Thursday, December 9, 2004

It's Time to Start

Wheels up in 10 hours. So psyched I really can't put it in words effectively -- this is one of the better aspects about traveling to Vegas: the anticipation. Its not like the same thing happens when you have a trip to Pittsburgh, now does it?

Played a very short NL session this evening just to keep rust from forming on my poker senses. Lost two decent pots: flush over flush (me in the blinds with a T-high two card flush, CO with a slowplayed Ace-high flush), and my QQ heads up vs KK with all the chips in pre-flop (neither of us improved). The -$37 downswing isn't a happy thing, but its not like its a mountain of cash, and of course I think I played the two hands well enough. On the QQ hand, it was $5 to me with $15 in the pot already (due to some dead bets in the pot), and I figured TT-AA, as well as AK and AQ were all about equally likely from the loose raiser, so my all-in re-raise seemed like an easy decision.

My wins the three previous nights make losing tonight seem like nothing, and I definitely feel ready to play my "A" Game out in Vegas. Here's to hoping it actually happens!

Ok, bed time for me. Enjoy your weekends, look forward to seeing so many fellow poker writers at the tournament on Saturday! I'll be back with some kind of trip report Tuesday night.

Wednesday, December 8, 2004

NL Blogger Games = Insanity!

I won't get too far into the details, but a debaucherous (as far as online poker goes) blogger NL$25 game went off tonight on Party, and one guy in particular felt the brunt of our collective force: [account name censored]..., of Boston, MA. We'll call him "BoB," short for "Bank of Boston," as he was a veritable ATM machine. Poor guy. He lost at least 5 buy-ins, 3 of them to me (my QQ twice, and a flopped 87 boat once). But he also said he retired at age 26, so maybe I don't feel so bad for him.

Here's a priceless bit of chat just after BoB lost a big hand:
BoB: down 130 now
SirFWALGMan: lol
NegativeEV_: he busted?
NegativeEV_: I didn't even see it
Up4Poker: Nah, add on
NegativeEV_: oh
SirFWALGMan: Im scared of his plan!
xupugh: not completely
Up4Poker: when he busts, he wants it to be 25 buccks
brazosbuck: that's my poker life, right there
allimcbeal: please convince cdroz to start a blog
Up4Poker: lol
Up4Poker: lol
NegativeEV_: what would he name it
Up4Poker: A Fish Tale?
MisterD2U: -470
SirFWALGMan: "My Plan to lose all my money"
NegativeEV_: YES
xupugh: ev has my money.blogspot
Up4Poker: lol
Up4Poker: lol
allimcbeal: lol
MisterD2U: lol
xupugh: lol
Up4Poker: someone save this chat!

Tuesday, December 7, 2004

You Swing Me Right Round Party, Right Round...

I posted again last night, after my "Yeesh" post, but Blogger decided to destroy the precious content. Don't know where it went, but its gone. Anyhow, I had a nice swing back, and actually finished the night with a $130 profit after a great run of cards late in the evening. These swings at 2/4 full are incredible -- unlike anything I ever saw at 1/2 and .50/1... makes me wonder what it must be like up at 15/30, the variance capitol of the Poker World.

Got some nice e-mail messages & comments about my last few posts. Really appreciate the support folks, particularly when it contains needed perspective. One individual commented that:


"I am not sure why you are classifying this is a particularly bad beat? Sure, his cold-calling 3 preflop with 5's is insane, but on the flop he's nearly an 80% favorite to win... Looks like to me like a double-reverse-suckout.

My point is not to say that you are wrong--but don't let this bother you. Pound, pound, pound! But, continue to pick your spots and be patient. Guys like this are not going to be forced off of pots. So, don't losen your standards and keep making them put 3 small bets in pf with 5s...let their terrible pre-flop calling standards make you money. "


And he's right. The hand I posted was most certainly not a horrific beat. It just came at the wrong time. You know what I'm saying. With 35K hands in my PT database (even I was amazed at that number), I'm getting a new feel for the patterns of the game, but the recent spate of swings tested that knowledge dearly.

My reply to the message above:


"Good point about the "double reverse suckout." I failed to think about that at the time, though I guess I posted it just in the spur of the moment as it *seemed* bad and came so quickly after I had posted. At any rate, things turned around later in the night (actually turned a large profit for the day), and like you say, I continue to pound, pound, pound with superior hands.

The blog isn't always pretty to read, but I'm sure as you know, it can be a very effective tool for venting. Positive venting, when you want to share how great a win is, and negative venting when you just need to steam off about a crappy run of hands/results. Either way, emotions are best played out off the tables rather than on them, and I think we're all fortunate to have an outlet where that is possible.

Thanks again for reading, and hope your results the last few days have been better than mine!



So that's that. I started my night at the tables tonight off with a much happier hand than the beat I posted yesterday: quad kings for me and a $50 pot. Very nice! An omen of things to come? I sure hope so.

*Later evening edit: the session ended as well as it started, with a nice plump win to put my gain for the night up to $130. That's a 2-night total of +$260, which is a little on the high side, but I'll take it!! Still, these swings are something I need to get used to. I'm feeling momentum for some Blogger NL later tonight, if the game gets together.*

Monday, December 6, 2004


I am honestly nearing my untilted wit's end. I haven't done it yet, but I am going to go absolutely ballistic if things keep up the way they have been. Set over set, and in particular runner-runner. Two outers. All that jazz, as they say in the movie Chicago.

The instant I sit down, I get drilled in the noggin with a 2x4, it seems. I get a nice hand, and whiff. Or worse, draw to a hand (I hold AJ, board is 3337 one bet flop and turn, river my J, only to lose to slowplayed AA, by a guy with VP$IP of 48).

It is infuriating. But so far, I haven't lost my cool.


Just after posting the message above, this happened:

$2/$4 Hold'em - Monday, December 06, 19:26:38 EDT 2004
Table Deal Quick (Real Money)
Dealt to NegativeEV_ [ Ad Qc ]

UTG raises, 2 folds, Hero 3-bets, 2 folds, Button calls, SB calls, BB folds, UTG calls.

Flop [ 4h, 6c, 3c ]
SB checks, UTG bets, Hero calls, Button raises, SB folds, UTG calls, Hero calls.

Turn [ Ac ]
UTG checks, Hero bets, Button calls, UTG folds.

River [ 7h ]
Hero checks, Button checks.

NegativeEV_ shows [ Ad, Qc ] a pair of aces.
Rmarotti shows [ 5c, 5d ] a straight, three to seven.
Rmarotti wins $44 from the main pot with a straight, three to seven.

That's 8 outs... heads up. I'm an 81% favorite (see below). I mean, yes, shit happens, and yes, I'm going to lose that about one time in 5, but I guess what I'm saying is it really hurts when all of those longshots come in one after another, well above and beyond the usual slings and arrows of low limit no fold'em. Folks, hear me out. I know low limit well enough (more than 20K hands in my PT). I know how to handle the losses. But this is on a whole different level. Its maddening
pokenum -h ad qc - 5c 5d -- 4h 6c 3c ac
Holdem Hi: 44 enumerated boards containing Ac 6c 3c 4h
cards win %win lose %lose tie %tie EV
Qc Ad 36 81.82 8 18.18 0 0.00 0.818
5c 5d 8 18.18 36 81.82 0 0.00 0.182

Frustrating as Hell

This game can be easy, and it can be not so easy. The short-run randomness that dictates how kind the cards are plays a huge role in that. Skill and ability to adhere to a plan does as well, but to a lesser extent. Tonight, and the several nights preceding, the game has felt very hard. I just can't get started, can't get any traction in these 2/4 games. I take a few crappy beats, make one or two mistakes, and find myself 30, 50, 80 bucks in the hole quickly. I fight and fight and fight, and 400 hands later maybe I'm almost even or something like that.

And the thing is, these bouts of poor to break-even results are bound to happen, especially to a player that has run hot over long stretches of time as I have in recent weeks/months. Mathematically, this is just something that is going to occur, and the better you handle it, the better off you'll be as a player. Personally, I rate my handling about a C+/B-... effective, but not exemplary by any means.

Its the boredom. The pain of seeing horrible players scoop tons of pots. Of folding Q4o for what seems like the 5 billionth time. Winning only the blinds when you raise in MP with KK or AA. Whiffing with AKs constantly. And of course of missing with your flopped four flushes every time. You know you're on the right path, but man do you feel lost from time to time while navigating it.

So anyhow, I'm in this rut. Not losing big or anything... had a -$30 night on Friday, and am on course to do another version of that tonight if things don't turn around (currently 470 hands, -$55). Like I said, I've expected these nights to come. I handle them well enough. But that doesn't mean they don't feel like shit anyhow.

*end of session note: finished down $15... was within $0.50 of even, dealt AA, and of course had it craked by 88 when a T fell on the river (board Q94J rainbow prior to then). Whatever. So help me God I'm going to destroy the fish on Party this week. I need some mo for the pending trip to Vegas.

Saturday, December 4, 2004

Monster variance, at 2/4 full ring?? Why yes!

This will be a short post...

Last night I banged out a quick & easy 20BB profit at the Party 2/4 tables. Nothing too eventful, some fortunate cards here and there. I even made some awful law-downs and ended up ahead. One hand had me flop the nut straight, catch blanks on the turn and river, and manage to get two of those streets capped FOUR WAYS!!! These guys were awful, but I sure wasn't complaining when I dragged the immense pot ($100 or so).

Anyhow, I came home tonight intending to go out later on, but plans fell through. I'm traveling tomorrow and will have a busy Sunday, so I felt justified in taking some time at the online tables. Long story short, I played piss poor poker, and the cards didn't help me mask it. Slowplayed some sets in bad spots, made horrible (costly) folds, and just overall wuss play. I dropped 50BB in 600 hands. Never done that before... it was strange, I didn't get angry or anything, I was kinda serene about it. But losing $200 in two hours? OH THE HUMANITY!!

So I took a break, capped some people on GTA: San Andreas, ate some food, and came back to try and take a second stab. My strategy was sound, I just wasn't executing it well earlier in the evening during the monster losing session. Lo and behold, 330 hands later, I had made all of it back but $30. That's some swingy poker, people!!! Up 20BB one night, down 50BB the next, only to go on a tear and end up down merely 7.5BB on the night. Wow.

Sitting at a blogger NL table now... hope to report on it later on.

Wednesday, December 1, 2004

The Marketplace of Ideas, WPBT Update, and More

Several things in this post. If you want to skip the hand history, just scroll down a little... I've bolded the sections to make it easier to read.

A Hand History Adventure, Part Deux
Well folks, I put the challenge out there and you sure did respond. A few days ago, I posted a hand where I misplayed 88 and still managed to win a large pot. I want to start by noting that my self-analysis of the hand left a lot to be desired. Input from several readers, and one well respected 2+2 poster has given me much more to think about, and I hope its ok to post some of your comments here for all to share. Of course none of this would be possible without the Internet and its ability to open lines of debate across regions, states, cities, continents. We do live in an amazing time!

So to recap the hand, I limp/call with 88 in MP in a Party 2/4 game. The flop comes down 953, two diamonds (I'm holding the 8d). I make a loose PF call/call combo, and then catch runner-runner to beat a rivered set, and probably some overpairs. The results aren't important: the process behind the decision making on each street is. Cutting to the chase, one reader says he'd fold pre-flop:


"Call me tight but I would seriously have thought twice about going with this hand. I might have still played it but I wouldn't have liked it. :-) Pocket eights out of position with 5 players and a bet coming from my right from the guy who wasn't the pre-flop raiser."


I have to disagree, as 88 is very profitably from any position for one or two bets in a loose, passive game (which fit my table at the time perfectly). I don't even mind that it gets raised behind me. I'm getting 7:1 when it comes back around to me pre-flop, more than enough to draw to a set. Folding after its raised would be a disaster, but folding initially might be a little better. Nonetheless, I've got to go with my gut on the pre-flop play and say its SOP.

The flop was where it all got effed up, and here's one poster's view from 2+2:


"I think every street here is debateable.

Your first decision is really the crossroads of this hand. you're either going to play, or go all out by assuming your hand is good and thus protecting it. as a result, calling is unacceptable. you have 3 people to act behind you, holding only a pair of 8s in a reasonably sized pot. you don't have much of a backdoor draw and it's very reasonable to expect MP1 to be holding a 9. it's unlikely he's betting with a smaller pair, so he's either got you drawing to 2 outs, or he has a flush draw. again, since there are all those people behind you, I'd muck it. since you decided to play, you have to raise it. the CO's raise doesn't mean all that much from this spot, and you're getting great implied odds thanks to the CO, so you can make that second call

turn: BB, the PFR, comes out firing into all that action. what the hell is going on? no real draws came out. this screams overpair to me. I now start to think that maybe he checked the flop with the intention of check raising, but when it got raised he got scared. now he wants to see where he's at, so he bets. you're immediately getting 12-1 on your 4 or 6 outer. it seems nice, but you have a LAG behind you who has already shown aggression. the BB is obviously scared and MP1 now seems to be drawing or holding on to his 9 for dear life, so you're going to be getting 15-2 just about every time here. if we gave you 5 outs plus implied odds, that's cutting it close. you'll probably have to bet out on the river if you hit anything so you can expect to get 2 or 3 BB on the river. that gives you about 9-1 on your 5 outer, so it's really close

river: the river is close. since we're putting BB squarely on an overpair, it's questionable whether he comes along. given MP1's flop bet, he's either got a 4 or an 8 with a flush draw, 64s, or 98s. any of these are possible, but given the flop bet, we know you're not beat. there are also more 4s in the deck than 8s, so I think your river 3-bet is fine."


Interesting points, particlarly on the turn, which I think is also a point of major confusion with BB suddenly waking up. I think he's right about folding the flop. But if I'm playing, it needs to be for a raise. The quesion of why it is important to raise was addressed by a thoughtful, anonymous reader. Hope its ok to post one portion of his comment here:


"Good to see that you recognize your mistakes, but your explanation is a bit misleading. Normally, I wouldn't bother to comment, but others might be reading your blog and taking everything literally.

Raising could be the right play here, but raising "to get information" is not. Since your raise would likely just get called, you get no information. In low-limit games, betting/raising just to get information is almost always not worth it.

That being said, raising might be correct here. If you think your 88 has a reasonable chance of being best, you must raise in order drive out anyone with overcards or gutshots. With all these callers, you are likely to lose if a A,K,Q,J,T come on the turn or river. You must force hands like QJ, KT, etc to fold.

Sure, you have the pot odds to call on the flop. However, this is a case of reverse implied odds. Your hand is unlikely to improve (ie 2 outs or runner-runner), so your odds will usually get worse as the turn and river are dealt if you are against several opponents. For this reason, you must raise (or fold)."


His/her commentary about wanting hands contining AKQJT to fold is dead on, per Sklansky's remarks in SSH about "investing extra bets early" to maximize your ability to win the pot. If I can drive out loose aces/kings/etc then I'm able to win some of the time even if those cards to fall later in the hand. I misspoke when I said "to get information," and I'm glad someone called me on it.

Long story short: thanks for the input everyone. I really appreciate it, and again am humbled by the constant learning process that is playing & blogging online poker. As I said above, we live in a special time where this process is possible. Doyle Brunson sure didn't have the advantages we do while learning the game!!!

WBPT Update
Pauly has posted a new, updated roster for WBPT, which is only a few short days away. Lots of greater writers will be participating, and I'm psyched that NL poker greats Ron Rose and Tom McEvoy will be joining us for a brunch beforehand. Great stuff!!!

I've been to Vegas twice, once about a year ago with my family for a few days, and then a second time this summer for a few days of full-time poker. This trip should be somewhere between the previous two, as my apparently poker-tolerant girlfriend is coming along. I gather I'll get a solid amount of time in at the tables, but it won't be 100% as was the case in August. Maybe I'll be fresher and more motivated throughout as a result, since I got completely exhausted and unfocused by the end of my 3 days in August.

My plan: 3/6, 4/8, NL$100, and NL$200. Mandalay Bay, Excal, Luxor, Mirage, and Bellagio. Maybe some small cash game Omaha if its available. I figure the other half might even be willing to sit a few orbits of 1/3 at the Excalibur with me. I'm gonna have to think of fun gimmicks to employ if I do play in that game, since it really isn't anything but a short-term crapshoot with 7 to every flop. Yes, if I played it all day every day I could squeeze some EV out, but I won't be, so please spare me the Sklanskian commentary. Please. If I can't play for decent money, I may as well have something entertaining to do at the table. Suggestions?

Actually, hell. Maybe I don't need suggestions. With so many fellow bloggers out there, I gather we could get a blogger table at Excal 1/3 and truly GAMBOOOL. Now THAT would be fun! My proposal for the rules? Must straddle, mandatory one drink per orbit, and a sidebet for winning pots via the HAMMER (everyone pays the winner $5?).

If I win a bunch early, I might take a stab at a few orbits of 5/10 or 6/12, playing uber-tight. The Bellagio would be the natural choice for this kind of venture. If there's time, maybe an afternoon trip to downtown to see Binions, etc.

Bah, I just ran out of things to write about re: Vegas. More to come.

My play, a Short Update
I've been treading water at 2/4, with a little growth in the BR in the last few days. My monsterous 5+ BB winrate per 100 is going to come down slightly as a result, which was probably inevitable anyhow. Generally, I've been taking sizeable losses early in sessions (25BB+ in some cases), only to claw back to even or more slowly but surely. Don't know whether its a virtue or a vice, but I HATE HATE HATE to end a session down substantially if its not late at night. I'll keep playing, if the game is good and I'm sure I'm not tilting, to see if things don't turn around.

This strategy saw me drop 25BB at 1/2 5-max on Tuesday (where did my shorthanded skills gooooo?), then swing from up 20BB to down 25BB to up 4BB on PokerNow 2/4 later that night. Tonight I ground out a small winning session at 1/2 5-max on Paradise, and am almost done clearing my TURKEY bonus there. I've decided that once its clear, I'm cashing all the way out and moving to Party. The difference in opponent skill is astronomical, and there's no reason for me not to make the move and maximize profit potential.

The 2/4 tables provided just as much of a rollercoaster tonight... didn't make very many draws, which cost me since I play them very aggressively. I swung from +15BB to down 20, and finally back up to +9BB after 900 hands. Four tabling really shows how short term variance works, as these sessions often leave me up over $100 at one table, down $80 at another, and up or down a little at the other two. But hell, if you want an example of the unfortunate side of variance on decent play, read up on Chris Halverson's OIC experience the last few days. I feel for the guy, as he was on his way up and so close to the top of the leaderboard.

So anyhow, for the week ending tomorrow night I'm up about $410 or so, including bonuses. That money will look just fine on the green felt of the Bellagio's poker tables. Mmmmmm.

Thanks again for reading.

Monday, November 29, 2004

Momentum, and Some In-Depth Hand Analysis...

Another day, another $100 in profit. Though I haven't played too much during this holiday "vacation," I've still managed solid results. Kind cards and horrid play from my opponents on Party have been the main driving forces. The opposition was particularly irrational today, showing down Q-high on several occasions in multiway, raised pots. Add to that the fact that guys were trying to stone cold bluff in multiway pots (unimproved A5o w/no draws, J2o with no draws, etc), and you get the idea...

For the second day in a row, I had to forefeit my stack in a $5+1 2-table limit SnG, as family dinner called me away. This time, unlike last, I was far and away the chip leader (T3220, 15 players remaining, blinds 50/100). It was painful, but probably my own fault for failing to plan. I clicked "post and fold" before leaving, praying that my 2x average stack would somehow coast into 4th. Sadly, e-mail tells me it was 6th. The fact that 8 people were outplayed by a folding station does make me laugh a little, though.

After returning from dinner, and learning how autopilot had blown my stack in the SnG, I went to work on the 2/4 tables, fortunately hitting one particularly fishy table right up front. Four of the 9 other players I sat with at first made their ways onto my buddy list, if that's any indicator. I did river a 5-outer to win a 24BB pot with 88. All told, I netted a total of +25.5BB on the night... a great session.

A worthwhile hand analysis expedition: trust me
Since I was pained with decisions throughout (which happens rarely, even at 2/4), I thought I'd post it. This is the kind of thought exercise that the 2+2 bunch have turned me on to, and it has helped immensely. If you are looking for ways to improve your game, or battle back against the "schooling fish" and their legions of suckout attacks, this is the path to profits... walk with me for a moment if you will through the following hand.

Party Poker 2/4 Hold'em (9 handed)

Preflop: Hero is MP2 with 8d, 8c.

2 folds, MP1 calls, Hero calls, 1 fold, CO calls, 1 fold, SB completes, BB raises, MP1 calls, Hero calls, CO calls, SB calls.

Flop: (10 SB) 9d, 5s, 3d (5 players)

SB checks, BB checks, MP1 bets, Hero calls, CO raises, SB folds, BB calls, MP1 calls, Hero calls.

Preflop action was a no-brainer. But what do you do on this flop? The two diamonds on the board gives me pause, I don't have top pair, and will need either one of two other eights, or runner-runner to improve. That said, I may have the best hand, and the betting pattern indicates that 9's are not the most likely holdings for my opponents (SB is most likely to have a 9, and he check/called). MP1's likely holdings include a flush draw, A9, A5, A3, (each with or without diamonds) or possibly a set of 5s or 3s, roughly in that order. Mathematically, I believe this is also the ranking of most common scenarios, as well (think about it: there are more XdXd combos than Ax9x, and more of those than 55 and 33). CO's action suggests a range of hands similar to MP1, though I had this player targeted as a LAGgy fish. BB now looks likely to hold something like AK, with no diamonds.

My flop call/call was the wrong play, no question. In terms of maximum EV, I needed to either raise to get information from my opponents, or get the hell out based on the thinness of my draws. My only saving grace was the pot size, which offered me 11:1 on the initial flop call, and 17:1 on the second. My contribution to the pot by the end of the turn action was 4SB, or 20%... my raw equity was 25% with 4 seeing the turn, but as a matter of actual equity I was probably closer to 15%. So my mistake wasn't severe.

Turn: (9 BB) 6c (4 players)

BB bets, MP1 calls, Hero calls, CO raises, BB calls, MP1 calls, Hero calls.

On the turn, the 6c helped me in a number of ways. First, it clarified the situation as far as flushes: we'd be seeing a made flush about one in five times on the river. Since it looked like between one and three of my opponents seemed to be holding flush draws, that number might be lower (fewer diamonds left in the deck). Plus, if more than one had a flush draw, those opponents would be SHARING the pot equity for diamonds on the river. These two factors worked together to help me immensely.

So there I sat, a pair of 8's and a gutshot straight draw. The way I saw it, the 7d was no good, as it would make at least someone's flush. So I had five outs: three sevens, and two eights. The eights might be dirty, since other players could have straight draws that would be completed via an 8. But I couldn't assume that to be true more than a small percentage of the time, and the betting pattern further forced me to discount this possibility a little as well.

When it came to me initially on the turn, I wasn't sure what to do. The pot was laying 11:1, far more than was necessary for my 5-outer. I wasn't sure if CO would raise again, but I knew that if he did, the others were probably along for the ride. That meant that if forced to call a second bet, my 2BB on the turn would be giving me access to 17BB plus future bets on the river (8.5:1 at a bare minimum). I also knew that if I hit the 7 or the 8, nobody would see me coming, and I'd get paid off for sure. So I called. The CO raises, reinforcing my inclination to think he's got something along the lines of A9 -- as most uber-LAGs think to themselves "I have top kicker and top pair! I don't care that several others are calling, or that there are several draws on the board, I'm raising!" Its called back to me, so I call again, this time with a shrinking degree of confidence.

A little voice inside goes off "the implied odds made me do it!!"

River: (17 BB) 7h (4 players)

BB bets, MP1 raises, Hero 3-bets, CO folds, BB folds, MP1 calls.

This was the best card in the deck for me. It made no flushes, and helped only the following hands, in order: T8, 88, 8x, 4x, 77, and 7x with x being a card already on the board. I was very sure T8 wasn't out there, esp. since T8 in diamonds was the most plausible way for it to be out there, and I had the 8d. So I had the probable nuts. I was fortunate to get there -- not a miracle draw, but not one reached by solid, rigidly +EV play either. I was ready to fire away, and did so. River action was, like pre-flop, a no-brainer. Getting my opponents to pay me 4BB on the river was a little more than expected, but certainly welcome. Take these bets into account, and I paid 2BB on the turn to win 21BB... certainly good enough for my 5-outer.

Final Pot: 24 BB
Main Pot: 24 BB, between MP1 and Hero. > Pot won by Hero (24 BB).

MP1 has 7s 7c (three of a kind, sevens).
Hero has 8d 8c (straight, nine high).
Outcome: Hero wins 24 BB.

Implied odds were my saving grace, and I turned out to be right about getting paid off if I hit my draw. Whenever you find yourself in a jam, where the pot odds are too long to fold, but too thin to continue, look at your likelyhood of being best if you do catch your draw, and then to the probability that you'll reap future bets when you do so. These two factors play a vital role in guiding you to the best decision.

I know Sklansky already wrote this in SSH, but I thought it might be worthwhile to post a real online hand were it came into play. And of course it never hurts to examine play action-by-action, especially when it is your own. The hand above transofromed my night session from a miniscule win to a monster. I'm very thankful to all the folks who have helped me learn along the way for the tools that helped make the difference.

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Kenny Rogers Gets His Revenge...

Home game action out in VA last night, and plenty of it. Started just after 8:00 PM and didn't finish up until about 4 AM. Only one table this time, and a more limited/skilled field.

The Early Going
As usual, the game was $20 buy in no-limit hold 'em, 6 or 7 handed most of the way. Notable players included a guy who tends to get very, very unlucky, an asian guy who played too many hands, a complete newbie, and a highly annoying, nerdy-looking westerner whose ass I still have a small desire to kick. More on these characters later.

When I bought in, the game had already been going for about 30 minutes, with several players I had not met before sitting around the table. Those that did know me had seen me haul big wins from the game in the past, and half-jokingly objected to my presence at the table. I figured this was worth some kind of edge with the guys I didn't know, so I set my mind on running over the game (almost) no matter what cards I was holding. I showed down the hammer (for a loss) and a few other marginal hands in the first 30 minutes while losing 1/3 of my stack. I immediately switched gears and tightened up at this point.

The next two hours dragged my stack down to a ultra-short $4.50 at one point, as I hit zero draws, and didn't get paid off on KK or AA when I had them. The fact that blinds were set at .25 and .50 (or a combined 3.75% of the starting stack each orbit) didn't help much either. I think I was playing a little over-aggressive, but not by much considering the shortness of the table. Finally, I got in a decent raise of 4x the BB with AJs, and with two callers the flop came down JKx. I immediately moved in from EP, and got one caller (asian lawyer that played too many hands), who held K7. I lucked out on the turn when another J fell, and I was back in business.

All this time, annoying, nerdy-looking westerner was 1.) verbally announcing the presence of every K and A on the flop by saying "cowboy" or "bullet," as if someone wanted him to do this, 2.) disrespecting other players by insisting that HE count their chips out when they cashed, a complete departure from past precedent and an unnecessary slow down, 3.) yammering about his support for the NRA (I'm not a fan of their politics. Deal with it or ignore it), 4.) slow rolling absolutely EVERY showdown, intentionally, 4.) asking other players to show their cards when they called a river bet and lost, and 5.) shuffling the deck face up when it was his turn, leading me to believe he might be trying to gain an edge somehow as a result.

Add to this litany of subtly evil poker-violations the fact that he looked like an uber-geek, pointy nose and glasses and all, and I just couldn't take it. If you watched the WSOP on ESPN, this guy physically resembled the nerdy player who was acting all buddy-buddy with Mike Matusow. He was an ok poker player, but he has no business in this ethical, friendly game. I was glad that he lost a substantial all-in bet later in the night, virtually ensuring him a night in the red.

Back to the action
I remained relatively shortstacked until the big college football games of the night ended, when a few more players joined us, including the host (who does a great job putting these games on and itsn't a half bad player either). Bought in another $10 around this time. Made two pair kings and queens early and brought my stack up to a more respectable level. Hit a few other hands, a set, and a flopped flush to work my way up to about $50. I'd been commenting on how bad the rap re-mix of Kenny Rogers' "The Gambler" was, when someone put it on the stereo.

To spite them, and Kenny for ruining a pretty good song ("you better count your bitches"? Kenny, Kenny, Kenny... please), I started counting my chips in bored defiance of his admonition to "never count your money, while you're sitting at the table." It way my small way of protesting the musical selection, I guess. Anyhow, I reaped the consequences in spades, as my stack never got back to that level again, and I actually left the game stuck a dollar or two. As a matter of context, this is a game I should not lose money in.

Last hand (pre-determined), I'm still in the black by a small margin, when I pick up Qc4h on the button. I would normally chuck this, but it was the last hand, it was readily apparent I'd be able to see a flop for one bet, and the Qc was my lucky card from last time in this game. Flop came down AcXcAs, and it checked around, though I suspected someone had an ace. Turn brought a low club or some kind, and a .75 bet in first position. Second seat makes it $5 to go, folded to me, and I'm faced with a decision: do I pay big (and go into the red) to take a 20% shot on busting his trip aces with a rivered flush? The Qc helped me win a monster pot on the last hand last time (flush over flush), I didn' sense a big club in first position, so I called. First to act thinks for a second and then moves in for $10 more -- not good for me. Second to act calls, and I ponder, then fold. Turns out first to act had Kx4c, and second had Ah5d. So if I had called, I'd have been on a 7-outer (the 8 clubs not seen minus the 5c, which would have made second to act a boat).

I made a small prop bet with another player after folding that the river would be a club, knowing this to be a statistically stupid bet, but feeling I was right anyhow. Ilost, river was a blank, and I'm glad I didn't call the all-in bet. Ended the night -$3.50, which generally isn't awful for 8 hours of play without catching many big starters or completing many draws. Kenny Rogers got revenge for my blatant violation of his "no counting at the table" rule, the unlucky guy walked out of the room +$70, and all things considered, there was a degree of justice about both of these things.

Saturday, September 18, 2004

And just to prove its not all butter...

I just folded my 50th hand in a row in the $2 R&A on Paradise. I have a VP$IP of 0. I want to go find the electronic server dealing my cards, and kick it in the nuts. Thank the Lord this is online, where hands are fast and there's reading available, because B&M I'd have busted long ago out of sheer impatience.

That said, I'm fine with this arrangement: get screwed in the MTT's, win big and get lucky in the cash games. My bank account certainly won't complain.

WPT Making Stupid Decisions?

Check this out: WPT announces new, pro's only tour.

This cannot be good for poker. Fuck the professionals, particularly the whiny ones that complain about today's big tourney fields being hard to beat. Adapt or die, bitches.

People like WPT because they see guys like them moving all in over the top of Gus Hansen. They can identify, and there's always that (mostly unrealistic) glimmer of hope that they might be at the final table some day themselves. A pro's only tour erases that populist angle, making poker more like the PGA Tour.

I guess it isn't the end of the world that they're doing this, AS LONG AS the new pro's only events don't run the regular WPT "anyone can play" events into the ground. I also think that there's an element of over-confidence in the announcement linked to above. Announcing 3 years worth of schedules is arrogant... poker on TV, online, etc. may (and probably will) take some MAJOR turns in the next 3 years. How could they know where the state of the game will be in 2008?? Could we have known in 2001 where we'd be today? Heavens no.

I love watching the great players and all, but there's enough of that already on the regular WPT events. I don't see what the gain is here, other than the creation of a new, somewhat safer place for Hellmuth to ply his outmoded poker game.


Oh, and in other news I'm absolutely kicking the shit out of the 1/2 5-max on Paradise. There's simply no way I can continue to run this hot, but I'll take it while I can get it. Something like 13BB/100 over the past 2000 hands. INCREDIBLE!

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Two sides to every coin...

You know those runs where every starting hand you pick up has an offsuit 4 in it? In the long run, of course, you're destined to catch a lot of these hands, but that's not usually much help when they're coming in droves and forcing you to fold, fold, fold. Catching tons of them in a row is a short run aberration, however, and an annoying one at that.

Well, when you're running hot, and catching pretty looking cards, a different sort of aberration tends to happen from time to time. Tonight, at a 5-max table, I had a 5 hand run that went like this: AcAs, Qc8d, AsKs, 8s6h, AsAd. Now THAT's one helluva aberration, sports fans. Adding glory to good fortune were the 5 flops associated with those hands: Qd 4c 8h, Qh Tc 3c, Js Tc 8c, Td 5c 4s, and Ah Ac Qc. This sh*t is so good I can't make it up, folks.

It gets better. Look at flop one... Queen high rainbow, and I get it HU against a guy with KQ. Big win. Next hand, I make top pair in the BB and win a decent pot against some draws and AT. After that, I folded the 8s6h, but if I had played, I'd have rivered a gutshot with the 7. Fourth hand the turn brought a Q to give me a broadway, beating out my opponent's flopped straight to the Queen -- huge pot. Finally, the immortal flopped quad aces. I almost fell out of my chair when this happened. Of course, I didn't get much action, but one guy (poor bastard that I beat with the broadway) did have a queen, so I got him to bet into me on the flop and turn, and he called my river bet.

That's 5 hands for in excess of 15BB's of profit (the total of the pots, was of course higher, but the profit equaled 18BB or so). At a 5-max table. Four-handed on one or two of the hands. I got up and left after the quad aces, figuring that you just gotta accept gifts from the poker gods sometimes and quit while you're on top. Nobody likes to see Emmitt Smith rush 12 times for 21 yards and 0 TDs, as an Arizona Cardinal, if you know what I mean.

Man, I need to go out and buy a lotto ticket.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

In the Zone...

Looking in the mirror
Online poker players live their lives in dog years, I'm convinced. We either progress or go broke in very short cycles. I think for most of us in the poker writing community, the idea is to "grow up" quickly through diligent play, reading, and self-examination. HDouble has written a bit about this, I believe.

I don't know how long I'd say I've been playing online. I've had an account on Paradise since 2001, I believe. I branched out into Party Poker for the first time last fall after a long hiatus, and have been playing more than 100 hands a week since February or thereabouts. I'm a cautious guy, particularly with money, and I think this has helped foster a steady growth in the past 8 months. Evidence: I've only recently started playing consistently above .50/1 or $10NL and $5 SNGs. These were my bread and butter until at least mid-summer, and by the end I was absolutely destroying all three.

Well, those days have been over for about a month now, and barring a significant financial setback (either via poker or otherwise), I don't see myself playing any of the aforementioned games again. I like the decision-making environment of shorthanded play, and thus my current home is 1/2 short. Some may disagree with this, but I'm of the mind that 5-max is a different game from 6-max, particularly when one player is either missing or sitting out. So my money is holed up at Paradise for the time being, since they're the only ones that I know of that offer 5-max. Hell, if someone had 1/2 4-max, I'd play that instead if the games were ok.

I don't really play much cash NL right now, but I'm sure I'll return to it at some point. The NL MTT's, however, are something I'll continue to do for the sake of variety. I suppose when Party (or affiliates) offer me a reload I'll cruise over there to play 6-max and some multi-table 1/2. Having a poker bankroll to whore is so key...

As for HOW I play the 1/2 5-max, I can only summarize by saying "aggressive as hell." And I don't really tilt very much anymore online, something I owe to 4-tabling .50/1 for hours and hours prior to Vegas. Whatever the case, my approach been working. I've yet to see enough hands to really know for sure if its quality play or just good cards that are fueling this drive, but I'm not far off from a solid base to analyze. While I'm a bit leery of being results based in the short run, I do have to admit that the +30BB I racked up tonight over less than 300 hands helps my mindset a little, too.

So what's the damn point?
Well, nothing really, other than I thought I sensed something tonight that reminded me of one of the first poker posts I ever read. For those that read "The Cards Speak," you'll immediately notice how much things change, and how complex the journey is even for those that think they've mastered it. I'm feeling now much like Hank was when he wrote this, though much less eloquent of course. Without further adue, I offer you the following: "He's Heating Up!".

Other stuff
You must go and read Iggy's recent post about playing poker in Aruba against wealthy drunks and Hurricane Ivan. The picture he paints is something that really should become a lasting part of poker writing lore.

And for those with $1200 lying around, you have to respect Helixx's assessment of the 2/4 on Pacific. I don't have an account on there, but if I find myself with a few spare bucks lying around I just might give it a go.

Sunday, September 12, 2004


For all that talk about the $100,000 tournament being my big chance, I sure didnt come through -- I saw ONE showdown the whole time. Oh well.

I busted just before the first break, moving my stack (T775) all in with ATo on a flop of rainbow 587. I had raised it to 2x the BB PF, and gotten two callers. I think I was steaming a little, but I did genuinely sense weakness, and I had position, so I thought it was a good time to steal. Fox and the farmer, right?

I hadn't played a hand to a showdown all tourney at this point. I had seen only three turn cards. I just wasn't catching any starters at all, stuff like Q5o, J2, was the rule -- which was fine. Then, with blinds 25 and 50, I got TcTs with T1265 and made it T150 to go. Two callers, and the flop came down Axx, all spades, no straights to my memory. I liked this flop, even with the Ace. I bet out T200, and get called by one guy, which I hated. Turn is a meaningless 5h, I bet small trying to keep myself in the hand while keeping the initiative, and figuring my opponent on an Ace or a large unpaired spade. Probably an Ace.

He moves all in, and I go into the tank. Hindsight is 40/40, but maybe this was a good place to call with 12 outs to a probable winner (unless he held AA, or had the K, Q, or Js, or paired cards bigger than TT that river a set). I just couldn't bring myself to move it all in in the first hour on that kind of draw. It was all so uncertain. So I folded, leaving myself T865.

Then, the next hand I get ATo, which I mentioned above. I moved in when I sensed weakness and was immediately called by the same guy I was up against last hand. Crap. He turns over 77, and I need runner-runner for a set or a straight to win. It doesn't come, and I'm dead. He needed a big hand to call my all-in bet there, and he had it. Life goes on.

I will say this, though: it was interesting, the whole process of playing into this big tourney. I think it was very valuable experience, and I'm glad I did it, even if I lose. My $9 investment ultimately got me a real shot (1 in 342 entrants) at a $20,000+ first prize and a $100,000 overall prize pool. The lessons: patience when you still have a workable number of chips (all in with ATo and 15x the BB and no pairs is a bad idea!), patience when you're not getting any cards, and don't tilt when you have to lay a decent hand down.

My final finish -- 250 of 342. Not very good, but then again, I wasn't out first, and I had a real shot at something completely out of my normal boundaries. It was worth it.

Friday, September 10, 2004

Dude, Where's My Cards...?

I've played a grand total of 69 hands in the past 48 hours. That's one NL $10+1 SnG on Paradise, that I finished godawful fourth in. Strange as it is to say this, two days with less than 100 hands between them is a major poker drought for me these days. I wonder if that's a good thing or a bad thing...

Thanks to everyone who hit me with a note after my last post. Running good feels great, even if you KNOW it won't last, and will invariably be offset at least partially by running bad at some point. I think being able to write about running good may help me with the "tilt-proofing" process JW talks about over at Outkicked so often, drawing on the immortal HDouble's writings.

If nothing else, the act of sitting down to write about your play forces you to scrutinize decisions and performance, rather than outcome. I can't count how many times I've been writing about a hand where I thought my play was great, only to see that I'd made some kind of significant mistake. Sometimes, there's this hidden desire to change the "facts" of the hand to make my play seem justified, but thankfully I haven't been caving in to that temptation.

Two examples of what I'm talking about: a flopped two pair, and a 3-flush board I've hit online in the past week.

The two pair I had was weak: 5's and T's with a 5QT board -- limit poker, shorthanded. Problem is, the pot was raised pre-flop, and the Q and the 5 were suited on the board (I didn't have any of that suit). What did I do? I flat-called the flop hoping to checkraise or re-raise the turn. Horrible play, in my view, particularly with about 8.5 SB's in the pot on the flop. I didn't realize I had exposed my bottom two to both straight and flush draws until I went to write about the hand.

As for the 3-flush board, its a little similar to my winning hand from the home game the other night, but with disasterous possibilities built into it. The game is $50 NLHE on InterTops (Party), and I'm holding Kc4h in the BB. I see the flop for free with several others, and it comes down 7c9cJc. Immediately, I'm thinking about making a flush, and with no PF raising, probably the best hand if I do hit. I forget the betting, but I don't think it was too substantial on the flop. Turn brings what I asked for, a club, in the form of the 5c. I decide to trap, and call a moderate bet, along with 2 others. The river, interestingly, is the 8c. The SB comes to life and bets the river instead of check/calling as he had been. Meanwhile, idiot me is thinking about taking stacks with my King high flush, and move in on him. Folds back to the SB, who ponders and then times out (intentionally?). His all-in protection kicks in, and he sees a showdown without having to call my all-in bet with... the 6c for a straight flush. I lose a small chunk of my stack, equal to the size of his initial river bet.

He reconnects quickly and asks about the hand, asking if I had the ten of clubs. First off, he's an uber-weakie for disconnecting, and for worrying about a higher SF. But moreover, the possibility of someone having that hand never even crossed my mind. I was too busy thinking about how huge MINE was, and how many chips I'd win with it. Fundamental mistake. Writing about it here helps me realize that and hopefully re-tune my game in the future.

Probably not much poker this weekend until the big tourney on Sunday. Real life sometimes has to take priority, for better or worse.

Wednesday, September 8, 2004

Ode to the Queen of Clubs...

Tonight I went over to a friend of a friend's place in Virginia (a 10 minute drive from my home in NW DC), and took in a little home game action. Now this isn't any old home game -- this is a home game on steroids. Decent chips, and enough of them that eveyrone has a nice looking stack in front of them, even if they're low dollar wise. Felt covered tables. Cards from the Mirage. Two televisions hooked up to separate cable feeds. And plenty of players AND money. What's not to love? They're starting to take very modest bad beat drops, partially at my suggestion. Completely worth it, believe me.

Its worth noting that last time I played this game -- the first time I did so -- I walked out with an $80 profit just before going to Vegas. I caught huge cards that night, and was afraid I might not be invited back. Well, they were very cool about it... not even a whiff of resentment. Good people, and sensible card players.

For the second time, the game had two tables running for at least 5 hours. Most of the time we were 6 or 7 handed, though later on we were 5 handed at each table. Game was No Limit Hold 'Em, with a capped $20 buy-in, and unlimited re-buys/replinishments. I think about 16 players or so cycled through the game throughout the night, and all told about $475 or so was in play. I finished with nearly a quarter of it.

Players were competent for the most part, the host being one of the better players in the room. Most players in the game have some B&M experience, and about 1/4 play online to varying degrees. Nobody in the game (to my knowledge) sees anywhere near as many hands per week as I do, online or otherwise. Two or three guys were clearly less skilled than others, drinking more heavily and treating the game as a social affair. Fine with me. I genuinely feared the play of only one or two people in the game, and even these two were not unbeatable by any means. One guy, who I'll discuss later, really made playing worthwhile, as he was either very drunk or careless.

Hands worth mentioning: lost a large pot for about 1/2 my stack early when I turned two pair aces and sevens in a pot I raised to 2x the BB. The SB called flop (AKx) and turn, and checked the river (??), which I checked as well, to see her AKs. This kind of play was the extreme exception, and not the rule, and I bought an additional $10 in chips to keep my stack healthy. Pick up a few pots, including one with AA, and I'm near even when I get highcarded over to the other table as part of the regular rotation. This was a welcome change, as my table was stronger skill-wise.

Second table, 7 handed, and I switch gears from frequently raising PF to frequently limping with straight or flush cards (e.g 6d5h, 7s9s, etc.). This pays off when I make a few draws, and steal a few pots, moving me back just above even on the night. I also caught a few big starters here, and that helped keep people off my back when I did limp in. I get highcarded back to the other table an hour later, where its 6 handed and a little looser than before. Play stumbles along for a little while as people are distracted with WSOP coverage, etc., and I fold 90% of my hands for about an hour, hovering around even. Finally, my table breaks around midnight, and we consolidate to one 7 handed table.

The final table made my night. I stayed despite the late(r) hour because I had a decent stack, and believed the game was still good. That I was having a decent time sure played into it too. I made another limp-draw with 7cTc for a straight, and I was up to about $35. Then, the wild man came to play (the one I mentioned above). This guy was perfectly likeable, relatively soft spoken, but man did he have a propensity to gamboool. Of course, I didn't know this when he sat, but I figured it out quickly.

UTG I pick up AsKs, make it $1.25 to go (2.5x the BB) and see a raise two seats to my left by Gambooler, then two cold callers. I call, and the flop comes down KcQh8s. I lead out for $2, figuring I'll call a medium raise, and potentially re-raise a small raise. Gambooler raises to $4, one caller in LP, and I ask him some dumb question about having AA or KK or something. He doesn't give me any feedback of use. Turn comes Ad, giving me top two. Having no read on Gambooler, I have to worry about AA and KK, given his PF action and flop raise. I decide I want to show my hand down more or less no matter what, and bet $3 hoping to get my money in either right away or on 5th against a raise from Gambool. He makes it $6, LP folds, and I call with the intention of moving in next card, which is the beautiful Kh. Only AA can beat me now, and I don't think he has it. I check, he bets, I raise all in, and he calls. I table my boat, and he mucks... got his whole stack the first hand.

So what does a gambooler do when he busts right away? He re-buys. Two hands later, I pick up Jd8d in the BB, and call a one-BB raise to see the flop, which is 5dKhKd. The pair of kings concerns me, but I don't see anyone as a probable holder of K5. I value bet $1, which gets plenty of callers. Turn is a blank, maybe an offsuit 7, and I bet a measely quarter, hoping the passivity caused by the board KK would keep raises at bay... I wanted to see 5th street, and on the cheap. Called around again, and the river rolls off some random diamond, maybe the 3 or the 8. I bet $3, and to my surprise, Gambooler moves all in over the top. I'm not sure if my Jack flush is best or not, but figure I'm calling him with his money, so why not. I table my hand, he turns over 9d7s and says "flush," but clearly misread the board, or was too drunk to notice. I take down the large pot, and bust him for the second time.

Gambooler busts again a short while later, and buys $20 of my chips (ha!).

Of course, he re-buys, this time from my stack (again). He wins a pot, loses a pot, and plays pretty much every flop. With about $18 in chips he comes into the following hand (my stack was well in excess of $50 at this point, with $20 behind in the wallet). I look down in EP and find the black KK, and quickly make it 4x the BB to go. A few folds, raise from gambooler to 6x, I call, and we're heads up to the flop, which is Q36 rainbow. I bet $3, and he moves all in. I don't have a clue what he's thinking, but AA and QQ are a longshot possibility given his play pre-flop. I banter about AA and QQ, basically advertising to the world that I have KK. I push my stack in for a re-raise, and he calls. I was worried about AQ at least when he did this... only to find that he has A4o. Nice. Turn is a 7, and I notice he has a gutshot plus the ace draw for 7 outs. Of course, the river brings a 5 to give him the runner-runner straight. I pay him off and actually feel ok about it, knowing that if the game keeps going, I'd have a crack at getting those chips back.

A few hands go by, and we drop down to 4 handed, with one player busting. Bust guy moves in on a 995x board with KK, and JJ calls. River brings a J, and the place erupts momentarily. Gambooler wins a fortunate two pair vs. higher two pair hand, giving him a healthy stack of $40 or so, and we get to the final hand of the night. This was announced as the final hand before it was dealt, and I was going to see the flop for just about any prize, particularly since the hand before I had folded 74o pre-flop for $1, only to see 568 come down. The implied odds on most hands were huge given the game texture, etc.

Final hand, I get QcJd UTG, and call. One extra bet around, and all 4 see the flop, which is 5c9cAc. I call a modest bet from Gambooler, as does the host. Turn is the 2 of something, and I call another smallish bet looking to make my flush or hit a Q or J. I do not give Gambooler credit for the Ace. Heads up at the river, the Tc comes down. I got what I asked for, and amazingly enough, Gambooler starts counting off a bet, at first $3, then $5, then $9, and I say "just tell me what it is when you figure it out," he asks how much we can do, and I say "we're about equal, so you can move all in if you want." He complies, and I'm left with a binary decision: does he have the Kc? Its the only card in the deck that can beat me. I conclude that I got what I wanted, and I'd be a fool not to push/call (stacks were close to even, but it wasn't clear who was bigger), so I did.

He announces "I've got the flush," and rolls the JcTh. I erupt with joy, and let out a loud "YES" with fist pump that was a bit inappropriate for an apartment complex at 1:30AM. Turn over my QcJd, and those left in the room go nuts. Gambooler is gracious in defeat, and says it was fun playing with us -- out probably $100 or so, $60+ of which went to me. Had I lost that pot, my evening would have been slightly in the red, rather than seriously in the black. So consider this post my "Ode to the Queen of Clubs."

I ended up with $40 in cash (people buying my chips), and $66 in chips for a total of $106, or a $76 profit. Not bad for 5 and 1/2 hours of poker. It was an AMAZING feeling to finish the night on a big all-in victory. After reading HDouble's soul-searching post about running bad despite solid play, I couldn't help but think that its these moments -- the ones I'm experiencing right now -- that make it all worthwhile. I know I'm a better poker player than I was a few months (weeks!) ago, and I'm doing my best to store these memories away in the hope that they might save me when inevitably the reaper that is variance comes my way for a while.

Add to the mix my satellite success yesterday, and my confidence/enjoyment associated with poker is going through the roof. I only hope I can sustain the good side of this equation while avoiding the hubris and fall that come with unrealistic expectations and notions of invincibility.

VA home game: 2 nights, +$156, or 78BB's per visit. If I can maintain even 50% of this rate in the future, I'll be on cloud nine.

Content and reports on fellow bloggers later in the week. Its way past my bedtime.