Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Losing and winning in Tampa

I went back to the Tampa Hard Rock on Thursday night, and after buying in for $90 and playing for four hours, ended up cashing out for $63. Although I won some good hands, my pocket pairs never hit their sets and I got rivered a few times more than usual.

All is well, though, because I had a very DarthSlumlord-like experience on the way out. I had $5 in $1 bills on me, so I tossed them into a $1 single-line low top-prize slot bingo machine (1000, I think), deciding to give it five pulls, and to take whatever happened. On the third pull, I get [double-bar / double-bar / bonus] for something like $95. I cash out, turning a losing night into a winner. (Then again, four hours of entertainment for $27 wouldn't have been bad, either.)

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Shhh... Conference rooms

This week I'm attending a Business Forms Management conference in at the Orlando Doubletree hotel, and in the middle of a particularly dry session ("Intermediate XML," which really should have been called "Intro to XML Basics"), I excused myself to head to the restroom, in part because I needed to get up to keep from dozing off.

As I walked through the bank of conference rooms, a group of a dozen middle school kids -- apparently a school group heading to Universal Studios -- rounded a corner chatting loudly. A janitor politely motioned that they needed to quiet down. One kid was ahead of the rest of the group, and didn't see the janitor's signal. His classmate called out to him and pointed at a conference room door, "Jared, shhhh, people are trying to sleep." He wasn't far off the mark.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Poker at the Tampa Hard Rock

I think I like live action poker a lot more than online. If poker really is a game of people, played with cards, you lose a lot of that online. Case in point.

Yesterday, I drove an hour from my conference in Orlando to the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel/Casino in Tampa. I'd originally planned to drive an hour the other direction, to a dog track in Daytona (apparently, Florida law allows poker at dog tracks, but that's it). But my weakness for roulette got the better of me, and I headed to the west coast instead of east.

When I arrived, I was disappointed to see that there's no table games at the Seminole Hard Rock. No roulette, no blackjack, no craps. Just rows and rows and rows and rows of slots. Curse this limited net access!

But... there's a poker room. 48 tables. When I arrived at 6:00 on a Monday night, the place was -- well, I was gonna say dead, but there was still more poker going on there than anywhere else I've seen. They probably had four $1/$2 tables, four $2/$2 tables, and a few Omaha tables playing. I got in as the 9th player, bought in for $90, and as is my style, only went in on premium hands. At my lowest point over the next three hours, I was only down to $82, and I left at the top of my game, up to $146 (+$56) when it got too late to continue.

When you're sitting with someone, it's a lot easier to tell how clueless they are, or whether their call on the turn is because they've got a good hand or if they're playing sherriff. It's a lot easier to know who's betting on the theory that any two cards can win, because they'll tell you. It's lot easier to tell how on-tilt the player across the table from you is after losing their ace-high straight to quad queens.

My big money hand for the night was a very marginal Kh 9s that I got into in middle position. The flop came 4h 9h 7s, giving me top pair with K kicker (and a very slim chance at a runner runner flush). Checked to me, I tossed in $1, and the other players called. Turn is 9d, giving me top set. There's four of us still in, and quiet girl checks, loud guy tosses in $2, I raise to $4, and the other three players call. Loud guy correctly announces that he's put me on a set of nines (grr..). The river is 9c, giving me quads. It checks to me, I bet $2, the guy to my left folds, quiet girl and loud guy call, and my quad beats their tied nines-over-fours boats. Nice.

By the way, Happy Days in Lakewood looks like they reopened last Friday after their remodel.

My big money hand for the night was a very marginal Kh 9s that I got into in middle position. The flop came 4h 9h 7s, giving me top pair with K kicker (and a very slim chance at a runner runner flush). Checked to me, I tossed in $1, and the other players called.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Bremerton II Draft I

I posted Draft 1 of the second Bremerton Cache Machine this weekend. I'm already getting some good feedback. I hope the buffet place at the end can 1) handle our hungry group, 2) handle us staying way past their closing time, and 3) can figure out how to serve beer.

I'm hopeful for #1, concerned about #2, and very doubtful about #3. I can't find anywhere in Bremerton/Silverdale that will take 100 people with no prepayment, though.

I need a scapegoat

Ouch. Over the last week, I've dropped about $100, down about $130 from my high point this go-round. When I was doing well, I told DarthSlumlord that the first key is to only bet on premium hands: pairs, blackjacks, and paint. So, inexplicably, after talking to he-who-shall-not-be-named, I begin playing suited cards in late position. Sure, you can win hands that you wouldn't expect, but everyone else out there is doing the same thing, so half the time you hit the flush, someone's got a higher flush.

That, plus the steaming that such play causes, ain't a good thing.

The second key, and the thing that does well for me when I do it well, is knowing when to get out of a hand. Just because someone plays like a fool most of the time doesn't mean they didn't hit their hand. I was holding J7 suited and the flop came AA7 rainbow. Betting came to me, and I called. The turn is another 7, two other players are in, so I raise. The river's a 3, and I and another decent player bet each other to the max. Of course, he shows A2. I knew he had the Aces over Sevens boat, but couldn't bring myself to fold my Sevens over Aces. Sigh.

My 15% bonus showed up today, though. Yay, $4.50.

Friday, May 13, 2005

$2/$4? Ouch.

Yesterday, I mentioned that I was gonna try the $2/$4 online tables. I started last night at a $1/$2, sat down with $30 in chips, and lost them all over the course of 45 minutes. I switched to another $1/$2 table with another $30, and 20 minutes later, was up to $64. Net +$4.

Then I switched to a $2/$4 table with $60, and lost $58 of it. Net -$54.

Took some time off, watched a bit of TV, helped the kid with her homework, and hopped back on a few hours later. Back to the $1/$2 with $30, which fluctuated as low as $10, but ended with $47 on a nut flush (Holding Kd Qs, flop is Xd Yd Ad, turn is Kh, river is Qd) Net -$37 for the night.

I think at the more expensive table, I was taking more chances. Not bad chances -- the pot odds said to go for the open end straight draw -- but expensive chances. That, and my two pair lost to a guy who slow played his set of 8's on the flop.

I'll stick with the $1/$2 tables for a while.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Another night, another $25

I played for half an hour last night (hey, my time's limited, and the TiVo was about to delete the two Eyes of Nye episodes and Breaking Vegas, so there's 90 minutes right there), and went up another $25. When I was done, I noticed one fact I should have seen before I started playing. At it's busy times, TigerGaming has about 5500 players on line. I don't like to play when there's less than 4000 -- I found that the caliber of player gradually improves at the slow times. Last night, there were 1700 players. Eep!

No spectacular hands -- just winning the ones I should have. It probably would have been $35 or so, but I did dumb stuff like betting $1 on two overcards after the flop, or seeing a pre-flop raise while on the small blind holding A4 offsuit.

I'm wondering if I should move up to the $2/$4 table tonight.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Button nuts

After last Saturday's play, bankroll up to $50 (from my $15 buy in), it was time to leave the 10¢/20¢ tables and head for higher stakes. The level this week: $1/$2.

The players at the $1/$2 aren't any better, except that they don't go in with the hands that drive you insane when you lose, like 3d 6h. Realistically, it makes the $1/$2 table easier, because there's more of an opportunity to put someone on a hand. You'll still see guys with big bankrolls going in with Tc 6c in middle position ("but it's soooooted!"), but you'll won't see bizarre straight draws being hit nearly as often.

On Sunday I turned my $50 into $60, and last night turned my $60 into $90, mostly by just playing the good starting hands.

Tonight, though... Lemme tell ya.

I knew things were going to be interesting when I sat down to the right of the button, posted my $1, got dealt 8h 5c, and saw the flop for free: Qs, 8c, 4d. The hand checks around, and As comes on the turn. Again, the hand checks around. The river is 3h. It checks around, and I win $6.70 with my pair of eights. Wha??

A few hands later, in middle position, I get dealt Td Qs. A marginal hand, and one I probably shouldn't have played, but I tossed $1 at it. Seven players, including the blinds. The flop is Jc Qc 7s. I got me top pair. Checks to me, I bet a buck, get four folds and two callers (small blind and UTG).

Turn is 9d. Checks to me, and I bet $2. SB and UTG call. The river is Qh. Checks to me, I bet $2, SB folds, UTG calls. My set beats his two pair, JJQQ9. $19 win (+$13 net).

It gets better. Four hands later, I'm dealt Jc Kh on the button. Eight players in, one folds, and the flop comes Td 3c Qs. A double open-ended straight draw. It checks around to me, so I make a $1 position bet. The blinds and UTG fold, the next four players call. The turn is 9d. Quick: what's the nuts?

It's my hand: Jx Kx. The only thing I've got to worry about on the river is something pairing up to give someone a full house or a quad, or a diamond to give them a flush.

Names will help at this point to keep the action straight. In order of play are ConMan13, EastCoast, MiloAlsa, Squid7, and me.

ConMan13 checks, and EastCost bets $2. Milo and Squid call. I raise to $4. ConMan13 check-raises to $6, which isn't a surprise -- he'd been doing that a lot. EastCoast caps it at $8 (4 bets), Milo folds, and the rest of us call.

The river is Ah. I probably couldn't have asked for a better card. This gives me the top nut straight, and will make anyone with an ace feel that their hand is even stronger.

The other three players check to me, and I bet $2. ConMan13 check raises (big surprise.) to $4, EastCoast folds, Squid calls, I raise to $6, ConMan13 caps it at $8, Squid calls, I call.

Community cards: Td 3c Qs 9d Ah
Squid's cards: 3s 9h (two pair) what was he doing playing this?!
ConMan13's cards: Qd Qc (set)
My cards: Jc Kh (straight), for a $70 win (+$52 net)

I play 13 more hands, dropping $5 on blinds and failing to hit a set of 4's on the flop. It's a good night.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Geocaching with Criminal Intent

Next on Law & Order: Criminal Intent (nbc.com)

9pm 2005-05-08 ALL NEW!
STREET SHOOTINGS RAISE PUBLIC OUTCRY AS POLICE PROBE FEMALE STALKER -- AND HIGH-TECH TREASURE HUNT GAME -- After a young actor Mike, (guest star Jeffrey Hephner) is wounded and his fiancee is shot dead on the street, Detectives Goren (Vincent D. Onofrio) and Eames (Kathryn Erbe) are pointed towards the surviving victim's former girlfriend, who is known to have stalked him. The key, however, might turn on their probe of geocaching, a high-tech treasure-hunt game that could yield vital clues. As the media and public mourn the man's tragic loss, the police want to take another look at some of his acting buddies, especially one who never lets go of his Palm Pilot. Jamey Sheridan and Courtney B. Vance also star.

I sure hope this doesn't scare the cops around here more than geocaching already has.