Friday night, I found myself home earlier than normal. With nothing to do, I fired up Full Tilt with the intention of playing a 24+2 super satellite to the 200+16 super satellite scheduled for Saturday.
I had 20 minutes to wait for the satellite, and rather than register, I decided to see what other games were going. O8? Not a single table. Holdem? Meh, didn't really feel it. Razz? Ah, razz. There was a rare 8/16 table with one open seat. Problem: I had only ever played razz up to 5/10. No harm in opening the table and watching, right?
One hand was enough to convince me that while I may never have played 8/16, at least three of the people at the table had never played razz. I quickly took the open seat. In the first twenty minutes, almost every single hand was played to the river, sometimes 3-ways! I patiently waited for a solid starting hand.
On the fifth hand at the table, I brought it in with 4-6 / 9. A 7 and two 2s limped in; it seemed nobody was that strong. Fourth street came
4-6 / 9-5
x-x / 7-J
x-x / 2-T
x-x / 2-9
I liked my hand quite a bit at this point, figuring that nobody was much stronger than a T-9. When the guy with 2-9 led out, I quickly popped him up and had the satisfaction of watching the other two players fold. Fifth came good for both of us - 4-6 / 9-5-3 for a made 9 for me, x-x / 2-9-5 for him. Still figured I was boss, and I guess so did he as he checked and called my bet. It got better on sixth street when I got a deuce to improve to a made 6, and he caught a 6 to make his nine. The river was meaningless, though he called with his 9-6. Just like that, I scooped a $148 pot.
The next twenty to thirty minutes was more of the same, with different players taking turns playing the donkey and/or reloading. One split pot was still a $50 money-maker for me (though if it hadn't split on the river it would have been a $200 money-maker, as we had one guy caught between us who wouldn't lay down). I got up after 35 minutes when most of the donkeys decided to quit while they were behind. Net result for me -- I missed my satellite but padded my bankroll a cool $200, which incidentally was more than the prize in the satellite I was going to play.
How's that for +EV?
Sunday, July 31, 2005
Friday night, I found myself home earlier than normal. With nothing to do, I fired up Full Tilt with the intention of playing a 24+2 super satellite to the 200+16 super satellite scheduled for Saturday.
Saturday, July 30, 2005
It's been a busy week, and not much going on poker-wise, but I do have three or four posts in me that I hope to bang out today and/or tomorrow. The first is a bit of a PSA, so here we go. One of the owners of Aquarium has blessed the release of the following information on this here blog:
"I wanted to touch base about promoting the Aquarium poker games.
I am sending out an e-mail (which I have attached for you) to all of our members promoting a different game each night. Primarily, I am trying to create a solid foundation of lower stakes limit games to go along with our 1/2 no limit and our occasional bigger games.
I have thought it over and decided that I am comfortable with you discussing the club on your site, as long as the actual address is not publicly printed. Anyone wanting exact information about the club can be referred to me at email@example.com."
It's a great place; if you're looking for a new poker home, shoot them an email.
Thursday, July 21, 2005
Back on Full Tilt again tonight for some Omaha Hi/Lo. Unfortunately, I only managed 10 hands before other duties forced me away from the computer, but I still managed to witness (and be the beneficiary of) some extreme donkey play.
In the hand in question, I was in MP with AA56r. A fairly weak hand, I'll admit. We took a four-handed flop of
[As 2h Th]
This was a decent flop for me, as I had the current nuts, but my draws were not particularly strong: I had a weak low draw, and a full house draw against anyone drawing hearts. The ace of hearts was in my hand, which was somewhat helpful. The action proceeded: bet, fold, call, and I raised as last to act. Both other players called my raise for a turn of
[As 2h Th] [Qc]
This time, the first player checked, and the second player bet into me. I suppose K-Q-J-x was a possibility here, but I played a hunch that he hit the queen with Q-Q-x-x and popped him with a raise. The raise drove out the first player, having a side benefit of potentially cleaning up my low draw. The other guy called.
The river filled me up with a
[As 2h Th] [Qc] [Tc]
and eliminated any low possibility. The other guy bet into me again! At this point, I was positive that he was holding Q-Q-x-x, and really if he had quad tens, well then more power to him -- I was about to pay him off. I bumped it up; he called and showed
Ad 3d Qs Qh?
That's right, the almighty "top pair with no draw, counterfeited low" was worth a call of the initial flop bet, and a call of the flop raise. Then to make matters worse, the guy hit one of the only two cards in the deck that could have possibly justified continuing past the turn. At that point, I guess he was obligated to go all the way to the river. Calling both bets on the flop was, from his perspective, an extremely costly mistake.
In case it's not painfully clear from this example, top pair is not a drawing hand in Omaha. In fact, there are times when dumping a flopped two pair is advisable. Consider the following two hands:
Me: As 3c 5h 9s
Flop: Ac Jc 5c
Me: Ac Kc 5s 6s
Flop: 5c As 4d
In the first example, I flopped top and bottom, but had no low draw and only a crappy 4-card full house draw. The flush was already out there and straights were quite likely to come. This was an easy flop fold; the low came on the turn, and surprise!, someone had flopped the nut flush.
In the second example, I flopped top two, but again the wheel was already out there and the lows had already made their hands. I played this one very slowly. When the 5-handed flop checked through and the turn of Jd was checked to me, I fired out a bet to see where things were at. Two players called, and we all checked down the Qs river. My two pair was good for high, as both other players were on non-wheel lows.
One of the hardest concepts for beginning Omaha players to grasp is that to proceed past the flop, you generally need either a very strong flop (and top two isn't that strong in Omaha) or strong drawing potential. Without either or both of those, your hand is pretty much toilet paper.
Wednesday, July 20, 2005
Jumped on Full Tilt tonight and put in a little time at one of my more neglected games, limit Omaha Hi/Lo.
O8 is an interesting game, because it really is all about drawing to the nuts or close to it. And even if you flop the nuts, you can't always be too happy about it if you can't back that up with re-draws. Consider the following:
You come into a 4- or 5-way pot, typical in low limit O8, with a junk hand like 6h 7d Qh 2h. Since you're a solid Omaha player who wouldn't normally play that kind of a crap hand, let's say you were in the big blind and got a free flop of
5c 8s 9c
You've just flopped the nuts, but do you see the danger here? First of all, you have no re-draw. Yes, you have a made hand, but there is no card on the turn or river that is going to improve your hand from what you have now - a straight to the nine. Now, consider all that hands that are drawing against you: any club, and your straight is most likely busted; any six, seven, ten, jack or queen, and you very well may not have the best straight anymore; and what if the board pairs? This doesn't even consider that if any low card comes, you're losing half the pot. You can bet people with A-2-x-x and A-3-x-x are sticking around for at least one more card (and if it's a typical low-limit O8 game, you're not losing them until the river).
In short, there are very, very few "safe" cards for you. Depending on the number of players that stay in the pot and how heavy the betting is, it may very well be correct to fold on the flop!
[It is possible to replicate this situation in holdem, but because players start with only two cards, it is very rare that the draws that make playing this hand past the flop -EV are all out there, and in any event would require absolutely perfect knowledge of the cards your opponents are holding. In Omaha, on the other hand, where players start with 4 cards each, this type of situation is much more common.]
Anyway, as part of my response to the Bill Rini challenge, I wanted to play one of the $24+2 holdem SNG satellites for Full Tilt's weekly $200+16 Borgata Open super-sat. Problem is, it seems that they're tied to specific tournaments, rather than just giving the winner a $216 freeroll that's good for any $216 tournament. I think this is bad policy on the part of Full Tilt, because it requires the player to know, days in advance, that he will be available to play that week's super sat if he wins the SNG. And frankly, even if the player is sure he'll be free, things have a way of coming up.
My point - I am not going to be free to play a super sat this Sunday, so I passed on the $26 satellites.
Next stop was razz, where Howard Lederer was seated at a $2/$4 table. Of course, the waiting list was 8 people deep, and the $3/$6 table also had a somewhat deep (for Full Tilt) list. Holdem? Meh, didn't really feel like playing holdem.
That's when I clicked on the O8 tab, and lo and behold found a $3/$6 table with one open seat. Perfect. Now, I know O8 is not my strongest game, but I've put at least a token amount of study into it. Enough to know a few basics (draw to the nuts, try to scoop, try to avoid starting hands with "danglers", etc.). I caught a bunch of marginally decent starting hands, connected with the board well, and 30 hands later I was up $100. Hooray for crappy O8 players that don't know how to lay down a hand! Here's a good example. 5-handed flop of
4c Kh 8c
and there's a bet, and then a raise from a player holding
9c 5c Ah Jc
Not surprisingly, he got neither half of the pot, but was in it all the way to the river.
Back to my own play - what I thought was most interesting was that in those 30 hands, I saw the river card 9 times. 3 times I scooped, 5 times I split evenly, and the only time I missed was when I had a monster draw on the turn, only to brick up on the river.
My hand (SB): Js Ac 9c 2d
According to Ed Hutchison's Omaha Hi/Lo point count system, this hand is worth 26 points, making it solidly playable. Plus, I got in for half a small bet. Certainly no reason to fold preflop.
Board on the turn: 7s Qc Th 4c
Count with me: 6 clubs to either the nut-nut or the nut hi with no low possible; 1 to the nut hi, 2 to the nut flush (7c and Tc pair the board). 3 non-club kings to the nut hi with no low possible, 3 non-club 8s to the nut-nut. Then, of course, there are the 3 non-clubs 6s, 5s and 3s to make the nut lo. That's 22 outs to some form of the nuts, and another 2 to a non-nut, but given the betting probably a winning, hand. Understandably, I was pumping the pot on the turn, but "alas", as Dr. Pauly might say, I didn't get there.
Still, if the O8 tables are really as fishy as they seem, I may cast a few more lines into the water to see what I can reel in.
Tuesday, July 19, 2005
It's here! The Del Close Marathon starts on Friday and runs through midnight on Sunday. I highly encourage anyone in NYC this weekend to check it out. If you don't know anything about improv, just stick to the main stage shows on any day between 6pm and midnight. Those will be the cream of the crop.
Meanwhile, I'm two weeks removed from my last hand of poker, which is the main reason I haven't been posting much. I see that Full Tilt has hand histories now (finally), which means I might get on there some more. In the meantime, I'm mulling over Bill Rini's challenge. I know I definitely want to play in the Borgata Open again this year. That's going to take some work though, and who knows if I'll have (or make) the time.
I've also been watching the 2004 Main Event DVD as I have an hour here and there. I haven't checked out the bonus disc yet (which, really, would be the only reason to get the DVD if you've already seen the Main Event on ESPN, which I'm sure ESPN replayed ad nauseum). When I do, I'm sure something will make it here.
Friday, July 15, 2005
This is a bit "old news", but Rafe Furst made an interesting post to the new Full Tilt forums about tournament razz recently, entitled "Why Good Players Have the Biggest Edge in Razz".
The Full Tilt forums, by the way, seem extremely underutilized so far, in their first month of existence. There are plenty of nitwits and trolls, but the signal to noise ratio is better than RGP at least. Several of the pros have led interesting discussions, including whether or not it's ever correct to complete as the bring-in in Stud Hi (a point which I think is equally applicable to razz).
More soon, when Google / Blogger isn't barfing and I have more time.
Monday, July 11, 2005
Boston was great. Unfortunately, I had no time to search out the underground card rooms there, and as a result it's probably over a week since my last hand of poker. But I'm told there's some big tournament going on this week, so I'm probably not missing much.
In the meantime, that crazy ol' Dawn Summers is playing meme-tag again. Before I sit down to watch my advance copy of the 2004 World Series of Poker, I figured I better bang something out to keep her appeased. If you've read her site, you know how evil she is. It doesn't pay to piss off a person like her.
10 years ago (July 11, 1995): I had just turned 19. Wow. That seems like a small number. My daily activites found me on the 89th floor of One World Trade Center during the daylight hours (with frequent trips to 60 Centre Street, where I learned firsthand about the "Clerk of the Day" rule), and taking a film class at night a few times per week. Not that I had any interest in film; just that it was the only way I could get NYU summer housing, because I had applied for it at a somewhat late date. My roommates were a couple of nutty Ukranian guys, one of whom left gay porn lying around the bathroom, and an Asian guy from Penn who wanted to be (what else) a doctor and was working at some clinic in Chinatown. Overall, it was a fairly quiet summer.
5 years ago (July 11, 2000): Supposedly, I had spent the summer to that point studying for the New York bar exam. In actuality, I spent most of my days playing tennis, or rollerblading, or escaping from the city, or not studying in some other fashion. I believe cardboard boxes were strewn about my living room in preparation for a move from Spanish Harlem to my current abode in Crooklyn. It was also about that time that I realized "hey guy, if you really want to pass this little exam thing that's coming up in two weeks, you better start studying."
One year ago (July 11, 2004): I did not make a post on this site, but it seems I was recently returned from a sweaty wedding in Georgia (seriously - who gets married in Georgia in July?), unemployed and spending lots of time playing poker.
Yesterday: Boston! Driving tour of Cambridge, walking tour of Beacon Hill. I was also given a gift: Make Way for Ducklings, by Robert McCloskey. Apparently, I'm the mental equivalent of a 4-year old.
Today: Lunch with a friend, who (I must say) was being particularly nosy about details of said trip to Boston. About to sit down and start watching the 2004 World Series of Poker Main Event DVD.
Tomorrow: Twin Peaks! (Once again solidifying my credentials as an uber-dork.)
The whole list of "5 Things..." I'm going to skip. Dawn should be thankful she even got this much out of me.
Thursday, July 07, 2005
Unlike most people I know, I don't have cable or satellite or any form of non-network television. I've seen poker on TV, but only when I'm out and about and it happens to be on. Result: I never got on the WPT craze, and I missed most of ESPN's WSOP coverage last year.
Joaquin to the rescue! He hooked me up with a review copy of ESPN's 2004 Main Event DVD, which should be in my hands tomorrow morning. Although I have not verified this for myself, apparently the DVD can be ordered online at www.espnshop.com and www.chanpionshipdvd.com for $19.95. It's not slated to appear in retail stores for another month or two.
I'll be in Boston for the weekend, but maybe I'll have a chance to start watching (and reviewing) the DVD next Monday. The press release for the DVD appears below the fold.
NEW YORK (June 28, 2005) -- The poker phenomenon is still raging and so is its highest stakes game, No-Limit Texas Hold’Em. To the delight of poker fans nationwide, ESPN Original Entertainment and DVD Marketing Inc. have compiled the complete 2004 World Series of Poker’s Main Event, a six-day shoot-out between the crème de la crème of the poker world and wildcard amateurs to capture the multi-million dollar cash prize, onto an ultimate must-have three-disc DVD set.
The DVD set, packed with bonus features and more than 11 hours of poker action, will be available for online purchase as of today at www.espnshop.com and www.championshipdvd.com with a suggested retail price of $19.95. Availability in retail outlets will follow.
“Our fans will really enjoy the 2004 WSOP DVD collection because we’ve loaded it with four hours of bonus content,” said Victoria Stevens, vice president, ESPN. “It’s great for people who enjoy poker and dream of someday making it to the final table at the game’s biggest stage.”
A record-breaking 2,576 players, more than triple the number from last year, came to Las Vegas for the 2004 World Series of Poker. Once again, it was a virtual unknown in the poker world that would beat the poker masters and garner the top prize. Greg “Fossilman” Raymer, a patent attorney from Connecticut, parlayed a $160 online entry fee into $5 million in winnings and the coveted WSOP title.
This DVD set contains ESPN Original Entertainment’s final 10 programs from the telecast of the 2004 World Series of Poker, which earned a 1.7 rating for more than 1.5 million viewing households. Hosted by ESPN commentators and poker aficionados, Lon McEachern and Norman Chad, the DVD is presented in fullscreen (1.33:1) digital video without commercial interruption, and includes revealing interviews of star players, basic rules of No-Limit Texas Hold’Em and four hours of bonus features. Chapter points set at the key rounds allow the viewer to jump directly to the action putting them in control of every frame of video as ESPN captures the emotion, strategy and luck in route to crowning the champion of the World Series of Poker.
The unprecedented four hours of bonus features include:
* Top-10 moments from the 2004 tournament
* A Greg Raymer commentary
* A Greg Raymer All Access
* Greg Raymer’s Bio
* A Stu Unger feature
* Beyond the Felt: Poker Talk segment
* Coverage of the $1,000 Buy-In No-Limit Texas Hold’Em
* Coverage of the $2,000 Buy-In Pot Limit Omaha
* Tournament of Champions feature
* Coverage of the Kansas City Lowball event, exclusive only to the DVD
Review copies and interviews with Greg Raymer are available upon request.
Distributor: DVD Marketing Inc., 1-888-383-1200, firstname.lastname@example.org
Wednesday, July 06, 2005
A couple of half-baked posts floating around in my head that I haven't bothered to flesh into full-blown ramblings:
1. It may be obvious to some of you by now, but I'm going to make it an official policy from this point forward -- I've stopped blind referrals to Manhattan poker clubs. In fact, I've once again excised all trace of my email address from this blog. This wasn't really something I wanted to do, but given the more uptight door policies that some of the clubs have started adopting, I don't think a blind referral would help much. Those of you who were already part of the scene should have no trouble finding someone to get you into any of the new places (they keep springing up). Those who are trying to find a way in... I'm sorry, but it's not going to be me.
2. Why did I never move up in limits? It's an interesting question. I could point to any number of reasons, I think. A) I had to draw down $1,000 from my roll every month during the second half of 2004 to meet my rent and living expenses. That sucked $6,000 off of my roll. B) When I finally did move up to 15/30, I wasn't properly rolled for it, and variance plus tilt wiped me out. C) When I took a break from poker, I started getting interested in other things, and as a result don't spend nearly as much time playing as I used to.
Does this make me a failure as a poker player? I don't think so. I'm still a winning player. I've even turned over a new leaf recently and finally started a separate offline bankroll. But with all the other things that occupy my time, I don't know that I'll ever make the time that I was once making for poker. That's fine, it's my nature. I obsess over something for a while until something else catches my attention. I can accept not moving up in limits as the trade-off for that.
3. Etiquette, etiquette, etiquette. Live players - tip your dealers! The convention (and not a bad one at that) is that the winner of the pot tips for the dealer's time for that particular hand. Dealers provide a service, and in the NYC underground clubs they're not even doing it for a wage. Their time is paid for solely by players' tips. Tipping is not something that should be optional, or should only be done if you're up for the session. Whether it's a $10 pot or a $300 pot, throw your dealer a dollar. They'll appreciate it, and good karma never hurt anybody. Nothing pains me more than seeing players who don't tip dealers. Most dealers aren't bad enough not to be compensated for their time.
4. The best nicknames are always those given to you by other people, and while asphnxma was a nickname given to me by someone else, it was never a poker nickname. In honor of the hardest working guy covering the World Series of Poker, I've made an official shift in my blogging name. From this point forward, I'll be going by what many people already call me anyway: F-Train.
Friday, July 01, 2005
Last night, Joaquin organized a private table at the underground club near Chinatown. We played a 3/6 rotation game for two hours before switching it up to 1/2 NL holdem. I had been having an up-and-down session, but was up about $150 after SoxLover tilted *badly* when his AK was rivered by A6s. Steaming from doubling up his opponent on that hand, SoxLover called my QQ all the way to the river, holding 77, and it cost him $150.
There I was, sitting on $450 (we capped the buy-in at $300 instead of the usual $500), when I caught pocket Hellmuths in the big blind. Four people had limped in to me.
Before I proceed with the rest of the hand, though, I should backtrack a few weeks ago to my jaunt to Atlantic City with SoxLover. I took a pretty bad beat there on a 2/5 NL holdem table after calling a $35 pre-flop raise from the blinds holding 88. The flop came out 6-7-8, giving me top set. I checked to the pre-flop raiser, who bet $100, folding the other player who had called the raise.
Since I was out of position, smooth calling the flop bet and looking to check-raise on the turn didn't seem to me to be a chip maximizer -- there was a danger that my opponent might check through the turn, especially if a "bad" card fell. I decided to check-raise and then follow through on the turn, if called, with a push. My opponent called the flop check-raise (to $200), and then called after I pushed a 9 on the turn for $175. He was holding JJ and caught a T on the river for the inside straight. Not the worst beat I've ever taken (he had 6 outs, plus another 4 to a chop), but given that the pot was $850 and I had been an 8 to 1 favorite after the flop, I was pretty steamed and wisely knew I needed to get up for a while.
My opponent, Scott, was a nice guy, however, and later on bought me a scotch when he ran into SoxLover and I having dinner. We all chewed the fat for a while, and learned that Scott lives in Hoboken. SoxLover gave Scott a business card and told him to drop an email if he ever wanted to play in the city. Last night was the first time we were all sitting around a table together since the hand at Harrah's.
"Raise. $15 to go." I pushed three redbirds out onto the felt.
Scott had joked with me, before we switched the rotation game to NLHE, that I should kick him under the table if I caught wired eights. He called without much hesitation; everyone else folded. His limp-call told me quite a bit about his hand, and before the flop came down I looked at him and said "Me and you. Why do I have a bad feeling about this?"
The dealer spread Q-8-2, three suits, in front of himself. A pretty good flop for pocket Hellmuths. I bet $35.
"Raise," Scott replied as he slammed down a stack of reds on the felt. "$100."
I ran through the possibilities. AA? Unlikely. Pre-flop, he might have limp-reraised AA, but I doubt he would have limp-called. QQ? Also unlikely. Given that he had raised JJ pre-flop from EP in the hand at Harrah's, I suspected he would play QQ similarly. All two pair combinations were also extremely unlikely. That narrowed it down considerably: AQ/KQ, which I had beat, or 88/22, which had me slaughtered. I guess there was also the slight possibility of a stone-cold bluff (pretty unlikely, I thought, but not impossible).
I started fishing for information. "Did you call with pocket 8s?"
"I didn't kick you under the table, did I?" He seemed pretty calm and confident. I didn't like what I was seeing or hearing, and my poker sense was nagging at me. The EP limp-call practically screamed wired pair at me; at the least, it seemed much likelier than AQ/KQ.
"You did, didn't you? You called with pocket 8s. I know you don't have queens."
No response, just an air of assuredness.
"Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuck," I moaned. I peeked back down at my cowboys. They looked so damn good a few minutes ago! After another moment of agony, I mucked them face up.
Scott, showing the table pocket 2s for bottom set, commended me for a great fold as the dealer pushed the pot to him. I asked him why he raised me on a junk board.
"I didn't want to slowplay," he explained. "Karma was out there waiting to kick my ass in retribution." I didn't have the dealer do any rabbit-hunting to find out if Scott was right.
At some tables, after a fold like that, I would have had no choice but to get up. Show some players that you're capable of making a fold like that, and they're going to start trying to run you over. Because we were all friends, I got to console myself with the fact that I had made the right play, and it only cost me $35, and nobody would be trying to run me over. Not at that table.
I can't remember the last time I laid down an overpair, on the flop, with a junk board. I may never have done it before, and this time it was even correct! There's no way I would have been able to make that laydown online. I made it based on a combination of personal history with the player, betting patterns, and physical tells. Online, without the physical tells or the history, I lose quite a bit of my stack on this hand. Thank god for underground card clubs.
The moral of the story, I think, is clear: unless I have Scott drawing dead, I should try to minimize the number of chips I put in the pot, no matter how great my advantage is. Against me, he's gonna catch.