Friday, March 20, 2009

On Facebook

Yes, I've succumbed to the evil empire and am starting to add friends. I haven't verified my account yet so it's tossing me the two-word verification box. For April's, it tossed me "shipped" and "$600".

In her dreams. Loooooooooooooooooooooooooooooool.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Donking Your Way to Fun and Profit

Long-time readers of this blog know I have a healthy aversion to a certain starting hand in no-fold'em-hold'em, that being A-Q. While there are times that I'll play the hand as if it was aces, I've had so much bad luck with it, like Doyle Brunson, that I just won't play it hard a lot of the time. (It's about the only thing Doyle's game and mine have in common, by the way.)

But last night, I donked my way to victory with it.

'Twas the $2,500 Guarantee at Merge, a habitual stomping ground of mine. I've played very little overall the last two months; though I've always had decent success here, my sum total of poker on the network in the last three-weeks-plus has been six MTTs and a single paltry sit-'n'-go. No cash play whatsoever. Busy times.

Last night, though, I found myself with a couple of free hours and fired up the old $2,500. I was fortunate to double up early, then did nothing for at least an hour as a good chunk of the field passed me by. With the top ten cashing, I found myself bouncing between 13th and 17th and in desperate need of a double-up. It turned out I picked up not one but two double-ups as the final table approached, getting the chips in good both times and having the hands hold up.

Once in a while it's nice to run well.

I got to the final table fourth or fifth in chips and in no huge hurry, with an aggressive leader captaining the table and two or three extreme short stacks in need of departure times. Then I picked up pocket kings and dispatched one of the not-short stacks, who had pushed from the under the gun with pocket tens. My kings held and I was near the lead, and I stayed there, swapping the top spot with zgfjsh, the earlier leader, until we were down to four. Then he took a big pot to move out in front, and when we got down to three I was narrowly in third place, though not in terrible shape. Zgfjsh was on my right and MK-something was on my left, and they'd both shown a tendency to push hard at perceived weakness. I used that against the MK-something guy when I found another monster pair and let him get it all in on a 9-high flop. Soon enough we were down to two of us, me and zgfjsh.

I had perhaps 70 big blinds, zgfjsh 60 or 65, when the final hand arrived. I was on the bottom and found A-Q, my long-time nemesis. I raised three times zg's big blind, and he called. He had shown a tendency to three-bet with his big hands so I was pretty sure he didn't have a monster, but instead had something he wanted to see a flop with it.

The flop came 7d-Jd-Qc, I believe. (It was definitely two-suited though I forget which suit.) He checked, I bet about pot, and he check-raised me for about two-thirds of his stack.

Hmmmm, what does he have? I don't think he has an overpair, and I don't think he'd check-raise me on the flop with a set, so again, what's he have? To me the options are total air, a strong semi-bluff hand such as two diamonds or K-10 or 10-9, a hand I beat or tie such as A-Q, K-Q or A-J, or possibly two pair. He's aggressive enough to check-raise with total air, so that's a factor here. Given that I've ruled out the set, two pair is the only holding that beats me. I hate A-Q, and top-pair/top-kicker is foldable with as many chips as we have. And yet... I figure I'm ahead of his likely range. The pot-commit bet of his is as likely to be a ruse as not, too. I'm pretty sure it's the flush draw, so I jam... and he of course calls, being pot-committed.

Turns out I was wrong. He shows J-7 for bottom two and my A-Q is in trouble. It's okay, though, since the turn is a five and the river another five, and I donk out a better two pair and the victory.

See, you don't have to be good all the time. Being lucky after coming to the wrong decision works once in a while, too.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Long Time No Post

Little to report on from my ever-rare excursions to the felt, hence the momentary downtime in spewing pixels. I tried the first of the BBT events a couple of weeks back, but went out early after getting all the chips in good against Missy Hoy early on. I flopped a straight while he flopped top set, and the chips went in on the turn. He then caught a queen on the river for quads and used my chips as part of his rush to riches.

So be it.

February pretty much sucked for me that way, pokerwise. I took a few shots, both live and online, and... nada. My Stars account went into a rough stretch as well, with a tough run in turbos, MTTs and cash games causing an overall 25% drop in my bankroll there last month. More, actually, if you count a nice coupon that I took one of those shots with, and went nowhere.

The last week to ten days, then, has been a process of grinding it back up. And so I have, returning to those 18-player turbos where I have a consistent edge. I fire up three or four at a time and replace as needed, usually with a TV or something on in the background. The result: I should be able to sample a few SCOOP events as time allows.

I've noticed, though, that the tight focus on the smaller turbos often takes just a bit of my edge off in some of the larger MTTs. Between the time demands of late for the work stuff, and perhaps just a bit of tilt, I hadn't been showing the patience needed to run deep in anything with a big field. Big MTTs can require giving up big hands once in a while, and I've been way too willing to donk it up with TPTK of late. In the small turbos that's generally a hand to go to war with, but not necessarily so in MTTs, at least not until the average stack drops below 20 big blinds or so and it's reduced to one- or two-move poker.

I've noticed a fresh surge of bad players of late, populating the turbos. I've also noticed an uptick at lower and mid levels of a certain type of turbo player, who plays ultra tight early on, not getting into any hands in the first three levels or so without a veritable monster. In addition, if they do play anything early on, they're coming in for a raise of eight or nine times the big blind, with an example being open-raising 250 at the 15/30 level. With starting stacks of 1,500 in these things, what they're trying to do is induce chasers with hands such as middle pairs and A-Q and A-J and the like, all while denying proper post-flop odds in most circumstances to crack a monster pair. Sooner or later, of course, someone will look them up, and if it turns out they've been overraising with the suspected monster, it's note time.

I make that special note whenever I see one of these players, because if they're willing to lay out their early game plan so plainly, I can take chips from them. I'll show them due respect later on in the turbos, but whenever I know what they're up to, I have the edge. Edge means chips, chips mean money. Easy formula.