Tuesday, February 27, 2007

My journey on the felt...

I figured that this would be a good time to reflect on my short life as a poker player since I discussed my "report card" in poker on yesterday's post. I get questions about how many times I've had to deposit into my poker accounts or how well I've done or if I think I can make a living playing poker, etc etc. And because I struggle to know where I stand in terms of my poker progression, I catch myself thinking back to the days I started... so, before I lose all the details, what better place is there to document that than here?

I remember the first time I played was in 2004. It was August and I was making my "annual trip" out to Vegas with few of my friends from college. This tradition started when one of my friends got married and had his bachelor party out there. That was my first time in Vegas (the bachelor party, that is) and obviously, the gambling, along with "other distractions" in Vegas were enough to keep us coming back each year. Well, as we all know, in 2003, poker changed... forever... when Chris Moneymaker beat Sammy Farha (while knocking out greats like Phil Ivey and Johnny Chan). Whether you like him or not, that was probably the single best thing that's ever happened to poker. I'm not sure that things would be quite the same had Farha won. And how fitting is the name? When you look back, it's almost eerie. Well, as such, my friends and I have seen numerous repeats on ESPN showing Moneymaker dance with the poker gods as he takes down one ridiculous hand after another. So, we decided that when we go out to Vegas, we'll give poker a try.

Well, at that point, to be honest, I never really paid much attention to poker. I mean I've seen it on tv and I thought Texas Hold'em was cool but beyond that, I really didn't think much about it. So, we're in Vegas in August of 2004 and there were three of us who were interested so we decided to go to one of the poker rooms and give it a try. Well, we happened to be at Mandalay Bay because we were meeting some people there and so we decided to check out their poker room. The only game with an open seat was a 7 card stud game... and there was only one seat open. So, my two other friends seemed reluctant to be the first and the only one at the table so they volunteered me. They said they'll join me as soon as the other seats at the table opened. So, I figured why not, and joined the table. I was unfamiliar with how seven card stud played so I had to ask how it worked (in hindsight, I looked like a total donk... I mean today, I would drool at the thought of a guy sitting down asking the dealer to explain exactly how the game works). Well, in case you were wondering if there were any monster pots that I remember or any big hands... no, I don't have any. But one thing I remember was how good it felt... to be in control (to an extent) and choose to play hands you like and win based on YOUR decision (instead of some random card that's dealt out of the shoe like blackjack). I mean I love craps because I feel like I'm in control (I mean don't we all control the dice???? :) Well, poker gave me an even higher sense of control... so that's how I fell in love with that game.

The rest of the trip, I played at the Mirage also. Same game, seven card stud because I started getting the hang of it. Note: Getting the hang of it, at that stage was, I knew that you got dealt two down cards and one up card and the "bring-in" was made by the person with the lowest card and if two players had the lowest cards, then suit comes into play from highest to lowest (in alphabetical order... clubs, diamonds, hearts, and spades, ie deuce of spades is the lowest card possible). Yeah, I was a shark! :)

Once I got back from Vegas (and by the way, my other two friends never joined me at a poker table, bastards), I wanted to get serious about this poker stuff. I went to Barnes & Noble and looked through what at the time, was a very measily selection of poker books (at that time, they did not have a "poker section" there. It was under games and puzzles.) I found Doyle Brunson's SuperSystem but I was a little intimidated by the size of the book. And in reading bits and pieces, it just didn't fit my style. So instead, I went with Phil Hellmuth's "How to Play Poker like the Pros." To this day, I think that's one of the best books for beginners to getting started. It discusses very tight play which I think is an essential starting point for beginners (you could loosen up to your comfort level and learn to play position and different aggression levels later but starting tight assures that you won't lose as much money which you inevitably will unless you are supertalented, which I'm not). For a while, I was one of those tight passive but occasionally aggressive guy (probably more like a mouse in Phil's book) and at that time, I was more proud of the big laydowns I made rather than the big pots I've won.

It didn't take long before I started looking up poker on the internet to find bunch of home games around town. I started contacting those people online and next thing I knew, I had a list of all the games that were going on in town. But, as fate would have it, those games were filled with pretty good players and I was a total fish to them. At that time, I didn't keep good records either so I don't know how much I dumped to them but over the course of a year, I'm pretty sure I dumped $1,000 to $1,500, I think. Yeah, I sucked.

Well, around the same time, I discovered online poker and of course, since Moneymaker started there, I started at Pokerstars. I deposited maybe $200 and started playing in sit n'go tourneys. Especially at that time, sng's was the thing. I would play 3-4 sng's per day and I would do ok. But, my money management wasn't there and my wins were basically because I played tight and had nothing to do with understanding the play. In other words, I was playing level 1 poker. What's level 1 poker? Level 1 is where you know what you have... and that's it. You know your cards, you see the flop, turn and river and that's it.

I bounced around couple of different online sites based on bonuses that they were offering, who was endorsing it, etc. So in 2005, I was probably bouncing between Pokerstars and Ultimate Bet and Paradise Poker. I never got hooked on Party Poker and personally, it was mainly because I didn't like those avatars. I liked the simplicity of Pokerstars and Ultimate Bet. Well, about midway through 2005, I saw on TV that Phil Ivey had a Fulltilt poker jersey on. And I was all about Phil Ivey and Daniel Negreanu at that time. So, shortly there after, I opened up a Full Tilt account and never looked back since then. I started by depositing $200 in Full Tilt and never had to redeposit in to that account and I've cashed out numerous times. 2005 was also special since that was the year when I was at the Mirage and I ran into Daniel Negreanu... well, sort of. It was more like I saw him, couldn't resist, ran up to him to tell him that I was a big fan and that I was wishing him good luck for the weekend. He was totally cool and proceeded to carry a conversation with me, asking me if I played, how often, what type of games I played, etc. I told him I didn't want to keep him occupied, wished him well and went back to the table. I knew that from that point on, I would be one of his biggest fans forever.

Anyways, I digress... and this post is becoming ridiculously long. Well, as I read more and more books and visited many different websites, I started learning the importance of changing gears (playing tight was good but if that was all you did, I learned very quickly that I get no action... and when I do, it's probably because I'm already beat). And I not only discovered but truly started understanding the concept of Level 2 thinking... that is, what I think the other guy is holding... around the time I opened the Full Tilt account, which probably is one of the reasons why I have done ok there.

And this brings me to today... where I am struggling to get to the Level 3... which is figuring out what he thinks I think he has. In case you're a little confused about the levels, this is what the levels of thinking are:
Level 1 - what do I have?
Level 2 - what does my opponent have?
Level 3 - what does my opponent think I have.
Level 4 - what does my opponent think that I think he has.

My favorite line by Negreanu is at a WPT final table, he made a comment to one of his opponents "I know you know that I know you know."

I think guys who are good are thinking on a totally different level. The only thing you have to be careful with these levels is that the higher levels are worthless if you're playing against someone who doesn't think that way. In other words, Level 3 thinking doesn't apply against opponents who are Level 1 thinkers because well, level 1 thinkers haven't gone far enough to consider what you might have anyways.

Well, that was a lot longer post than I wanted it to be and I think that's why this post might seem like it is ending abruptly... because it is. And I never even got to mention how Rounders played a key part in my falling in love with poker... so more to come later... but my lunch break is over!


Monday, February 26, 2007

Report cards for poker...

I used to hate getting report cards when I was in school. Mainly because the report cards generally painted the true picture of how I was doing in school which sometimes (more often than not) was different from the updates I gave my parents. So, they would be expecting A's and B's and my grades were more like B's and C's. Well, now that I'm a grown man and generally, my "report cards" (nowadays called evaluations) tend to affect my paycheck, I am more interested in how I am truly doing. Well, I've been thinking about this quite a bit lately... and unfortunately, there's no standard "evaluation" in poker.

One can always argue that if you are making money, then you are a "good" poker player. But I think as you get better and better, you also know that that's not true. Should the dollar amount of your winnings be the indication of how good you are? Should the knowledge of poker theories make you a better player than someone else? How long and how consistently do you have to make money to be "good"? How good is "good" anyways? These are just some of many questions I have.

On one of the forums I visit relatively frequently, some people post their pokertracker stats. For those that aren't familiar with pokertracker, it's a software that tracks your play, saves all the hand histories, keeps track of stats like how often you see the flop, how often you bet/raise preflop, post flop, and on the turn and on the river, how often you go to showdowns and how often you win those. Well, on this forum, the popular stat that they discuss is BB/100 or BB/hr. BB/100 is the number of big bets won per 100 hands (so if you play 2/4, BB is $4 so if you are at 4.00 for BB/100, that means that on average, you win $16 per 100 hands). BB/hr is generally half of your BB/100 since online, you see about 50-60 hands per hour. But even that becomes debatable. Why? Well, how many hands is a good enough sample? In the month of February, my current BB/hr at a 1-2 NL table is like 40+. Does that mean that if I played 40 hrs a week and played 52 weeks in a year, I would make $166,400??? It would if that is an accruate reading. However, I know that I can't keep up that kind of win rate. Trust me, if I could, I would have already quit my job.

What about the money? I never deposited since 2004 in the FullTilt account (except when I wanted to make use of redeposit bonuses where I would just withdraw and redeposit in order to get the bonus) so does that make me a "good" player? If I make a certain dollar amount, does that make you good? Probably not. Look at Robert Varkonyi. He won the 2001 WSOP (maybe 2002) but he sucks. All the pros would chew him up like lunch meat. So, winning even the WSOP may not make you a "good" player. Which inevitably leads to my ultimate question...

How good is "good"? I guess to an extent, everyone may have their own definition. But I don't know that there is any true answer. I mean we can all agree that the players we always see and recognize on tv are good players right? So what makes them so good vs everyone else? I'd love to hear people's thoughts about this. Do you think you're a good player? How good do you think you are? And most importantly, why and what's your criteria?

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Good times at the donkey fest!

Last night was another one of those gatherings with my friends... we call it poker night but in general, there's a higher priority in drinking and joking around rather than actually playing poker. Well, before, I mentioned something along the lines of playing with a bunch of donkeys and eventually, my friends figured out that I was talking about them (though it was not in an insulting way, last time I checked). So, anyways, there was a lot of jokes about how they were donks, etc etc. The only problem (if you can call it that) is that it's not really a competitive game. So when I play, I play to have fun and I believe I only folded once before the flop. Well, as usual it was a lot of fun, I had quite a few drinks and I have to admit, I was a little disappointed that at the end of the night, I was down $35... first time I lost money in that group. Someone also mentioned that I should do a profile about each of them (like donkey #1 is gassy, donkey #2 doesn't play a single hand unless he has AA, KK or AK, etc). I won't do that but I will comment on the slight change in the makeup of last night's game.

There were 8 of us and we play $.25/.50 NL hold'em. Well, one of them was my friend's neighbor who more or less took the game seriously. Another one is a friend of ours who plays online a fair amount. And because they play seriously enough, it is easy for them to win some money because if I can't call half the table donkeys, I could certainly call them "calling stations." In general, the online guy, unless he gets unlucky, will very likely win more often than not. I mean he has to just based on the fact that he has a basic understanding of hand value, reads, and position. Then there's the other guy who will not play a single hand... maybe not quite AA, AK or KK but he certainly needs to see two face cards if he's gonna play. And his focus is too much on what he holds and not so much what someone else might have and the concept of position is not something he fully understands or believes in so he becomes relatively easy to read (I know you're reading this and this is something you should think about... this is an advice, not a criticism). One of the guys at the table wants to learn and get better and even though it's tough for him to fold hands that are clear losers, he's probably tighter (or at least more disciplined) than many of the others there.

In general, the difference at this table is that no one seems to care about what the other guy might have. It's all about the two cards they have and what's on the board rather than what their opponents can have. Which is why it becomes relatively predictable to play against them. But again, if the focus was on winning, I'm pretty sure I could dominate the table. I mean no offense but we're in a completely different league here. It's like playing a game of wiffle ball and I'm Barry Bonds. So, having said all that, why did I lose? Because I become a SUPER DONK when I play in this group. I play 100% of the hands I'm dealt, I call with nothing (like if the board is K-10-6 rainbow and I have 8-3, I might call a bet on the flop), etc. Why do I play that way? Because I don't care about winning money. Again, the focus here is more on having fun than winning.

The fun example (not so fun for my opponent) was when I had like $3 remaining of my original $20 buy-in, I decided to go all in when everyone limped into the pot... with Q3. I was called by a guy with KK and AJ... and I flopped two pair and two blanks later, I won the pot. Stuff like that happens very commonly.

Big hand of the night (and this was pseudo-serious poker) came when I limped from late position with 5-6 offsuit, when the BB (the online player) bumped it up to $2. There was one other caller (whose hand values are tighter preflop than some others but not ultra tight like our other friend described above) and since I have a good read on our online friend, I called. Flop comes 4-5-6 and gives me top 2 pair but there are two clubs on the board. BB bets out $5, next guy calls and since I know that the BB has a high pocker pair at this point, I bump it up to $10. I'm a littler concerned when I get both guys to call to see the turn. And the turn comes 7 of clubs, completing a flush draw. I wasn't too concerned about a straight here but the club worried me quite a bit. BB bets out again and then I hear "I'm all in"... for another $15+... I now know he hit his flush and the pot was not laying me good enough odds to call... so, even though it really hurt (it seems so much harder to fold a good hand when I'm drunk), I folded my 5-6 and the BB announced that he has JJ as he folds. Obviously, the winner showed his flush so I said, "let me see the river!" The river was a 5... damn, I shoulda stayed in...

But beyond that, not much poker to talk about even though we played for 4-5 hrs... and that's the beauty of this poker night, that's not really poker night.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Avoiding total disaster...

I had two weeks remaining before February ended with a total blank in the column under my name for points in our increasingly popular Park Avenue Poker Tour. Zero points after two months of play would have been a disastrous start to my quest for the PAPT Player of the Year. But alas, last night, I outlasted the field of 8... well, almost... came in 2nd and got 3 points. (Points are awarded to the top 3 when 8 or more players show, 5pts for 1st, 3pts for 2nd, 1pt for 3rd). I was actually pretty happy with my play and even though I didn't get as many good hands as I would have liked, when I got em, I got good action on them.

Very early, when the blinds were 2/4, I got dealt KJ of diamonds from late position so I raised to $12. Patrick (remember, no more name hiding until someone objects) popped me back from the blind for another $15 so I called. My intial instinct here told me that he's got a good hand but since I had position, I thought it was worth a call since he could be doing that with AA, KK, maybe even QQ or JJ and AK. The flop came K-x-x with two clubs on the board. Not exactly what I was hoping for but I did hit the flop. Patrick without hesitation bets out $25. At this point, I have him on AA or AK (if he had KK, I'm leaning towards him maybe slowplaying that a little). So, I call. Turn comes an A, he pushes all in and since I KNEW he had AK or AA at that point, it was an easy fold. He flips over his AA for trips. Now, if I "KNEW" he had a much better hand, why did I play on after the flop? Well, my thought was that he had AA or AK. In which case I thought $25 was a cheap enough call to make when the pot already included over $75 and if I hit my J or even another K (if he had AA), I knew that I could bust him. Granted, if he had AK and the 2nd K of the board hits the turn, I'd be writing this blog probably around 9pm on Tuesday about how I didn't make it...

Later, when the blinds were 3/6 (I think), I got dealt pocket queens. I haven't gotten much till then so I was pretty happy since I was hovering around $120 in tournament chips. I am in the big blind and there are two callers so I bump it up to $18. I believe they both called. Well, the flop comes Q-x-x with two spades on the board. I hit top set. Now part of me thought about checking this monster but I didn't like the fact that there was a flush draw out there with 2 players and one of them was a calling station (in my opinion) so I bet out hoping that if either one of them caught a piece of the board, I might get some action. Well, the one caller I got was the one I wanted. When the K (nonspade) came on the turn, I pushed all in... and got an instant call. Unfortunately for my friend across the table, K completed a second pair so with 2 pair, obviously, there was no way to fold the hand. My trips held up and that was a big double up (and then some) that got me about $300 in chips.

After that, I went card dead for a long time. And I mean I didn't see anything good. Not even an ace... At one point, I do get dealt 88, I raise, but big blind reraises me all in (Adam, if you're reading this, nice reraise). I folded because I figured the best case scenario for me was that I was a very slight favorite on a 50/50 and I knew that there would be a better spot for me. And my chip stack wasn't hurting so I played a little safe there. There was another instance when Patrick pushed all in and I found myself in the big blind (I think we were either 4 handed or 3 handed) with A6. I thought about it but I decided I could wait for a better moment... unfortunately, he flipped over A5 so I would have been a huge favorite.

Well, the poker gods were smiling down on me last night though. Once we were three handed, there was a big change in chip stacks when my dwindling stacks found AK, I raise, only to be pushed back for all my chips by Brent with AQ. Fortunately, my AK held up so I doubled up. Shortly, I find myself KK and so I raise only to be pushed all in by Patrick... who had QQ. Now THAT was an insta-call for me and my KK held up. So, going into heads up match, I was a clear chip leader with over $600 in tournament chips. But... no crazy big hands heads up. I missed a very big draw that would have ended the tournament with me winning but I didn't get there. That shifted the chips and not too many hands later, I bluffed on a busted straight draw... except he had top pair. Oh well, maybe next week!

On a side note, the House of Bad Beats lived up to its name... only against Adam... The two beats he took were brutal. Both times, he shared the top card, dominated the kicker and both times, he saw the mountain of chips shipped to the other player. I think one was KJ vs K7, K7 takes it. AK vs A8, A8 takes it. The interesting thing was that he was setting it up for that as well. Not for the bad beat but the bad calls. I don't know if he was catching but he can't have a monster every hand. And he was raising probably 70-80% of the time when it was 4 handed. When I felt like he was going too far, I hear Brent say "I raise, I'm all in." I thought to myself, there you go, someone pushing back. Let's see what Adam does. So, I was astonished when he said, "I call." Even more astonished with the AK. I thought this was gonna be his tournament. Until the house on Park Ave lived up to its name. Tough to finish 4th in that style.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

FTOPS #8 - Pot Limit Hold'em.... Finally!

I hate putting a title that makes it seem like I did something special... because I didn't. However, I did manage to cash in this event and since this is the first one that I've cashed in, "finally" seemed appropriate. This was a pot-limit hold'em game which played to my strengths a lot more because early on in the tournament played a lot more like a cash game since someone couldn't make a ridiculous overbet like in NLH so you actually had to play the flop, the turn, and the river like you would in a cash game. But, when I saw the starting table, I wasn't too excited to see this...

A pro (Berry Johnston) to my left and last night's FTOPS champion (in the gold jersey avatar). Great start. But, regardless of my results, I'm a confident player and so this really didn't bother me as much.

I'm not going into any key hands or any thing here. Nothing too crazy. I was running well and I was like top 20 with about 150 people remaining (top 150 cashed)... and then a few hands later, I got dealt AQ of spades from the small blind so I reraised the initial raiser who was also short (his M was a little short of 5). He called with his KK that held up and though that didn't cripple me, that put me on a slippery slope towards the inevitable bust out at 100th place several hands later...

The tourney started at 9pm and I busted out around 1am... 100th place prize was $293.12... so frustrating. But at least I didn't go through the entire FTOPS without cashing... yep, the glass is half full!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

I taketh... then giveth... then taketh!!!

Last night, there were couple of interesting hands that happened over a span of 30 minutes when I was playing online. First hand came up when there were couple of new players at the table. They all had to post $2 to play so even before the cards were dealt, there was a pot of $11 at this 1-2NL table. I am in early position but I find pocket 7s and I raise to see if I can take down the pot right then and there. So, I raise to $11, a guy from mid position calls, and both blinds call. So, we go to the flop with $50+ in the pot with 4 players. Flop comes K-7-7. Very nice!! And surely, someone's gotta have a king with 4 players coming in on a raise. So, as I'm trying to contemplate the best way to make money, SB bets $2, BB raises it to $26. Wow, I haven't done anything aside from flopping quads and someone's already doing the betting for me. So, I call. The guy behind me folds and the SB calls. Turn is a 10. SB checks, BB bets $82 (leaving him with $72 behind), I call, hoping for a call from SB also but SB folds. River is an ace and BB goes all in with his AK, I insta-call and take down a $429 pot!!!

Very next hand. I get dealt pocket aces!!! I think to myself, holy crap, I'm on fire! So I call from UTG to see if I can be a little tricky or if there's a raise after me with a few callers, I'd reraise to thin the field. Instead, everyone folds to the button who raises to $10 and both blinds fold so I just elect to call. Flop comes Q-Q-3 with two spades. Unreal. That's as good a flop as I could hope for. So I check to see what he does, just in case he has a Q. Well, he makes a pot sized bet of $22 so I pop him back to $44. Then he reraises all in for another $140. That's when the sirens started going off. For a second, I wondered if he had a Q. But then I thought there's no way he would bet out a pot amount when there's only one other guy in the hand. And if I raise and he has a Q, wouldn't he just call to build the pot? I mean why push here? So, I thought he either has AK of spades or KK, JJ, TT or maybe a pair that's less. Doubtful but possible. So I call, relatively quickly... Just to find out he made that play with AQ. Ouch.

4 hands later... I get dealt pocket 10s so I raise from the cutoff to $7 and the BB calls for $5 more. Flop comes 9-6-6 with two diamonds. Pretty good flop except for the diamonds for me. The BB then bets out $15. Typical move where if the flop looks bad for the raiser, BB bets out to try to steal. Except since I have a pocket pair (and he might too), I raised it to $45. Oh, and btw, he's my nemesis that I lost the AA vs AQ hand above. He calls the extra $30. Turn is a Q. He checks, I thought about betting but I decided to check also, just to see what happens on the river. River comes another Q and he bets the pot amount which is $105. So, I have to call $105 into a pot that contains $210. I think the hand through and either he's trying to steal the busted diamond draw or he has a hand like A9 which justifies his calling my raise from BB. But I figured he's had to get pretty lucky in order to have a Q or a 6. I also considered a pocket pair lower than mine because of the way he played it. So, after all that, I decided to call. He shows Q-2 of diamonds and so he caught one of his many outs on the turn.

So, after 6 hands, I went from being up $220 to down $50. Fortunately, I've been playing well at the 1-2NL tables so I ended the session being up $113. Crazy six hand stretch though.

And then at the same time, I was playing a 2-4NL and saw something I don't see everyday. I raise from middle position with 9-10 of clubs. I was playing fairly tight so I thought it was a good time to mix it up. Guy behind me calls my $14 raise, as does the BB. So, the pot is close to $50 and the flop comes A-J-J with two clubs. BB checks, and I bet my flush draw for $35. The guy behind me calls (uh oh) and the BB folds. So, now, I just bet into a pot, built it up, and I don't even have a nut flush draw or an ace. But, all that negative thought was eased by the turn when it came 8 of clubs, completing my flush and also giving me a straight flush draw. So, I check, to make it look like I hate that club. And, just like I hoped, the guy behind me bet $90. So, I bumped it up to $180. Then I got worried when he insta-called my $90. But he's only got like $68 behind him so I'm worried that he has a boat. When the 10 of spades hit the river, I figured, what choice do I have so I pushed for the rest of his $70 and he called instantly. And I won... with my flush... Yeah, I know, nothing unusual right??? Until I looked at the hand history and the guy had K-10... of hearts???? I was very confused. K-10 of hearts!? Flop was A-J-J. Initial raiser (yours truly) bet out on a dangerous looking flop. How do you make that call??? Granted, if an offsuit Q hits, he would have doubled up... but if I had a flush draw (which I did), he had 3 outs. On the turn, he was drawing dead!!! Bet $90 then call a raise!? WOW. WOW. I've seen some donkey moves online but not this kind of a donk move at this level. Oh well. Thanks for the $600 pot.

Geez, remind me again why I even bother playing tournaments...

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

I love it when...

There are certain hands that always stick out in your memory. Maybe it was your first big win. Maybe it was a gigantic loss. Maybe it was a ridiculous bad beat that you gave someone. Or a ridiculous one you took. Strangely (and maybe fortunately), I seem to remember the good ones. The biggest pot I've ever won online, biggest pot I've ever won live, the ridiculous bad beat that I dealt... Those probably make for a fun story and this hand doesn't qualify as any of the above but, it's still fun when two guys have TPTK (top pair top kicker) and I am looking at trips. So, with no further ado, voila:

FullTiltPoker Game #1792153443: Table Padre Field - $2/$4 - No Limit Hold'em - 21:35:20 ET - 2007/02/13
Seat 1: Gooch1234 ($518.90)
Seat 2: RAC00N ($382.50)
Seat 3: TWEB31 ($287.60)
Seat 4: RecessRampage ($398)
Seat 5: CoachTooz ($512.10)
Seat 6: Stylistic ($527.20)
Seat 7: DengBangGang ($518.35)
Seat 8: itsbrianwithay ($89.30)
Seat 9: Vince09 ($400)
RAC00N posts the small blind of $2
TWEB31 posts the big blind of $4
The button is in seat #1
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to RecessRampage [4h 4s]
RecessRampage calls $4
CoachTooz folds
Stylistic folds
DengBangGang folds
itsbrianwithay raises to $8
Vince09 folds
Gooch1234 calls $8
RAC00N calls $6
TWEB31 folds
RecessRampage calls $4
*** FLOP *** [Qd 4c Jh]
RAC00N checks
RecessRampage checks
itsbrianwithay bets $10
Gooch1234 raises to $45
RAC00N folds
RecessRampage calls $45
itsbrianwithay raises to $81.30, and is all in
Gooch1234 raises to $465
RecessRampage calls $345, and is all in
Gooch1234 shows [Ah Qc]
RecessRampage shows [4h 4s]
itsbrianwithay shows [Qs Ad]
Uncalled bet of $75 returned to Gooch1234
*** TURN *** [Qd 4c Jh] [6c]
*** RIVER *** [Qd 4c Jh 6c] [6s]
Gooch1234 shows two pair, Queens and Sixes
RecessRampage shows a full house, Fours full of Sixes
RecessRampage wins the side pot ($617.40) with a full house, Fours full of Sixes
itsbrianwithay shows two pair, Queens and Sixes
RecessRampage wins the main pot ($276.90) with a full house, Fours full of Sixes
itsbrianwithay is sitting out

What a nice pot, a nice flop, etc etc. The funny thing is, I generally never limp from early position with a pocket pair because I feel like if I limp, someone raises and I call, it's so obvious I have a pocket pair. But, I also obviously switch it up so I did. The other thing that's uncharacteristic is I usually bet out when I hit trips. I feel like it disguises my hand better. If I check raise once, then that already shows how strong I am. If I bet out, then the guy never really knows if I have trips, two pair, just hit the top pair, etc. But again, I thought the board was juicy enough that I could make something of it so I checked. The rest is history. The big stack pushing all in was a nice pleasant surprise.

Oh, and in case you're curious, biggest pot online was approx $1,600 and it came when I flopped a set of sixes against a guy who had KK and both of us had approx $800 in our stacks.

Biggest pot live came when I had 7-9 from the button, it was raised to like $10 preflop and there were like 6 people. Checked around on the flop when I had an open-ender, caught my nut straight on the turn and the betting commenced from early position, one caller, I raised from the button, I got reraised, the other guy ends up calling, I go all in, and they both call. Two of them had 2 pair and my straight holds up for a nice $1,400 pot.

And the worst beat I dealt someone? Was online. $1-2 NL, just started, we both had $200 - max buy-in. I get pocket 6s and I flop a set. Basically, money goes all in the middle by the turn, except I'm in bad shape when he flips over pocket 10s which he flopped a set also. Except the river came another 6 to give me quads. Sick, sick beat. Worst part is probably the fact that I KNEW I was ahead... just to find out I was waaaaaaaay behind...


It's rare for me to be speechless. Whether it's politics, religion, other random social issues, poker, football, or sports in general, or the crappy driver in front of me, I have an opinion about all of them... and yet, the past couple of days, I have been out of material. Actually, I'm not sure if I'm totally out of material or I'm just in a lull. Now that the football season is over, I don't really have any passion in any of the sports going on. I personally love playing basketball but in terms of watching, ESPN highlights are more than plenty and actually, even that is starting to become a chore to watch. YouTube in that sense has been a god send because you type in a player's name and you're more than likely to catch all sorts of highlight reels that may not have made the cut on Sportscenter.

The other day, my friends and I had a discussion about what would make a good reading material when you do battle with #2 in the bathroom. So, I made the comment that if I were at home, I'd just take my laptop in there with me while I inevitably continue to play poker or browse the internet... and this is when I realized how sick I was... the list of sites that came to me off the top of my head were www.cardplayer.com, www.pokercash.blogspot.com, www.thepokerforum.com, www.fullcontactpoker.com, etc. And that was literally just ones that immeidately came to me. When I think about it, I go to www.cardsharkmedia.com, the 2+2 forums (which I admittedly don't know the address immediately off the top of my head), and very occasionally go to the websites for Bluff magazine and All-in magazine. And I realize that all I do is visit poker sites... I really need to get a life outside of watching football and playing poker...

So, this blog is going to bounce all over the place but... recently, I've been playing in a lot of tournaments with limited success (translation: limited success = no success). I mean I have played in two FTOPS event and didn't cash in either one, played in the ironman freeroll and was bounced 4 spots away from the money (btw, congrats to tilt away for cashing in the gold freeroll... free $80, not a bad deal), played in a few more smaller tourneys, and haven't cashed in any of them. Note: My "smaller tourneys" mean smaller buy-ins, not less entrants. I'm really not interested in playing any tournaments with less than a 100 players unless it's a bigger buy-in tournament (and my bigger buy-in is $100+ which I realize is not that big but I don't have a killer bankroll either). So, I think on average, the non-FTOPS tourney I've played in have approx 700-900 entrants. I guess the way I see it, if I do win (which at this rate seems like I never will), I want to make $5,000+. Anything less to me is relatively meaningless, not financially but in terms of poker accomplishments. I mean if a few hundred bucks was good enough, I'll go play in one of those massive sng's.

So, I just wanna get my thoughts down. I know playing tight isn't the only way to play poker but in general, I think that fits my style in tournaments because I still can't figure out how to make plays in a situation where all-in becomes a favorite choice (another reason why I prefer cash games so much more - there's more play than tournament, IMHO). So, here are some things I've learned in the past few days... These are hands that are reraise worthy: AA, KK, QQ, AK, AQ, and maybe JJ. I also realized that putting your life on the line with the following hands are stupid: AQ, KQ... unless of course, I'm short stacked. But if I'm trying to push someone off, AQ or KQ or obviously anything less is just a stupid way of losing chips. I've also noticed that as the blinds get bigger and my M approaches 15-20 range, I need to fold the following from early or even mid position: KJ, any pair 66 or below, AT or below, QJ. Esp in tournaments where the players are decent, there's almost a guaranteed raise from late position and none of those hands really excite me in terms of putting more money in the pot or playing out of position. I think this might be poker 101. It's probably in every "beginner's guide" to poker but I've learned some tough lessons with AQ, KQ, low pocket pairs, etc. So, in lieu of tonight's FTOPS event, I'm gonna try to keep these in mind and see if I could play a little tighter, a little smarter, and a little more aggressive all at the same time. If I don't cash in any of the FTOPS event, I'm a total dud, a fish, a donkey, a loser, an idiot, etc. And I'd hate to be any one of those. COME ON ACES!

Sunday, February 11, 2007

FTOPS event #3

Ended up 969 out of 2755 players. Last hand, I had pocket 5's cracked by KJ when the king hit the river, all in preflop. I was relatively shortstacked and the guy who called had like 5 times the chip count I had so it made sense. Considering right before that, I went all in with AK and everyone folded to me. What a tough end to an otherwise fairly well played tournament, in my opinion. The big donkish thing I did was when I pot committed myself with KQ against a guy who had AQ. That cost me a good chunk of my chips. Oh well. I'm not as upset with the way this one ended since I felt like I played fairly well but just got unlucky at the end. If I won that race, I was right back in the thick of things. 1st place prize of this tournament is over $150k... Man, can't imagine winning that kinda money online.

FTOPS#3 - 1st hour...

Wow... in terms of the tournaments I played, this was a very topsy turvy 1st hour of the tournament. I'm pretty happy that I'm still alive considering that very early (5th hand dealt) in the tournament, this happened...

ullTiltPoker Game #1777467931: FTOPS Event #3 (11292129), Table 176 - 15/30 - No Limit Hold'em - 18:03:42 ET - 2007/02/11
Seat 1: BoomerangPoker (2,970)
Seat 2: iLLNuGWichee (2,955)
Seat 3: Richard Cranium (3,015)
Seat 4: habibi1 (3,000)
Seat 5: tranquilo (3,015)
Seat 6: KGtheACE (3,000)
Seat 7: RecessRampage (3,000)
Seat 8: venom720 (3,000)
Seat 9: TheHebrewHammer (3,045)
tranquilo posts the small blind of 15
KGtheACE posts the big blind of 30
The button is in seat #4
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to RecessRampage [Jh Jd]
RecessRampage raises to 105
venom720 folds
TheHebrewHammer folds
BoomerangPoker folds
iLLNuGWichee folds
Richard Cranium raises to 360
habibi1 folds
tranquilo folds
KGtheACE folds
RecessRampage calls 255
*** FLOP *** [3s 7h 9c]
RecessRampage checks
Richard Cranium bets 480
RecessRampage raises to 1,400
Richard Cranium has 15 seconds left to act
Richard Cranium raises to 2,655, and is all in
RecessRampage folds
Uncalled bet of 1,255 returned to Richard Cranium
Richard Cranium mucks
Richard Cranium wins the pot (3,565)

If he made this play with AK, then good for him. Otherwise, I'd have to believe I was beat by QQ, KK, or AA. So, very early, all of a sudden, I'm down close to 2,000 in chips. Fortunately, this happened:

FullTiltPoker Game #1777693094: FTOPS Event #3 (11292129), Table 176 - 25/50 - No Limit Hold'em - 18:35:08 ET - 2007/02/11
Seat 1: Teldren (3,420)
Seat 2: iLLNuGWichee (3,930)
Seat 3: Richard Cranium (3,335)
Seat 4: habibi1 (2,370)
Seat 5: tranquilo (5,515)
Seat 6: KGtheACE (2,760)
Seat 7: RecessRampage (1,520)
Seat 8: venom720 (3,490)
Seat 9: TheHebrewHammer (2,740)
TheHebrewHammer posts the small blind of 25
Teldren posts the big blind of 50
The button is in seat #8
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to RecessRampage [Qs Qd]
iLLNuGWichee folds
Richard Cranium raises to 150
habibi1 foldstranquilo calls 150
KGtheACE folds
RecessRampage raises to 1,520, and is all in
venom720 folds
TheHebrewHammer folds
Teldren folds
Richard Cranium raises to 3,335, and is all in
tranquilo folds
Richard Cranium shows [Ah Qc]
RecessRampage shows [Qs Qd]
Uncalled bet of 1,815 returned to Richard Cranium
*** FLOP *** [4s 4c 5s]
*** TURN *** [4s 4c 5s] [As]
*** RIVER *** [4s 4c 5s As] [6s]
Richard Cranium shows two pair, Aces and Fours
RecessRampage shows a flush, Ace high
RecessRampage wins the pot (3,265) with a flush, Ace high

Sweet justice. When the ace came on the turn, I literally put my hands to my face in disgust. Thank you river for the sweet justice.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

FTOPS #1 - almost 9 hrs...

Wow... this is a test of endurance. I mean I know playing 9 hours live is normal but playing online for 9 hrs is a very long time. Healthy first place prize though...

Tilt away - good luck, if you do read this before your event on both the ironman as well as the HORSE event tonight.

Friday, February 9, 2007


When I run so bad in a tournament, I don't even know if I'm any good or not. I'm up $400 for the night in the cash game but I just busted out of the tournament in 1,012th place (1922 started). Not that, that's really any indication of anything. I was probably around 300~th in chips when I busted out with the following:

FullTiltPoker Game #1765413513: FTOPS Event #1 (11291993), Table 14 - 80/160 - No Limit Hold'em - 22:54:27 ET - 2007/02/09
Seat 1: IAMTHELLIQUOOR (8,230)
Seat 2: pwn7s (1,430), is sitting out
Seat 3: kq91rn (3,674)
Seat 4: Phwap (9,698)
Seat 5: nm_21 (3,785)
Seat 6: doleman19 (4,474)
Seat 7: RecessRampage (4,203)
Seat 8: BigNumber3 (7,186)
Seat 9: dhansen (1,990)
IAMTHELLIQUOOR posts the small blind of 80
pwn7s posts the big blind of 160
The button is in seat #9
*** HOLE CARDS ***Dealt to RecessRampage [Ac Qc]
kq91rn folds
Phwap folds
nm_21 folds
doleman19 folds
RecessRampage raises to 400
BigNumber3 calls 400
dhansen folds
pwn7s folds
*** FLOP *** [Qh 7s 3c]
RecessRampage bets 800
BigNumber3 calls 800
*** TURN *** [Qh 7s 3c] [8s]
RecessRampage checks
BigNumber3 bets 5,986, and is all in
RecessRampage calls 3,003, and is all in
BigNumber3 shows [7c 8c]
RecessRampage shows [Ac Qc]
Uncalled bet of 2,983 returned to BigNumber3
*** RIVER *** [Qh 7s 3c 8s] [Jh]
BigNumber3 shows two pair, Eights and Sevens
RecessRampage shows a pair of Queens
BigNumber3 wins the pot (8,966) with two pair, Eights and Sevens
RecessRampage stands up

Did I play that wrong? I bet 800 into a $1300ish pot. Should I have bet more? Did I want to limit the action or encourage action? Let me know what you guys think.

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Coming up.... FTOPS III

Tomorrow at 9pm will kick off the start of FTOPS III (Full Tilt Online Poker Series) which will run for a week and conclude with a $1.5 million guarantee on Sunday the 18th.

So far, I've qualified for 4 of the events. Events 1, 3, 5, and 8 are the events I'm in. I haven't played in any of the satellites for the Main Event, mainly because the times have been inconvenient (there was like one at 6pm, at which point I am generally still at work and another at midnight, at which point, I'm generally turning the lights out to go to sleep). I'm sure there will be many more satellites coming up this week so I'm definitely planning on qualifying for the main event.

Last night, one of the FTOPS winner was playing at one of the $2-4 NL tables that I was playing at. I also managed to donk off $300 to him when I tried to bluff him off his K-J after the flop with my pocket 10s when J was the highest card on the board. I fired off a $200 bet on the river, he thought about it for a while and called. How did I know he was a FTOPS winner? Well, all FTOPS winner wins a gold jersey as an avatar (of course, along with the first place money which is generally $30,000+). So based on that, I thought he might make that lay down. Last night was brutal. I was literally up $300 across 3 tables of 2-4NL (starting to do ok with my multitabling 2-4NL) but ended the night being down $300.... that's a $600 swing. That sucked. Aside from the donk play, I lost a fair amount when my pocket aces lost to pocket kings when he hit top set. Fortunately, I played it cautiously when the K hit the board because I had a bad feeling about it based on how the betting went. Losing only $200 in that hand, in my mind is minimizing the loss considering we both had about $500 (it would have really sucked if I lost the entire stack). I really hope I do well. I'm not gonna kid myself. It will require a mini-miracle for me to win any one of these tournaments. But this would be a good time for a mini-miracle (ok, maybe I need a ridiculous freakin miracle... always a good time for a ridiculous freakin miracle, right?).

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

"Pat flips over KK and I'm feeling good about my J-10"

The above quote was NOT by me. Actually, I didn't even play in the tournament last night. I was gonna work late and since my wife was going out of town on Wed, and I opted to do dinner with her and work out on my Bowflex. By the time all was said and done, it was 9pm. I probably could have played instead but there were times in the past where I would force myself to play even when I'm not feeling it and the results were generally miserable. So instead, I decided to opt out. Plus, it's early enough in the year that I figured not attending one or two here and there won't hurt my point standings (it's hard to hurt it when you have none... ha ha ha ha ha).
Also, I know I've been relatively keen about keeping people's names off but now, unless someone tells me to keep it off, I'm gonna put it in because it's just too complicated to try to describe someone without their names. I'm guessing first name/nicknames are fair games. Again, if you have a problem, let me know.
Well, the quote really shows how ridiculous that house is... I've seen a lot of bad and nasty beats online and I've heard a lot of people say "oh my god... only on (insert online poker site here)!" Well, I should invite all those people to this house. Yes, the House. The House of Bad Beats. The title hand happened when it was down to 4 people. With the escalating blinds and such, I think the raise is understandable. But instead of me trying to describe a hand where I wasn't present for, I'll just copy and paste the email exchange that I had with my buddy JT. (I've edited portions of the email, mainly for his safety):

Key hand was when I was UTG and raised to 100 with J/10 suited. Vamp and new guy folds and Patrick went all-in. We pretty much stayed away from each other when it was 4 handed. I thought to myself he's got something big. Well, with my raise I was left with about 210 in chips. I had Patrick covered, he had 170ish. So it pretty much came down to me wanting to gamble and take a crack. Well, I did (as you can assume). Pat flips over KK, and I'm actually feeling good about this hand (no lie). Flop comes 9-2-K. He trips up but I got a gut shot. Turn is a Q, making my straight. River is a blank and I win. Against pocket pair like KK or AA, I think the best winning percentage against those are suited connectors. Anyway, with Pat out I was pretty confident in winning the whole thing. Last hand of the night and I got a comfortable chip lead, I got dealt A-Q. I raised to 150 (blinds at 25-50). Vamp calls. New guys goes all-in, he's got 163 left. So it's just 13 more to me. I obviously call - BUT what I didn't do and I'm not sure if it's a mistake was to put Vamp all-in. Probably was a mistake. Any, she calls and flop comes 2-5-Q and I immediately put her all-in. She thinks, waddles about it, and eventually calls. I got A-Q, she's got A-10, new guy has K-Q. I got top pair with top kicker. Turn and river are blanks and I take them both out.

Good ending for him but in my mind, a VERY questionable call. Once I called him out on that, he defended his position by saying this:

Well, there was also some history to go as well. Let me explain. There was a hand earlier in the night. I got A-10 suited (hearts) utg and raise it 16 (blinds at 4/8, should of raised more). I get 4 callers. Flop comes A-J-5. Pat's up first and fires 45. Fold, fold, I call (so it's just me and him). Next card is a Q hearts. 2 hearts on the board. Pat goes all-in and has me covered. So I'm left with a decision. I got A with medium kicker, flush draw and gutshot straight draw. Do I risk it all? I put him on 2 pair, maybe even trips (5s). Decision, decision. And what do I do, I fold. I can't risk it all on a draw and a medium hand. It's early in the tourny and I still got chips to play with. Turns out Pat had A-6. I had him beat, but he beat me in play. SOOOO, when it came down to the hand below, the revenge factor was definitely playing a huge role in my decision making. Not a good route to go most of the time, but hey, sometimes you got to gamble. And seriously, I was feeling good about my J-10.

Btw, utg stands for "under the gun" as in first to act after the blinds, for all you nonpoker afficionados. I love it. "And seriously, I was feeling good about my J-10." REALLY!? WHY!? Cuz it's like your initials??? And very questionable fold in my view. Actually, in a tournament situation, unless I feel like I'm drawing dead, I don't think I can fold a pair and a flush draw. But, then again, I am the same clown that folded trips with a nut flush draw to a top pair, medium kicker in the big tournament so who am I to talk (I really don't want to talk about it so don't ask me. Jonjon can probably give you a better insight on that one). And this might be the last time JT will let me put excerpts of our email exchange on this blog...

Any thoughts on this matter would be welcome. Also, I will respond to any comments posted if you want to discuss the hands more.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Cash vs Tournament play?

Ok, as I mentioned before, I've been meaning to write something about this topic. But I guess it's been taking me a while because it's almost like there's too much to discuss that I don't even know where and how to start this discussion. But I guess I'll rewind the whole process. Initially, it came from the point where we were discussing the pros and we were going back and forth about who's good, who's not (obviously, this is relative... it's like watching the NBA and discussing whether Hibachi is better than Kobe or not). So then one of the guys commented about how we should look at the playing style differences of these guys between cash game and tournament play because it's an entirely different game. And his initial point of difference is the fact that in a cash game, your goal is to make as much money as possible. In a tournament, these top pros aren't trying to win some money but rather, they're trying to win the whole thing, both for the money and the trophy. Which is why they may play very aggressively in order to accumulate chips early. I mean you all heard me complain that I hate playing in tournaments because you can play solid for 3 hrs and bubble out (I'm obviously talking about an online tournament). Imagine playing in a big tournament events like you see on TV, play solid for 3 days and be busted out by a bad beat right before the money... That's really gotta suck. Which is why a lot of pros try to accumulate chips early so that it's more like bust out in day 1 or go all the way (or at least to the final table).

But anyways, let me see if I can stay on course here. Some of the other differences between cash games and tournaments may include obvious ones like the blinds (in a tournament, it escalates after a certain amount of time vs in a cash game, it never changes unless you move to different stakes) or the style of play (some people are more aggressive on draws because they can't lose more than the tournament buy-in vs in a cash game, it's their own cash they are actually risking). I'm not saying everyone plays very differently between cash and tournament games. But I've seen a lot of people in tournaments push with draws, mostly because they don't really know what else to do. They just go all in and if they lose, there goes their buy-in. I also think that part of this is ignited by the fact that they have limited chips. In other words, in a cash game, you can always be deep. What do I mean? If you buy in to a 1-2NL game (where the blinds are $1 and $2) for $200 and you get a bad beat, you can reload and have $200 again. In a tournament, you buy-in for $20, you get $1500 in tournament chips, let's say you get crippled early and you have half your stack. Now, that's what you have to work with. But in a cash game, you're always deep. What does that lead to? Basically, that leads to more play. Suited connectors and one-gappers become definitely playable, of course considering position, the type of opponents, etc. In a tournament, those hands may be playable early but not as much towards the end when the blinds become a good chunk of your stack.

In that sense, I guess the beauty of tournament is that it's a totally different game because it requires a totally different strategy. Personally, I feel like I could go on and on about how different the two are but I'm starting to get bored typing this. I mean why would anyone want to read a strategy course 101 by me when there are bazillion other players who could probably describe it better and know more.

For my fellow poker players, check out this link:

Phenomenal discussion about tournament bubble play. I've heard something like this before but this discussion really talks about it in detail. Basically, it talks about keeping the short stacks alive during bubble time. Simply amazing.

On my personal poker front... I don't really have much to report. I'm still playing a fair amount of cash games since I'm on a personal quest to build a bankroll enough to play in a $5-10 NL game and I'm doing fairly well at the 2-4NL. I'm not saying I can dominate but I'd like to think that I'm starting to earn maybe some respect at those tables. But I also am playing some more tournaments - at least more so than before because I really want to improve my tournament play. I played in a 90 player sit n'go which was like a $10 buyin last night and ended up 33rd. I never recovered from the bad beat I took when we went all in - me with AA, villain with AK and I lost to a flush...

One thing I noticed at the 2-4NL, compared to 1-2NL is that a) there are less tables and b) as such, there are less dead money. But I feel like I'm holding my own fairly well... we'll see though. I would hate to jinx myself like that.

Monday, February 5, 2007

Superbowl, poker, and rest of my Sunday

So I flew back in from Boston on Jet Blue which is quickly becoming my favorite airline (sorry Airtran, you guys are great, and I'll almost always stick with you guys for my trips to Vegas but Jet Blue is one-upping you guys right now). And for those of you who haven't flown Jet Blue, it's not about the Satellite Dish or the extra leg room. I mean those things are great (and they are great) but it's also the little things. When we got to our boarding area in the morning in Boston, there was another flight that was delayed. Naturally, a lot of people were in front of the counter by the gate. Well, the first officer of the flight went to the gate, took the mic, and explained the whole situation about how they had to replace one of the hydraulic pumps which the plane apparently has about a dozen of and could fly with a few nonworking pumps but that it was Jet Blue policy to replace nonworking pumps and thus, they have to switch the plane which is causing a 30-40 minute delay. He also added that the entire crew is here and he asked for everyone to be patient because "there's about a 100 of you and only 2 gate attendants and 2 computers." I just thought that it makes such a tremendous difference when the first officer of the flight does that to explain exactly what was going as opposed to giving a shady answer like "mechanical difficulties" or something to that extent. And don't get me wrong. Being able to watch ESPN while flying is also pretty cool.

Superbowl - Well, I guess the monkey is finally off of Manning's back. He did win the big one and he won the MVP to boot. His stats weren't as gaudy as the MVP label might suggest but he did enough to win the game. It was a disappointing end for me since I wanted Chicago to win (or at least cover the 7 pts) which they did neither of. So, last night, I know that a lot of people were probably at Superbowl parties enjoying chips/pizza/popcorn and watching the game on someone else's recently upgraded big screen tv. I was invited to a couple, that I ended up turning down only because after being at the wedding in Boston the night before, I just wanted some time to chill out and play some poker online also. And I have to admit... in the few times that I've been to Superbowl parties, there's only one that I had a lot of fun at and that's the one where I basically missed the entire Superbowl because I was totally hammered. (It was Superbowl XXXVIII - Patriots beat the Panthers). But in all the other ones I've been to, this is the situation that I seem to run into:
- everyone (and especially the ones who don't really watch football during the course of the year but reads articles on espn.com or watches sportscenter) has something clever to say about the game, whether it's on point or not (and they're generally not).
- girls who really don't give a rat's ass about the football games are obviously there watching the "show" but what they really care about is the commercials. So, when commercials come on, they want everyone to shut up and they make that point very loud and clear... DURING THE GAME.
- EVERYONE puts more emphasis on commercials than the game itself. Um, people, this isn't the Pro Bowl. This game actually matters. So I know that most of you don't really watch the games during the year but man, if you're gonna watch the game, WATCH THE GAME!

So, all in all, personally, I'm not too crazy about Superbowl parties. It would be totally different if it's just a bunch of guys who a) love football and b) love to drink. I also hate that the next day, there's as much, if not more, talk about commercials from the night before than the game. "Yo, did you see Hester's return for TD? That was sick!" "Yeah, speaking of sick, did you see that Snickers commercial with the two guys kissing after sharing that Snickers bar!?" Wow. Let me enjoy and talk about the Superbowl (the biggest game in football) a little bit more before I have to get into discussions about Snickers bars and those weird careerbuilder.com commercials.

I know this. If the Steelers are back in the Superbowl, there's no way in hell I'd go to a Superbowl party. I might allow myself to watch it with some of my closest friends but that's about it. And even that's a maybe.

Well, that's my little rant on Superbowl parties. Don't get me wrong, if my wife were in town for the Superbowl, we probably would have gone to a party and I probably would have enjoyed it. All I'm saying is that generally, it's just not my thing. I've been to one legendary Superbowl party and none of us remember the details of the night except for a few bits and pieces, clearly aided by the evidence left behind (scuff marks six feet high on the wall, pizza sauce on the ceiling, etc).

Before the Superbowl started, I got online and started playing poker. And as I promised to myself, I decided to play in more tournaments so I did. I ended up playing in a $69+6 tourney which had 233 entrants and I ended up in 26th place. Top 27 got paid but the real money was in the top 5 (4 digit payouts for the top 5). I ended up busting out with pocket tens when I went all in, got called by a guy with AQ and ace hit the flop. I played ok even though there were probably times I squandered away the chips that I shouldn't have. I'm gonna chalk that up to a learning experience. I am really starting to notice that I've gotten much better in my cash game and my tournament game is really either deteriorating or maybe the same as before which was worse than I thought it was. This sounds like a good lead in for talking about the difference between cash games and tournaments but this blog is getting long enough and my lunch break is pretty much over so I'll talk about that later.

Saturday, February 3, 2007

A night of never ending toasts... (nonpoker content)

I'm not even sure where to start. During the whole process, I was envisioning so many things I wanted to say on my blog... but now that I sit here in front of my lap top, I really have no idea how I should start this off. I guess trying to be fancy is not my style so I'm just gonna start from the beginning.

Today was a very hectic day. This morning started really early because we had to catch the flight to Boston that left at 8am. Ok, that doesn't sound so early but considering the fact that it's Saturday and I usually sleep in till like 11 or 12, waking up at 6 in order to get to the airport in time for the flight made for a ridiculous start to my Saturday. As soon as we arrived in Boston, we took the cab straight to the hotel - Marriott at the Wharf. We got a room that looked out on to the bay which was gorgeous. Well, we were also starving so we just went downstairs where we encountered the breakfast buffet. Now in my mind, breakfast buffets are literally a hit or miss situation. I've had some awesome breakfast before and then there were others that literally sucked. And they all cost a lot of money so a shitty breakfast buffet makes for a very disappointing moment. Well, the breakfast buffet here was $17.99 which is par for the course. But the breakfast itself? It was phenomenal. Smoked salmon, salami and other cold meat, along with the regular breakfast meal like eggs, bacon and sausage, and complete with the omelette/waffle station made for a fantastic start. So, after we stuffed ourselves, we went back to the room and took a nap to make up for the lack of sleep the night before.

This lead to the wedding that we were invited to that started at 6. And as I posted before (and no, I was not kidding), this was a lesbian wedding. (Note: If you are offended by that or generally against it, I suggest you stop reading here.) I really didn't know what to expect. I am personally a big supporter of gay rights and so naturally, gay weddings as well. And I'm even more annoyed when people use the Bible as a crutch to argue that two people of the same sex are not allowed to be "married" since there are religious implications. These are generally the same people who lie, have premarital sex, etc which I believe are not allowed per the good book. Anyways, I'm not here to start a religious or a political discussion... I'm just here to tell you about how the actual wedding was. Well, the first thing that I noticed was that at the entrance into the room, there were greeters with trays of alcohol. Wow! You can drink during the ceremony. How awesome. So, you walk in with a drink in your hand and this room is perched on the 33rd floor of this building that overlooks the entire city of Boston. It was a gorgeous set up, almost like one of those rooms with big windows that you see in movies and stuff. It was nice! Open bars everywhere.

Well, after a few minutes of mingling, the wedding ceremony started. Another thing I noticed was that even though it was "black tie optional" I was surprised as to how casual the actual ceremony was. I don't mean that anyone was dressed poorly. Not at all. But the way the ceremony was carried out was very casual. First of all, the officiant of the wedding was a friend of the two that were getting married. Then there was a good mix of "attendants" which is the equivalent of the bridesmaids and the groomsmen. Then their moms walked in followed by the two ladies getting married. Now, I have to admit, I have a thing for wedding dresses. Well, I have a thing for women in wedding dresses. I don't know if it's the cream colored dress or the simplicity or the elegance of the dress but I just love women in wedding dresses. So imagine by excitement when I saw two very pretty girls in wedding dresses. That was amazing. The dress was nothing unusual. It was a very slim, long, cream colored dress and the two were beautiful. The officiant wrote out her entire speech which was excellent. They then exchanged their vows... and they wrote their own vows... and I will say that this was by far, the most amazing, beautiful wedding I've ever been to. During their vows, which was very long and with notes in their hands, all the girls in the room had the sniffles. I was shocked that I was able to hold in the tears. I mean it was an amazing exchange of vows by both of them and they both did an amazing job coming up with a very long, yet funny, and touching, and very very loving vows for each other.

They also had couple of readers and later, some toasts from the bridesmaid, one of the girl's sister, and the other girl's brother. All three of them did fantastic. I mean seriously, there wasn't a single toast or a speech that was bad and that's quite amazing considering how long they all were. In other words, the jokes were funny. The phrases were well thought out. Again, I repeat. It was the most amazing ceremony I've ever had the pleasure of attending.

Later, I was asked what I thought about the ceremony and how I would describe it. And I really had no words for it. I mean amazing or beautiful or elegant just doesn't do the ceremony any justice. So, all I could say was that it was an honor to be there.

And then I also thought this. Like I mentioned above, I was always for gay rights. So, naturally, I was pro-gay marriage. Well, after seeing the love in those two and the friends and family that surrounded them with love, I am now a total believer in gay marriage. Actually, I don't know how other people could say that if you love a person of the same sex, then you can't get married. If you could ever break down that barrier or open your mind to something unconventional, then you might realize that love, no matter what shape or form it takes, is no different whether a man loves another man, a woman loves another woman, or a man loves a woman, and vice versa. It really makes no difference and I don't think anyone should judge anyone else for what they like or don't like. During the ceremony, I felt like there was so much more I wanted to write. But now that I'm typing this, I really can't think of anything else to say here. There's nothing that I could put down here that would ever truly describe the amazing feeling I experienced in attending that wedding but I will also say this. This seems to be a consistent thought by everyone who was there and I, after spending a few hours there, would agree that my life and I, as a person, am better for it by being a part of such an amazing ceremony and the two amazing people who made it happen. I know it was not easy. I mean I only know bits and pieces of the struggles and I'm sure that's only the tip of the iceberg. So for them to share their love towards each other and for me to be able to be a part of that celebration was nothing short of one of the most honorable things I've ever been a part of. And I've attended quite a few weddings now, most of which were my close friends. And this doesn't take away from any of them. But this one was just that good.

So, to the two of them, I wish them a lifetime of joy and happiness. And I look forward to getting to know them more in the future.

Friday, February 2, 2007

$150+13... tourney ended.

And that concludes my run of the two tournaments. I went all in with AQ, only to be called by AK. I did have a couple of questionable calls towards the end when some of the shorter stacks went all in (and I was ahead in my defense, not by much but I was ahead) and lost two that really crippled my stack. I'm really not sure if I just got unlucky or if I don't know how to get it to the next level. What a bummer. 3 hrs of tournament play put to waste. I'm out.

Oh, and I'll be heading to Boston tomorrow morning to attend a wedding. One of my friends mentioned to me "man, whoever is getting married this weekend really has no balls (since it's the Superbowl weekend." My response. "You're right, cuz it's a lesbian wedding."

Honestly, I couldn't have scripted that better. So, I'll let you all know how that goes. I'm out. Good night now!

$24+2... ended

Dammit... just busted out of the $24+2 tourney in 103rd place. Got $36 for 103rd. Whopping $12 profit! Now I gotta focus on the $150 tourney...

2 tournaments at Full Tilt!

Ok, so it's hour #2... well, break #2 after 2 hrs of solid, sometimes lucky play... in two tournaments. I decided to focus a little bit more on tournaments this month instead of just playing the cash games and so I started a $24+2 buy-in tourney and a $150+13 buy-in tourney at 8. The $150+13 tourney started with 294 entrants and we're now down to 106 players. There are quite a few players at my table who are actually pretty solid so I'm not liking that. BUT, I am currently in 24th out of the remaining 106 so I do feel good about that.

On the $24+2 tournament, I am in the money. It started with 798 players and we're now down to 126. 127 was the cutoff for the money so now I'm in the money. On that one, I am currently in 89th out of the remaining 126 players so we'll see how much longer I can survive. I'm gonna have to make a move pretty soon because the blinds and antes are climbing up pretty quickly too. If you read this blog before the results, wish me luck!