In honor of the legendary "real" Dawn Summers I'm going to live-blog a session from the Venetian's $8-$16 limit hold'em game. And when I say live-blog what I really mean is that I played the session last night and will be writing about it after the fact to make myself seem more spontaneously witty. Pretty sure that's what Hemmingway did.
6:30pm -- Here we are on Table 40, right by the poker room front desk. I like being so close to the rail. This way, when I play horribly, everyone will be able to witness it without having to crane their necks.
Last week I was pondering what I've been doing less than optimally over the course of the last month. CK suggested I should "try playing a lower-variance style for a while". It is a brilliantly simple suggestion that once again proves: (1) how much smarter she is than me; and (2) how much better my life is with her in it. As I'm unracking my blue $4 chips I remind myself to remind myself in about an hour that I'm supposed to be playing lower-variance poker.
6:31pm -- No posting at the Venetian. My first hand in the cutoff immediately puts my lower-variance resolution to the test. I play like the true tight-weakie that lurks in my soul and fold 55 after nobody enters the pot ahead of me. It's been said that limit hold'em starts off as a battle for the blinds but if the table conditions are right I shouldn't need to worry about battling for the blinds. Also, the ink's not really dry on that lower-variance resolution yet and I try to wait at least a few days (hands?) before breaking resolutions.
[Results-oriented analysis: the small blind had 66 and flopped a set. Presto was no goot!]
6:41pm -- Look at me! I've folded for a whole orbit now. I don't think anyone else has noticed.
6:42pm -- It's my cutoff again. This time I have QsJs. I can't fold a decent-ish hand from the cutoff in an unopened pot two orbits in a row, can I?
6:42:15pm -- No I can't. I open for a raise and get two callers. An ace and two spades flop followed by a turn king... but I don't get there. A tight player in the small blind bets the river dark. I'm willing to give him credit for another set because I have never seen him bet dark before and he really is that tight.
There are times when I might piss and moan about missing double-digit draws but not today. I am a Buddhist monk. Also we're only ten minutes into the day. There's still plenty of time for my inner rage-aholic to assert itself. After all, F-Train tilt makes flowers grow and who doesn't like flowers?
[CK can refrain from responding. That was a rhetorical question.]
6:50pm -- My opponents must be great. Their play is at such a genius level that I am completely confused by it. A guy who looks and drinks like he fought in the Greatest War opens from under-the-gun and is called by the button. I also call from the big blind with 9d8d, then make my first mistake of the night by not betting a 6-7-9r flop. Instead I get caught up in Fancy Play Syndrome and try to check-raise the inevitable continuation bet. It turns out that the inevitable continuation bet is not so inevitable. The flop checks through to an ugly Ac on the turn. I can't bet this card -- it's too likely to have hit the pre-flop raiser. I check and both opponents also check again(?). I finally pull the trigger when the river falls Ts to make my straight. They both fold. Way to extract value!
6:55pm -- Seems my commitment to a lower-variance style lasted all of 25 minutes. When action folds to my cutoff, I raise Ts9s. Everyone folds, saving me from myself.
6:59pm -- A co-worker from the WSOP wanders by the table. He's on a break from the final table of the Venetian noon tournament and watches me limp JsTs from MP after two limpers. I have position for a four-way flop of Th-8d-4d.
The big blind is an old guy with thin gray hair and rheumy eyes. He plays all of the Vegas mid-limit games, usually dressed in a light white jacket. Although he almost never talks at the table I know his name is Bill and I'm willing to bet he's unmarried. Bill gives me a shudder every time I see him because it's not hard for me to imagine myself turning into Bill in thirty years -- quiet, miserable, alone and grinding away at pointless mid-limit hold'em games.
I've never been able to tell if Bill is a long-term winner. He has more heart than many of the passive players who populate these limits but he also tends to overplay one pair and to make some patently hopeless bets and calls (pot, kettle). When he leads this flop it can mean just about anything -- pair, draw, air.
A guy in his late 30s is on my right. He calls after one player folds. He has been playing *very* tight poker while chasing the $25 bonus comp that the Venetian is offering in an effort to attract first-time mid-limit players (you have to play one hour to get the comp). His call puts my jack-ten in a weird spot but, with position, I raise. They both call.
The turn's a blank, the 3h. Action checks to me. I bet, they both call. We all check the 2h river. I announce "pair of tens", prompting Bill to quickly turn over Td9h as if it might be any good. Sorry Bill. I chop the pot with the guy on my right, who also has jack-ten. Anthony, my co-worker from the WSOP, shakes his head and goes back to his final table.
"You didn't think your nine was any good, did you?" I ask Bill. True to form, he smiles without saying a word in reply.
Seriously. Thirty years. I make my second resolution of the night.
7:08pm -- Bill gets his revenge. I raise AcQc from middle position and get 3 callers, including Bill from the big blind. We all check all the way down after the flop comes K-K-Jr. Bill takes the pot with J-T. You might think this is weak play from me -- and it is! -- but I'm back in the lower-variance boat and saw no need to bet a flop that likely hit someone else. They're calling with their jacks all the way whether I bet or not. In fact Bill probably would have check-raised either the flop or the turn. I'd rather just take my free looks.
7:14pm -- I have the button. I also have pocket aces. Good for me, bad for my one opponent who flops top pair. Bad for me, good for my one opponent that she only has $4 behind after calling my pre-flop raise. She would be the first of three players at this table throughout the course of the night who would (functionally) be all-in pre-flop and would reload after the hand. This is the caliber of player I've been struggling to beat recently.
7:26pm -- Almost an hour in now. The table has been weak and passive. There are two other locals in the game but everyone else is unknown to me -- a welcome change from what the $10-$20 game at Mirage has become. When it goes. Which is less and less frequently. Alas, poor $10-$20, I knew it, readers, a game of infinite profit potential, of most awful play.
I open KcQd from middle position. Flops at this table are ranging from three- to five-handed so no surprise that the button and the big blind call. The button is a younger Asian guy but he's no Crazian. In fact he's the complete opposite of Crazian (which probably makes him me). He's the only one to call my bet on the Qs-Tc-8c flop. It's not a good sign, even less so when the turn is a third club, 7c. I check-call with my own club draw.
The "real" Dawn Summers will tell you that clubs are shiftless and lazy and never get there no matter what CK tries to make people believe. CK would say that clubs already got there on the turn and what more can I expect at this point? That's my way of explaining that the fourth club does not hit the river. Buuuuuuut, I make top two pair with the Kh. This is one of those situations where I probably have to bet and fold to a raise. Bet, because I'm trying to extract value from hands like QT, T8, 87, and all one-pair hands that might check behind if I check. Fold to a raise because Mr. Anti-Crazian isn't raising with less than a flush here. He looks confused by my bet but calls anyway. His AdQd is no good. Variance is on my side for a change. Nice!
7:30pm -- One hour in, only $77 to the good and needing to cut short this post. To be continued...
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
In honor of the legendary "real" Dawn Summers I'm going to live-blog a session from the Venetian's $8-$16 limit hold'em game. And when I say live-blog what I really mean is that I played the session last night and will be writing about it after the fact to make myself seem more spontaneously witty. Pretty sure that's what Hemmingway did.
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Yesterday afternoon I was happily reading some news websites when the doorbell rang. Because I hate people (or maybe because people hate me) I do not ordinarily have guests. Because I don't ordinarily have guests I don't usually expect the doorbell to ring. I react to the doorbell the same way casino gamblers react to a fire alarm: pause briefly, arch an eyebrow, and then go right back to what I was doing.
Because I don't expect the doorbell to ring I never open the door when the doorbell does ring. This, even though the function of the doorbell is to inform that there is someone on the other side of the door seeking an audience. Living in NYC for almost fifteen years contributed to that little neurosis. We don't open the door unless we're expecting someone.
Yesterday, however, I was expecting some DVDs and thought the person on the other side of the door might be the mailman/woman/person leaving the DVDs on the front step. Instead when I opened the door I was greeted by a short troll of a woman with a wizened, harried face. Her thin, ratty hair was tucked under a lime-green baseball cap and she was carrying a clipboard.
"Lur... ma... na Talia?" she asked, looking up at me hopefully.
"Sorry," I replied. "He owns the house but I'm not him."
Her face brightened. "Oh, well I need to give you this then." She removed a sheaf of papers from the clipboard. Having worked in enough law offices in my time I knew what to say.
"I can't take it," I said, holding up a hand and backing away from the door threshold slightly. "I'm not authorized to accept anything on his behalf. I'm just a renter. He's the landlord." I paused a moment, then added, "Anyway, he's dead."
[Funny story: The last time the doorbell rang unexpectedly it was the landlord's adult son Richard, come to tell me that his dad had a heart attack and dropped dead. Richard's mother also had a heart attack when she heard the news. She lived. Of course, I didn't open the door for Richard anymore than I open it for anyone else and as a result didn't learn those nuggets of information until much later.]
"Well, I'm going to have to tape this to the door then," the troll told me, tapping her papers.
I realize that process service is a necessary job in our society but I can't muster up much love for the people that do it. They are messengers of ill will, bearers of bad tidings. Nothing good ever comes from the appearance of process servers in your life. They're like the wife or girlfriend who fixes you in the eye one day and says, "We need to talk." This is not a good thing. The subject-matter of the talk is not going to be that the wife or girlfriend feels she's not giving you enough blow jobs. Thus I was quite curt with the troll.
"Do whatever you need to do," I told her. Then I shut the door.
After the coast was clear I went back to see what the troll had taped to my front door. It was a foreclosure notice informing the owner that the house would be sold in 60 days.
Back before he died, "Dave" (as he called himself) told me that he was trying to get his home loan modified. Although I didn't know it for certain at the time, the house had to be underwater. Dave paid $420,000 for it back in 2004 but comps in the neighborhood were on the market for anywhere from $225,000 to $275,000. With the diminished equity in the house and interest rates markedly lower, Dave was hoping to get some leeway from his bank. The bank, however, was making him play a silly game.
See, because Dave was current on his mortgage payments the bank didn't see any need to grant him any loan modification. They believed that his "current" status meant that he was theoretically able to afford his payment, no matter the changed housing circumstances overall. Thus in order to get the bank to even talk about loan modification Dave had to stop paying the mortgage for roughly six months. Once the mortgage was in arrears the bank was only too happy to discuss modification since, by not paying for six months, Dave demonstrated that he can't afford his current payment. Brilliant.
The two parties apparently negotiated new loan terms that everyone could live with. But before he received the bank's final approval for the loan modification, Dave died. His estate has been in probate since then with nobody yet having the appropriate powers to finalize the loan modification. Meanwhile, because the loan modification isn't in place payments still aren't being made on the existing mortgage, now in arrears for ten months. Red flags automatically go up at the bank, setting in motion the foreclosure process, beginning with the taping to my front door of a foreclosure notice by an unlovable troll in a lime-green baseball cap.
This, ladies and gentlemen, is bureaucracy that would have made Douglas Adams proud.
As for its effect on me, the current lease is up on November 15, just inside the 60-day window. I'm not really sure yet what the next step is but I do know that staying in this house wasn't part of the picture even before this latest turn. It's just another wrinkle in what has been an interesting few months. And I mean "interesting" in the Confucian sense of the word.
Dave's son Richard is maintaining his sense of humor in the face of all of these challenges. "I'm sure my dad's FICO score is shot to shit," he said, "but I don't think he really cares anymore."
Saturday, September 19, 2009
This will be a long post.
Tonight I played LHE at the Venetian for the first time. The $8-$16 game got up at 8:15pm, right when I got there, and broke at about 5:15am. I was in it the whole time and I left down. Again. I'm on a bad... whatever the opposite of a heater is. In the last five live sessions I've lost a combined 80 big bets. Tack on another 25 playing online. Sure, 100-big-bet swings are not uncommon in LHE. But any time I go through one, I pull on the thinking cap and try to re-tool my way through it.
First let my illustrate how wild the game was.
Example 1: It's early. Guy on my right has been opening light repeatedly. He opens the cutoff and I pop him with 22, trying to isolate. It fails. Both blinds take three to the face, he makes it four bets and we all call. We cap the flop four-ways. I finally slow down on the turn because, even though I flopped a set, I had the sinking feeling someone else did too. Last I checked there weren't any cards smaller than a deuce. Goodbye, 7.5 big bets.
Example 2: Not yet having learned my lesson from earlier, same guy opens for like the 486th time. I 3-ball him with KQ. Two people behind me call 3 cold, the small blind calls, and he calls. So we are -- count 'em -- five-handed to the queen-high all-club flop. I chase out two with a bet but because clubs always get there the fourth club hits the turn. I don't have a club. One of the other guys does.
Example 3: Much later in the game now. I've realized that the table is basically crazy and that I need to make hands to win. I'm in the small blind. The preflop action in front of me goes: (1) limp, (2) raise, (3) call 2 cold, (4) 3-bet, (5) call 3 cold. To be honest, I don't know what kind of hand I want to see in this spot. It feels like suited connectors are the best option. I look down at AsKc and say, "Fuck." Out loud. Literally.
Now, against five totally random hands, PokerStove tells me I have 28% equity here. Two times out of seven, my ace-king should be the winner against five random hands. There are two problems. First, I'm badly out of position. This will make it much, much more difficult for me to play my hand, especially if I miss the flop. (My 28% equity is to the river, after all.) Second, my variance is through the roof. Technically with five other players in the pot I shouldn't mind calling three cold or even raising. But putting four bets in preflop out of position against five players who -- trust me -- are all calling is the kind of variance that makes your teeth hurt.
I also have to consider that their hands aren't *totally* random. They're probably not playing the junkiest of the junk hands, and I might have one or two dominated -- good if we're heads-up, bad if we're 6-handed since that makes it less likely we'll flop something and more likely someone else will.
This type of table comes down to how much variance you're willing to tolerate. Extremely straightforward play will win its share of the money. But the swings along the way will be brutal. To wit, my stack went: even, -300, even, +200, even, -250. The last two hours I couldn't win without bribing my opponents to fold. If they were drawing at 3 outs, they got there. If I was drawing at potentially as many as 18 outs, say on a board of 5s 6c 8c against four opponents, then 8h-2d was the nuts. You think I'm kidding.
The long and short of it is I lost again, my fourth losing session in my last five. I really need to think about what I'm doing wrong. Some questions I have:
1. Do I play too long when I'm not winning? Tonight was my longest session in more than a year. These days, with poker so close by, my sessions are typically four to five hours. Today I played nine hours. Interesting to note that after six I was even. I chased a win for another three hours. Three card-dead, you-too-can-outdraw-me-from-three-states-away hours. Was the quality of my decisions affected by the frustration of being in the game that long and not being ahead? Maybe. I started to play more suited gappers -- but I'm not sure that's wrong at a crazy table where every flop is five- or six-handed. I just never hit. Still...
2. Do I show down too much? I really think the river is my worst street. Pre-flop, I might err on the side of tight but in the long run that won't cost me much. I think I have a good handle on the flop and the turn. But the river...
Here's an example from the other night. Pot is probably five handed. I'm in the blinds with 6-7. Flop Q-5-8, one spade. I usually bet this (with a good draw against four opponents I want money in the pot) but here I check. It checks around. Turn Q, second spade, checks around again. River is the 4 of spades. I lead out, get one fold and then somebody raises.
The question is, what can I beat? For him to raise here, he basically has to have a flush or a full house. Right? Does he raise a straight here against four opponents on a paired, flushing board? Does he raise a naked queen after checking two streets againt four opponents? Even though my hand looks like it has showdown value, I'm not sure that it does. I called anyway, he flipped 44.
I seem to find myself in these situations quite often. That is, calling down in spots where it is extremely unlikely that my opponent is bluffing or raising a worse hand. And the flip of it is that I sometimes get gun-shy about betting the river with certain hands that, given the course of the action, should have decent showdown value. So not only am I giving bets away where I shouldn't, I might be missing bets where I'm best.
The solution here is to incorporate more thought into my decisions on the river -- don't act so quickly -- and to bet-fold where appropriate. That is, most players in the games I play are not capable of raising the river on a bluff. Even though I'm often getting very good odds to call that last bet, maybe nine-to-one, the likelihood of my hand being ahead is less than that in most circumstances. I need to be more willing to bet and fold to a raise. Bet, because it helps me to gain value where value is to be had. Fold, so I'm preserving bets where it is extremely unlikely I'm ahead.
3. Am I better off avoiding crazy tables? After I posted on twitter about the KQ hand described in Example 2 above, DocChako replied "Run! Table too loose." I don't believe in the concept of a table that's "too loose". Yes, there's less skill involved and it's more like playing two-card bingo when every flop is taken six-handed. It makes almost any hand in the deck an underdog to the field and anyone with any kind of draw bigger than two cards is more or less correct to call one time and maybe even two. But the times when the "good" hands win, the pot size makes up for the losers. It comes down to how much variance you can stomach.
Given the style that I prefer to play it might make sense to avoid these crazy tables. But I should also be a good enough player to adapt my style to at least have a fighting chance when any two cards are the nuts.
Ok, time for bed. I'm up too long especially given I'm playing golf tomorrow. All thoughts welcome in comment-land. This has been a trying couple of weeks, poker-wise.
Thursday, September 17, 2009
Monday's post seems almost prophetic now. Tonight I had my worst session ever. Not worst session this year. Not worst session at the Mirage. Worst. Session. Ever. By the end I was definitely tilted. The last $100 I lost was pure tilt and the way I know is by a simple example.
Early in the session, I raised JJ from late position. A bit of a nit three-bet the small blind and was called by a decent player in the big blind. I called also. When an ace hit the flop, the small blind bet and the big blind called, I found an easy muck. It was mildly irritating to see that they both had A-K -- not because of how they played it, but because it made it less likely for an ace or king to flop.
Late in the session, after getting battered rapidly and repeatedly in some grotesque ways, I opened QQ from the button. The small blind three-bet, the big blind called and I called. This time when an ace hit the flop, the small blind bet and the big blind called, I made a horrible, spew-y frustration raise. Turns out the small blind had A-K and the big blind had A-J. The big blind won the hand by turning a flush.
That right there is the very definition of tilt. I played a hand sub-optimally because I was frustrated.
The whole session reminded me of a 10-20 session from Borgata, long-ago, that I semi-live-blogged, the previous worst-ever record-holder. Basically each session was a perfect storm of awfulness:
* big pairs don't hold;
* flopped hands get run down;
* made draws make bigger, slim draws for someone else;
* big draws don't come in; and
* it seems like the only way to win is by flopping the nuts, and when you do you won't get much action.
Sessions like tonight can be frustrating and extremely demoralizing. I won exactly one pot at showdown in five hours. That's tough. I kept thinking it would turn around -- limit holdem is prone to tons of variance and there have been plenty of times I started out in a hole before it turned around -- but it never did.
Sure I can back-up the lens to include all of my post-WSOP play (and the run-good that I had) and see that I'm still positive for that time period. But nights like this can make you second-guess just how good your chops really are. You want to accept losing, but you don't want to accept losing as badly as I did tonight. And it's hard to see the difference between when you're frustrated and playing poorly and just frustrated, waiting for things to turn your way.
I'll feel better after some sleep but this one definitely stings.
Monday, September 14, 2009
I've written before how I believe that the most dangerous attitude a poker player can have is the attitude that the player should and will win every time out. Why? Because losing is part of the game for *every* poker player -- long-term winners and long-term losers. As soon as a player expects to win every time out, they have put themselves into a mindset where the inevitable losing session or losing streak will be very, very ugly and will negatively impact the detachment needed to persevere and continue to play a solid game. I was actually happy, after booking my worst losing session of the year just before leaving for Cyprus, that I was able to shrug it off with an, "Oh well. Can't win 'em all."
The hardest part of being a winning poker player is accepting losing. Nobody sits down at the table and says, "Geez, I really hope I lose tonight." This applies doubly when table conditions seem ideal for booking a big win. The problem is that nobody wins 100% of the time. If I look at my spreadsheet for my 22 $10-$20 sessions at the Mirage this year, I see that I have three sessions that were <$80 winners and two that were <$20 losers. Treating those sessions as (more or less) break-even leaves me with 17 other sessions. 13 were winners, 4 were losers. Thus consider my track record this year in the Mirage $10-$20 game to be 13-4-5. That means about 40% of the time I'm breaking even or losing. This, for a player who is averaging winnings of $33 per hour in the game.
Of course, you could say that if I played better I might have better results. I don't argue with that. I am not the best limit holdem player. There are plenty of nights when I'm not even the best player at the table. But I'm good enough to be beating the game for 1.65 big bets per hour and even so I still break even or lose 40% of the time.
That statistic is why I try not to let it go to my head too much if I have a two- or three-week period where I'm winning every day and try not to worry too much if I have a two- or three-week period where I'm losing every day. In each case I analyze my play as objectively as possible, looking for leaks. That's the only objective analysis to be made. Using the results of a two-week stretch of poker for any other analysis is folly at best.
Consider last summer. CK hit a rough-stretch playing NLHE at Venetian where, it seems two or three nights a week, she came home and told me about how someone had 2-outered her for a massive pot after all the money got in on the flop. She took more 2-out beats in that month than most people take in a year.
Sure, it's easy to look at a 2-outer and say, "Well obviously she got unlucky there," but the point illustrates why making results-based judgments about the quality of a player is useless. If you looked at her results for that month you might think she was a terrible player. That's why, when I'm at the table, I'm much more interested in the kind and quality of decisions a player is making. When I see people over-calling multiple streets with a hand that has to go runner-runner to even have a shot at winning the pot I don't care what kind of results they're having. I just want them to stay at the table as long as possible so that I have the best shot at their chips.
Intuitively all successful poker players know (and agree) with this kind of logic. But getting our brains to accept it is a different matter. It doesn't feel "just" to see players that we consider to be inferior players winning while we're losing.
Obviously I struggle with this concept sometimes too. CK used to call me "Cranky Man" when playing online, and a few weeks ago I had a rare outburst at the Mirage that I wrote about. The only thing to do is keep plugging away at it. Last year I wrote about a player named Vince who is a regular in the Mirage game. I have never seen Vince react in any emotionally demonstrable way to taking a bad beat. I'm still striving to emulate him because, while I don't *approve* of losing, I know I need to accept it.
Friday, September 11, 2009
Over the last two days in Cyprus, we've played a total of five levels of poker to go from 21 players to the 6-handed TV table. I know there are reasons for that but I really wish a day had been trimmed from the schedule. I've been ready to go home for a while now.
One more day, and then homeward bound on Sunday. Monday I start the Great Weight Gain Challenge II. I tried starting GWGC2 back in August a week before I left for Macau. The two weeks I spent in Macau were a setback in the challenge mainly due to poor food options, the bad eating habits that usually accompany my work schedule, and an unprecedented level of stress. Stress makes me not eat.
Back from Macau I had only three days before leaving for Cyprus and decided it would just be easier to start fresh when I came home. I don't think I'll be doing any traveling for a while after this trip so I'll be able to lock in the regimented eating and exercise schedule that will be necessary for me to put a few pounds back on. Here's hoping that come December I'll weigh even more than I did after GWGC1 in 2007.
No prop bets this time -- I'm doing this for me.
Wednesday, September 09, 2009
Over the last few months, in this space and in my Twitter feed, I have railed on about the dearth of limit hold'em games in Las Vegas that are bigger than $4-$8. For the medium stakes, the options are: (1) a $10-$20 game at Mirage that is not as reliable as it once was; (2) usually one or maybe two $15-$30 games at Bellagio, and (3) one or maybe two $30-$60 games at Bellagio. That's it.
I was therefore delighted to recently read that arguably the best poker room on the Strip, the Venetian Poker Room, is going to try to attract medium stakes limit hold'em players. They've stated that they typically get four or five $4-$8 games and are looking to expand higher. Specifically,
Starting ASAP, the Venetian is making an aggressive push to attract more limit games, including $8/16, $15/30, and $30/60.The full text of the announcement can be found on the AVP forums. (Scroll down a bit.)
We understand that finding good, mid-limit games around town is a hard thing to do, so, we are offering $2 max rake, $1.50 an hour in comps, and a $25 food comp for every new player that comes in to play.
Here's hoping that the Venetian is successful in their mission. Having another place to play mid-stakes LHE in Las Vegas, specifically in the nicest room out there, would be fantastic.
Monday, September 07, 2009
There's no reason for me to be awake right now (I knocked back two tall, stiff vodka tonics before bed) but here I am. It's the Macau problem all over. In Macau I even tried some Tylenol PM, usually a sure way to knock me out for a while. They may as well have been sugar pills. Since I can't sleep again and already know the Tylenol PM won't work I'll update the goings-on at WPT Cyprus.
Turn-out for the tournament was "below expectation". The two Day 1 flights combined to put only 181 players in the field. Players were given 90-minute levels and a completely unnecessary 400-big-blind starting stack. 125 remain after five full levels of play. John Tabatabai(!) is chip leader, followed by... Phil Gordon?! What year is this?
The player count wouldn't be much of an issue but for the fact that the tournament is scheduled to take five more days to complete. By my gorilla math, the final table will be reached in Level 19. If the tournament sticks to a five-levels-per-day format, that means the final table will be set one day ahead of schedule. Another option is to only play four levels per day, although that will still make for a short Day 5.
Either way, this doesn't bode well for future WPT Cyprus events. There are several fundamental problems here: (1) there hasn't been enough poker exposure in the region for a tournament of this magnitude ($10,300); (2) Cyprus is not a "destination" that extra-regional players will want to visit the way London, Sydney, or Los Angeles is; (3) on top of that, the actual site of the tournament is fairly remote to the airport at 90 minutes by car; and (4) scheduling against the EPT juggernaut taking place at the western end of the Mediterranean (Barcelona) was definitely a mistake.
Don't even get me started on the resort itself. My opinion of this place may have been colored by the fact that, after 30 straight hours of traveling to get here, I was told that the hotel didn't have a room for me nor a record of a reservation in my name. It eventually got straightened out but I was not amused.
It seems like I'm not amused by much these days.
Wednesday, September 02, 2009
I'm back from Macau just long enough to get my bearings before it's off to Cyprus. I had the pleasure of dropping a full buy-in at the B's 15-30 on Monday night (run-good long over) and then playing 10-20 at Mirage with Cardgrrl last night. It was her first time dipping a toe into the $10-$20 LHE pool. I wish it had gone better for her but I think she could see that the game was good and beatable.
Cardgrrl did witness one or two poor displays from me. I have learned, through many hours at the table, to channel most of my rage at donkeys inwards. But last night it boiled out. One instance I didn't care; the guy was the biggest douchebag toolbox asshole that I've ever seen in the 10-20 game -- and I've seen a bunch. Blowing off some rage at that kind of a person is warranted.
The other instance was bad form by me. It was a terrible player who just didn't know how bad he was and I let fly some poor words. It was a fairly straightforward hand. I raised QQ, there was a 3-bet from a person who doesn't 3-bet light, and then the button called three cold. Let's stop it right there.
In my experience in the 10-20 game, when a player calls three cold like that (esp. in position) it's because they have a pocket pair that they just can't bear to fold. Usually something in the range of 88-JJ because QQ-AA will four-bet. So right away I narrowed my ranges to TT-AA, AQ+ for the woman and medium pair for the button. I called, 10 small bets in the pot.
The flop was K-4-2. I checked, the woman bet, the button called. I wasn't ready to give up just yet without further confirmation that I was beat. I called to the turn, which was another king that pretty much took KK out of the woman's range and probably also killed A-K. My new ranges were: TT-JJ/AA, AQ for the woman and 88-JJ for the button. I had a feeling that the second king would check through and I preferred that not to happen. Plus if I bet I would be representing a hand like K-Q or A-K for myself.
So I bet. Woman called (that's good; for sure she can only have one hand that's beating me now) and the button over-called. That was a little confusing. I didn't like the fact that the pot was still three-ways going into the river 5 so I checked it figuring a free showdown was coming. Woman checked also (right) and then the button bet?!
"Did you really call three cold with ace-king?" I asked him. "I just don't believe it." I called and the woman over-called.
Now, as it turns out, the woman had aces and I was behind the whole way. I'm fine with that. It happens. But when the button turned over pocket 5s for a rivered full house, fives full of kings, I couldn't contain myself.
"What the hell are you doing?" I asked him. "Do you hate money?"
Sigh. Not one of my finer moments. But let's analyze the donkery of the button's play, street by street.
PREFLOP: calling three cold with 55 in a pot that is likely to be 3-handed -- and in which you don't even close the action -- is a huge leak. You can only know where you are if you flop a set (roughly 1 in 8 times). For it to be break-even you need to get your opponents to put another $140 in the pot after you hit your set. 7 times you miss you lose $210 total; 1 time you hit there is $70 from your opponents already in the pot. In order to get them to put another $140 into the middle you need them to go to war on the flop and both go to showdown. And that's just to break-even. So really you're better off dumping 55 preflop here.
FLOP: I'm not sure what you're beating on the flop. Every pair except 3s has you beat. Every king (plenty of those in my range as first raiser) has you beat. I guess if both players have unimproved aces you might be in the lead but in a three-way, three-bet pot this is almost always a fold. You might raise to represent the king and try to drive out pairs < K and unimproved aces. Maybe. But calling is the worst of the three choices as peeling one time for a set is massively -EV, even with the possibility of a runner-runner straight.
TURN: The worst street by far. You now have a pre-flop raiser who called a bet on the flop leading the K-4-2-K turn AND being called by the pre-flop re-raiser. There is no way in hell you can over-call here as you are absolutely 100% drawing to two outs and raising is a total spew bluff that will not succeed.
RIVER: Well now you look like a fucking genius.
I might have a chance for one more session tomorrow. Maybe, maybe not. I'm trying to get my departure schedule for Friday morning squared away and that will impact my Thursday night schedule. If I don't get another session in I'll have a week and a half in Cyprus to channel my inner Buddha and to learn to bite my tongue before I say stupid things at the table.