Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Interesting hand in the Bodog tourney

You're going to have to bear with me here because Bodog's hand histories are awful and so I don't really have specifics, but here goes:

Blinds/Antes are 1000/2000/200. Blinds are high, so an uncalled shove will get you a nice pot. I jumped from T27K, for instance, to T38K, simply by shoving over a raise two hands ago with Q-Q.

We're four handed. We've all made the money and that sweet T$109 overlay and we've all got a healthy chunk of points.

Yestbay, I believe, has T40K in chips, NewinNov has T35K in chips and I have T28K in chips.

You are in the big blind.

I have a pretty solid, tight image, as usual. If I ever not have that it means I'm either drunk, crazy frustrated with the twins or listening to too much hair metal.

A tight player, Yestbay, raises 3x UTG. The second seat folds. NewinNov (where's your blog dude?) shoves his entire stack in. NewinNov is solid but fairly aggressive.

An additional read: NewinNov won a big showdown with A-J four hands ago after he said, "Let's gamble. It's getting late."

You have A-Q.

What do you do?

(Rememeber, you are calling an all-in after a raise UTG from a tight player and a shove over the top).

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Aye ye ye captain

Dear Table Captain -

I know.
You're awesome.
It's hard to be this awesome, I understand, and not let the world share in it. When you've got this much poker knowledge packed in your head, hey, some of it's just gonna bleed out.
I understand.
Well, look here, these days, there seems to be more and more of you.
Almost every night, I play cash games at fairly low levels, $25 NL, just trying to build my bankroll, just like you. And every time I sit down, there's you, Capt. Kirk, Capt. Solo, the Skipper, bursting with poker goodness.
"How can you call that?" you say, sometimes when you lose to one of the few special, golden tickets that gave the other guy the chips that are rightfully there's. Why do they even run the hand anyway? Man that sucks.
So, in an effort to make you feel better, you start to chirp.
"Donkey," you say. "Idiot. God you're terrible."
If the player responds, who can hardly be blamed, given that no one really likes to be called names, you fire back. You talk about how you make $20 billion a night playing $25 NL, or, rather, you would make that much if only you didn't lose to such donkeys every night.
Here's the thing.
I don't get it.
We've talked a lot - like, a LOT - about how you're ruining it for the rest of us. Every moment you educate the fish, that's one less piece of bankroll getting unplumped. Let's face it. We need bad players, and yet, they're disappearing.
We're overfishing the oceans. That law approved by Congress last year - yeah, I don't want to bore you, I know this isn't as exciting as Guitar Hero, but you really need to hear it - has left an oil slick over all our waters. And yeah, that slick is only getting larger, as we continue to troll for more and more fish (and that includes me, of course).
This will require you looking beyond yourself for a moment - I know, tough tough tough - but have you noticed it's harder and harder to find them anymore?
You have noticed that, right?
Yeah, I know, everybody is a fish but you. You're awesome, after all.
But I have noticed.
I've also noticed a lot of solid players - including myself - getting berated in the chat box as well by you.
If you do have a better nature about you - and I'm doubting it, but I'm always willing to try - then you might consider that you're taking the joy out of the game (and it is a game). You might consider that no one wants to hear your bleating. You might also consider this.
Last night, in my very first hand, I was dealt 8-3 os. I checked my option, and I got two pair on the flop. I slow-played it just a tad, and on the river I took half a guy's stack when he called my big bet with TPTK.
It was only $10, mind you, but man, did you freak out.
"The amazing 8-3 os. Of course. I should have known."
Blah blah blah blah blah.
And what did I do?
I did not bother to point out that it was my first hand played.
And I took another $20 off you because you thought I was a donkey.
So here's the thing. When you're so busy berating others, sometimes you hurt yourself.
Yeah. That's how I'm appealing to you. I'm talking about YOU.
Hey, if that doesn't work, maybe you only respond to more fire to your fire.
So, OK, pretend this is a chat box.
I only have one other thing to add.

P.S. This post is the second is an occasional series of letters I write to poker players. The first was written to a first-time poker player.

P.S.S. Don't forget the Mookie on Wednesday and the Bodoggy on Bodog tonight!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Five Oscar Observations

1. Ever notice they get a really, really hot chick (Jessica Alba this year) to host the science and technical awards for the Oscars? It's the girl who those geeks probably whacked off to in high school but never had a tissue's chance in hell of asking out. It's like that's part of their reward, that for one night, the head cheerleader will fawn over them.

2. Yay! Diablo Cody won. I love it when terrific writers actually win something.

3. I thought Jon Stewart was only kind of meh, but then again, that's a job that no one really kills.

4. Best actress was quite a shock, eh?

5. Boy, they sure drag this out, don't they?

BONUS observation: They are sure proud of themselves.

(But I still love it all)

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The middle suck

"One of the cardinal rules of poker blogging is that you never post about having a good run. Doing so is THE sure fire way to an earlier-than-normal reversal of fortune."

Bad Blood

Blood, where were you a week ago? Jamming to metal tunes?
Yep, tide is turnin', beds are burning, whatever you want to call it, my fun little poker run has come to an end.
Shame, too.
As a result, my confidence in my game has taken yet another hit, too, as I can't seem to get any points in the Bodog Blogger tournament race after taking a swim in the $T dollars I earned througout January and February. I really want to play in the final tournament of champions, and not because I want a WSOP seat. I just want to play in a big-time tournament for once. Trust me, my limited bankroll and even more limited time schedule (fish gotta swim, twins gotta eat) leaves me with nary a sniff of the exciting tournaments such as the FTOPS and all the other tournaments you guys are playing.

I guess you're either runnin' bad or runnin' good, but do any of you run in the middle? Lately I've either caught a lot of great starting cards and they don't hit or gone completely card dead for hours at a time at the cash tables. My pocket pairs aren't hosting their threesomes, and when they do, it's on such a scary board that I can't get paid or have to fold.
It's at these times when the confidence in my game goes south in a hurry. I work so hard to avoid the losing streak that comes a-threatnin' to knock at my door (don't let the Devil in) that I play too tight, or at least that's my perception.
I"m always thinking I should be doing more at the tables, even if I am a winning player and especially in tournaments, when I read about all you guys making it to final tables with "no cards" and I can't manage to make one without the deck hitting me in the face.
When you're not getting any hands at all, that's when you start to think the better players would be making money by not relying so much on the starting hands.
I'm not there yet. I don't know if I ever will be.

When you're losing to suckouts, that really sucks, but you know you're playing well because you're getting your money in good. When you're winning, life is beautiful and poker is fun. But when you're stuck in the middle with me, I doubt myself, poker is boring and I'd rather go play Grand Theft Auto.
See you at the Mookie tonight as I piss off the cops enough to try to get a 6-star wanted level.

Sunday, February 17, 2008


— "God help us from presidents who can't be a little bit gentle, and who can't gather friends around and play poker and climb a mountain."

"Mo" Udall, 30-year member of Congress from Arizona, 1976 presidential candidate and father of Mark, a representative from Boulder, Colo. and U.S. Senate candidate who will get my vote this November.

Quoted in this month's edition of "Outside."

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Why, I'm having GG!

OK, doom switch, come get me.
Here comes a brag post.
Poker rocks!
There. I'm done.
No, I've made a pretty decent amount of money at poker these last couple of months, at least for me, meaning it's 1/16th of what Fuel makes in a single night.
Poker is really fun these days. It always is when you're winning.
I'm here to offer you a few tips as to why I believe I'm winning. You can take them for what they are. I'm not a poker expert. I'm not even close. So you may know these already or think I'm full of shiat.
I don't care.
Because I'm winning.

(If you question my poker prowess, that's fine, go check out the cute kids below).

• I'm playing at Bodog now more than ever - I can't tell you how profitable it is to play there. I don't want you to think I'm pimping the site too much. I'm trying to do you a favor. Seriously, it's like a time machine took a lot of players from 2005 and transported them back to one site. It's to the point know where I know I can push with two pair and I'll get called by a draw with one card to go or maybe TPWK.
There are still good players on this site, and it's quite possible that once I get my initial $200 deposit up and I can move up in levels from $25 NL, things will tighten back down. But I doubt it. The bottom line is it seems these days there are many, many more good or at least rocky, solid players than bad ones on the sites these days, but on Bodog, it's almost even and might even lean toward the bad side. That's like heaven in today's online poker world.
Hit up those cash games now.

• I'm playing Razz - Razz seems like a pretty simple game to play, so I hesitate to talk about how good I am at it. It seems to me that it's hard NOT to be good at it. And yet I've made money hand over fist playing Razz on Poker Stars lately. Yes, I've hit a few good hands, but mostly I'm just being really patient. I've refused to chase past 4th Street, folded when I brick even when I've got good starting cards and haven't really started a hand without anything higher than an 8 (and I'm cautious about the 8). In other words, I just play really tight, as usual, and you would not believe how many players think their 9 high or 10 high is gold or are willing to draw when they have paint showing and I have an obvious (at least to me) 7 or 6 low.
I'm crushing the $1-2 and $2-4 limit tables right now. You should too.
I did write a Razz strategy guideif you want to take a look, but I don't want to insult your intelligence.

• I'm writing more than ever at Pokerworks - Eventually, if you write a bunch of articles about keeping your head in the game while raising young children, you'll start to believe them. I write mostly about psychological factors that can help you keep your focus while you play, and that's put me in a state of Zen.

• I'm getting lucky - Yep, I'm getting good hands, and even more amazingly, they're holding up. I've had my share of suckouts, some for big pots (K-K< A-2 all in pre-flop in a cash game for instance) but lately it's only a share, rather than taking all the suckouts for every poker player on the planet, as I've done in the past.
You have to be lucky to win big. At least I do, and I'm comfortable with that.

• I know who I am now - I've said it before, but I am a cash game player through and through. I haven't played on SnG in two months, and the only tournaments I've played are the blogger matches. I will not give those up, as I enjoy them way too much, but I doubt I'll be playing many tournaments on my own in the future. I love poker tournaments and would love to win a big score one day, but they also cut into my win rate at the cash tables. Plus I do like the fact that I can play a cash game and when a baby cries, I can leave, rather than tell Kate to hold on while the blinds go up.

• I'm not worried about playing lower limits - I'm still playing $25 NL, and one reason is my bankroll on the three individual sites isn't high enough to move up yet (Poker Stars is close). But the real reason is I believe that I can make more money at the $25 NL games right now.
It seems to be that the next viable level I can play, $50 NL, is tight tight tight, while the $25 NL games are much looser. In fact, the average pot sizes in some $25 NL games match those at the $50 NL games, and the percentages of VPIP are MUCH higher.
I'd love to hear some thoughts on this, but that's where I stand right now.
I think the .50/$1 NL games are loose enough to make money, but I don't have the bankroll for that yet.

• I'm sticking more than my share of chips in the middle — Alan just wrote a post about getting your money in and getting value for hands, something Fuel has advocated quite a bit. Getting good value, not just dinking and dunking, as Alan puts it, is really important in cash games because you're going to have your coolers, suckouts and maybe a mistake or two. So when you do get a hand, you need to get paid, and more and more I'm finding good opportunities to do that. I'm also not as afraid of monsters as I was in the past. I'm finding that I was giving my opponents a little too much credit. Now I bet big and try to get paid as much as I can.
I am still cautious when I see some serious interest in the pot, obviously, but there are more situations when you can get some chips than I realized in the past.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Gratuitous poop stories

After a political rant, what's the best way to get your readers back?
How about a couple stories about poop?
Poop, after all, is funny.
If you don't want to read a couple stories about poop, I don't blame you. Just pretend I've just told a story about how my Aces were cracked after limping in from UTG, shake your head and move on.

Still with me? Even my twins bloggers?
I thought so.

(Hey, twins bloggers and a few others, the one about the girls is below. Sorry for this first one).

Sunday is the day I usually do my long run. It's my church, essentially. Maybe there's a post there at some point. Anyway, my running partner and I like to run a route through a Greeley park and a lot of calm neighborhoods without a lot of traffic.
The danger, of course, is that leaves little chance to go the bathroom if the urge strikes.
I'm not sure if many people can relate to this, especially those who don't exercise for long stretches outside, but this is a big issue for mountain climbers and runners because our access to the potties are limited.
Poop preparation is a big deal for climbers and runners. It's as important before a big race as a good meal, getting hydrated and sleep. We all whisper about it, exiting the port-a-potties with a smile and one word, "success," before we take our spot in the crowd. You must poop before a run, and I tell my climbing clients to go before we hit the trail. That suggestion always gets strange looks.
An unpooped poop can ruin a race, especially if you're running a 5K.
Only the last few weeks, I haven't been able to go before my long runs. Pooping, unfortunately for me, doesn't seem to come unless I've been up a while. It used to be so easy in the morning, but lately I haven't had the urge until right before lunch.
Anyway, running, as you might guess, gets things going down there, so if you can't go before you go run, you just have to hope that you can either happen upon a potty when it does come, or that you can make it home without literally crapping your pants.
I was on my ninth mile of my 12-mile run today when the urge struck. Dammit. We were running up some neighborhood streets and pretty far away from any comfortable potty. I'm not going to knock on someone's door and ask them if I can take a shit in their house ("hey, aren't you the guy who's face is on all those newspaper stands?"). So I was stuck, and as I reached mile 10, it got progressively worse, to the point where I had to stop running and clinch my cheeks together.
There is nothing, my friends, more uncomfortable than having to go and being a good distance from a potty. I was two miles from home, so I needed to run, and yet when I ran, it got things going again.
A half-mile later, I was walking and holding it in with all my might. I was totally screwed. I was worried that if I farted it would all come out.
As I was running down a long, winding hill in the middle of an exclusive neighborhood, I spotted, out of nowhere, a port-a-potty.
I couldn't believe it. It was sheer, blind luck. I started to run to it, and as I did, debating whether I should put all my faith into a potty that could easily be locked, out squirted a smidge.
Well, it was now or never. Either this door is open or I'm a toddler again.
I ran, pell mell, to the potty, praying it was open (see, I told you I was in church), only I couldn't run normally. It was more of a fast penguin shuffle. If anyone saw me, I'm pretty sure they knew what was wrong. At that point, I didn't give a crap, either.
I came to the green plastic heaven and saw that the door was not locked.
Oh. Thank. God.
There's also nothing, my friends, more relieving than going when you've needed to go for a while. It's the only time when you can be completely uncomfortable and then totally relieved a minute later.
Ohhhh, yes.
My underwear was in OK shape. It wasn't great, but I would manage to get home. I just hoped I didn't run into someone I knew and started the long, painful trek home. It was a hard last two miles. But I felt better than I did two miles ago.
• • •

I was eating lunch Saturday when I noticed Andie was playing with something small and brown and putting her fingers in it and then in her mouth.
Kate decided to go to Target, so I was watching Andie and Allie in the kitchen while I ate. They played with fridge magnets. Large ones. Farm Fridge.
Allie hadn't pooped in a couple days, so we fed her prunes and Karo Syrup and waited for the bomb to drop. Jayden's worst diaper ever was on a road trip, when he hadn't pooped in four days. It took us 45 minutes to clean up his carrier at a rest stop in the middle of Kansas.
So I knew it was gonna be bad when Allie let it all go, and so right away I knew what Andie was playing with, and after choking down a barf, I glanced at Allie.
Oh, shit.
The poop was coming out of her diaper and was all up her back, like a skunk stripe.
I've had a few moments as a parent when I just froze, as if my brain couldn't really comprehend what was happening and needed a reboot, like a computer.
Then I sprang into action. I ran upstairs, grabbed a diaper and many wipes and ran back downstairs. Then I grabbed Andie and washed her hands and her mouth while forcing down another barf.
Then I put her back on the floor.
Now the problem was Andie, that very same day, discovered crawling. I already posted her 'Army' crawl, but Saturday she really got the hang of it and could cover a few feet in less than a minute.
Unfortunately that meant Andie kept crawling over to the poo and trying to get it while I took the clothes off the shrieking Allie and starting to clean up the damage.
I moved Andie back four times and finally had to pick her up and take to the family room. She was pissed and started hollering at me.
Kate, please get home now.
I grabbed the 25th wipe (to put that in perspective, I can usually clean a poop with four) and went back to work. I thought about throwing her in the tub, but I'm not sure what I would do with Andie.
I finally got her cleaned up and dressed, and Allie was freaking by this point, with real tears spilling out of her eyes.
I picked her up, whispered in her ear and danced with her around the kitchen, side stepping the poop on the floor with the grace of Sinatra, or Dee Snider in Twisted Sister. I then sat her back down next to Andie, who needed a little Daddy time as well but was fine after a spin around the room.
I then went back to eat my lunch and grabbed my laptop and quickly dove into a Poker Stars game of Razz.
Kate got home three minutes later.
"Well, how did it go?" she asked.
I looked at her, said nothing, then went back to my game.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Promises, Promises

Tuesday was the first time I actually watched election returns come in on my own time, when I wasn't forced to because of work.
And I came away from it all feeling more discouraged than ever about all of it.
This goes beyond Barack Obama falling behind Hiliary Clinton. He's in decent shape, although he is behind and it will take a little doing for him to catch up. He's a candidate I'm actually excited about, and I'd hate to see him lose to Clinton.
I hesitate to bash Clinton here too much, as I am a liberal Democrat and will support her if she wins, but I think the Democrats are taking a huge risk by nominating her in a year that we should win the presidency hands down.
Bush mangled the office in a way that's never been seen before. I can name many, many things he did to hurt us. Tell me one good thing he did for our country. He screwed up New Orleans, butchered Iraq and just turned in a budget that manages to slash most social programs and yet puts us in more debt than ever. If he was a football coach, he would have been fired years ago, and it's doubtful he'd even get a job as an assistant once he was run out of town.
The country is pissed and ready to elect a Democrat. So why put Clinton, a polarizing candidate who many people simply don't like very much? Some don't like her because she's a strong woman (which is unfortunate) and others see her as weak because of the way she stood by Bill after he got a piece of ass. She's a fairly typical politican, a wishy washy moderate, and I don't see her accomplishing a lot.
That's a little harsh. I realize that. She's far better than any of the Republicans.
This is the root of my problem: I don't see any candidates getting anything done.
Huckabee talked about "putting an out-of-business sign on the I.R.S.' door" Really? We're a mess. Programs like Medicare and Social Security are shooting out of control, and we're heading for a recession, and we cutting taxes? How, exactly, will that work? I like a tax cut as well as the next guy, but this is not a time to be cutting taxes, and we all know it.
Romney talked about helping the small business owner. What a joke. Republicans hand out more tax breaks and kickbacks to corporations than any other party. How does that help the small business owner?
I kinda like McCain, but he's talking about staying in Iraq, and we need to get out of there as soon as possible. We can't afford the people, the cost or the image it's sticking on us.
I didn't believe anything any of the candidates were telling me last night, including Obama. I just couldn't. Maybe I'm a bitter, cynical journalist at age 36. Maybe I busted too early in the Bodog. Maybe it's because the only thing I've seen politicans do is make it a lot harder to play online poker. Maybe I've heard it all before, way too many times, and never seen anything come out of it.
And yet I liked the optimism Tuesday. We're turning out in record numbers to vote for candidates who we believe can change things. I guess we can whine about the state of our country, like me, or we can turn out to vote and at least try to make a difference. I didn't even vote Tuesday because Colorado has caucuses, and if you think I have time to spend most of the night to raise my hand to vote instead of stop by the polls like most normal states, then you haven't been reading this blog.
Good for the rest of you. But after listening to all those empty promises Tuesday, I can't help but think we're all taking a pretty healthy puff on the political pipe.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Patience, grasshopper

Until recently, at times I could be kind of a dick in our poker home game.
Never mind the snide comments about playing A-5 to two big bets. Occasionally I'd do that, even when I hated it when others would do the same thing.
No, the worse came two games ago, when I took my chips and went home.
That's right. Just like the rich dork down the street who owned the kickball and was mad because someone tagged him out.
I got sucked out on from a very loose, aggressive player I was waiting all night to bust. I had a higher two pair to his two pair, and he got his extra on the river. I threw the cards across the board and stormed off to the bedroom in the next room.
Regardless of my justification for it - I was trying to avoid saying anything stupid, and really got pissed only when the guy said I was "whining in the next room" - it was piss-poor behavior, especially considering the game was with friends and it was nickel-dime-quarter poker.
I took a hard look at myself and figured out what exactly was the reason for the blowout. And I realized it was my competitive nature.
My inpatient, competitive nature.
• • •
Today I ran a 5K. It's February, so I didn't expect a whole lot out of it. Racing 5Ks, truly running them the way I am capable of running them, is not only difficult, it's different than anything else I do.
You have to prepare your body to run extremely fast for three miles. And though I was doing some speed work this winter and putting in a lot of miles (in some ways I've never felt better), I still didn't expect a good time.
But I ran 22:57.
That time is hardly elite - I only finished 25/150 runners - but for me it's a really good time even during the peak summer season, and it's a great time for this time of year. I beat several runners usually faster than me and tied with another when I caught him on a steep hill near the end.
In the past 5Ks were miserable tests of will. At their worst, I'd rather have the flu than run a 5K.
But today, not only did I run well, I was never miserable. I never really wished it was over.
I know why now too.
I finally breathed deep.
• • •
I was in a live poker slump before then and a little after then, too, and the big reason was I was always forcing the issue.
This never was a problem online, and I think that's because you can multi-table, so if I"m card dead on one or even two tables, there's probably some action on the third.
But I was inpatient live, and therefore I was taking it too seriously, and therefore I was pissy and downright stupid when the cards weren't coming.
So Friday I went to my home game determined to have a good time.
And I won.
Of course, it's hard not to have a winning session when you get quads in five-card draw, and you win a big pot with Shit on your Neighbor (know it?), and you get full house over full house over full house in Crazy Pineapple (crazy, hence the name).
But I let the game come.
• • •
Usually before a big race I would go into this mode of preparing for a big time. I would jack myself up and tell myself I had to get a great time or else it would be a failure.
When the gun would finally go off, all my nerves were wound, and I'd unspool way too fast and be gassed by the second mile. Then I'd hang on and survive.
But I learned to slow down, relax the body and run the course.
And I approached this race like it didn't matter what time I got. I would just run my best, see how I felt and go hard.
• • •
The second-most important thing I learned from both the poker and the running is both are more alike than you might think.
If I relax and let it happen, good things happen as well.
But the most important thing I've learned is it's the journey, with both myself and my friends, and not the results, that truly matter.