Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Three losing sessions

It's been a lousy few days. Five tournaments, five losses, and down another $20 at a Razz ring game. The only bright spot was $12 I walked away from a $0.50/$1 limit hold em game.

No real bad beats, either -- just me being too aggressive and getting caught in a race.

Even this one (see the screen shot), I should have won, but I really had no business calling an all in preflop -- even from a maniac like this guy was, and even though I got a good read on him -- just a few hands into the tournament when holding The Hellmuth.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Woot! I got crap!

I bought a Bag of Crap from Woot.com on Friday the 13th, and it arrived today, one day ahead of schedule. People across the country started receiving theirs last Saturday, and the anticipation of it was really the best part. I was pretty sure I was getting the same camera bag (cool) and thumb drive locks (lame) that everyone else was getting. The real question was what my good bonus crap would be. Almost everyone else seemed to get something else good, and some cheap Chinese toy. The box was labeled "Kensington Standard Keyboard - 10 Pack", and I know that a lot of people had received these. I was hoping I got one, too, because I'd like to be able to use it with my laptop instead of my smaller laptop keyboard.

No luck -- it's got a PS2 connection, not USB. Bah. But my daughter wanted a new keyboard,,,, because her comma key has a habit of repeating.

What else? My Chinese toy crap was a 5-pack of "color-your-own" velvet stickers, with 45 tiny stickers per sheet. Groovy.

But wait! I got a bonus crap: an alternator tester. Discontinued, but Google shows that it was $2.99 at Harbor Freight. Bill's claimed it :-)

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

King of the donkeys

Over the last two nights, I've been playing at the $1.50 + $0.25 sit-n-go tournaments, NLHE and HORSE. Five tournaments, two wins and an in-the-money:

  • Last night, NLHE, I get knocked out in 12th place out of 18, after losing a third of my stack after flopping two pair, then losing a race to a small all-in stack, then losing the rest of my stack with bottom pair.
  • Simultaneously, I win a HORSE tournament, 1st out of 18 (+$9.60), winning with a better two pair than my opponent in seven stud (my worst of the five HORSE games)
  • Then, I place 4th out of 18 in another NLHE (+$2.70, net +$0.95), taking down some big pots along the way with:
    • AQo (two pair, QQ22A);
    • AJo (scaring out my solo opponent with an aggressive post-flop bluff bet, when the board was three clubs);
    • AQo again (buying the blinds); and
    • ATo (buying the blinds)

    But then I went too aggressive in the big blind with K4o, when the board came 999/J/4, then lost the rest of my stack with pocket deuces (never leuces!) against pocket kings on a paired flop (344).
  • Tonight, I placed 6th out of 18 in HORSE, overvaluing my pair of kings in a four handed seven stud check-o-rama.
  • Then I won a NLHE tourney, 1st out of 18 (+$10.80), in a long 58 minute marathon (yeah, turbo SNGs seem really long after 45 minutes), scoring a huge heads-up pot near the end with 87o and a board of J8K/7/A, then finishing it off with pocket aces against A9, and a board of 7JJ/4/J.

Chock full of fun-ness.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Tournaments across the south sound

Before I toss my notes from my grand tournament weekend, I figured they might be useful to someone. This is probably already outdated, but for what it's worth, here's a list of poker tournaments in the south sound scheduled for weekends in October 2006. All prices include buy-in and fee (usually $5), and are NLHE, unless otherwise noted. Most information is compiled from the Western Gambling Journal.

6:00 PMLittle Creek (Shelton)$35
6:30 PMPoint Defiance Cafe (Ruston)$35
7:00 PMClub Hollywood (South Seattle?)$35
7:00 PMHappy Days (Lakewood)$25
7:00 PMRiverside (Tukwila)$25
10:00 PMRiverside (Tukwila)$110
2:00 AMHappy Days (Lakewood)$25
8:30 AMPalace Casino (Lakewood)$20
10:00 AMDiamond Lil's OMAHA (Renton)$45
10:30 AMSilver Dollar (Renton)$55
11:00 AMBremerton Lanes$30
11:30 AMParkers (Seattle)$55
11:30 AMDrift On Inn (Seattle)$35
11:30 AMFreddies (Fife)$35
11:30 AMSkyway Bowl (Renton?)$15 + $10 rebuys
12:00 NHappy Days (Lakewood)$25
12:30 PMRoxy (South Seattle)$30
2:00 PMHawks Prairie (Lacey)$20 + $20 rebuys
2:00 PMLucky Eagle (Rochester)$25 + +20 rebuys + $10 add-on
3:00 PMCascade Lanes (Renton)$25
4:15 PMQuinault Beach (Ocean Shores)$25
5:00 PMRoman Casino (South Seattle)$75
6:30 PMRoxy (South Seattle)$30
6:30 PMPoint Defiance (Ruston) shootout tournament$??
7:00 PMClub Hollywood (South Seattle?)$35
7:00 PMHappy Days (Lakewood)$25
7:00 PMRiverside (Tukwila)$40
8:00 PMHawks Prairie (Lacey)$40
10:00 PMRiverside (Tukwila)$110
2:00 AMHappy Days (Lakewood)$25
8:30 AMPalace Casino (Lakewood)$20
10:00 AMDiamond Lil's (Renton)$45 + $10 rebuy
10:30 AMSilver Dollar HORSE (Renton)$55
11:00 AMBremerton Lanes ($30)
11:30 AMParkers (Seattle)$225
11:30 AMDrift On Inn (Seattle)$35
11:30 AMFreddies (Fife)$35
11:30 AMSkyway Bowl (Renton?)$15 + $10 rebuys
12:00 NPJ Pockets (Federal Way)$25 + $20 rebuy
12:00 NHappy Days (Lakewood)$25
12:15 PMQuinault Beach (Ocean Shores)$40
12:30 PMRoxy (South Seattle)$30
2:00 PMLittle Creek (Shelton)$55
2:00 PMHawks Prairie (Lacey)$20 + $20 rebuys
2:00 PMLucky Eagle (Rochester)$25 + +20 rebuys + $10 add-on
3:00 PMCascade Lanes (Renton)$25
5:00 PMRoman Casino (South Seattle)$75
6:30 PMRoxy (South Seattle)$30
6:30 PMPoint Defiance (Ruston)$45 + $?? rebuy
7:00 PMClub Hollywood (South Seattle?)$35
7:00 PMHappy Days (Lakewood)$25
7:00 PMRiverside (Tukwila)$25
8:00 PMHawks Prairie (Lacey)$40
12:00 MMuckleshoot (Auburn)$60

Internet ban will tip congress to the Dems, destroy the country

From last Thursday's New York Times: The G.O.P.’s Bad Bet, by Charles Murray:

[A] month before a major election, the Republicans have allied themselves with a scattering of voters who are upset by online gambling and have outraged the millions who love it. [T]he outraged millions are disproportionately ... Republicans and Reagan Democrats.

In the short term, this law all by itself could add a few more Democratic Congressional seats in the fall elections. We are talking about a lot of people (an estimated 23 million Americans gamble online) who are angry enough to vote on the basis of this one issue, and they blame Republicans.

In the long term, something more ominous is at work. If a free society is to work, the vast majority of citizens must reflexively obey the law not because they fear punishment, but because they accept that the rule of law makes society possible.

...Thus society is weakened every time a law is passed that large numbers of reasonable, responsible citizens think is stupid. Such laws invite good citizens to choose knowingly to break the law, confident that they are doing nothing morally wrong.

[T]he federal government once again has acted in a way that will fail to achieve its objective while alienating large numbers of citizens who see themselves as having done nothing wrong. The libertarian part of me is heartened by this, hoping that a new political coalition will start to return government to its proper functions. But the civic-minded part of me is apprehensive. Reflexive loyalty to the rule of law is an indispensable cultural asset. The more honest citizens who take for granted that they are breaking the law, the more their loyalty to the law, and to the government that creates it, is eroded.

FWIW, 888.com (Pacific Poker) e-mailed me this weekend; they're pulling out of the US. Rumor is that Neteller's going to pull out in nine months, but I haven't confirmed that yet. (Edit: Confirmed; Neteller will comply with the act.)

Full Tilt and PokerStars are still going strong. Good for them.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Weekend of tournaments, Event 8: Happy Days noon

I don't know what makes it so easy to end up in the money here, but it is. Play tighter than Hellmuth's top ten hands, let go when you miss the flop, don't worry about being blinded out, and you're in. I probably won only three hands all night, and ended up in fifth place, winning $40. Add $20 for blackjack match play, subtract the $25 buy-in, and that's a net of +$35 for the day, and +$121 for the entire weekend.

My knockout hand was the Hellmuthian 77. Perhaps I could have waited one more round, but the final five were playing uncharacteristically tight. A8 called me, and hit an 8 on the turn.

It's been a blast.

Weekend of Tournaments, event 7: Canceled Horse at Renton Silver Dollar

Only three players, including myself, showed up for the $40 Horse tournament. It's a no go, and they said they might try something else next week.

Maybe it'll be more appealing after ESPN shows the WSOP Horse event in a few weeks.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Weekend of tournaments, Event 6: Hawks Prairie 8 PM $40 buy-in

I arrived just after 7:00 to sign up for the 8:00 tournament, and the 30 spots were already filled; there was already a waiting list. I was second on the list.

As an idea of how tight this tournament was: 1) it started at 7:00; 2) I didn't get a seat as the second alternate until after 7:30, and 3) I didn't hear them seat any alternates after me. I played until about 9:15, and the three tables were still at 8 people each. I took advantage of the tight play a couple of times, building my initial 4000 chip stack to almost 7000, but had two bad beats which brought me down to about 2000 (the player to my right, with pocket fours both times, called my AQ and AK, hitting a 4 on the flop both times). Then, on the small blind, I made a donkey move, trying to win a battle-of-the-blinds with K7o, raising the big blind, who called, then bet, and I pushed all in to scare him off, and he called, winning with A4 (yes, his four paired. Fours were mean to me tonight.) My remaining 300 in chips weren't enough to live past the blinds.

Net: -$40

I could stay up and hit Happy Days' 2:00 AM tourney, but I think I'm pokered out for the night. And I've got to see about a Horse in Renton tomorrow morning.

Net for the day: -$90
Net for the weekend: +$86

Weekend of tournaments, Event 5: Little Creek 5 PM $35 bounty

With an hour to spare before the tournament started, I had lunch at the buffet. Outstanding food. All the clams you can eat. Definitely somewhere to stop for lunch again next time I'm in the area.

I hop into the tournament at 5:00, and play for 1:45. The top five spots pay, and I'm eliminated in seventh place. With 3000 in chips left, and blinds at 1000 and 2000, I'm dealt TT in middle position. I push my three chips all in, get a caller, he shows Q7, and hits a Q on the flop. Bah. And after playing for 1:45, I'm not going to make it to Happy Days' 7:00 tourney tonight.

I'm sensing a pattern tonight. Medium pair, all in, getting beat by a higher pair. Time to stop doing that.

I did knock one player out, which gave me a $5 bounty.

Net: -$30

Weekend of tournaments, Event 4: Hawks Prairie 2 PM $20 rebuy

I didn't re-buy -- perhaps I should have -- but 45 minutes into the tournament, I got my pocket eights all in against pocket jacks. Oops.

This poker room is much more spacious, and the players are a lot tighter, than Happy Days. No surprise there, really.

Net: -$20

Weekend of tournaments, Event 3: Happy Days noon

The good news: At Happy Days' noon tourney, I won $40 using the blackjack match play.

The bad news: with 12000 in chips left, and blinds at 1000 and 2000, I bet 5000 with pocket fives. Another player pushed me all in, and I called, losing to his T9 when the ten hit.

Net: +$15

Weekend of tournaments, Event 2: Happy Days 2 AM

I returned to Happy Days for the 2 AM tournament, and was essentially knocked out after the first orbit. On the button, I was dealt KK, with blinds at 100/200. Several players called, and I raised to 600. Big blind raised to 1200, everyone else folded, and I pushed all in, hoping to scare him off. He thought for quite a while, then called, turning over AQ. He hit his ace on the flop, leaving me with 200 in chips. I waited until I was UTG, put my 200 in, tripled up to 600, and then got stuck on the big blind when the blinds went up to 200/400. My all-in in the dark didn't turn out so well, when I ended up with 63o and not pairing. IGHN.

(Edit: Net: -$15)

Friday, October 13, 2006

Brick and mortar HORSE

I'm looking forward to Sunday morning, 10:30 a.m. Silver Dollar Renton his hosting a $40 buy-in HORSE tournament. Should be a blast.

Weekend of tournaments, Event 1: Happy Days 7 PM

(Edit: originally titled "Four for four: respect my authoritah!") After yesterday's rant about how I seem to suck at low limit brick and mortar ring games, I spent a few minutes talking to my wife about it. As I described it to her, I think I discovered what the problem is: I play very tight, and very aggressive, and in online play, and in tournaments, that aggression is rewarded -- I frequently take down pots unopposed. In low limit ring games, where true donkeys will call with almost anything, aggression is very rarely rewarded with an uncontested pot. Somebody's gonna go to the river, and somebody's gonna hit two pair.

The only solutions I see: tournament play only. I don't know that playing higher stakes would make a difference, and I really doubt that I could play as aggressively at the higher level; it's too intimidating.

So, with the wife and kid on a trip this weekend to Ocean Shores, I'm spending the weekend playing as many tournaments as possible. It's started out well -- at tonight's 7:00 Happy Days tournament, I placed third, netting $156 (plus $10 in blackjack match play, plus another $10 in non-match play BJ waiting for the tourney to start.) I've placed in the money every time in the last four Happy Days tournaments, and have won four of the seven brick and mortar tournaments I've entered this year.

I tried something new tonight, which allowed me to finish in third place instead of fifth, which is a big chunk of change: when it gets down to the final table, don't worry about getting blinded out. Almost everyone has a small stack compared to the blinds, and you're going to lose a couple of players every orbit. Let the other players knock each other out. Even if your on the big blind of 10000, and your stack has only 10000 left, there's no need to call with a less than premium hand. You've got another orbit left in you -- let some other people get knocked out, and you'll end up in the bigger money.

Net: +$176

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Bad play at live tables

I had a free hour tonight, so I set down at the $3/$6 table at Happy Days with $100. 90 minutes later, I go home with nothing.

I'm trying to figure out why I do so badly at live tables with really bad players. In my last three Happy Days ring games, I've ended -$100, +$26, and -$94. When I played the $1/$2 games in Los Angeles last winter, I had four losing sessions for a total loss of $150.

When I have the best hand, I know I've got it, and I raise the pot. This generally has the intended effect -- scaring all but one or two other players out. With few exceptions, though, they limp along, and hit their winning card on the river.

Case in point: two big hands tonight. I was fairly card dead, and only played past the flop on three hands all night. One hand, I had AT, and the flop came A74. Five players called $3 to me on the small blind, and I raised it to $6. They all called. The turn was another rag. I bet six. All but one guy -- who seemed like he was on crack -- folded. He called.

The river's a Q. I bet 6. He called. He turns over pocket queens.

Did I make the pot too big? I don't think so, since he only had two outs. But this is how it frequently goes when I finally get into a hand.

Similarly, I have K♥Q♦ in late position, and hit a Qxx flop with two diamonds. I raise, get a caller, and the turn is another diamond. I bet to see if I'm behind, and crack man just calls. I think I'm still good, and when the river's a fourth diamond, I push my last $4 all in. He calls, and shows A♦4♣. Bah.

I'd hate to play so tight that all I do is play sets, flush draws, and open ended straight draws after the flop. Folding TPTK makes no sense, but when six players see the flop with six really random hands, I think I might always be behind two pair every time.

Bah again.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Cash is nice, compliments make it nicer

I arrive at Happy Days at about 12:30 this morning, get on the $3/$6 waitlist, watch Pai Gow for a few minutes, and soon get a seat at the table. The players here seemed much more reasonable than last week -- loose, but not insanely loose. No spectacular plays, but after an hour, I was up $26. With the $25 tournament buy in, and a match play win and loss at blackjack (net +$10, minus $1 tip), I'm ahead $10 for the night, regardless of how I do in the tournament.

Hand 1, blinds are 100/200, and we've got 5000 stacks, I'm dealt AJo in early position, I raise to 500 pre-flop, and have two callers from late position. The flop is J-rag-rag, so I bet 500. One folder, and the button raises to 1500. I'd played against him in the ring game, and he was a very aggressive player who played some marginal hands. I put him on JTs, or AK. I push all in. He thinks, knows from my previous ring game play that I'm a tight, tight aggressive player, and makes the correct decision to fold.

Thus my lucky streak began. Over the next 2½ hours, I won the hands I was supposed to win, even in near-race situations:

  • My pocket kings won twice.
  • I knocked out an AA player with 6 8 when he let me limp in on the big blind, and the flop came ♥♥♥.
  • My AQ beat KQ.
  • My AJ beat KJ after the flop, belonging to the guy who folded to me on hand one. When I called his all-in, he said, "OK, show me your AJ." I was happy to oblige.
  • My QQ beat 99.
  • I split a pot when the board made a straight with our matched kickers.
  • At the final table, a good solid player, pondering whether to call my semi-bluff raise (I paired an ace on the board with something like A4), told me "You're the one person I don't want to face in a situation like this," and folded. That's a huge compliment. thx; good fold.

Finally, in fifth place with a medium sized stack, blinds of 5000/10000, I've got 63o on the big blind, and get to see the flop for free: A63. Small blind puts in 10000, and I put him all in for 25000 more. I've got 20000 left. He says, "did you pair the ace?" "Nope," I tell him, and he calls, showing pocket sevens. My two pair are in a comfortable lead, but an ace falls on the river, forfeiting my threes, giving him two pair, aces-over-sevens, beating my two pair, aces-over-sixes.

The next hand, dealt A5 in the small blind with 15000 left, it's checked around to my, and I try to buy the big blind with an all in raise. He calls, pairs the board, and I go home in fifth place. Perhaps I should have stuck around another orbit; maybe someone else would have gone out before I did.

For my 2½ hours of play, I cash out for $70. On my way to collect my winnings from the brush, a player at the $4/$6 table asks how I'm doing; I tell him I got knocked out in fifth, having my two pair get beat. "I'd counted on you winning the whole thing," he said. Another great compliment.

That's cashing three times in the last three times I've entered the tournament. I'm shocked, really. +$80 for the night.

Where have all the poker rooms gone?

After dropping $100 at the $3/$6 tables at Happy Days last weekend, I was looking for somewhere else to play last night. I'd seen an ad in the Western Gambling News two months ago for the Torch Lite casino, which is in Lakewood on Pacific Highway near the new fire station. It was vacant. This wasn't very surprising, since I had never heard about them, other than their one ad, and from the outside, it wasn't clear that there actually was a card room.

Next, heading north, I stopped by Bowlero Lanes' casino. Two empty poker tables. No players.

Heading further north, to 84th Street, I stopped by Chips Casino, which doesn't offer poker, but the new Palace Casino next door does: $3/$6, $4/$8, $8/$16, and Omaha. The waiting list for $3/$6 was at least 15 people. I put my name on the list, sat around for a while, and when the list wasn't moving, went across the freeway to Silver Dollar.

It's closed. Lights off. Nobody home.

I then went up the freeway a couple exits to Rising Dragon. Closed.

Then, up to 6th Avenue's Silver Dollar. Closed.

Last minicasinos finally fold Lengthy fight ends with quiet closure of three Tacoma properties

JASON HAGEY; The News Tribune
Published: October 7th, 2006 01:00 AM

After fighting for years to stay in business, the owners of Tacoma’s three remaining minicasinos have quietly closed their doors following the defeat of last month’s ballot initiative aimed at overturning a city-imposed casino ban.

Michael Purdy, former general manager of two Silver Dollar casinos and the leader of a group that brought legal action against the city, said Friday that a few of the approximately 285 employees at the two locations found jobs at other Silver Dollar casinos in Washington. The rest, like him, are looking for work.

Although he’s disappointed by the outcome of the election, Purdy said he accepts the decision of the voters. Purdy said his group, called the Associated Casino Employees for Survival, agreed with casino ownership that if voters rejected the initiative, they should shut down.

“It’s not worth beating a dead horse,” he said, even if it wasn’t an overwhelming “no” vote and a low election turnout.

Initiative 1 received 15,372 no votes, or 53 percent, and 13,661 yes votes, or 47 percent.

I guess the Washington State Brick and Mortar Casino Protection Act of 2006 didn't help them at all.

Sigh. Up Pearl Steet, into Ruston, stopping at the Point Defiance Casino. Two tables: $4/$8 and Omaha, close to full, but with immediate seating. I'm still chicken to play live $4/$8, so I left there, drove out of Ruston through the tunnel, out past where Luciano's used to be, and while I briefly considered heading north into Fife to check out Freddy's club, it was about midnight, and I knew Happy Days would be starting the signup for their 2:00 a.m. tournament fairly soon. Home freak home, I guess.

More on my results there in my next posting.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Time to cash out

Well, as I feared, Congress -- led by the party of smaller government (?!?) -- has attached an anti-internet gambling measure to an unstoppable port security bill. President Bush will be signing it shortly.

USA Today says that PartyPoker plans to pull out of the US market, which represents about 80% of its customer base. A scan of Google News shows that PokerStars plans to do the same. Full Tilt and some others plan on staying.

Neteller is mentioned in a few of the articles I've read, and I'm getting the feeling that its days of servicing the US are numbered. Maybe I'm paranoid, but I think it's time to cash out until the dust settles. I've cleaned out my Party Poker account, leaving $25 that I'm willing to lose. I've cleaned out my Neteller acocunt, leaving nothing. I've still got money in my PokerStars account, but will probably empty that tonight.

It's a run on an uninsured bank, Wonderful Life style! Hopefully, I'm near the front of the line.

It'll be fascinating to see what springs up to take its place. I wouldn't be surprised if some foreign bank begins allows US citizens to create offshore bank accounts, and access them through an ATM. It's probably happened already, and I'm just not aware of it yet.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Happy Days' midnight tourney no more

I went to Happy Days to play in their midnight tournament again last night, but they had just changed the schedule: noon, 7 p.m., and 2 a.m. No more midnight tournament.

Instead, I sat down at the $3/$6 table, and was absolutely card dead. By playing tight agressive, you could make a killing at these tables, with six people seeing almost every flop, and half the hands ending with a three person showdown. In my 75 minutes at the table, I only saw two hands where there wasn't a showdwn. Wild.

Unfortunately, I only received three hands worth playing. My pocket nines didn't improve by the river; on the small blind, my pocket jacks got beat the by pocket aces on the button; and my AK hit a king on the flop, but lost to K8 when an 8 came on the river. Add in five orbits where my big blind was either garbage (fold on the flop) or was mediocre (fold to a pre-flop raise), and I ended up not winning a single hand. Bah.