Thursday, February 28, 2008

Just When It Seems Like Nothing is Going Right ...

... the poker gods smile on you... at least a little.

Last night was about the worst I've felt about online poker -- perhaps ever. I was in the Mookie and an Online Poker Tour event and was getting creamed with nasty stuff in each -- KK loses to 7-7, Ace hits on the river, can't win a 50/50% to save my life... I began thinking about how there was a discussion several weeks ago on Buddy Dank Radio about who was lucky and who was unlucky. I clearly fit into the unlucky catagory. If I have a pocket pair against A-something, the Ace falls on the river. If I have A-something vs a pair, my opponent hits the set. If I have my opponent dominated, the nasty one, two, or three-outer comes.

I began to think that it was time to give up online tournaments on Full Tilt. Yes, I love my werewolf icon and I like the interface, but I was getting tired of taking so many bad beats and losing virtually every 50/50% hand. It seemed like I never was the recipient of a little good ol' luck.

What the heck happened tonight? I actually got cards, put some nasty hurts on people (set of Aces vs set of 3's, for example), even got one suckout (A-J vs A-Q) and played smart poker. I was the chip leader a good portion of the tournament. If I had a pocket pair, I hit the set. What -- did Full Tilt think I was Astin or something? I varied my bets, and used the ol' minimum raise over and over to confuse the other players. Did I have something? Was I just trying for a cheap steal?

The only really bad thing that happened was the last hand. I hit a straight on the river and went all in. Unfortunately, the river also completed the flush for my opponent, who had me covered. Such is poker, huh?

What to do now? Do I let this little gift from the poker gods keep me going in tournaments at Full Tilt, especially now that Battle of the Blogger Tournaments 3 is ready to begin? I feel like such a weenie ...

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Wonderful View from Our Room at Wynn

You might have been wondering what happened on my recent trip to Las Vegas. Well ... the view from our room at Wynn was probably one of the highlights of the trip, unfortunately.
We did have an excellent room at Wynn. All the employees were extremely helpful and polite. It was even a treat to have the room attendants speak English and greet you in the hallway.

While not as nice as Wynn, the room at Paris was okay. More than anything, I enjoyed the excellent location, which was right next to my favorite poker room (Ballys) and not too far from my other favorites (MGM, Venetian, and Planet Hollywood).

Since the trip is almost two weeks old now, details are running together in my mind, which is not necessarily a bad thing. I played $1/3 NL at Wynn my first night, and was doing okay despite a table of people who chased anything to the river. I ended up down a little bit (the story of almost every session this trip), and made a major strategic blunder in playing too late into the night, for my plan was to play in one of the Venetian Deep Stack sattelites the next morning at 8:00am.

Venetian Satellite and Deep Stack Tournaments

I got a few hours sleep and was ready for a sattelite at 8:00am. Unfortunately, there were not enough people to start until 8:45am. It was an $80 buy-in, with the top two of ten winning buy-in for the tournament that started at noon -- $340.

Just before we began, someone suggested that we each throw in $20 on a last longer bet. I was still tired and crabby (I am not a morning person), so I initially declined. Pretty soon everyone but me was in, so I went in also. Someone at the table remarked "Ha - I'll bet he ends up winning it now." Well ...

My cards were smoking and I played a tight-aggressive game. I knocked out the majority of the people at the table. When we got to the final three, I played smart and hoped that my final hand -- K-7 -- would hold up -- which it did. So, not bad: I was one of two winners, and we split the last longer money, meaning that I was in the deep stack at no cost at all!

It was 10:30am, and we had to check out of Wynn, so I went back to Wynn with my brother, checked out, caught a taxi to Paris, checked in, then hoofed it back to the Venetian so I could grab some food on the way since I had not eaten in 20 hours. I made it back to the Venetian right as the deep stack tournament was about to begin.

Aside from getting Q-Q in the first orbit, I saw no exceptional hands. One woman at my table was such a lucksack -- calling a raise from someone with pocket rockets (she had A-J), and catching a flop of K-Q-10! The poor guy with rockets was out of the tournament within ten minutes. Later, this same woman had pocket 3's and stayed until the river. She spiked a 3 on the river (the board was already paired) at the same time a guy hit the nut flush. Yep - she took all his chips, too.

I was moved to another table and had a below-average stack right before the first break. I was dealt pocket 4's in early position, so I called. The guy to my left (big stack) raised, and one other guy called. I called, and hit my set on the flop. Unfortunately, the flop was all spades. I checked, and the guy to my left went all in. I put him on a big pocket pair and figured that he was jamming and hoping no one hit the flush. The other guy (shorter stack, like me) went all in.

What to do? The smart thing, I guess, was to lay it down and wait for another chance. However, since I didn't put either guy on the flush, I knew I was ahead and had to decide whether or not to call. I decided to call since: 1) I saw a chance to triple up. I didn't want to be one of those guys playing for several hours, only to not cash; 2) I was freerolling, so I guess I wasn't going to feel the same pain as if I'd shelled out $340 for the entry; 3) I was tired from the change in times and lack of sleep; 4) I thought "wtf - I feel lucky and I'm gambling."

I did have the situation fleshed out pretty well. The guy who intially raised and went all in had A-A. The other guy had the Ace of spades and a rag. So ... all I had to do was not see the case Ace or a spade on the turn or river and I triple up. As you might guess, the poker gods were not with me. The turn was a spade and the river was a spade. The guy with the Ace of spades tripled up, and I had only a few chips left, which were gone the second hand after the break.

So ... a totally reckless play, right? Would anyone else have done it, or was I donkey for risking it all to get a superior position somewhat early in the tournament? My guess is that I wouldn't have done it if I wasn't so tired.

I played a few hands at a ring table to settle down, then went back to Paris and went to sleep.

Other Poker Action

I played several sessions at Ballys and a couple at MGM. Surprisingly, the quality of play was best at MGM. Ballys was loaded with guys raising with all kinds of crap hands, and I just couldn't seem to catch enough cards to sustain a winning streak.

It is all kind of a blur right now, which is probably best, since I seemed to lose at least a little most sessions. It was just one of those trips when the stars were just not aligned right. Such is the state of my poker game lately.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Oh Yeah - Now I Remember Why I Hate PokerStars

This beauty came from the February 17 $100,000 Guaranteed at RiverStars

Hold'em No Limit - Level VI (100/200) - 2008/02/17 - 16:24:17 (ET)
Table '77010055 262' 9-max Seat #7 is the button
Seat 1: Briman111 (2025 in chips) is sitting out
Seat 2: lightning36 (6975 in chips)
Seat 3: STORENOSSER (2325 in chips)
Seat 4: #1 chuckster (5855 in chips)
Seat 5: fasteddiex7 (4110 in chips)
Seat 6: grahammi (2400 in chips)
Seat 7: Tomahawk111 (4610 in chips)
Seat 8: mikeacefull (8225 in chips)
Seat 9: mpatrik1 (14225 in chips)
mikeacefull: posts small blind 100
mpatrik1: posts big blind 200
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to lightning36 [Kc Ks]
Briman111: folds
lightning36: raises 600 to 800 We all know an Ace will come on the flop, right?
#1 chuckster: folds
fasteddiex7: folds
grahammi: folds
Tomahawk111: folds
mikeacefull: folds
mpatrik1: calls 600
*** FLOP *** [3d 5s Qc] Bingo! Disjointed rainbow flop - great for me.
mpatrik1: checks
lightning36: bets 2200 Not gonna let him catch up with A-rag or other crap.
mpatrik1: raises 11225 to 13425 and is all-in He has Aces or Q-Q? I don't think so.
lightning36: calls 3975 and is all-in Not laying this one down. If he has me, he has me.
*** TURN *** [3d 5s Qc] [2d] Still looking good ...
grahammi said, "thanks"
*** RIVER *** [3d 5s Qc 2d] [8d]
*** SHOW DOWN ***mpatrik1: shows [Kd Qd] (a flush, King high) Holy shit!
lightning36: shows [Kc Ks] (a pair of Kings) What a screw job -- runner-runner flush.
mpatrik1 collected 14050 from pot Donkeys rule at Riverstars.
wingz79 is connected
*** SUMMARY ***Total pot 14050 Rake 0 Board [3d 5s Qc 2d 8d]
Seat 1: Briman111 folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 2: lightning36 showed [Kc Ks] and lost with a pair of Kings
Seat 3: STORENOSSER folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 4: #1 chuckster folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 5: fasteddiex7 folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 6: grahammi folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 7: Tomahawk111 (button) folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 8: mikeacefull (small blind) folded before Flop
Seat 9: mpatrik1 (big blind) showed [Kd Qd] and won (14050) with a flush, King high
Screw you, PokerStars. Just screw you.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

A Little Too Close to Home

I have worked in higher education for over 25 years. It may not leave me the richest man in the world, but it has been a satifying career. Assisting students, both young and returning, in reaching their goals, finding meaning in their lives, and fulfilling professional dreams is a wonderful way to spend a lifetime. In a lot of ways, working in higher ed is like living in a genteel little society, one in which niceness, politeness, and unfortunately, political correctness, permeate everything both tangible and intangible.

The shootings at Northern Illinois University, however, remind us that sometimes our little protected worlds are not quite as safe as they might seem.

NIU is an average state university, stuck out in the cornfields in northern Illinois. It has a high percentage of Chicago-area students who like it for the the location -- about a quick one hour drive northwest of Chicago. It is certainly not the type of campus where you would expect to find several students murdered due to a lunatic's rampage.

I was at work and unaware of the shootings when my cell phone rang. I was surprised to hear the voice of an old online poker buddy, Shaggy (Travis), head honcho of K9 Poker . Travis couldn't remember where I worked and wanted to check and make sure that I was okay. I chuckled a bit since NIU is a good distance away from me. Still, it is nice to know that people are concerned about you.

While the whole incident is a tragedy and certainly disconcerting, the shootings took on a new perspective when I found out that the shooter, Steve Kazmierczak, lived just over three miles from my house. I go past his apartment complex on a regular basis when it is my day to car pool or when I stop at the grocery store on the way home from work.

I swear that I have seen the guy before. Was he a guy I let go in front of me at the local grocery store since he had only a few items? Was he a guy eating a chicken sandwich next to me at the local sandwich shop? The scary thing is, yes -- he could have been.

I grew up with a murderer and went to college with a serial murderer, so it is not like I haven't known that these people might be closer than you might expect. Still, it never helps you to sleep at night when you know that virtually anyone you run into could be capable of taking lives.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Las Vegas
I will be in Las Vegas Sunday morning, so goodbye to all these strange beats in online poker ... for the time being.

We will be staying at Wynn and Paris. I hope to satellite into one of the Venetian deep stack tournaments, and plan to see lots of $1/$2 and $1/$3 NL action at Wynn, Ballys, and MGM.

Catch you all on the other side.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Ya Gotta Win Some Races to Win a Tournament
I was a short stack as the Mookie was approaching the final table. I was patient and worked myself in the middle of the pack, then this hand proved to be my undoing. I raised the pot in early position with A-Jh. NumbBono, on the button, went all in with 8-8. I called, only to see my tournament end with this unfortunate flop, turn, and river.
If I won this race and I would have probably been in the lead or near the top. As it was, I had to settle for 12th place.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

It's Bodonkey time! Tournament competition begins ...

Bodog Poker Blogger Tournament

T O N I G H T !! Better bring your A game ...

Well, it looks like I'll have to aim for the leaderboard in week three since I will be in Las Vegas next week.

The tournament started off well, and then I got NO PLAYABLE HANDS for almost the entire second hour -- not even one in which to make a last-ditch all-in move to keep myself afloat. I finally picked up Cowboys with about $1,000 left and was called by someone with A-8. Of course, you know the drill. No Aces however-- just two 8's on the flop, turn, and river to send me to the rail.

Quite a disappointment after winning my fourth Bodonkey last week.

I guess the poker gods are evening things up for the heater they gave me on Saturday and Sunday. Hmmm ... that is a trade I'll gladly take.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Slinging Some Chips At Bodog
Lately, I've been spending mucho time at the Bodog $.50/$1 ($100 max) NL tables. Why? I can not believe how players at this particular limit at Bodog refuse to lay down a hand when they know they are beat. The way to beat these tables seems easy enough: Play a solid game, bet when you have a hand, and bet big when you have a big hand.

I know that $.50/$1 NL sounds like you would be grinding away for hours just to make a small profit, but the play is so bad at this level that it is almost like people are giving money away.

I guess I was lucky in that no one hit a miracle river card to crush me this past weekend. The poker gods somehow also decided that they would allow me to actually hit some sets on a regular basis. It is nice when things just seem to work out just right sometimes.