Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Hardest way to make easy money

All that is old is new again. I'm sure that if I read the old words of wisdom around no point in being the 10th best player at the table when the other 9 are also there hold truer than ever. I've never practiced game selection because I felt that I needed to train at altitude and the micro stakes don't hurt too bad. I enjoy live poker and the internet is increasingly where I train.

Well, this week I had the opportunity to play in the Sydney Champs where the PLO Event was a $770 buy in. It was very steep in my opinion and that was reflected in the turnout with only 38 entries. For me, having a quality event on my doorstep seemed worth the shot eventhough I would be massively -ve EV in such a small field. Sure enough a who's who of the casino regulars and the tournament pros showed up, minus the very best Lisandro, Assadourian etc. Surprisingly, I found the quality of play to be aggressive but not necessarily well timed at all. Problem is, like pub poker, one of them always wins and accumulates chips. With only 4 getting paid this became a real issue for me. I managed to increase my stack consistently but with 19 left I was on average and then with only 13 I felt like I was getting short. I then decided to take a stand with a flopped NFD which was a mathematically poor decision in the context of the hand but 3-way was a chance to get me back to where I could play PLO. Needless to say, I missed and was history. I felt that I was very aware and able to hold my own so roll on next year (hopefully with a smaller buy in and a bigger field).

In summary, only the top 5% make money and I'm just not there at the moment. The effort to get there is detrimental to other aspects of my life so I may need to retreat to the comfort of being above average and not much more.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Rush poker fan

Never would've believed that I'd say it, but I am a big fan of PLO Rush Poker. May still be enjoying a honeymoon period, but I think that it is particularly well suited to PLO where nitty is of limited value.

If you'd like to get a sense of what its like when you are running good at Rush, watch this video.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

For the record ...

Nothing startling from a poker perspective. Live games are still going well despite two losing sessions that were more than compensated for by a number of winning sessions, including the casino.

Online, I had a +AIEV session that resulted in a big downswing in actual winnings and further dented my online roll, stepping me back down another level. Coincidentally, it happened at the same time that FTP were starting Rush Week, so I moved over and found a few dollars lying dormant that I invested in microstakes Rush. Ran good for a couple of thousand hands and thought that I'd found my new home. Then, as per online poker history, my stats probably caught up with me and I found myself going down to the same extent. So I'm break-even two days into Rush week having accumulated silver status points.

General mindset ... I still think that my game is improving and that my offline results are where I want them to be. All credit for that must go to my online experience and the thought processes that that stimulates. I still have a long way to go to the point where Bart Hanson's observations are second nature.

I'm off to Perth, Melbourne and Brisbane on business soon so I'll get to play a few more casino hours and meet interesting locals as usual. Watch this space.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Online too tough?

Thought of the day: I have stats on 65k PLO .25/.50 players and yet when I last sat down at a table no-one was in my database. How many people play online poker? And since there aren’t that many good players, why can’t I win? Am I really that “not cut out for this game”?

I’ve been without the luxury of HEM for a few days. I had the offer of a new work computer so I’ve decided to keep the old one as a dedicated poker laptop. That freed up disk space on C: by letting me delete my Outlook Data files and suddenly I had over 1GB free again. So I immediately started unpacking my PTR downloads and let HEM load them. I was sent over 1m hands for free which is more than 24 hours of database loading, in theory. Before long, C: was full again. HEM DB had grown to 6GB. A quick FAQ search and I moved it to D: (the step by step was excellent). Problem encountered where I could no longer talk to the DB because of firewalls or something. Again, adventurous step by steps into Windows registries and services and before I knew it, I was up, running and loading again. The HUD fails to work tho’ when you’re loading 1m hands. That finished overnight so I’m looking forward to a couple of hours of PTR-assisted play this evening. Wish me luck.

Playing a lot less poker than when I went overseas. Just trying to have poker have less of an impact on the family. That said, Monday and Tuesday nights are chick TV nights and I did find myself fire up for a couple of sessions. I’ve been running bad at PLO, but it is just such an enjoyable form of poker that I am still keen to get to the stage where I can hold my own at meaningful levels. I’ve given up on mastering any form of poker having experienced the rapid rise in the PLO standard (everyone else’s) over the last 6 months. The best are extremely good and the average table at the small stakes seems just a little beyond me for now. It’s a young single persons game. I do post winning sessions and my AIEV shows that I am running extremely bad, but I know that there is more to it than that. I think that I’m still using NLHE lines when trappier passive pre-& check/raising-post and plain old aggro ram&jam styles might be the go. Still a work in progress.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Poker Long Weekend

Our Friday night home game featured the toughest line-up that we’ve ever had and a competitive tough game was had, me being a modest loser for one buy-in, right on the last hand. I was 75c down when I flopped 2-pair and we got it AI against a bigger 2-pair. It happens. No big deal, but, I was running 21 out of 28 winning sessions and was keen to win $1 in that hand, just wasn’t to be. The host introduced two house rules which psychologically helped the game run much more like a casino game – no rabbit hunting and no talking about a hand if not involved. The fine for the occasional miscreant was contributing a couple of dollars into the next pot.

My next outing was a significant buy-in tourney at Star City Casino. I always seem to be seated at a tough table including always sat with Kiwi G at my table, a well-regarded old-time local pro who is a real gentleman. This time he was on my immediate right and to be honest it is something that I love about poker, the ability to be seated at a mini-legend. It’s amazing to watch and learn as he calls a flop bet OOP and instantly seizes the initiative. He and Luca to his right were certainly co-table captains running up against a single foe who held his own.

I built my stack a little before my AA got cracked by 44. MP raised and I re-raised from the CO and we were heads up to the flop of K84r. He was relatively shortstacked with 4000 in front so I bet 1900 to induce the AI which duly came and I called instantly as it was part of the plan. Needless to say his flopped set held up. I was now a shorty and with the Antes kicking in, the opportunity arose with 4 $200 limpers to shove AI for $3000 with the highly speculative A5s to capture $1000 on a fold or get lucky for a double up. Surprisingly only caller had 78s, flop came A78, turned a 5 to re-take the lead and rivered an A, I’m back in action at almost average stack. A welcome table break and in the first orbit I’m dealt AA with 4 limpers, shoved and didn’t get a single caller. Very next hand, 3 limpers and I’m dealt KK. Let’s go ith the crazy image and shove again. One caller with AQs who flopped an A and rivered an A, and I’m gone. Was obviously disappointed but only very little which I think is a good sign. Unemotional poker in terms of being results oriented and tilting is probably a very good thing.

Off to the $200 cash table and I booked a $100 profit before having noodles with a friend at Fat Noodle (highly recommended) and then back for more action at a crazy table with 3 pub players and 4 regulars. The regs must’ve been card dead or just lying in wait to stack of the pubbies but it wasn’t to be. The pubbies hit cards after cards until the lady had $500 in front and the young guy had about $1700. They’d inflicted a lot of damage hitting flush, sets and Full houses with incredible regularity. Then the final hand ensued. Blinds $5/$5. 3 limpers and SB checks. BB with big stack makes it $65 to go. Everyone folds to lady who calls on the Button. Flop comes 2 hearts, Q high - Check, Check. Turn brings a 3rd heart and a possible straight. Young guy leads out for $170 and lady calls. River is a non-heart A which doesn’t really change too much (you’d think). Young guy bets $250 and pub lady calls. Young guy shows AK and lady mucks. Table looks on in disbelief and salivates. I’d said that 10pm would be my limit and had to go 10 minutes later. I’m sure that I’ll hear that the $2k was redistributed around the table not long after.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The warped humour of the poker Gods

Listening to the 2+2 Pokercast and they were making fun of Mike's success at the Double or Nothing SnGs. Being good at a game where you fold 94% of hands. Mmmm ... that might be good for my new found cascade multi-tabling. I could be the next Havad Khan?

Anyway, ran on average over about 15 of them winning 7.5 when I had the funniest one ever today. Got sucked out on AI when I flopped top set and got called by a naked 2NFD. No worries, it happens. Then, I'm still there with 15 chips. OK. I was card dead for an orbit so played my BB and flopped 2pair that held up. SB, same thing. Waited an orbit and won both blinds again, tripling up on one. Before I know it I get dealt AAQJds and UTG pots it, I repot and were AI with the 75/150 blinds as dead money. It was a 3000 chip pot and the flop comes a beautiful A. Turn blank and river the dreaded heart that gave my opponent a flush. I've read this story before, this time I'm gone.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Commerce Trip Report

It has been a surreal month for me and I’m looking forward to getting back to some normality which is the first time that I’ve ever felt like that after travelling overseas. 5 weeks is way too long to be away from your family, even if you are with other family on the other side of the world. I really enjoyed pottering around at home with my father who has an incredible sense of humour. Before I left, we went shopping for a new Samsung LED TV for him so he’s all set for the World Cup now. Unfortunately for those of us living Down Under, the games are played in the middle of the night.

After leaving Ireland, I headed for a wedding in New Jersey which went like clockwork. The majority of the preparations had been done in advance so it was all very relaxed in the few days of the lead up. Lots of meals out didn’t do anything for the waistline though and I’m not sure that poker is the best pursuit for shifting that either. No poker was had in New Jersey, but a quick goggle search would indicate that there is a healthy ‘home game’ scene there.

The poker highlight of my trip was to LA where I was lucky enough to stay at the Commerce Casino. They have a Crowne Plaza upstairs which is actually very, very good, I thought. Spacious, clean room with free high speed wifi. I’d read and heard so much about the Commerce that I was really looking forward to seeing if it is as good/bad as they say. The 2+2 threads would indicate that an hour or two of good behaviour at a table is running like God. I’d have to agree. I’d consider myself pretty tolerant of a wide range of playing styles and behaviours but the Commerce certainly pushes the boundaries. Dealer abuse is common place and I saw cards thrown at the dealer 3 times. At Hawaiian Gardens (the Gardens, as they like to be called now) I seen the most amazing incident. We were playing $3/$6 Limit PLO8 which is played with racks of $1 chips. A huge hand ensued and a bluff was attempted on the river when there was no qualifying low, by a self-described gypsy who was casting curses on anyone that dared win a hand against him. Anyway, mild-mannered Chinese man in his 60s calls with pocket 77s and wins. Lightest hero call I’ve ever seen given the board that was out there. He scoops and the gypsy reaches into the middle of the table and splashes the pot toward him. He then gets up from Seat 7, walks around to Seat 1, reaches over and humourlessly knocks the old guys chip tower over. He then proceeds to go back to Seat 1 and ask the Chip Runner for a reload and plays on. I understand that this is an extreme version of what appears to be accepted (as opposed to acceptable) behaviour in LA. I could go on and on about what I encountered. The Hustler and the Bicycle Club weren’t any different.

For me the experience lived up to its reputation and I’d happily play at all of those casinos again because variety is the spice of life. I would certainly stop short of recommending them to anyone else. FWIW, my experience in San Francisco Card Rooms was entirely opposite, so it isn’t a Californian thing. As for results, I fared poorly except for my last session where I played a $40, yip $40, buy in $1/$2 NLH game. I’d read about it and again it lived up to its expectation. It’s an AI fest with half the table sitting on $300+ stack. It was my last day before flying out and I cashed out for 3 racks of chips to bring me close to even for LA. If I lived there I’m sure that I could beat the game because table selection would be so much easier and represent a massive advantage.

For the record, the most enjoyable places for me to play live poker in order are home games, Las Vegas, Dublin, Melbourne, Banbridge, London and San Francisco. Given its population Perth Burswood has done very well. The bottom of the list has got to be Star City Sydney for the rake, Macau for the smoking and LA for the worst behaved player pool by far.

Online update is that my game of cleaning up my losing HEM levels hiccupped at 25c/50c where I am struggling to claw back my modest PLO and PLO8 losses. Maybe that is my true level at the moment although the sample size is very small. I have been distracted again though … as I was sitting at LAX ready to fly back to Australia I decided to try Cascading my Tables as opposed to Tiling. Surprisingly, I much preferred it and ran pretty good. I played NLH 10c/20c for the experiment. Posted a win with ease. Since arriving home, I’ve fired up for just one session but again it went well. With Tiled tables, I max out at between 4 and 6 tables. With Cascading, I was comfortably 10-tabling FR and I’m sure that I could have added another 2 with ease. If you haven’t tried it, give it a go.