Saturday, September 30, 2006

Archiving another cache: too much bureaucracy

I received an e-mail from the Washington State Geocaching Association last night, stating in part:

If you have already established a cache in a Washington State Park but have not informed the park manager or have written permission to establish a cache PLEASE promptly take steps to get that permission per the new directive as soon as possible.

Well, my Potlatch cache is certainly one of these, because it's in Potlatch state park, I hid it on March 17, 2002, and I never obtained written permission to play the game in the park.

I checked out the new policy (effective July 6), and I certainly don't want to take the time to meet with the park ranger, obtain a permit for it every year, and visit the cache every 90 days. I also don't like having to indemnify the state against claims arising from the geocache's existence. It's a lot easier just to archive it, and let someone else who wants to jump through the hoops place one in the park.

One gap connectors, paired jacks and paired kings / these are a few of my favorite things

Last night, I was way in the groove. Four simultaneous $0.50/$1 tables on Party Poker, and I ended up ahead on all of them. Here's a few of my favorite hands:

  • 8 6, big blind

    I check, four players to the flop, of 769 rainbow. Bottom pair, and an open ended straight draw for me. Small blind checks, I bet 50¢, three callers, the turn is an 8, giving me two pair, but giving someone else a possible straight. The small blind bets $1, making the pot $5. I've got a 10% chance of hitting one of my four outs, and I figure there's a 10% chance the guy doesn't have a straight, so I call. One more caller, one fold, and with a $7 pot, the river is another beautiful 6. Small blind bets, I raise to $2, they both call, and I take down the $13 pot, facing T3 (he had the straight) and the hammer (who paired his 7 on the flop and couldn't let go).

  • J J, under the gun

    I raise to $1, the button raises to $1.50, four of us go to the flop of T66 rainbow. I bet, one player folds, another raises, button re-raises, I cap it, they call, three players with $13 in the pot, and a J comes on the turn. I bet, get a raise and a call, I re-raise, middle position caps, button calls. River's a 2. I bet, middle raises, button calls, I raise, those two players call, and I take down a $34 pot with my full house, up against pocket aces (two pair) and KT (two pair).

  • K K, middle position

    One caller in front of me, I raise to $1.00. Cutoff raises to $1.50, button folds, small blind calls, original caller calls, I raise to $2. Three callers, four players to the flop, of Q A T. Checked to me, I bet 50¢, three callers, flop is 5. Checked to me, I bet $1, three callers, river is 6, for a possible flush. Checked to me (so there's two non-flushes), I bet $1, three callers, I take down an $18.50 pot with top pair, facing QJ (second pair), pocket nines (um.. fourth pair?), and Q7 (second pair weak kicker). Yeah, these guys went on my buddy list. I'll play them again any time.

I'd questioned a couple of weeks ago whether PokerTracker is worth the money. It is. Playing four simultaneous tables, I can put those tables on one monitor, have four PokerTracker windows on my other monitor, and by sorting the PokerTracker stats by the "voluntarily put money in pot percentage", I can tell at a glance if the person who just put in a bet is a loose or tight player. If he voluntarily puts in money 50% of the time, and I've got a hand, I'll call. If he puts it in 8% of the time, I've got to have a really good hand to call.

The sample size at those times is small, but still useful information. I also use it to find out who the fishiest players I've player are, then add them to my buddy list to find where they're playing. I'm sure blankman99 thinks I'm stalking him now, because I seem to show up at whatever table he plays (and busts out) at.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Happiness is... and a suspended account

  • Happiness is holding pocket aces when someone else jams the pot pre-flop, then hits a king on the flop. I had five people in a capped pot, then they all got scared out on the flop except for KQ guy to my left. I took down something like an $18 pot at the 50¢/$1 table after it was all over.
  • I received this e-mail yesterday:

    William Hill plc has taken a decision to withdraw our online casino and poker services from all existing US clients and will refrain from offering them to US residents in the foreseeable future.

    We regret to inform you that we have therefore suspended your account and you will not be able to access our casino or poker room in the future. You should also note that we do not take sports bets from US residents.

    You will be able to withdraw any outstanding balance by accessing your account through our online homepage.

    They're a UK-licensed bookie -- the second biggest in the UK, behind Ladbrokes. But, paranoid after the arrest of Sportingbet's chairman in New York and BetOnSports's executive in Dallas, "Our legal advice was and is that it is legal to accept online poker and casino bets in the US but with all the things that have been happening we decided it was a prudent thing to do."

    I played there a few times during my bonus-hunting phase, but I don't have any more than 50¢ left there, if any.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Why aren't pocket fours on Hellmuth's list?

At a 50¢/$1 limit hold 'em table, I'm in fifth position out of ten players, and I'm dealt 4 4. UTG and UTG+1 fold, I call, and everyone between me and the button call. The button raises to $1. Small blind calls, and FartKing, the loose passive big blind, raises to $1.50. I think for quite a while, look at the $6 in the pot, remember when I folded pocket fours on Friday night (missing quad fours on the flop), and go to click the fold button. I can't bring myself to do it, and call. The next three players fold, then the cutoff position, who had just called the 50¢, caps it to $2. The button, the blinds, and I call, and the five of us see the flop with an $11.50 pot.

3 9 3

The blinds check, and although I consider betting (they say that the first person to bet on a paired flop usually takes it down), I check as well. The cutoff position bets, and everyone else calls, including myself. The pot odds are something like 27:1 here. With a $14 pot, five of us see the turn.


It checks around to cutoff again, who bets $1. The button folds, the small blind, who PokerTracker has given a "fish" icon to, calls, as does FartKing, who only has 25¢ left in his stack. I don't know what I'm hoping to hit here, but whatever it is, I've got 17:1 pot odds for it. I call.

8 comes on the river.

The blinds check, and it's to me. There's no way my fours are going to win this, and I'm going to have to call any bet, so I might as well put in a dollar and see if I can knock a scare better hand out. How? No idea. It was a dumb move.

The cutoff position folds. He must've been on a flush draw and missed.

The fish in the small blind folds. He must've been on a couple of overcards and couldn't let them go.

FartKing and his 25¢ think a long time. I'd already nailed him earlier -- and taunted him -- after taking down a $9 pot from him with 43s when the pot odds wouldn't let me leave and I hit a set on the river. There's no way he folds here. 25¢ to win an $18.50 pot? Easy, easy call.

He does call. He shows K T, having missed his flush and merely holding two overcards. I take down the $19.25 pot.

Taunt the rich: canoe Gravelly Lake

Lakewood City Councilman Walter Neary blogs this morning about hidden public access points into Gravelly Lake, Lake Steilacoom, American Lake, and Lake Louise.

For years, the city's official documents have said that someday the city might develop mini-parks at several places where streets dead-end into lakes.

To me, this is like a sword hanging over the head of the people who live at these street ends. Those folks are understandably worried who may gather at those street ends.

But at the same time, you and I own the streets that dead-end into the lakes. Legally, we should have access to the lakes there. But are we interested enough to want to infringe on the tranquility of our neighbors?

I've taken the liberty to map out the access points. Growing up, I'd heard rumors about access points into Gravelly Lake, but never went to check them out. It seems to me that some of them would make good geocache locations.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Pocket tens: how would you play them?

Pocket tens: how would you play them? I had a prety bad night at the 50¢/$1 tables at PartyPoker on Friday, losing $25. This morning, I reviewed the hands where I won or lost $1 or more (yay, PokerTracker), and found hands where bad play cost me a total of $3.50. Surprisingly, another bad play won me $6 (with 99, I re-raised in middle position pre-flop, then called the capped bet, then got agressive on a flop of T5A). So mostly, I was card dead or got sucked out on.

One hand, though, I'm not sure how to evaluate. What do you think?

I'm in the small blind, and get dealt T T. UTG calls, UTG+1 raises to $1, middle position calls, I call, big blind folds, UTG calls. Four players to the flop, $4.50 in the pot.

4 6 K.

I bet 50¢ to get information -- does someone have a strong king? UTG folds, UTG+1 calls, middle position folds. If UTG+1 has a strong king, he'd have raised. I put him on a nut flush draw, or maybe a weak king.

The turn is 6.

I'm not going to let him get a flush draw card for free, so I'm in for $1. If he's on a weak king (KT?), maybe this will push him off. No way he's got a six; if he had K6, that's not a pre-flop raising hand. He calls, making the pot $7.

The river's the Q.

I can bet here to represent the club flush, but the story I've represented in this hand is that I've got the king with a good kicker. If I check, I'm letting him showdown for free if he had a weak hand. If he hit his flush draw, though, and I check, he'll come back at me with a bet, and I'll have to decide if he's bluffing or if he hit it.

I bet $1. He raises me to $2. I'm pretty sure I'm behind, but there's $10 in the pot, and with a 10% chance that he's bluffing, it makes sense to toss one more dollar in to see.

He wasn't bluffing, and shows J A. I'm down another $4.50.

When should I have gotten out of this hand? It looks like I was playing his hand, and not mine, which probably wasn't a bad thing to do here, but I still ended up down.

When I bet $1 on the turn, raising the pot from $5 to $6, that gave him sufficient pot odds to call the flush draw. Should I have checked there?

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Fish kill near Sund Rock

Divers at one of the best diving spots in the state (at the site of my Sund Rock geocache) are reporting the worst fish kill in three years. Lack of oxygen's the culprit.

The Tacoma News Tribune's on the story.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Sponsored; don't play sick

Two random, unrelated notes:

  • I received my $50 in sponsorship money from PokerInside tonight, and have started playing it at PartyPoker.
  • I've been sick the last four nights, and haven't been in any shape to play for real money. In fact, last night was the only night I've played in the last four, and spent that time playing razz on the play money tables (more than tripling up my play money stack).

Hmmm. Too bad PartyPoker doesn't spread razz yet.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Trying horses instead of HORSE

I went to Emerald Downs for the first time today; a couple of my friends got free tickets. I'd never played the ponies before, and although I read most of Betting on Horse Racing for Dummies, I was really pretty clueless.

The best strategy you can use: ask me what I'd do, then do the opposite.

I started with a $20 bankroll, and bought a $4 copy of the Daily Racing Form. I started wagering in the third race, betting $2 on a 5:1 shot to show (meaning he ends 1st, 2nd, or 3rd). The pre-race favorite was scratched, meaning no horse in the race had ever raced before. "Apache Joe" was one of the top three favorites. His sire had gone 4-for-5, and had raced (and lost) at the Kentucky Derby. No such luck. He didn't show. He placed dead last.

In the next race, I bet $2 each on the two favorites to win. Neither one did. One of them didn't even show.

In the fifth race, I be $2 on the favorite to place (1st or 2nd), and $2 each on the next two favorites to show. The favorite came in third after tripping out of the gate, but one of the "show" bets came in first, so instead of being down $6 on this race, I was only down $3.80.

In the sixth, looking for a sure thing, I bet $2 on the favorite to show. He didn't.

The crowd favorite was a very late scratch in the seventh race, and hoping for a big score, I put $2 on a long shot, because although the morning line had him at 6:1, the betting pushed him down to 34:1. He ended 8th out of 10.

Finally, in the eighth race, I bet $2 on the horse the Racing Form said was a "best bet" and "center square and top pick". He lost. I also bet $2 each on the morning odds leader (won $3.60), and on the late odds leader (who lost).

In the end, counting the $4 newspaper, I left $20.20 lighter. Fun times, though.

Lose a hand, but knock out another player

Another less painful hand from the $4+$0.40 NLHE tournament last night...

The tournament is at the 75/150 level. I'm UTG+1 at the 8-person table, with 3,123 in chips, and get dealt KK.

UTG folds, and I raise to 500. I want one, maybe two callers max, and don't want to put so much in that I can't fold if an ace hits the flop. "PiratesDen" calls, and "DogPn3" raises to 850. The button and blinds fold.

I push in 1710 more, raising it to 2,210, mistakenly thinking it'll put DogPn3 all in. (No, he had 2,210 left after his 850 bet.) PiratesDen pushes his last 430 in, and DogPn3 pushes the rest of his stack all in. I call, with 63 left in my stack.

My KK is facing the PiratesDen's QQ and the DogPn3's Hellmuthian 77. The flop is 4QT. Crap. I'm losing to a set of queens. The turn and river come 8/J. I've lost, and my 63 in chips is barely going to keep me on life support. I got in with the best hand, though, so what are ya gonna do?

Except I forgot that the QQ was the small stack. I beat the 77, knocking DogPn3 out, and collecting the side pot of 4,260. PiratesDen takes the 3,015 from the main pot.

Boing, boing

You know how in my last post I said it'd been a slow week? I didn't clarify that statement, but it was really because of the very steady non-movement of my bankroll at the $0.50/$1.00 tables. In consecutive sessions since last Thursday (Sept. 7), I'd left the table -$1.15, -$1.85, +$8.05, -$1.01. (Okay, so the $8.05 was better than I remember).

Well, I need to be more careful when I wish for more action. I was gleeful at my $12.75 win on Wednesday, September 13. Then I was down in the dumps on Thursday, after losing, -$16.10. Then last night, I won $20.45.

Tournament play, on the other hand, has been dry all September. Thirteen tournaments, thirteen times out of the money. I'm getting too agressive when the blinds start going up, and I play as if I'm in worse shape than I am.

Last night at a $4.00 + $0.40 NLHE tournament's a good example. 180 players, top 18 positions pay, and I've got about 2500 in chips left; the blinds are 200/400 + 25 ante, so I've got at least three or four orbits to go before I'm blinded out. While I'm a bit below the average chip stack (around 5500), I'm not in trouble yet. I sure played like I was, though.

I'm two off the button, and get dealt TT. The UTG player (with twice the chip stack as me) raises to 625, the next player (with 7500) calls, and I ... push all in. WTF? After 90 minutes of play, I make a donkey move like this?

Both of the other players call, then they push all in on the flop of 839. The turn's a 5, the rivers a J, and the big stack takes it down with 95s. By all rights, the UTG should have taken it with his KK, and I had no business splashing around like that.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Paid to play

It's been a slow week at the PokerStars tables. I've been playing 50¢/$1 limit and horse tournaments exclusively, and have been losing every horse tourney, although last night I finished on the bubble, with my preflop all-in KK losing to the big stack's call with 55. In the limit games, I've been ending +/- a couple of bucks a night, although last weekend I lost $20 when I was in an agressive tilty mood after losing $30 in the home game, and last night I eneded up about $16, when I agressively bet and capped my wired set of sixes all the way to the river, and inexplicably, on the final bet (I bet $2, he raises to $4, I raise to $6), he folds. I suspect he was on a failed flush draw, then tried to bluff me on the river. To fold for $2 into a $30 pot, though, you've got to figure there's less than a 6% chance that I'm bluffing, unless he had absolutely nothing.

Also, late last week I got an e-mail from offering me a $50 sponsorship to play at PartyPoker. (full disclosure: link pays bonus to me) I'd previously received and utilized a sponsorship to CDPoker, and feel good about this one, too. Party gave me some sign-up hassles, as I'd recently closed an account at Empire, which uses the same pool of players. However, I finally got in last night, and am awaiting the deposit from PokerInside. Looks like I'll soon be playing at the gorilla of online poker sites.

If I'd have been thinking, I'd have tracked down a bonus code to use when I signed up, too, but I didn't. Doh!

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Multitasking poker: not a good idea

Yesterday on Pokerstars, I played three simultaneous tournament tables of Razz, Horse, and NLHE. I placed 6th/16, 24th/48, and 7th/16, respectively. Too much mental gear shifting blew my clutch.

Then, I played at the $1/$2 limit table and 50¢/$1 limit table simultaneously, and lost $40 and won $14.90, respectively. For the day, down $42.30.

Today, not great, but not as bad. -$4.65 overall, with two Horse tourney losses (9th and 10th place), and a -$1.15 at 50¢/$1 limit.

Also tonight, I've sent in my money for Poker Tracker registration. I'm hoping it'll be able to show me where some of the holes are in my game.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Finishing in the money again; wasting money at roulette

I played roulette at Emerald Queen on Friday night (-$50) and again at Little Creek last night as I was waiting for the 7:00 tournament to start. I dropped $100 and started betting $2 a spin on two numbers, and ended up with $0. There's only about a 6% chance of that happening. Bah. Stupid mindless game :-)

(I also stopped in at Lucky Dog Casino on the way, "the coziest crappiest only casino on the canal". It's no longer a slot palace -- they've got BJ, pai gow, and 3-card poker, too. Whoopty-dippity-doo. Why bother?)

At Little Creek, in the 37-player tournament, I ended in 7th place, top 4 positions pay. With 9 people left at the final table and my stack with only 2 big blinds left, pocket deuces in my hand, I raise all in UTG. The cutoff calls with 99, and the big blind (shorter stacked than me) calls with big slick. The board is 3T9/5/T; cutoff knocks us both out. Still, to get that close to the money tells me that I played well, but maybe need to do a little more blind stealing. I also don't recall getting any pocket pairs or AK.

So, I hit the midnight tournament at Happy Days (losing my match plays, again; I split aces and dealer drew to 21), play mostly tight,* steal several blinds, and at the final table, UTG+1, with 9 players left, I've got $12K, with blinds at $4K/$8K. I've got Q9s. The small blind has a huge stack. UTG folds, I push all in, and it's folded to the small blind. He thinks a long, long time, then folds, as does the big blind. I've got $24K.

About ten minutes later, six players remaining, blinds at $5K/$10K and with somewhere around $25K in my stack, I'm in the big blind, and only the timid small blind is in. She's been raising with good looking hands (like KT or A3s) but folding to any pressure if her hands don't hit the flop. Her stack is just a little smaller than mine. It's my option on the big blind; I look down and see 74o. Power hand, I tell you. It's late in the game, and seeing a chance to steal her blind, I push all in. She doesn't hesitate to call; I tell her "good call" and show my hand, preparing to leave the table with the $25 consolation prize.

She shows 62o, the board comes K5Q/8/9, and my seven high takes down a monster pot. I'm in shock, and a few other people at the table weren't quite so nice to her, asking how she could call with that.

In the end, I'm in the final three, and rebuff an offer to chop the pool three ways (which would have given me $275). In retrospect, I should have considered it more, maybe making a counter-offer that still gives first place good money, but flattened out the differences a bit (instead of $415/$255/$115, maybe $225/$275/$325). After a few rounds of stealing each others blinds, I finally went all in with a suited face card, out in third place, losing to AK.

My "the cat's away" weekend is over. Five tournaments (2 wins, +$258), one cash game ($+120), three roulette wheels (-$115), six BJ match play losses (-$70), and in the end, I'm up $90 (don't do the math, it's not adding up right for me either, but +$90 is what's in my segregated "gaming money stash" as of this morning).

* Except for the very first hand of the tournament, I'm dealt JJ, raise big preflop, get one caller, and the flop comes 4T6. He checks, I push all in, he looks frustrated, and mucks his cards. I played against him in the tournament on Thursday, and was pretty sure that he'd fold to pressure. The girl to my right knew it, too, pushing him off a pot a few hands later with K3o when a K hit the flop (no, I didn't tell her to cover her hand better).

Saturday, September 02, 2006

The degenerate night-owl

How hard can it be to find a good 3/6 game? Harder than you'd expect, but well worth it.

I had to work until about 1:00 a.m. this morning, and when I left, I wanted to play poker. I wanted a $1/$2 game, and had to be at the airport by 5:30 a.m.

1:30 a.m.
The Western Gambling News claimed that PJ Pockets Casino in Federal Way offers a $1/$2 game, but my co-worker told me that they were mistaken -- they only offer $4/$8. I stopped in, and confirmed he was correct. Well, let's head closer to the airport.

2:15 a.m.
After circling around two closed casinos in Federal Way and Des Moines, I stopped in at Silver Dollar in SeaTac, and they, like PJ's, were also spreading a $4/$8 game. Skip it.

2:40 a.m.
Further up SR-99, I stopped in at Northstar Casino, which was spreading a $1-$8 spread (blinds of $1 and $2, bets anywhere between $2 and $8). This was a new concept to me, and not one that I wanted to try out. Onward and northward, I hoped to stumble across another casino on SR-99, or 509, or 1st Ave S. No luck, even after backtracking twice.

3:10 a.m.
I left the airport area, crossed under I-5, and drove the streets of Kent looking for a casino. I knew there was one down here, but couldn't find it, so then hit 167 and headed south to the Iron Horse.

3:40 a.m.
The Iron Horse casino closes at 4:00 a.m., so I didn't bother to check the limits. Time to head back up north and see if I can find the casino I knew I saw up there on my last IKEA trip. I get in the car, dig through the Western Gambling News, and find it: Treasure Casino. There's also an even better option, Cascade Bowling and Casino, which is open until 6:00. I fire up Google maps, find where it is, and head out.

4:10 a.m.
At the bowling alley/casino, the readerboard proudly and brightly proclaims that the casino is open until 6:00 a.m. The empty parking lot and darkened building tell a different story.

4:25 a.m.
I find Treasure Casino (in Kent, I was an exit too far south), but there's only a ragtag band of pai gow players. The floor-person was very nice, and suggested I check with Silver Dollar Renton, just up the road. I didn't even know it was there.

4:35 a.m.
I enter the Silver Dollar, see a table of five poker players, and watch a hand. Looks like $3/$6. I ask, and it's $3/$6 full kill (which means that if a player wins twice in a row, they have to ante $6). I've never played a full kill game, but time's getting short, so I sit down behind the button with $100. They don't make me post, and I fold my first two hands.

My next hand, UTG, is A J, so I call the $3. Four players (out of six) see the flop: J♠ 2 6. Beauty. I'm pretty sure I've got the best hand, and when the a $3 bet comes to me, I raise it, and the other three players call.

The turn is T. I'm getting the sense that this is a really loose table. It's checked to me, and I bet $6. C'mon, raise my nuts.

The guy two my left ("Mr. Loose"), who I later discover will play to the river with anything, raises to $12. The button calls, the big blind folds, and I raise to $18. The other two players call.

The river's a blank. I bet $6, Mr. Loose calls, and the button folds. "What kicker does your jack have?" asks Mr. Loose.

"An ace. Suited," I reply.

It takes me three more hands to stack up my chips. Before I'm even done, I get pocket threes, and hit a set on the flop. A similar sized pile of chips come my way.

5:15 a.m.
The guy to my right has bought $40 in chips twice in the last 15 minutes. The guy to his right has bought another $60. The guy to my left is gone. Mr. Loose hasn't lost much, mainly because he's been doing things like flopping two pair with 97o in middle position. I'm glad I'm playing tight. The big blind comes around to me, and I check my watch. Time to go.

With $220 in front of me, I ask the brush, "Could I get a couple of empty racks, please?" I don't think I've ever asked that before. It's a beautiful question.

Addendum: another great hand was when I was dealt pocket jacks, and Mr. Loose just wouldn't let it go, after the board came 278/7/5. He knew he was beat when he asked "how high is your pocket pair." Three cheers for players who can make great reads but are unable to keep from throwing money at the pot.

Friday, September 01, 2006

I don't want to play; they don't want to play

I took the afternoon off work (because I've got to go in tomorrow) and headed down to Hawk's Prairie Casino for their $20 2:00 p.m. tournament. Unfortunately, on Friday's it's a $50 re-buy tournament, which is more than I want to risk. From their parking lot at 1:15, I called Red Wind Casino, who had a $35 no-rebuy starting at 2:30.

A quick drive through the lush greenery they Yelm highway, and I entered Red Wind for the first time. It's, well, like every other indian casino I've been to. It's very, very similar to Little Creek; and not very unlike Emerald Queen. Nothing too unique, except there's no mechanical slot machines at all. All video, all between 1¢ and 5¢. How can I throw away my $1 bills at the end? We hates them, yes, we do.

I signed up for the 2:30 tournament at about 1:40, first on the list. The brush told me to hold on to my money, as they wouldn't start the tournament with less than eight players. Not a good sign.

I headed out and played roulette ($2 a spin, with a very slow croupier, and ended +$36. At 2:20, I went back to the poker room, and the tournament had indeed been cancelled. No poker this afternoon, 'cause I'm not up to playing $3/$6 limit. Bummer.

Still, +$35 is a nice side effect.