and he called and said, "What, you're having twins?"
"Yeah," I said.
"No, really, what's the news?" he said.
"Er...are you really?"
"Yes I really am."

Later he said this was exciting news for our family. It is. Kate and I, over a celebratory/Holy Shit dinner, decided to let it sink in for a few days. We won't think about the fact that my CRV, which we paid off just last month, may have to go. We won't talk about getting another crib, or how we were going to keep our sanity this summer, or how the hell we were going to raise two babies when we've already got the world's most demanding, active (and sweet) 18-month-old in the world.
We will worry about that later.

"Just make sure you do one thing," my brother said before he hung up.
"What's that?"
"Play lots of video games."

His point was to enjoy my life now while I can. These last few months are it. I'll play lots of poker and video games and run and hike and love Kate and spend lots of time with Jayden.
I'll enjoy my life, in a way, before it ends.
Although a small part of me can't help but think it's only beginning.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Silence may be a virtue


I'm with Drizz. I probably shouldn't have played last night. I dropped a few bucks in the cash games and lost two SnGs (one of them PLO8 with Drizz, and I found out I'm worse at that game than I thought, no more playing a HE game while I'm playing that). I actually didn't play that horribly - my flops weren't hitting at all, and my tablemates weren't buying my continuation bets - but I did feel a sense of urgency along with a numbness and a air of concern about what will happen to my money.
I'm not freaking out, especially now that a relative sense of quiet among the other bloggers has given me a perverse sense of calm. Maybe they're not worried about it. There's probably a way to withdraw, should I ever need to do that.
My bigger concern is this probably means the next few weeks will be the last of the fishbowl. I sincerely hope not but what else could happen?
My hobby seems to be disappearing before my eyes.
Maybe I need to start looking for an underground game.
What are the rest of you doing?

Edit: I just got this from Full Tilt:

"Withdrawing funds from your NETeller Account

As you may be aware, NETeller has announced that it will no longer provide payment processing services to U.S. residents. As such, NETeller is no longer allowing U.S. residents to conduct funds transfers to or from online poker sites like Full Tilt Poker. This change does not affect non-U.S. residents, and their NETeller services will remain unchanged.

If you are a U.S.-based NETeller customer and would like to withdraw funds from Full Tilt Poker, you will need to open a new account with an alternate payment processor. Rest assured that any funds you currently have on deposit with Full Tilt Poker will remain safe and secure until the time you can establish your new payment processor account.

Please follow the steps below to establish your new payment processor account.

Creating a New Payment Processor Account

You may withdraw your funds to one of the following payment processors:

Follow the step-by-step Quick-Start Guides to create an account with the processor of your choice.

Once you have created your new processor account, please make a minimum deposit with your new processor so that we can verify your account and player information. When you have made a successful deposit, please re-submit your withdrawal request through the Cashier.

If you already have an account with either Click2Pay or ePassporte and have made a deposit with them in the past, please email so that we can update your account information. In your email, please include the following:

Your Full Tilt Poker player ID (for your own security, do not include your account password)
The name of your new payment processor and your account number
As an additional security measure, please ensure that you email us from the same email account that is registered with your Full Tilt Poker account.

If you have any questions about withdrawing your funds, please email us at"

I don't know much about Click2Pay or ePassporte, but it sounds like Full Tilt is doing everything it can to reassure its customers. It worked for me for now. I will keep playing and I won't worry about withdrawing, as I've got more than enough cash in my poker bank account. Given this, I'm sure one day I'll find a way to withdraw if I need to do so.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

I'm As Cold As Ice

You ever have a week where you know you are going to lose all your money when you sign on, no matter what you can do?
Of course you have.
I'm starting to feel that way about Colorado's weather.
For the third straight day when I've gotten up, I've glanced at my new atomic clock and it's read -15 degrees.
I shit you not.
Negative. 15.
I just did a story for the Greeley Tribune about how this is the first winter in many that ice anglers have been able to actually fish in the ice for more than a day or two. When I was interviewing them yesterday, my ears started to hurt, then started to go numb, after 10 minutes outside. This was on a bright, sunny day.
That inspired this lede:

The air was so cold, it seemed to hold tiny razors that sliced painful little paper cuts into any piece of exposed flesh.
Any ear unwrapped in fleece hats, any finger exposed to grasp car keys, or any nose left uncovered winced and whimpered at the air that struggled to remain above zero, even with the sun’s help. People spoke with a dragon’s smoky breath. It was the kind of day that called for four layers of fleece, three big dogs and a mug of hot chocolate while you watched “Fantasy Island” reruns.

I love the winter. I really do. It's fun to live in a place where we actually have four seasons. I love the snow, the cold and the fun opportunities it presents. I love to ski. I will guide a snowshoe trip this weekend. I even love to sled.

But come on.


Just like in poker, eventually, when you get kicked in the balls over and over and over, your enthuasium wanes.

• • •

I watched the season opener of "High Stakes Poker" last night and loved it.

Did anyone else enjoy watching Jamie Gold get his ass handed to him as much as me?
I'm assuming all of you did.
And his performance, coupled with my successful night last night, shined some sunlight (mmmm, warm, warm sunlight) on the state of my game.

Gold tried to get too fancy, in my mind, during the first hour. He simply called with pocket 10s and allowed his opponent to draw an A on the river. He simply called with A,K (on a side note, does this guy ever NOT catch cards? Doesn't 8,2 ever get dealt to him? Jesus Christ). In the funniest moment, he tried to push Doyle Brunson off a pot when Big Papa had the nut straight.
Did it work?
Um, no.
Gold did make a couple decent plays. Maybe one, actually. But he also played horribly most of the time.
Would I have played much better against those guys? Of course not. Probably worse, actually. But I certainly wouldn't try many fancy moves. Gold overdid it.

And that's exactly what I was doing too often recently.

In an effort to retool my game, I forgot about my strengths. I can make great laydowns. I am patient. I know when to push and almost always get my money in with the best of it. These are good traits to have, even if at times it makes you rocky.

Last night, after watching Gold, I decided that I was capable of making moves or playing aggressively when I needed to do so. Otherwise I was going to let the game happen.

I won one SnG, took second in the other and then won $30 in cash games.

Yes, I took away a few pots when I sensed weakness. I raised occasionally with crap and pushed my good hands. But I didn't overdo it. In fact, in those cash games, I played for an hour and a half, and I think I bluffed once. There was no need.

I have a new arsenal of moves and I'm more aggressive. I'll continue to work on that.

But I'm also going to let the game come to me more.

And laugh hysterically when Gold impatiently blows his.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Sweet, sweet chaos

The prompter on Ultimate Bet blinked at me, like it had winked at me, and I faced a tough decision on my first hand.
December was a cruel month of poker, and January showed signs of it turning around until Wednesday, when I donked my way out of the Mookie and then played passively into two bubbles on weak SnGs. It seemed like it would never end.
And now this.
Now I had KK and a guy to my right, who I had no information on, had just put me all in. The board looking non-threatning - there were no completed draws out there, it was 9-high, and I really couldn't even make out a plausible two pair that he might have called my 4x preflop raise with.
He had just called me down the whole way, even when I overbet on the turn.
It seemed like the perfect conditions for getting beat by a set.
A bad call,and I"m spending another week in the red. Not by much, mind you, but $50 is $50. It was, in fact, my whole Poker Stars deposit bonus, which I had finally earned.
But sometimes poker is not a game of skill. It is simply gambling. I thought I had the best hand. I thought he had missed his draw of two diamonds. But I couldn't be sure. I had one pair. A fancy, neato pair, to be sure, but just a pair.
I called.
He had Q,10 of diamonds. He had missed his draw and tried to bet me off.
No, sir.
And that was the beginning of perhaps the most chaotic night of poker I've may have ever had.
I had some hands written down, but I played so many hands on both tables that I honestly couldn't write them all down.
Yeah, yeah, I know I said I wouldn't multi-table. I also said I wouldn't play .25/.50 NL again, but I got stomped at .50/$1 and so this is my compromise. You've probably already broken your New Year's Resolutions to get in shape already, too, so we're even.
Anyway, magic hands, coupled with a determination get more aggressive, meant I probably looked like a maniac to both tables. We know better, but they had no idea. I got beautful hands that got paid off, like a set of 8s, a flush when someone had a worse flush and someone else had a straight. My pocket Ks again got paid off. QQ got paid off and actually held up.
But every time the chips were shipped my way, I seemed to be Federal Expressing them back to others. I wasn't making bad plays - that's just how many good hands I got. And when you get good hands, some will lose.
I flopped trips three times during the night, and every time, they lost. Once to a 4-flush (bet the pot every time, he called me down and hit it, nice draw, sir), once to a straight on the river (again, nice draw, sir) and finally, the worst.
I had Q,8 in the BB and checked. The board came QQJ. I checked because I'm clever as shit and wanted to slowplay my hand. Dude checks. On the turn, a K comes, so I bet the pot for information and also with the thought of taking it down. Dude calls.
The 8 falls on the river, and now I've got it. Dude checks, and I bet $5, about half the pot. It's a value bet.
Until he raises me $15.
I have a thought to push, but I pause. Q,J is a conceiveable hand, right? He was UTG and called.
I'm definitely calling here, but I think just a call is prudent.
He had Q,J.
Ouch but whew. That cost me $30 but could have cost me much more.
My A,10 lost to A,Q (he didn't raise, not even preflop). TPTK got shot down four other times.
And yet every time, another big pot would come my way. As soon as that full house stomped me, the set of 9s doubled me back up.
Oh, and then a sauced-up and saucy Princess Maigrey kicked me off X-Chat twice. So even on the chat box there was chaos.
Final score? I believe I won about $150 for the night. And I finished it with a $65 profit.
So I'll take it. That's a great night for me, especially after December, and it will ensure that I finish well into the green this week.
I don't know how you aggressive folks do it. By the end of two hours, I was exhausted and stopped when I started bleeding chips a bit too much on weak calls.
I will remain aggressive, but I will also play my tight style. I do that, mostly, to avoid turmoil.
But for one night, I embraced chaos.
Her faint perfume on my collar still makes me smile.

Thursday, January 11, 2007


I had two thoughts as I was playing The Mookie last night.

Thought No. 1 - Weeeeeeeeeeeeee.

Thought No. 2 - Why the fuck do I play these things again?

Unfortunately, thought number two came in the middle and lasted until the end, after my steal attempts were re-raised both times by Zeem, who seemed to know exactly what I was doing both times (despite only raising twice in 20 minutes). It came as I pissed away my chips by calling one raise with 5,5 and two other times limping with 5,5 and hoping to make it through the ring with a chance to see a flop, only to see shortie push both times. One time I seriously considered calling, which should tell you how frustrated I was, that I'm willing to put most of my chips on the line with a hand that would, at best, be a coin flip and could be totally dominated.
All of this isn't that unusual in a tough MTT. Tournaments go that way (at least they do for me), and it wasn't your night.
Except it coulda been.
I chipped up slowly but surely by playing a little more aggressive than normal. I told myself that a tight/aggressive game, my game, wasn't going to work against a field of bloggers, many of whom are capable of taking down a large MTT field on any given night. By the time Miami Don, a great player who was a little short, put me all in with his KK versus my AA, I had a decent-sized stack, and when my AA held, I was in 5th place.

Now you should know that I final tabled the Mookie and made the money in my first attempt. I do not expect that every time, nor do I expect it even once out of every five times. But, ya know, every once in a while would be nice, or else there's really no reason to keep playing, right, unless I'm willing to pay $11 just for the privelege of chatting and playing with players better than me (which is why I only play one event like this a week).

Eventually, the deck continued to go cold until I got QQ, and I was put all in by A,K and my Hiltons go down to an A on the river (can't it just come on the flop if it's going to come, I know it's a damn race but it sure feels like a suckout when it comes on the river).

Poor, impatient play and a little bad luck equals IGHN.

To put the cherry on my night, I bubbled two $5.50 SnGs in a row.

I have a feeling this is going to be an uneasy year. Last year I was happy playing tight/aggressive poker, only playing great starting hands at $25 NL and stacking idiots. Now I've found the idiots aren't out there as much anymore, even when I'm not playing The Mookie, and playing just solid, predictable poker ain't going to cut it anymore. As Jay Greenspan says in his Hunting Fish book that I started reading last night, all the books teach you how to play a tedious, predictable game, and that's the game I need to change a bit.
Unfortunately, that means flameouts like last night's Mookie, when I make plays I'm not used to making or I'm downright uncomfortable making, are going to happen more than I like.

I'm already a better player than I was two months ago, as I'm mixing up my game more. The goal is to be a better player by the end of 2007.

And not lose my bankroll in the process.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Happiness is a warm laptop

As I lay in bed and play a little poker myself, I'm also having fun watching our own little blogging version of High Stakes Poker:

Good sheeeet lord.
The button "Join Waiting List" just sits there are mocks me. No efffffing way.

Meanwhile, little 'ole me beat another $5.50 SnG last night. I'm about ready to move back up to $11. I've retooled my game a bit more and I'm now pumped full of aggression and ready to go.
For the most part, anyway.
Of course, who needs to make moves when you have this:

A sex party with the Hiltons!!!
Say it with me now.

So the poker slump is mostly over. I will finish well into the green this week. Probably.
So sorry for the blues post. The blues are gone. I"m back into my routine. I'm running again. The temperature might break 40 (for a day, then it's back to the bitchy cold weather, but still). Work is better. I had fun chatting on that IRC thingy with some great bloggers last night.
Life is good.
Oh, and maybe, just maybe, I'll see you at the Mookie tommorow night.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Three reasons for a follow-up

I feel better after a hard couple days at work, but I'm still a little funky, and not the Prince/Sly and the Family Stone/Earth, Wind and Fire/Stevie Wonder/Jamiroquai kind of funk we've grown to love.
Maybe I just need to get back into a routine, but I think there are three reasons why I'm not exactly bopping along life's highway right now.

#1 - I miss my old life.
OK, I admit it.
Having a child is maybe the greatest thing that's happened to me. I say maybe because that's such a cliched thing to say - Hallmark Cards practically has a patent on it - and yet in many ways it's true.
But the birth of another child has made me realize that I do love my time to myself. I love to watch movies, play video games, play poker, read and blog. I don't like making choices, and in the past, I didn't have to. Now I do, and not only that, I would love to head to the casino more and play poker more and see a damn movie in the theaters with my wife every once in a while.
Kansas City, when we had access to a free babysitters, made me realize that.
And now I guess I'm a little worried that with two, all that will go away for good, at least for a while.
I feel guilty for feeling that way, too, which only adds to it.

#2 - Whoever wrote about the summertime blues was nuts.
In the summer you've got places to run, mountains to climb, girls to gawk at, places to swim and dogs to walk. In the winter you've got a land encased in ice, snow, cold, and it's dark by 4:30 p.m.
I love snow as much as the next person, and this winter, in many ways, has been fun, but I'm a little tired of it, and the realization that we've got at least a couple more months of this shit hasn't helped.

#3 - This third reason is a little complicated and rather stupid.
But I'm a little jealous of y'all.
Every day I've been reading posts about how you crushed this SnG or how you won $400 over the weekend or how you placed first or second in a 180-person tournament, and I'm over here still playing .25/.50 NL after an unsuccessful move to .50/$1 NL and having the hardest time making a fucking final table to a 45-person SnG. Yes, I've suffered several suckouts in those, but that's not the only reason I haven't made it. I'm feeling very small in the poker world right now.
I know how stupid it is to feel that way. I don't have the talent of a Fuel, the aggression of a Lucko or the pure blind courage of a Smokee, and I should be OK with that. I'm not Iakaris. I'm not even TripJax. I am not Jordan, even if he just wrote about his bad losing streak over the weekend. I suppose I'm not even Change 100, even though she honestly documents her own struggles, she seems to be a damn good tournament player.
I'm happy with what I've accomplished so far. I'm up more than $3,000 since last year playing low limits for my first year of real money poker. I've improved more over the last month and added several aggressive moves to my game. But I'm nowhere near where I want to be, and I wonder how long it takes to start dominating limits that would either bore you all to tears or make you chuckle as you laughed at the simplicity of the game and demanded the finest meats and cheeses.
And now many of you are getting paid to blog. Deservedly so. I haven't put enough into this to even dream about that. But, wow, that's really cool.
This hasn't affected my play, as far as I know, given that I'm up again so far this month.
I'll work my way through it.
I hope the sun comes out and melts all this snow, and my blues, away.

Sorry so outta sorts - sorta

I'm battling a version of the post-holiday blues.
Kansas City was fun, but now it's back to the grindstone, and more and more I find myself dreading what I know will be a tough year. I know the birth of our second child should be celebrated with nothing but joy and excitement, especially when you consider how lucky we are, but realistic parents know better. Yes, it's a joy, but we also know how hard it is already to be raising an active 18-month-old without a new person screaming at odd hours at all times.
And this is probably because of the impending birth, but I'm feeling this great pressure to watch movies, read books, play more video games, and, of course play poker. I have this paranoid feeling that I'm missing out on the world and I won't have time to catch up. Maybe I don't want to become my parents or I'm already in denial about the fact that I already am. What a stupid thing to worry about too.
This blogging thing takes a lot of time as well and I*'m not sure I'm read very much, which shouldn't be the point but I wonder if deep down it is more than it should be.
We're expecting another snowstorm and single-digit temperatures this week. I love the snow and the cold but part of me wants to scream "ENOUGH FUCKING ALREADY" as I try to navigate through eight-foot drifts and icy side streets. And it's only January? It's hard to run, even hard to get outside without suffering frostbite or soaking your shoes and the side of my car is starting to rust from all the chemicals they slap on the strees. And when I go to wash it, it starts to snow again.
My Chiefs sucked and I have a feeling my Kansas Jayhawks are doomed for another early exit, even if they have looked good lately.
Finally, work is kind of eh after years of loving my job.
In good news, I've rebounded from my horrible December (my second month in the red overall) and started playing good poker again. I'm still making impatient calls - just a tip, calling a raise with A,Q and an A out there when there's three suites also out there is not a good idea - but I've cut down on them considerably and the cards have started to fall my way again, which is nice too.
I also seem to finally grasp PL Omaha (high) after reading the chapter about it in Super System II again. I'm more worried about starting with cards that work together and being much pickier about starting hands. My system in the past was probably like the system of most low-limit players - put in your money and see how the flop works out - but that can get you into trouble when you flop two pair and you think it's good. So far so good. I still can't bring myself to push too much with my draws yet, even though that's more a part of the game than I'm willing to admit.
I'm clearing a bonus at Ultimate Bet, but I don't know how long I'll stay there. The software is kind of eh and the traffic isn't too great. I got a set of poker chips from Poker Source Online.
Once I get that, I'll probably just stick to Poker Stars for cash and Full Tilt for tournaments. For some reason, mostly a good mix of bad luck and some poor play on my part, I can't beat the cash games on Full Tilt. But I do well at the SnGs. Poker Stars seems to be treating me fine, although I need to get another deposit bonus to work on.

Sorry for the crappy post, but it seems to match my overall constitution right now, and I don't know why, either.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Down to the canvas

In the spirit of this holiday film season, I wil admit one thing to you.
I am not the Rocky of poker players.
I cannot take a punch in the jaw over and over and continue to grab the ropes and get back up.
Losses make me sick. Sometimes losing a lot of money keeps me up at night.
In fact, my constitution for losses probably makes me more of a Glass Joe than a Rocky.
So what I'm about to write is painful.
I got my ass kicked this week.
I'm down $250 after four days after my little experiment to play at .50/$1 NL. This follows a week when I won $125 at the same level without hardly any monsters to speak of. I thought I played well.
I think I played well this week too.
My work on the $5.50 SnGs is working. I"m more aggressive than ever, not assuming an opponent's strength, betting at lots of orphan pots, raising with position, for information and to push people off hands. Occasionally it got out of hand, as it did with a pair of 10s, which is why I have to keep this post from being too whiny, as I have to accept responsibility for my play and for this losing streak, the worst week of my poker career.
But I didn't play scared, even at the higher level.
Even so, I"m moving down.
I'm frustrated, pissed off and more than a little discouraged at this. But I'll tell you something. We journalists don't make much. Teachers make more in their third or four year than I'm making in my 12th year of being a reporter. And if you believe dozens of writing awards, I'm one of the better ones for mid-sized newspapers.
That means I have to keep what I have, or else I don't play.
My bankroll, somewhere around $2,500, needs to stay afloat.
I'm not willing to lose it all because I think I should be playing higher.
So it's back down to .25/.50 NL for me.
I'm still going to stick to my resolution and play one table. It's too much fun and I think that's how I"ll improve as a player.
These sound like excuses - in fact, they sound like the same speech every poker player gives (every LOSING player, that is) when they move down or go busto - but the beats were brutal during the stretch. Variance picked a good time to pick on me.
Among the highlights:
• Two pair gets beat by higher two pair when he runner, runners it. Pot-sized bets called to the river.
• Flopped A-high flush after a 4x raise pre-flop by me loses to a straight flush when he called with 9,7 soooted.
• Straight loses to quads when he got his fourth on the river. I read his set perfectly and got the money in after the flop but before the river.
• K,A loses to K,6 when he called my preflop raise and got runner, runner flush.
• 9,9 loses to J,A on 4,4,5 board when he gets his J on the river and calls me down with it.
• K,A TPTK loses to 10,2 sooted when he calls my pot-sized bets to the river and gets his heart on the river. He checked the river and so did I. Ha.
If three of those come through, I'm probably $100 down and I'm not writing this post.
But that's life. I've sucked out before too. I think. I can't remember. It's been a while.
OK, that's enough. Again, those 10s cost me at least $50, and so this isn't all bad beats.
Several thoughts have gone through my head as I make my way down:
• I must be a mediocre poker player. Maybe when I won that 3K last year it was because I was playing small limits and the players weren't good.
• Do others have to do this?
• I'm so frustrated. I wasn't impressed by many of the players at that level. In fact, many were just bad. Will I ever move up?
Maybe not on that last one.
And that's frustrating, but I asked myself why I play poker. Every time, I get the same answer.
The money is nice. My competitive nature likes winning as well.
But I play because I like to play games. And poker, it seems to me, is the best game in the world.
So down I go. I'll play $50 NL for a few months, maybe longer, and try to repair my bankroll on Full Tilt.
We'll see how well I take ths punch.