Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Great F'n Start to the Night

Here's ten minutes of my life I'll never get back. I think this is self-explanatory:

$30+3 SNG,

Seat 1: DaScrub ($1,500 in chips)
Seat 2: redbulnvodka ($1,500 in chips)
Seat 3: CRIXXXX ($1,460 in chips)
Seat 4: JohnnyBankn ($1,620 in chips)
Seat 5: barofsoap ($1,460 in chips)
Seat 6: rick114 ($1,500 in chips)
Seat 7: x HELLAS ($1,500 in chips)
Seat 8: sambuk ($1,460 in chips)
Seat 9: Jestocost [KC,AH] ($1,500 in chips)
Seat 10: mparrott ($1,500 in chips)

ANTES/BLINDSbarofsoap posts blind ($10), rick114 posts blind ($20).
PRE-FLOPx HELLAS folds, sambuk folds, Jestocost bets $80, mparrott folds, DaScrub calls $80, redbulnvodka folds, CRIXXXX calls $80, JohnnyBankn calls $80, barofsoap calls $70, rick114 folds.
FLOP [board cards 10D,KD,2H ]
barofsoap checks, Jestocost bets $300, DaScrub folds, CRIXXXX folds, JohnnyBankn folds, barofsoap calls $300.
TURN [board cards 10D,KD,2H,4H ]
barofsoap checks, Jestocost bets $500, barofsoap calls $500.
RIVER [board cards 10D,KD,2H,4H,QD ]
barofsoap bets $580 and is all-in, Jestocost calls $580.
barofsoap shows [ 5D,6D ]Jestocost shows [ KC,AH ]

barofsoap wins $3,180.

My only comment, "Is that barofsoap as in, don't bend over to pick up that bar of soap?"

I think I'll get a drink and try this again in a little while. I need to pound my head somewhere.

OK, I guess I can't complain too much, when my next SNG featured this hand:

$30+3 SNG,

Seat 1: bostoncaleb ($1,535 in chips)
Seat 2: knicksiny3k ($1,690 in chips)
Seat 3: Jestocost [4H,5D] ($1,450 in chips)
Seat 5: jbrekka ($1,240 in chips)
Seat 6: mook_7 ($1,410 in chips)
Seat 7: bigdawgkk ($1,275 in chips)
Seat 8: Tress10 ($1,465 in chips)
Seat 9: Kenny Webber ($1,425 in chips)
Seat 10: hockey166803 ($3,510 in chips)

knicksiny3k posts blind ($25), Jestocost posts blind ($50).PRE-FLOPjbrekka folds, mook_7 folds, bigdawgkk calls $50, Tress10 folds, Kenny Webber calls $50, hockey166803 folds, bostoncaleb folds, knicksiny3k calls $25, Jestocost checks.
FLOP [board cards 7S,5S,5C ]knicksiny3k checks, Jestocost bets $75, bigdawgkk folds, Kenny Webber bets $200, knicksiny3k folds, Jestocost bets $600, Kenny Webber calls $475.
TURN [board cards 7S,5S,5C,6S ]Jestocost bets $725 and is all-in, Kenny Webber calls $700 and is all-in.
RIVER [board cards 7S,5S,5C,6S,5H ]
SHOWDOWNJestocost shows [ 4H,5D ]Kenny Webber shows [ 8S,10S ]Jestocost wins $25, Jestocost wins $2,950.

OK. So I won that one and am up $84 for the night. Maybe I'll play the $50+4 US Daily MTT?

Shameless Pimpage

I learn a lot from a number of the poker blogs that I read. There are some tremendously smart people out there who provide great insights into how to improve your game. But sometimes I appreciate even more those bloggers who share experiences that are similar to mine, providing me with hope and a better sense of reality. Recent posts by Dugglebogey and Joe Speaker are perfect examples of this.

Dugglebogey reflects on how his belief that he can outplay the horrible donkeys he faces in SNGs and MTTs winds up leading to a lack of success in these events. I can empathize with that completely. As noted below, I start playing marginal hands against terrible players and almost invariably get the crap kicked out of me as a result. For me as well it’s largely a matter of ego, but also sometimes a matter of impatience. I get bored with folding hand after hand, only to watch horrible opponents take down a pot with middle pair when I would have flopped a straight. Fighting the boredom by trying to get cute is usually death, however.

Joe Speaker notes that he plays better against better opponents. To me, this is common sense. Against better opponents I am more focused. Against better opponents I can have a reasonable expectation that they will respond appropriately to the plays I make. I played better ping pong as a kid against better ping pong players, but I was never a great ping pong player. Today I play better poker against better opponents, but I am far from a great poker player.

And, finally, even some of the random shit I come up with finds like minds among the bloggers. Yesterday I finished my post with a John Bender quote from “The Breakfast Club” and today Drizztdj posts this related item.

I certainly can’t claim to be a mainstream member of the poker blogger community, but I’m pleased that one or two bloggers have now posted links to the Pile (OK, only after I asked them to. And two bloggers actually have posted comments at this worthless site. Thanks to SirFWALGman for being the first non-spam contributor to my comments. And I am humbled to have had the Blogfather himself acknowledge--if only in a small way--my existence.

Log on to Pokerroom tonight (and maybe even late tomorrow night) to have the opportunity to take my money from me.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005


As I have long believed and this site has confirmed, the Slag Pile is--in fact--worthless. In the interest of providing a self-esteem boost to those bloggers whose corners of the interweb are worth more than $0.00, I've included a nifty little banner advertising my complete lack of value at the base of the Pile.

Poker has been "eh" lately. No great play, no horrible play, no wild beats, no massive suckouts. I did "money" in another UB $1 Ultra MTT, taking in a cool $1.82 for finishing 84th out of 1,100 or so. Now I can afford that pack of gum I've been saving for.

Otherwise, I really haven't played much since the holiday started. I should be spending a few hours on Pokerroom in assorted MTTs and SNGs on Wednesday night, so maybe I'll have more to report during or after that.

I know you're on the edge of your seat.

"Screws fall out all the time, the world's an imperfect place."

-- John Bender

Sunday, November 20, 2005

One of Those Nights

Did you ever have one of “those” nights? I’m sure you have.

When the flop came 98x and you were short stacked with A8o, but the big stack had A9o?

When the flop came Kxx and you had KJo, but your opponent had KQo?

You had JJ and bet hard into a ragged flop, turn and river, only to run into QQ?

When you get the suckouts when it doesn’t matter, and get sucked out on when it does?

Let’s live blog this latest table, an ill-advised $50 SNG on Pokerroom:

First hand, one limper ahead of me and I limp with 66 in MP; SB calls and BB checks. Flop Q89 rainbow. I bet slightly less than the pot and get one caller. Turn is a 6 and I lead for $200, not liking the straight possibilities. Opponent folds and I’m the table chip leader.

Q5o (no heart) in the BB and I check to two limpers. Flop is 288 with two hearts and I bet out $50 and get one caller. Turn is the Ah and my $100 bet is raised to $200, which I call. River is another heart and I give up, checking. Opponent bets $400 and I fold.

Blinds at $15/$30. I get AJo in the BB and raise to $120 after the UTG, the button and the SB call. UTG calls, and the button and SB fold. Flop is AsQd6s and I have the Js. The software fucks me up and I wind up min betting $30, instead of betting $250 as planned. Turn is the Qh and I bet $300 and get called, which makes me nervous. River is a J, which pleases me no end and I bet $500. Opponent calls me and shows AKo, giving him the pot with his kicker as my pair of Jacks is counterfeited and I’m down to $870.

Blinds take me down to $855 and I find AKo in MP. Raise 3x the BB to $150 and get one caller. Flop comes J44 and I bet $300. Caller folds. Yee ha.

Blinded down to $980 giving me an M of just over 6. Still 9 players at the table and I’m the short stack.

A3d UTG and I push. Everybody folds and I take the blinds.

J5o in the BB and I fold to a raise from the button and a call from the SB.

Q5s in the SB and I call a raise to $200. Flop is Q33 and I push. Button calls with AQo and IGHN.

One of those nights.

Other than the obvious donkey play with the counterfeited Jacks, any major problems there?

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

The Curse of Success or How to Start a Death Spiral in Three Easy Lessons

After the MTT success I documented in my previous blog entry, my MTT and SNG play went straight into the toilet. It’s interesting in hindsight that what I actually did at the tables was completely detached from what I know I should do.

During this time, I’ve been faced with what everyone who plays poker faces. I’ve been completely card dead for three or more tournaments in a row. I’ve taken a number of bad beats. There’s surely nothing I can do about the former, except to try and hang on. And in the latter case I can—at least intellectually—appreciate that it means I’m getting my money out on the table with the best of it, which is all anyone really can do.

(Warning: Obligatory bad beat section follows; please skip to next paragraph. Allow me to vent just for a second. KK all-in goes down to a call from K9 when my opponent flops a pair of nines and rivers trips. KK goes down to a call from 99 that rivers a straight. Red pocket tens all-in flop a set, but wait, all three cards on the board are spades, looking suspiciously like the 8s in the pocket eights that called me with; a fourth spade hits the board on the turn and nothing pairs on the river. JJ all-in is called by TT and, after a ragged flop that puts me ahead by nearly 14-1, the third ten hits on the turn. Blah, blah, blah. Boring, boring, boring. Please cry for me Argentina. But, as I asked the K9 caller, “Why don’t the donkeys ever use lubricants when they mount you from behind?”)

But the reality is, in most of those cases, I was pushing pre-flop near the bubble because I was short stacked and needed to double up to stay in the tournament. And the fact is that in most of those cases I got there by being a big freakin’ donkey myself. I’m not talking about any complicated leak, for the most part, just a simple pattern that I find myself falling into after a run of success.

1) I start playing too many marginal starting hands. Little pocket pairs, middle suited (O, even non-suited sometimes) connectors; Ax, on and on. My recent wins have me convinced that all of my opponents are idiots and that I can push them around and out play them. But they’re not all idiots (even though many are) and even an idiot gets dealt good cards and hits a flop from time to time. All that it gets me are lots of middle pairs with no kicker, bottom pairs with big kickers, assorted gutshots and backdoor draws, and complete garbage on the flop.

2) I push those marginal hands aggressively and get popped. Everyone sees the crap I’m playing and they play back at me, forcing me to fold, or they string me along and suck me dry all the way to the river. Continuation bets actually work if you use them judiciously and show down some strong hands every once in awhile.

I struggle and donk it up, losing in tournaments early or watching my stack bounce up and down like a three-year old after two liters of Hawaiian Punch and half a birthday cake until I bubble out and die. Then the final phase of the death spiral hits:

3) The return of Captain Weaktight, hero of the stupid. I don’t play anything but group one hands, unless I’m completing from the small blind or checking from the big blind. Unless I flop a set or better (maybe TPTK, if I’m feeling particularly frisky) I’m checking and folding. If my set isn’t top set, I’m folding to anyone who plays back at me. Bubble city guaranteed, boys and girls.

So here I am, crawling out of that hole again and trying to play better. This time, I mostly have tried to play my way out of my slump, but is that the best way? It helps with some things, certainly, but it almost invariably seems to require me to play out the full cycle. Should I take a break? Read a book? Hit myself in the head with a brick? What? Is there any way to short circuit this cycle once it begins?

Pokerroom's Latest "Upgrade"

On another topic, will some poker sites never learn how to complete a software update without screwing things up? I haven’t played on that many sites, but Pokerroom—a site where I play frequently and generally like as well as any—can’t seem to get it right. Just this last spring, they screwed up enough that they had to roll out a series of $ added freerolls just to try to appease the pissed-off masses. If you have an account there and like these events, get ready for more of them.

Yesterday, Pokerroom rolled out their newest software update (for both the downloadable and Java platforms). In the process, they’ve managed to put themselves out of the MTT business temporarily and even those new things that are working just plain suck.

SNG registrations are impossible, with multiple tables with the same game and buy in level registering at once and no method of organizing them by # of registrants or anything. As a result, you get people filling two or three $20 NLHE tables at once and it takes forever to fill them. Maybe this works at Party or Stars, but not at Pokerroom, there’s just not the volume of players. Oh, and some of these SNGs are now multi-table games, but there’s no way to tell that from the menu. You have to click on each one individually to see if it’s a one-, two- or three-table event. Nuts.

SNG blind levels also are now just eight minutes. I think they did it by hand count before and it was manageable and no worse than other sites, but now the things are pretty much push fests. When your base SNG is effectively a turbo, blah.

They’ve blown up in the past and eventually have fixed things, but we’ll see this time. One of the big selling points for Pokerroom is the Java version, which I can play on the road, but I’ve had the largest share of my bankroll there for a while and I don’t know if that will continue without some fixes.