Thursday, August 21, 2008

Poor Form All Around

Now I know everyone has been talking about Scotty Nguyen's poor sportsmanship in the $50K HORSE event and I wholeheartedly agree. However, what really, really surprises me is that more people are not annoyed with the antics of Michael Dimechele. Within five minutes of watching this episode I had decided this guy was acting like a complete douchebag. The excessive celebration, the hollywooding in a stud game (SUCH poor form), I was not a fan of any of it and I was actively rooting for this kid to lose. As we established last time, I am no HORSE genius but I play enough to understand how the games work and I was less than impressed with his play--I mean, the kid couldn't even read what cards he had at one point.

I am sure he is a nice guy away from the table and I actually found his interview on Cash Plays on PokerRoad rather interesting, but I find this to be an aspect of tournament poker that I am growing increasingly annoyed with. I guess you don't notice it on TV as much, but being around the final tables this year I began to realize just how often the cheering sections of the various players were acting like total tools. Don't ham it up for your drunk and disorderly friends. You are adults, behave like adults. If your friend gets it in bad, don't chant crap like "suck out suck out", just wait politely and see how the hand plays out. Even if Scotty Nguyen did behave in an equally unbecoming manner, don't scream out "brick" when 7th street gets dealt. It is tacky, it is in poor form, and it makes it increasingly more difficult to present poker as a competitive game for intelligent people rather than a vice.

I have to be perfectly frank that, before I worked at the WSOP this summer, I was generally skeptical of internet players. I don't particularly enjoy internet poker nearly as much as I enjoy playing live so I am biased to begin with. Moreover, I watched enough poker on TV to see several young online pros who were presented in less than flattering light. However, within a week of working the WSOP, I realized I had judged too quickly and these were genuinely nice guys (and girls) who, for the most part, behave just as respectfully as everyone else.

However, every once in a while, when they get in big groups and, perhaps, too many substances are consumed, they cement the reputation that they are cocky, ungrateful, disrespectful players. I think the antics of Demichele and his cheering section, at least for me, fell into that category. I have gotten a chance to speak with and get to know some of the guys I spotted in his cheering section and I know categorically that they are really, really nice people and I don't doubt for a minute that they didn't mean anything by it. I just think it is odd that no one is bringing up in the forums that this doesn't reflect well on poker players under 25. Just because Scotty Nguyen's douchebaggery far outshined that of everyone else doesn't mean that everyone else doesn't need to take some time to think about how their behavior comes across to other people.

At the end of the day all I can say is I love Erick Lindgren and I think everyone else does too. Man, that guy is a class act all around and I continue to marvel at his stellar play throughout the WSOP this summer.

Monday, August 18, 2008

So bored I'm playing $1 MTTS

For no particular reason I elected to play in a bunch of stud game MTTs on Stars tonight. In part, it was spurred on by my victory at the shed in our HORSE tournament on Saturday. Let me explain how ignorant this reasoning is on my part. 12 people played in this thing and two had to leave early and were blinded out. The rest just plug did not know how to play HORSE, especially shorthanded HORSE. I am not going to shun $200 in profit, but I am not stupid either. Let's be realistic, I am no HORSE genius.

However, I do really enjoy the rotation of games and I would really like to get better at it. Rather than playing in the Ladies Event at the WSOP next year, I would love to play in one of the $1500 HORSE or Stud Hi/Lo events. Devo blogged about how soft the stud fields were this year and, while I am no Stud 8 genius, I definitely know more about the game than the average person and it seems like a worthwhile investment of my time. I am sure that stud odds software exists, I just need to make an effort to track it down.

My weakness in HORSE has and always will be Omaha. Every hand, save for obvious ones like A267, always look awful to me so I fold everything. I tend to fold big flush draws on paired boards, anything but the nut flush draws otherwise, and draws to the low end of the straight. However, as much as I think this discipline has its benefits, I am almost certain I am folding WAYYYYY too much. But the hands are all just so ugly. So ugly. Not to mention that it feels like every flop is just brick, brick, brick. If only I had a lucky cat to help me out...

In other news, I am morbidally depressed to find this great $1/$2 game in Lexington only to have to go back to Bloomington and abandon it. I had another profitable night last night (though $80 is nto $350, I will gladly take it). Money can also not buy my two favorite quotes of the night.

1) We were playing Omaha 8 and on a rainbow AK6 board it went bet, call, raise, call, call. There was another bet when a 6 came on the turn and, after a 7 came on the river, the guy who had been passively calling the whole way suddenly started raising. Then the initial reraiser, Guy, looks at him and says, "you didn't do what I think you did? If you called all those bets and raises with only a draw to the low you are immeasurably retarted." Well, apparently, he was, because he had 2-4. Whoops.

2) On a Ac Jd 5c board in a multi-way limped pot of NL Hold Em I checked in the SB, immeasurable tard bets $7, Chris flats behind him, and I reraise to $30 total. Josh The Immeasurable Tard folds, and Chris looks at me and asks, "how big is your kicker?"
Josh taps him on the shoulder and says, "you don't really need a kicker when you flop two pair" and Chris folds. GG me.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Two Things... (be forewarned--this is long)

First of all, I have literally been racking my brain for nearly three days trying to figure out the math of the following situation:

On a board of 5h4d2h if you have 2-2 and you know categorically that your opponent has flopped the wheel with A-3, what odds do you need to call? A little bird told me you only need 2-1 which seems preposterous to me. If you have 7 outs on the flop (so you're like 5-1) and 10 outs on the turn (so 4-1) how does the power of being able to backdoor a full house make it so that seeing both cards makes it 2-1?

I see how you get there. (7 outs + 10 outs) X 2 = 34, but it still seems mathematically unsound to me. Can someone, anyone, provide a more thorough explanation of how being 14% to win and then 20% to win makes you 34% to win overall. I would think you can't just add those together to make those odds...if you told me you were 17% to win, that would make more sense to me. I mean, I normally pride myself on not being completely math retarted, but I still don't get how this situation is possibly ever 2-1.

Problem #2. I am going to warn my few readers in advance that this is going to sound a lot like bitching that typically gets flamed on P5s and such, but I am 100% sincere when I say I just can't figure out how to beat these games. Over a 2 year sample size of weekly cash games, I consistently am more profitable in games with players who are ostensibly better players than the much cherished LAGtard.

But man, those LAGtards....I can't beat them to save my life. I have listened to numerous people tell me these are the people you are going to make money off of in the long run, but I am not kidding when I say I just don't. And what I am about to say is going to make me sound like such an intellectual snob, but I am going to do my best to not sound totally terrible:

The absolute biggest hole in my game is that I assume a general level of intelligence from people that vastly overestimates their aptitude. I do the same thing in life more generally. I refuse to believe people in the world can truly be as stupid as they are and they never cease to amaze me. Talking with my friend Brian, whose game I really respect, he told me, "you need to stop putting your tendencies on your opponent's decision making." He then explained that his wife does the same thing. Maybe it is a gendered issue, but I generally have to play against people who operate with some sense of logic because I just can't figure out what the hell is going on otherwise.

I hear about people who only operate on Level 1 of thinking, but I have a very difficult time giving people that little credit in the cash games I play. My thought process is if you are putting up a nearly $100 buy in to play in $.50/$1 on a weekly basis you are past Level 1 thinking. At the free poker league I used to play in, I expect Level 1 from some people, but even then I still have a hard time. If you play a game twice a night two and three nights a week for something like 3 years at what point do you not realize you need to consider what your opponent has?

To me this is like playing checkers twice a week for two years and acting surprised when someone jumps you to get kinged. The very nature of the game is that each person has their own hole cards! How in the hell can you play this game on a weekly basis for what is more than just pennies (I know it sounds like a very small NL game, but considering the fiscal situations of most of the parties involved, it isn't that small) and not realize you need to think past what two cards you have?

Here is the best example I have. The absolute worst player in the game is a man named Brad who is the quintessential defenition of LAGtard. Any suited face card and he is all about seeing it through to the river. Last night I saw him bet the river on a J-10-8-7-A board with just A-K (yes, he stuck around until the river on that board with just A hi) and call a huge raise on the river with a single pair.

Brad plays on FTP nearly daily, he plays in home games twice a week, and he subscribes to PXF, but he is still incapable of folding. He claims he is a "hunch" player, which I find absolutely hysterical considering to play by hunch and instinct requires at least a base consideration of the type of player you are up against. He openly admits to having no concept of odds and no desire to learn them. He raises irregardless of position with hands like A-4 os or K-6 suited.

The vast majority of my playing style is contingent upon table image and pricing people out of things. In games overrun with Level 1 thinking and an absence of fold equity, this style simply isn't profitable. However, I am baffled as to how to combat a game in which you are trying to deflect 3-4 LAGtards pretty much any time you are in a hand.

My first instinct is to play tight and in position, which I generally do. But the next question is one of pot control. In this game the standard raise is 4-5 BBs and typically flops are going to be seen at least 4-5 ways. With that in mind, each pot has $25 going to the flop. Let's say you have flop something like a straight on a 5-6-8 with you holding 7-9 board with two hearts. How do you play this? My first instinct is to protect my hand, but I also know that there will be no consideration of odds and there are inevitably players who are going to not only call any bet with hands like 6-7os or Kh3h, but are going to lead out at it.

I have gone about this a number of ways. I have raised huge on the flop only to get called by multiple players. I have also waited for a brick on the turn before raising big, but even with only one card to come, I still can't protect my hand from the flush draws and the possible chop. Moreover, because people are leading out with hands like 6-7 os there, the pots are quickly getting pretty big and I am forced to stick my whole stack in there in an effort to protect my hand. Sometimes I will have something like 10-10 or J-J on that board and I literally just give it up on the flop because it is going to be too damn expensive to try to see where I am at or get my hand to hold.

I know, I know, "you want someone with a flush draw to call you there." In all sincerity, can I just say that I don't? I really, truly don't. This is yet another hole in my game, but I am generally petrified of being drawn out on and, though I don't keep detailed records, it generally happens more often than I would like in these games. Additionally, when you are trying to dodge both the straight draw of one player and the flush draw of another, it quickly becomes a lot more outs you have to fade in order for your hand to hold up.

Brett and I were discussing it and he said he would love to be in a game where you could raise big with pocket aces and get called by 4 people. I don't see how this is going to be a profitable game though. A-A is a great hand, don't get me wrong, but it is not something I want to take to a flop against 4 other players because, even though you may have the best starting hand, the strength of A-A is greatly diminshed in multi-way pots.

I guess my ultimate, overriding question is how do you beat a game in which every hand is going to make it to showdown and typically it is oging to be against more than one person? How do you play in a game with a complete and utter absence of fold equity? Most importantly, when you are going through a stretch where you just aren't getting great starting hands, is there any other option but to just pick up and cut your losses? Because the problem with home games versus casinos and online play is there isn't that element of game selection--you are just kind of stuck with what you're given.

I am getting sick of losing money to people who make me worry about the future of civilization and I find myself going back week after week under the presumption that, at some point, the math has got to catch up with them and I am going to come out ahead. However, after 2 years of nothing but consistently losing results in these types of games, I think I am really left with no other option but to just not sit down in the first place.

Thankfully I have my $.25/$50 game on Tuesdays in which I have logged two losing sessions in the same two years. I also have picked up a Sunday $1/$2 game which is going exceptionally well so far and seems to be the type of table I am generally going to be at or above break-even. There are one or two players who overvalue hands like A-10, Q-J, but they are far outnumbered by people who are thinking at or above Level 2 and it just makes the game so much simpler.

Sunday, August 10, 2008


*********** # 1 **************PokerStars Game #19511196881: Tournament #101308833, $11.00+$0.50 Hold'em No Limit - Match Round I, Level III (25/50) - 2008/08/10 - 14:03:31 (ET)Table '101308833 1' 2-max Seat #2 is the button

Seat 1: uscjess (1075 in chips)

Seat 2: Eric2441989 (1925 in chips)

Eric2441989: posts small blind 25

uscjess: posts big blind 50

*** HOLE CARDS ***

Dealt to uscjess [Kd 7d]

Eric2441989: raises 75 to 125

uscjess: calls 75

*** FLOP *** [7c Kh Qc]

uscjess: checks

Eric2441989: bets 950

uscjess: calls 950 and is all-in

Eric2441989 said, "nh"

*** TURN *** [7c Kh Qc] [5d]

*** RIVER *** [7c Kh Qc 5d] [8s]

*** SHOW DOWN ***

uscjess: shows [Kd 7d] (two pair, Kings and Sevens)

Eric2441989: shows [9c 6c] (a straight, Five to Nine)

Eric2441989 collected 2150 from pot

*** SUMMARY ***

Total pot 2150 Rake 0 Board [7c Kh Qc 5d 8s]Seat 1: uscjess (big blind) showed [Kd 7d] and lost with two pair, Kings and SevensSeat 2: Eric2441989 (button) (small blind) showed [9c 6c] and won (2150) with a straight, Five to Nine

I am not going to complain, I understand people have run worse. I am just going to say that, plus the state of my Sharkscope (pictured below) has made me wonder if I have learned a damned thing about poker this summer.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Welcome to the Horseshoe

My boat has changed on me while I was gone. In a rather humorous development, Harrahs decided to rebrand Caesars Indiana as a Horseshoe Casino. Understandably, they didn't want to waste their premium brand on a casino in the middle of Southern Indiana, so they decided to downgrade the brand. Here is the humorous part: as part of the rebranding, they remodeled both the boat and the casino and upgraded everything, so now we have a crappier brand on the much spiffier boat.

So I decided to pay my newly made over boat a visit last night, despite not really feeling like I was in the mood to play. However, boredom kicked in and I drove up there nonetheless. I really, really like the new look. It is much less gaudy than the cheesy Roman motif. I must admit though, I really miss the Bacchus Conference Center. For those of you forced to take a mythology class at some point in HS or college, I hope you appreciated the reference as much as I did.

I started out at $4/$8 because $1/$2just hadn't been going very well for me lately. Let me explain that the $4/$8 crowd is...well, effing old is what they are. I have a good 20-30 years on most of them, though my friend Shane joined the game later in the evening bringing the median age down from 65 to 60. Oddly enough, Brian Powell (snagglepuss) was at the boat too and he was also on the 4/8 list, but didn't move when they called his name.

When my friend Brad showed up, I decided to pick up from 4/8 since I was down fifty bucks and couldn't really get anything going. We grabbed a bite to eat and when I got back down to the room, I decided to give $1/$2 NL a go.

I had only been sitting 15 or 20 minutes and I hadn't really played any hands when a player in early-ish position made it $17. This may seem like a big raise, but it is actually fairly standard for the boat. Another player called and I called in the CO with KsQc.

The flop come KcJc8c and it checks to me. I start to count out chips and I start out with 40, take two back, add one, then decide that yeah, I was right the first time, I want to bet $40 and push my bet out. Both players fold and, as I am raking the pot the guy to my right looks at me and says:

"Miss will you do me a big favor?"

"What's that?"

"Will you never play a hand with me? You scare the shit out of me"

At this point, the initial raiser from the hand chimes in, "it's true! She's frightening! Did you see her count out her chips? I am completely scared"

Now, this is a table I LOVE. Guys who find the little girl who bets big rather frightening are great opponents for me, because I don't necessarily have to have a huge hand all the time like I do against most $1/$2 tables. But, I decided to have a little fun and responded:

"Scary? Lil ole me? I look like I'm 11! I'm as intimidating as Little Orphan Annie!"

"Exactly!," the man to my right exclaims. "Annie looked like Satan! Like you do! I don't care what you say, I am watching out for you."

Well, the rest of the evening anytime I was involved in a hand, this hilarious redneck to my right would start belting out "The sun will come out tomorrow!" The table was generally hysterical and I managed to just keep picking up smallish pots here and there.

I think the only other semi-big hand I won came when hysterical redneck made it $7 and I called behind with Jh10h. The button, who is a good player and a regular, calls and the guy in the big blind calls as well. The flop is AhQd2h and it checks around to the regular who bets $20. I realize this is not the price to call, but I figure the implied odds are with me considering he wouldn't expect me to call with just the heart draw, plus if the king hits I am golden. Its heads up to the turn, which is the Kh. We both check. The river is a blank, I bet $30, he calls, I show, he mucks.

Thrilling, right?

That is about as eventful as it got all night. Took a guy's last $24 when I got QQ, raised with AA twice, got called both times by a couple of players, bet the innocuous flop and they folded.
This is my kind of $1/$2 game. Really, I just needed the morale boost of being able to take down some hands without going to showdown and finding a table where I had a table image that garnered some respect. I suppose I could have stayed longer, but Brad was about to leave and I wanted to catch up with him, plus I still had the drive home to consider, so I picked up with $60 more than I started. After rake, tips, and food, that put me at even for the day and down for the trip when you consider the cost of gas. However, it was one of my first winning $1/$2 sessions since I first got to Vegas and I was very happy to just see a few things go my way. I will probably be back next weekend to see if I can turn in another semi-profitable performance. fingers crossed.