Sunday, February 29, 2004

Posted by Johnnymac 3:49 PM
Leave it to Fro to have a card game on a night that I wasn't available, but then again, he needed to end "the streak" so I don't blame him for avoiding me. I never said he wasn't a smart guy.

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Saturday, February 28, 2004

Posted by Dr Fro 4:29 PM
Someone asked what the most # of outs could be to have. Heads up, there are 8 known cards on the turn, so there are 44 possible river cards. Since people only count outs for underdogs, it would seem that you can't have 23 "outs". Rather, your opponent would have 21 outs. So is there a hand with 22 outs?

If you have JcTc against 2s8d and a turn of 2d8c9cTs, you have a pair vs 2 pair. But you have a lot of draws:

7c,Qc give you a straight flush. Yummy.
A,3,4,5,6,K of clubs give you a flush. (of course the 2 does too, but it boats your opponent.)
3 other 7's and 3 other Q's give you a straight
2 Tens give you a set
3 Jacks give you a better 2 pair
3 Nines give you a better2 pair

So you have 22 outs out of 44 rivers. A perfectly even bet.

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Posted by Dr Fro 12:38 PM
Last night I won $330. Some thoughts:

1. Anytime I invite you to play at my house, assume it is ok to invite a friend. This is not an exclusive group. Unless your friend is Ted.

2. We played 8.5 hours over two tables and the range of wins/losses was app -180 to +400. That's it. Conisdering the gargantuan pot sizes and the inherent risk associated with No Limit, you might expect a greater range. After all, I see people plow through $500 in $3-$6-$12 in a couple hours all the time. What gives? Two things: First, since I limit the amount you can buy in, it keeps the losers from losing too much. At the same time, the guys that have the most to lose are the very guys who are currently up. However, a bigger factor is that in NL, there are very few people that are in at the showdown. Hands end up heads-up (or at least once there are big bets.) Contrast that to limit poker where 6 people may call every single bet. In that limit game, the pot winner wins 6 times what the losers lost each. In NL, the winner often gets between even money and 2:1. Thus the distribution curve is quite differently shaped, with people more closely grouped toward the mean.

I am sure that if we played with Johnny Chan and his friends, the distribution would look differently, but at my house, you actually tend to get a-raped less at NL than at limit.

3. I didnt drink and I lost. I started drinking and then won. Hmmm, hard to figure. Luck, I guess.

4. I concentrated on a couple new things based on Doyle Brunson's advice. First, I tried to regularly "switch gears". I would go an hour constantly ramming and jamming and then go super tight for thirty minutes and then switch back. I think it worked. I don't feel as if people had a good read on me - they called my big hands and folded to my bluffs. Contrast that with the River Chief. Yes, he'll call with some bad cards, but if he rasies all-in, you know he has the goodies. It is an easy read.

5. The other bit of Dolly's advice I followed related to being the aggressor: raising or folding w/o calling & coming over the top at anyone that dares to be a bigger aggressor. It worked. The only downside is that people will check-raise me, but when that happens, I fold. Take Nicky - he checked (or maybe bet a token amount) and I bet $100 with pocket Jacks. He raised me another hunskie and I folded. Yup, he had Kings. While I sure would like to have that hundred back, I knew that he had me beat when he re-raised. So the lesson is: raise the raiser, but fold to the re-raiser.

6. Anybody that has ever played Tecmo Bowl or pool with me knows that I love to talk trash. I tend to hold it in at the poker table, bc it is considered bad etiquette. However, I would enjoy poker more if trash talking was encouraged. Javy slow-rolled his boat, which some would consider rude. I don't. But I know that others do, so I don't slow roll personally.

7. One of my favorite plays is to have overcards (say 9-K) to a ragged flop (say 2-4-8) and betting it. First of all, there is a good chance that everyone will fold. After all, I can only think of a few hands that are worth playing pre-flop that would call here: A3 and A5 for instance. What do think, someone might have 4-8? C'mon. So you either take the pot right there or narrow the field dramatically to a drawer who is no longer getting very long pot odds. You make a massive bet on the turn to which he way has the worst of it and either calls (which is a loser in the long run) or folds (which is a loser in the short run). The only hand that scares you is like 78s or A8s, but remember, you still have 6 outs to make a higher pair, and that is about a 24% chance.

8. I am tired. My old body can't handle this. I still havent had my Saturday jog. I better go squeeze it in b4 the Horns come on TV.


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Friday, February 27, 2004

Posted by Dr Fro 8:29 AM
Fantastic new site all about Houston Poker

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Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Posted by Johnnymac 11:04 PM
Just to emphasize it one more time before I go to bed:


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Posted by Johnnymac 11:00 PM
What it takes
The Girlfriend is out of town taking the bar exam this week so I took the rare opportunity of playing in the Tuesday 5-10 at the FSC. It was a good night. During the game I got to thinking tonight about what I've learned in the four years since I started playing "real poker". I don't think this list is inclusive, but I think it's a pretty good start on listing some of the intangible skills that are necessary to become a better player.

1.) Knowing when you're beat.
This is fairly simple, but it's very important. Tonight I flopped a set of Jacks and folded quickly once I realized that another player had flopped the broadway straight. Two other players called her to the end - one with bottom pair and another with 2 pair. This is a very important concept and can be taken to its logical conclusion: ranking starting hands and learning when to even get involved at all.

2.) Folding a winner and not caring.
You'll often see guys fold and then curse or slam their hands on the table when the next card brings that gut shot straight or little flush that would have won the pot. Once the decision is made - and you know it was the right decision - you have to dissociate yourself from everything else than comes afterward or you will end up talking yourself into making a the wrong decision the next time.

3.) Evaluating every decision on its own merit.
The best example of this is folding against a raise that comes after you've already called a bet. If you're getting the right odds for your hand, then call the incremental raise, but if you're not getting the right odds the money you've already put in doesn't matter anymore. This lesson leads to the next lesson:

4.) Simply calling is the fastest way to lose money.
Sometimes calling is the right decision, but more often the proper decision is to either raise, reraise, or give up and fold. Many players automatically call - or "limp" before the flop - simply out of habit and not because it's the right decision to make at the time. Losing money is not something that just automatically happens when you sit down at the poker table - after the blinds and antes are paid, the only way anyone ever loses money at poker is to voluntarily give it up. Don't put money in the pot unless you know it's likely to come back!

5.) Keeping track of the players you know and observing the players you don't know.
Playing "by the book" is never a bad idea, but sometimes the "book" is too black and white. Keeping track of who's in the pot can sometimes be the determining factor in making a decision and taking action.

6.) It's not about winning a lot of pots.
Winning players, true winning players, don't win a lot of pots - they maximize their earnings from a few pots and minimize their losses on all the others, including, again, not getting involved in circumstances where they are likely to lose, especially before the flop.

I'm sure there are more specific points, but perhaps the best way to sum this stuff up is just to say that it really all boils discipline and patience.

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Monday, February 23, 2004

Posted by Dr Fro 8:54 AM

Get software to make all of your decisions for you? This could definitely help in low limit holdem where there is no/little room for game theory or psycology. However, in a big NL game, I don't know how helpful a robot would be.

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Posted by Dr Fro 8:41 AM
Good tell example

Rule of thumb, they stare right at ya, they are bluffing
They look away, they got the goodies.

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Posted by Dr Fro 8:30 AM
We've got several guys so far for Friday Feb 27. I think we will have enough for 2
tables, bc there are several maybes.

It'll be cash game, no limit, $20 buy ins, blinds of 25c-50c. Same as
usual. If you think it's chump change, dont worry. Trust me, the game is
quite big. Several hundred dollar pots by night's end.

Lets start around 7. Try to be here no later than 8.

So far:
River Chief
Champ Cnnco
J Baird
Boyd - late
j Greene - maybe
S Wexler
Mark L
Greg West

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Posted by Dr Fro 8:29 AM
at the fsc, you should never raise 55 from any position. You only flop a set 12% of the time. See the flop for free. And why would you want to narrow the field?? You want as many people as possible to flop top pair and two pair. Further, you aren't giving away any info, this hand is deceptive no matter how you play it.

Lisa, dont raise with 55 at the fsc.

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Sunday, February 22, 2004

Posted by Johnnymac 8:53 PM
I played for about 6 hours Friday night at the Friendship in my usual 5-10 game. The game started at 5:20 and at 5:21 I was up after being dealt AA on the very first hand of the game! What a good start! Of course later on I was dealt AA twice more later on in the night within 4-5 hands of one another and then, of course, both times those aces didn't hold up and I was a net loser on the bullets for the night. By 10:00 I was stuck about $500 and starting to contemplate booking a losing session, but very soon after that the cards started running my way and I was back to even and then up $240 in a matter if minutes and that's where I decided to call it a night. As is the usual in this game, just crazy, crazy volatility.

Anyway, a couple of observations to share:

1.) While the cards were running cold I tried to make a move and steal another player's big blind after the action had (very rarely for this game) folded all the way around to me in the cutoff seat. I raided the blinds with AQs and then bet all the way to the end with no help from the board. He called all of my bets and then then turned over bottom pair with 83o from the blind. In retrospect, I guess it was an obvious move and he could tell that I had nothing, but at the time I started to get frustrated and grew even hotter as I sat there and stewed that my luck was running so cold that I couldn't even steal a pot from another good player. I started steaming more and more and grew quite upset until another player at the table had a bad beat and went on tilt himself. Watching him curse and slam his chips on the table and complain about his rotten luck was all I needed to get back on the level plane and back to a more even temper.

This has happened to me before: I see other people looking like fools and I realize that I obviously look like a fool, too, so I quit myself and try and get refocused on the game.

2.) There was a new player at the table on Friday, an obnoxious girl named, "Lisa". She was a better player than the usual FSC crowd, but not nearly as good as she seemed to think of herself. She was good, however, at taking advantage of the default bully-like attitude that strikes all of the men at the table when an unknown woman sits down - she plays aggressively and pushes back and steals pots with semi-strong hands. She very quickly got way up, and then, when I left, she had very quickly fallen right back to even. I think her problem is that she plays too aggressively. First, I should give her credit for doing this because most women never learn to get aggressive enough and generally don't rise up to their potential because they play too passively.

Perhaps the funniest (or worst) example of this occurred early on on Friday when she raised from under the gun. As is usually the case in this game, the raise was called by 4 or 5 players and the board ended up loaded with face cards and a possible straight. It was obvious that another player had made the straight as he bet on the end after Lisa's check. Lisa called the bet and turned over a pair of 5's in the pocket and said, "I guess I'm just going to have to flop more sets if this is what going to happen!"

I don't know if it ever crossed her mind not to raise with 55 from under the gun, though, especially in the passive game that is the FSC. I am looking forward to playing with her again - I think it might be profitable.

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Thursday, February 19, 2004

Posted by Johnnymac 5:59 PM
And now for a tangent:

When you think about it, "insurance" is actually the perfect word to describe this side bet because it is precisely what is happening here: a player is selling some of his risk to another player and thus the cost of any bad luck is spread out. This is exactly what happens in the real world for insurance against things like homes, cars, and health - a participant pays a certain amount in premiums in return for protection against a risk. Because there are costs associated with running the business (overhead), and because the insurance company needs a profit incentive for providing the service in the first place, an insurance premium is typically going to cost you more than the true odds of that house fire or broken leg or stolen car actually occurring. Thus, if we were all truly rational human beings no of us would ever want to pay for an insurance premium for exactly the same reasons as Doyle Brunson says to avoid taking insurance in a card game: it's a bad bet. But none of us are perfectly rational - and more importantly, not perfectly rich, and thus we often see the cost of the insurance premium as being worthwhile when connected to the overall cost of the bad luck we might incur, no matter the odds of that bad luck occurring.

We do have one thing in our favor compared to a poker game and that is that there are more choices, and hence more competition, in the financial insurance market than just the other ten guys at the poker game. As such, financial insurance companies are willing to accept a much smaller edge in their bets than would the guys in the poker game, so much so that they have a huge incentive to know just exactly how large or small that edge is relative to the true odds of whatever catastrophe they may be insuring against. There are entire industries and professions devote to precisely this pursuit of odds: actuaries. Similarly, because financial insurance is a much larger market with many more customers than in a poker game, the small edge that insurance companies end up taking is OK, because the scale of the enterprise allows the overall profit to be large enough in the end.

We've only touched on the subject here, but Craig's dilemma is a great example of how poker, and the decisions made therein, is analogous to the real world. Just like everything else in life, poker is about decision-making and the profits from those decisions.

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Posted by Johnnymac 5:17 PM
I am glad I was able to explain insurance in an off-line email to my fellow poster here on the blog. Insurance in big bet poker is simply a side bet made with a third party on the outcome of the last card in a head-up all-in situation one of the two players does not have a suffciently sized stack to call a (theoretically perfect) last bet on the end. In other words, if your opponent has the worst of it and goes all-in before calling the last bet, he is not paying the "full price" that his call should theoretically cost him in expected value, and by offering insurance, the house (or another player) is giving you a chance to get your full expected value from your hand.

(Insurance can only be taken by the player who has the best of it when the cards are shown. If you ram and jam the pot all the way to the end and then see that your all-in opponent has a much better hand against you, you can't take insurance against your own misfortune, which would be expected given your less-than-even odds of winning. In that case, your opponent can take a bet instead and table stakes don't apply. Some houses allow players to make the insurance bet between themselves, but in that case table stakes rules would have to be relaxed, by definition, so what's the point?)

That said, the insurance proposition is typically a bad bet, as Craig explains below, because a savvy gambler is going to want to have an inherent edge built into the wager as his "fee" for making the bet in the first place. This is where the posted house odds come in: the house is willing to offer the bet because, in paying less than the true odds of the situation, it has a positive expected value and will make a profit in the long run no matter the outcome of any particular hand. Other players are allowed to step in front of the house, however, and lay the bet themselves in exchange for slightly less profit than the house will demand, and thus, as Craig explained, the edge being given to the insurance maker can be negotiated downward.

After saying all of that, I sincerely doubt that one would ever be able to get another player to negotiate into taking the worst of it when laying insurance for you. Perhaps - perhaps - you might get to even odds (a fair bet) if you were negotiating with a friend and that friend owed you a favor, but I doubt anyone, even your friends, will offer to lay you a bet that would be a losing proposition to them. Why? Because anyone sophisticated enough in the first place to understand the concept of making an isurance bet is going to understand it well enough to know that the value of the bet lies in the opportunity to arbitrage a profit margin underneath the true odds of the bet. This is why Doyle Brunson explains in Super System that taking insurance against a hand should never be done, because he is assuming that the other player is always looking out for himself and not offering a fair bet, thus there is no need to even examine the merits of the bet if it is already presumed to be inherently bad.

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Posted by Dr Fro 10:47 AM
I got a better understanding of insurance. Before I go further, let me define a few terms:

best of it
- when a gambling situation favors you. For instance, if we flip a coin and heads-I pay you $100 but tails-you pay me $110, then I have the "best of it"

worst of it - in the above example, you have the worst of it. You may win, but if the bet is repeated many times, you have no chance of staying a winner

fair bet - when you have neither the worst of it nor the best of it.

At Top Hat, Whenever you are all-in and you are favored against one opponent, you can take out insurance. First, the opposing player has the option to back the insurance. If he refuses, another player can, and if they all refuse, then the house will always back it. The payout IS NOT EQUAL to the actual odds, so the house can have an advantage. Therefore, when you opt to take insurance, you have the worst of it. Ergo, don't take insurance. However, if you are the underdog in the hand and the favorite wants insurance, you should back it. That house advantage would be yours and you would have the best of it.

This all assumes you go by the posted rates. According to Mr. Greene, you can negotiate a better deal with a player if you wish. I will post later the results of a spreadsheet I created that calculates fair odds. Anytime you can negotiate to fair odds, you could consider taking insurance to reduce volatility. But what you should strive for in negotiation is to get the best of it. Example, you are a 2:1 favorite, and the posted odds are 1.75:1. Negotiate to 2.25:1 and take the insurance for the full amount.

This all ignores the value of reducing volatility, but if you have sufficient bankroll, there should not be much value in that.

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Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Posted by Dr Fro 1:03 PM
It ain't gambling!

Seems appropriate, given the name of our website.

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Posted by Dr Fro 9:38 AM
To be clear, I understand how the process of taking out insurance works, I simply can't calculate how they came up with 2.75 to 1 for 9 outs.

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Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Posted by Dr Fro 11:07 PM
The streak is ended. I played at the Top Hat and won $140 at the 2-5 PL game. I initially bought $200.

At one point I was offered insurance when I had all-in with two-pair on the turn and he had 9 outs to beat me. I declined and lost and had to reload. I guess I am not used to being offered insurance, but I did the math after I got home and it still doesnt quite add up. I figured that either it is a fair bet or it is bad for me, so to be safe I declined. If someone could walk me through the math, I would appreciate it. The offered me 2.75 to 1, but I calculate that with him having 9 outs, I should get much more (3.9 to 1)?!?!?!?!

It is funny how poker works because if I had taken the insurance, I would have pulled $110, he would pull $40 and then he would have won the remaining app $150 in the pot. So I would have had $110. But I lost and reloaded for $260 more, and tripled up all-in on the next pot to have $780 in chips to sit at a $320 profit. Had I only the $110, I would have had $330 for $130 in profit. So I was literally richer for having lost a pot. Hmmmmm.

Insurance, anyone?

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Monday, February 16, 2004

Posted by Johnnymac 1:01 PM
Oh yes - I got similar comments about my favorable chances, too. Apparently Fro and I have a reputation.

At one point yesterday TEDTM and Todd (the River Chief) Graham were running over the game and eliciting incredulous comments that eventually turned to people evaluating each other in a playful way. At one point the discussion turned to me being a "good player" and I responded with, "Look at this small stack! I have no idea what I'm doing!"

The guy next to me responds, "You just don't have cards, but I've been watching you, you're one of the best players here! You know what you're doing!"

Then the guy across the table from me, someone I had never met before yesterday says, "Yep. I've heard of you. You don't have use fooled!"

I never caught his name so I have no idea how he knew me.

I was stunned, but flattered. Too bad I didn't live up to my reputation...

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Posted by Dr Fro 11:01 AM
I keep close track of evey penny won and lost. I have been a winner each year for several years in a row. For the first time since college, I am having a losing year. I haven't given up hope, as there is still plenty of time left, but it has me a bit razzled. I think it is affecting my play.

I don't know if I should get right back on that proverbial horse or to take a break. Taking a break really isnt my style, so let me know if you want to play on Tuesday night.


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Posted by Dr Fro 10:58 AM
Thursday I was in Austin and played at Stacy’s house. Stacy won 9 of the first 10 pots. Needless to say, he was the only winner in the cash game. I lost $45.

Then we did a mini tournament for $20. I was in the final three and we all had fairly equal stacks. I bet my two overcards to a ragged flop and got called. My overcards were higher, but his hit on the river. Gonzo.

February has been a brutal month.

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Posted by Dr Fro 10:56 AM
In Quentin Tarantino fashion, I’ll make the 3 posts in backwards chronological order.

Friday night, I had some time to kill while Jane was with the girls, so I debated the pot limit game at Top Hat versus the 5-10 game at FSC. Had I known John was at the FSC, I would have joined him. I went to the Hat.

Evidently the $1-$2 game has moved up to a $5-$10 game, which is very high stakes for pot limit. Pots were regularly $300, and sometimes up to $800. I bought in for $200. Since I didn’t know the blinds had increased, I really was under-staked for this game. I did well, playing tight and then I flopped a set of kings while holding big slick. Check, I check, guy bets the pot. Pops calls and I do too. I fear that the check raise would give away my strength, and there was no threat of a flush or straight draw out. I wanted to wait until the turn to bet the (bigger) pot. Turn brings a Q, I move all in, and Pops calls with pocket Queens to make a full house. River does nothing for me and I am down to felt.

February has been a difficult month.

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Posted by Dr Fro 10:49 AM
I concur with John that Junell’s tournament was very well run. I know first hand ho difficult it is to handle a large number of rowdy gamblers and Junell rose to the occasion. My only beef was that I wish there was some pizza or sandwiches, because I was darn hungry all day! I think what Junell did particularly well (and what I don’t do well) is that he wasn’t too rigid. Race offs of odd chips didn’t occur timely, and quite honestly, that doesn’t really matter. The things that did matter, such as 1) good set of rules 2) starting reasonably on time or 3) quality of set up of chairs, tables, etc were executed well, and that all made for a good day.

My journey was similar to John’s in many ways. I also didn’t win many hands pre-break and I also built my $500 into $1300 + the $500 add on meant $1800 to start the no-rebuy period. Bad flops and blinds knocked me down to maybe 500 or 600, then I flopped a pair of kings and went all in. Wilson had slow played pocket rockets and knocked me out. Got 38th place out of 56. Damn aces.

The guys at my table were very different from John’s. I think they were above average skill for this field. Maybe they were a bit too loose, but then again, this tournament was structured to reward loose play.

What I found interesting was the ½ the guys at my table, some of which I didn’t know plus a few other guys at other tables made comments to me like “so you’re the ringer I heard about…I hear you are the favorite to win this thing.” This comment I found extremely interesting. Considering that I have never won a penny at one of Junell’s tournaments, I would hardly expect such respect. But I noticed that when I did bet, people would fold. So, I played this to my advantage and made a few big bets to steal blinds and it worked. The reason I point this out is not to brag but to provide contrast to what happened at the cash game.

The cash game was $2-$4 pot limit. I did very well. I was dealt some very good hands. But everyone thought I was an idiot. Once I played 2-5 from the big blind and won with a full house. Frankie said he couldn’t believe I played 2-5. The fact that I played it for free from the BB clearly eluded him. Then, I hit a belly buster straight. Again, the ribbing about how stupid I was came, but nobody noticed that I also had a draw to the flush. Last, Frankie made a big bluff with 3To on the river, and I called with something like middle pair. “How could you call me?” Well Frankie, you’ve showed off your rags after every successful bluff, and I have simply used that info to my advantage. My stack is now $840. Those are really dollars, not tournament chips!

I keep playing the part of the fool, making some silly (cheap) raises and it works. But then my luck runs out when I bump into pocket rockets – again! No more money.

I say my luck ran out, but actually I made two critical mistakes as my stack dwindled. One, I forgot (twice) that I was playing the part of the fool. When playing the fool, you really shouldn’t bluff, because everyone calls the fool. Second, I starting drinking Dewars on an empty stomach. Although the total amount of alcohol consumed was fairly small, I should really know better than that. I don’t drink when I play unless it is low stakes, which this was not.

So that was Sunday – busted up twice by pocket rockets.

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Sunday, February 15, 2004

Posted by Johnnymac 11:44 PM
Something else I just realized -

The weather was awful here on Friday and my girlfriend needed to study, so I played 5/10 most of the night at the Friendship club. I got way down before roaring back later in the evening for a typically volatile night at the low stakes table.

Around 11:30 I decided to call it a night and book a 6 big bet (1 per hour) win of about $115. As I was racking my chips, I took one look at the last hand dealt to me and I saw JJ. So I raised the kill, bet the flop, checked the turn when a king came, and then bet the river when the action was checked to me on the end.

Once again, my good buddy Al was on the other end of the pot and, once again, Al stuck it to me when he flipped over AA. He had slowplayed me once again!

So there's the coincidence: twice in a span of 48 hours my sessions were ended with my JJ running into AA. Talk about bad karma...

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Posted by Johnnymac 11:39 PM
Mark has now posted the results to his tournament - the guy whose AA knocked me out (and who apparently knocked out Canonico, too) ended up winning the tournament - now I don't feel too bad at all.

In fact, he was actually down to the felt at one point just before he had me beat, so that just goes to prove that maybe the big-stack Canonico method isn't the only way to win these things. Congrats.

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Posted by Johnnymac 10:35 PM
The Lucrative Waring Poker Tour!
Junell's tournament was today. I don't know who won, or even if it's over yet (it probably is by now), but I have to give Mark props - it was a great event. It was very well run and quite a lucrative event - unlimited rebuys and and add-on with this crowd of drunken rich boys was like throwing a baggie of crack into condemened house in the 5th Ward. There was a lot of money in this event and it made the tournament worthwhile, unlike any tournament I have ever played in before. Although there were just 60 players entered at $100 apiece, the total prize pool ended up being around $13000 with just over $5000 for the winner. This was quite a an event, indeed!

As any of the readers here know already, in the weeks before today Fro had been discussing his adjustments to the rebuy structure, and I agreed with him with him that the rebuy structure allowed for slightly more aggressive play because of the safety net it provided. But after today I have to say that this particular tournament was so loose and lucrative that neither Fro nor I were prepared to loosen up as much as this tournament probably required. Unlimited increments of $60 gave good players the opportunity to stay in the game against very loose and bad players and with a little bit of help from the cards, any lost chips could quickly be made up against in most cases. My table had some very loose players and a lot of rebuys - I only rebought one time before the break (I did again after the break), but I would have likely done it 2 or 3 times if I had needed to. Canonico proved in the last tournament that building a big stack is the best way to win a NLH tournament and today's structure could have yielded, and did yield, some enormous stacks to a few players.

Another observation is that most of the loose players who kept pumping money into the pot were eliminated very shortly after the break once the safety net went away and then very quickly thereafter only mostly good players were left to fight for the quite large pot of prize money. I started after the break with only $1250 and was able to build my stack to almost $10000 and spitting distance of the chip lead before the cards started running cold again. This structure lent a definite advantage and a financial opportunity to good players willing to spend a little bit of money if circumstances warranted and patiently wait until the break and the start of the "real" tournament.

I don't have many other things to say here. As far as my game went, I didn't get dealt many good hands to play for the first couple of hours, but after the break I started getting cards and, like I said, I managed to build a nice stack for a short time. One one hand I slowplayed a set of 8's and knocked out a guy at one point and on another big hand I flopped an open ended straight draw with my JT and luckily got a couple of cheap draws to hit my straight on the river and eliminate yet another player. After that hand though, the blinds went up and I started getting bled to death with missed draws and blinds. Eventually I got down to $2500 and looked down to see JJ from the cutoff seat. The big blind at this point was $400 to call, so I figured this was as good a time as any to take a shot. I went all in and got called immediately out of the big blind by a new player at the end of the table. While he as counting his chips I figured I was up against an overcard or two, but then he showed me AA. I didn't get any help from the board and I was out the door.

John Feeney says that a truly skilled poker player will eventually quit keeping score with money because he knows that his long run expectation is positive. Instead, he says that "doing well" is better defined as being able to stay disciplined and make proper plays at all times while minimizing mistakes and mental breakdowns. I feel like I did this today and played well - no bad calls and enough courage to take shots when opportunites presented themselves - and I am happy with the results. No, I didn't win, but unlike my recent tournament experiences that I've chronicled here, I have no complaints this time: I didn't get beat by any idiots, I didn't beat myself, and the lucre of this particular tournament was such that I feel that playing was definitely worth my while this afternoon. I might not have been lucky with my JJ, but hey, that's just poker.

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Monday, February 09, 2004

Posted by Dr Fro 10:53 AM
Seems like good advice. But I wonder if it is necessarily true. I know that it is true if the information given is 100% accurate and you are certain that the others will make the appropriate adjustment based on the information. But what if:

1. You know that the player will use the information inappropriately
2. You are lying. Or, at a minimum, you are misleading

Example, you tell somebody that you folded KK preflop to a raise because "you won't call any raises this late in the tournament, you just want ot fold fold fold and back into the money. You will only play AA" And you are lying by saying this. Later on, the other guy is in the SB, you are in the BB, and he raises with rags. You can call with anything, and he will fear that you have AA. So he folds when you bet the flop because he can't beat AA. Of course, you have 27o.

So, I think that it may be to your advantage to 'reveal' information about your hand, as long as 1 of the 2 above criteria are met.

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Sunday, February 08, 2004

Posted by Dr Fro 3:02 PM
For those who have been critical of Junell's rebuy tournament, I would like to point out that even the World Series of Poker offers re-buy events. (see, for instance, Event #7)

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Tuesday, February 03, 2004

Posted by Dr Fro 9:36 AM
Every tournament structure warrants a different strategy. To play the same in all tournaments, regardless of structure is a deadly mistake that can easily be camouflaged by the same volatility in tournament results that camouflages a lot of poor decision making.

I have been piecing together what the appropriate strategy is for Junell’s tournament. I have determined the following:

1. The primary difference between his tournament and others are the rebuys and add-ons. Thus, most adjustments will relate to the rebuy period. Specifically, during the rebuy period, you should basically play your normal ring game style of pushing in big bets on small advantages. After the re-buy period, the tournament will warrant the usual no-limit no-rebuy tournament strategy, which avoids hands with high volatility.

2. All tournament books agree that as a general rule (with rare exception) it is appropriate to re-buy or add-on when the opportunity is presented, and the structure of Junell’s tournament is not one of those exceptions.

3. The add-on should be purchased except in the case of you having such an enormous stack at the break that it would make virtually no difference. I think you would need to have somewhere north of $5,000 to pass on the opportunity of adding-on.

4. Should you re-buy once your stack is < $250 or wait until you are busted? I think that you are better off waiting until you are busted to re-buy. Let’s say you have $200. If you re-buy, you are out $160 and have $700 in chips. Or, if you just take some big gambles with that $200 and try to triple up with probability X, with the intent of re-buying once busted, you will either be out $100 with $600 in chips at probability X or be out $160 with $500 in chips with probability 1-X. Since having $500 or $600 or $700 in chips is not terribly different at this early stage, I think the value in the possibility of saving $60 is worth it. Thus, wait until you bust out to re-buy. However, the books I have consulted do not all agree on this point.

5. If, however, your stack is so small that it is effectively equal to $0, you may as well re-load. Rule of thumb: if stack is < $25.

The above advice just focus and if and when to reach into your pocket. How should you play your hands?

6. As you approach the break, if you have say $260 in chips, you should be sure to lose $11 to enable you to re-buy and add-on.

7. Recognizing that others will employ item 6 and, more importantly, recognizing that others will tighten up right before the break, you should increase your propensity to steal pots as you approach the break.

8. At the onset of the tournament, you have a safety net – the rebuys. Others may fear the cost of the safety net, viewing it as a last resort rather than an opportunity. Take advantage of this by loosening up, taking shots to make your stack huge. If you trip and fall, re-load and resume the strategy. You can’t lose forever. Eventually, you will have a big stack. The only question is how much it will cost you. Once you have a big stack, play a strategy similar to what you would in a NL no-re-buy tournament.

A few other notes not related to the re-buy aspect:

9. The blinds move up slowly enough (2.5 hrs w BB of 4% of TC’s or less) that there is time to sit back and play your game

10. The prize payouts grow slowly then grow quite a bit. So if you are in the last group of 8, it is worth it to gamble to move up the ladder with little downside. Who really cares about the difference between 2% and 7%? But, once you are in the top 3 or 4, the prizes almost double for each level, so survival is key.

(0) comments

Monday, February 02, 2004

Posted by Dr Fro 2:10 PM
From RGP, some poker metaphors for Janet Jackson's performance

show all

flopped a set

I hear she had one out on the board, but I think she only had one left
in the pocket.

busted out of the game

and the winner is....

I'll call your 1/2 a rack of black.

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Random thoughts from a lawyer, an accountant, a commodities trader, an ex-Marine and a WSOP Main Event money finisher that don't know as much as they wish they did...



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