Monday, May 22, 2006

Hands I Love

Some hands in poker are just too good to be true. (I like those stories much better than the bad beat ones.) I took plenty of bad beats this weekend - along with some crappy playing on my part - but hands like these make the game worth playing.

In late position, I find myself holding pocket 3s. I limp, as I usually do with tiny pocket pairs. The big blind raises 2 or 3x the BB. I'm the only one who calls. The flop is perfect - an ace and the two remaining 3s in the deck. Score! Of course, my evil opponent is holding an ace. Big slick, if I remember correctly. After calling his bet on the flop, I raised on the turn (which was crap) and he called. The river brings another ace and he pushes me all in. Poor guy didn't know what hit him, and I couldn't click the button to call fast enough.

My only problem with the hand? I bought in short. Instead of doubling up the max for the table, I only doubled up about half of the max. Live, I will always buy in for the max if possible. Unfortunately, playing online has gotten me to start with half of the max. It's hands like these that make you want to kick yourself for this habit...

I've learned that short buy-ins have their advantages though. Most people will play differently against someone who is short. Players who normally wouldn't call your bets will call if they know that the max they can lose won't break them. If you're well above the max buy-in for the table, people tend to be more aggressive because many players will not call all-ins since they don't want to lose their profit. If you build up your stack to the max buy-in, many players don't realize that you've doubled your buy-in. And when someone with a comparable sized stack sucks out on you, they really aren't taking the max buy-in from you.

I know many people would disagree with that last statement, but I look at my bankroll at the beginning and end of each session. If I have doubled up my short buy-in and lose it all, I'm only losing my short buy-in. If I buy in for the max and lose it, I'm still losing a max buy-in. I try not to take each table's immediate results as the judge of how well I did that day. I use the total sum of the session as an indicator of a good day or bad day.

I've learned I still suck at poker. I haven't been able to concentrate like I should, so I've been staying away from the tables. I think it's better for my bankroll and my general outlook on poker. I know I get frustrated too easily when I have a few losing sessions in a row. I can't consistently win if I'm not focusing on my play. I'm a smart person (in general, no comments from the peanut gallery). Even I can see that I need to stay away. Now let's see how long it takes before I break down and hit the tables for a marathon session...

Monday, May 15, 2006

Bachelorette Parties and Straight Flushes

What a weekend! I think I need a few days off to recover... The weekend was celebrated in true "CanHang" style.

A friend is getting married next month, and her bachelorette party was this weekend. A Saturday night in Atlantic City with the girls. Great idea. It consisted of 5 girls, which included the bachelorette. We tried to convince her that she doesn't need to get married. Of course, the usual argument didn't work. We told her that once she gets married, her husband would get chubby and go bald, then she'd have to live with it. Since he's already there, it didn't make much impact. Strike one for the married women.

It had to be one of the best bachelorette parties I've ever been to. All of the women besides the bachelorette were already married, so we didn't have the usual problem of finding the party member who ran off to get a little action. All 5 of us got along great - no drama, no fighting, and the bonus of nobody drinking to the point of puking. Its not like people didn't try...

Of course, I can't let everyone in on the full party happenings, but here's a couple of highlights:

- We hooked up with another friend of mine who was in AC for a bachelor party. The guys were fun to hang out with and bought us several drinks. Their bachelor also happens to be a DA in Philadelphia, so we figured we could use their help in case anyone had a run-in with the local law. Always nice to have someone associated with the law around... Just like having a fellow blogger there while in Vegas.

- We decided to take the bachelorette into what was supposedly a really cool club. I paid the $50 in cover charges to get in to find out that although it had really bumping music playing, there was no dance floor. They had tables, but for bottle service only. We had been the first ones in, so we had our choice of locations. We grabbed a prime seat and prepared to order a couple bottles of champagne when we were told that the good table we were sitting at was already reserved. They tried to get us to sit all the way in the back corner. Complete BS. Up to the bar - one round of drinks at double the price of anywhere else. We didn't stay long.

- We went to watch Phil's band Vibe Tribe play at Bally's. They made sure that everyone knew that the bachelorette was there and encouraged everyone to buy her drinks/shots. Music was great and we did a whole lot of dancing.

- The bachelorette made friends with (supposedly) a bigwig of a very very large corporation. If nothing else, he was throwing around money like he was. The bottles of Cristal champagne were a nice touch. His girlfriend was a little creepy though. At one point, he told me that he hoped she wasn't a lesbian. After watching her for a little bit, I couldn't reassure him that she wasn't.

- I had to leave the festivities at 4:30 AM. Unfortunately, I had server work to do at 5 AM. Critical last-minute stuff that was scheduled and I couldn't get out of. I had to call the 24 hour monitoring group and let them know I was going to take down a server. I couldn't tell you how bad I was slurring. While waiting for the server to reboot, I passed out at my laptop for 45 minutes. I woke up, finished the maintenance and let people know the work was done. I logged in again the next morning to make sure I'd worked on the right server. Yup, it seems that booze and work isn't a problem for me. Everyone should try it.

- I woke up after 5 hours of sleep and tried to get out of bed. I couldn't get the world to stop rocking and making me seasick. Luckily I didn't drive - Kenna did. When we started back home at 11:30 AM, she didn't seem to be having the same problems I was. I think that was because she was still drunk and the hangover hadn't started kicking in yet.

The couch was my best friend yesterday. Once I got home, that was where I spent most of my time. I grabbed my laptop and decided to play a little poker. I had a bad run initially and lost two buy-ins within the first 15 minutes. One was a suckout, the other I was outplayed (my nut flush on the river didn't hold up to the pocket pair that caught a boat on the turn). I figured I'd give it one more buy-in before I was done for the day.

I worked back my money slowly, but catching a straight flush helped. I was in early position and had one person calling me. He had a pair of aces on the flop and two pair on the turn, but I'd already made the flush with an OESD on the flop. When the 4th diamond on the river hit, it brought me the straight flush. I was praying for him to have the K of diamonds, but no such luck. When he folded, I had to show my hand. I took down a good sized pot too.

I finished up around 10 BB. Good enough. Even if I only win a little each session, its still winning. I don't know how much poker I'll get to play over the next few weeks though. My side project is heating up, and I joined a shuffleboard league on Sundays to go with my pool league. Trying to diversify my life a little. I think that stepping back has been good for my game and leaves me more focused when I actually do play. I like to win. Now I just have a few different things to win at.

Monday, May 08, 2006

9s are GOOD

I've actually been playing a little poker lately. Low limits... lower than I've ever played before in my life. I'm rebuilding the bankroll. After losing everything, I decided that I'd wait until my monthly bonus from Full Tilt Poker and work up from there instead of buying in again. I've doubled that money... actually quite quickly, within a week. It's been slower going, but I'm still increasing with every session.

Since I'd stepped back and scaled back my play, I find that I'm much more focused on what I'm doing and how my play is. I'm able to catch my weak spots and bad plays more and try to correct them. I still see plenty of bad beats... bone fide ones, where your AK/2 pair on the flop goes up against pocket 2s and calls your all in on the flop, then catches a set on the river. That happens.

Low to mid pocket pairs have always been a sore spot for me. If I have a pair of 6s or less, I fold 'em on the flop to any decent sized bet if I don't hit a set. Sometimes I won't even call some raises pre-flop with these cards, depending on the bettor, size of the bet and how many people are along for the ride. For the mid pairs, I very rarely raise. I have to be in late position/button and hope that I can outplay the people still in.

For a while, it seemed that any low to mid pocket pair that I had was useless. Couldn't catch a set. The cards were low enough where there were always overcards on the flop. Sometimes the card I needed would come on the turn or river after huge amounts of betting on the flop or pre-flop. I was disciplined and didn't chase.

This weekend, my pocket 9s were gods. They ruled! In a span of an orbit, I had pocket 9s three times. I'd raise pre-flop and get a couple of callers. I'd catch a 9 on the flop for a set. Always get action. Lots of it. There would be an A or K on the flop and people would chase. Or someone would have a lower set - a set of 3s against my 9s. The third time this happened, I even spiked a 9 on the river for quads.

I think I just used all of my pocket pair luck. For the year. I wish I'd been playing at much higher limits than I usually play. On tilt. So EVERYONE would have called me. I could've made a killing! I'm very happy with my wins though.

Taking a step back and focusing on other things is working well for me. I played some pool last night. Ended up winning 4 out of 6 games against the guys helping me improve my game. They all tell me that they know better than to throw a game against me... If I win, I want it to be won fairly. They all know that. They also know I'd kick every single one of them on their backsides if I thought they were doing this. They tell me that I'm definitely getting better - and I see that. Pool league starts in a month. Luckily these guys will be on my team. I'd hate to have to beat them like stepchildren in the league matches. lol