Straight Flush

Still playing, despite all the evidence pointing to the fact that I'm not...

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Knock knock...

Who's there?

I had completely forgotten about this place until, for reasons known only to pornographers and fake Rolex sellers I started getting a load of spam after months of inactivity. I guess even the purveyors of fine watches and penis extension products give up after a while.

A lot of water has passed under the bridge in the world of poker since I last posted two years ago. Black Friday, the burning out of amateur poker blogs, playing concepts that have been born, shone brightly and burned out. The old order changeth.

I'll be fascinated to see if anyone even sees this post. I guess I'm just testing the water.

I'm still playing, still fascinated by the game, still trying to learn. But one thing that hasn't changed is that 70% of the poker world is better than me.

If you're reading and still interested, please leave a comment, but not those who simply want to sell me an 'extension'. It's not that I would mind that, it's just that as I head towards my 50s I really have no use for one.

Good luck at the tables :-)

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Thursday, June 24, 2010


I've had to change my profile.

I'm not 43 any more, and haven't been for nearly eleven months.

How time flies when you're errr, enjoying yourself. I think that's what they call it.

Hope you're well dD ;)

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Happy New Year

I've had to sign in to rid myself of the amazing amount of spam which, for no apparent reason, appears to have started flying my way.

I know that just about the only real person that looks at this blog (including me) is dD, God bless him, so this short update is dedicated to my most loyal and only reader. Thanks mate. I wish I was as loyal in return .

I miss playing poker regularly. The steady road upwards with the predictable stumbles which felt like total disasters at the time, but weren't. The cut and thrust of the game, the highs the lows, the sense of community with other bloggers.

But those days have gone. I'm now spending my time catching up with every episode of House and Lie to Me, and Larkrise to Candleford's back on now, so that's the rest of the winter and spring lost on a Sunday night (ref previous posts :p).

I do play occasionally, but losing doesn't hurt, which means I'm inevitably going to lose in the long term. No discipline in my game equals no game at all.

Anyway, happy new year to anyone that is connected to a human brain rather than a spam bot. January 26th isn't too late to say that is it? ;)

All the best :)

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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Too much to take

Aggro opponent, showing bluffs etc etc.

I read him right. I sat there before the river and said. It.Can't.Happen.Again.

Well It Happened.


And it's just not fun any more.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Out of the darkness?

Goodness knows if anyone checks this blog out any more. I certainly haven't, so why would anyone else? On the assumption that someone somewhere looks in occasionally I can confirm that I'm still alive.

In the three months since I last blogged I fell totally out of love with poker, and perhaps life in general. I seemed to spend my life at work and then vegging in front of the television, with precious little time or inclination to do anything else.

The (English) football season finished disappointingly with a play off semi final defeat over two legs with the ever delightful Millwall. No promotion this year, and you begin to wonder whether we'll ever even be taking the field in the second tier, let alone the Premier League. Hope springs eternal I guess.

I lost two staff at work and because of the credit crunch they weren't replaced, meaning that I ended up trying to cover their work. Doing 16 hour days and working for hours, unpaid, at the weekend wasn't doing me any good. I've put up with a fair deal of crap in my working career but I'm not getting any younger and don't have the stamina to do this any more without it taking its toll. I'm suffering from insomnia at the moment, something that I've never had to deal with. I could sleep through an earthquake normally so clearly there's something wrong which I've got to get sorted out if I'm not to end up stir crazy!

With all this going on the thought of concentrating on poker wasn't really very appealing - I've always said that I won't play over my roll and I won't play tired. At least I've kept that promise to myself. I have started playing a bit again though, although whether I'll ever get to the level I was at before I don't know. I tried a sit and go today and sitting there with A7s v A4o on the bubble I was delighted to see a 7 flop. Somehow he managed to river a low straight and I remembered just why I stopped playing the stupid bloody game.

Deep down I know I love playing the game, but deep down I also know I can sleep. Convincing the subconscious mind is a whole different card game.

I've lost touch with so many people and blogs - all I can say is that I hope that things are going well for you at, and beyond, the tables.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Unintended consequences

Why isn't life ever simple? In my last entry, more than two months ago for goodness' sake, I wrote the following.

Now I’m able to play poker in the lounge, be part of the family and get more volume in. There may be a slight loss in edge as there are distractions, but overall it’s working well.

Hmmmm...nice in theory. In reality a poker nightmare. As time went by I started looking forward to certain TV programmes. I've watched Larkrise to Candleford (FFS!!!), Hustle, Spooks re-runs, even Waterloo flipping Road. I had avoided the addiction of television for so many years I forgot how easy it is to get hooked back in. And it's killed my poker game.

In the beginning I was in the lounge, but I wasn't really there. I was a corporal presence but my mind was on the tables. However as my wife became used to this strange person being sat on the opposite sofa so she started talking to me. I talked back. We discussed plotlines (so far as there is one in Waterloo Road). Perish the thought we started talking about our days, what we were going to do at the weekend. Put simply we interacted like man and wife, rather than being strangers who went our seperate ways once we had dinner.

Good thing, right? Well yeah, but poisonous for poker. I'll give you one example. I'm dealt aces. Standard raise pre-flop. Called by one player. I flop another ace but there are two clubs on the board. He checks and I put out a bet just above the pot size to discourage villain from the draw. If he has a lower set then bring it on!

Villain calls. The turn is a blank for me and for the draw. He checks and I put in another pot sized bet just as my wife asks me some trivial question about my plans for the weekend. I say I haven't really thought about it and she tells me that I really need to because...blah...blah...villain calls...WTF?

Now my Spider sense doesn't like what I see. In the back of my mind I now know he's on a club draw, or a donk who simply wants to donate his stack to me.

Blah...blah...blah...I have no idea what I'm doing this weekend...can I just finish this on river...shit!...well we need to sort it out because your Mum & D...villain goes all are I'm flustered to hell because I KNOW that I'm beat, but he could also have a set. So I replay the hand in my head...beep beep beeeeeeeeeeepppppppppp...Stars is getting impatient...I'm impatient. I snap back. She snaps at me...beeeeeeepppppp...beeeepppppp......beeeeeeepppppppp
I press call...knowing I'm beaten but too stubborn and distracted to be disciplined enough to fold.

I lose to the 3,4 of clubs. I'm incandescent because I put him on the draw, but he called me all the way with crap, and I read it perfectly. But because of the white noise, the lack of concentration, the disorientation...I make the call and look exactly what I was. A donk.

I closed the table. Well I say closed it...I clicked the X on the Stars software without even bbothering to actually leave the table (your hand will be folded, do you still want to leave, the little message on the other table pleaded) and slammed the laptop shut, thanking my wife for losing me a full buy in. Actually I don't think she'd describe it as thanks...more like borderline abuse.

Yeah, I apologised and I'm so lucky that she is totally with me on this poker lark because at least deep down she understood.

But it's tainted things for me. That's not what was supposed to happen. I was supposed to sail the clear blue seas, continue my upward progress and rediscover what it's like to talk to my wife having hidden myself away for the best part of three years after 9pm.

What's happened is that my concentration is shot, and although I'm $50 up since January my normal results pattern should see me $150 up by now, and that's no mean difference at NL5.

Dotting the Is and crossing the Ts it's not hard to work out that I've barely read anyone's blogs (banned at work) and have lost touch with the poker world.

I still do love the game, but I think that I'm simply going to have to withdraw from the lounge whenever I want to play a serious session and just donk around with some double or nothings when I'm downstairs. I'm not even sure that my wife would complain. For years she's watched whatever telly she wants to without me pursing my lips of telling her how crap the plotlines are in some of her favourite programmes ;).

And so it is that I'm upstairs on the main PC now. Time to write my blog, to play sensibly. Just like the good old, bad old days :).

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Net gains

A bit late for happy new years wishes, but never the less it would be rude not to, regardless of the date. I hope your personal and poker lives prosper in what is bound to be a testing twelve months.

It may seem strange but I actually forgot about my blog, everyone else’s blog and Raise the River for about a month. Christmas, New Year and, of course, work, completely blunted my desire to read about poker. That and the fact that I’ve been playing the game whenever I can as opposed to reading hand histories, tactics and other such stuff.

However when I went back to work last week all the old habits came back as I sat at my desk munching on my sandwich of a lunchtime, save for looking at blogs which I can’t do at work.
The poker world goes on. The same tricky positions with as many people saying fold as say call as say re-raise! It’s the nature of the beast of course, and none the worse for that.

Today I’m having an absolute nightmare. 600 hands in and loads of missed flops, outdraws and maniacs. It was like that for a while just after new year, but then things turned, as they always do.

2008 was a year where I changed from a micro-limit sit and go player into a micro-limit cash player. To say it was the right decision is an understatement from my perspective, although I suspect that the drudge of playing 60,000 hands of mainly NL5 would be more than many could bear. However it suited my lifestyle, and having railed a few tournaments and S&Gs of late, just to watch and learn, I realised that luck constitutes a good 50% of these games. I don’t want to be a hostage to fortune, and at my levels I can guarantee a long term profit without having to spend half of it on bandages required after banging my head following a one outer defeat on the bubble. Each to their own eh?

I started the cash trail in March, starting with games above my roll, but finally seeing the light when a couple of hands in a row rivered away a third of my bankroll when well ahead. I couldn’t stand that so NL5 it was. I ended the year $445 up.

I averaged 10 Big Bets/100 hands consistently, and just after Christmas, realising that the dollar rate was very favourable for a cash out withdrew $370, leaving $150, added my Christmas money and bought a laptop which was on offer at a very good price. Poker had actually bought me something, and something I’d coveted for a long time.

Now I’m able to play poker in the lounge, be part of the family and get more volume in. There may be a slight loss in edge as there are distractions, but overall it’s working well.
I look at that laptop with a sense of pride. It was purchased with the fruits of my grinding, a tangible symbol of what I’ve achieved. I will never be a great poker player, but I’m good enough to actually buy something meaningful now and again.

I guess that’s why this blog is so peripheral these days. I just grind away every night, taking the rough with the smooth but knowing that in the medium term the graph will point only one way. I don’t have the buzz of the tournament player’s poker life, but I generally don’t have the frustrations either. When I feel the need for a bit of STT action I play a Double or Nothing (80% hit rate so far, but as you barely play a hand to win pretty boring).

Thanks for reading. Along the way virtually all of you have contributed something to that laptop :)

Monday, November 17, 2008

Little by Little

One of the reasons that this blog appears to be on its last legs is that I used to do a lot of the writing on a lunchtime. Then the powers that be decided that blogs were an evil waste of time, even when someone is technically not working, and that access would be denied.

I know I’m not alone in this (Burnley Mik, for one, has the same problem) somewhat random censorship. I can log into many sites, but nothing related to gambling, which poker seems to be according to WebSense, though Raise The River is for some reason exempt. Anyway, I’ve decided to type this at work today and e-mail it home. Why I’ve never thought of this before I don’t know…

The other reason is that compared to the high octane world of MTTs & STTs cash really is the poker equivalent of a tortoise. You have great hands and rushes such as I highlighted in this thread on RTR but generally you plod on at my level, which is NL5 for those who don’t know or who had forgotten that such micro-stakes exist.

Don’t get me wrong, I am very happy playing the games I am, it’s just that it doesn’t make for an exciting narrative. The few S&Gs I now play aren’t exactly sexy either because they’re the Poker Stars ‘double or nothings’. Despite having had next to no practice I think I’ve cashed in 75% of those I’ve entered (about 4 in total lol) and am convinced that if I refined my technique and really gave it a go it would become a money maker for me. In fact, let’s face it, virtually any of the people I know read this blog (hello to you both!) could guarantee a profit. When you have people who will push with marginal hands when well placed on the bubble, and even more importantly people who will call, you can sail through them almost without playing a hand. But let’s be honest poker for most of us is not just about making money it’s the thrill of the chase etc.

So, cash it is, and it’s going mighty fine thank you (he said modestly). I can’t see my last substantive blog update (towards the end of October) but I believe that I was looking at hitting a Stars roll of $400 by the end of my holiday. I’m now up to $452 and over 25,000 hands am averaging nearly 11Big Bets per 100 hands, or, with the Big Blind at 5c, 1c per hand, every hand. I’ve had eleven winning weeks out of twelve and the one losing week was where I played very little.

Unfortunately this comes at a cost that I am very aware of – my overall poker skills are becoming flabby. The way to win at NL5, even 6 max, is simple. Play tight with trash, but if you get half a decent starting hand (such as any suited ace or even Kx suited sometimes) it pays to limp. Raising is pointless as you actually want opponents in the game when you hit big. My pre flop raise percentage is about 7%. If you’re raised then throw it away and try again. This is completely against the conventional wisdom, but then NL5 isn’t a ‘conventional’ game. It’s full of exploitable players who are easy to read as a large print version of Thomas The Tank Engine. The essential bit is to get to the flop if you can and take it from there.

Generally speaking it’s easy to tell what people have – chunky raises pre-flop turn into weaker continuation bets and then often become merely a token. If I’m in a hand with a paired board, for example, I might check call if I’m uncertain as to the strength of my hand. When the overbet comes in on the river 99% of the time the guy might as well send me an e-mail that he’s hit and I can get away. If my hand improves I’ll hang a bet out there which will make him call. And so it goes on.

All of which is lovely, were it not for the fact that even at NL10 the play is better and anywhere above that would see my milking style of play obsolete. I’d get fried alive. So I’m playing passive poker for the most part which is making me some decent money in my terms, but is probably harming my game overall.

I suppose I’m at least aware of it, and as I’m happy to see the profit graph at a 45 degree angle all is good I guess. Poker isn’t a vocation for me, it’s a wee bit of light relief. I don’t ever feel the need to smash the monitor or kick the cat if we had one. It’s like a game within a game, and it’s one which I do well at in relative terms.

Why would I want to change? The answer is obvious. I’d actually like to be winning at higher stakes, but am hooked on low value but easily beatable games. I have $30 left on Party – perhaps I’ll experiment a bit on there to see what adjustments I have to make.

But all in all poker life is good – little by little.

Good luck at the tables and thanks for reading :)

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

What credit crunch?

Eat your heart out Amatay :))))
He he. The tightest 10c short handed S&G ever, taking around an hour to complete. I love Cardoza. All is forgiven!

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Thursday, October 23, 2008

Breaking records (amongst other things)

Until last Saturday I'd never broken a bone, or at least not had one officially diagnosed. It's quite possible that I've clattered a toe on a couple of occasions, but as there's precious little a hospital can do I never actually found out.

It was a combination of my 12 year old son kindly polishing the laminate flooring at the bottom of the stairs, a fresh pair of socks and the fact that I'm a fair sized unit that led to me crashing down, cracking my elbow on the stair and looking a complete idiot! I eventually gave in to my good lady wife who implored me to get it checked out on Monday and lo and behold, a suspected fracture. They're not actually sure because of what are know as 'fat pads'. Cheers for that...what my stomach has to do with my elbow I don't know, although even my best friends say I don't know my arse from the same joint, so who knows???

No driving for at least two weeks. I can type despite having a sling on because in most planes of movement there's no pain at all. Twist it laterally and it's like being burned in hell. I can't use a fork and am getting sick of comfort food and having solids cut up for me. 43 years old and it comes to this...Hah!

I was going to be on holiday next week anyway, and I've now extended it to Bonfire night, 5th November, which is when I go back to the clinic. The up side of this is obvious. I can't do anything practical at all, not that my wife ever thought I did. But I can click a mouse with my right hand, so poker is most definitely not only a release from the pain (that's the way I'm spinning it, OK?) but also just about the only thing I CAN do to keep alert...don't even talk about TV. Ugh. 'Nuff said.

It's been a mixed month since I last updated. I started my NL20 staking deal, promptly got smacked in the face by a villain who continually out drew me and my confidence drained away. I tried again a few weeks later and the same thing happened. It's not as if the stakes scare me. Out of my 45,000 hands since March I've played nearly 10,000 hands at NL25, but due to the quickfire losses of a fifth of my then bankroll gave it up having broken even. No, the fact is that playing with other people's money can impose a responsibility on you which you don't have when it's your cash. In the end I played around 500 hands, losing at a rate of 22BB/100 hands. A ludicrously small sample, but it simply didn't feel right. Cardoza players at that level are freaks, and for a steady plodder like me, well, it just wasn't working.

Rather than carrying on I've ended the deal on good terms with Mik, and perhaps some time in the future we can arrange another stake where I feel comfortable. Thanks to Mik, though, for being very matter of fact about it and understanding that it just wasn't working :).

Somehow I managed to lead a team of four to victory in the Raise the River team challenge which involved heads up and S&G tourneys. The word to note is TEAM. Individually we were up against great players like Amatay (the new Sky Poker star) and Matty H, erstwhile poster on my blog and responsible for much of what I've become as a poker player (but I won't hold it against him!). However, assisted by an APAT champion amongst others we took a 1-2-3 on the final table of the final match and shared the spoils. Small fry for many, but the winnings boosted my bankroll by 10% and I had a whole load of fun.

So far as the grinding is concerned that's exactly what it felt like early in the month with cold cards and flops leading to what i felt must have been a losing start to October. However my stats showed that I did in fact manage to win a few dollars, aided no doubt by the fact that I can fold two pairs on a straightening or flushing board whereas many opponents at micro-stakes can't.

However it all came right and from October 10th I've increased my Stars roll to such an extent (proportionately) that I'm looking at hitting $400 by the end of the holiday. In March it was around $100. I've had only one losing week in twelve. Not too shoddy for a NL5 player who only ever dual tables and yeah, I'm pleased, especially after the Cardoza disaster.

No hand histories, because Amatay said on television that they're gay :p.

Good luck at the tables :)

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Like A Fish Out of Water

I decided to play the Brit Bloggerment tonight. I hadn't played for months because I generally don't play S&Gs any more - just six since the beginning of August.

I was dead money. Totally out of practice. A novice. I hated every hand because I simply couldn't get into the right frame of mind having forgotten everything that had once come naturally.

Practice makes perfect. Lack of practice makes you a fish :)))

Perhaps my frame of mind was best summed up in the cash games I played afterwards. I was only really playing to reach my Party Points total for the week (why bother, I ask myself, as their programme is totally crap). I was surfing away, and watching the real players battling it out on the Brit Blogger final table.

Twice I clicked a link on a web page only to find that an instant before a table had popped up and I'd raised the pot with trash. Once I was forced to follow through as it was about $1 to match an all in where I was priced in to call. I lost miserably, being unable to suck out with the nuts that 95 & 75 offsuit represent.

A fishy night indeed :(

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

AIG = All In Gamblers

For those of you who live on top of Everest who don't know there's a 'credit crunch' out there. Just at the moment the target of the financial vultures is American International Group (hey, if that doesn't get me some Google hits nothing will!).

Apparently AIG have 24 hours to secure significant funding before they hit the buffers. This is a company which was the biggest insurer in America and a global presence who not many people know of in the UK save for their sponsorship of a football club around 40 miles from where I sit lovingly known by we Leeds fans as 'Scum'. For the rest of you that's Manchester United, a club which itself is sitting on approaching £1bn of debt.

If AIG go down then the shock waves will be massive. Anyway, enough of the Wall Street Journal stuff, the other reason I'm interested in AIG is that they happen to underwrite much of the business that my company works on. If they go belly up I quite honestly don't know what the ramifications would be for me and my company.

I admit openly that I'm rather scared.

But anyway, this is a poker blog, largely, so what's the link? In fact it's quite tenuous. As I was playing tonight I had the CNN Share page in the background showing AIG's shares. It was a massacre. The share price changed every second falling to around $1.80 a share and then rising as computer programmes decided to buy at a perceived low point. Then it rose, and rose and rose. It got to a point above where it started ($4.76) and then eventually settled down at $3.75 at the close, still a quarter down. Now, in after hours trading, it's down to $1.83.

I guess my mind might have been somewhat distracted, though if it was I didn't particularly realise it. However 600 hands later I've endured the most frustrating, most annoying and utterly jaw dropping session ever. No matter that I couldn't hit a thing. No matter that, once again, with the money in the middle I had a full house cracked by quads - the ninth time in just over a month. What really got me was the utter disorder of those who came and went on the tables.

I like to think of Stars as a bit of an institution, where on the whole the cash play is as sensible as you can get at the various micro-limits. In fact I make a lot of my money on that basis. Tonight we had all ins flying around like the playesr were buying and selling AIG shares. There was no rhyme nor reason to it. Pocket 5s would clash with straight draws for $20 pots (at NL5, by the way). A limped table would react to a button raise by re-re-re-re-raising until we had yet more all in shenanigans. $8 pots with three players would see two of them fold to a 10c bet on the end! Just craaaazzzzy! It was like someone had actually paid people to make a mockery of the game.

There was such a parallel between what I was seeing and the rollercoaster ride on the AIG shares. No real rhyme nor reason to it all. Gut instincts, a lack of discipline and, given that AIG is the custodian of phenomenal amounts of funds but not in a position to realise them at short notice, an evident problem with pot odds and bankroll management.

I avoided most of the fall out apart from a $12 pot, but I still ended up losing at a rate of about 35BB/100 hands. In a poker sense I feel shell shocked. This isn't how it's supposed to be. It's not how it was yesterday and it's nothing like it will be tomorrow.

I can only hope for my sake, and for everyone's sake, including the 100,000+ employees that AIG have, that a certain order is restored in the worlds that drew together for me this evening.

The poker donkeys and the city traders have one thing in common. They're like headless chickens who get caught up in hysteria. And through their idiocy most of them lose money and drag down those who want to 'play it straight'. Like the Traders, some walked out of the session much richer without quite knowing how they got there while for others like me it was a case of right time, wrong place - if I'd had decent hands I'd probably not be moaning now :)))

Since the last update the after hours price has gone up to $2.30 from $1.83. Is the company worth 26% more now that twenty minutes ago? Is it really worth nearly 40% less than it was this morning? Of course not, but when people leave rational decison making behind finance, as poker, becomes little more than a lottery.

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Sunday, September 07, 2008

The missing month, and the challenge to come

August came and went without so much as a post. Apparently one or two people still stumbled across my blog, but it really has been a case of radio silence at Cell Towers. In early August this collection of ramblings passed its second birthday without a telegram from the Queen. In fact its author forgot, so you can't blame anyone else! Of 251 posts three quarters of them were penned in the first year.

Apart from being pretty busy with life stuff I've played an awful lot of poker. My fantasy of playing on the laptop in the garden in the sunshine surrounded by tumbling baskets of flowers and with a glass of something chilled was a bit off the mark, though. It rained for 26 consecutive days in August and even allowing for 2007 which in itself saw a horrible summer, it was the worst I can remember.

I've had a look back over many of the posts that I've made, and some of them seem so fresh in my mind I could hardly believe that they were written in 2006. The complete obsession with sit and gos after my first faltering steps following my first deposit is as laughable as the views I held on cash games, given the fact that I've played virtually nothing else since March this year.

We poker players are consistent in one thing - constantly changing goals and priorities!!!

Anyone looking in who has read the blog before will know that while I've played a little outside my finances the basic rules of bankroll management have been numero uno. That means that I've sat playing NL5 more or less exclusively without any threat at all of going bust and slowly but surely growing my roll. But even at a rate of 12BB/100 hands consistently for six months it will take me around a year to be fully rolled for NL10. I had considered moving up when my profits hit $250 (they're currently $190), but before I had the chance to put that into effect something else cropped up which has changed everything.

BurnleyMik approached me with a staking deal - to say I was gobsmacked is an understatement. Recognising my predicament (which I'd mentioned on the Raise The River Forums ) he offered $400 on Cardoza at NL20 which obviously opens up all sorts of avenues for me. Full details can be seen in the Staking Forum on RTR, but having spoken to him at length on MSN it's clear that he knows the risks, views the stake as a long term commitment and is prepared to lose the lot. I very much hope that won't be the case, but poker is an uncertain game.

I'll do another entry on how this has changed things for me, the pressures (yeah, even at NL20!) and the opportunities at a future date. The major difference is that I'll be able to change my naturally conservative play, increasing potential rewards without the worry of the downsides. That in itself presents challenges because it takes a while to change a style of playing which has developed over six months.

Interesting times ahead, for sure, and I extend my thanks to Mick for giving me this opportunity.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Lord giveth... know the rest of the phrase.

I had two windows open at Party NL25 6 max last night. Simultaneously (check the times) the following hands occurred.

Firstly a nice standard bullets hand which, to be honest I played fast because villain was an absolute fish but also because I was concentrating on a rather less standard hand where I got myself into an extraordinary amount of trouble.

The Aces
The trouble

In the second hand you have every right to ask what the hell I was doing flat calling with ace rag. If you're going to play with crap like that, even six handed, make 'em pay. Even if I did, though, trouble was going to hit me in the end. I know what I should have done and in a perverse way I got what I deserved. It's taught me a lesson, even though statistically I should have won the hand.

Now I hate RiverJo's minimum raise pre-flop. He has queens which is hellishly vulnerable against donks (blush) who play ace rag. I have to call.

I pair my ace, but even now I realise that I'm not necessarily in great shape. He checks. I'm grateful and the turn peels off another queen. I'm not minding this so much unless he has a queen. His next action will tell me. He bets 25c. I HAVE to call. His betting makes no real sense.

And then...and then...the river. It fills my house aces full of queens. He bets 25c. I re-raise and expect a call. He then goes in over the top and I'm lost. He can't know what I have (though he must suspect trip aces) but obviously knows he can milk me. And like a herd of Jersey cows he induces my all in. Quad queens. Bloody quads. And he stitched me up like a kipper because I had a hand which wins 99% of the time. Hell and damnation lol.

So, literally within the space of seconds I win $17.77 and lose $16.25. +EV :)))).

I really did expect to end up winning both hands, and the quads knocked me sideways a bit. I donked off a fair bit more and then realised that I was on tilt and that I had to switch off.

Idiotic for calling with ace rag. Lucky for villain in the end, but if you don't play chicken on the motorway you don't get knocked over.


I was pretty much at ease with what had happened when I woke up this morning and viewed it as a learning curve thing, but I do think that it was symptomatic of a more general problem. I've played pretty non stop cash for four and a half months now, and am grinding my way up. Still profitable, still OK at my level. But I can't play NL5 with much interest any more. It's frying my head. I would dearly love to roll myself up to NL25, but that would take a deposit of several hundred dollars. That isn't going to happen.

I suppose I could really do with a decent score like Acorn, who scooped over $4000 in a MTT ($50 buy in) and Mair who went better than that (in terms of prestige if not cash) and took down the APAT title in Blackpool. This is a woman who, not so long ago, was short on confidence and motivation and didn't want to play. It just goes to show that with support and confidence things can turn around very quickly.

Her name is in lights here, and quite rightly -

Also a big congratulations to the Raise The River team who put in a cracking performance. I don't go on there much any more (I have never felt part of it, which is probably more to do with me than them) but still look out for their antics, trials and tribulations.

Great stuff from all concerned :)

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Saturday, July 19, 2008

Sit and Gone

I'm home alone until next Wednesday evening, so you know what that means...

I sat down to play a bit of NL25 and after a dodgy start ended up ahead of the game, despite never hitting a set in 500 hands. It did become a bit boring after a while, so I decided to re-visit the micro sit and gos on Stars for a bit of variety.

In the first game I played a real donk move with AQ - two all ins and as it was the first hand I decided to call on the off chance. Win that hand and I'm set for the rest of the game. Suffice it to say I come up against Aces and it's goodnight Cell. Not fussed, it was worth a go.

In the second game I decide to be a little more sensibly, until the god of Aces decided to tempt me...

Seat #9 is the button

Seat 1: Coalbary (2855 in chips)
Seat 2: Beatme2day (1695 in chips)
Seat 3: umdenbusch (980 in chips)
Seat 4: Woody518 (1690 in chips)
Seat 5: MAUSILIGHT (1035 in chips)
Seat 6: jimelic (1240 in chips)
Seat 7: caddywayne44 (1205 in chips)
Seat 8: prarack (1435 in chips)
Seat 9: Cell 1919 (1365 in chips)
Coalbary: posts small blind 15
Beatme2day: posts big blind 30
*** HOLE CARDS ***Dealt to Cell 1919 [Ac Ad]
umdenbusch: folds
Woody518: folds
MAUSILIGHT: calls 30
jimelic: folds
caddywayne44 folds
prarack: folds
Cell 1919: raises 240 to 270
Coalbary: folds
Beatme2day: folds
MAUSILIGHT: calls 240

I don't mind a call I suppose, although bearing in mind I was told a long time ago by 'those who who know' that standard raises are pointless as they'll get a call, I am entitled to assume I'm up against something of a hand. Anyway...

*** FLOP *** [8c 2h Jd]
MAUSILIGHT: bets 150
Cell 1919: raises 690 to 840
MAUSILIGHT: calls 615 and is all-in
Uncalled bet (75) returned to Cell 1919
*** TURN *** [8c 2h Jd] [9s]
*** RIVER *** [8c 2h Jd 9s] [Kh]
*** SHOW DOWN ***
MAUSILIGHT: shows [2c 2d] (three of a kind, Deuces)
Cell 1919: shows [Ac Ad] (a pair of Aces)
MAUSILIGHT collected 2115 from pot

I'd like to think that his bet of 150 was a little trappy, but in all honesty I think it was useless. It worked of course because I didn't put him on jacks or eights because he'd raise pre-flop. The flop sealed my fate. His call of my raise with deuces stinks. I don't care what anyone says. If you're really going to play that hand with 1000 chips, push them all in pre-flop after my raise. I'd have called, of course.

Severely wounded I try not to throw it away, and top pair crap kicker seems about the best I'm going to get.

Seat #4 is the button
Seat 2: Beatme2day (1665 in chips)
Seat 3: umdenbusch (620 in chips)
Seat 4: Woody518 (1460 in chips)
Seat 5: MAUSILIGHT (2615 in chips)
Seat 6: jimelic (1240 in chips)
Seat 7: caddywayne44 (1355 in chips)
Seat 8: prarack (1375 in chips)
Seat 9: Cell 1919 (330 in chips)
MAUSILIGHT: posts small blind 25
jimelic: posts big blind 50
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to Cell 1919 [8d 9d]
All fold except Cell 1919: calls 50
Woody518: calls 50
MAUSILIGHT: calls 25
jimelic: checks
*** FLOP *** [3s 2d 9c]
jimelic: checks
Cell 1919: bets 280 and is all-in
Woody518: calls 280
jimelic: folds
*** TURN *** [3s 2d 9c] [Tc]
*** RIVER *** [3s 2d 9c Tc] [3h]
*** SHOW DOWN ***
Cell 1919: shows [8d 9d] (two pair, Nines and Threes)
Woody518: shows [Jd 3d] (three of a kind, Threes)
Woody518 collected 760 from pot

There will be people I'm sure who say that his call pre flop with J3s is perfectly justified by the odds...or some such wisdom. Forgive me if I don't agree, even though he has position and wins the hand. I guess his call of my bet is justified because I could have anything. He does have outs and what do you know...three of a kind.

So I sit playing oodles of cash and fail to hit a set or trips and in just a few hands on a sit and go I find people willing to play with trash and then come up against a one in seven/eight chance hitting twice.

In the global scheme of things it matters not. But it did give me a major reminder as to how utterly crap micro sit and gos are. The only time half decent players have an edge is later on when stack/blind ratio can be used to make the better players make decisions for their lives. Getting there is another matter.

You simply don't get such play at cash tables as the following hand shows...

Ahem! I'll be honest. I had lost faith in my hand by the river, believing I was up against a set. It was soon after I joined the table and I didn't have any reads. It soon became clear that it was a very loose set of players. Loose isn't my nature, but having studied the stats and patterns carefully I absolutely knew that I had to go outside my comfort zone to take what I could. If I lost? Reload and try again.

So...this one fell beautifully for me it has to be said.

I didn't need to go all in to get Dazzle to put his stack in, but I didn't want him to think I was considering the hand too carefully, so I made the bet instantly and bless him he called with his AK.

This has been a hand history free blog of late, because I really do believe that (at the levels I play) unless you have a feel for what was going on when the bets were flying in the theoretical approach in hindsight can be confusing. You may think I played these hands badly, well, or anywhere in between, and you're probably right!

EDIT: On Sunday I continued to make money very slowly in the cash games, but my attempts to master the S&G format were laughably bad, helped by the usual river madness. I felt the kind of rage and frustration which were instrumental in me taking a break from poker at the beginning of the year. On only one or two occasions can I honestly say I've felt like that playing cash and they involved two stacks going down the pan when I was well ahead when the money went in.

Situational, contextual and sometimes irrational. It's what makes poker great :)

Monday, July 14, 2008

The post with no meaningful title

I genuinely can’t think of a witty, appropriate or relevant title for this entry, so I thought it was best to admit to it ;)

This blog isn’t quite dead, though I guess it’s on life support, and deservedly so. If you don’t update regularly and you don’t comment on other people’s efforts then what can you expect? I used to be very good at this but got a bit dispirited that some, though by no means all, people, never even had the courtesy to leave their calling card here even though I was pretty sure from the statistics that they were viewing.

Sometimes it’s difficult to comment – continually typing ‘good luck’ or ‘bad luck’ becomes a bit transparent and tedious. Mind you I suppose it’s better than nothing.

Perhaps people didn’t enjoy it? It’s hardly riveting stuff when I do post, and Pud’s assertion that my ramblings were akin to Shamus’s excellent and frequent offerings was highly flattering but undeserved in equal proportion.

Who knows? It matters nothing in the grand scheme of things. I’m still here, I feel inspired to write today, all be it I don’t have a lot to say. While one person who I’ve never met reads these pages it’s worth it, or at least that’s what the egotistical side of me says.

So…what have I been doing these past few weeks? I guess my transformation from a micro-stakes S&G player to a micro-stakes cash player is more or less complete. I rarely play sit and gos any more which is ironic given my early blog entries weren’t exactly complementary in relation to cash. I suppose that’s the online poker player summed up. Our tastes change, usually when we’ve reached breaking point on the game we’re currently playing.

I played Bloggerment the week before last out of a sense of history more than anything. It’s attracting very few players now and I don’t want it to die. Last night I tried to find the table but it wasn’t (for me) listed anywhere and I ended up searching for the players I guessed would be involved and got there just as registration closed. There were eight players. I missed the end as I was clearing up on a six handed NL25 table where there were many pots to be won as long as I concentrated. I believe Weegem or Mair won – congratulations J.

Anyway, back to the week before last. I wasn’t really attuned to good quality single table play, but gave it my best shot. I was comprehensively outplayed by Mair with her set of 7s which was disappointing. My natural game is to be tight, but I really believed my top pair top kicker was good at first and then I made a crying call I didn’t need to and I was down to a few chips. It was a bit embarrassing really – possibly my worst hand ever in Bloggerment, though that should take nothing away from Mair who did me like the proverbial kipper.

I’m so used to playing cash where such a call may be +EV in the long run (depending on opponent etc) that I didn’t value my life nearly enough.

I’m playing just about every micro stakes NLHE cash game there is in an attempt to find a blend which I can win at but at the same time learn things from. I even had a few hundred hands at NL50 which is so far out of my roll it’s unbelievable. I wasn’t out of my depth, but equally a few hands here and there where draws didn’t come off etc showed me the error of my ways and I withdrew gracefully with little damage done.

On an average day I can hammer the NL5 tables. The main problem is extracting value without letting people in for their draws. 95% of all bets can be read for what they are. There is very little value betting. People who go all in on the flop with about 50c in the middle are either very inexperienced or very stupid, and can be easily avoided until you get a hand and then more often than not it’s help yourself time. The same applies to NL10 although there is an appreciable increase in sensible play on the whole which means you need to be on your game a bit more.

As for NL25? As mentioned earlier I dabble a bit, but when I can have fun AND earn a bit of money at lower limits it seems a bit pointless. I’m never going to rip up the tables. There are internet professionals who started with less than me who were playing NL100 and higher within milliseconds of first logging in. Perhaps if I had been a student today rather than in 1987 I might have had the time and stamina to make something of myself in the game.

As it is I am perfectly satisfied with being a small scale winning player. In a world which appears to be collapsing around us (who outside the US had heard of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae before this morning?) it provides a welcome distraction, a bit of mental exercise in a totally different way to when I’m at work and unlike my salary will go on and on unless I pretend I’m a far better player than I am.

If you’re still reading then thank you very much indeed. I’ll try to stop by on your blogs as well, even if it’s only to post something brief and seemingly trivial. It all counts :)

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Saturday, June 28, 2008

Days like this

I should have known better.

The wife's gone to London for the weekend. She'll be in the vicinity of the Adelphi Theatre having a drink or two before going to see Joseph as I type.

The lad has been playing Super Smash Bros on the Wii all day.

The weather is dark cool and drizzly. Outside jobs can wait.

So what better opportunity was I likely to have to rack up some serious poker action (well as serious as NL10 can be...)? I sat down, positive mental attitude to the fore. I even decided to multitable. That decision had very little to do with what follows. I could have played one or a hundred tables, but if what happened to me today was anything to go by it would merely have been the scale of my humiliation that would be have been different, rather than the humiliation itself.

I can save a lot of blog space (for a change) by summarising the statistics below. One particular indicator of how things went were that I went to showdown with two pairs eight times and lost seven a higher two pairs - none of which were on the board. Straights, flushes, full houses, fair enough, and indeed I've been happy to fold two pairs in the past when I think I'm beaten by those hands. But how often do you get two hole cards matching up with the board twice in the same hand?

Anyway, for anyone reading on a Sauturday early evening, or indeed at any time, here goes. I don't mind if you laugh. I am.

8hrs 31 mins table time
538 hands

AA dealt 0
KK dealt 0
QQ dealt 1 (yay!)
JJ dealt 0
AK dealt 4
AQ dealt 3
TT dealt 1

Full houses at showdown 3
Full houses lost to a higher house 2

Hit the flop (any card) 26 times (I believe the odds are three to one to hit soem part of the board?)

Not suprisingly I lost, though somehow I didn't tilt. I suppose it's because of my overall attitude that it's just a game. One day I'll have the day from heaven, although I must admit I could do with it soon ;).

Enjoy the rest of your weekend and good luck at the tables.

Monday, June 09, 2008

The mind is a funny thing

As if any of us needed reminding that spongy material between our ears is a wondrous machine. It translates everything that we see, everything that we do. It controls our responses and each person's is individual to them. It is our very essence.

It can also do some pretty damned funny things. It allows us to become addicted, to block all other things out and at the extremes can force us to be self destructive. We have very little control over it in many ways. Ever woken up in the morning'not feeling right'? For no reason at all something nags away at you and you can't shift it. Ever been in love? Ever been lovelorn? You get the idea, as if you hadn't thought of this already ;).

For more than two years I played poker whenever I could. I read about it and even became proficient at a very basic level. And then at the turn of the year I'd had enough. When I looked at a poker table instead of seeing a game I saw the enemy. I saw conspiracies when I knew there were none. In short it made me miserable.

After a short while away from the game my brain decided that I hated S&G poker and that I would play cash, and enjoy it. But things were never truly right. I never fell back in love. It was a mechanistic process, going through the motions.

And then, in the space of five hands, everything changed, and I mean absolutely everything. They were two regulation suckouts when I was 90%+ favourite and they cost me two buy ins at NL25. I looked at what I was called with, decided that I'd played the hand fine and logged out.

My last entry, more than a month ago, may have been just before or just after that, but you can smell the depression. One or two decided I was having a bit of a pop at them. They were wrong, but whatever, I didn't care. If that was how it was viewed then so be it. It was more a dig at the way for much of the time poker is a grind, and an all encompassing grind at that.

You can't dip in and out of poker if you want to win. You need to keep the spongy tissue lubricated. If you don't want to win then you're not really a poker player at all.

So the moment that the cards were turned face up on that second hand in five my mind switched off. There was nothing I could do about it. The affair was over and there wasn't a damned thing I could do about it. I felt a sense of loss, yes, but also of intense liberation. No longer was (as I perceived it) a slave to the PC screen. No longer did I go to bed invigorated by a good night at the tables, but equally I didn't lie there replaying lost hands ad infinitum.

Now I play NL5 for kicks. It's the next best thing to play chips. I might go days without playing, and equally I might dual table for an entire evening. Whatever fits in.

It's funny how the light switches off. I'm also aware that the switch could easily go the other way.

So for those of you that care (and thank you for that), I'm still here. Still playing, but at a level where on average I can win a few dollars most times I play. Losses are shrugged off, wins simply chalked up without that sense of achievement that used to happen.

I hope things are going well for you and that you retain the love for the game that I know you have. I still love it, of course, and I wouldn't pretend otherwise. But my brain won't let me loose any more. I have as much control over that as I had control over my obsession that lasted over two years.

Take care and stay healthy - that's far more important than anything else :)

Sunday, May 04, 2008



Just played Bloggerment and came fifth. Reviewing the stats I never had a pocket pair above 4 (and they all folded to me when i had that!) and had AK three times. Apart from that nothing at all.

The final table was full of people spinning a line, telling obvious porkies. Can't blame 'em of course but even so... All I needed was a hand - half a hand. Pah! No chance. Easy to read so difficult to play back with nothing. Fold fold raise fold, hand after hand.

That's the joy of tournament poker I guess. Now where's that frustrated smiley?

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Overkill and a short sharp shock

Is it really two weeks since my last entry? Where did the time go? Ahh well, it's May now, the days are longer and there's the prospect of a few summer's evenings and weekends with a cool beer in hand and the laptop outside (if the wireless works out there). Sounds good to me.

Somewhere in the dim and distant past I'll have posted about just how much I hated cash games. I was exclusively a micro-stakes S&G player learning the ropes. The adrenaline rush provided by that format fitted my lifestyle very well, and I did OK. However after my early year crisis and an inability to cash in S&Gs I kind of fell into playing cash as a way back. I could play for as much or as little time as I fancied. When I finally sorted out Poker Office for Vista (not terribly compatibel with the latest version of Windows) I got an insight into my game that hadn't been evident by simply ploughing into two table games - they were disposable. Cash games provided a consistency which must have suited my psyche at that time.

I played, initially, at NL25 6 max and the bankroll increased at a rapid rate. I've posted before about this so I won't bore you again. It was too easy. It wasn't that I was getting a rush of cards, it was just that when I did get the cards I found action, and that's a heady combination. I was dual tabling on Party, and then Stars, and cut out all distractions (no MSN for example). Like a new relationship it was exciting and rewarding.

And then it happened - I took my eye off the ball. I opened up MSN. I listened to the Raise The River Podcast. I was in the middle of a chat with someone and made the dumbest, crassest, most idiotic call you could ever wish (not) to see. A four flushed board, I had the 10 but there was only the Ace on the table. The K, Q & J would beat me. I also had top pair. Villain goes all in, I'm in two MSN convos and listening to Mik & Co talk about cash players grinding it out. I believe I'm immortal and make the call knowing, heart of hearts (or clubs!), that I'm so far behind it's laughable. I reckon he's bluffing or has middle pair...

$32 down the pan. I can't take those types of losses on my roll. I was so gutted that I nearly cried at my ineptitude.

Fast forward...I took the decision to play NL10 because my discipline was slipping and I couldn't trust myself. When I thought about it I realised that I had been playing too much. I've cleared 8,335 hands in April. Others will tell me whether that's a lot or not, but it felt it.

And there's the key. I'm playing for playing's sake. I'm mentally tired through work and every day life crap. I'm making bad decisions, and something has to be done. I'm just not sure what yet.

So, the scores on the doors, which don't read badly for all that I've said. Please bear in mind the micro-limits I play at.

NL10 Profit of $71.15 at a rate of 10.5 BB/100 hands
NL25 Loss of $15 helped in no end by the above pot

To put that in perspective if I go back to when I installed Poker Office until the end of March the figures are

NL10 Loss of $1 in 100 hands
NL25 Profit of $86.24 in 1068 hands.

Overall I'm well up, having nearly doubled my roll in six weeks, but the message is there.

I also took down Bloggerment a couple of weeks ago which always makes me feel happy!

Thanks very much for reading and for your comments, whcih are much appreciated!