Monday, April 28, 2008

Alas, No Hat Trick

Sometimes I wonder how much of the difference between a competent player and a truly successful one is belief. As in thinking something like, "I know I'm going to win this tourney or take down this pot." Perhaps that little bit of extra confidence is what makes a hot player run a bluff at the right time, while a cold player makes the wrong one.

A lot of players swear by feel and streaks and rushes and the like, while others go by the pure math. I'm torn between the two. Numbers are numbers, of course, and I trust in math enough to know that there are few things that can't be explained by mathematical anomaly. Still, there's always that tingling speck of doubt: In a quantum sense, can believing in something happening give it just the slightest more chance of becoming so? That's what confidence is, isn't it?

I can't answer that. I believe in math and probabilities, but I've also seen some things in my life that math alone can't explain.

Back to more mundane thoughts.

It wasn't for the lack of trying, but I couldn't make it three in a row in baby MTTs. I finished something like 29th of 57 in the next one, then took a sixth (of 103) in one soon after. The following night saw me crash out of a couple of MTTs well short of the money.

Sunday found me with a couple of hours with which to try again. In addition to one more bustout, I snagged a third and yet another first for a nice continuation of my recent run. I played eight small MTTs (60-105 players each) over a five-day stretch, with five final tables, including a third and three firsts. All this followed an extended run of at least two months where I did virtually nothing in MTTs. Dozens of them, and it was perhaps a part of why I didn't play at all for about three weeks.

Today's word is syzygy. When things are running well, it indeed feels like the planets are in alignment.

Friday, April 25, 2008


Poker is teh streakaments. Had a couple of hours today in which to relax, and decided to try another small MTT over at Smaller entry fee, but I took down the thing, making me two-fer-two for the week.

I'd like to tell you how I crushed the field in this one, but I'd be lying. I had to suck out twice in the early/middle stages just to stay alive. The second suckout got me from endangered to healthy, though; I pushed UTG w/ A-Kx, got a call three seats to my left, and then an all-in re-raise from the cutoff, which was called as well. The re-raiser showed K-K, which was great until I sucked out an ace on the flop. Odd was that the third player made the call with 10-10, and thus departed. Seemed like a hand he could've gotten away from. But I was all of a sudden in the top five in chips with the triple-up.

The one play I was pleased with let me take out the second-place player and gave me a commanding chip lead -- even though I would give a bunch of those chips back later in the final table.

I was in the small blind with an all but worthless 6-3 of diamonds, but there were two limpers before it came around to me. 7:1 to see a flop? (Assuming the BB doesn't jack it up, and he didn't.) Sure. I was back up to over 30 BBs at this point, and a couple of the other deep stacks were in it as well.

Flop comes a heavenly 5-4-2 rainbow... and I bet out for over three fourths of the pot. An aggressive player I'd taken a couple of pots from earlier barely hesitates before pushing all in with 9-9, which was toast barring a runner-runner catch that didn't show. In these low- to medium-dollar tourneys, betting out with a made hand on an all-small board is usually gold, because these players get so trap-conscious that a check-call or check-raise doesn't drag the big pots as often as you'd think. This player was a bit too aggressive but fairly decent, and I think he could have gotten away from his 9-9 if I'd slow-played it, because he had to put me on top pair -- maybe with the straight draw -- when I bet out. As it was I got his chips.

I gave them back to a different player soon enough, due to overplaying A-K when I didn't need to, and then I settled down and tried to play good positional poker as we went from five players to four and then to three. This did wonders for my chip stack. I saved my third suckout for the final hand, when I had a sizable lead and re-raised the short-stacked button all in with A-8. Whoops! He flipped A-10 and would have jumped ahead of me, but a donkalicious eight popped on the river.

Now, if I can just make it three-for-three....

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


Warning! Thinly disguised brag post! And yes, it's been a while....

Wanna know how you can tell you're a true "poker media" professional? Okay, maybe it's an oxymoron, but let's run with it anyway. The answer... it's when you can't find time to play the game, despite the fact that you're immersed in it on a daily basis. Still, I've managed to visit online sites twice this past week, which was two more than the last three weeks combined.

First, thanks again to Bodog for the ongoing Bodonkey (a/k/a Bodog Bloggerment) series, which this week featured not one but two guest pros in David Williams and Jean-Robert Bellande. I had DW on my right for a while before he chose to mix it up and was bounced. Must've been the pizza delivery guy. Odd story, Part 1: DW got all the chips in pre-flop with A-4x, from EP. Odd story, Part 2: He actually started out ahead, since the other player made the call with K-Q. A queen flopped and a bounty was awarded. I bounced myself out a while later trying to make a re-steal from the big blind, against the chip leader in the small blind, who I thought was trying to push me around. He got my chips.

Tonight I fired up the software for the first time in several weeks, just in time for the nightly $2,500 Guarantee. Darned if I didn't take the thing down:

So it wasn't a total washout of a month for poker after all. What was odd in this one is how I won it. I am -- and you can take this to the bank -- a lousy tourney frontrunner. I've won this and several other tourneys on the site multiple times each, and never once have I taken a commanding lead and ridden it through to the end. My victories have always been come-from-behind-jobs, and on the occasions I've had big leads in the middle stages, I've never closed the deal.

Until tonight. I moved near the lead with about 30 of the 77 starters still around, and then into the lead with about 17 players leading, after convincing a LAGgy player that I was really bluffing with a sizable overbet after a 7-high flop, something like 6,500 into a 4,000 pot. I'd made a standard 3x raise pre-flop from the button, and he decided to defend with J-7x. Fortunately, I had aces and he bit... hard. I stacked up some more when I pushed hard with A-K on a K-high flop against a player who had K-J and couldn't make himself release top pair. I was in the big blind in that hand and put in a healthy raise before the flop, but the guy apparently loved his K-J. Me, I can't stand the hand, and will only play it for cheap and in position.

From there it was a bit of bullying the short stacks as the bubble loomed (chipping up from maybe 50,000 to 65,000 there), and then riding out a cold spell of about six laps once the final table began.

Soon enough I picked up a few hands again and kept getting paid off. A fun poker night is when you keep getting the chips in ahead and your cards hold up time after time. That was this one in a nutshell. No one got close to me until only four players remained, and my rush continued right on through to the end. Third place went out when we both hit a flop hard, me with top two and him with bottom two. I had a 5:1 chip advantage starting heads-up play, and two hands later this player pushed with an open-ended draw and I called with top pair. Again, it held up.

Sometimes poker runs your way, if only for a short while. Such was this night.

Thursday night I'm going to show up on Rounders Radio as Lou Krieger's guest. We'll probably do what we've done when I was on his earlier Hold'em Radio show with he and Amy, and that's go free-form and talk about whatever subject pops into mind. Ad lib! Ad lib!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Busy, But Not with Poker

Been a spell since I've been here, good readers. Life moves on. I have a couple of major projects I'm working on, had a friends/family weekend that I had to work into the mix, and of course had the regular work as well. Been having iffy health lately as well, which adds to the stress of the whole mix.

Poker for me -- in terms of playing -- has been all but non-existent for the past three weeks. While up north, meaning northern Wisconsin, I accompanied my brother-in-law to the semi-deserted Lac du Flambeau (Lake of the Torches) casino for about three hours of $1/2. I went down about $70 early and fought back to finish only down $20 for the session. I could never hit that draw card or flop that disguised set and put a hurt on an over-aggressive player, of which there were several.

The night's personal highlight had to be when I made three straight instantaneous and correct reads on a regular in the casino's game. First time, he wasn't involved but his language said he had a hand. Same thing the second time, and I folded out top pair to trips, which he showed. Third time he had a different tell, on a board that was something like 6-6-10-A-3. I knew for darn sure he didn't have a six or an ace or a pair of tens, and no straights or flushes were available. I was in the hand with a ridiculous 10-2 from the button, in honor of Doyle, and I was happy enough to make a river call, figuring him for his own ten or something like 8-8 or 9-9. He showed K-10, but the ace played, and I swiped half the pot with crap, thanks to the read I had. So the Joe Navarro session I sat through has already been worth about eight bucks.

I spent some hours sitting at my sister and brother-in-law's place, working on stories with the TV in the background and the wildlife wandering by just outside the window to my left. Every day brought visitors, but these photos were among the highlights:

I didn't have my camera handy at one other moment when the wild turkey and four different deer were all within 20 or so feet of one another, feeding on corn.

The last of the snow melted a couple of days later, but the lakes were still iced over as of Friday -- and people were out there ice fishing in sweaters and/or light jackets. Late spring.

Monday, April 07, 2008

The Caesars Indiana Bad Beat

Last time out, I mentioned that I'd spent a quick two days plus at Caesars Indiana for some poker doings. This time, it's the tale of the bad beat, and since it didn't specifically have to do with poker, it's safe for the telling.

After about 12 hours of activities and three or four more doing some late night copywriting and editing ($10.99 for 24 hours of high-speed internet connectivity was the going rate) I finally tumbled into bed around two or so with a massive sore throat and a hope for a few hours of sleep. No such luck. I tossed and turned, turned and tossed, and just when I finally managed to doze off...


"Open the fucking door!" It's coming from a couple of doors down, by the sound.

I hear more shouting, and then...


It's 3:57 a.m. by my hotel-room clock when the first bangs occur, and this on the seventh floor of the Caesars Indiana hotel??!? It keeps going on for five, six, seven minutes, and it's just not stopping. The shouting was bad enough, but the banging was so hard that my bed literally shook from the vibrations. There is a security guard posted just yards from the elevator doors on the ground floor, and he could be up there in 45 seconds, tops. Has no one called this crap in? Well, I didn't. Guess that answers that. Damn rich drunks. Finally it ends, or I just pass out from the fatigue. Couldn't say for sure.

There were a few recognizable poker names at the event I was attending. Next morning, I'm idly chatting with Mark Seif about various small stuff as the day's poker doings begin and it occurs to me to ask him if he'd heard the ruckus from hours earlier. I figured he was probably on my floor, since I already knew Paul Wasicka was, as I'd ridden down in the 'vator with Wasicka the morning prior.

"Yeah, what the hell was that?" says Seif, or something similar.

I tell him about the rotating drunks and the slamming doors. I ask him where he was, and it turns out he was way down at the other end of the hall. It's a long hall, since the hotel is a tall, narrow, single-wing affair that must be a hundred yards long from one end to the other. Seif was 50 or 60 yards down and he got woken up by the door-banging drunks as well. I say to Mark, "I almost called security on them."

Mark's reply: "You should've."

Turned out it was my second drunk encounter in two days at the place, too. The first one happened the day before when I shared an elevator ride down to the lobby with a middle-aged couple and their two or three nightclub-age daughters. Dad was potted, so reeking from some sweet booze that I had to turn away from him in the elevator. He even mentioned that he'd had a couple! Thanks for sharing, kind sir! I couldn't have figured it out by myself.

And, he and his clan were headed -to- the casino, not from it. Or rather, the "vessel," as the intercom informs the gamblers as they walk across the metal planking to the moored barge where the casino is housed.

Interesting place. The complex has at least a couple of nightclubs, one of which had long lines of women waiting to gain entry each night. No guys, just girls, and in a wide range of age from 18 to 45. All dressed like they were going to the Elizabeth, Indiana version of PURE... which, come to think of it, they probably were. No specific comment on some of the outfits I saw, except to say I think some of the women consulted drag queens for their wardrobe choices.

By the way, I mentioned the word "boonies" in my last post as describing the casino's location. I think reading between the lines of the official directions to the casino from the Caesars Indiana site verifies that. As they say it:

Directions to Caesars

* Take I-64 west of Louisville to exit 123 in New Albany, IN.
* Turn right at the bottom of the ramp.
* Pass through 2 stop lights. At the stop sign turn right (south) on Main St. (Indiana State Road 111).
* Indiana SR 111 will split to a "Y." At the split bear left and proceed across the railroad crossing. Caesars Indiana Resort is approximately 8 miles ahead.

Boonies! As I mentioned in a Skype chat to Logan, one of the PN writers, they left off the line saying, "If you hit the pig ranch you've gone too far."

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Caesars Indiana

A short trip to Caesars Indiana for poker doings has left me a bit under the weather, so apologies for yet another delayed post. My quick three-day jaunt left me exhausted and resulted in a quick trip to a "doc in the box" upon my return. More to follow on that count, I'm sure.

But as for Caesars, I hadn't quite realized how out in the boonies it is, off to the southwest of Louisville across the Ohio River into southern Indiana. It's a half-hour drive from Louisville despite being ten miles or less from the city as the crow flies, because there aren't any bridges across the Ohio in the direction where Caesars Indiana lies. Instead, Louisvillians have to head to the northwest to the bridge at New Albany, Indiana, and then back down the west side of the Ohio, which turns southward not far west of Louisville.

You know it's a trip to nowhere when you're on a two-lane county highway with a steady flow of traffic both ways, and the county highway even features a "Y" intersection on the way south. Caesars Indiana boasts an Elizabeth, IN zip code, despite the fact that there's three or four closer hamlets to the casino itself. But as one travels down Cty. Hwy. 111, one notices this edifice looming closer. It's Caesars, alright, stuck on a land tract opposite the highway from the river at a spot where the highway itself flows near the water.

The water itself was plenty high before my trip, so high that the casino itself was closed for two or three days. The bottom floor of the parking ramp was closed and the elevators up and down in the parking ramp were still shut down. One of the workers there told me that the Army Corps of Engineers had ordered the casino shutdown because the barge itself that the casino proper is engineered upon --- despite it being some distance from the river proper --- had started to float of its moorings in the flood.

Initial impressions on the layout? Caesars, or rather Harrah's Entertainment, must have gotten a good price on the land. For what there is here for a casino/resort complex, the place sprawls... to the point of creating some lengthy walks at times for its visitors. What's funniest, perhaps, is the nine-story hotel built at the rear of the complex. Floors eight and nine are the key-card-only suites, and I was lucky enough to pull Floor Seven, with the money view to the east. The west side looks directly into a large bluffside immediately behind the hotel to the west. East looks out over the Ohio --- to the strip-mined hillside across the river and the smelting plant just a bit to the north. That's all you see except for the parking ramp and casino rooftops below.

Like I said, they got a good price on the land.

But inside, the place is all Caesars, or perhaps faux Caesars, since it's not quite possible to do the totality of the Vegas Caesars experience in a setting like this. The great Vegas Caesars maze of shops and slot banks and restaurants and clubs turns into something more like a mini-mall here, if indeed a nice one. The casino operations are totally separate, of course, and are a -hike- from the rest of the resort. I spent much of my days in a second floor conference room in the business center above the mall/restaurant area,and even that was a longish walk from the hotel. Seriously --- the longest of the hallways from the hotel to the rest of the complex features not one but two people-movers, like those found in airports. Gotta like the "Global Citizens! Attention, please!" call over the loudspeakers when one reaches the end of the people-movers though; nice touch.

Entertainment choices? They put some big acts on, here, but it's pure heartland --- no rap or alternative to be found. The banners I saw advertised Tanya Tucker, the Doobie Brothers and Sawyer Brown. I'd guess that's a fairly typical selection.

Poker? It's on the bottom level of the four-level casino, three levels of which were open during my visit. While I was there for poker doings, I only had a chance to sneak in one "freelance" session of my own, that the evening of my arrival. I was tired after my seven-hour drive and didn't want to think too hard. So I played $4/8 limit. I left up almost $200, despite missing at least one value bet. The players at my table weren't good --- unless you consider cold-calling with K-9o from middle position a good play --- and I caught a couple of pairs of queens that held. I did snag an extra bet late in the session from a new player who I correctly pegged as having the need to fire at any pot not already fired at someone else. On that hand, I had A-Q in the BB and let him carry the action throughout after catching an A-high flop. When all was done he showed K-9 for poop; I'd only called his river bluff (instead of check-raising) trying for an overcall from a third player in the hand, because that guy didn't have much, either. Sometimes it works.

Good session, for what it was. That said, the attention of a lot of the players was focused on another table, where Paul 'Kwickfish' Wasicka was relaxing and playing some $1/2 NL.

More next time.