Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Between a Rock and a Card Place

Cute title, eh? This may be the first blog entry I’ve written in which I have a title before the fact. WTF am I thinking?!

Yesterday I fell while fishing. Again. It happens. Negotiating big basalt boulders can get a bit tricky. It’s these damn bifocals. While I bruised up my knee the last time I went fishing and fell, this time I only scraped my other knee, yet I strained a muscle in my chest. Some little muscle that magically connects to my chest and back, making a deep breath a bit painful, in stereo. On top of that, it’s an old injury come back to remind me of prior falls.

Adding insult to injury, we were skunked on the money hole. I caught a little cut throat trout on my first cast, and then nothing for the rest of the day. This was a first. Despite a good rain last week, the river had returned to its previous shallow level. The fish that were in the hole two weeks ago were no longer there. They had either been fished out by other folks, or had moved up the river when they had a chance.

Poker swims around in this writing like a half-remembered, reoccurring dream that nags at me for hours after waking up. When I am ready…

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Clocked

Running good? How about running second best?

Sure as shit, as soon as I say anything, I have a disastrous session. AQ vs AK, 2 pair with an open straight draw against a set. Initial reads on opponents proven situationally (maybe not a word) wrong. Semi-bluffs called, aggression disregarded by calling stations.

I lost two buy-ins on two separate tables, almost simultaneously. As a consequence, I’m a little bit gun shy, yet more importantly, I am reassessing my insistence on playing 25NL. Although, as I stated yesterday, I can afford to re-supply my account, I don’t see why I should, and the cold, hard truth is that there is the potential for the variance to eat me alive. I’m going to drop down. Happy, Cardgrrl?

Contrast this performance with that of my nicks at Poker Academy. Both bankrolls for ubu roi and bastin are at all-time highs. Even lowly little EarlyCuyler (of “Squidbillies” fame) has managed to double his roll in the last week with a smattering of hands played.

Now, some may consider that playing for fake money is not the same, that people are more ready to donk off PAX, while they would be more cautious with real money. Or, since PA is a learning tool, there are high numbers of beginners, or people playing in rooms beyond their skill level and learning the hard way not to. Easy money. That may be so. Yet, Cardgrrl also maintains that the same types of players are in abundance at Stars as well.

I am not of the same mind. I believe the ratio of good online cash players to poor players is higher than at PA, therefore making for a more difficult game. I pay close attention to betting patterns, bet sizes and position, assuming that the players I am up against do as well. And those that don’t, well, they’re easy to spot. Cardgrrl has told me that she finds this approach to be over-the-top, and all that is needed is to play ABC poker. I wonder.

Maybe there is an inverse downside to fancy play. Let me try to explain.

What normally constitutes fancy play? 56s looking to cooler; slow-playing Aces or a set, betting on the come…those sorts of things that can come back and bite one in the ass. Well, maybe I am over-analyzing the play of my opponents, getting fancy in my own mind, and that is leading me astray.

This is nascent idea, mind you, and may be off the mark. Like so many other things about my game, I’m going to have to think on it and get back to you.

BTW, Cardgrrl's post today is tangentially poignant.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Click

I’m running good. Maybe it’s a psychological thing after receiving my deposit bonus and thereby having an extra two buy-ins. Since that glorious day I have acquired two more buy-ins, and now I’m up to eight for 25NL. If I can get my “m” (ha) up to ten, maybe I will see a flop all-in with pocket Kings (ha again).

Yeah, I know it’s pretty pathetic to be yappin’ about grinding with a small roll, all the while playing above that roll. Cardgrrl says I should move down. I just can’t do it. I see those $5 stacks and ask myself, “Why bother?” I’m not so sure the competition is any worse either. (Someday I’m going to post my observations about the PS game in general.) To be honest, if I somehow lost it all, it wouldn’t be the end of me or my playing on Stars. It’s still a helluva lot cheaper than going to the casino with the same amount of money and playing 1/2, so I’d make a deposit.

Yet, that’s not what I want to achieve here. I see no reason why I cannot replicate my performance at PA, and if I can get up to about a grand, I’ll be looking to move up. Or not. It’s too early to tell.

Meanwhile, back on the ranch, it’s a beautiful early autumn day. The rains have stopped for a few days, which will give me an opportunity to dig up the rest of the potatoes. We have more tomatoes than we can eat and the Jerusalem Artichokes are blooming. The buzzards are circling, only not for carrion. They will soon make one more orbit and then file off southward. I’m going to get in the truck and take a drive to look for some photo opportunities.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

From Alfonzo Rem’s “The Abject Lessens”

The Kid:
Life and Death
Hope and Dread
Love and Hate
There is always a struggle to reconcile, and inasmuch as it is a struggle, the balance tilts: less Joy and more Sorrow.

Alfonzo:
Rather, the choice is to accept or attempt to understand.

The Kid:
OK, then you are a book and I am thoughts.

Rain is a homonym

The rains are here. Not full-blown yet, but they’ve arrived. The Great Northwet (sic). The rain gauge shows that we received about an inch and a half in the last two days.

Ah, just like a farmer to talk about the weather. Except, and I have to keep reminding myself of this, I am not farming. All hat, no cattle.

So, what should I talk about? Politics? Religion? Poker? The default button is poker.

Last night was fun. I warmed up at PA, lost a buy-in almost right away to a player who will call anything if he has a draw. I had 2 pair of the flop, he had his straight, no turn or river required, even though the turn gave him a flush draw as well. After that hand, it didn’t take long to get back to even, and then double up. I can’t complain.

On to Stars. I hunted around for a room, and each time I found one that looked yummy, nothing. Card dead. And if I woke up with a hand, no action. OK, fine. Move on to another table. Bammo, two pair on the flop! Oops, he had a set. Could have lost more. Half my stack is not so bad, eh? Rivering a flush on a player with a set brought me back up to even, and there I remained.

I was chatting with a friend. “Rana” looks good. I jump on the table and sit there forever. It’s getting late, the witching hour. The table is starting to get “that way.” I didn’t even bother to look to see what the guy was drawing to when my AK paired kings and doubled me up. Time for bed.

Except I don’t go to bed. I watch the news while knocking back a nightcap. All politics all of the time. Sheesh. Thanks to blogger Change100 for pointing me to this Op-Ed: www.nytimes.com/2008/09/21/opinion/21dowd-sorkin.html It’s pretty hilarious in a pithy sort of way, yet pretty much sums it up for me. Of course, feel free to disagree.

Cocktail had, I hit the hay, say my prayers and before I know it, the alarm. My routine begins.

While putting the ducks out, I notice that the annual rye that I cut and lightly tilled is sprouting. I will never grow tired of seeing that which I have planted begin to come through the soil. I see more thistles and tansy that need to be eradicated before they go to seed. It never seems to end. And worse, I recall a misadventure from last week.

I had some mowing to do. There was a thistle I hadn’t seen before, in full flower. I got off of the tractor, cut the weed off at the base of the stem and threw the pernicious thing into the front end loader to dispose of later. Several days later I needed the tractor again. It was a windy day. As I backed out of the barn, hundreds of thistle seeds took wing.

There’s a parable or two in there somewhere.

It’s still raining.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nwh3FmpZ7kg

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Balance

Since I am pre-Intel Mac-abled, I am without important tools, such as Poker Tracker and Prospector. I therefore have to rely on a website that purports to give a profile of a player’s tendencies. All one does is type in the opponents name and the poker site of play, and up pops a tag for the player: Calling Station, Greenfish (weak)’ Redfish (strong preflop, weak post)’ Rock, Shark, Bomb, Mouse, Maniac, and short descriptions of what one might expect as general tendencies from these types of players. The information, however, is out-dated, or at the very least defaults in such a way that makes the information gathered and provided limited. For instance, it only rates me from play at Full Tilt, the site I first started playing for cash online, yet one that I now rarely visit. Therefore, I take the information that is provided with a grain of salt, and use it only to get a basic note started for each of my opponents.

As the session progresses, I refine the notes, commenting on the way a particular hand plays out, questionable calls, etc.

>PokerStars Game #20650714292: Hold'em No Limit ($0.10/$0.25) -
>2008/09/24 2:41:23 ET
>Table 'Sylvia' 9-max Seat #9 is the button
>Seat 1: bastinptc ($33 in chips)
>Seat 2: tkfromvan ($50.30 in chips)
>Seat 3: CriticalAA ($25.35 in chips)
>Seat 4: timboaus ($24.30 in chips)
>Seat 5: kosyrev ($8.55 in chips)
>Seat 6: Tupac_Soulja ($23.20 in chips)
>Seat 7: RoyaleGamble ($9.65 in chips)
>Seat 9: Ximinez ($15.95 in chips)
>bastinptc: posts small blind $0.10
>tkfromvan: posts big blind $0.25
>*** HOLE CARDS ***
>Dealt to bastinptc [Kh Kd]

I’m having a pretty good session up to this point, taking down a few small pots. Yet I have had nothing as strong as this preflop.

>CriticalAA: folds
>timboaus: raises $1.25 to $1.50

This player has been at the table for about two orbits. He has been aggressive, and my crib sheet says that he is a “Bomb.” I don’t take his early position raise lightly.

>gotcha75 has returned
>kosyrev: folds
>Tupac_Soulja: folds
>RoyaleGamble: folds
>Ximinez: calls $1.50

I don’t need any crib sheet for Ximinez. I know him well, and have written about him in the past. I have taken to looking for rooms in which he is playing. I want to get involved in a hand with him when I am strong. He is a calling station, sometimes a luckbox, but more often than not, a losing player. Still, I don’t want to make this hand easy for him.

>bastinptc: raises $3.25 to $4.75
>tkfromvan: folds

timboaus goes into the tank.

>timboaus: raises $19.55 to $24.30 and is all-in
>Ximinez: folds…immediately
>bastinptc: folds with some doubt, yet I think that if timboaus is willing to play for stacks, he must be holding Aces. He may have thought that he would need it to be heads up and made the shove to get Ximinez out. Yet, I don’t think my re-raise left much doubt to my holdings. I think I am happy with putting him on Aces, or AK at worse. Not QQ.

>Uncalled bet ($19.55) returned to timboaus
>timboaus collected $11.25 from pot

Of course, when one is holding the Aces, the play is much easier. This next table was quickly losing players and I was ready to call it a night. In that I was playing two tables at once, and I don’t multi-task well, I had not gotten around to profiling all of the players at this table. Yet, I was comfortable at the table, had a good read on several players, and was playing accordingly. I started with $15 and nearly doubled up early, a situation I rarely experience. I had set a somewhat arbitrary goal for myself to make $15 here and leave, yet my chip stack had started to dwindle on some missed draws, etc. This was going to be my last hand before I even saw my cards.

PokerStars Game #20652500901: Hold'em No Limit ($0.10/$0.25) - 2008/09/24 5:56:58 ET
Table 'Isberga' 9-max Seat #3 is the button
Seat 2: kuli139 ($5 in chips)
Seat 3: bastinptc ($23.75 in chips)
Seat 8: alex_cern ($7.10 in chips)
Seat 9: Dr.Dittsche ($3.75 in chips)
sbiriguda will be allowed to play after the button
alex_cern: posts small blind $0.10
Dr.Dittsche: posts big blind $0.25
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to bastinptc [As Ad]
kuli139: folds
bastinptc: raises $1 to $1.25
alex_cern: raises $3.75 to $5
Dr.Dittsche: folds
bastinptc: raises $3.75 to $8.75
alex_cern: calls $2.10 and is all-in
Uncalled bet ($1.65) returned to bastinptc
*** FLOP *** [4d Kd Ac]
*** TURN *** [4d Kd Ac] [7d]
*** RIVER *** [4d Kd Ac 7d] [7h]
*** SHOW DOWN ***
alex_cern: shows [Jd Js] (two pair, Jacks and Sevens)
bastinptc: shows [As Ad] (a full house, Aces full of Sevens)
bastinptc collected $13.75 from pot
alex_cern leaves the table

Mission accomplished. Good night.

A couple side notes:

It seems like it took forever, yet I received my deposit bonus last night, putting me in a slightly more comfortable position for a bankroll. Just slightly (7 buy-ins), but welcome nonetheless. The timing is good, as I feel like I’m starting to get a better feel for playing online cash.

I have tried playing at various times during the evening, or rather, while it is dark outside, and, while not wholly convinced, I think I have found the best time to play in terms of soft tables. Unfortunately, it is long after I should be in bed and I cannot abide such late nights on a consistent basis. More on this later…

Sunday, September 21, 2008

The first autumn rains on the last day of summer.
I step outside to a fat, short rainbow between the clouds
And flocks of Sandhill Cranes ahead of schedule.

That’s What Friends Are For

In a previous post I wrote about a home game buddy, M, who had a cardiac incident on a Tuesday and was back to the poker game by Friday. I was somewhat amazed by his resiliency, or rather his need to be out playing so soon after having a close call with the final showdown. I think I got it wrong.

In that post I went on to describe how the other players that night cut M no slack whatsoever, and said things like, “Let M win this hand. We don’t want him dying on us here at the table.” They were ribbing him, seeming to have a laugh at his expense, which is standard behavior at this game, and no one is exempt. Yet, I knew in my heart that M was still feeling a bit traumatized from his brush with Death. I could see it in his eyes.

One might wonder why M would endure what some might consider an insensitive group of louts. The answer is simple: despite evidence to the contrary, these people were his friends, and he wanted to be among them in his time of need.

Looking to get a little background on the home game crowd, a couple weeks ago I asked the group how long they had known each other. Most of them had known each other for just two years or so. They met in pub tourneys, R decided to have a home game, and the rest is history. The way they interacted, I had assumed many of them had know each other for twenty years or more, such was the level of familiarity.

Poker buddies. I have a lot of them, some closer to being friends than others: Pub tourney players that hug when we meet; the home game crowd and their grab-ass hilarity; and many more — some whom I’ve never met— in the virtual world of Poker Academy. The latter group is by and large those with whom I feel closest, perhaps because I have been playing with them the longest, and because we share a software for a game about which we are passionate. Yet, it has developed beyond that.

For the first six months after Poker Academy came out, there were probably less than 100 people who owned the software and played the online component. I was a latecomer to this group (Christmas 2005), and although cautious (I had never engaged in the world of interactive software), I was immediately taken by the conviviality of the group, largely folks from the U.S., but with a smattering of Swiss, German, British, French and Australian players. This group of poker players soon became my primary social network.

How pathetic is that? My dear wife teased me endlessly: “How do you know that this person is who he says he is?” And then when the first Poker Academy Rendezvous in Las Vegas was being organized: “These complete strangers are getting together to play poker? What if one of them is a serial killer?” My only comeback was to point out that I have a degree in deconstructive philosophy and I am therefore able to discern a lot from the way one writes (chats). While not everyone at PA was someone I would care to hang with (and indeed there were some complete lunatics, assholes, hot heads and crybabies), we shared a camaraderie that I found worthwhile.

While I didn’t get to attend the first rendezvous, over the course of my first year I did get to meet several PA players. Uncle Trick and eptigs took me to Caesars when my dear wife’s family got together in LV; I went sailing with Captn Ben in Chicago; and IdahoAs came to my house for the day while vacationing in the area. Having survived those meetings, I was allowed (joking) to go to PA Rendezvous #2 and #3. Deeper bonds were formed.

Still, the group at the Rendezvous is miniscule in comparison to the larger group of poker pals I share the felt with on an almost daily basis. And over the years, online chat has moved to Skype and AIM. At times we have had almost an entire table on Skype, shooting the shit, discussing hands (not to be read as colluding) and getting to know each other better, beyond the limitations of the written word, and, in some cases, becoming closer because of it.

“There’s an email from Stan. His father has died.”

Stan has been a Poker Academy regular for the past two years. Well, he used to be, having dominated the PA community, so, for the most part, he has moved on to Stars. Stan is responsible for me being on Skype. He is also very competitive, friendship be damned. I tell him that he is a sociopath, and he takes it as a compliment. Yet, in the true spirit of an Academy, he has taken many newbies under his wing and made them proficient poker players. I was saddened by the news, emailed him to tell him so, and since he had left contact numbers, wrote that I would call him when he got to the States. (Stan is an ex-pat who has lived in Australia for quite some time. The area code for his contact numbers were very familiar to me as we are both from the same part of the country and even attended the same university.)

I wrote the email right after setting down to a PA table where I shared Stan’s sad news with a couple other old-timers. No sooner than I had clicked on “send” Stan showed up in the room. Condolences were expressed and I typed, “Have time for sk?” We talked for a couple hours, and because of the time difference it was into my wee hours, all-the-while playing poker. It was good conversation.

“What did you do last night?” my dear wife asked this morning after I lamented sleeping in so late.

“I spoke with Stan. He came onto PA and we Skyped.”

“He was playing poker?”

“He didn’t come to play poker. He came to be amongst friends.”

Poker Academy is no longer this little sleepy community of poker players who have a hard time putting together a game late at night. There are now thousands of players from all over the world, and now that Hold ‘em has taken Europe by storm, the numbers continue to grow. And with such a sizable community, there are bound to be events in some members’ lives that shake up their world. Some members have shared these times with the community at large and collective tears were shed, some have had closely-guarded conversations about losses of relatives or loves, and other troubled members have just disappeared into the ether from which they virtually emerged. I wonder about the player who was battling lung cancer, the player who was having terrible domestic problems, or the innumerable likeable sorts who just up and vanished.

I have left instructions.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Home Game Again. Jiggety-Jig

I talked to R earlier in the day and he said there was going to be a good crowd for the Friday night game. His driveway was full and there were two full tables for the tourney. Only two players had been knocked out when I arrived, so there was a bit of a wait for the cash game to start. Oh, we could have played 3-handed, but no thanks. I was planning on sticking to a budget, buy in for $50, and work with that all evening. With .50/1.00 blinds, my $50 wouldn’t last long 3-handed.

4-handed, it didn’t fare much better, yet we moved into a 7-person game fairly quickly, and I still had $40. Still, a new batch of players was buying in for $50 and $60, so I bought another $10.

Like a lot of other home games, this one can be pretty loose. An opening 3-bet means nothing. This can work to one’s advantage, or drain one’s stack in short order. I limped several times from early position with PP, someone 3-bets, and five people have called before it gets back to me. Of course I call, but no set. This happened at least three times. I had Qs UTG, 3-bet, five callers. The flop is 7, 9, 2 with 2 hearts. I bet 3/4 of the pot and everyone folds except the Button, who triples my bet. By now we have a full table, so, I buy another $20. I’m down $40 inside of an hour and a half.

After some big pots get taken down by questionable calls (had I played as loose as the rest of the table and seen a turn or river a couple times, I would have cleaned up on some gutshots), things start to settle down and the table becomes a limpfest. I follow suit with 69o in the SB and flop a boat. I check it, and as I hoped, someone bet a draw, then four callers, including me. The turn helps a str8 and I open with $2 and everyone calls. The river makes 3 to a flush and I check. The earlier bettor bets half the pot, everyone else folds and I double his bet. He says, “OK, I’ll pay off your boat.” I had regained more than half of my losses.

All of this time I’m just not feeling it. I’m looking at the clock. I told my dear wife that I’d wrap it up by 2 o’clock, and that’s an hour and a half from now. I take down a small pot with pocket nines, fold, fold, fold until 1 o’clock and say “night folks.” I just didn’t feel it. I wanted to be home.

I like playing with these folks. When I come in the door, I am greeted warmly and roundly. The mix of players is good: a couple players are very solid; more than a couple are extremely loose; and a couple more are almost certain to leave all of the money they came with. My ROI must be at least 50%. But something’s not right.

Once again this week, F took out our host in mere minutes of when he first sat down. And R had, once again, failed to make it into the money in the tournament (extremely unusual). And R’s girlfriend must have moved in, for once again, she had retired to the bedroom for the evening (pleasant woman who has stated that she wants to learn the game), so R is calling it an early night. That leaves 10 people sitting in his living room, whooping it up.
My dear Mother wouldn’t approve.

Best-Laid Responses

The two hands I posted the other day received a few responses over at the Poker Academy Forums. I was intrigued by the comments, mostly, perhaps, because while some aligned with my strategy at least to some degrees, others didn’t, and, despite having seen this sort of play, in fact took a tact I wouldn’t expect to be +EV.

Loki9, a very thoughtful, strategic and aggressive player wrote:

"First hand looks pretty good. It's gotta suck getting check-raised twice in one hand. But I wonder if the risk in checking the turn is worth the reward. The turn card made both the straight and flush draws, I would lead here most of the time."

It seems to me that if I led out on the turn, and was called, I would be giving up some of my advantage. It would also mean that I would have to then reevaluate my position in the hand. In that my flop check-raise didn’t slow him down much, I would venture to say that he would indeed call a bet equal to the size that he made. By keeping the equal amount of pressure on the turn betting sequence, it forces him to consider a wide range that I may have. Again, with his preflop limp, I am betting on AJ as his best holding, but not ruling out a set. I need to demonstrate that I can beat these holdings.

"Second hand I don't understand the question. On the turn you hit your OESD and got all in. Villain had a flush draw + gutshot and decided to call off his stack with one card to come. Good work, on to the next hand.

What does the first hand have to do with the second? I don't see the set up. In the second hand, Villain can't even beat a bluff with his Q high. He's on a pure draw and doesn't care what you have. This hand would have been better if you had something like Ad2d and the river was the 4h, letting you own him with A high. "

Hypotheticals aside, the value of the first hand in relation to the second is that it sets the player up to think that my aggression is unwarranted, that I am working a stone cold bluff again. He may think that his Q high is good against my air.

"You've found a weakness in villain's game, by the way. While appearing fairly solid, he'll call off his stack on a draw way too often. "

And yes, he is looking at his draws as providing some sort of insurance. Very often we see a player over-commit to a draw, making the all-in an almost necessary conclusive bet. This is especially true in the case of short stack newbies and maniacs.

Pokergirl takes a slightly different approach:

"Seems like the point is he wanted to do to B what B did to him with Q9. Except he actually made his draw too. "

He may have wanted to do the same to me, get me to fold to his re-raise. His “mistake” was to call my all-in. This is the value the earlier bluff has. The hands are nowhere similar, yet his response is similar when a different strategy is called for. His pot-sized continuation bet on the flop may be representing a set, but when the same betting strategy is employed on the turn, and he gets re-raised, this betting clearly reads as a stereotypical made draw. A set may call, hoping against hope to pair the board, to re-raise again makes no sense whatsoever for a +EV result. I have no option but to go all-in at this point as there is no hand on the board that can beat me.

Biggus_Poppa, a player who I have yet to play against wrote:

"I think the mistake was showing your bluff if you want to take a psychological standpoint."

I left out an item in the previous post. When 986 folded the first hand, he flashed his cards. I did the same as I wanted to show the bluff and make it look like I was reciprocating. We were playing short-handed, usually a very aggressive game, and one which I do well at, usually by biding my time while everyone else goes nuts. An observant player would see that I am playing 18% while everyone else is playing 35%+. I want to leave a false impression.

"You said 986 was a solid player. A solid player is going to remember that, and induce action against you with a monster draw and get paid.

...and he did."

I guess the question I would have is this a monster draw? He has 11 outs. My experience has shown that a flush and gutshot draw, while nice, is still very much a long shot, not even 4 to 1; and running the hand at the turn, I am a 70% favorite to win. Yet some may think it’s stellar draw and this points to the possible flaw in my play of this hand. I should have jammed the turn. It would have signaled my actual hand strength and eliminated any odds to call.

In fact, in a conversation with 986 a couple days later, he said that had I jammed the turn, he would have indeed folded.

Oh well. As Loki9 says, “On to the next hand.”

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Best –Laid Plans

Although to admit this in a public forum might do me some harm at the tables, I have been working on my bluffs. Maybe it was Sklansky who pointed out that a successful bluff must tell a believable story. It must be convincing.

Poker Academy Online #39,328,436
No Limit Texas Holdem ($1/$2 NL)
Table Feldspar
September 16, 2008 - 02:09:29 (PDT)

1} bastin $182.70 9s Qd
2) wake-540 $162.35 ?? ??
5) 986 * $487.80 6c Jc
6) Empty Chair $18.00 ?? ??
10) SilverHands (sitting out)

Empty Chair posts small blind $1
bastin posts big blind $2
wake-540 calls $2
986 calls $2
Empty Chair folds
bastin checks

FLOP: 5d 8s Jd
bastin checks
wake-540 checks
986 bets $7

With the preflop limp and the overbet on the flop, 986 is trying to protect his J.

bastin raises $10.50

My check/raise is meant to indicate one of two things: I also have a J, probably with a pretty good kicker, or I’m building the pot and betting the draw.

wake-540 folds

It also gets wake out of the hand. 986 is a solid player, wake is a little bit of a loose cannon.

986 calls $10.50

TURN: 5d 8s Jd 7d

A perfect card. I still have my gutshot, and now I’ve picked up a flush draw as well. Little do I realize that 986 now has a straight draw.

bastin checks
986 bets $21
bastin raises $42

986 went into the tank for quite some time. I could have anything, right? A set, two pair, the flush…

986 folds

bastin wins $82 uncontested
$2 raked.

I show the bluff.

Seven hands later:

Poker Academy Online #39,328,443
No Limit Texas Holdem ($1/$2 NL)
Table Feldspar
September 16, 2008 - 02:13:15 (PDT)

1} bastin $217.20 9d Td
2) wake-540 * $156.05 ?? ??
5) 986 $448.70 Qs 9s
6) Empty Chair $24.95 ?? ??

986 posts small blind $1
Empty Chair posts big blind $2
bastin raises $5
wake-540 folds
986 calls $6
Empty Chair folds

FLOP: 8d 7s 3s
986 bets $8
bastin calls $8

TURN: 8d 7s 3s Jd
986 bets $16
bastin raises $32
986 raises $64
bastin raises $90.20 (all-in)
986 calls $90.20
bastin shows 9d Td
986 shows Qs 9s

RIVER: 8d 7s 3s Jd 4s
986 wins $434.40 with a Flush, Queen High
$2 raked.

The outcome sucked. Still, I think the earlier bluff accomplished what I wanted it to. My mistake on the last hand might have been not shoving on the turn, however, I have mixed feelings about this.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

A Tale of Two Fish

The hole had around 25 fish in it: Coho and Chinook, up from the ocean a bit early. My buddy, Steve, and I were not the only guys trying to catch them. There were five others, and judging from their conversation, they knew each other well. This early in the season, the fish’s color was still good, no signs of the change in physical characteristics (mouth shape and color) or decay that come as the urge to spawn comes upon them. They would be excellent eating. Yet, they would have nothing to do with anything we threw at them. They just swam in a school from one end of the hole to the other. I foul hooked one and it broke my line, the lure now a bit of bling. This is on the Salmon River (appropriate, eh?). I caught a beautiful 15-pound Chinook on this hole last year. My first. Silver. Perfect. Stringer bling.

Steve admonishes, “Your knot, Dude, your knot.” He calls me “Dude” because I look a bit like Jeff Bridges in “The Big Lebowski.” He never tires of quoting lines from the movie to me. It’s a great movie, but I have a hard time remembering to put out the garbage can on trash day, let alone lnes from a movie.

“My knot was fine. I even spit on it before pulling it to. It was the line, and I checked it too, about six feet up.” The end of the line was inconclusive. He wades out of the water to show me a new knot.

“$6.50 for a new spool of line, Dude. When was the last time you changed out your reel?”

“This year, man. Shit!” I am the Dude. Steve is bordering on becoming my Walter, except for the fact that he generally knows what he’s talking about. Steve’s been fishing these waters for 30+ years; me, three.

We don’t stay around much longer. We still have to hit the Money Hole. We swing by the Otis CafĂ© for lunch and some of their homemade Black Molasses Bread. There’s a half hour wait. As we leave, we drive by the hole and the same guys are still there. We comment that now the strangers had gone, foul hooked fish were allowed.

The Money Hole is a bit of a ride, through dairy country…that’s all I’m revealing. We have a couple favorite places we don’t share with just anybody.

The water has just a hint of color to it. Fall is approaching, leaves are starting to drop, adding a little tannin to the water. Still, we could see every inch of the hole and down at least eight feet in the deepest part. Steelhead, Cutthoats and Spring Chinook everywhere! I don’t think we’ve ever been skunked here, at least both of us.

Steve takes the bottom of the hole and I go to the top. Steelies are sticking close to the edge as the Chinook rule the river and patrol the deepest parts for interlopers. I’m floating my bait in front of the nose of one Steelie when Steve yells, “Fish on!” I grab the net, and when the fish starts to show signs of fatigue, hand it to Steve. He nets a beautiful 10-pound fish. We’ve been here less than a half hour.

As my dedicated readers may recall, Steve is a catch-and-release kinda guy. He enjoys the fishing, yet as he is a professional chef, he cuts up fish every day and has no need to do so anymore than necessary. The last time we hit this hole, I got skunked while Steve caught two. I took one of them home with me. “

Do you want him, Dude?”

“No thanks. I’d like to catch my own this time.”

Five hour went by. No fish. We could see them, but that meant they could see us as well. Finally, the sun started to go behind the trees up on the mountains. Visibility started to drop. Steve had spent a good portion of the time up-river trying out some of my spinners and spoons, and I had had been hitting the bottom of the hole, both of us with nary a nibble. It’s getting close to the time when we should be leaving.

“How’s it going, Dude?” Steve has made his way back down to me.

“Nothing.”

“I’m going to go deep and see what happens.” Steve puts on some bait and sets his float at seven feet.

“Go ahead. I tried that. I’ve hit every corner of this hole.”

“Fish on!” Steve’s hooked another, and the fish takes his line right over mine before I can get it out of the water.

“Shit!”

“Here, Dude, hand me your rod. Come around to my left and grab it.”

In my haste to get over to the other side of Steve, I fall and my knee sounds like a dowel rod hit by a rubber mallet as it is driven into a hole, only the mallet is a rock.

“Shit!”

“You OK, Dude?” he handed me my rod while I was still on the ground.

“My fucking knee.” I stood up. It wasn’t broke, It just hurt like hell.

“Dude, the net! Here, you play the fish and I’ll get the net.”

It was a small Steelie, maybe six pounds, half the size of the earlier fish. There was very little play left in the fish.

“Dude, man, you take this fish home with you. You earned it with your knee. You OK?”

“How about we take it to your house, filet it and share it?

“No Dude, it’s yours. Tag it and take it home.”

One filet is in the freezer; the other will be dinner.

It struck me on the first hole: All of these fish and not a single bite, this is like a loose poker table, plenty of money to be had, but no cards. Or worse, the Rock has been discovered and there will be no action for him. The rule of thumb in fishing is that if you can see the fish, the fish can see you. When it comes to survival, Chinook are smarter than people, simply because if it’s not food, then it’s danger. When the two become confused (bait), then it’s a different story.

I’m in the late position with 89s. A early middle position player raises 3 X BB. Two callers before me, so I chip in. Flop comes JJx with two spades. Initial raiser bets 2/3 pot, one caller, then I call. Turn is an 8. Everyone checks. River is a spade. Bettor checks, other caller checks and I value bet. Initial bettor goes all in for a small portion of the pot. I have to call. J8 offsuit.

They don’t call them fishhooks for nothing.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Luckbox

I played a hand wrong, maybe. I was two-tabling at Stars. Can I blame the fact that I was playing more than one table? You betcha! I just can’t do it. Or rather, I am still not practiced at it. Even sitting at one table while looking for another to join stretches my ability to concentrate on the action. After some fumbling and bumbling, I find a second table that looks promising and pretty shortly pick up Aces in the hole. Sweet, and I have AKo in the BB at the other table. Oh no, crunch time. The flop for my AK is negative, so I click the fold box to a bet while at the other table an early position player has raised 3 X BB. By the time I can give my hand the attention it requires, time is running out, so I use a predetermined bet size button and only pop it another 2 BBs. Of course, he calls. The flop is 787, all black, two spades. He bets a small amount, I bet the pot and get a call. Whoa. Turn is another spade, check, check. River is 9c, he bets the pot, and like a numb-nuts, I call. He’s holding J 10 off. I paid him off, yes, yet, as the game progressed, the only comfort I could give myself was that he would not have folded even if I jammed the turn. The guy was a calling station.

Sweet! Right? Except at this particular moment he seemed to be hitting everything, boating up with 89o after calling big raises, calling shortie all-ins with nothing and hitting trips. It was sick. I knew that the only way I was going to feel comfortable with this guy was to wait for monsters, punch up the flop and if the turn was a blank, punch it up some more. He occasionally would fold on the turn. I retrieved a little of what I had lost. Yet, I did not do as well as others.

You could smell it: players waiting to nail the guy. And nail him they did. The great thing about a calling station is just as they don’t care where they are in a hand as long as they have any kind of draw, a pair, two pair, or whatever, they are unable to discern when they are beat. As lucky as this guy had been, he doubled up a couple players along the way. He was the temporary custodian of chips. Yet, even if he lost $25, it was not long before he had another $20 from 2 and 3 outers, usually from players new to the table. Again, sick.

He was still there when I left, as were several of the players I had started the game with. It was clear they were still there only to crack this guy. I made a note. I will seek this guy out in the future.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Around Sunset

Sitting in a lawn chair with a Pilsner Urquell
Brubeck’s "Blue Rondo ala Turk" on the radio
Russets I dug bake alongside two grilled sirloins
A doe and fawn feed under the crab apple
A fullish moon rises bright over the treeline
Crickets and frogs start their evening songs

Friday, September 12, 2008

Today

... after an eleven-day absence, is the day my DEAR WIFE returns.

In 2 hours.

So, if you'll excuse me...

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The shortest distance between two meals

Although a bit on the small side, the russets had hardened off to perfection and I was able to recover about a bushel. I say “recover” because I wasn’t the first to take advantage of the crop.

As always, I started my harvest at the end of the row, furthest away from the gate to the paddock. That way, as I work down the row and fill my bucket, I have a shorter distance to the storage shed where I will shelf the forty or so pounds of spuds that the bucket will hold. There was a small cave-in at the beginning of the row. Underneath, a gopher tunnel.

It was a small tunnel, maybe an inch and a half in diameter. Just a baby. The damage was minimal, maybe one or two potatoes chewed on per mound. Yet, as I continued down the row, the tunnel grew in girth, and the number of chewed potatoes increased. The last mound in the russet section had not a single potato on it.

The next variety in the row was a French fingerling. The tunnel ended here. I looked around and soon discovered a small cave-in on the adjacent row, in the Austrian Crescent fingerlings. After a little digging, I determined that the damage in that row was not too bad. In that they are not quite ready to pick, I will hope that the gopher discovers the row of over-matured lettuce, or even the Jerusalem artichokes and leave us our winter stores.

And heaven help it if I see the bastard.

Holding Down the Fort

My dear wife comes home in 3 days. This will be the longest that we have been apart since we have been married. Man-o-man, I miss her something fierce.

The cats miss her too. For one, she knows what wet food each prefers. It turns out that I have been feeding them the exact opposite of their individual preferences. They have all been eating what I’ve put in front of them each morning, but as of yesterday they all have begun to turn their noses up at what is offered. The youngest of the two could stand to lose a little weight; yet the oldest two, one with diabetes and the other with renal failure, have to eat on a regular basis.

The cats also miss their couch companion. It is not uncommon to see 3 cats laying on the couch of a night as my dear wife catches up on reruns of “Will and Grace” or watches a late night session of congress on CSPAN. I’m usually hold up in the basement playing poker, reading about poker or working on an art project, but when I am upstairs, they pretty much avoid me, unless I force myself upon them. I like to pet kitties too, you know. The Dear Wife points out that I don’t spend as much time with them as she does; therefore, they’re going to stay aloof. Still, nobody gives a head scratch as good as I do. Where’s the love?

There was no love at Poker Stars last night. Again I lost to a set with AQ. No, make that to a boat. I got aggressive at the wrong time, representing Kings full with Queens. 2s full took it down. Not believing another player, I re-raised on another hand, and got re-raised, to which I had to fold. Same player later gets it all in with a lousy pairs of threes and gets stacked. Maybe I gave him too much credit, who knows.

The reason for this aggression? Probably because I let a player draw out a bit earlier. I raised the flop and was called and then didn’t fire again. Shame on me. Just bad poker.

I’m not concentrating. I’m reacting instead of analyzing. Tilting.

I miss my dear wife. That may account for part of it. I feel like I’m wandering around in a haze most of the day. I manage to get the routine chores done, set an extra task for the day (today it is harvesting potatoes), wait for the nightly phone call, and recall that there were other things I have yet to take of before I can settle in for the night and play some poker. As I write this, I remember that a neighbor called to check in on me and in her message she requested that I call her back. Excuse me a minute…

OK, one more thing taken care of. The neighbor is also a dear friend of the dear wife, and I suspect she misses her as well. I am the conduit.

Where was I? The dear wife would say that the fog is status quo. Indeed, I am like the absent-minded professor, lost in his own thoughts. It can get a little aggravating sometimes, and perhaps more than a little at other times. If anything, having to do a lot of the things she usually takes care of this past week, and spacing on other things has shown me just how frustrating I can be, and how much I depend on her.

Is this a sweet sentiment? I’m not so sure. I am aware that to some I may be coming across as a little chauvinistic.

“Have you eaten anything?” This is a question my dear wife asks me about this time almost every day. The answer is usually a negatory. Today, as every day this past week, my stomach has had to ask me that question, already knowing the answer. I could stand to lose a few dozen pounds anyway. The peanut butter and jelly sandwich I just fixed and ate should do the trick. And just so you know, I eat a lot of PB&Js and always have, regardless of whether my dear wife is around.

The protein helps clear the brain, and I think a bit about what I am writing. Perhaps what it really comes down to is that we have a rather sizable house, a lot of land and animals that demand seemingly constant attention, and to find enough time in a day to do all that needs to be done and then to find a little more time for things like this blog and poker, well, something has got to give. When we are both here, it’s a bit different. There is time for TV and poker in our lives.

It takes both of us to keep this place running smoothly, and I think my dear wife may know this better than I. After all, over the course of the last five years, I have gone away more than she has, a week to help my mother with her house and yard, to Las Vegas twice for a week at a time, weddings and funerals in my family, and she has stayed behind to attend to the ever-present responsibility that is this farm. I’m not saying that she never gets away from this place; it’s just that I do more than she does.

So, what does my dear wife suggest I do as compensation for taking care of the place for eleven days while she helps her parents to move into their new house? She tells me to book a long weekend in Vegas. And people wonder why I have chosen to refer to her here as “dear wife”…

So, I have booked a room at The Orleans for 3 days over the Columbus Day weekend. Another person I know from PA will be in LV at the same time. (Click on “Raise or Fold” for her insightful and well-written poker blog.) In the meantime, I have to start bringing my A game to the table. I owe to both my dear wife and myself.

But right now, I have to go dig up some spuds.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Catching

“So shave your face with some mace in the dark
Savin all your food stamps and burnin down the trailer park

Soy un perdedor
I’m a loser baby, so why don’t’ you kill me?”

Beck, “Loser”

I sit down to play some poker at Stars. It’s late and the room is full of fish. A fly is buzzing around my head, literally, doing circles. He lands on my computer screen. I can’t catch him. Then it’s back to buzzing my brain. TPTK goes down to a set. I knew he had a set. He telegraphed he had a set. Bzzzzzz.

With 2/3 of my stack gone, I switchover to Poker Academy, hang with some friends, play some non-lethal Hold ‘em, and chat it up. People are bickering. I double up, maybe a little more, and with my confidence restored, head back to Stars.

I sit down with $15 at a 25NL. The room is juicy, Maniacs looking to lose it all or cooler. They’re betting with air. The best table I have seen to-date. The read is fast and easy. I know these players. They are some of PA’s biggest fish-types. And I get lucky.

Table 'Hydra II' 9-max Seat #8 is the button
Seat 1: Z_Lowery ($12.60 in chips)
Seat 2: bastinptc ($14.75 in chips)
Seat 3: sutmin@nu ($12 in chips)
Seat 4: Kai23P ($17.95 in chips)
Seat 5: Streetgun ($14.40 in chips)
Seat 6: 0neShott ($14.20 in chips)
Seat 7: strinsel ($13.05 in chips)
Seat 8: ceteotl78 ($3.50 in chips)
Seat 9: baufleur ($26.20 in chips)
baufleur: posts small blind $0.10
Z_Lowery: posts big blind $0.25
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to bastinptc [Kh Ah]
bastinptc: calls $0.25
sutmin@nu: calls $0.25
Kai23P: folds
Streetgun: folds
0neShott: folds
strinsel: calls $0.25
ceteotl78: calls $0.25
baufleur: raises $1.75 to $2
Z_Lowery: folds
bastinptc: calls $1.75
sutmin@nu: calls $1.75
strinsel: calls $1.75
ceteotl78: folds
*** FLOP *** [2d 4h 3h]
Z_Lowery leaves the table
baufleur: checks
bastinptc: checks
sutmin@nu: checks
strinsel: bets $6
baufleur: calls $6
bastinptc: calls $6
sutmin@nu: folds
*** TURN *** [2d 4h 3h] [3d]
baufleur: checks
bastinptc: checks
strinsel: bets $5.05 and is all-in
baufleur: calls $5.05
bastinptc: calls $5.05
*** RIVER *** [2d 4h 3h 3d] [Js]
baufleur: checks
bastinptc: checks
FREVALE joins the table at seat #1
*** SHOW DOWN ***
baufleur: shows [Kd 6d] (a pair of Threes)
bastinptc: shows [Kh Ah] (a pair of Threes - Ace kicker)
strinsel: mucks hand
bastinptc collected $39.65 from pot

A couple hands later and I pick up a $13 pot with a set of nines. I’m back, Baby! Up for the day. I pour myself a scotch to celebrate.

Gumpo shows up in the room.. He’s looking to get in on the action. The nut cases soon leave, the table tightens up a bit, and he leaves. Just as he does, it goes a little wacky again. Maybe because the scotch is kicking in.

The player to my left was quiet for quite some time, and then he starts raising, raising raising, and losing a portion of his stack in the process. I take note, I hit a Broadway on the turn, which also makes 3 to a flush. He puts in what he has left and I call. 73c. A few hands later I didn’t believe he had the Ace. I had the Ace. He had the Ace, a big one. Oops.

He leaves and Mr. All-in Shortie takes his seat. He raises it up from UTG and gets two callers before me in the BB. I have KQ off and call. K on the flop and I check raise. He calls. Ace comes on the, he puts in the rest of his piddly stack, I call. Figures.

So, I tilted and called off all of my winnings and more. I eventually calm down and start getting some of it back. But it’s very, very late, or early, and I have the day to think about. I pour myself a little more scotch and go upstairs to watch the fucking depressing news, pet a kitty and eventually crawl into a lonely bed. Bzzzzzzzzzz

“Yo, hit it.

Soy un perdedor
Im a loser baby, so why dont you kill me?”

Monday, September 8, 2008

On and Off, Left and Right, and Friendship as a Rheostat

It’s 11:50am so it must be time for the DSL to go down. Yep. Clockwork. I’ve called about 20 times in the last month about this and get various answers and solutions that seem to always lead back to another phone call. But, you didn’t come here to read my whine about this.

I told myself that I would write a bit this morning, post it, and get my ass outside to do some work. The long to-do list just gets longer.

12:00 noon and the DSL is back up. Magic. Whine enough and things happen.

Whining works in poker too. I sit there for 40 hands with 93 off, type in “JFC! Can I get a fekkin hand?” and get a baby run, just enough to give my stack a bump and keep me at the table for another 50 hands.

12:07pm. DSL down again. WTF? Lunch time for Tech Support. “Rebuffering Stream” pops up on my iTunes. I can feel my frustration building. Music tilt. I’ll have to revert to my playlist. I should stay away from free jazz for the moment. No Ken Vandermark.

I listen to music while I play poker online. That’s about the extent of my abilities to multitask. Sometimes I take my iPod to the casino to tune out or to re-energize. My dear wife has put some great music on the thing, all designed to get one singing and swinging. I have downloaded a more ambient selection, and I find myself returning to hers time and again.

12:19. Back up. A techno beat, much like the music my son creates. The kid is good.

So, a half hour into this and I’m having a hard time figuring out where this post is going. I had intended on writing more about the Friday night home game, focusing more on the banter. No iPod needed for this game, as it is usually a laugh riot.

As I wrote in the previous post, M showed up late, a little toasty after a woman friend’s birthday party at a bar. He had a glow about him. He tells a story about climbing up on the bar and starting to do a strip tease. He unbuttoned his shirt, took off his belt and dropped his pants zipper to half-mast. Women started putting dollar bills into his pockets and his fly. When it was over, he put all of the dollars into the bartender’s tip jar. After I relieve him of the majority of his chips, he looks in his wallet for more money, finds $14, digs into his pockets and finds a crushed dollar bill.

My dedicated readers might remember that M is the guy who had the heart attack. M likes me. He respects my play. This means a lot to me. In fact, I think it is fair to say that most of the guys in this game like me. And why not? I’m a nice guy. Still, the test came at the game last week. Fresh on the heels of the Sarah Palin speech (the debut, not the multiple reiterations and continued insistence on things that have already been found to be untrue, such as selling the jet on Ebay and her initial take on the Bridge to Nowhere), we started talking politics. The discussion was lively, as if I had a chance to go on FOX Noise and debate the sound bites. Of course, nothing was resolved, and most folks dismissed outright anything I had to say. Except for P. This week he said that I had made a good argument, and in fact I stated my position better than anyone else at the table. However, he was still going to vote for McCain. I was fine with that. Folks out here, away from the big metropolitan areas of the state, are largely conservative. I understand why. I still think they’re drinking the Kool Aid, but I understand why. They think I drink the Kool Aid too. Still, we come together for other reasons, just as the other farmers in the area would rather talk about harvests than affiliations.

So, the air was cleared and we went back to our banter. It was my turn to deal and P asks about the tattoo on my left forearm. He states that he’s never noticed it before. It is a single, straight black line, about 3/16” wide and 2 1/2” long. “It’s my ode to minimalism.” That’s my standard reply when I’m asked.

“Huh?”

“Well, you know how most folks get very elaborate tattoos? I wanted something simple.”

M chimes in: “Minimalism, huh? Well, if you were that clever to think up that, then why bother with getting the tattoo at all? Seems the idea is enough.” We had a good laugh. M was confusing minimalism with conceptualism.

How did we get started on politics again this week? I was still waiting for the cash game to start. L, King of the Donks started it. He wasn’t at the game the week before. “How about that woman’s speech? What did you think bastin?”

“You mean Palin?”

“Yeah. I was going to vote for Obama before, but that was a great speech.” Lord. I steer clear.

P asks me to retrieve one of his beers from the fridge. I say sure and F asks, “So, is bastin your bitch now?”

I reply, “Call me a bitch again and I’ll come over there and slap those glasses off of your face and then cram them up your nose!” I said it with a smile. One can say almost anything with a smile and get away with it. (“ He worked as a community organizer. What?”) The table roars with laughter.

F says, Whoa! I thought you were a peace-loving Liberal.”

“This is the new breed of Liberal. No more bend-over-and-take-it-up-the-ass nice guy.”

L asks, “Hey, where’s your hat?” He’s referring to my Dead Guy Ale hat. The hat that makes me aggressive.

“I forgot it. I don’t need it anymore. It’s a new day.”

1:23pm It’s been almost an hour since the DSL last went down. My frustration has dissipated. Hell, I’m almost hopeful. Maybe it will stay up for good. Right.

2:20pm. Neighbors called and needed some help. These neighbors are good friends of ours, a couple women who aren’t as spry as they used to be and they’re still trying to maintain a cattle herd and a sizable flock of sheep. Their log splitter is on the fritz and couldn’t load it into the back of the pick up to take it for repairs. No sweat. I pulled and one of the women pushed. And just for the record, I suspect they’re Reagan Democrats.

And the DSL is down again. Oops, it’s 2:26pm and it’s back.

I take down a big pot from F, and this time he calls me a bastard. I pick up a folding chair.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

If It’s Friday…

Home Game last night. I went late for the cash game segment, for as I have mentioned before, I am dead money in the tournament portion of the evening. I counted six cars in the drive, considerably fewer cars than usual, and walked into a seven-handed game. Maybe a lot of people had already busted out and gone home. Nope, and for some reason the blinds were still at 100/200 two and one half hours after the game was supposed to begin. Things felt off-kilter. L, King of All Donks, was, for the moment, killing the table with his usual any two cards.

I arrived just in time to see the host, R, bust out with AKs against L’s A3h when L picked up a 3. R was miffed, not only because it was L, but I also suspect because he is almost always in the money, maybe 90% of the time. R does not like to lose. I know, who does, yet when it is to L, you can see the ire rise. His face turns red, which is really quite a sight to see, the flush against his snow-white hair and full beard, like a pimple in reverse. To R’s credit, he went for a walk and cooled off a bit. He is, after all, the gracious host.

R had been sitting at the head of the table and L was to his right. I took the seat just to watch, and see every hand that L had in the hole. I watched him play both 82s and 82 off, successfully stealing a pot on the flop with the latter from the BB when it was just he and the SB in the hand. How, then, would he play the AJ off from UTG with four players left? He limped. The Button, P, raised 3 x BB, the blinds folded and L called. J on the flop and L shoves. The button calls and has L covered. AA holds up.

The sad part is that L left shortly thereafter. I was hoping for a repeat of last week’s game in which his stack became mine. I continued to watch the game and to watch P eventually win, and soon thereafter we sat down to a short-handed cash game.

By the time the cash game started, things were pretty loose, in more ways than one, yet probably all ways related. There’s alcohol involved: P drinks 16-oz cans of Busch Light (I know, yuk); F was drinking Fat Tire; I had one bottle of Stella Artois left in the fridge from last week’s game; R rarely drinks while playing and wasn’t tonight; F’s cousin was nursing a Snapple; and the kid at the table, B, wasn’t drinking either. P and F drove the action.

I had R to my right and F’s cousin to my left, which is the way I wanted it. I can read both of them fairly well. R gives off a vibe that telegraphs his hand in a way that is hard to describe. It’s a subtle shift in his demeanor. F’s cousin plays ABC poker and is a bit of a chaser. You know when he has a big hand and you know when he’s on a draw. The kid, B, wears his hand on his sleeve, so there’s no problem there either. P and F are a little harder to figure out. No, make that a lot harder, and add to that the fact that they’ll play marginal hands preflop without a second thought.

I was holding my own. I was up about 50% with some good postflop play and a pair of Ks that went uncontested postflop. A $6 raise in this .50/1.00 game is seen as a challenge to call. And now that I think back on the evening, it’s seen as an indication that a player has a middle pocket pair. I know this because after a big hand, a discussion often ensues.

Because this game has pretty much the same cast of characters each week, there is a level of comfort and familiarity that, in the end, makes the game a little more challenging. As a hand is being played, the peanut gallery often chimes in with their reads. I don’t like this aspect, and don’t indulge, yet I keep quiet about it. I have already made my feelings known about rat holing, and had the house rules changed, so I had changed enough. I did note, however, if F didn’t like the chorus during a hand he was in, he spoke up. Too late. Nor did it subside.

F felted R, which was all the R could handle and he silently went to bed. The kid had bought in for $20 and was soon gone, leaving a four-handed game. I thought we might call it a night, but no, we were just getting started. M showed up to the game, a bit tipsy from a birthday party and was ready to throw some cash around. We now had three loose players at the table.

I began to take some hits. P called my raise and hit a K with his K7h to my AJs, I had a gutshot on the flop. He called my C-bet, I fired another bullet on the turn when it paired the board. He wasn’t budging and I gave up the ghost. UTG I pick up AQ and limp, knowing that if I were to raise, I’m going to get 3 callers. I’ll hope to hit the flop and go from there. M has different ideas. From the SB and with three limps behind him, he raises to $6. I’m his only caller. The flop is all small and M fires out $10. I figure with two overcards, I’ll see another card. The turn is small again and M bets $20. I fold. He shows A8c. OK… He may have had a gutshot.

I use this information to my advantage. I am in two more hands HU with M. Kings in the hole and he doesn’t believe me (remember, middle pair) and I take a portion of his stack. Then a nut flush river. He went into the tank with my value bet. No dice. He had caught an A on the flop, the turn paired my Kc and had it kept me in the hand. He showed his Ace with a 5s. I am now back above even.

It’s getting late. I have chores in the morning but I don’t want to leave the game just yet. I decide instead to shift my usual tight play into a limpfest. I’m up $12 and I’ll use that to see any two cards twelve times and then go home. Seven hands into this strategy I pick up 10s from UTG and bet $6, the reminder of my profit. As anticipated, I get two callers, P and F. (M is nursing his last $15.) The flop is Q 10 3, all hearts. F is the BB and bets $10 into a $18.50 pot. I re-raise another $20. I have $27 behind. F goes into the tank, P remarks that it is obvious I don’t want a call, F says he’s getting 3 to 1 to call, fiddles with his stack of $5 chips, and I’m kicking myself in the ass for not shoving. I had thought that putting in three times his bet would be enough of a psychological deterrent; instead, he’s doing the math. F calls. I know what F has. He has the Ah with a Q. I want F to know what I have too, loud and clear, and I shove the rest of my stack in blind.

The turn is a blank. He goes in the tank again, still shuffling those green chips. He mutters “6 to 1” and P is egging him on to call. I’m silently begging for mercy. After at least four minutes of this, F folds and asks for a rabbit hunt. Another blank. Oh well. I’m happy with the outcome. Yet, I have to think back over the hand. Had I shoved the flop, he may have folded and I’d be out an additional $20. Had I shoved the flop and, as unlikely as it was, he held two hearts, I’d be screwed. My raise on the flop was to find out where I was at and to send a message. The problem was that I was then left with so little behind that I was at his mercy. I am left thinking that I played the hand marginally well and got marginally lucky.

I stayed for another orbit and, having nearly doubled up, called it a night around 2am, only to come home and, before going to bed, flop quad Jacks on Poker Academy. My HU opponent boated up on the turn.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Swings, Part 2

Last night after chores had all been taken care of and I had closed down the Republican National Convention (Yes, this old progressive hippie watches The RNC too.), I poured a cup of coffee and played some 25NL at Stars. Ever patient, I waited for the right hands or the right spots, and managed to lose about $26. The final blow was cracked Aces against a set of Kings on the flop. A little voice said, “set” but I was too busy praying AK to listen. And, of course, he let me do all of the betting until he was all-in.

Today during chores I thought about the hand. Four out of five times, I’m good against Kings, right? The most immediate problem that came to mind real was that the $20 I lost on that hand represented 12% of my existing PS roll. Not so good. I gave some more consideration to moving down to 10NL and made a mental note to look around for one of those games tonight.

I’ve looked at the 10NL games before. Yesterday and today weren’t the first times I thought I should be more prudent with my roll. Yet, today, as on other days, I couldn’t find a room that registered as being loose, nor could I find one that wasn’t heavily peppered with people playing $2 stacks. No set mining allowed when the shorty pushes. No implied odds. Not prudent. Yet, I was determined to try, so I found one that had only a couple shorties and took a seat… for about two orbits.

I couldn’t stand it. It just wasn’t worth my time or, perhaps , more honestly, I don’t have the patience to grind any lower than 25NL. By the end of the second round I was looking for a move up.

I had to wait a bit, yet there were a couple stacks that looked to be in their final throes, so wait I did. (See, I can be patient.) However, my bladder was feeling a bit overwrought. Could I wait it out? Yes, a seat! I bought in, sat out and ran upstairs.

By the time I returned the blinds had just passed. “Wait until the big blind?” the program asked. No, I’ll play the cut-off. Pretty. QQ. An early position player raised 3 x BB and the player to my right called. Knowing full well that no one believes someone could possibly have a good hand when coming in like that, I popped it to $2.00. The first player folded and the second called. The flop was 388. Bet, raise, call. The turn, another Q, was sheer beauty. The guy puts in the rest of his initial $24. He has A3 off and immediately reloads for $10.

The next hand he pushes all-in and everyone dutifully folds. Same with the next hand and about 75% of the rest of his hands, increasing his stack to $17, and then he ran up against someone’s pocket Kings. Unfortunately, they weren’t mine. The best I saw was snowmen, and they weren’t worth $15.

With the donkey vanquished, it was time to move on. To make a long story short, I made another quick $7 in another room with 10s against 9s, leading the whole way after calling an early position 5 x BB preflop bet.
Then the phone rang. It might be my dear wife checking in, so GL folks, until tomorrow.

Very early on, when I was just learning how to play poker, I learned that money seems to disappear a lot faster than it comes in. Even today it seems to be the case. One can rationalize it away by blaming the big downward swings on bad beat and suckouts. Yes, they happen to all of us, and they are painful. Yet, they don’t happen every single time one loses a big pot or goes on a bad run. So, I have to look for holes.

I know my losing sessions aren’t caused by chasing. I simply don’t do it. If I have odds to a draw, I’m there; otherwise I fold. If I have a pocket pair and don’t hit a set on the flop, without four to a straight or flush, I’m gone. Where, then, do I lose it? Primarily with top pairs or TPTK hands. I push with them despite evidence that I may be beat. It’s almost as if I feel that I am owed the pot. Wow, what a huge flaw! What a newbie!

This is actually a much more complicated problem than being relatively new to the game. (Almost 3 years now.) It may have more to do with what Mr. Gumpo was talking about in his comments to my last post: bad players believing they have the best of it, when in fact they don’t, and me looking for a cooler draw behind every Bush. So, when the board looks favorable, I push it along with pot-sized bets, looking more to discourage players from staying in a hand than actually considering what winning hand I may be up against. I’m reading the players wrong, or rather, my approach is more reactionary than it should be.

I suspect, forgive me for saying this, that it has something to do with Poker Academy. Not with the software, and not with a majority of players who I play with day-in and day-out. It’s the ones that play as if it is play money. The same type of players, or so I imagine, are playing the micros at the cash sites, and $1/$2 at the casino (albeit fewer at the casino). Play money. $25 is play money for some, just as $100 is for a few others who can afford such a thing. They are either giving it their (not so) best or gambling for fun. (At the casino the loose players may be straight out gamblers, playing poker like they would roulette. Who knows? Sounds like a future post.)

I should be glad that these players are around, right? Over the long haul… right? Ultimately, it is my attitude that needs to shift. And this, dear friends, may be a more daunting task for me than doing algebra. Is it purely another manifestation of the bankroll issue? Is it an ego thing? I shall think upon it and, with the hope that any insights I gain might help other players, report back.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Swings

My dear wife is out of town for 10 days or so, helping her dear parents move from Colorado to California, and leaving me to my own devices. There are chores to do, so I can’t get into too much trouble. I can, however, get in a little poker. In fact, Dear Wifey encouraged me to pull a couple all-nighters. Don’t you just love her and envy me? Unfortunately, with the amount of work that needs to be done around here, and feeding schedules for cats and birds, I’m going to limit my play to the evening hours and hit the hay at a semi-reasonable hour. At least that’s my intention. It doesn’t always work out that way for this old bohemian.

When my dear wife is home, she handles Tuesday evening chores so I can go to my pub game. I had to skip the game last night; however, I did stop by there for a while in order to get the address of a couple who are hosting a game this Saturday evening. I arrived about 15 minutes before the first break, when they divide up the ghosts (chips at empty seats). All three tables were full. I was roundly welcomed, which is nice. There was still time for me to sit down and play, and I was tempted, but I opted otherwise.

Well, that’s not completely true. As one of the hosts for the Saturday game was writing down her address and drawing a map, I sat in for her. Just one hand. UTG with AJ off. I limped, as did about five other players. It was early in the levels, $50/$100, so everyone figures, “What the hell.” The flop comes J35 with 2 diamonds and the BB says, “bastin, you’re going to hate me because I’m playing that hand you hate.” That would be J3. She bets $100.

I say, “Yes, I know what you have and I have you beat.” I raise it to $300. Fold, fold, one call and then the BB also calls. It’s nice to know what both players have. The turn is an Ace, the big blind bets $300, I raise it to $600, the flush draw calls and the J3 calls. The river is another Ace. I have the Ad. BB checks, I bet $1000 and both fold. Why did I bet so much? Simply because I wanted both of them to fold. It wasn’t my hand and it wouldn’t smell right if I took more of their chips. The woman whose hand I was playing gave me a big hug. I ate my dinner and went home.

As much as I like to write slightly nasty stories about the pub game and players, I still enjoy these nights out and, by-and-large, if the people aren’t nice (many of them are), at least they’re colorful. And as time goes along and I know them better, I begin to not mind so much when they suck out.

The same sentiments apply to Poker Academy. No, I don’t care for some of the virtual people I play against, yet there are many whom I like quite a bit. And there are some I play with almost on a daily basis whom are still complete strangers. I’ll endure the suckouts or bad beats on PA because I enjoy playing with these people, and because it builds character for those games when there is real money on the line and the inevitable happens.

Playing on Poker Stars is a wholly different experience. This is play in almost a complete vacuum. Sometimes I will be in a room where I know someone; yet even then, chat is kept to a minimum or is non-existent as we don’t want to give anyone reason to think there is collusion. No, this is a pretty sterile environment, and maybe even a bit hostile, as everyone has just one thing in mine, taking money from others. So be it. I’m comfortable with that. After all, it’s complicit. So, let the fun begin.

I have discovered that stats on a room may be deceiving. I look for rooms in which 40% or more of the players are in a hand. I want loose and crazy, right? But in the past couple days when I find such a room and then run a search for the stats on individual players, I’m turning up a lot of shark and bomb ratings for six of the nine players in the room. The other two (not including myself) are the fish that are causing all of the excitement. I don’t particularly like being in such a situation, six players waiting to feed on the dinky morsels, yet, sometimes, it works out where one good player get all of the goodies.

PokerStars Game #20082419703: Hold'em No Limit ($0.10/$0.25) - 2008/09/01 - 23:51:55
(ET)
Table 'Resi' 9-max Seat #3 is the button
Seat 1: pplay10 ($4.95 in chips)
Seat 2: watiesta ($3.75 in chips)
Seat 3: 41Rose ($20.05 in chips)
Seat 4: bastinptc ($14.75 in chips)
Seat 5: vIrtUal.$1N ($11.55 in chips)
Seat 6: TallStackCP$ ($18.25 in chips)
Seat 8: VTBF2 ($6.65 in chips)
Seat 9: tofapoka ($22.40 in chips)
bastinptc: posts small blind $0.10
vIrtUal.$1N: posts big blind $0.25
Ports Rookie: sits out
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to bastinptc [Qd Qs]
TallStackCP$: folds
VTBF2: calls $0.25
tofapoka: folds
pplay10: folds
watiesta: calls $0.25
41Rose: calls $0.25
bastinptc: raises $1.75 to $2
vIrtUal.$1N: calls $1.75
VTBF2: calls $1.75
watiesta: calls $1.75
41Rose: folds
*** FLOP *** [9c 3d 8s]
bastinptc: bets $5
vIrtUal.$1N: folds
VTBF2: calls $4.65 and is all-in
watiesta: calls $1.75 and is all-in
Uncalled bet ($0.35) returned to bastinptc
*** TURN *** [9c 3d 8s] [Js]
*** RIVER *** [9c 3d 8s Js] [8d]
*** SHOW DOWN ***
bastinptc: shows [Qd Qs] (two pair, Queens and Eights)
VTBF2: mucks hand
bastinptc collected $5.55 from side pot
watiesta: mucks hand
bastinptc collected $12.85 from main pot
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot $19.30 Main pot $12.85. Side pot $5.55. | Rake $0.90
Board [9c 3d 8s Js 8d]
Seat 1: pplay10 folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 2: watiesta mucked [Tc 9h]
Seat 3: 41Rose (button) folded before Flop
Seat 4: bastinptc (small blind) showed [Qd Qs] and won ($18.40) with two pair, Queens
and Eights
Seat 5: vIrtUal.$1N (big blind) folded on the Flop
Seat 6: TallStackCP$ folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 8: VTBF2 mucked [7c 6c]
Seat 9: tofapoka folded before Flop (didn't bet)

I was a little stunned when I went back to see what the other players had as hands. I avoided the minefield, eh? And who knows what the initial caller had? I can’t help thinking how I would feel if either straight was filled, one or if watiesta would have boated. Both players were obviously looking to cooler when they called my preflop raise. This post might then have a slightly different tone.

I left the room shortly thereafter. I figured all the juicy bits were now gone. Plus, I am trying to adapt a hit-and-run strategy for these rooms. I need to build my bankroll, and getting into situations like the one above, albeit a good move, stresses me out a bit. I admit to getting a little terrorized because I can’t afford to take big hits relative to my stack size. I could, of course, move down in stakes. Yet, I imagine the play in the .05/.10 rooms is even more maniacal, and still, my bankroll is not all that much, so my stress level would probably stay the same.

The key, I believe, is to continue with the slow and steady. Even so, as I write this, I am tempted to sign on and play for a couple hours. But I have chores to do, so I’ll wait.

And if you get a chance to read this, Dear Wife, I miss you terribly.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Habitat

Last fall we planted cover crops in two of our paddocks, a mixture of clovers, cow peas and annual rye. The intention was to put something in the ground that would compete with the weeds that were sure to otherwise take over a fallow, recently tilled field. These plants have now all died and gone to seed.

Actually, they went to seed quite some time ago. I have left them standing for a reason, and that is I know field sparrows often use tall grasses to hide their ground nests and young. I found this fact out the hard way last year when I was readying a field for a second planting. One less field sparrow nest.

The tall dead grasses serve another purpose as well. A lot of seed-eating birds have been feeding off of the rye for a month or more. We try to provide birds with food. Every year we have sunflowers that volunteer, and when I’m mowing or tilling, I avoid these plants. The finches love the seeds in the fall. We also let our fencerows grow a little wild to provide the birds more food and some cover, and to give beneficial insects such as lacewings and mantids a place to live.

This late in the season all of the birds have fledged, so I figured it was safe to mow and till under the plants with the hope that the seeds would do a repeat performance. I use a bush hog to mow the fields. For you city slickers, think of a regular lawn mower blade and multiply it by about five in size and girth. This blade is housed in a piece of equipment that is put on the back of a tractor and is also propelled by the tractor’s power. It cuts about a five-foot swath. Pretty heavy-duty.

A soon as I started mowing, I noticed a milky white substance on a dead leaf of a taller plant. It looked like it might be a freshly-placed Praying Mantis egg cluster. I love mantids and would rather not have mowed it down, but too late, a front tire took the plant down and ran over it. Indeed, the field had numerous mantids, both the indigenous and imported varieties. Hopefully, they had been preying on the multitudes of grasshoppers I was also seeing.

The grasshoppers avoided the bush hog more readily than the mantids and for a moment I thought that perhaps I should just let the field be. I really didn’t like killing a beneficial insect. They eat a fair amount of the nasty ones. Of course, the ducks and the guinea also love grasshoppers and eat their fair share. But they also eat mantids. As I was mulling all of this over, I saw a vole. And then another. And another.

Voles are small rodents, like a cross between a mouse and a gopher. They burrow shallow tunnels and eat plant roots, including vegetables like carrots and potatoes. Every few years their populations grow to such a degree that they destroy large percentages of crop yields. The upside of these infestations is that the owl and raptor populations also grow. (We have installed barn owl nesting box just for such an occasion.) We’re about due for another one of those years, and this field already had its fair share. I would have to keep mowing, if for no other reason than to displace them. Perhaps the hawks and owls would benefit over the next couple days, but just in case they couldn’t get them all, I began chasing the varmints down with the tractor.

In the end, I left about a tractor’s width of the field unmowed. Some of the mantids escaped, and perhaps they will use what I didn’t take down to lay their eggs. Of course, there is another eight acres that I am certain is just as full of these wonderful bugs, so all is not lost. But there are voles out there too.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Getting the hang of it.

I have been trying to take Mr. Gumpo’s and Sandman’s advice on playing smaller online cash games. Look for loose tables, play uber tight, play pairs for sets, fold AQ early, bet aggressively upfront with big pairs, and multi-table to decrease the boredom factor. In the past few weeks I have tried all or some of these strategies, all the while taking notes on the type of play I’m seeing, looking to tailor their approaches to fit a style with which I will feel most at home.

It’s not like I’m a complete novice, correct? So, why all of the trepidation up to this point? Because I’ve been playing, at best, a break-even game. Actually, I’ve moved from a losing game to a break-even, which is an improvement, and I chalk it up to learning how to play these lower stakes rooms, getting over the fact that my roll is piddly, and settling in to the grind.

Sunday afternoons at Stars seems to be a good time to play. I wondered. It seemed to make sense that a long holiday weekend, or just a weekend in general would have a lot of folks playing poker, and perhaps some of them would be more recreational players. I logged on and started looking around for a room with over 40% of the players in a hand. I found one, sat in and played for a while with little happening in my hand. The percentage of players in a hand started to diminish as well, and, in fact, people started leaving the table, so I renewed my search.

Eight players at a table, one seat open, 50% in a hand. I grabbed the seat. The big stack was two to my left. I’d rather not have him there, but I’d see how it went. It soon became apparent to me that the big stack was the reason this table was so loose. He was betting up everything, either with a minraise or 5 xBB. Position didn’t seem to matter.

I had AQoff in middle position and limped. He minraise from the SB and I called. Q on the flop, he checked and I bet the pot. He called. Turn brings the 10 of diamonds, a second diamond and he bet out. I called. A of diamonds on the river and he bets small. I call. Runner runner flush, no Q no 10, nothing much at all. I reloaded what I had lost.

As the game proceeded, it became apparent that the player to my immediate left (cmchu) and Mr. Flushy (oreoboe) were doing a lot of battle, and they were doing so with less than stellar hands. Mr. Flushy was still living up to his name with this player as trips went down, leaving this player a shortish stack. I picked up Qs in the SB, and after several limpers, bet 8 x BB. The BB, Mr. Shorty, (cmchu) and a middle position player called. The flop was a blank and I fired again. Mr. Shorty went all-in with what little he had left, the other player called the all-in and I shoved. Middle position folded and Mr Shorty hit a straight on the river with his pocket 9s. I didn’t take too bad of a hit, of which I was relieved and added more chips again.

The game was still loose as hell. So loose that there were 10 players waiting to get into the game! Mr. Flushy (oreoboe) had just lost a pot betting to the river with air when this hand came up:

PokerStars Game #20050180486: Hold'em No Limit ($0.10/$0.25) - 2008/08/31 - 19:43:38
(ET)
Table 'Suttung II' 9-max Seat #3 is the button
Seat 1: Sep79 ($25 in chips)
Seat 2: bastinptc ($25 in chips)
Seat 3: cmchu ($12.65 in chips)
Seat 4: oeroboe ($50.20 in chips)
Seat 5: nancy34 ($20.15 in chips)
Seat 6: juice1319 ($25 in chips)
Seat 7: icenine3 ($7.25 in chips)
Seat 8: addie10 ($27.55 in chips)
Seat 9: yipyapsap ($25.65 in chips)
oeroboe: posts small blind $0.10
nancy34: posts big blind $0.25
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to bastinptc [3d Ad]
juice1319: folds
icenine3: calls $0.25
addie10: calls $0.25
yipyapsap: folds
Sep79: folds
bastinptc: calls $0.25
cmchu: calls $0.25
oeroboe: raises $0.25 to $0.50
nancy34: calls $0.25
icenine3: calls $0.25
addie10: calls $0.25
bastinptc: calls $0.25
cmchu: calls $0.25
*** FLOP *** [9d 8c Kd]
oeroboe: bets $4
nancy34: folds
icenine3: folds
addie10: folds
bastinptc: calls $4
cmchu: folds
*** TURN *** [9d 8c Kd] [6s]
oeroboe: bets $0.25
bastinptc: calls $0.25
*** RIVER *** [9d 8c Kd 6s] [Qs]
oeroboe: bets $1
bastinptc: calls $1
*** SHOW DOWN ***
oeroboe: shows [5h 3h] (high card King)
bastinptc: shows [3d Ad] (high card Ace)
bastinptc collected $12.90 from pot
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot $13.50 | Rake $0.60
Board [9d 8c Kd 6s Qs]
Seat 1: Sep79 folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 2: bastinptc showed [3d Ad] and won ($12.90) with high card Ace
Seat 3: cmchu (button) folded on the Flop
Seat 4: oeroboe (small blind) showed [5h 3h] and lost with high card King
Seat 5: nancy34 (big blind) folded on the Flop
Seat 6: juice1319 folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 7: icenine3 folded on the Flop
Seat 8: addie10 folded on the Flop
Seat 9: yipyapsap folded before Flop (didn't bet)

I had retrieved what I had lost earlier to this guy. As scary as that board was, I wasn’t folding with his last 1.00 bet, that’s for sure. I got lucky, but sometimes, Ace high is good enough, especially with information to back up the call. The danger, however, was that now it appeared that I had joined in the fray of calling down with air. Or, maybe it wasn’t such a bad thing, for I wasn’t the only one looking to score big at this table, even if it meant sucking out. The very next hand is with the guy to my immediate left (cmchu):

Table 'Suttung II' 9-max Seat #4 is the button
Seat 1: Sep79 ($25 in chips)
Seat 2: bastinptc ($32.15 in chips)
Seat 3: cmchu ($12.15 in chips)
Seat 4: oeroboe ($44.45 in chips)
Seat 5: nancy34 ($19.65 in chips)
Seat 6: juice1319 ($25 in chips)
Seat 7: icenine3 ($6.75 in chips)
Seat 8: addie10 ($27.05 in chips)
Seat 9: yipyapsap ($25.65 in chips)
nancy34: posts small blind $0.10
juice1319: posts big blind $0.25
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to bastinptc [Qs Jd]
icenine3: raises $0.25 to $0.50
addie10: calls $0.50
yipyapsap: folds
Sep79: folds
bastinptc: calls $0.50
cmchu: calls $0.50
oeroboe: calls $0.50
nancy34: folds
juice1319: calls $0.25
*** FLOP *** [Qh 6c 7c]
juice1319: checks
icenine3: checks
addie10: checks
bastinptc: bets $3
cmchu: calls $3
oeroboe: folds
juice1319: folds
icenine3: folds
addie10: folds
*** TURN *** [Qh 6c 7c] [7h]
bastinptc: bets $3.25
cmchu: calls $3.25
*** RIVER *** [Qh 6c 7c 7h] [9d]
bastinptc: bets $5
cmchu: raises $0.40 to $5.40 and is all-in
bastinptc: calls $0.40
*** SHOW DOWN ***
cmchu: shows [Kc Ad] (a pair of Sevens)
bastinptc: shows [Qs Jd] (two pair, Queens and Sevens)
bastinptc collected $25.15 from pot
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot $26.40 | Rake $1.25
Board [Qh 6c 7c 7h 9d]
Seat 1: Sep79 folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 2: bastinptc showed [Qs Jd] and won ($25.15) with two pair, Queens and Sevens
Seat 3: cmchu showed [Kc Ad] and lost with a pair of Sevens
Seat 4: oeroboe (button) folded on the Flop
Seat 5: nancy34 (small blind) folded before Flop
Seat 6: juice1319 (big blind) folded on the Flop
Seat 7: icenine3 folded on the Flop

I had now recovered my losses from both players, with quite a bit on top of that.

Of course, the room went dead after that, the waiting line had dropped to 1 and I got ready to call it a day.

With all of the action in this room, I only had one other table open. Actually, two tables is about all I can handle at this early stage in my online game. And, although the other table was supposedly fairly loose, it wasn’t anything like the other table. There were a couple generic calling stations, one LAG and a couple rocks. I lost holding 77 to a guy with K2 who called my flop raise (all blanks) and hit a K on the turn. That was about it. I folded a lot, took down a small pot with a pair of Jacks. I was tight, tight, tight forever. Change-up time!


Table 'Unitas III' 9-max Seat #3 is the button
Seat 1: voelker ($27.60 in chips)
Seat 2: Eksal ($6.35 in chips)
Seat 3: phillme13 ($14.50 in chips)
Seat 4: rdgoins ($15.25 in chips)
Seat 6: FlagellumD ($34.70 in chips)
Seat 7: bastinptc ($17.70 in chips)
Seat 8: Jeusbbp ($40.50 in chips)
Seat 9: SCScoach ($24.65 in chips)
rdgoins: posts small blind $0.10
FlagellumD: posts big blind $0.25
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to bastinptc [5s 4s]
bastinptc: calls $0.25
Jeusbbp: folds
SCScoach: calls $0.25
voelker: folds
Eksal: folds
phillme13: folds
rdgoins: calls $0.15
FlagellumD: checks
*** FLOP *** [5h 7d 9d]
rdgoins: checks
FlagellumD: checks
bastinptc: checks
SCScoach: checks
*** TURN *** [5h 7d 9d] [4d]
rdgoins: bets $1
FlagellumD: folds
bastinptc: calls $1
SCScoach: folds
*** RIVER *** [5h 7d 9d 4d] [4c]
rdgoins: bets $1
bastinptc: raises $1.75 to $2.75
rdgoins: calls $1.75
*** SHOW DOWN ***
bastinptc: shows [5s 4s] (a full house, Fours full of Fives)
rdgoins: mucks hand
bastinptc collected $8.10 from pot
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot $8.50 | Rake $0.40
Board [5h 7d 9d 4d 4c]
Seat 1: voelker folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 2: Eksal folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 3: phillme13 (button) folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 4: rdgoins (small blind) mucked [8h 6h]
Seat 6: FlagellumD (big blind) folded on the Turn
Seat 7: bastinptc showed [5s 4s] and won ($8.10) with a full house, Fours full of
Fives

I’m soooo embarrassed! Think I could have gotten more? Probably not with the flush and paired board. He made the price right, so maybe I’m not so embarrassed after all.

I didn’t stick around long after this hand. I was happy with my results and let it go, up for the day. Maybe up more than I ever have been at PS. Maybe I’m starting to get the hang of what it takes to play at this site. I have to think more on this, as it is apparent that I loosened up more than what Mr. Gumpo recommends. Maybe it’s a case of “whatever works,” and I say this because of my experience at PA. Loose tables are often the norm and it is often the odd hand that takes down a pot. Not always, yet it is clear that the player who has superior hand-reading skills can readily outplay the ABC, top pair, TPTK player. The downside is potentially higher variance, which I don’t have the luxury of enduring at this juncture.

As I said, I have a lot of thinking to do. And playing. Together, I believe I can come up with a strategy that suits me.