Thoughts of poker creeping back into my head…

After a long hiatus, the slowdown in appraisal assignments and my upcoming knee surgery are fueling thoughts of playing poker a bit more heavily in the coming weeks.

In preparation, I’ve created a new account on FullTilt and have also joined PokerStars.  I can be seen on both sites playing as wooshusukout.

I’ve also started brainstorming a gameplan for getting up to speed quickly and have just bought Small Stakes No Limit Hold ‘Em (eBook).  The eBook starts off with a focus on steal equity and showdown equity and appears to be doing a great job building a case for the importance of both when planning your hand pre-flop.

The gameplan I’ve identified has 4 stages:

  1. Build a Bankroll
  2. Fun Money
  3. Supplemental Income
  4. Goin’ Pro

In the “Build a Bankroll” stage (the current stage), I’ve set up the following guidelines/mantras to set the tone for my play:

  • 6-Max cash/SnG’s
  • Approx $25 buy-in
  • 2-Hr Sessions Max
  • Work on Level 2 thinking
  • No Tilt
  • Low Risk/Risk Management
  • Obey player profiles in order to make big folds
  • Win money, not pots!
  • Quit more effectively than my opponents
  • Evaluate 5 factors during every hand (see below)

The 5 factors I want to evaluate on every hand are:

  1. Position
  2. Stack Sizes
  3. Strength of my Holdings
  4. My Opponent’s Tendencies
  5. What’s the appropriate action?

These 5 factors should help me determine if my starting hand is a folding hand, a stealing hand, or a showdown  hand and should help me determine whether I want a big pot or small pot.

That’s all I’ve got for now!  See you at the tables!

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emerging freakout

After a few glasses of wine at my friend Kim’s house I went home, did a bit of cleaning in my bathroom, and settled in to bed to watch Letterman. At some point my right hand grazed the right side of my neck – which was slightly tilted – and I felt a small but noticeable lump. I happened to have my Kaiser card as well as my MD’s biz card nearby. There’s a history of Lymphoma in my family and during the course of my volunteer work with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society I’ve heard dozens of stories that start off just like this. So I called the appointment/advice number on the Docs biz card. And now, here I am, at Kaiser, in the E.R. Hope it turns out to be nothing…I’m a little freaked out to say the least.

Long overdue update

Times are tough and the financial crisis is hitting very close to home right now.   Could poker be the remedy?

I started playing a lot more recently and have opted to go for lower buy-in medium to large field tourneys.  I think it caters to my tight game – and I’ve had some good success.   After boosting the bankroll a bit, I’ve opened up a bit to play smaller tourneys if that’s all that time will allow.

I was having some melt-downs on occasion when I’d suffer a bad beat.  So Saturday I cracked the books again to recharge the batteries and hit the emotional reset button.  I came back and created a web-widget to keep up next to me to serve as my emotional and strategic compass during play, and it’s helped quite a bit.

The net result has been a cash in 10 out of the last 12 tourneys I’ve played. 

I’m not withdrawing anything yet – though I really need to.  I want to get the bankroll to the comfy level it was over the summer so that I can play larger buy-ins with bigger payouts.   Fingers crossed that I keep an even keel and a growing bankroll!P

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Bad as Can (off-topic)

Friday night – instead of poker with the home-game crew – I went to San Francisco to see Arie Lange “And Friends”.  Turns out it was the “Killers of Comedy”.   When Kevin and I arrived, we could see Rev Bob Levy on the terrace outside the venue being interviewed.  We walked over towards the venue, and there he was – Beetlejuice!  I had to get a photo taken with the Beet – he wanted $5.  I was shocked as hell, but f* it – it was Beetlejuice and I love that little bugger.  He didn’t stink at all and his clothes were spotless.  I expected him to smell like dirty diapers after all the stories of him crapping himself on the road.   We explored the area to find food & drink.  Pizza and Beer seemed appropriate, so that’s how it went down.

Me & Beet

Me & Beet

Then it was on to the venue to catch the show.  Eric “The Midget” was in the auditorium lobby and causing a bit of a stir.  He’s definitely a polarizing character.  When he was brought out to his front-row seat he was greeted by a jeering crowd that was primarily booing him – but there were a few who seemed to approve of his presence.  I have to say, I can’t stand that dude -but I really felt bad for him when the crowd trashed him so badly.  At one point during his set, Artie handed Eric the mic – he went straight into plugging an appearance somewhere and the crowd was really pissed that that’s all he said.  He never got any of it out because the crowd was booing so loudly.  It was hilarious.   Anyway – Shuli, Yukko, Sal, Rev Bob, and Artie provided the expected off-color humor that seemed to satisfy the crowd.  Beetlejuice was brought out at the end for a bit of dialog w/ Artie that was *cute* I suppose.  Beet’s always a good laugh.  For some reason that little guy is one of my favorites.  It was cool to see my favorite morning talk-show guys out on tour and in the flesh.  And I’m glad I didn’t pay the $50 parking fee at the venue (for a 2-hr show…yowzers).   When we left there was a huge line of people waiting to get their cars.  Chaos!

Mum poker

Decided to give the cash game a go today.  Found a juicy table.  There were a few players that were seeing over 50% of flops.  I avoided the good/tight players and only engaged with the fishies.  One of them got the best of me twice with an inferior hand that hit a miracle, but I kept my cool.  “Mum” poker.  Just shook it off and imagined that my hand held up and moved to the next hand.  My focus was on that guy and one or two others at the table.

I bounced up and down a bit and leveled off for a long time where I was ahead by $15 after reloading.  My target had won some pots through aggression and miracle river cards.  For example his opponent had flopped a flush and this guy went berzerk with JJ and hit a miracle 4th club to capture a big pot with a J-high flush vs his opponent’s flopped 9-high flush.   He lost two big pots for around $200 cumulative to a shark who was sitting to his right – the shark just let the target hang himself.

I wanted my turn, I’d played over 200 hands with this guy and really hadn’t gotten much from him at all, but I knew if I kept my cool and was patient, it’d happen.

I was BB w/ A7o.  Target was directly across from me (6-max) and min-raised.  I re-raised.  He re-raised me again…but min raise…if it was bigger, I’d have folded.   Flop came 797.  I checked.  He bet just under the pot.  I smooth called.

Turn was an 8.  I checked, he bet about 80% of the pot.  At this point I’m thinking he might have the 9 or he has an over pair.  He’s known to go wacky with an over pair in the JJ example above.  I raise him 1.5X his raise.  He calls.  River is the 9, giving me a full house.  If he has a 9 though, he’s got a better full house. I stick with my instinct that if he had the 9, he’d have been going crazy earlier in the hand.    So I put him all-in…he thinks and calls since there’s about $450 in the pot already and he’s got $55 left.  He shows QQ.  The cash register rings…and rings loudly as I flattened my target who stood up and left immediately.  I bid the rest of the table farewell and stand up $390 healthier for the afternoon.

“Mum” poker was rewarding and easy on the soul.  Also, I should mention that A7 is a hand that’s not really in my range against most opponents, but against that guy it would generally have been considered a monster.  His raises weren’t significant pre-flop, so he really was inviting a suckout.  In .50/1 game to raise w/ QQ in mid position to only $2 is asking for disaster.  Re-raising an early position raiser from $6 to $13 is also inviting a suckout.   And WOOSH…did I suck out and then some!  :-)

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Saturday!

Good run during the day.  Very good in fact.

Went to Target for some shopping and felt a little woozy and realized I hadn’t eaten since 11am (it was around 8pm) – so I hit the new Chevy’s that opened up by my house.  Had a few margaritas with dinner and thought it’d be best if I didn’t come home and play poker, so I watched the Obama speech on YouTube.  Wow!  I’m stoked.  This guy has his sh*t together and is a big-picture thinker in my book.  I’m excited about being done with Bush’s version of America.   As Obama said, “Eight is enough”.

Anyway, after watching the 45 minute speech I was looking for SnG’s to hop into, but man – they’d fill up fast, or they were way on the high end of the bankroll tolerance level (for fish-filled tourneys). I didn’t register in time for any of the good ones so I just opened the table and collected data.  As one opened, I saw that a friend was playing.  So I looked him up on Google-Chat and gave him a few hints about opponents of his that I had data on. 

When he was done, we chatted for a while then jumped into a $30 6-max SnG.  It shrunk to 3 of us pretty quick.  Me, my friend, and a dude from Denmark.  The 3 of us battled for a LONG time.  No soft-play between me and the friend either.  In fact, he put me out on the ropes when my 88 ran into his 99.   Next hand I had 77 and had no choice but to shove and he ran into AhKh…he not only hit the A I think, but actually ended up with a heart flush.  I was out!

He ended up winning a well-deserved prize and I bubbled.  Danish dude got 2nd. 

I liked the back and forth banter during the game in private.  It was definitely fun – the competition was good, and it was on the up-and-up.  I liked the idea that because we knew each other, we gave respect where it was due – but did not soft-play one another.  No different from a home-game – which is how I know him anyway. 

Bottom line – it’s fun to play poker with your friends at a home game, and it can sometimes be even more fun to play them online (as we did on Wednesday actually).  We’re doing another private tourney this Wednesday too.

Enjoy the long weekend everyone!

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