Thursday, December 25, 2008

Home Game in Homosassa

Cory, Frank, Dana, Julie and I played around this fine big poker table. We played the quarter chip all in game and had a good time. They all played real poker. No wild betting. I was very lucky and Dana was very unlucky.

I got pocket aces twice, bet them all out once, value bet them the next time. Each time it ended with Dana and I all in and my aces holding against his tens once and another time his eights. I'd have lost to Cory if he had called the all in with his A-K as would have been right. King-King came turn-river.
Dana had pocket kings in a all in with Cory who also held pocket kings.
Dana split a good number of pots. We had ace-nine together. Also there was a long string of pots which were only good for one chip and Dana took one while I took the next and then Cory took one.

Julie and Frank played well, but with the predictable play of limit players. Julie often held her bets down to just one chip when she had good strong hands. She might have made more by betting more.

I imagine we will play again soon.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Tampa Hard Rock

Another poker disaster. I don't seem to be able to win in casinos.
This wasn't all bad luck, however, I just made mistakes. I played no limit at Lucky's Card Room and it is much harder than limit.

I got lucky twice. Once I called an all in bet with top two pair and caught a flush on the river. Honestly I was so intent on hoping for the full house I missed the flush draw that sucked out a guy who flopped a straight.

Another time my pair of kings became quads on the turn. I bet a little on the river, but no takers. I had raised out all but one opponent preflop. $75 was the high hand award.

My worst hand was one in which I held a queen ten of hearts and one heart and a queen came on the flop. Two players were all in preflop and a good chipped fellow bet out. I put him on nothing and I was right, but I missed it that a guy was yet to act after me. So I called and the after acting guy had pocket kings, bet, and won everything in both pots.

It was a bad call. Betting guy had lots of outs. Had I known someone was to act after me, with enough chips to further raise if he wanted, I'd have folded.very bad poker.

After losing at Lucky's I went to supper at the buffet at the Hard Rock and then played the easy 2-4, getting a bit ahead and then just gradually drained by no developing cards. It was an easy table. Just no cards there. The few really good hands gave me no callers.

It was a fine day, but I am frustrated that I lose a little every time I play now and it is adding up. $241 lost this time.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Poker odds calculator

Here is handy tool for figuring what the math really was when you went all-in

Thursday, December 4, 2008

To Turning Stone with John Blowers

My Monday trip to Turning Stone was a disaster. Slowly the poker drained me of $331 and I actually quit an hour and a half before leaving the casino. I think that is a first for me.

The pleasure of the day was redeemed however by companionship.

I rode up and back with author John Blowers

turning that boring and repetitive Thruway trek (been there ...done that.... for 38 years) into the most satisfying portion of the day.

John is lively, positive, and having a whirlwind life around the popularity of his novel and the plans for an upcoming movie and a sequel. Suddenly, he finds himself in the Texas hold Em inner circle. He has written his second article for Poker Pro magazine and has a seat at the Best Damn Poker Game along side Phil Helmuth and Annie Duke. Some of his interaction with these stars can be read in his latest Poker Pro article. This is the second article of four.

Lively and good humored, John makes an ideal traveling companion. He is having a fine time with all of the traveling and book promotion, enjoying the adventure, and yet not totally absorbed. Our stories and conversation touched on other interests as well, including his seat on the local school board.

One funny story intersected both worlds.

Attendance at school board meetings had dwindled over a few months and finally when the board looked out to see what community members might want to air concerns they saw jus one woman in the audience.

"We are happy to see you here this evening. Could you step up to the mike and tell us your concerns?"

"Well, actually," she replied, " I am just here because I am hoping at the end of the meeting to get Mr. Blowers signature on his poker novel."

It is amazing to John how much the novel has become the driving force in his schedule. But he has both the energy to keep up with all of it and pursue each thread as well as the clear solid self sense not to let it affect his down to earth attitude.

So it was a great time traveling up to Turning Stone and he also managed to keep me awake traveling home again.

And the poker was fine too, just expensive.

We both started with the $52 tournament. I rarely play, but thought it might be fun if I ended up playing John across the table, although that was not to happen. He plays in the local games at Greg's. Being tournament competitors might be a new experience.

I stayed alive. but did not have much opportunity to gather in chips. The game payed six. John was pushed out in 38th position. I managed to hold out until 16th, but with very little opportunity to capture a lead.

At the break, I was below average chips and I talked to John about what to do. He said that he thought I had just two rounds to make my move. I knew it was easy advice to take because I would be seen at my table as playing tight.

My first move was to go all in after a habitually loose player bet half his stack. I just had K-J but he believed I had more or he had nothing much, so he folded. My second move I had a pair of aces on the flop with a high kicker. I bet and again everyone folded. With the high blinds and the antes, in those two wins I had doubled up and gotten to an average chip size.

I don't remember what pushed me out. It really was a third move to get some power and not very dramatic.

I played 2-4 the rest of the day and John played no limit. He was delighted with his table and I was also delighted with mine. His started out tight, but then began to give great action, some of it from players who were bullying loose. In John's words It got "juicy".

My table was simply a no preflop raise collection of call stations, and included a woman brand new to the game. In spite of feeling quite comfortable with the competition, I just seemed to get drained with runs of bad cards. At one point I tossed an extra dollar on a small blind 2-7. By the turn I had a seven high straight. The button to my right had been betting each time and I put him on a lower straight. He had generally continued to bet any strength, so I checked my turn and it went to him. He checked giving another player a free card. The free card was another 7 and the other player held an eight for a winning hand.

John seemed to do well at his juicey table.
To get a view of the best contrast to our luck it might be good to compare two hands in which we held pocket aces.

My aces were held in middle position at this 2-4 table where it was extremely rare for there to be a preflop raise, where there were virtually no preflop reraises, and where I had played tight for an hour and a half.

A guy acting before me with pocket jacks raised. So I reraised my aces. Most folded after me, but one fellow with A-4 called those very rare shows of strength.
A four came on the flop with other rags. Jacks guy stayed. So did A-4. I bet into these two on the flop and again on the turn, but of course, A-4 caught yet another 4 on the river and bet into me when I checked my one pair and he beat me.
Imagine, staying with that hand against a tight table image guy like me who clearly rarely raised, but in this hand had reraised. Imagine calling him with two cards that ought to have been dumped at the get go.

In contrast, at the juicey no limit table, John held pocket aces against this young kid who habitually bet from $15 to $40 on every preflop.
The kid bet $30.
The flop was no ace, but king-X-X. Another player thought a good while. He has been a sensible player. Then he bet half his stack, $130 after which John pushed in his accumulated $500 with his characteristic smile. It wasn't a tell. He smiles and laughs, banters, and jokes throughout all his games (and most of his life.)

Both players called, so three of them are all=in and two turn over their cards, but John keeps his hidden.

Serious guy shows his set of kings. Loose kid has nothing I can remember. John has two outs.

The turn is one of them, a dark ace. Had it been the other dark ace, the river would have given the loose kid a spade flush. However, John gets to turn over his trip aces and that is enough to collect a huge pot.

Great drama. Greg would have loved it.

The reason I see all of this is by 11 PM I am busted and tired and just watching the no limit play. True to the character in his book, John is slow to leave. He likes this table and would have stayed until 4 AM, but I drag him out when players change and the table gets to be a conservative limp-limp table. I feel bad not to be able to keep up. I am almost tempted to try the no limit myself. But I know that I can't play this game yet. I need to watch a long while first and have a solid bankroll to be brave in the face of a bully.

Besides I have an early doctor's appointment the next day, and know that it will be 3:30 before I see my pillow. And then I have Greg's game for a good bit of Wednesday, so I need my 5 hours sleep.

Not only is my luck with pocket aces play very different from John's, but my energy also is in direct contrast. I am used to finding my pillow at about 9:30 each night. Also, I am a low roller. When we talk Vegas, John talks of comped rooms at the Venetian while I talk about the steak special at Ellis Island.

When we car pooled I left my 1999 Saturn and rode up in John's Caddy.
"Hmmmm." I remarked. " I don't know if going to a poker game in a caddy will ruin my "low roller" reputation or not.

Well, it sure was a trip to remember.

As a PS here is a nice article on publishing. Maybe I need to think beyond the Blogs.

Greg's games

I have had a number of local and family games lately. All have been fun. I sure like the structure of this no limit poker. At home one time we dropped the buy in to $5 and so the stakes were really low for the kids.

Greg's two games have been very different. Two weeks ago Jerry and John came and it was a good crowd. This week they were absent and so was Bill so it was a small group of five.

Two weeks ago "lucky" Greg piled up about 5 racks of chips in the course of the afternoon. He was unbeatable. But this week I started to hit as soon as I got there. Cards seemed to love me. I build almost three racks before that changed. Had I gone home with Phil and Bruce I'd have had a $100 profit, but I stayed to play with Peter and Greg. I was worried about being over tired, but that was not the cause of my defeat. Basically, it was these two hands.

I held pocket aces and two kings came on the flop. No one showed strength. The turn was a king, so I had the nut full house regardless of what came on the river.
I bet heavy.
Peter and Greg both called. On the river I bet heavy again and Peter went all in. Greg folded his queens and Peter showed the fourth king.
Now, this is not unusual in a game with ten players, but in a game of three, it is very rare. In fact, had an ace come on the river giving me the larger full house, and had we been playing at Turning Stone we would have hit the bad beat for 40 thousand.

The next hand was not a bad beat. It was simple Pokermaster lucky Greg at work. Greg was down a good bit when he went all in on a club flush draw. He held K-Q and A-J had flopped. I held A-J so I called his all in bet. On the turn came the 10 of clubs for a Royal Flush, so I was dead even hoping for a full house on the river. I think this is Greg's first royal at his own home game.

So there is it. That is my luck. I still ended the day $38 ahead, but I might have reduced my Turning Stone loss by half had the Pokermaster not decided to call in all his mantra strength.

And at my last game until March, too.

I just get no respect.