Friday, December 19, 2008

World Blogger Championship of Online Poker NLHE - 12-16-08

The ultimate victory in competition is derived from the inner satisfaction of knowing that you have done your best and that you have gotten the most out of what you had to give. – Howard Cosell

Although my tournament game is certainly not on par with my cash game, I rushed home to sign up. I got that done and began to discharge some of my usual familial responsibilities. The idea of me playing poker early in the evening while the boys were still active was already not sitting well with my wife and the tourney had not even begun. In jest, I assured her a sizable cut of the potential winnings if I were to be so fortunate. She was unmoved by my generosity.
When the tournament finally began, I have to admit I was sort of excited.
I was dealt A-A utg in the first half hour but got no action. I had to fold 9-9, 10-10, and some other medium and/or small pairs due to the aggressive player seated behind me, Klagyi from Isaszeg. I was in seat 7 and he in seat 8. Seats 9, 1, and 2 were all sitting out so their blinds were constantly under attack and Klagyi, being in prime position, would often re-raise any raiser. Finally, I get involved in a big hand with Klagyi and another player while I hold A-8s on a board of J-9-x with one spade. The turn is the 10s giving me the nut flush draw and a non-nut str8t draw if a Q hits on the river. I bet and get re-raised all in – of course I have to call due to how much I already have in the pot. The river brings the Ks giving me the nuts and I triple through the table. Not much later, I get J-J (twice) in EP but get no action either time.

First Break! I check the tournament lobby for notables and see RakeWell among the top 50 or so. I am approximately 73 (of hundreds).

Following the first break, I get K-K, utg of course, and get no action. A new maniac gets moved to my table and he is supernova elite named Alphafoil from Valencia. The three players in the 9, 1, and 2 seats are still sitting out! So, Alpha, Klagyi, WMZeus, and I are constantly battling for their dead blinds and antes. 90+ minutes into the tourney, the sitters are finally eliminated. I am at T 6,620 and the average is T 5,156. I kept getting A-rag offsuit in EP and having to fold to late position raisers. Klagyi finally self destructs giving his chips to WMZeus from West Monroe. So far, I have played 15 of 179 hands and I am at 83 of 217 players remaining. Then, the first trouble hand occurs for me. I am dealt A-10s in EP and I foolishly decide to play it. After missing the Q high flop completely, I make a pot sized continuation bet only to be re-raised all in from Alphafoil. I had to fold since I probably had only three outs for my tournament life. That blunder cost me roughly half my chips and now, I am one of the short stacks at the table.

Second Break! I check the lobby and see the Memphis Mojo is doing well. He would go on to make the final table. Congrats to the Mojo!

Interestingly enough, I am still at the table I started at (#67).
I am down to T 3,500. Within a few rounds, I am dealt 7-7. I re-raise all in pre-flop hoping to take down the pot or at least isolate against one opponent. I get my wish. Only WMZeus calls and shows his K-K. I end up losing to set over set when my 7-7-7 goes down to his K-K-K and I am out in 120th place.

While I was disappointed not to make the final 72, I had a good time.
I have to give it to PokerStars, I loved the tournament structure and I saw some good solid poker from the other players at my table. It was nothing like the usual all in shove fest of other freerolls I have played in. All in all, a good experience and one I will participate in again.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

End the Oppression Against Online Poker!

Liberty, according to my metaphysics, is a self-determining power in an intellectual agent. It implies thought and choice and power. – John Adams

The infamous happenings that have affected we US players under the heavy handed outgoing administration, such as the sneaky passage of the UIGEA, appear to be nearing an end. As a US player, I have felt insulted. I can lawfully choose to travel a long distance at significant cost and inconvenience to play poker at a casino but I am hindered from playing online in the comfort of my own home. The doors open to me where I can enjoy a nice no limit table have been halved or worse. But what is being done? I hope President elect Obama is going to take a more reasonable position on online gaming and poker online in the US, but we will have to wait and see what will actually be done to restore our liberty. With executive support, I feel confident US Representative B. Frank (D - MA), Chairman of the Financial Services Committee, and a more moderate congress will not disappoint the online poker community. I can almost see the chips stacking up! I miss the informality of playing in an online poker tournament on a new site. I long for the freedom to choose from all the available gaming sites out there rather than the few still open to US players. We spoke with our votes and now we are ready for the change that was promised to be delivered.
Here’s an early New Year’s wish that our Congressional Leadership hears the voice of freedom loving Americans and respects our votes and our desires to enjoy online poker and gaming free from obstructions or oppression.

Friday, November 21, 2008

It's Party Time!

You know, back in the day – before the surreptitious passage of the UIGEA, Party Poker was THE site to play on. Party had more players, more fish, frequent deposit bonii, and were among the first to offer players the opportunity to play other casino type games online in the Party Casino. I played blackjack there for while until the despicable UIGEA caused Party to close its doors to US players. Well, the folks at Party Gaming never stopped innovating. I firmly believe they will, once again, be major players in the US market in the near future. They now offer bingo in addition to their other gaming opportunities. That’s right, bingo. Now this is not your grandmother’s bingo, this is Party Bingo. If you like bingo, Party Bingo is offering the best value for the bingo player’s money to be found anywhere. I am definitely envious of the non-US players that still have access to the vast array of offerings at Party Gaming sites. One day soon (I hope), we freedom loving US folks will once again be free to choose where to spend our money and our time. You can bet your bottom dollar that when that moment finally arrives, I will expeditiously be heading back to Party Gaming sites to play their online games.

BoDonkey II - The Donkey Hunt

There is no hunting like the hunting of man, and those who have hunted armed men long enough and liked it, never care for anything else thereafter. - Ernest Hemingway

I played the BoDonkey last night hoping to get a shot at the Sir Waffles bounty. However, even though I survived into the final 12 spots, I never even got to sit at the same table with the infamous (and elusive) Sir Waffles. I did get to play briefly with HighonPoker and $mokkee. I did not observe much bad play at all, in fact, I thought most of what I got to see was pretty good. There were some amazing suck outs and then even more amazing re-suck outs. The worst hand pre flop would out flop the better hand, then the best hand pre flop would re-suck out on the turn or river.
I never seemed to pick up any good hands. If I got a marginally playable hand, I was always out of position. If I was in position, all I ever got was complete garbage. On the rare occasion I got a pair or a big Ace, I did not get much action. The only exception was what would be my final hand of the tourney. I was short stacked and got A-7 soooooted so I shoved. Only NewinNov, the chip leader who was also in the big blind, called with his 5-8 offsuit. I flopped an Ace and figured I was good. But, of course, he picks up an inside straight draw on the turn and gets there on the river – knocking me out in 12th. That’s poker.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

It's a Lock!

To succeed, jump as quickly at opportunities as you do at conclusions. - Benjamin Franklin

I recently opened an account at Lock Poker and I have been pleasantly surprised. Their look and sound is great! They have re-sizable tables which is an absolute must for me. They also have a lot more traffic than I expected for a relatively new site. At approximately 9:45pm central time, there were 15 tables of 1-2 NLHE and 15 tables of .25-.50 NLHE. The action was good. There seemed to be plenty of sub-optimal play going on and I am confident that Lock Poker is going to be a profitable site for me. I loved the handy “bet pot” and “bet half pot” buttons. So, what are you waiting for?

Get over to Lock Poker and open an account today!

Paradigm Shift - Enter Bodog Poker

A man must make his opportunity, as oft as find it. - Francis Bacon

I have long held a theory about online poker that a site with more players = a site with more bad players.
Party was the original site with a huge player base, lately is has been Stars. However, I recently heard a competing theory that is gaining traction in my mind. Under that model, the smaller sites attract more fish because the fishies go for the more favorable online poker deals offered by the smaller sites and they tend to think the bigger sites have more skilled players.
To gather more data, I am going fishing at Bodog. They have vastly improved their software and one can now multi-table. They have also renewed the Bodog Blogger Tournament series on Tuesday and Thursday nights, the BoDonkey II, which is a really great deal. The overlay is tasty and the players one gets to play with are one of a kind – Sir Waffles, etc. Blinders has written that their beginner sit and go’s are easy money and Smokkee has suggested the same about the cash tables. In short, there is no reason not to go play online poker at Bodog and that is what I intend to do. The blogger tourney is Tuesday evenings and I hope to see you there.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Serious Leverage

Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I shall move the world. - Archimedes

Given the current state of the US stock market, buying opportunities abound.
However, many of us have recently incurred unanticipated expenses and may not be adequately prepared to take advantage of the low, low prices of certain attractively priced securities. A short term loan may be just the leverage one needs to capitalize on these bargains.
Additionally, for serious poker players with confidence and a proven ability to win consistently, a short term loan may be just the bankroll boost one needs during these troubling financial times.
You will be placing yourself in a leveraged position but, for some, it may be just the thing to get the proverbial ball rolling again.

I Am Betting on Buffett

A billion here and a billion there, and soon you're talking about real money. - Everett Dirksen

I may not be a financial genius but today, I feel like one. The current US stock market is offering some historic buying opportunities. Think of securities you have admired and wanted to own for a long time but for whatever reasons, you have not acquired. I have long admired Warren Buffett, the Oracle of Omaha, and his company, Berkshire Hathaway but I had never bought in. Last month when the market was exhibiting a lot of volatility, I placed an order to purchase this security at a price I thought was ridiculously low (way below the 52 week low). After flirting with the threshold I set for almost a month but not quite hitting it, I was lamenting setting my target so low and considering upping the price I was willing to pay so I did not miss buying it by some small margin (which would be negligible in the long term). Luckily, I held firm and yesterday, it dipped below the price I wanted and my order was executed. I am now a proud shareholder of Berkshire Hathaway. I am confident Mr. Buffett and his company will prove to be a wise bet.

Liquid Assets

Money is better than poverty, if only for financial reasons. - Woody Allen

Lay offs are rampant in the Galveston area right now, as well as, nationwide. Obtaining credit and/or financing from a customary lender may not be possible right now. It is definitely more challenging than just a few months ago, before the liquidity crisis.
A short term loan might be helpful in meeting immediate obligations. One must be careful and plan thoroughly, but in some instances, this sort of financing may be just the answer one is looking for. If you think an arrangement such as this might work for you, there are people ready to assist you with a payday loan to meet your short term financial needs.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

More Freedom = Better

We cannot defend freedom abroad by deserting it at home. - Edward R. Murrow

Some folks never seem to learn from their mistakes. The voters have spoken clearly. However, despite the thunderous voice of the American people, some of our current congressmen (and women) appear hell bent on keeping the UIGEA alive. Perhaps they are not paying close attention to the recent election results or more likely, they don’t care what the American people want. They have their own agendas, separate from the agenda of their constituents, fueled by lobbyists. Reviewing the success of those on the Leach List, the recent elections appear to be a victory (of sorts) for online poker.
At least nine (9) US Representatives and three (3) US Senators that voted to oppose online poker have failed to win re-election and will be enjoying a nice long vacation. If those remaining in office persist in opposing online poker, hopefully, we will replace them in the next election cycle.
The majority of this wonderful freedom (and poker) loving country is finally beginning to find their voice and say clearly, abstain from whatever you wish, social conservatives, but do not impede my ability to enjoy an activity just because you don’t like it. We want to make our own choices.
That, my friends, is the love of liberty and the voice of freedom finally rising again.

Leveraging One's Position

A bank is a place that will lend you money if you can prove that you don't need it. - Bob Hope

I cannot adequately describe what the destruction and disruption of our lives is like because it is like nothing I have ever experienced before. Local businesses are cutting staff and many never re-opened at all after the storm. These are desperate times in the Galveston area, indeed. Some may benefit from a short term loan to help regain their footing. Obtaining financing from traditional lenders is particularly challenging right now so other options might be something to consider. Like any loan, it is a serious matter and not to be undertaken lightly, however, it is one option that may be available when others are not.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Why Do B&M Casinos Oppose Online Poker?

Gambling with cards or dice or stocks is all one thing. It's getting money without giving an equivalent for it. - Henry Ward Beecher

Brick and mortar casinos being opposed to online poker does not make any sense to me.
Here’s why.

I began playing poker with friends in 2003 and had never player poker in a casino before. To improve my game, I began playing online in 2004 and you know what happened? I began to want to play more, not just on the internet though, I wanted to play more live. Although the internet is fun, there is no substitute for looking at one’s opponents and the social interaction involved in playing poker. Although I had been to casinos before, I went to play poker live at a casino for the first time in 2005. I loved it. Although, I still play often with my friends in a homegame and I still play online at night when I have the chance, nothing compares to the challenge, fun, and excitement of playing live in a real card room in a real casino. I have traveled to casinos to play live 8 times (in three different states) since then. Playing online, for me, will never be an equal substitute for playing live but it is fun for when you can’t play live. I bet most bloggers would never have gone to play live at a casino if not for getting a taste of the action online. I think all B&M casinos would benefit from an influx of more new players that could be introduced to the game via the convenience of the internet.

Therefore, why in the world do casinos oppose online poker? If more people were allowed the chance to try poker at stakes low enough for beginners to enjoy the game, there would be hordes of more entry level players interested in making their first trip to a casino to play in a real card room. After that, it is up to the casino to make the player want to return to their property, as opposed to some other. In any case, more access to internet poker would equal more new players in the casino card rooms, which would be good for the casinos, as well as, the more skilled players that frequent them.

Goodbye, Nikki.

Do not go gentle into that good night. Rage, rage against the dying of the light. – Dylan Thomas.

Friends, Poker Players, Cat Lovers,

Lend me your ears.

I write to you today in remembrance of Nikki, our beautiful Manx cat and beloved pet of seventeen years.
Nikki had been my poker companion and confidante since I began playing online in 2004. She was there in silent support as I donked around, feebly attempting to grasp the rich tapestry of our engaging game. She would join me late at night in the spare room to encourage and entertain me while I played. Always there but never intrusive, she would often look at me with her big green eyes, after an ill-conceived play on my part, as if to say, “Wasn’t it obvious that he had the nuts?” Or she would come to me with a conciliatory purr after I suffered a bad beat or suck out to quietly remind me that it’s all part of the game and learning to make the proper decisions is more important than the immediate results.
Nikki was a gentle and dignified cat that always found a way to make us feel better when we needed a lift. She was there with me as I rode out two extended periods of involuntary unemployment. She brought me great comfort while I fended off the feelings of anger, self doubt, and angst that threatened to consume me during those long months. She was always there to remind me of things that really matter like the value and love of one’s family.
Nikki had many endearing little behaviors, such as basking in front of the little space heater as though she were sunbathing on a beach. She would also climb or leap up onto me as I slept and knead my neck or chest with her front paws as if making little biscuits. She always came to the front door to greet me with a “meow” when I returned home from work in the evenings. She could not resist the smell of fresh bread and if we did not put the bread safely away, she would nibble on it.
Nikki brought an incalculable amount of love, devotion, and happiness into our lives.
No words are sufficient to convey the deep sense of grief and sorrow we feel at this time.

Rest in Peace, Nikki.
January 3, 1992- October 20, 2008.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Post Ike, part 1

There are no extraordinary men... just extraordinary circumstances that ordinary men are forced to deal with. - William Halsey

Galveston and its underlying economy has been irrevocably changed. Virtually all of the sole proprietor (i.e. mom and pop) places have closed and many are gone forever. Among those I miss most are, Bronco Burritos, the taqueria I have patronized for almost two decades, El Nopalito, and Gino’s Italian. The famous Strand is also in ruins along with my favorite Fuddrucker’s location. The beaches are eroded beyond recognition in many places. Approximately, one quarter of the pre-Ike population has relocated off of the island.
Even worse, the largest employer in the Galveston County has announced plans to lay off approximately one third of its workers. Unfortunately, my wife and I both work there.
As I walk across campus on the majestic new red-brick inlaid walkway, I cannot help but think it is being paved with the blood of those soon to be sacrificed.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Online Poker Players Unite!

Conservative, n: A statesman who is enamored of existing evils, as distinguished from the Liberal who wishes to replace them with others. – Ambrose Bierce

Despite this statement on p. 38 of the 2004 Republican Platform (the 2008 Platform is not approved yet):

“As Republicans, we trust people to make their own decisions about how to spend, save, and invest their own money. We want individuals to own and control their income.”

The hypocrites still do not want to let me spend my own income playing online as demonstrated by their history of voting to impede and/or eliminate online gaming.

In fact, I wholeheartedly agree with Mean Gene’s thinking that the current state of political affairs in our beloved America is one of reducing our freedoms and liberties rather than protecting the existing ones or expanding them.

As a citizen that votes at every opportunity, I would like to encourage all my readers to do the same. Please go and vote for the folks you support and/or vote against those you disagree with. I believe voter apathy has been the biggest factor in ushering in the current state of affairs.

Being a US Senator or US Representative is a difficult job. One has to ponder weighty matters and be away from one’s family and home for extended periods of time. The last eight years have been a troubling period exacerbated by our military adventure in the Middle East. These fine folks deserve a nice long break. Let’s help them out by electing others to replace them in November. After all, it will be much easier for them to get involved in their communities and enjoy a rich family life if they are at home rather than in Washington. Who knows, maybe if they had a little more time on their hands, they might try and enjoy a bit of online poker, too.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Local Assets - The Little Cactus

God comes to the hungry in the form of food. – Mahatma Ghandi

When one is looking for really good ethnic food, one sure way to know how good a place will be is to notice how many people of that ethnicity are actually eating there. If you walk in to a Mexican restaurant and there are no Mexicans in sight, leave immediately. Another major “tell” is whether or not they make their own tortillas in house. A really good authentic Mexican place will both be full of Mexicans and will roll their own homemade tortillas. If you find a place that meets these two criteria, you are in the right place. Take a seat, order your preferred beverage and now proceed to enjoy the chips. If the place is truly great, the salsa will also be made in house and never store bought. The salsa should be somewhat hot and spicy, but not too watery, with a hint of cilantro flavor. If your chosen spot also passes this last test, you are ready to review the menu because you are definitely going to enjoy your meal. One of my favorite places is this little hole in the wall, sole proprietorship, single business location, local Mexican restaurant called “El Nopalito” which means “the little cactus”. This wonderful place is only open during the early morning for breakfast and afternoon for lunch because it is in such a bad part of town that they cannot safely stay open after dark. The food and service are consistently excellent which is why we locals keep coming back. The tourists can’t find this place so their clientele is entirely local folks that go out of their way to enjoy the best our little island has to offer. Every entrée comes with perfectly prepared beans (either charro or refried) and rice - which may seem run of the mill but isn’t. Why? Because even though beans and rice is a staple of Mexican cuisine, most places don’t take the time or effort to make the beans and rice worth mentioning. To be really good, the rice cannot be clumped together or lumpy. When you stick your fork in the rice, each grain should be individual and separate. Then, when you taste it, the rice should be well balanced with hints of flavor from minced vegetables cooked in it but not be overwhelmed by their presence. The charro beans are brown pinto beans cooked with bacon, onion, and cilantro. When cooked right, these are incredibly delicious. The refried beans are the charro beans mashed together with rendered bacon fat. Either smear these beans on your tortilla or use your chips to dip them with. Yum! And, I haven’t even described any of the entrées themselves yet. Suffice to say, this is a terrific local asset that one should not miss if ever on beautiful Galveston Island.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Whine Regarding the Nine

The gambling known as business looks with austere disfavor upon the business known as gambling. - Ambrose Bierce

Many poker insiders, bloggers, and so forth are lamenting the fact that the November Nine (i.e. final table of the 2008 Main Event) are not well known entities or established pros within the industry. Back in 2003, no one had ever heard of Chris Moneymaker.
However, the poker world would never be the same again after the previously unknown Moneymaker won. No big name has won it since and yet, it just keeps growing and growing. Guys like Greg Raymer and Joe Hachem that are now household names were unknown before winning the Main Event. It will be the same this year, one or more of these nine will go from unknown to well known when the tournament is over. So what is all the whining about? The World Series of Poker creates new “brand name” pros every year that will continue to grow the pantheon of poker legends well into the future. That is a good thing and keeps the pool of marketable pros from becoming stagnant. The WSOP is such a “brand name" now that it will never again matter if a pro wins it or not. The thing that has become the Main Event will live on and on. In fact, I think it encourages more amateurs and would-be semi-pros to play BECAUSE an amateur seems to win every year. Nothing could be worse than for all the amateurs to begin to think that only a real pro could win the thing. Why do we need or want some well known poker pro to win? If they are already well known, the only folks that really benefit are the WSOP and ESPN. It doesn’t make the prize pool any bigger, it doesn’t net the dealers any bigger tip, it doesn’t change the volume of entrants, sure more people might watch it on television but I think they will watch anyway. I love the “democratization” of the whole thing and that an “everyman” or “regular guy” will probably win. C’mon, does anyone really want to see someone like Hellmuth or Matusow win the Main Event? I sure don’t. I don’t even want any of the supposedly well known “internet pros” to win it. I definitely don’t want to see someone that is already a millionaire win it. I would much rather see Iggy or the Poker Philospher or some other blogger win the tournament. There is already a superabundance of the “rich get richer” phenomena in this country. Let’s watch a non-rich guy/non-pro win the thing and celebrate his success along with him all the while thinking… year…that guy could be someone I know or, even better yet, me.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Congratulations to the Poker Philosopher and Iggy

One secret of success in life is for a man to be ready for his opportunity when it comes. - Benjamin Disraeli

6,844 players entered the Main Event of the WSOP and two of our very own poker blogging brethren cashed.

I know the whole blogosphere is buzzing with the news of Iggy’s performance in the Main Event. However, another guy that deserves some kudos, as well as, respect is the Poker Philosopher.

He made a heck of a run this year but, unfortunately, was eliminated in 35th place, still not too shabby. I have been a reader and fan of both Iggy’s blog and Foucault’s (a.k.a. the Poker Philosopher) blog for a long time so it is great to see them both make a good run.

They both won their seats on PokerStars and then proceeded to go to the biggest poker tournament on Earth, the World Series of Poker - Main Event in Las Vegas, and stake their claim to a share of the big money.

Talk about living the dream.
Nice work, guys. Very nice, indeed.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Bo(dog) Knows …………. Fishing?

Most of the money you'll win at poker comes not from the brilliance of your own play, but from the ineptitude of your opponents. ~Lou Krieger

PokerStars has been my home for a long time. I prefer playing there over any other site out there. However, I am going to start spending some time over on Bodog. I played there back in 2005 but I preferred the experience at Stars better. It was the awesome BoDonkey tournament hosted by $mokkee that brought me back to Bodog recently. Bodog has just released their beta version with re-sizable tables and full screen capabilities. I always hated the fact that I could not enlarge the table or lobby to full screen size. I am a habitual multi-tabler and not being able to manipulate the table size, for me, made multi-tabling almost impossible. Now, it seems that has been fixed. Thank you, Bodog.

So, there I was three tabling (that’s the max you can play) with the new re-sizable tables over on Bodog and what do you suppose I saw? Well, first of all, there seemed to be a heck of a lot more tables and players on Bodog than I recall from 2005. I have heard from $mokkee and Waffles that the games are soft and fishy so I am going to investigate the matter. While I was there I saw lots of fishies making donk-alicious plays like this:

9 players, one limper and the blinds are in the pot so pot = 2.5 big blinds and suddenly a player in middle position goes all in for about 200 big blinds. I think, OK, he must have a really big hand but he is playing it terribly because everyone is going to fold. Then, another player calls him and shows 8-9s. The original all in bettor shows A-Ko. The guy that called the all in with 8-9s ends up pairing his 9 and wins the pot.

Wow. I am going to like it here. I played for about an hour and saw a lot more weak play. I also noticed that the players do not like to fold to pre-flop bets.
Sweet! I like to raise pre-flop with most of the hands I want to play so that’s more value for me. There seemed to be a lot of calling station type players so bluffing may not work as well as on Stars.

Even though each player may upload an image for their avatar, every third player seemed to be using the same default image. I am not joking. There were three kings of diamonds, three spade symbols, and two race horses. How annoying - and to make matters worse, it does not seem that you can turn off the avatars like you can on other sites.

Since my Bodog bankroll is small, I will initially be working on building it up at the low stakes tables. If you want to contribute to my roll on Bodog, drop by and donk off a buy in or three to me. I really wish they would allow one to play at more than three tables at once but it is still much better with the new resizable tables.

Local Assets - Italian Food

I cook with wine, sometimes, I even add it to the food. – W. C. Fields

Italian food is my wife’s favorite, so we enjoy it regularly. We really like (you guessed it) a small family owned place called Gino’s, here in Galveston. The owner really “gets it” when it comes to serving up premium Italian food with plentiful helpings at reasonable prices to his guests. Although there are other Italian places in town that have bigger signs and better locations with correspondingly higher prices, the food at Gino’s is unsurpassed.
The restaurant also used to include a bakery and although the bakery is no longer in operation, their garlic bread is still made in house and far and away the best of any Italian restaurant. The owner buys delicious fresh seafood and serves up plenty of it. The Fettuccini Porto Mio is a creamy seafood sauce with clams, shrimp, and mussels. This thing is heavenly and I am not really a cream sauce fan so that ought to tell you something. Their Chicken Marsala is also superb and among the best I have tasted. My all time favorite is the Spaghetti alla Pescatora which is a red sauce with shrimp, mussels, and crab that is very, very good. At most places you would get one shrimp, a pinch of crab, etc. but not at Gino’s – they give you half a dozen of the shrimp and close to a dozen mussels, as well as, plenty of crab. Seriously folks, give this place a try if you are ever in the Galveston area.
Oh, by the way, did I mention two people can enjoy a meal including premium entrees like these for under $35.00? When was the last time that happened for you?

Friday, June 27, 2008

The Sad Demise of HR 5767

It is not wisdom but authority that makes a law. - Thomas Hobbes

My Fellow Americans,

Once again, some of our duly elected officials and their holier than thou attitudes have kicked online poker players square in the junk. Yes, I am talking about people like Representative Bachus (you guessed it, a Republican from Alabama) and most members of the House Financial Services Committee. They don’t seem to think that a person such as myself (and I suspect many of you) that can manage to complete a college degree, obtain a reasonably good paying job, pay my mortgage and other obligations each month, rear my children, and be a responsible member of society is capable of making my own decision about whether or not to play poker online. I can play at home games everyday, all day, gambling it up and drinking beer, but I am not supposed to boot up my computer, log on, and play poker online.
Now, before anyone pounces on me and says, the UIGEA doesn’t prevent one from playing online poker, it is supposed to prevent certain types of money transfers and such. Let me say, you are not entirely wrong but the design and intent of the UIGEA was always to discourage, disrupt, interfere with, and eventually prevent Americans from playing online poker. There are other types of gambling that occur on the internet but they represent a mere fraction of the amount of money in online poker. Senator Frist got what he deserved when he was not re-elected. Why do people like Rep. Bachus continue to get elected? Are there no online poker players in Alabama that can get involved and vote to replace Rep. Bachus with a more reasonable person?
I am out there putting my vote where my mouth is. I am proud to say I voted in favor of the re-election of the co-sponsor of HR 5767, the honorable Dr. Ron Paul. I thought the Republican Party was in favor of smaller government and less government interference with business. Evidently, I was wrong. These days, I am not sure what they stand for anymore.
The UIGEA transformed the community of online poker in a terrible way and I am neither going to forget nor forgive those responsible. Anyway, rather than ranting on incessantly, let me refer you to a couple of other opinions about the unfortunate demise of HR 5767, Shamus' is here and Melted Felt's (the Onion of Poker News) is here.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Open Min Bet from Early Position in (full ring) NLHE

The learner always begins by finding fault, but the scholar sees the positive merit in everything. – Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel

This tactic seems to be utterly disdained by the vast majority of the “pokerati” (which may be why it works). However, when I play online and I have small to medium pocket pairs in EP, I often open min bet. As a tactic, it’s cheap, it’s tricky, and it seems to work.
It’s a value bet, a blocking bet, and you’re seizing the initiative all at the same time.

If one limps in, one is more likely to get raised. If one gets raised and just calls, one is informing an observant opponent that one probably has a small to medium pocket pair which will almost certainly elicit a C-bet from the villain on the flop (and you will probably have to fold since you are out of position).

By open min-betting, you accomplish several things that will set you up for success in the hand. For instance:

1) First and foremost, it usually lets me see a cheap flop (in hopes of flopping a set).

2) It serves as something similar to a blocking bet because it seems to “freeze” the players in later position, more often inducing a call rather than a raise.

3) I believe the reason for this is that many players interpret an open min bet from EP to represent a big pocket pair.

4) This is good because it further serves to disguise my actual hand and helps to confuse my opponents.

5) It is also better than limping in because, it lets you maintain the lead in the hand rather than limp-calling (which in my opinion screams low or middle pair). By being the pre-flop bettor, you maintain your option of C-betting on the flop and have a reasonably good chance of taking down the pot right then.

6) It causes your opponents to do something (i.e. react) that helps me to narrow the range of hands they are likely to have.

7) Since it is thought of as a “donk” play, it may help me get action from weaker hands that I would not otherwise have gotten. It also seems to cause some of the other players at the table to think I am a “donk” so I get more action on other hands, too.

8) It seems to work better than a 3xbb or 4xbb bet from EP because betting one of those amounts (or more) just wins me the blinds. By betting the minimum, it seems to get bad hands to call more often. It also keeps me from getting too committed to a hand in EP.

9) Betting the minimum almost always induces a call from one or both blinds. This is good because a) if they had a quality hand they would have raised, b) they probably would have folded to a larger bet, c) even though I am in EP, I have position on the blinds, and d) most of the time, they will fold to a C-bet.

Why does it work? I think they (mistakenly) interpret my min bet as strength – as in I might have a huge pocket pair (many inexperienced players will open min bet with a big pocket pair). What hands seem to play best with this tactic?
I suggest 22 – 99 with an occasional big Ace mixed in to keep my opponents guessing. Remember, this is a tactic for creating and winning small pots from out of position.
If you are in position and/or want to create a big pot or play a big hand, there are other tactics that will probably serve you better.

Try adding this to your arsenal and see if it works for you, too. Just remember, you heard it here first.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Thall Shalt Protecteth Thy Hand

Not believing in force is the same as not believing in gravitation. – Thomas Hobbes

Things happen that aren’t supposed to happen. We usually call them accidents. To deny the simple fact that accidents routinely occur, would be akin to denying other readily observable phenomena. In many cases, there isn’t much one can do to protect one’s self from accidents, but in this case, a simple defense is readily available to all players.

When playing live poker, one must protect one’s hand. It is a fundamental maxim of poker. One must protect it from exposure to others, from falling or otherwise leaving the surface of the poker table, and from being mucked inadvertently or prematurely. Each player is responsible for protecting his own hand; no one cares about protecting an opponent’s hand.

Not a week goes by that I don’t read some horror story on 2+2 about a player’s hand being mistakenly mucked by a dealer. I just heard the same thing happened during the $1,000 buy in (with rebuys) NLHE event at the World Series of Poker. The variations to this story are endless but the bottom line, in each case, is this: it never had to happen.

Poker is a dynamic game full of ups and downs and rarely is any one single thing always +EV in any situation no matter what. However, using a card protector is one such thing.

Why don’t more players use a card protector when playing live? A chip is not sufficient because it doesn’t weigh enough to prevent this from happening 100% of the time. There are many instances documented on 2+2 where the player in question said he had a chip on top of his cards but the cards and chip got swept into the muck by an overly hasty dealer. One can have one for free by using a common household item such as a lighter (like Doyle), a watch, a rock, etc. or one can spend a buck or five (or more) for one specifically for that purpose. Either way, the cost is a mere fraction of what a winning hand would have been worth had one’s cards not been inappropriately mucked.

The card protector I use is pictured above. It has some weight and heft to it so my cards will remain protected until I move it. No dealer is going to mistakenly muck my cards with this on top of them. Moreover, no careless player is going to foul my hand by mucking his cards into mine. With my card protector on top, my cards will remain easily separated and identifiable. It is such a simple thing and yet just check out the brick and mortar forum on 2+2 and see how many players have suffered this completely preventable fate.

There is only an “upside” (i.e. +EV) to using one and no “downside” I can think of.
So, why aren’t more live players taking advantage of an obviously +EV situation and using a card protector?

Monday, June 9, 2008

Finding a New Buzz

Success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking they can't lose. - Bill Gates

Rather than rest on my laurels, I am always looking for new material to read to continue improving my game and I recently found a new site for both poker bloggers and poker readers, "".

It is a social voting site similar to Digg, but just for poker strategy and poker news. If you are a blogger or publisher looking to drive traffic to your site, you can submit poker articles, stories or news at RoundersBuzz. If you are a poker player looking to improve your game, you can quickly sift through the most popular poker strategy articles and blog posts and vote up your favorites to the main page. Besides the main page, there are five Category pages including Ring Game Strategy, Tournament Strategy, General Poker, Poker Tools, and Poker News.

I have already seen a couple of notable blogger’s works appear on the site and anticipate many more over the next few months. Drop in and take a look at what they have going on, then if you like it, why not join?

Remembering the Irreplaceable Shana Hiatt

Everything beautiful has its moment and then passes away. - Luis Cernuda

Will the WPT ever find the right hostess again? Will it matter?
Was the end of Shana the “beginning of the end”?

They have failed miserably since foolishly allowing the exquisitely lovely Shana Hiatt to depart. She was not only beautiful and sexy, which is definitely a prerequisite for the job, but she had a playful manner about her (none of the others have had) and genuinely seemed to be having a good time. Her on scene segments in bikinis and such were awesome at the various outdoor venues. Her evening attire on the Vegas strip was classy and sexy all at the same time. When she was the hostess, she made it look easy. It never seemed as though she was trying too hard to connect with the audience. Her rapport with the audience seemed effortless and natural. We just didn’t know how good we had it.
I never thought it would be any big deal to replace her until she was gone and we began to see just how good she really was at what she did. Since then, all of the hostesses have, frankly, been pretty bad.
Courtney was decent looking but seemed to take the job too seriously and never seemed to be having fun.
Sabina was cute but could never quite engage the audience the way Shana did. Layleigh just seemed completely fake and unappealing.
Kimberly is OK at best and just seems amateurish to me.

It happens to every show sooner or later. The people making the decisions are always looking to cut costs and rarely (if ever) understand that once you start changing the chemistry that made you a success in the first place, the entire product is soon at risk.
We are witnessing nothing less than the beginning of the end of the WPT as we knew (and loved) it.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

An Interesting Evening at the Bodonkey

Quit while you're ahead. All the best gamblers do. - Baltasar Gracian

Maybe that’s why I prefer cash games so much more than tournaments. One may quit while one is ahead. You just can’t do that in tournaments. However, I couldn’t resist playing in the Bodonkey last night due to the huge overlay being offered. Not only was the standard T$600 added by Bodog but there was a T$270 bounty on $mokkee, too.

My starting table consisted of Colombo777, Gary Carson, Aposec72, and PokerPeaker, as well as, others. I folded a lot since I firmly believe, you can’t win a deepstack tourney in the early phases but you sure can lose one. Peaker got all in with his pocket Aces but lost to a guy holding pocket Kings when a third King came right out on the flop.
A bit later, I limped in with 7-7 from MP and it folded around to the big blind. He raises to 3xbb and I smooth call hoping to see a 7 on the flop. The flop comes 4-4-7. I check, he bets and I call. The turn is a blank and I bet a very small amount (about 1 fifth of the pot) hoping to seem weak and get raised. My opponent takes the bait and raises an amount roughly equal to the pot. I re-raise the minimum and he comes over the top to put me all in.
Of course, I call. He tables his A-A and when the river is not an Ace, I win a massive pot.

I was disappointed when $mokkee was not at my starting table but I was moved to his table shortly after the first break. I was looking to play a big hand with him and the first time he opened the betting pre-flop, I raised him and we took a rainbow flop that came down Q high. I had completely missed with my A-Ko but when he checked it to me, I moved in hoping for a call from a weaker ace. Of course, he folded. Even though we got him down to 4M, that would be my last chance to bust him since not long after that, two players had a similar idea and got all in with $mokkee, but holding A-K both times, he doubled through both of them to become the chip leader at the table. I am not sure what CEMfromMD was thinking when he raised $mokkee all in with A-8o. The other guy, Gary Carson, (at least) held A-Qo and might have had a reasonable expectation of winning. So, I play on for a while when I look down at 9-10s on the button. I decide if it is folded around to me, I am going to steal the blinds. So, when all the earlier players fold to me, I bet double the big blind. Gary Carson calls from the small blind and the big blind folds. We take a flop of A-10-7 with two hearts. I move in since I correctly figured Carson did not have an Ace and my 10 was good.
Being an unrepentant short-stacker, I prefer to win pots pre-flop or on the flop and I wanted to take this pot down now. My thinking was there was no way he would call without the Ace and I believe he would have re-raised me pre-flop if he held an Ace so I was not putting him on an Ace.
He freaking calls with 2-8s (hearts of course). Pairing his undercards won’t help him so he must make a flush to win. Of course, the turn is a 6 of hearts and I am knocked out in 19th place. While that sucked, I played well and got my money in good every time.
My reads had been spot on and I played much better than my last two attempts at the Bodonkey. At least Carson went on (with my chips) to make the final table.
Smokkee went on to win and claim his own unclaimed bounty. Yeah, I know, it sounds fishy to me too, but that’s online poker for you. Congrats to $mokkee on his TOC seat and a nice win.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Game Selection, Part 3 – Emancipation

“In actual combat, the mind must be calm and not at all disturbed. We must feel as if nothing critical is happening. Nothing betrays the fact that we are now engaged in battle.” - Masahari Adachi

OK. We have identified a game or some games we can beat. We have examined our motives for playing and decided we single mindedly want to win. Now what?

To be a consistently winning poker player and optimize our game selection capabilities, we must learn something more - detachment.

When you decide to play poker, proactively choose to play poker and nothing else. Remember, we are talking about game selection. Select (from all your other options) to play your best game, your “A” game, now.

FREE YOUR MIND. Unfetter it from the concerns of daily life, of work, of relationships, of anything beyond playing poker. Enable your mind to make the best poker decisions you are capable of.

Free your self from distractions, do not succumb to the temptation to think of other things. No matter if the other things are important, you may always return to them after your poker session is done.

Free your self from playing for your ego. It is one’s ego that seduces one into feelings of superiority, playing in games above one’s bankroll, and what Mike Caro calls Fancy Play Syndrome.

Free your self from unnecessary expectations. Unnecessary expectations lead to unnecessary disappointments. Just play your best game and remain alert.

Obtaining this degree of mental clarity and focus is not easy but each time one does so, it becomes easier the next time. As one becomes more adept at obtaining this state of detachment, one will recognize just how much more information at a poker table is available to a receptive mind that is not distracted. And that, my friends, is +EV.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Game Selection, Part 2 – Motivation

“When we play, we must realize, before anything else, that we are out to make money.” – David Sklansky

Why do you play? It is a good question to ask one’s self. I play to win money from my opponents. To me, poker is about money. Losing money isn’t fun. While I accept it as an unavoidable fact of the game that sometimes, I will lose, I don’t like it. I proactively want to minimize the instances and amounts I lose. Remember, losing less is the same as winning more.

As a contrast, I used to play Magic but since there was no money involved in the outcome of the games, my approach and attitude toward the game was entirely different. Winning wasn’t even that important compared to just having a good time. If I consistently lost money at poker, I would probably quit playing (I can’t imagine the opposite – i.e. consistently winning and not having fun). I suppose there is something to be said for challenging one’s self so if winning money is not one’s top priority and one wants to knowingly play with superior opponents for the “experience”, it’s your money but please understand it is a –EV situation. However, if one wants to make money then one should be mindful of the game one is taking a seat in.

Even though poker is “just” my hobby, I take winning very seriously.
Barry Greenstein says this about being motivated to win,

“You need to convince yourself that you must win. It is easy to get lazy when you have no immediate money pressure.”

Since I do not play for my living, the only pressure on me to achieve results is self imposed. I have to “want it”. I have to be single mindedly focused on taking my opponents chips. I used to play for lots of reasons, such as:

a) It was “that” time, my family was in bed and my window of opportunity was open
b) I had some unexpected free time
c) I was working on clearing a bonus
d) for sheer entertainment/fun

Now, before playing, I ask myself, “are you capable of mustering your ass-kicking-est “A” game?” If I do not answer myself in the affirmative, then it is not a good time to play. Instead, I read or re-read some poker literature, review hand histories/stats in pokertracker, catch up on reading poker blogs, etc.
The point being, I am consciously choosing to play only when I am at my predatory, separate you from your chips, 2nd and 3rd level thinking, best.
This inherently gives me an edge over all the players that are playing for some other reason. It simultaneously serves to prevent me from playing my “C” game at all for the most part. Consider this whenever playing, many of your opponents’ number one priority is winning your chips. If your goal is anything else, you have already ceded them an advantage. Should one really expect to win consistently if one isn’t playing with a similar singularity of purpose?

I spend a fair amount of time thinking, reading, writing, and playing poker to improve my skills and I want to be paid for my work. I don’t think that is an unreasonable position to hold. To me, all money is equally green and desirable.
I try to keep my ego out of the equation. One dollar equals one dollar whether won from a pro, a blogger, or a complete novice.

So, ask yourself, do you really want to win?

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Game Selection, Part 1 - Predation

I don't particularly give a shit about trying to beat moderately tough games. I'd rather stay home and jerk off. - Gary Carson

While I don’t necessarily share Mr. Carson’s sentiment exactly, I do agree with what I perceive to be the spirit of his colorful remark. If one wants to be successful at poker, one must cultivate a robust desire to maximize +EV situations. Game selection (i.e. playing with weaker opponents rather than stronger ones) is vital to identifying and creating +EV situations. Plenty of poker luminaries have written (and I agree) that the vast majority of the money one will make playing poker will come from the mistakes of one’s opponents. Therefore, to maximize one’s expected value, one ought to seek games/tables with the greatest volume of weak opponents (and conversely, avoid games with strong ones).

Barry Greenstein says, “Don’t be afraid to back down if you do not like the line up in a game. You should pass on a situation with a small advantage if you can find one with a larger advantage. You don’t need to prove you’re the best. To make money, you just need to find people who play worse than you do.”

Winning money at poker isn’t about finding the toughest game and “proving” one’s self against a group of really good opponents. That may be good for building one’s ego but it’s not a long term strategy for building a bankroll. Besides, what those players think is not the measuring stick one should use to gauge success. I want to consistently win money and increase my poker bankroll. That’s it. No where in the equation is finding real pros, tough games, etc. Now, lest anyone hasten to suggest I am overly results oriented, consider this: anyone that uses online poker software when they play (for anything other than post-game analysis of one’s own play) implicitly agrees with this philosophy because no one uses that software to find the toughest games/opponents available. Show me a game/table with weak players and I will cheerfully play with them every opportunity I get. Take me to a table of really tough pros or semi-pros and I will probably cash out immediately and go find a game I can beat. Understanding and accepting one’s own capabilities, motivation, as well as, limitations will help to identify +EV situations and avoid ones that are –EV.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Thanks to My Readers

When you arise in the morning, give thanks for the morning light, for your life and strength.
Give thanks for your food and the joy of living. If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies with yourself. – Tecumseh Shawnee Chief

I would like to take a moment to offer a sincere THANKS to all my readers for taking the time to check out my blog, make comments about my posts, and/or add a link to my blog on their own site.
I also want to thank all the bloggers that have “pimped” my blog on their own pages – yes, I am talking to you - High on Poker, Tripjax, Sir Waffles, and DP's Wired Pairs.

It seems my somewhat “controversial” posts (e.g. short stacking) draw a lot more traffic than ones that offer less opportunity for disagreement and discussion. I enjoy the opportunity to refine my thoughts and opinions and want to encourage my readers to continue to let me know what they think even when they disagree with me. That’s all part of a healthy discussion.
So, with that said, expect me to post on another topic I think might spur some dialogue in the very near future.

Where's the Beef?

If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world. - J.R.R. Tolkien

Today, I'm talking about serious Burgers. Not those lame things that pass for burgers from fast food places made with meat by-products and fortified with who knows what for shelf life, a real made from ground beef (and nothing else) burger is only available at a few places these days. Furthermore, if you can hold the hamburger in one hand to eat it, it is too small. One local place that gets it right is Fuddruckers. Their meat patties are so thick you have to tell them how rare or well to cook your burger. That’s right, unlike those other places you usually go with the wafer thin patties, you have options here. They also grind their own meat and make their own buns in house. They also have a well stocked condiment bar with an array of sauces and lots of fresh (not crinkly, wilted, or old) vegetables. You can get a 1/3, ½, 2/3, or 1lb burger depending on your appetite. As an additional bonus, they use shortening for frying which gives the food a more crisp and tasty exterior than oil (kinda like your grandma used to make). Even though they are a national “chain” and not a “mom-and-pop” type of place like I usually prefer, they serve up the best hamburgers around. Lucky for you, there may even be one somewhere near your area. Now, if they only had a drive through.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Blogger Tournaments on Bodog

The ladder of success is best climbed by stepping on the rungs of opportunity. - Ayn Rand

Opportunity is what poker is all about, so check this out. In addition to the overlay offered for $mokkee’s BoDonkey online poker tournament, Bodog is going to send some lucky blogger to the World Series of Poker in fabulous Las Vegas. That’s right, the intelligent, savvy, and well read folks over at Bodog have subjected themselves to our writing and they know a good thing when they read it. Their business acumen is surpassed only by their generosity to those of us that like to write about our poker misadventures. They've even got a prop bet pool going on which blogger will win the most money at the WSOP this year!
Be there, Tuesday evenings at 9:05pm Eastern Time for the $11.00 buy in deep stacked NLHE online poker tournament.
As always, good luck at the tables.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Confessions of a Short Stacker, Part 3 - the Conclusion

The surest way to corrupt a youth is to instruct him to hold in higher esteem those who think alike than those who think differently. - Friedrich Nietzche.

Although playing short stacked is a strategy that works for me, it seems to get a lot of grief from other online players (I have never heard a live player complain about it). I, for one, do not understand what the grievance is all about. Short stacking is similar to guerilla warfare. I have fewer resources than my opponent and I need to extract maximum value from the resources I have. I think the objection to short stacking boils down to this: it is an effective strategy that is difficult to exploit.

If I have met the table minimum, then I have complied with the same rules all the other players had to follow. They elected to buy in for some amount between the table minimum and the table maximum, too. The only real downside to playing short stacked is you are limiting the amount you can win in one hand. The short stack is the effective stack. Although I amass my winnings more slowly with a short stack, my opponents have to outplay/outthink/outkick me repeatedly rather than get lucky once or twice. If I choose to spread my risk out in this manner, it is my decision, it is a perfectly legal strategy, and it should not carry with it any sort of unnecessary stigma. Playing short stacked is not angle shooting, ratholing, or cheating. There are plenty of people that really do cheat/angle shoot/rathole and our loathing and disdain should be reserved for those players.
When any player sits down at a poker table, whether online or live, he is under no obligation to stay any particular time. He might take one hand, he might take one orbit, he might stay for one hour, or he might stay for much longer. It is all up to the player himself. Some folks seem to think that if one takes a seat and wins, then he has to stay some undisclosed amount of additional time to allow the other players the opportunity to win some of their money back. This doesn’t really make sense to me. In fact, any player remaining seated and in the game may win some or all of his losses back from the table at large and the effect will be the same as if he won it back from me. Each dollar counts as one dollar no matter whom it is won from, one still equals one. If I want to stand up after winning, whether I have been seated one hand or one day, it is my choice. It doesn’t make me a ratholer or an unethical player. I do not attempt to influence how long anyone else remains at a table and I do not think anyone should try to coax or coerce me. If I want to keep playing, I will. If I do not want to keep playing, I won’t.

It is all part of learning to quit well…….not well for my opponents, well for me.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

The Art of Quitting Well

History is Philosophy teaching by examples. – Thucydides.

Every single time anyone plays poker, without exception, there will come a point at which one quits the session. No one can play forever. Sometimes one may play for a really long session and sometimes one may play for a rather brief period. It all depends upon ones schedule, priorities, bankroll, mood, level of fatigue, and many other factors. No one but one’s self can know the best time for one to end a given session. I like to quit when I am ahead. In my mind, it is similar to owning a stock that is rising in value but will eventually peak and come back down. One can never know what the peak will be until it has passed and the price is on the way down. People that sell after booking a reasonable profit but before the peak are said to have “sold short”. It is a strategy recommended by many experts to ensure profits. Rather than wait until I have lost back my hard earned winnings, I prefer to ensure a profitable session by leaving while I am ahead, sort of like “selling short” in financial securities. Selling short and quitting while ahead are perfectly fair, legal, and reasonable strategies. Anytime after I have tripled (or better) my buy in, is always a good time to quit. Anyone that thinks it is bad form or unethical to leave while ahead probably doesn’t book as many winning sessions as they could. Why should one feel obligated to keep playing just because he is ahead for the session? Occasionally, I quit when I am behind. I do not like to do so but if I sense I am off my “A” game, then that is a good time to quit. If the table composition has changed to the extent that it becomes unfavorable to me, then that is a good time to quit. There are many different reasons for when to quit, some better than others, but all valid if one believes now is the time for one’s self to quit. No one can make that decision for you better than you can. Quitting well is an art. Think about it. Practice it. If you can learn to quit more effectively than your opponents (because they will inevitably have to quit, too) you have another edge over them.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Confessions of a Short Stacker, Part 2 – Casino Play

All are lunatics, but he who can analyze his delusion is called a philosopher. – Ambrose Bierce

Short Stacked
1. Adjective - Having few chips, either due to having lost many or due to having joined the table with significantly fewer chips than other players.

Hit and Run
1. Verb - To leave a table after only a brief period of play, especially when the player doing so leaves the table with more money or chips than they joined it with.

1. Noun - A player who regularly removes a portion of one's winnings from the table before leaving the game entirely.

As a point of clarification, I do buy in short stacked and I do (sometimes) hit and run but I am not a ratholer.

I know many experts recommend against buying in for less than the maximum.
However, I disagree and so does Ed Miller, a noted poker authority. If you are one of those guys that has a huge bankroll and/or gambles for entertainment without too much concern for making sure to win, then by all means, do what you want. I, on the other hand, single-mindedly play to win and increase my roll.
I currently play 1-2 NLHE but I want to keep building my roll so I can play higher stakes.
I like to buy in for $100 at most 1-2 NLHE tables (which is often above the minimum).
I am looking to play big pairs and big suited cards. Top pair, top kicker is gold in these games and a flopped set (or 2 pair) is even better. My goal is to build a pot pre-flop and then, providing it is not a situation where I am obviously beaten, I will move in on the flop. Despite playing few hands, I almost always get lots of action. Since I am small stacked, they think it won’t cost me much to play with this guy. I love it and most of my decisions are easy.
Once I build my stack to about $300-400, I change gears and play more hands. With a medium to large stack (compared to the other stacks at the table), I like to play more small pairs and try to flop sets in addition to playing big pairs and suited connectors. If I double up again, I will cash out and go get some food. Usually, by this point I have played about 4 hours and I am ready to call it a night and book the win. However, if I have only played a couple of hours and I still feel sharp after eating, I will go back, get a seat, and repeat the process. This has worked extremely well for me at all the casinos where I have played. I have amassed 40% of my entire current roll using this strategy. I know I shouldn’t be so results oriented but what can I say – it works.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Confessions of a Short Stacker, Part 1 - Online Play

Persistence is the twin sister of excellence. One is a matter of quality; the other, a matter of time. - Marabel Morgan

The best thing about online poker is the ability to play multiple tables at once.
Multi-tabling is only possible online, you can’t do it at a casino or a homegame.
I like to play between 4-6 tables at once and I always buy in short for several reasons.

A) I get more action. I probably appear to be a fish for buying short so my opponents may be hoping to play pots with me.

B) Because my stack is short, I am less threatening to potential opponents since I can’t stack them, i.e. they have me covered.

C) I am risking the minimum (20BB) and this reduces my variance. My variance is much greater online than live, so I like to do all I can to minimize my variance.

D) Short stacking makes my calculations and decisions very straightforward.

E) Prospective opponents probably think they can push me around and make me fold even when they do not have the best hand.

By buying in short, I am actively seeking opportunities to get all my chips into the pot with an opponent. That’s the whole idea.
I bet/raise pre-flop and I am usually either pushing or folding on the flop (sometimes the turn). If I push a few times without being called, it won’t be long before some opponent decides he is going to “look me up”. That opponent rarely wants to look me up a second time. Before long, my stack is near a full buy in and it is time to start over at a new table. If I buy in full at 6 tables, I have more of my online roll in play than I want to at any given point. I have tried buying in full at 6 lower stakes tables but the simple fact is I do not get nearly as much action and it takes me way more time and way more hands played to achieve the same profit. The approximate ratio of success (on average) is 4 out of 6, meaning I double up (or better) at 4 tables and lose my stack at 2 tables. Incidentally, some people think this type of strategy is not “kosher” but it is 100% within the rules and recommended by Ed Miller. Most importantly, this strategy seems to work for me. However, I am always looking for ways to improve my game so comments are welcomed.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Abstinence Sucks

Abstainer, n. A weak person who yields to the temptation of denying himself a pleasure. - Ambrose Bierce.

Lately, by the time I’ve gotten the family to bed, I’ve been too tired to play. I wanted to play. I really did. The little voice was reminding me I only have a small window of opportunity to play online most weeknights and that time is now. But, the stronger voice reminded me, “you are fatigued and not at your best, can you really muster your “A” game?” To which the answer was no.
Thus, I have played some but not much, lately. Unlike many things in life, you can’t “phone it in” in poker. Actually, you can but it isn’t much fun and it can be very costly. I haven’t been reading/working on my game, hoarding home game profits to fortify my bankroll, and so forth only to then donk off my hard earned winnings by knowingly playing my “C” game. Nope. Not gonna do it. Wouldn’t be prudent.
My desire to play online is still gnawing on me but the discipline I am learning from reading to improve my game is helping me reduce the incidence of my “C” game (which is exactly what I am playing when I am mentally and physically tired). I tried an “energy” drink but while that helped me play for a little while, it also caused me to not sleep well and be tired the next morning – which is not good and only serves to make me very tired the next evening. The good news is that while I have played less frequently, I have been winning more frequently.

Additionally, my writing muse seemed to temporarily abandon me. I suppose she inferred, if there was no poker then there was nothing to write about. I actually had several ideas but in her absence, I could not seem to compose more than a few lines. I have even, to some degree, enjoyed the brief break from grinding late night cash tables by reading and working on my game. I just finished No Limit Hold’em, Theory and Practice by Sklansky and Miller. I am still digesting the contents but it is definitely a solid work. I plan to acquire and read the Harrington on Cash Games books in the near future.

Meanwhile, check out this guy’s blog:

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Maximizing Expected Value

“A philosopher, who is not taking part in discussions, is like a boxer who never goes into the ring.” – Ludwig Wittgenstein

There has been a lot of discussion about this in the poker blogosphere lately, so here is my opinion.
Poker is a mathematical game. Mathematical expectation should be a very important factor in the strategy and tactics one adopts and the decisions that one makes in any poker game. This expectation (also known as Expected Value) is factored into every decision a good poker player makes. Situations/decisions that are positive EV, are situations/decisions that over a long period of time and innumerable instances, always make money.
Negative EV situations/decisions are ones that always lose money over a long period of time and innumerable instances.

Creating a hostile playing environment (whether live or online) is always negative EV.

Here is why. Over the long haul, it only serves to reduce the volume of less serious players. Players that are skilled and serious about their game will not be discouraged from playing because they are playing to win irrespective of anything else. However, there are lots of players that just play for fun. These are not bad players at all. They just aren’t “into it” as much as some of the rest of us.
I believe it is positive EV to have as many of these somewhat casual players involved as possible. They are good people. They are fun to play with. They add money to the table if playing for cash and money to the prize pool of tournaments. All they do is add value - money, entertainment, as well as, comradery. Thus, they are highly desirable to have in any game. Why in the world would we want to create situations that discourage these folks from playing with us?

It just doesn’t make sense. Good players want to maximize positive EV.
Think about it. Until next time, good luck at the tables.

Friday, March 28, 2008

The Art of Folding

You can't reason someone out of a position they didn't reason themselves into. ~Author Unknown

An often overlooked and undervalued aspect of your game is folding. To maximize your success at full ring NLHE, you should fold a lot more often than you choose not to fold. This being the case, if you can learn to fold better than your opponents, you gain an edge. Most people see folding as completely passive. I see folding as a tactical weapon. Imagine the martial artist, you thrust at him, he nimbly steps aside, avoiding the attack. You attempt to ambush me with a check raise but I deftly parry with a fold and my stack is unharmed. Minimal effort yields maximum protection. My opponents are becoming frustrated because, like a boxer, I circle my prey, wearing them down gradually before moving in for the coup de grace. Be like a hunter patiently waiting for one’s prey.
Or like a fisherman, sitting quietly waiting for the big fish to bite.
Observe your prey. What do they do? How do they do it? Why do they do it?
What hands are they showing? Are they playing weak hands out of position?
Do they crave action on almost every hand? What are they saying?
Absorb the maximum amount of information possible. Many times, they will reveal their strategy if you are paying attention.

Focus on being in the moment and be aware of your breathing. Don’t be distracted by random thoughts whirring about. Breathe in. Watch what your opponents are doing. Breathe out. Continue observing. The urge to act, the desire to win now, rather than later, seems compelling but your will is stronger. Resist the urge to act now unless now is the right time to act. This does not mean waiting for Aces or Kings, mediocre cards may be adequate depending on your position, the actions of your opponents, and the tendencies and weaknesses you have observed them demonstrate. Although it may seem counter intuitive to go all the way over to the casino and see how many hands you can stay out of, try to embrace the concept of selective engagement. Engage your opponent when the situation favors you and by definition, it will be unfavorable to them.

Why should one fold - to deny an opponent the opportunity to win part of my stack when I am not in a position of strength. If you fold a lot, players will become “aware” when you are in a pot. This creates prime opportunities for continuation bets and semi-bluffs. It also makes small pocket pairs a lot more playable. Craft your table image as selective but deadly and watch the respect your 3-bets will acquire.

How should one fold - stoically fold your cards face down into the muck regardless whether or not someone wants to see them. Develop good habits.
Try to fold in the same manner each time so it becomes automatic.
Don’t discuss what you folded – e.g. “aw, man, I would have flopped the nuts”.
If players are talking like this, think about what the guy folded and think about what made him fold. You will gain insight into the other player’s decision making process.
If anyone asks what you folded, either ignore them or say you forgot.

When should one fold - when one is out of position and/or one does not hold a premium starting hand. When one is faced with a raise and one does not have a strong enough hand to call or re-raise. When one started with a good hand but have been outflopped/outdrawn and are now obviously beaten. The best time to fold is pre-flop or on the flop, before one has invested much in the hand.

What should one fold – most starting hands that are not pocket pairs, big or suited Aces, or big suited connectors. Don’t be discouraged, another hand will be dealt soon. There is no need to play “this” hand. Relax. Breathe. Observe your opponents.

Poker is a game of small edges. Accrue several small edges together and you have a bigger edge. The edges one accrues are cumulative and will add up over time.
Be patient. And, until next time, good luck at the tables.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Bankroll Management 101

Money, it turned out, was exactly like sex, you thought of nothing else if you didn't have it and thought of other things if you did. – James Baldwin.

Mr. Angelo calls it “partitioning”. Your poker bankroll is really just a sub-set of your entire bankroll. In fact, the entire distinction exists primarily only in your mind (it may also have a physical partition if you keep your poker bankroll in a poker wallet). If you can learn to partition better than others, you will be more adept at protecting your poker bankroll, and you will gain an edge.

Too many players injure their poker bankroll by not partitioning well. They spend poker money on beer, fuel, food, etc. They then, lament the inevitable episode of variance that leaves them low or out of poker money.
Food, beer, fuel, etc. are things one needs anyway and one is going to buy anyway – with or without poker money. Therefore, make sure to buy these out of your “regular” bankroll. If you must buy them from poker money, replace that poker money with regular money so that the beer, etc. ends up on the right account.

Be diligent about adding money won at poker to your poker bankroll.
Don’t squander those winnings like a drunken sailor on his first shore leave.
What if you go through an extended period of losing? You will regret having squandered those winnings. Those winnings are your tools for playing and winning more. After completing a job, would you discard the perfectly good tools that enabled you to do the job? Would you trade them for food, fuel, beer, or whatever? Don’t trade your poker bankroll (i.e. your tools) for them either.

As a poker player with a family, I think it is even more essential to keep your poker bankroll separate from your family bankroll. If I used family money to play, I would be more worried about losing and would not be able to bring my “A” game. Playing with money one is afraid to lose is playing with “scared money” and good players will notice this and take advantage of you. With a separate poker bankroll, I can play my best game and not worry about a potential loss affecting my family. Don’t get me wrong. I do not want to lose any money at all but I also know that it is certain to occur sooner or later. Be prepared by saving your winnings. That way when you suffer the occasional loss, your bankroll survives and you are able to keep playing. More importantly, your family is not affected by the loss. I went through an extended period of involuntary unemployment not long ago. However, since I maintain a separate poker bankroll, I was able to play poker the entire time with no negative impact to the family.

Playing winning poker is a long term prospect. If you treat your poker bankroll as a long term investment and “partition” well, it will grow and you will gain another edge in the long term game.

Monday, March 24, 2008

$how Me the Money - Big Pocket Pairs

The charm of history and its enigmatic lesson consist in the fact that, from age to age, nothing changes and yet everything is completely different. ~Aldous Huxley

While the game of poker has changed over the last few years, it has also remained the same. People talk a lot about us internet guys that can learn in a few years what it used to take much longer to learn about poker. To some extent, it is true due to the volume of hands and experience one can gain on the internet. There has also been a tremendous renaissance of writing about poker from authors to bloggers to actual professionals. However, the ranking of hands, the number of cards in the deck, the number of cards one is dealt, the betting options one may exercise, the rules, etc. have remained the same. Thus, the best starting hands are the same as what they always were and the probability that they will win is still the same as it always was. Where am I going with this?

Upon careful examination of my data, I find that the hands I make the most money with are exactly the ones I would expect to make the most with.
My most profitable starting hands are (in this order):

1 A-A
2 K-K
3 Q-Q
4 J-J
5 10-10

Is anyone surprised? I am not. Each one of these starting hands considered individually has earned me more than all pairs 22 - 99 combined together. Additionally, consider this. Each one of these big pairs considered individually has earned me more than these four starting hands combined: A-Ks, A-Ko, A-Qs, and A-Qo. So, am I recommending that anyone stop playing these? Absolutely not. However, I am recommending that one should recognize these 5 pocket pairs are one’s “bread and butter”. If you are not 3-betting all of these and 4-betting the top three, you are probably not earning as much as you could be. You will not be dealt these hands very often so one should seek to maximize one’s EV with them at every opportunity. That means getting the most money into the pot as soon as possible. I like to get all in pre-flop with these hands whenever possible. Will you run into a cooler from time to time, yes, of course. But you will also put your opponents to the test and they will pay you off more often than you will be paying them off. That, my friends, is positive EV.
So, until next time, good luck at the tables.

Friday, March 21, 2008

You Might be a Predator….

Cards are war, in disguise of a sport – Charles Lamb.

During the farewell of the WPT shows, they used to say things like, “If you can’t spot the sucker at the table, you’re it”. They never say things like that anymore and it is no coincidence. You see, poker has a reputation of being predatory and that doesn’t sell well. The poker industry has made a significant effort to make the game seem less predatory and more friendly. We don’t want to frighten away potential feeder fish, we want them to feel comfortable and relaxed. We want them to think things like “any two cards can win” and “luck’s all in the cards” and “on any given day, you can play with the pros” and other such tripe.

I am not going to try to convince you poker is not a predatory endeavor because I think it is. However, what I am suggesting is that plenty of other life activities and even professions are predatory, too, and everyone seems just fine with them being that way. So, why is poker held in such a state of contempt? Doesn’t a fisherman go to the places he is most likely to catch a big fish rather than just fish in random places?
Most business endeavors are predatory. All Salesmen, certainly are. Lawyers are often compared to sharks for a reason. Heck, Life itself is a survival of the fittest contest, remember the idea of natural selection. It is a fact (and has been for a very long time) that the stronger usually prey on the weaker in any human endeavor. Better prepared lawyers usually defeat ones that are less so. Better athletes usually outperform the less gifted. Better students outscore those less intelligent or studious. So, why shouldn’t more skilled poker players usually defeat less skilled ones? Lambs do not devour lions, but Lions do devour lambs. What is the big deal? It is the natural order of things. It is Darwinian.

Do you stalk your prey by searching for the softest games?
Do you hunt your prey using table selection and position whenever possible?
Do you seek to take advantage of weaker players?
Do you seek to isolate your prey (separating him from the protection of the herd) whenever in a hand with an opponent?

If you answered “yes” to any of these, you might be a predator. These are all predatory tactics.

I have read the sage advice of great players and the consensus seems to be that most of the money one makes at poker will come from weaker opponents. Embrace this concept. Live it. Try to identify your prey and play more pots with them. Identify your fellow predators and give them a little more respect.
And, remember, it’s OK, this is the natural order of things.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Using Both Hands – Muffaletas

"There is no sincerer love than the love of food" – George Bernard Shaw

Forget about these over-priced sandwich shops that serve you a huge bun with 2-3 slices of lunchmeat and a ton of lettuce for $6-7. Find yourself a local family owned sandwich shop that serves muffalettas and enjoy a serious sandwich that will stay with you and keep you from being hungry until dinner time. These bad boys are served on various types of rolls (preferably baked in house) and consist of heaping quantities of ham, Salami, mozzarella cheese, and olive salad. Different places put other stuff in there which is OK, but the essence of this thing is the combination of the meat/cheese/olive salad. I guarantee no franchise type place is going to take care of you the way a sole proprietorship family owned place will. Show up regularly and see what happens. Your sandwich will grow with each visit until the bun can barely contain the thing. Some places I go, the muffaletta is so big, I only order a half of one. Either way, whole or half, if you can hold the sandwich in one hand when you take a bite, it isn’t big enough. Find yourself one of these and give it a try. You will thank me later.

Return to the Mookie – When Pocket Aces Just Aren’t Enough

So, I register early for the Mookie and am able to get the family settled in for the night before the tournament began. I am feeling mentally sharp and planning to play conservatively for the first hour or so. I am successful in executing my strategy until approximately 9:36 (Texas time) when I am dealt pocket Aces. I am in early-middle position and dwal78 open bets. I smooth call hoping to attract some action and maybe even get someone to raise for me. Of course, no one does and dwal78 and I take a flop of 9d-Kc-10d. He checks and I move in. He calls and shows the Kd-Jd. The turn is the Qh and the river is the 7d. My Aces are cracked and re-cracked and I am out in 84th place. Maybe next time…..

Please Support the Poker Players Alliance

Stripped of ethical rationalizations and philosophical pretensions, a crime is anything that a group in power chooses to prohibit. – Freda Adler.

My Fellow Americans:

I am proud to be a card-carrying member of the Poker Players Alliance. I despise the UIGEA, its backers, and what it stands for. It is an unnecessary bureaucratic attempt to limit my liberty and pursuit of happiness. If you are an internet poker player and you have not already joined our effort in this battle, what are you waiting for? Consider the following questions:

Do you agree with the UIGEA?
Do you want it modified or stricken?
Do you believe laws get changed on their own or by themselves?

If you answered “no” to any of them, please join me in letting our elected representatives in Washington know what we want as constituents.
Membership is inexpensive and your money will go toward defending our liberty regarding playing poker on the internet.

Here is a letter I sent to my Congressional Representative recently via the PPA:

Thank you for using Poker Players Alliance Mail System

Representative Ron Paul

February 21, 2008

Dear Congressman,

I am writing as a constituent, a voter, and an avid poker player to thank you for submitting to the Federal Reserve your comment concerning the proposed Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) regulations.
I too believe the regulations as proposed are flawed in many areas, so I'm very pleased that you informed the Federal Reserve of your concerns.

I am very concerned about banks "overblocking" lawful Internet gaming, especially Internet poker. I do not believe Internet poker is unlawful nationwide. Federal case law has consistently held that the Wire Act applies only to interstate sports betting, very few states have any laws prohibiting Internet poker, and UIGEA did not change the legal status of online poker. All UIGEA did was restrict financial transactions for Internet gaming unlawful under other federal and state gaming laws.

The Department of Justice says it disagrees with the appellate court rulings on the scope of the Wire Act. However, as they have chosen to not test this assumption in any court against any Internet poker operator, their confidence in their opinion appears to be questionable.

Suffice it to say, interpreting the many relevant Internet gaming laws is difficult. In fact, as you noted in your submitted comment, the regulation authors themselves were unable to do so. Unfortunately, rather than simply requiring banks to enforce gaming that is clearly illegal, like interstate sports betting, the regulation authors decided to burden every bank, credit union, and other financial institution in the nation with this task. I believe this would force banks to overblock many legal transactions. As you noted in your comment, this certainly was not the intent of Congress.

I urge you to continue to demand that the regulation authors "undertake additional efforts to determine, on a state-by-state basis, precisely what transactions payment systems are required to block". Our financial institutions must know exactly what they are required to prevent.

I also ask you to support clarifying legislation currently in the House.
If you've not yet, please consider cosponsoring HR 2610, the Skill Game Protection Act and HR 2046, the Internet Gambling Regulation and Enforcement Act. HR 2610 clarifies federal law by expressly exempting games of skill like poker from UIGEA and from the Wire Act. HR 2046, the Internet Gambling Regulation and Enforcement Act, regulates online poker via stringent licensing regulations for poker site operators. Both bills have rigorous safeguards against underage and compulsive gambling.

Thank you again for your support.



Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Sunken Treasures – Mussels

Some of you may not have gotten the news yet, but there are these little filter feeders similar to clams called mussels. They are widely available at many Italian restaurants and some seafood places. I highly recommend them to you, dear readers. There are different types but I prefer the small ones over the larger varieties. I like mine topped with a savory red sauce and served with some crusty bread for mopping up the bottom of the bowl. They are also quite delicious served in a white wine sauce (with crusty bread) but I prefer the red sauce. These are the perfect appetizer for any Italian meal as they are not going to make you feel so full you cannot enjoy your entrée. They also go well with a nice red wine (or white if you do not opt for the red sauce). The next time you are at a place you know serves fresh seafood (like all seafood, freshness is key) give the mussels a try. You’ll thank me later.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Oklahoma Trip Report, Part 2

About this time, there is a really loud commotion as some players on a nearby table have hit the bad beat jackpot for about $19K. I lose some small pots and decide I need to reload (yes, for a 3rd time). Soon, after open betting and getting called in three places, I flop an OESD and 2nd nut flush draw with K-Qs.
I make my flush on the turn and get all in with another player that had flopped a set of Jacks. Can you guess what happens? The river is another 10 (there was one on the flop) and my flush takes an unpleasant boat ride. I am not tilted although the suckouts are killing me. I take a short break and walk around thinking about my play and my breathing. I evaluate my play and my competition and decide to reload for a 4th time. I play for several orbits without getting anything decent. A friendly guy from Dallas to my left had been betting 5xbb every time he had a small or middle pocket pair so after I limped my A-10s and he bet his usual 5xbb, I smooth called. The flop is Ah-7c-2h. I check planning to check raise since I had him covered. He politely accommodates me by betting and I CR him all in. Sure enough, he tables 5c-5h. I table my Ac-10c. He says, “nice hand” and prepares to reload. BUT, wait! The turn is the 9h and the river is the 10h giving me top 2 pair and him a runner-runner suck out flush. WTF?
On top of the crappy luck, it is 1:40am I am now advised it’s last call. Huh? Last call for alcohol in a casino? Is the casino closing? Is this some sort of bad joke? I really need to talk with the business people that run this place about the money they are leaving on the table. I am shocked but compose myself and call the lovely waitress. I generously tip her (for the umpteenth time) and ask her to bring me several beers. I go on, over the next 3 hours to surreptitiously sip my well concealed cup(s) of beer and re-build my stack from $60 to $300. Oddly enough, after losing repeatedly with good hands, I won all of these pots with top pair crappy kicker hands and C-bets on missed flops. Go figure. I suppose I had developed a table image of showing nothing but great hands so my bets were finally getting some respect. There were over 15 tables still going strong at 5:30am when I racked out.
Overall, I had a good time but would leave the Winstar Casino one buy in lighter than I had arrived. One thing I didn’t like was that they rake the small blind before the pot is confirmed for the flop. This made the SB often wonder what happened to their blind when it was time to complete their blind pre-flop. Even though I did not win this time, I proved to myself (again) that I can endure some bad beats without tilting, read and outplay my opponents, recover from crippling early losses, and enjoy myself in spite of getting unlucky. Moreover, following the sage advice of Tommy Angelo, I had quit well. I smiled inwardly, to myself, as I boarded the shuttle back to the motel to get some sleep.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Oklahoma Trip Report, Part 1

The weather in Dallas was a very comfortable 86 degrees and pleasant. We BBQ’d briskets and ribs most of the day but my mind kept wandering in anticipation of the serious poker we would be playing later. It seemed as though the appointed hour would never arrive. Finally, we headed north from the Colony at about 6:30 pm. I- 35 is not particularly scenic but at least the road was smooth as opposed to the pot hole ridden ride out I-10 to Louisiana.
Upon arrival at the Winstar Casino, I headed straight to the poker room.
The room is very large and nice with about 45 tables and competent dealers. They use auto shufflers. The floor staff seemed pretty good, too, since I got the chance to observe them fill in for dealers a few times (something I have not seen elsewhere). Incredibly, you must PURCHASE your beer which sucks because they charge $3.50 each. They only have 1 waitress serving cocktails but plenty serving food. Evidently, they do not want their clients to get a good buzz, which seems counter-intuitive to me.

I obtained $100 chips (max buy in is $200) and got on the list for a seat. Yes, I buy in somewhat light. This is by design since I like to use a semi-short stack strategy ala Ed Miller. I think I get more action with a short stack and it keeps my decisions relatively uncomplicated. I was seated (after waiting about 15 minutes) in the 2 seat of table 22. It was approximately 8:30pm. I observed two lovely ladies working the room. One, I recognized right away, Lady Luck. Her friend, I thought I had seen before but could not quite place her. It would not be long before Lady Luck re-acquainted me with her alluring associate, the vampiric Madame Variance.
I did not get anything worth mentioning for the first 40 minutes and folded a lot. Then, I get 5-5 in late position and limp in with 4 others. The flop is A-5-9 rainbow. In my mind, it almost couldn’t have been any better. An early player bets the pot, gets one caller and I smooth call, too. The turn is a meaningless Q. The early better bets half the pot, the caller calls again and I move in. The better folds but the caller stares at me, thinks about it, and announces call. I table my set and he turns over pocket 10s. What he thought I had, I can’t even imagine since both the Ace and the Queen beat him. The dealer burns and reveals the river – a 10. The guy hits his 2 freaking outer on the river. I had him covered so I am not out but I am very short. I consider rebuying but decide to take a shot at getting lucky with my remaining few chips. Within a hand or two, I am dealt 6-6 in the BB. The pot is limped to me so I move in for my last $20 and get one caller, a friendly Asian gentleman from the Austin area. I table my sixes, he turns over K-5offsuit, and I am a 70% favorite to win. Of course, a King comes right out on the flop, so I reload. Within a few orbits, I get A-A in the BB. The pot is limped to me so I bet the pot (to look like a steal) and to sweeten the pot because I never limp my Aces. What do you suppose happened? Everyone folds, of course. Oh well. I keep grinding. Within 3 orbits, I get A-A again. This time there is a 5xbb bet from a loose player and three callers before the action gets to me. I raise! Everyone folds but the original better. Sweet! I have isolated this guy, he has been showing some questionable hands, and he has a big stack. I am feeling good and plan to move in on the flop since my stack is now roughly equal to the pot. The flop is 8-8-5 rainbow. He checks and I move in. He insta-calls and tables 8-5offsuit. Are you kidding me? I shrug and reload for the 2nd time. I get nothing playable for a while so I focus on my breathing and watch the other players. Then I get A-Qs in late position. The pot is limped to me (again) and I bet the pot. Two guys call and we see a flop of Qh-10d-4d so I have TPTK and the nut flush draw. A tight early player bets and a very short stacked Russian guy moves in. I have him covered but I want to drive out the tight guy in EP and isolate the shorty so I re-raise all in, too. Sure enough, the EP guy folds his A-Qo face up. I table my Ad-Qd and the Russian fellow tables his Q-10o. Lame, but I have outs. I do not improve and he wins. No big deal but damn, I am running cold tonight.