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.