Tuesday, December 28, 2004

The Danger of Queens

Back on November 20, I wrote that happiness is not a set of queens. Doyle Brunson, in Super System, wrote that he never plays AQ offsuit, because it's the kind of hand that can get you in a lot of trouble. I mentioned this at the 25¢ no-limit poker game at Trestin's last night.

Naturally, I get dealt QQ in the small blind a few hands later. Jon's to my left, in for a quarter. Phil's in for a quarter. Kevin and Trestin fold. I raise to $1, Jon folds. Phil calls.

The flop is A x K. Two overcards to my pair -- this is not good at all. However, I'd decided before I sat down last night to play loose aggressive, so I go in for another $1. Phil calls.

Fourth street is J. At this point, I think to myself, Phil has a pair of Aces or Kings, probably with a high kicker, or maybe the J gave him two pair. Just as likely, he might be bluffing (he does that a lot more than he probably should). Regardless, the only way I'm winning this pot is to force him out. I go all in for $2.70.

Phil thinks about it for a good two minutes. With my play, I know he's thinking I've got a high pocket pair to give me a set, or else I've got a blackjack. With the river still to come... he calls. We turn the cards over.

Phil has AQ, giving him a pair of Aces with a Queen kicker. I've got a pair of Queens with an Ace kicker. The only card that'll help me is the last Queen. A ten will split the pot.

The river's a King. Phil wins, AAKKQ to my KKQQA.

Happiness is not pocket queens, either.

(Oh, and I came out ahead 50¢ yesterday evening at the $0.50/$1 table online. I tend to do a lot better at a full table, but the one I was at was fluctuating between six and ten people for the whole 90 minutes I was there.)

Monday, December 27, 2004

Slowly, slowly

I only played poker a couple of hours over Christmas weekend, but ended up ahead another $15, plus I met the required rake hands, so I got my $35 new customer bonus.

It's slow going at the $0.50/$1.00 level, but I want to take it slowly until I get up to 150% of my latest buy-in. As I mentioned in earlier posts, I'd been playing some real crappy poker, and been getting burned on it, and consequently doubting myself. I need to do well for a while before I jump up a table.

Kim got me a Dealer button (and blind buttons) for Christmas. My parents got me an octagonal poker table top. Kim's parents got me a seven-foot long felt table cover. Krys got me cards. I'm sensing a theme :-)

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Ammo cans out the wazoo

A local geocacher just won an auction for 403 ammo cans -- 15 pallets -- from Ft. Lewis. He's selling them to other local cachers at cost: $1.50 each. This means that in the next few months, it's very likely that we'll see a lot more regular size caches instead of all those horrid micros.

And there was much rejoicing.

Humility wins

I dropped down another $65 on Monday night, mostly in hands where, at the river, I looked at my situation and said to myself "Self, that guy's been playing like he's hit his set/straight/flush since the flop/turn. Your measley two pair isn't gonna do it. He's got you beat, Self." And then I say to myself, "Nah. Two pair's good," and call. There's not a lot of bluffing at the $2/$4 or $5/$10 tables.

At one point on the $2/$4, my JJ won $32. The very next hand, I got JJ again and lost $30. Sigh.

Tuesday night, however, I dropped myself back down to the $0.50/$1.00 table, and played while catching up on the last week of Fark.com. For the most part, I only played premium hands, even folding QT offsuit pre-flop on the button facing a single raise from middle position. After about two hours of play, I ended up ahead $25. My first positive real money night in weeks.

It'll be a long road back to those glory days of November when I was having $150 and $200 nights. Somewhere along the line, I think I began to expect, nay, deserve(!) to win a lot -- two pair's good, right? -- and that was my downfall.

Smart, conservative play is what I did last night, and what I need to continue doing. Things like consulting the pot odds chart from Gary Carson's Complete Book of Hold 'Em Poker in marginal situations. Things like making notes like "whirlyjim raised pre-flop with AK off. whirlyjim raised pre-flop with QQ." Things like deciding, more often than I have been, that if a player is betting like he's got the six to make the inside straight, he probably does.

On another note, some folks (hi, Bill and Kevin!) have recommended Doyle Brunson's Super System to me. I need to pick it up from the library on the way home tonight.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Draft 2 of Gig Harbor posted

I posted the second draft of the Gig Harbor Cache Machine route last night. I've added another night cache to the route; I hope it's not raining and cold and miserable. (In early January? Nahhh...)

Back in, down $30

I bought in again last night at Empire Poker (on the Party Poker network), and did OK at a $0.50/$1.00 table, then mediocrely at a $2/$4 table, for the first two hours. I was up about $20. Then I hit a hand. I was dealt As 7h, limped in, and hit Ah 7s 9s on the flop. I bet and raised, and one other player stayed in. 7d came on the river, giving me a full boat, sevens over aces. I jammed the pot, as did my opponent. The river came 9c. We max bet, and he shows his 9h 3c. His full boat nines-over-sevens wins. I ended my night a few hands later, down about $30. I think I played it right, though. I'd have done better if the other monster hands I was dealt actually had people staying in to see the flop.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Thanks, fairy godmother!

About a week-and-a-half ago, Robbbbbb described his night of poker as getting "hit over the head with the deck like a fairy godmother gifting me with her wand." Too bad I was playing in a play-money tournament last night, because the same thing happened to me.

I haven't played for real money in a few weeks. I'm still trying to build my confidence back after my rabid tilt-a-thon. So in lieu of that, I like to be in play money tournaments, because the people there -- for the most part -- are still actually trying to win. Sure, once in a while you'll have someone who gets bored and decides to give all their money to the winner of the next hand by jamming the pot with 2-2 offsuit, but usually when half of the 10 original players are left, they're in it to win it. Granted, they still play a bit looser than real money tables, but it's still the tightest free game I've found.

The game is a ten player table, everyone starts with 800.

Early on, at the 15/30 level, I was dealt pocket 8's. The flop came T48 rainbow. A set of 8's? I'll bet that aggressively. I did, had a couple of raisers, a lot more callers, and got the pot up in the 400s somewhere. The turn was the fourth 8. I jam the pot, still have a few raisers, and it's up in the 800s. The river is a low rag, I've got the nuts, and leave that hand up about 1300.

I'm the big stack at this point, and I watch as four players drop out over the next ten hands.

The guy to my right is a pretty aggressive player; over the next 20 hands, I gave him a bunch of blinds and two-bets. Then, I get pocket jacks under the gun, and raise him all the way to the end, and he lost with his 4-9 suited. Ahhh. A bluff-bully revealed.

The next hand, with five players left, I'm in the big blind and got dealt crap, but everyone calls and I see the flop for free. A84 rainbow. All I've got is a pair of 4's. It checks around to BluffBully, who bets the minimum. I raise him, thinking he's got nothing again. Everyone else gets out, and we're in a raising war. We raise each other all the way to the end, and the dog wins with his AQ. I picked the wrong time to try to push him around.

The game continues. Three players are left, the blinds are at 100/200. I'm on the button and get dealt 5-5. I raise to 400. Small blind drops out, and BluffBully raises, of course. I call, and I hit another set on the flop, T57. BluffBully bets, I raise, he raises, I call. The turn is another 7; I've got full house 5's over 7's. I jam the pot, he slowly jams the pot, the river's a 9. We both quickly raise raise raise, and he's all-in. He's holding 6-8 for the straight. Buh bye.

A few hands later against a very short stack, and for the first time in weeks, I've won a play money tournament.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Candid camera notes

Well, I went to Best Buy at lunch today and picked up a JVC GR-D72 camcorder in preparation for Krys' concert on Thursday. My other options were the Panasonic PV-GS9, or the Canon ZR-80.

All three use the Mini DV digital tapes.

The Panasonic was a very close second, but it lacks a SD media slot (nice to have in the future, I'd think), lacks a pass-through analog port (for converting analog to digital, such as a VHS tape to MPEG), and its image stabilization seemed far superior. I focused both the Panasonic and the JVC on a range hood carton ¾ of the way across the store at full optical zoom, and the JVC was much easier to keep on the same area.

The Canon's LCD view screen looked really washed out, which may be because it was had been running 18 hours a day for the last year in the display case, but if that's the case, that's a good reason not to get it.

The first small camcorder I ever used was my grandfather's JVC, and I think it's still functional today. Hopefully, this one will last as long.

Monday, December 06, 2004

An okay weekend; time for a camcorder

I played poker on Friday and Saturday night with my new chips. On Friday, in a seven player game, I did fairly well. The cards weren't coming too well, but I ended up with $16 for my $5 buy in. A lot of that came at Phil's expense, because for some reason I just kept beating him by a card (for example, AJ making a pair of aces with jack kicker versus his AT making a pair of aces with ten kicker).

On Saturday, we played a ten-player game at Nub's place, and Robbbbbb kicked major butt. I think he bought in for $15 and left with $38, but he was easily up over $50 at one point. I left with $5 of my $10 buy in, so I'm up $11 for the weekend. Kevin did well both days, which should help him pay for his beer while he's waiting for work.

My first big purchase with my poker winnings was t-shirts for my daughter's soccer team. Then the poker chips. Now I'm in the market for a camcorder before Krys' concert on Thursday. I thought tape was dead, but apparently DVD and mini-DVD camcorders aren't quite good enough yet, and the mini-DV tape is still the way to go for low-end decent-quality camcorders. I'm looking at the Panasonic PV-GS9, or the Canon ZR-80.

Friday, December 03, 2004

Blue star for you, Mr. Lauricella

As a result of my poker chip purchase (they arrived yesterday, and they are sweet), I got my 50th positive feedback on Ebay, giving me a blue star. Woot.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Dumb casino moves

Yesterday, I'd mentioned that the online casino that I (used to) play at had e-mailed me about their new software, and had given out $13 in free money to test it out.

Part of the reason I'd played at Phoenician was because of their elegant, slick, crisp, smooth-running interface. They used software they'd licensed from Real Time Gaming, which is also used by many other online casinos.

Their new software is, as best as I can tell, the January 2003 release of the Viper engine from Microgaming. One aggrivating feature is that after you download the 5 MB software package and install it, you get three games (a blackjack version, a slot machine, and something else I don't recall. Other games have to be downloaded as needed, and you can't download them to test them without a balance in your online account.

The graphics are pretty blocky and appear to have been designed for a 640 x 480 screen. Ick.

But the worst part: I couldn't find multiplayer poker, so I e-mailed the casino. Their response:

Dear Sir/Madam,

Thank you for contacting Customer Support.

Unfortunately multiplayer poker is no longer available at the casino. however if you would like to partake in this game, we suggest Aztec Riches poker at [some hyperlink I see no need to advertise]

Please do not hesitate in contacting us if you have any further questions or comments.

I don't know what decision-making process they went through to make this change, but at least from the poker standpoint, if you're making a 5% vig off of every pot, you're essentially just printing yourself money every time a game's played. Maybe RTG's cut was too big or something, but this just seems like a dumb move to me.

Time to go elsewhere.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Free money?

I just got an e-mail that the online casino I play at just got new software, and to test it out they're giving some players free money to test it. I got $13. Wonder if I can build it into anything?


My new poker chips are on their way up from southern California. UPS says they should arrive on Thursday. Sweet.