Sunday, March 30, 2008

Big Day at Illinois Charitable Games

Having nothing planned for the daytime on Saturday, I decided to take the 45-minute ride north and play some cash games at Illinois Charitable Games. The cash games there are winnable, but I have been card dead there the past few trips. It was time for my luck to change.

Anthough good cards were eluding me most of the afternoon, I got involved in two huge hands. In the first, I was in the big blind and was dealt 10-8 os. Someone raised up to $7 and several people called, so I thought I might as well -- just one of those poker felings when you feel a big one coming. The flop: 6-7-9! There were two spades on the board, so I knew this might be a big hand. I bet and waited to see what would follow. Another guy in the hand re-raised, and I started licking my chops. And then ... another guy says "I'm all in." It came to me, and I said "I'm all in." It came around to the re-raiser, and he went all in. The first guy to go all in actually had the worst hand, nothing more than top pair with a gutshot. The other guy, however, had a baby straight (8-5 sooted) and a flush draw. The turn came, and a 9 hit, giving the weak hand a set. I was prepared to get screwed on the river, but a lovely blank hit, and I tripled up.

I didn't see many more good hands (my A-Ksooted with a raise was re-raised by one guy, then another went all in -- yes, the others had A-A and K-K!) and was only about four hands away from leaving in order to get home in time to be picked up by another couple for an Italian dinner party. I got Q-5 spades in position, and called a small raise. The flop: three spades, including the ace, so I had the second nut flush. To my surprise, the first bettor went all in. The second bettor, who had a shorter stack, went all in. I was wondering if someone had the nut flush or was drawing to it, but I was guessing that I was ahead, so I called. The first guy to go all in had a baby flush (baaaad bet), but the second guy had pocket rockets (baaaad bet by letting everyone see the flop cheaply) -- a set with two cards to come. The poker gods were with me, however, and he didn't pair the board, and I scooped another huge pot. I stayed in for a few more hands, then cashed out in order to get home in time. Yep -- it was a nice afternoon!

Blogger Big Game Tonight

The blogger Big Game starts in 1 1/2 hours. Since I seem to have been on a roll, I was ready to boldly predict that I will take it down. However, the cards, who is at your starting table, and so many other factors add into the equation, I will just predict that I will play a solid game and see where I end up.

Update: 18th out of 62. Pretty funny, really, seeing as how I got NOTHING in cards tonight. Amazing how you can play 2 1/2 hours and not get one pair above 4-4! I did get A-K two times, A-Q and A-J a couple, and I did catch a lucky flop or two ... but I was shooting blanks almost the entire night. I basically folded my way through this tournament, which was really boring.

Now, the more I think about it, I must have gotten at least one pair above 4-4, right? I swear that I can't remember any and I was going to check the hand history, but I have a big day at work tomorrow.

Next up: Monday at the Hoy.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Even a Donkey Can Bust a Pro Sometimes
I was fortunate enough to get this wonderful set up tonight in the Riverchasers Tournament on Full Tilt. I had pocket rockets, raised, and then Scott Fischman went all in. I had him covered and called, of course.
And yes -- I did see the seven hit first and almost crapped my pants. I had already lost with pocket 10s vs pocket 9s when katiemother spiked a two-outer 9 on the river.
Ousting the pro will get me a shirt from Riverchasers (to match last night's hat) and a shirt from Full Tilt Poker. I received the following e-mail:
Hello lightning36, Congratulations!
You busted Scott Fischman in the following tournament: Riverchasers Online Tour (35918121)
We have credited your Full Tilt Poker account with a bounty prize of $10.00. In recognition of your achievement, we would like to send you a special T-Shirt. So that we can ensure you receive this prize, please reply to this email and confirm your shipping address and T-Shirt size. T-shirts are available in the following sizes: M, L, XL, XXL, or XXXL. Remember, Full Tilt Poker offers a bounty for busting any red pro playing in any scheduled real money tournament with 30 players or greater. You can collect a bounty matching the tournament buy-in (not including tournament fee) up to $200.
Unfortunately, some domestic unrest in the house (those of you with kids can understand this next part) caused me to lose my concentration, and I made a reckless call, sending me to the rail just short of the final two tables.
Another Mookie Final Table, But ...
Well, another good run in The Mookie falls short of a TOC seat. I can't complain, though, since I made pretty good decisions throughout. I seemed to win my fair share of 50/50% races, and won a big hand late over blogger buddy Schaubs when I flopped a set and he flopped a straight. I hit the boat on the river, sending poor Schaubs to the rail.

I was fortunate in hitting some flops throughout the first two hours and collected several bounties along the way. Wish I had kept track of how many bounties I won. I did collect an extra, though, by knocking out Fuel55. Riggstad offered a Riverchasers hat, so that will make a nice addition to my poker hats.

It is becoming very clear to me that I do my best in the full table, double stack tournaments. I really need to play a few more of those $24,000, $28,000, and $32,000 tournaments on Full Tilt and see how I can do.

Next up: Riverchasers.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Tuesday, Bloody Tuesday

For some unknown reason, I am thoroughly exhausted by the time I get home from work on most Tuesdays. This spells danger for me on the virtual tables, as I already know not to play when I am dog tired. However, Tuesday is the night for the weekly Bodonkey, and I needed to get some leaderboard points to move up before it becomes too late.

Well -- running Queens into Aces made for an early exit. But, just to be consistent, I also was one of the first ones out of a CardsChat buy-in late in the afternoon.

That Wednesday Mookie is suddenly looking a lot better ...

Kaja's not Too Shy

Kajagugu stirred things up the other day in a post inspired by swimmom95's final table deal with ScottMc -- essentially chopping the pot and giving him a TOC seat when she held a 2 to 1 chip lead. Kaja talked about blogger relationships, bloggers backing other bloggers, and the possibility of things like soft play and collusion. My response in the comments section of his blog:

Ha ha - this "controversy" makes me laugh. Let's see ... we play a game that traditionally has been full of cheats. We sometimes suspect that the RNGs aren't quite so random. We now know what a superuser account is. People know about JJProdigy and ZeeJustin. People have side conversations on girly chat while in a tournament. Some of the bloggers have already chronicled their past history, including various incidents of illegal behavior. Is it so hard to imagine that things might not always be as innocent as they seem? Oh yeah - my state's former governor is in prison. The current governor appears to be heading in that direction -- sometime in the next 2-6 years. Nothing surprises anymore.

Oh, Those Crazy Bloggers ...

The sociology of bloggerdom is actually quite interesting. In some ways it is generational, with the old guard (the so-called A-listers) and the next wave (B-listers and C-listers), and people like me who tend to stay clear of most of what goes on. Every so often an issue comes up (fueled by alcohol most often, I suspect) that gets someone's panties in a bunch. Make sure you read the blogs then, for they can be very entertaining. Nothing like having resentments and issues bubble to the surface every now and then ...

Have a good one. See ya at The Mookie.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

The Return of the Home Game?
After not playing in my home game for about eight months, I was surprised to get an e-mail alerting me to the tournament that was played Friday evening. As best I remember, I had not played in the tournament since about last July. What had been a twice a month tournament had become a once a month tournament. Then it seemed like we had a hard time getting enough people, so we never knew when we'd have the next one. But after last July ... nothing. I thought that maybe the tournaments would continue once summer was over, but ... nothing. I began to wonder if I had pissed someone off and was somehow disinvited. I forgot about the home game since I was getting my live poker jones satisfied by Illinois Charitable Games. Then around Christmas, I sent an e-mail to one of the guys who ran the home game. I got back ... nothing.

As best I can figure, the guy who hosted almost all the games got the riot act read to him by his wife. No one else stepped up, guys got involved with job and family obligations, and the next thing you know -- no poker.

We actually got 10 or 11 people in for the game, a combination of home game veterans and new or almost new guys. Everyone was playing true to form, which usually meant that I would be cashing as one of the final three.

I was able to snag second place, so at least I went home with my pockets bulging just a little. The final three were Steve (the winner), Seth (his son), and me. We joked about how Steve pulled his drunk act. He starts drinking, then acts like he is wasted to sucker people into pots with him. He takes his time calling or raising (a huge tell for those who know him), and newbies think that he is too drunk to play properly. He was pretty much a luckbox this time, and it paid off as we were all getting a little tired after 1:00 am and got looser on our calls.

The plan is to play again in two weeks. Is the home game really back on track?

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Screw You Full Tilt Poker -- Just Screw You !!
A freaking 92.4% favorite preflop (when all the money went in). A freaking 96.5% favorite after the flop. Even a freaking 95.5% favorite after the turn. Screw you, Full Tilt Poker. Just screw you.

So ... how was your Mookie?

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Getting Dragged into the Past
Last night I was making a quickie food run for my son and myself, grabbing a few items from the local sandwich shop. As I was heading toward home, I got tired of listening to the latest Chicago White Sox spring training report, so I went to the FM dial and hit up the local oldies station. I began to hear the all-too-familiar beginning of Pure Prairie League's Amie. The song is ingrained in my brain from a long-ago party and a long-ago girlfriend. Suddenly, I was back in 1980 and 1981.

I had just received my bachelor's degree in Psychology and was looking forward to graduate school. After all, Illinois State University had given me an assistantship -- meaning that I would get free tuition and have a job working for the Psychology Department. It was the beginning of the Reagan era, and a nice, conservative guy like me was right in the mainstream.

When I started grad school, however, I was a fish out of water, plunked right into the middle of an ultra-liberal department that had no use for traditional conservative values. I just didn't fit in, and really didn't have many friends in the department. I gutted it out through my first semester and didn't let my unhappiness get to me since I was busy driving around central Illinois giving intelligence tests to elementary, middle, and high school students, taking a full-time load of classes, and teaching an Intro to Psych class of 275 since the instructor, my boss, was in the hospital for several weeks.

When the second semester came, however, I was in a quandry. I didn't want to be in school there, yet didn't know what to do or where to go. Returning home and feeling like a failure was not an option. So ... I did nothing for several weeks. I was planning on dropping out and was therefore unmotivated to do any school work. And then I met her ...

Dee was a sophomore and was a member of a campus service club to which I belonged. She was attractive and had an air of excitement about her -- a great combination. We started going out, and suddenly I had a reason to stay in grad school. But yikes -- I was about five weeks behind in my work and had a huge test coming up. I was stressed to the max and received help from one of the instructors I knew, learning enough about self-hypnosis in a short time to convince myself to do a 15-hour cram session with only a ten-minute break. I passed my big test with a B, and suddenly things were not as desperate as they had been.

The dissonance between myself and my colleagues, however, continued to wear on me, and I probably seemed like this very needy dude to Dee. I had always been a cocky guy, so this feeling of a little neediness was new to me. I'm sure she felt it, and always seemed to keep a little distance from me emotionally.

I felt like I wasn't getting enough out of the relationship, and actually decided to go all in (the only poker content in this story!) and tell her that I needed our relationship to grow or else I'd have to bail. Unbelieveably, she agreed with me. I hit the heart I needed on the river!

Unfortunately, this relationship was destined for failure since Dee's father had just accepted a job several hundred miles away, and Dee would be moving with the family after the spring semester was over. Having had some experience with long-distance relationships, I knew this one was was doomed.

Unfortunately, when Brian Flanagan (Tom Cruise in "Cocktail") said "All things end badly, or else they wouldn't end", he was right. I won't go into all the details, but the end was just plain sad. She moved away, and I was heartbroken. Girls who went out with me over the next six months probably remember me as the biggest asshole they ever dated. And they were probably accurate in their assessment.

Skip to 1983. I was in the first year of my first professional job. I had heard that Dee moved back in state and was attending the University of Illinois. I had to be there for a conference on a Friday in February, and I even looked up her number and address in a phone book while on campus that day. I decided not to call, but thought that I would put myself in fate's hands. I walked the quad at lunch and figured that if I was meant to run into her, I would. Mind you , this was a campus of 35,000 students!

Believe it or not, in a moment straight out of Dan Fogelberg's Same Old Lang Syne, I ran into her. The girl who swore her career was so important to her that she would never get married early was engaged. Fortunately for me, the woman I was dating at that time eventually became my wife, so I was not shattered by the news. It was, however, a feeling of melancholy I will never forget.

Even now, in 2008, whenever I hear Amie on the radio, all those feelings come flooding back. Fogelberg captured the moment beautifully:

Just for a moment I was back at school
And felt that old familiar pain
And as I turned to make my way back home
The snow turned into rain...

I pulled into my driveway, grabbed the food, and went inside my house. I didn't really feel like eating my Greek salad. I decided to play in the MATH tournament, letting poker soothe a soul that had been bruised so many years ago ...

Monday, March 17, 2008

One Heck of a Cash Hand
I was involved in an unbelievable hand over the weekend, but unfortunately, I was playing at Bodog, so I don't have anything decent in hand histories to post.

The situation: Bodog $100 NL table ($1/.50 blinds).
I was dealt pocket Queens. There was a raise and a call in front of me, so I called.
Flop: 3-Q-7 with two diamonds on the board.
I don't recall if there was a raise in front of me, but I put in a big one, which led to a re-raise. I went all in and was called by both other players in the hand. Since everyone was all in, the hands were turned over. One of my opponents had pocket 3's and the other had pocket 7's! I had heard of hands like this before, but I had never been in one. There were no suckouts, fortunately, and I scooped a huge pot. Talk about a double cooler!
No one had any diamonds. Otherwise, I would have been one unhappy fellow as the flop and turn put four diamonds on the board.

Forgetable Tournament Weekend
I had a nasty tournament weekend, pushing Kings into Aces, Queens into Kings, tens into Jacks, ...
'nough said.

I am not sure if I am playing the MATH BBT3 tournament tonight. I don't seem to do well in the six-handed games. I came close to cashing in the Saturdays with Dr. Pauly PLO tournamnet on Saturday. I am being more patient, but was perhaps too patient on Saturday when two hands I chose not to call hit the flop hard. If I play either one of them, I probably cash. Such is the learning curve.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Just short of a TOC seat for BBT3

Yeah - it's 1:10 am and I am sitting at my desk at work. We are having some internet problems with the changeover from Insight to Comcast in our area, and my wife needed to be on the main 'puter right after the Mookie started. So ... I drove in to work and have been playing on my work computer for the past four hours.

I had an epic heads up match with lucko, but he got the best of me and felted me in second place, just short of a TOC seat. These will be my first points in BBT3, and otherwise I would be happy. However, just missing the TOC seat after wading through a large Mookie field is pretty damn disappointing. It reminds me of the last Riverchasers tournament just before the BBT2 TOC -- second place.

I hope to post a screenie or two when I get home.

Shit - I have to be back at this desk in less than seven hours. **sigh**
Okay - back home.
I posted the big suckout hand above. Chippy McStacks was a short stack and went all in. With my pocket Kings, I went all in to isolate. I was shocked when presdlee went all in (with a stack about the same size as mine). I was not surprised to then find out that he had A-A. However, that first card of the flop was a beauty. I was waiting for an Ace on the river, but geez -- I got a break for once?
I got maybe another two hands where I lucked out. Overall, my hands held up and I even won my share of races.
Congrats to lucko. We were at the same table for much of the last hour or two of the tournament. He is one baaaad aggro mf, but I think that I saw a streak of his winning hands that defied imagination. Take a good aggro player and put a horseshoe up his butt for a little while -- how do you beat him?

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Housing Woes
This housing slump has sure been a nasty time for those of us with a house up for sale. Yesterday, I had to make the agonizing decision to again lower the asking price of my house before the spring buying season (and the weather) really heats up.

In life, as in poker, timing is everything. We really needed to buy a bigger house and decided to take the plunge last May. We closed on our new house in June and spent the next four to five weeks fixing up and cleaning the old house. We had lived there for almost 13 years. When we moved in, we had a two-year-old child and a newborn. In another 20 months, we will have three teenagers!

Our old house is a passive solar envelope house, a style that was somewhat popular in the 1980's. It scares off some people, which certainly hurts in a slow market. The house is in a great neighborhood and the back yard is nice -- decent sized with some mature trees and a fenced yard. We unfortunately missed the spring buying traffic and a lot of the summer traffic, so I knew we were probably going to have to wait out the winter once the house had not sold by the time most schools started in August.

I had always been a pretty careful guy finance-wise all my life, so fortunately my thrifty habits, along with the salaries from two professional workers, has kept us okay. Not great, mind you, but at least we didn't have to worry about having enough money to buy essentials or pay our monthly bills. These past eight months have been a reminder, however, at how lucky we have been to be able to absorb the cost of two homes when some people are in deep doo doo.

Of course, that is where we'll be if we don't get this house sold in the next several months. Hopefully, the renewal of spring and the discounted price will finally help in getting the place sold.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Do Rabbit Royals Count?

Thursday, March 06, 2008

A Blast from the Past - Shark Poker Tour

Wow - tonight seemed like old times, playing a Shark Poker Tour event. When I first started playing online poker, one of my first goals was to actually cash in a Shark tournament. Of course, I was new to all this and pretty darn raw. I was so proud to take a screenie when I cashed in my first Shark event.

Shark's number one rule is to be aggressive -- "no calling stations in this army." I caught some cards early on and followed the Shark precept. I got paid off on most and led a significant amount of the tournament.

Kudos to SSEXYAZZ and JIGDOG2000. It seemed like we played three-handed forever until my pocket 9's were busted by JIGDOG2000's A-rag. I went all in pre-flop and he called, covering me by a few thousand chips. He spiked an Ace on the flop and sent me to the felt in third place. They are still going at it as I write.

Funny thing -- I only played because Absolute Poker put $10 in my account this evening to get me back to that site.

Oh yeah -- my dismal performances in BBT3 continued at a Riverchasers Omaha Hi PL game. I can't even score any points in BBT3, yet I had a fairly successful run in other tournaments these past eight days.
Deeeeep Run in Midnight Madness

Shoot - all that time and effort, only to fall just short of the final table in Wednesday's Midnight Madness. The funny thing was, right at the money bubble, I had around 1,000 chips! Someone at my table even said, "Hey light - keeping an eye on the bubble?"

I was down to about 650 after the bubble popped. A combination of a hot run and expert short-stack play (of course I am experienced in playing with the little stack!) got me going to the point that I was eventually chip leader! However, as the blinds and antes increased toward the end, the tournament deteriorated into mostly a fold or shove fest at my new table. I thought my A-7 would get me the blinds, but I unfortunately ran it right into A-Q. Looking back (that good old 50/50 hindsight), the fact that it was late, I was tired, and had been playing Mookie/Madness for seven hours, all added into a decision that probably was not the best. Yep - I should have folded and picked a better spot.

In addition, there is that lousy feeling -- all those hours put into the tournament, trying to keep awake and focused, knowing that work will be a crappy day with the lack of sleep.

Well, at least this tells me that I can at least hang with the Midnight Madness donks. But wait -- that really isn't a good thing, right?

As for the Mookie: I watched the deck slap Astin right in the freakin' face time and time again while I got 9-3os and the like. The Mookie and Midnight Madness -- talk about completely different stories.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Blogger Lack of Skills Series and the Bodonkey

Last night I foolishly donked off $12 at Full Tilt to play in the Blogger Lack of Skill Series - Stud Hi. Of course, seeing that I had never played this online before and my previous experience was in another life, should I have expected anything different? A complete lack of decent starting hands spelled my doom, and I was not astute enough to just fold, fold, fold for the first hour. 'nough said.

I moved up in the standings in the Bodog Poker Blogger Tournament Series, but unfortunately went out on the bubble in sixth place in last night's Bodonkey when my 10-10 couldn't hold against Yeastbay1's A-Q. This is the third bubble for me this past week. Looks like I need to wussify my play on the bubble a little bit more, then charge. Where am I in the Series standings? On the bubble, naturally.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Stupid Is As Stupid Does

Yeah - that just about sums it up pretty well.

After sitting out The Big Game on Sunday, I was ready to make my first try at blogger nirvana at Monday at the Hoy (MATH). Unfortunately, about 20 minutes into the tournament, I was dealt Ah-Qh. The flop: Kh-Jh-rag. I have been doing a pretty good job of not chasing recklessly, but the thought of possibly getting Royal Flush #2 filled my head like like the smell of cheap wine to a street alcoholic. Although I know it was stupid, I not only chased after the flop but after the turn as well. These poor decisions led to a depleted stack early in the game, putting me at quite a disadvantage. Even with picking up some easy chips since Astin was nowhere to be found and was blinding out, I didn't hit some crucial flops when I thought I had a chance to move back to an average stack. I ended up waiting for a big hand and then moved all in, but I lost -- and was outro. What a waste.

The good thing about poker, however, is that the chance for redemption usually lies right around the corner. I plan on playing at tonight's Bodonkey on Bodog and the Skills Series on Full Tilt.

And no Royal Flush chasing tonight.