Friday, October 28, 2005

I Think I Get It

Something snapped into place recently and I am experiencing some cool things at the poker tables. For whatever reason (probably has something to do with several poker books, thousand and thousands of hands, daily poker blog reading, and general experience) I am starting to be able to put my opponent on a hand and trust my instincts that have developed.

I have been playing mostly low limit ($10) HU matches lately so this is where it has manifested itself. My hunch is that this is the easiest time to get a read on an opponent because you only have one to concentrate on and you get the opportunity to see some hands shown down. Hopefully, this will continue to the ring and tournament games.

Here is the example that semi-clarified this for me. Two nights ago I was playing a $10 HU against Jersey Cutie on UB. I had Ax in the SB and raised 1 BB. JC called and I made a continuation bet on the Q high flop. The board was diverse. JC called. River was no help and I checked curious to see what JC would do. I had employed a check raise on her previously so this was not an obvious sign of weakness. She checked. She was not the check raising type. The river was another blank and I checked it to her. She made a big bet, probably less than half of the pot. For some reason, I knew she had missed her hand or draw and that A high might take this pot. I was confident that she did not even have a low pair. I decided to trust my instinct (and my chip lead that would cushion a bad decision) and I flat called. I was right!! I did not win the pot because I was outkicked, but I was right! I had an instinct, trusted it, and it was on target. I was more excited about "knowing" than losing the couple hundred chips. I went on to win in a good match. JC was better than the average opponent at the $10 level, but still not that good.

It happened again a few times last night. I got to play one quick HU SNG and I made some good value bets and confident river bet calls. This was pretty cool and boosted my HU game confidence even more. DNasty just wrote about his expectation to cash in ~150 player tournaments. I expect to cash in HU matches. HUC2 notwithstanding, I sit down expecting to win in the HU SNGs. It is harder work at the higher levels, but I am working my bankroll back up so I can take a crack at the $50 and $100 matches consistently. I want to have the roll to sustain 10 losses in a row (possible, but not likely) before I play those again.

Not much else to post about. I am growing the bankroll again, almost to the half way mark of my previous high (and spectacular crash and burn) and I finished reading Phil Gordon's Little Green Book. It was a pretty good little read, I plan to read it again before I do anymore serious NL tournament play.

I am very happy that I had that little "Eureka" moment and confirmed it by having it a second night in a row. I think I will try and work on my hand guessing/recognition skills next. This will be a little tougher in HU play because there are many more common starting hands, (almost any 2 cards will seem to do!) but I think hand recognition and prediction will be an important part of building my game.

My favorite new HighOnPoker end quote can be found here. You keep me laughing Jordan.

Friday, October 21, 2005

1 and Done

Joined the ranks of the other first HUC participants. Veneno played a good game and I am dissapointed that I lost. GL Veneno!

HUC2 Frenzy

Apparently, I missed some good HUC2 matches last night. TripJax and Jordan both lost. That makes me kind of anxious because TripJax owned me in the first matchup. I have beaten him HU when it did not count, but in both our "regulation" matches he was the victor and a very good opponent.

Since the start of the first HUC, I found that I really enjoyed and excelled at the HU game. I was able to pad my bankroll playing my 50 game challenge and I have seen some very good and very poor players. I have seen contests end on the first hand and several break the 200 hand mark. I do not want to give too much information for free in my blog in case I make it past round 1 in this thing, but I think a post about my thoughts on good and bad habits in HU might be in order.

On a personal note, I have been running decently in the $50 matches I have been playing lately but the few forays into the $100 matches have not proved fruitful. I need to figure out if it is the caliber or player or just a bad run in these. I only have 5 in my sample and I am 2-3. Very small and obviously too early to judge, but I started much hotter at all the other dollar levels.

If you are interested in playing some of these, I have found $20 to be the most productive. It is a dollar amount that makes the time worthwhile when you win and the level of competition is pretty poor. I also have found the competition tougher on the $30 when compared to $50. This kind of surprised me, the best explanation I can come up with is the $30 has players like myself looking to move up from the $20 and the $50 has poorer players looking to get lucky and double their bankroll or something. I have not asked anyone, so these are guesses. I saw many more free flops in the $50's than I did in the $30's. You are going to give me a chance to flop a straight with 46o in the BB on a flop of 235 and then chase the dumb end with your Ace? Ok. Thank you.

I will be looking for Veneno so I can get round 1 done as soon as possible. Veneno, if you happen to see this, please e-mail me your UB username so I can add you the the buddylist. Good luck to all the other HUC2 participants, enjoy yourselves!!

Lastly, I was thinking of the blogger tourney coming up this Sunday and wondering if I should respect any raises. I have been bluffed out of too many pots by 72o with this bunch of jackals. Play it like AA and you will probably win with it like AA. I can only imagine the hammer dropping that will be going on at the Poker Star's Blogger tournament at 4PM this Sunday. 72o might win so much that it will permanently affect the statistical probabilities of this hand. Look out you trashy premium hand's Hammertime!!

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

"Josh Who?"

1. SOCOM 3
2. HU SNGs
3. Football
4. Motorcycle
5. SteelerSteph

I think this is where SteelerSteph views her standing in the list of things I love. It is not true, but I can see where she gets the impression. Last night is a good example.

I got home from work and she was catching up on her Tivo'd soaps so I snuck up to my office and fired up the offline mode of SOCOM 3. I really wanted to beat the game so I could unlock the extra online characters. I want to try that sweet looking ghillie suit. I got stuck on the last part of the final mission and spent a good 30-40 minutes trying to get past. I did once, the music played, the logo popped up but I did not pass the mission as I was the sole survivor of my 4 man squad. Oops.

Tired of banging my head against the wall on this mission, I decided to take a break. It was the second break actually, the first was for some grilled cheese and tomato soup that SteelerSteph made. She is a great cook, she gets it from her Italian grandmother and Slovak father..... she just does not cook that often. We eat out alot, and when we don't our food preferences are so different that she won't eat what I prepare. (Grilled fish, Oriental cuisine, Mexican, etc.) Anyway, it was a simple meal she made but it tasted soooooo good last night. I sprinkled some ground up jalepeno pepper spice on the soup to give it a kick and I demolished three grilled cheese sandwiches. They were warm, the soup spicy.....I was in love with her. That lasted through dinner and a few minutes into the Lifetime Movie Channel crap that was on the t.v. Not much can kill love faster than the "Wifetime Movies". I think that this one was about some milf that gets sucked into a cult and her kids and dad have to rescue her. Right.

With Lifetime babysitting, I see an opportunity to get back upstairs and do what I do. I take a few more cracks at the final mission and then turn to poker. I played 3 HU SNGs (went 2-1) and watched GCox money in a PLO tourney. Not big money, but I think he went out in the 20's somewhere. Top 30 paid. Congrats G. I did not feel like risking anymore buy-ins for the $30 HU SNGs when I was tired and my head was not in it so I tuned into the Monday night game.

Bad idea. Whenever I watch my fantasy players, they seem to suck. I turned on the game just in time to see my fantasy QB (Bulger) throw a pick and then get hurt trying to block on the interception return. Nerd, just let them run. Let a real football player do the dirty work. I watch Bulger get escorted of the field and return shortly sans shoulder pads and wrapped in ice. Fantastic! I was down 20+ points heading into tonight and I felt pretty comfortable with 3 players going. Bulger, E. James, and K. Curtis. Luckily, Edge had a great night and Kevin Curtis led the Rams rcvrs. with 70 plus yards and a TD. I won. In my three leagues, I am now 5-1, 4-2, 3-3 and I went 3-0 this weekend. Nice.

Life was pretty good yesterday and it looks to maintain tonight. SteelerSteph has a dinner program at a nice restaurant tonight. This is triple bonus for me. 1. Often, these doctors RSVP and then don't show. I might get some steak leftovers. 2. SteelerSteph may imbibe a little since she is just hosting and does not have to speak. 3. I will get uninterrupted guy time tonight to play SOCOM and poker to my little heart's content. So, DNasty and NewJack, if you are reading this, lets get it on GwG style tonight. If I am not feeling the love, look out HU SNGs on UB.

Tommy Maddox stinks.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

SOCOM or Poker?

Poker used to win, hands down. The cheaters/glitchers found ways to tarnish the online experience and the offline game was so so. It looks like Zipper managed to address both those things in the 3rd release, here is hoping that bears out.

I did play a few HU SNG's last night with disappointing results. The first two were against the luckiest player I have ever sat across from. I am not complaining, and maybe I have faced luckier and they didn't show, but in the first ten hands I folded good cards that had matched on the flop to very large bets on the turn and river. The person showed (nicely, and oddly....I rarely if ever show) the stone cold nuts each time. I felt good about folding to trip Aces, flopped straights and flushes. They eventually won when the cards kept going their way. I encouraged them (honestly, w/o sarcasm) to play a higher level (this was a $30) and they said they had and won two $100 so far and were going to play $30 until they lost one. The cards were really hitting them hard. I figured I could break the luck with good play (WRONG) and they accepted the rematch. It was over first hand when I got it all in with AA. Re-raise battle pre-flop had half the stacks in the pot. Flop was 345 rainbow and I decided I wanted it right there, no suckouts, or at least no cheap ones. If there was a set, so be it, I will take my chances but I expected wired 10's or higher. I push all in and get insta called by 26o. Wow nice flopped straight against my now underdog Aces. I quit, you win. I wished them more luck and decided a different level might help. I was not upset with my play, more surprised by the run of amazing cards the other person was on. Go with it.

I played a $50 HU match with a much weaker and less lucky person. Only slightly less lucky... the worst hand of the match was my pocket 5's that hit on the flop and I got their last 700 chips in on the flop. I had a 2 to 1 chip lead at this point. They flip 88 (nothing on the flop was higher than an 8, I can justify the call) and proceed to catch the magic 8 on the river. Luckily, they were so tight and passive that I had built a large chip cushion and could absorb this. I played aggressively and soon was back to the 1500 starting chips and eventually won. It took a lot of hands though because they would fold at almost any sign of aggression. I had to really slow play my monsters to get any action. Net I was minus for the evening, but not much.

I was a winner on SOCOM getting MVP two boards in a row. Too bad it was not a ranked game....

Like the title queries, the battle will continue.... and the odds are in SOCOM's favor right now. I think that I could use a little break.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

SOCOM 3 has arrived!

It came last night and I got it before DNasty did!

It is fantastic. I was blown away by the size of the maps in the game and the very first board I played had a friggin tank!! That got the ol' tanker in me pretty geeked even though it killed me the very first time. I was a crunchy so it was ok.

I saw some players run up and try to shoot the tank with their machine guns and it reminded me of one rotation at the National Training Center when there were a bunch of Kentuck National Guard Infantry training with us. This hilljacker comes out blazing with his M-16 trying to shoot our tank. He went so far as to jump on the tank and try to kill us. Finally an OC (Observer Controller - guys that patrolled our big laser tag battles) rolled up in his Humvee and killed the guy with his god gun and told him to get the hell off the tank. An M-16 will never take out a tank.

Off my tangential trip down memory lane, the game is pretty sweet. It is going to take a while to learn all the new missions and play them from both sides. There are tons of vehicles and new weapons and weapon combos to learn. Probably the most important thing to learn is the maps themselves.

Lastly, DNasty and NewJack, if you are reading this I created the clan name again last night. Geeks With Guns "GwG" is back in the house!

Poker will suffer some as I devote all the free time I can muster to getting skillz in SOCOM 3. Huah!!

Friday, October 07, 2005

Vince Van Patten's Replacement?

I had a very enjoyable afternoon grinding away at Party's latest reload bonus, MKMYDAY.

This one lively fish made it particularly fun. Look out Vince, I think we have found the new WPT color commentator. For reference here are the new Vince's stats. Impressive indeed.


After losing to my flopped straight. I had not played a hand in quite awhile and the reraise got a lot of respect, it folded around to Todd. He called all the way.

#2842026576: STeelerJosh wins $16.25 from the main pot with a straight, nine to king.
Toddnelson: you reraised with 9-10 thats a smart move

STeelerJosh: you called through the river on a draw. Smarter?

Toddnelson: cause i knew you play crap

STeelerJosh: thanks for your chips and your advice. Both are welcome

Toddnelson: you need um both

STeelerJosh: :-)
STeelerJosh: can't argue with that
*Note* - My VP$IP was under 20%, I had won the only two showdowns I was involved with

Commenting on the guy to his left that spiked an A on the river to beat my Hiltons

#2842067475: phpoker111 wins $11.75 from the main pot with two pairs, aces and nines.
STeelerJosh: nc
Toddnelson: hes a calling station
*Note* - phpoker's VP$IP was 38%, less than half of Todd's.

This one reminded me of Jordan's "It's easy with Aces".... but in reverse

#2842081859: phpoker111 wins $16.75 from the main pot with a full house, Aces full of eights.
Toddnelson: i hate aces

He kept putting in comments about the slowness of play

Dealer: HesseJam has been reconnected and has 20 seconds to act.
Toddnelson: i think he died

After making his runner runner flush. There was one diamond on the flop

#2842127201: Toddnelson wins $22 from the main pot with a flush, ace high.
Toddnelson: tilt
Toddnelson: you'll win playing like that alot

Parting shot after missng his draw

#2842139832: goodflopper wins $14.75 from the main pot with a pair of aces.
Toddnelson: you only win on river

I closed down the table shortly after he left. Despite sucking out on me once, it was very enjoyable and profitable to play with a table captain that plays 63/74 hands and takes 37 of them to showdown. Yikes!!

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Wednesday, October 05, 2005

To Defend or Not?

I was grinding on some 2/4 Limit on PP last night and watched the table go from very loose to pretty tight. After the table tightened up, a new face sat down to my right and started aggressively playing 60% or more of the pots.... and winning. I was playing tight aggressive with the second or third lowest VP$IP of the table. There were two super tight players (under 10%) and then me (16-17%). I was holding my own, endured a few suckouts (expected at limit, no heartburn for me) and was down a few BB. I was not catching much in the way of cards, but I was making up for that in stealing a few pots and getting the blinds every few orbits from my tight friends.

Here is my question. I do not focus on defending my blinds, and rarely play from the small blind. This might be a weakness, I am just not sure. Last night I tried to defend the BB three times against this loose aggressive maniac and lost all three. fitman111 was playing 2 out of every three flops so I figured he would be on some junk cards. He was, but they were hitting!! My wired 7's in the BB ran into his powerful J6o. I bet it the whole way and his second 6 on the river took the pot. Similar bs occurred two other times and it got me thinking how much should I care about defending? One of the other times was with A4s when it was raised to me in the BB by fitman111 in the SB. A decent hand HU I figured, but it lost also.

I have not seen a discussion in my limited blog reading about this, but it seems to be a prominent stat in all the tracking and overlay software I use. My hunch is it is probably more important in NL, but If you fold your BB everytime in limit, that can be exploited also. I would love to hear any thoughts out there.

My .02 after thinking about this last night - In Limit hold em, I am more inclined to fold my blinds to a raise because I do not have the power to push anyone off of a drawing hand and by a big bet and with all the people willing to call down through the river in the lower limit hold em games, I prefer to play better hands and will not worry about throwing away the SB at all and do not try to defend the BB much.

This logic would change for me in a SNG as the blinds increase, but in a fixed blind game.... I am not sure the reward outweighs the risk.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Micro-Limit Hell

I have heard that is it always darkest right before the lights go all the way out. I have also heard the lightning kills hundreds of people trying to find the silver lining of a cloud each year. I think I will risk it.

Since my blow up at 3/6 and 5/10, I have been relegated back to the low limits. The net loss was only a little over $100 but I obviously need to work on my bankroll management. Statistically, I was not tilting... my play was still tight and my aggression was controlled. I just could not win a hand. Best example? I hold QJo in the BB and it is checked to me. Flop comes xJJ. I cold call the raiser in MP. Turn is a Q giving me a full house. I now he cannot have four Jacks because I have one. Maybe he has a high pair, but I doubt it. We cap betting. By the turn I had put MP on a Jx, maybe he has paired his x giving him a lower boat. The only hand I am afraid of is QQ, but his play up until then would have been to raise pre flop with a pocket pair. I bet out on the K river and we cap again. I flip QJ expecting the pile of chips to start digitally sliding towards me and he flips KJ for a higher boat and I numbly accept it, that was how it was going that night. My VP$IP was never above 25% at a 10 person table but I won 1/18 hands I played, going to showdown on 7 and losing 6. It was unreal.

That behind me, I am now playing micro limits on UB again. I am not sure if it is a positive swing in variance, but it seems easy to me now. I placed (1,3) in the two SNG's I have played and I am making good plays in the .05/.10 NL games. During the SNG challenge, I could not buy a SNG win. So, I am wondering if my game has improved or I am just getting a good run of cards. I'd like to belive that I am getting better.