Saturday, March 28, 2009

Bad Beats

Played a $55 PLO Tourney on Stars last night and was pleased to get to the final table in about 6th spot. Only 27 runners, so 3 spots got paid. Played very patiently and found myself with 3 stacks twice the size of the other short stack and myself when dealt AAxx. Folded to me on the button, it was an easy pot bet and when BB called and an A flopped it was an easy AI in position. When called, there was only a Q that hurt me. Needless to say, I got rivered. 5th when the double up would have had me comfortably in the top 3.

Bad beat? As we know, horses with an 8% chance of winning come good all the time, so not really.

Now that I've turned off all but the regulars with my bad beat story, I'll share with you that my mum passed away last Thursday peacefully. My mum was a stickler for the rules all of her life. When I grew up, I was the youngest of 3 and was never allowed to win at any game. My mother and father taught us that one day we'd win in our own right and the feeling would feel so much better. They were right and my own children have had to endure a similar apprenticeship for life. What we did do as a family was to compensate with handicaps. Playing Monopoly at an early age, I may have been given a better starting stack or a couple of houses, or at chess, my brother would take his queen off the board.

My mum at 75 was still golfing and winning in Open competitions on her own merits. Little did she know she had advanced cancer at the time. Crippled with mis-diagnosed acute pain she was still bowling competitively up to Christmas. Even when I was home a couple of weeks ago, she'd complete the Sunday Times cryptic crossword as she had done every week for over 20 years. My mum posted off her solution every week and never once won, undeterred she continued to enjoy the challenge and hope to win. The day before I left for Australia a couple of weeks ago she was indulging her meticulous nature by vacuuming our attic.

Cancer is a bad beat! In January, after an MRI, my mum was diagnosed with a very aggressive cancer in an advanced stage. At that point, we were able to get the constant pain relatively tolerable whilst maintaining her mental faculties. There was no potential of a cure and my mum as she'd always done set about preparing for the end-game. When she passed away, it was at home, peacefully with all of her family around. That is all that she wanted. Her life was in order and she had no regrets. She'd always played the game fairly and for the most part had been rewarded for her efforts, ethics and generosity.

A week later, life is returning to some normality. The loss remains the same but how we deal with it seems to be improving. My father will soon be left alone after 55 years of constant companionship. When the table breaks up though there are often new players to fill the vacant seats. Ireland still has a very strong sense of community and my dad has had many offers of help. Cheating death himself a couple of years ago, he now walks the promenade daily, stopping frequently to chat with the others who realise that life is for living.

Thank you for undulging me by reading this post. We all need to move on and that includes hobbies and blogging. I too look forward to our occassional interactions with our little supportive community. Thanks all.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Midnight in Bangkok

On my way back to the UK as my mother's condition has deteriorated. It's surreal as we had the most wonderful couple of weeks together only about 10 days ago. Prospects this time around aren't very positive at all. One third of the way home, immersing myself in my pastime is keeping my mind off things.

And so to poker, I've completed my 10,000 hands and was disappointed to dip below the 8BB/100 target. I really did get smacked about there at the end. As I fire up and play a few hands in the background, I can see that my recent session has me back up to 9.11BB for 10736 hands. Sweet ... what a difference a day makes, eh?

Another stat that I'm pleased with is my weight. I've managed to hold onto the 74kg target that I set myself for a month now. I have relaxed my nibbling and fluid consumption as I've been catching up with a lot of old friends and had visitors staying. Break even with quality table time is always a good result.

OK QF1 is ready for departure, cya ... +$34.75 in Thailand, 9.18BB/100

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Don't have pocket 10s, please.

Got slapped about recently by variance ... this one makes up for a couple of them. I'm back in the sadlle.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Durrr v Antonious - anyone for a side bet?

Tom "durrrr" Dwan is facing Patrik Antonius in the first round of the Durrrr Challenge. Durrr is giving 3 to 1 and I'm happy to give the same odds to any takers as I really think that Durrrr will beat all-comers. For some reason, I think that Ivey is the only one capable of finding a new A-game to counter Durrr's strategies.

50k hands of 4-tabling 200/400 PLO Heads-up could break anyone. If you'd like to keep up to date with progress, check out the Graph updated every 250 hands ( Durrrr dipped initially but has been ahead pretty much since then.

When you see the size of the pots, it's amazing that there has been bigger swings yet. I particularly liked the finesse in this one ...

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Weekend in London (Part 2) – Empire Casino

I went out to do some touristy sight seeing between the flat and the Palm Beach Casino in Pall Mall. It looked more upmarket, but they only had one poker table that hardly ever gets used. Undeterred, I came across the Gala nearby, they don’t have poker but recommended the Vic. I explained that I only had jeans and they said that with a collared shirt, that’s fine. Next time, as that is the home of poker, I’ve just never passed the dress code.

And so it was that I popped into the Empire hoping for the same alcohol fuelled action as the night before. Instead, I found the grinders. Sometimes you realise what a great movie Rounders was, and this was one of those moments. I heard that there was a Tourney ready to start, a 20 pound rebuy, so I decided to play a few cash hands in the interim and scored a 100 pound profit in 3 orbits.

I was assured that the Tourney would finish by 6pm or 7pm and as I was meeting for dinner at 8pm I decided to give it a go. First hour of rebuys went well and I picked up a few small pots here and there from the tighter players that hadn’t adjusted from their usual Freezeout style. In fact, whilst they’d all read the books, there was only one playing small ball at the table and doing rather well. I joined in. Approaching the break, I had increased my 1000 starting stack to 2500 when I picked up a great tell. Basically the tournament monitor was next to our table and a few people were glancing at it more approaching the break. Then a limped hand came up and I was in position. We had 5 callers to the flop which came out high, low, low. First position led out and everyone folded. He was one of the monitor gazers and had about 700 left in front, I had bottom pair and called. Turn looked blank and he fired the second barrel, I insta-called and was right. He immediately re-bought. I now had 4000+ and was well above average but still behind the small ball LAG.

After the break, things tightened up, as did I a little and when we lost our dealer (it was self-dealt but this American dealt extremely well), I offered to move one seat to the right and deal. At this stage, I was well ahead and was happy to slow down and cruise into the money only playing premium hands. Dealer was a place to stay in the game but not get carried away through boredom or a desire to get involved. Because I developed a tighter image through dealing, I picked up a few blinds uncontested to inch forward by the next break.

Now the blinds were meaningful to my stack again and I sat in my own seat and we went to self-deal with 22 players remaining out of 67. Not sure how it happened, but I managed to go up and down a bit until there were about 13 left and rather than attack the bubble like a couple of others at our table, I decided to try to cruise into the final table. It was the mistake I made early with online MTTs, taking the foot of the pedal a little too soon. When we got to the bubble, blinds were 1500/3000 and I had 9000 left. We were 5- and 6-handed and one guy on the other table had 2000 in chips. He survived about 4 AIs and before I knew it, I was the short stack.

I had 3500 and UTG+1 when I got KQs, I needed to make a move so pushed AI. Tyrone in the SB was about to put his money in for an easy call when I said “Why would you do that? We’ve been friends all day, mate.” He said “OK” and folded. It’s only later that I thought that this might be collusion, but really there was worse table talk going on and it was intended as a survival tactic, not collusion. The BB duly put in his extra 500 with 74o or something and I was suddenly on 9000 and feeling safer again. Turned out that Tyrone had folded A4o and the A did flop, phew. Bubble popped soon after and I drew Seat 8 at the final table. Seat 7 had a single 500 in chips so I was determined to sit out a few hands. Got dealt KK, so pushed, got a caller and doubled up early. 500 guy exited as did someone else and I was in 6th. Got blinded out almost when I got AA UTG. The others did the right thing and all called me down, I quadrupled up, still short stacked though with 290,000 chips on the table.

One more exit and I was in 5th, then the Button raised and I had 69s with my short stack. He had the second lowest stack and I reckoned that this was my chance to inch up one last position. He had KJ and I was well alive but didn’t hit. 220 pound for 5th and I had a decent score on the other side of the world.

Off to dinner at a contemporary Indian restaurant called Mint Leaf and then some Scottish Bar that opened late until it closed and we got passes downstairs to the nightclub. Left there about 3 or 4am and still needed some more lubrication before my 11am flight back to Sydney. Ah, to be young again. Empire was next door so headed in to find the same alcohol fuelled poker as Friday night. Note: Sydney’s Star City Casino at the weekend is full of grinders that won’t leave their seats for the drunks who won’t wait for hours. London, it’s drunk fish heaven. Anyway, I’d had a few but sensible enough to play TAGgy and score another win. I think another 120 or so, so like a recent post my downswing ended up OK.

A couple of years ago, I’d told my son about how many consecutive winning sessions I’d had. With the wisdom of youth, he replied, that’s easy day, you just keep playing until your up. I thought that I’d got past that stage, but maybe I haven’t. One thing is true though, I never tilted!

One other note: When I went back in the early hours, I sat down and won a pot quickly with a second barrel when my AQs missed the board completely. Maybe I wasn’t as TAGgy as I thought, lol. Anyway, Tyrone was bouncing up and down wanting into the warm water. I asked him if he wanted my seat and he couldn’t believe it. When I was cashing up, Tyrone had accumulated a big stack. As I used to tell my kids – good things happen to good people. If you ever read this Tyrone – you’re one of the good guys!

Weekend in London (Part 1) – The International Club

My luck started with London accommodation as my brother in law lives in the centre of London and let me have access to his flat while he was in Scotland for the weekend. As it was a couple of hundred metres from Buckingham Palace I was freerolling.

First stop, Browns for a meal and a few beers with Stevie before going to the International Club (new Gutshot) where there were a number of familiar pros playing in a PLO tournament with approx 200 runners as part of a Festival of Poker. Barney Boatman exited in 57th while I was there.

We sat at one of the first cash tables opened for the evening, a 1-2 pound NLH, equivalent of $2/$5 and it played as aggressively. Stevie in only his 2nd live game got involved in the 2nd hand. He raised to 7 pounds preflop. As he was keen to survive a while, I knew he had a hand. Flop came QT2 (2 spades) he c-bet. Turn came another spade and he checked. Big guy with headphones who fancied himself as Phil Hellmuth bet the pot, next guy AI and Stevie semi-reluctantly put in the rest of his 100. River paired the 2 and I knew straight away that he had the QQ for a FH to beat the bluff and the baby Flush. Sweet.

We put our names on the 1/1 list and ended up on 2 different tables. Stevie ended up winning significantly. I on the other hand suffered a string of 80/20 suck outs but didn’t tilt. It was a friendly table (apart from Hellmuth who’d spewed 650 pounds in about 2 hours and left). After my 5th bad beat, two of the better players across the table commented on how I handled them which pleased me. To quote Fleur “you are the only one in this room that would still be smiling after that run”. I put it down to online PLO training.

Anyway, my thanks go to the Asian girl who had been interviewing the exiting players in the PLO Tournament for I was down to a residual $21 when I got KK in the SB. I decided to shove it looking like a Tilt raise. She called with KQ and genuinely wished me luck. When I won she seemed happy too. It is a pretty cool Club with the same culture as the Gutshot. I managed 2 more double ups and finished the night down 80 pounds. A good result all things considered.

On our way home, we went looking for a cleansing ale and short of paying for 30 minutes in a pub or some nightclub full of people half our age, we decided on the Empire Casino, Leicester Square. Stevie won again, and I lost again, this time only $45 in a very loose/drunk/ unprofessional (but funny) game. Cold decked and didn’t get to the Turn once, I don’t think.

Pride come before a fall

Ouch – met up with my old friend variance at the PLO100 table which on my bankroll isn’t the best place for it to happen. Anyway, it was a sufficiently big enough whack to dent my confidence and force me change my table selection filter from 25-100 to 25-25.

Pleased to report that the skill of discipline has seen me post about 9 consecutive short and modest PLO25 wins since. Compared to PLO100 it is petty cash, but it has brought my BB/100 back toward the 8 mark as I close in on my 10,000 hand milestone.

It also prompted some hand analysis and I’m winning big style with all of my better starting hands, losing with most marginal hands and almost all bad hands. Not surprising really. That said, the deception element of the broader hand range may be getting me more action and paying for itself in the Premium Hands (LAG style). Something I need to think about more. Surprisingly, the category of Premium Aces is one anomaly where I am losing. Probably a case of overplaying AAKQss etc post flop on a K/Q type board.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

PLO100 Table Time

I've mentioned a few times that I am a great believer in table time. It helps teach you things and provides a solid foundation for future learning too. I am looking forward to reading more about PLO with my recent experiences.

I don't know what the equivalent NLH level is to PLO100, but the actual $ amount seems higher than NLH100 when you consider the average pot sizes and increased variance. I've been experiencing a period of short downswings (maybe 4 BIs) and then recovery. I'm hopeful that it will soon start to trend upward from here.

My BB/100 is well down from its earlier highs to 8 as I close in on that 10,000 hand volume. That is to be expected as I no longer play PLO25 or PLO50. I have recently put in well over 1000 hands of PLO100 without deviation and am break even without table selection. I've played both FR and 6-max. If I am to do well at FR, I need to tighten up my hand selection significantly. Truth be known, my 6-max results would also improve with that adjustment.

I am still Passive post flop which I hate but I just can't shake it no matter how hard I try. I hate investing more on a draw but I realise that long term it is an error. On any particular hand though, it is an easy low variance cop out.

All in all, I think that I am playing a level that is getting me toward my goal of holding my own at more meaningful stakes. With some 2+2 study, I hope to have a good 2009.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Live in Banbridge

If you know Northern Ireland, it's probably the last place that I would have expected to find a quality poker club. It's upstairs in the town of Banbridge and the sign on the door stated "No Alcohol". Inside the wall has a poster warning that player abuse will not be tolerated. The tables had been top quality in their day but are a little worn by this stage - not a bad sign.

I was welcomed on arrival and the hospitality continued throughout the night. I've been gone from NI so long that I'm out of touch with what's safe and what isn't these days. I remember enough to know that I was a fish out of sectarian waters. I also play enough poker to know when the other guy knows that I know that he knows. When I left Ireland, I could not have felt comfortable in that spot, although I found myself in similar spots a few times. That said, I couldn't have been more welcomed or more comfortable on this occasion. How far Ireland has come on in my absence.

Back to the poker. 23 players and 40 pound entry. I know that the exchange rate doesn't equate exactly, but that isn't an insignificant BI for a country town. I could understand why, pound for pound, this was the best standard of poker I've ever encountered outside of a Casino. I won a couple of hands early and managed to stay above the average until the tables were broken from 3 to 2.

With 11 players remaining, I found myself in the BB with a min raise. Blinds were 500/1000 and I had 12,500 behind. UTG had min-raised and as we were 5-handed there was a lot of stealing happening. With 85o, I decided to call and take it from there on the flop. 456r looked pretty good and I checked. Villain with 5000 behind bet 2000
and I decided to take my shot, hoping he had AK or similar - AI. He insta-called and I knew I was drawing slim.

Turns out I wasn't has he had 75s and I was ahead. Turn blank and river 2 to complete his str8 and I was on the rail but feeling not too bad with my play throughout. I'd been patient and got within a river card of top 3 in chips at the final table.

S&G was just starting and I decided to join 4 others with a 10 pound entry winner takes all. Ran pretty good in this one and won relatively easily thanks to the cards I'd been dealt. So I broke even on the night but once again felt older and wiser.

Thumbs up for the Banbridge Bridge Club.