Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas!
Merry Christmas to all my online poker buddies throughout the world. For those of you not of the Christian persuasion, I hope your holidays are filled with peace and joy. Sorry - I am forced into political correctness at work, but this blog stays a politically correct-free zone.

Christmas. Merry Christmas. Christmas tree. Jesus. Ahhh ... I feel much better.
My Wonderful December Trip Up North
I decided that my family would make a rare trip up north for Christmas. My mother-in-law lives about 450 miles straight north, so normlly this is not a trip we make in December. It is currently a blissful, clear 45 degree day in central Illinois. The forcast for our destination tomorrow: Snow showers, high of 28 degrees, which is the warmest it is supposed to be for the stay. There were already 15 inches of snow on the ground as of yesterday, and snow is forcast for today, Wednesday (our travel day), Friday, and Sunday (our return travel day).

I can't believe that we made this nasty trip many times when our kids were real young. Now, of course, they are old enough to just complain about everything.

The one very nice thing about traveling north, however, is that my mother-in-law lives about 45 minutes from an Indian casino. And, better yet, the St. Croix Casino has poker tournaments scheduled for Thursday and Saturday evenings. They are low buy-in tournaments ($60 Thursday and $125 on Saturday), so who knows what level of skill will be present. This casino does host some of the Heartland Poker Tour events, so I am hoping that the tournaments will be good.
A Quick Review of 2007
2007 brought many changes to my poker life. The downfall of Neteller for USA players was a big pain in the ass, as was the number of poker rooms that shut their doors to USA players -- often with little or no notice, and often with no good way to get our money out. Such is the risk of playing online poker.
Several of my poker groups changed in significant ways:
CheckRayz: The head honcho, Mike (imjusthere4thebeer), disappeared some time after going to the Australia Millions. Mike posted on my blog a few days ago, which is the first I'd heard from him in probably over six months. I guess that this group is now kaput.
Shark Poker Tour: Shark also seemed to take a major trip away from poker in 2007. The tour started back up late in 2007, but is sputtering along.
K-9 Poker Tour: What happened here? It seems like financial issues and some personal battles took away the good feelings vibe from this group. It is still active, but one gets the feeling it has already peaked and is on the downside unless something changes.
OnlinePokerTour: This group dismantled its season-long free and money tours to concentrate on Rounder's Radio tournaments. Sadly, the season-long battles have been replaced by a series of low-level freerolls.
cardschat: This largely England/USA group is going strong. It sponsors regular tournaments and championships and is a model for how to run a good poker organization and forum.
hammershangout : This new group is struggling to get members. It is an offshoot of K-9 and some members are common to both groups.
Poker Bloggers: While not a group but rather a compilation of poker players who blog, this group kicked ass all year long with regular challenging tournaments and a couple of competitions, incluing Battle Of the Blogger Tournamets I & II. The winner of "II" got a trip to Australia for the Australian Millions!
As for 2008 ...
Frankly, I do not know. I will continue my semi-regular trips to Las Vegas, but I find myself tiring of online poker. I will probably be more judicious in choosing which tournaments I enter in 2008.
Good luck in the upcoming year!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Mike Maloney, a Chicago blogger, took fourth place in the Battle of the Blogger Tournaments II last night. Does anyone know how it feels to get so close -- fourth place -- and miss out on the big trip?

Ding! Roll back the clock to July, 2006. Poker.com sponsored a blogger tournament season. Winners and a few other qualifiers made it to the big event with a trip to the WSOP Main Event on the line. Surprisingly, this rookie blogger made it to the final table and finished fourth.

In retrospect, I had no business being at that final table. I played my way in in the end of the season qualifier, and really was overmatched by almost everyone in the final event. This is how I described the event:

"Although I am disappointed at not winning the trip to the WSOP Main Event, I must say that I am pretty proud of my fourth place finish. Yeah - I am pretty sure that I could have slipped into third if I wanted to, but I really didn't want the third place prize anyway. And besides - I was playing to win this thing!

This tournament, played at Poker.com, was excellent. Long rounds with slowly increasing blinds helped a player like myself wait for those premium hands and favorite hands on which to gamble.I was getting no cards at all and just treading water, but when I got the cards ... POW !! Pocket Queens quickly followed by pocket Aces that held moved me from the middle of the pack to the front. I was as high as second place and was sitting in good position for much of the last half of the tournament.

Unfortunately, I just didn't seem to get the right breaks when I needed them most at the end. No complaints from me, however, as I took no bad beats nor gave any.

It was great to be playing with two players I highly respect, Shark Hathaway, leader of the Shark Army, and Mike "imjusthere4thebeer," prez of checkrayz.com. These two gentlemen have been most influential in helping to rid me of any donkeyness still within me.

A special thanks to my buds at the OnlinePokerTour - SeaWeed, shaggytrav, murrythecat, and pokerbrat89, who made for one hell of an online cheering section in the OPT forum. I owe y'all a big one!"

Shit - that was one hell of an exciting moment for me. If only I had the experience then that I had now, I might have taken it down. In all actuality, it was the first time that I ever had so much riding on a poker game and had no concept of end game play.

Now, my problem is playing good enough to get in the position to win. I just did miss getting into last night's final when I lost a tough heads up hand at a Riverchasers tournament two weeks ago. The heads up part of the match lasted only one hand: my 9-9 vs actyper's A-Q offsuit. We were all in pre-flop. If actyper doesn't spike a Queen on the flop, or if I spike a nine for a set ...

Ah well ...

Congrats to jeciimd, Battle of the Bloggers II Champion
jeci won a trip to the Australia Millions and is an excellent representative of the poker bloggers. Congrats, jeci, on a well-deserved victory. Best of luck down under!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Bloggger Battles and Cyber Relationships

It seems like I am always the last person to weigh in on anything. Either that means I am slightly out of the loop or I may actually have a life outside of poker and blogging.

The feel-good vibes from the recent Las Vegas blogger gathering were still around until a skirmish started that largely involed Hoy, lj, and Chad. Now that Carmen is getting into it with lj (a little woman on woman action ought to get the guys' blood stirring), my guess is that the action is peaking, but some hard (and hurt) feelings will be around for a long time.

I am reminded of the fantastic Seinfeld episode titled The Pool Guy , and George's quote -- "Anybody knows, ya gotta keep your worlds apart."

Poker bloggers exist in cyberspace, that wonderful world where you can be who you want, do what you want, and say what you want without usually having to deal with the repercussions you would deal with in real life. Although many people say that their blog is just a regular extension of themselves, I often wonder how close their "blog life" is to their regular life. To some people realy say the same shit in real life as they do on their blog? If so, maybe we can understand why they spend time time blogging or doing other things. Who the fuck would want to be around them? Or are they just blowing smoke up our asses, using this somewhat anonymous world to say and do what they can't and won't when they have to go eyeball to eyeball with a real person?

In cyberspace, is anything really what it appears to be? Are people who they appear to be?

Anyway ... at the bloggers gathering and other similar events, worlds collide. Those folks you shoot the shit with on the puter really are real people. Some real life friendships develop, but alas, shouldn't it be expected that some real life relationships would get fucked up too? Except for common interests in poker and writing, are these people with whom you would ever really be friends with in the real world?

Granted, I live a decent life. I have a nice, professional counseling job, work in an outstanding educational environment that is positive and courteous, and have a wife and three kids. The people I hang with are more similar than dissimilar to me. Yet, how similar am I to some of the regular bloggers? Suffice it to say that my world and the worlds of some bloggers are nothing alike. In my real life, some people I know similar to some of the bloggers are my clients, not friends. It's understandable that I feel like I don't quite belong some of the time. Worlds colliding ...

That being said, there appear to be many real, quality people among the poker bloggers. I hope , at some point, to see some of my worlds collide and and check out the aftermath. I am legend??

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Bodonkey Bad Luck
How is this for a little o' the bad luck at the weekly Bodonkey tournament:

1) I got K-K. Raise, re-raise, etc ... against NumbBono's A-A. All in pre-flop. No suckout for me.
2) Again, going up against NumbBono ... I don't remember all the particulars except that I was in one of the blinds and had a garbage hand like 5-4. The flop brought an Ace and a four. The turn was a four, and I began salivating at getting all of NumbBono's chips, putting him on Ace-something, maybe as high as aces up. Much to my surprise, he had A-A again and felted me.

I hope your Tuesday was better than mine.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

It has been fun reading some of the reports of the bloggers gathering in Las Vegas last week. I was particularly amused to read of some of the people who dropped some big bucks in restaurants. You see, my brother and I, the original low rollers, usually eat a buffet once a day and then grab a quick meal for the other part of the day. I have rarely been to any of the decent restaurants in Las Vegas, and actually end up spending little on food. Of course, when you are having a good run at the poker table, eating and/or leaving is usually the last thing on your mind. I once went about 20 hours in Las Vegas without eating since I hate to eat food at the poker table. Geez - maybe I need to get in on some of these blogger meals at the nice places!

Tournament results this week have sucked. After almost taking down last week's Riverchasers event, I have had unremarkable showings in the MATH, Bodonkey, and the Mookie. I hope to make another run at Riverchasers tonight since it is one of the last opportunities to get to the bloggers tournament of champions.

In other matters ... life really sucks right now. Work has been really overbearing the past seven weeks, and I am glad that I will get a little break at the end of December. I am worn out physically and mentally, and my poker game has certainly suffered. I have even fallen asleep during some of the tournaments -- not exactly a +EV situation. I have made some really boneheaded moves that even I can't explain. I'm not trying to make excuses, but when the choice is either playing a blogger tournament while exhausted or going to bed, the poker wins out every time, right? I am either on my game or I suck. Unfortunately, I suck the majority of the time. Ah well ...

Some possible immediate "fixes" for my struggles:
1) Take a break away from the blogger tournaments
2) Go on hiatus from the blog
3) Start moving away from online poker
4) Hop on a plane and head to my favorite hideaway -- Las Vegas, of course

Friday, December 07, 2007

Soooo Close in Riverchasers ...

Ouch, ouch, ouch ... yes it stings right now. I was determined to play a smart game at Riverchasers tonight. With the blogger gathering going on in Las Vegas, I knew the depleted Riverchasers field would be the best chance to win a spot in the Battle of the Bloggers Tournament of Champions.

I got very little in the way of cards the first hour and was fortunate to be down to only 2,900. I got as low as about 2,000 before I caught a few cards and was able to win some monster hands, including an A-A vs K-K vs wwonka69 that held up. I was patient and waited for the right times to push to stay viable in the game.

I was not one of the bigger stacks at the final table. It was time to continue to be patient and hit hard when cards and/or position dictated. I ended up playing the short stack for some time, a position familiar to me. At least I have gotten pretty good at it! Some judicious betting and a decent hand or two kept me in the game while other bloggers were hitting the rail. My instincts were good, and the number at the final table kept getting smaller and smaller.

We got down to the final two and were pretty even in the size of our stacks -- actyper: 131,736; me: 114,262. Blinds were 2,500 and 5,000. I was dealt 9-9 in the small blind and raised to 16,200. actyper re-raised to 50,000. Feeling like I had the best hand at that time, I re-raised all in and actyper called with A-Qos. I was a slight favorite -- 55% to 44%. You can see the damaging flop:

Of course, now that it is over and I lost, I am looking at other ways I could have played. Should I have just called the raise to 50,000? There was obviously no way that I was going to fold 9-9 heads up. After the flop, would he slow play the TPTK? What if he raised?

I got down to the final two by being aggressive with my big hands. Things were working out, and I swear that I could feel that the tournament would be mine when we got down to three or four left. Shit.

Congrats to actyper on the victory. He played an outstanding game and was certainly worth of the victory. Alas, I thought that described me too ...

There are only a few more chances left to win a seat to the Tournament of Champions. Looks like I need to pull another effort like this out of my bag of tricks.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Baaaaaaad past few days. Poker sucks sometimes.

ICGA: Couldn't make much progress one way or another in the cash games. Right when I was getting ready to leave, a table donk went all in preflop when I had A-K. He had been doing that with shit cards, so naturally I called (had him covered by over $100). He went all in with 6-6. I didn't improve. Shit.

MATH: Could a tournament have gone any worse? I gotta zippo cards, and when I did have half a hand, someone had a better one.

Bodonkey: My 11th place finish (29 runners) in no way represented the type of game I played. I was solid all the way, and got screwed three times when I called an all in and had a superior hand. Twice I lost and once was a tie. Two times the river took away my pot. I ran into cooler hands twice (a set and a flopped boat), and yet still would have been in it if my push at the end held up. Yep - the same player who should have lost the other three pots called with crap and won again. Instead of being a chip leader, I was out. It's been a long time since such good play got such a bad result. Such is poker luck.