Friday, November 30, 2007


I went to Mandalay Bay tonight. Not exactly sure why. I wanted to play smaller than the Bellagio and I remembered they only ran 1/2 and 2/4 no limit the last time I was there.

2/4 was a long wait so I sat down when a seat at 1/2 became available. It's been awhile since I've played 1/2 and to be honest I'm not sure I can play 1/2 anymore. I just don't play my best. Or at least as well as I play at 2/5. Then again it's a completely different game.

On most hands at 1/2 everyone limps in for 2 bucks. No matter what cards they have. It could be kings. The thing to realize here is that most of these players aren't trapping you when they limp. They just don't know they're supposed to raise. Maybe they're scared of seeing an ace on the flop so they limp. Whatever the reason, this makes playing 1/2 such a different game than 2/5. 1/2 doesn't feel like poker.

My thought for how to counteract all this constant limping is that it might make sense to just push anytime I want to play a hand. Just keep racing. If I run into a monster oh well. But otherwise if I raise to 15 bucks and 7 people call, I have no clue where I stand on the flop. My only real expectation is that I'm now trailing one of the other 6 hands.

So why not keep it simple? I've got good cards? Push the chips in!

Otherwise 1/2 becomes an evening trapped in purgatory seeing $2 flops with 8,10 off suit, waiting to catch a full house. If I'm going to do that with my time I may as well go sit down at the roulette wheel. At least at roulette I know I'm getting paid off when I get lucky.

When I initially sat down the dealer said something about how he's seen me before. I didn't realize this was his way of asking me if I needed a poker lesson. When I said that I had only been to Mandalay Bay once in the past year, he proceeded to explain to me how to play Texas Hold 'em. It took him around 5 minutes. A very long 300 seconds. This was both amusing and painful. However if he was going to treat me like a beginner I wasn't about to stop him.

As for the session I made a few good lay downs. That's the good news.

The bad news? I had to make a few good lay downs because my hands kept ending up second best.

Poker can be strange that way. Like tonight I actually got cards. Preflop at least. But each time things got real confusing once the flop came out. It was one of those nights where I'd pay money to see how a top level pro would handle these situations.

I kept finding myself in spots where I'd raise preflop with a good looking medium pair. But then the flop would bring overcards. And the turns kept offering up 4 card flushes. Or 4 cards to a straight. And I had to either bluff my way out of it or give up and keep folding.

It's never a good sign when you bluff into a scary looking board and you immediately witness pure glee and joy entering into your opponents (sub)consciousness.

There were also two occasions last night where I flopped the nut flush draw and came up empty on the turn and river. I'm plenty used to missing my draws however both times a third player in the hand felt the need to show their inferior flush draw as they folded on the river.

This made missing my draw sting a little more for me. The knowledge that I would have actually gotten paid off on the river by at least one player if I hit.

It should make no difference to me to see their cards. But sometimes it does.

Entitlement kicks in.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Paying Off Sets

I was up in Summerlin with some extra time between two appointments, and as I drove past the Red Rocks Casino, I remembered that I play poker.

I could go to work!

The only game with an open seat was 2/5 no limit. Perfect.

I was the only non-regular at the table. It was entertaining to watch the exchange of pleasantries each time one of the old guys sat down. They obviously knew each other well and must sit there all day.

As was to be expected, these guys were real tight and their play was pretty straight forward. At a table like this it's real easy for me to be the aggressor. They respect raises, so there I was betting and raising. Basically hoping that the one time I got looked up, I would actually have something strong.

Not too much action ensued and it was eventually time for me to go.

My final hand, I picked up pocket aces under the gun. I limped in. The hand before there had been fireworks preflop, and I was hoping history would repeat itself.

It didn't. No one raised behind me and the flop came out 7,8,10, with two of a suit.

I checked, anticipating that I'd be calling a flop bet.

However when a certain gentleman bet behind me, I immediately threw my cards into the muck.

I'm not so sure that I fold here on the internet, but sitting live in person, I was positive he wasn't bluffing. That much I was sure of.

Now where it gets hard for me is that he could have a hand as weak as jack 10 or ace 10, and still make the exact same bet here to protect it. Even though it would be a weaker holding than my aces.

But there are also plenty of hands I'm losing to here. With the flop bringing a flush draw, he'd also make this same bet with two pair, a set, a straight.

Perhaps even if he's holding just a 9.

So I'm beating top pair here. If that's what he's got. I'm also beating a draw.
But I'm sure not itching to play a big pot with just a big pair. I can call and see if he bets again on the turn. I can also reraise him to see where I'm at. But if he calls my reraise (which I'm guessing he will) I'm suddenly playing the rest of the hand out of position, with top pair, scared to put more money in, and still unsure if I'm facing a draw or made hand.

This is one of those moments in poker where it doesn't matter to me if I lay down the best hand. What matters more is I don't go broke against a tight player trying to defend a big pair in a hand where I didn't even raise preflop. All I've lost here is 5 bucks. Do I really want to play a big pot on a 7,8,10 board with pocket aces?

Not against this guy. So my big pair went into the muck. Yet what I find really interesting is if I was playing something like ace 10 suited, and hit top pair on this exact 7,8,10, flop, then I'm probably not going away on the flop. I'm either betting, raising or calling a bet.

Yet with a stronger hand than top pair, a more powerful overpair, I sometimes get overly cautious. It's an illogical strategy in that I'm playing the stronger hand (an over pair like aces) weaker and the weaker hand (ace 10 hitting top pair 10 on the flop) stronger.

To balance this inconsistency out, I could adjust my play. I could hold onto my big pairs a little deeper into hands. Play them more aggressively. Not go away so easily on the flop. Similarly I could play my top pairs a little weaker. Muck them more often when I get a read that I'm beat.

This is a big poker issue for me to resolve because I don't usually make my money with big pairs or top pair. Mainly I try not to LOSE alot of money in these spots.

In psychology, they say we fear the thing that has already happened. I've seen thousands of hands. Mathematically speaking, I know pocket aces is a better hand than ace 10 on a 10,8,7 flop. Yet it often seems that a hand like ace 10 holds up and top pair wins. While pocket aces run into something like two pair. I know this isn't always true. But that's what it feels like.

I'm sharing this concept because it's something I've thought about. I'm certainly aware that it's possible I made a great laydown and that my aces were beat. I don't need to make some sort of grand proclamation set in stone of how to play big pairs post flop. I can acknowledge that each situation is unique.

You want a grand proclamation?

How about:

Just because I see big pairs lose to sets every single night, doesn't mean I always have to fold my big pair post flop.

Just because I've folded a big pair when it was the best hand, doesn't mean I always have to play it post flop.

How far to go with top pair is a very tough question in poker. This topic is actually why limit poker can often be less stressful. Sure people stick around and chase draws and suck out on you. But at least you can happily pay off someone's set with top pair and not lose your stack.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

The Homestretch

There are only 5 weeks left in the Vegas Year...

...and like Francis Ford Coppola on the set of Apocalypse Now...

...I have no idea how it all ends.

The only thing I know is Marlon Brandon hasn't shown up yet.

I sit here today and think back to the Summer of 06. Living in NYC. Still playing every day on the internet. About to head out to Vegas for the WSOP.

Before leaving town I caught a Michael Portnoy show with a good friend.

Walking away from the theater, I shared my poker goal.

If all went well in Vegas, perhaps I wouldn't be coming back to New York City. Perhaps I'd stay out West.

Be careful of what you ask for.

I did come back to NYC but only to get my wife and our stuff.

Jump forward 18 months in time and here we are in Vegas. Some days I feel so lucky. Other times the Vegas Year feels like a jail sentence.

I think it's good to remember how we got here.

To (re)appreciate the journey.

I'm not too sure what happens at the end of this year.

But I'm grateful to have grown and learned from this experience.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

They're Not The Same Game

I played a couple of limit sessions recently.

I'm not too sure exactly when it happened but something just clicked for me in terms of understanding limit poker. It was honestly surprising to have any sort of breakthrough because I hardly play the game. Yet after being away from it for awhile, this time it made more sense. The aggression. The pounding.

-Figuring out which players defend their blinds and which players don't.

-Figuring out which players check raise you (on the flop or turn) to see where they're at...and which players don't.

-Figuring out which players have the courage to fire 3 straight bullets with nothing ....and which players don't.

And it's obviously so much easier on the stomach to only lose an additional big bet on the end if I'm wrong. No tough decisions for my whole stack.

Limit is a different game and when the stakes are large enough, I like it.

Limiting the bet size makes it easier to play aggressively. There's always a good reason to bet. If your cards have connected you bet because you want to get as much money as possible in there. If your cards have missed then betting might be the only way to get anyone to fold. And if you're on a draw, betting will either get opponents to fold or build a pot in case you hit. Betting good.

When the game limits bet size there's no need to trap.

At no limit I sometimes convince myself that trapping the other players will win me more money in a particular hand. At limit this strategy usually just means I am missing bets.

The strategic differences between limit and no limit are so vast that I find it wrong to call both games Texas Hold 'em. Sure they're both 2 card poker games that share 5 community cards. But they're the same to each other only so much as turkey dark meat and turkey white meat are the same meat.

Sure they're both turkey. But just cause you eat one doesn't mean you eat the other.

I hope everyone has a dysfunctional Thanksgiving weekend.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Happy Birthday Grandma

I called my Grandmother Mary on the phone to wish her a Happy Birthday and she told me how she was knocked out 4th (on the bubble) in an online sit and go tournament earlier this week when her pocket jacks were cracked by 3,5 off.

"Who plays 3,5 off?" she asked me and we shared a laugh.

But it's a fair enough question. Who plays 3,5 off?

Well for starters lots of bad people do. Not only bad poker players.

Bad people.

You know.

Liars and Crooks. Cheaters and Lunatics. Terrorists. Rich People. Actors.

However where it can get confusing for some of us is that sometimes good people play 3,5 off too.

People just like you and I.

Poor people. People with bad vision. Firemen. People with bad short term memory. Peace officers. People with bad long term memory. Doctors. Minorities. Blood bank donors.

To further add to the drama, there is also an entire gray area of people who play the 3,5.

Comedians. Professional Wrestlers. Sperm bank donors. Union members. The National Guard. Short order cooks.

Sometimes even I play 3,5 off.

Mostly it's just a hand for those of us who like a little too much action.

Happy Birthday Grandma.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

And It Makes Me Wonder

10:02 PM. Friday night and the Bellagio is packed. The list to play is over 30 names deep. While I'm standing around waiting, a man I've never met before walks up to me and says, "You look tired. You should go to sleep." Not exactly words of encouragement.

10:25 PM. I'm seated sooner than later. Unfortunately I recognize 5 of the faces at my table. Fortunately two of the unfamiliar faces turn out to be bad enough to make the table good enough to stay at.

My first hand is pocket jacks. Mostly worth mentioning because it would be my best starting hand for the night. I won the pot and just like that I was up 60 bucks. I suppose I could have cashed out and bragged about my 60 dollars per minute win rate.

10:38 PM. My ace, 5 of spades flop two more spades but miss the flush draw on turn and river. I still end up winning a small pot with a pair of 5's. However the real shame comes when my opponent shows his king and jack of spades. Talk about a good time to have hit my flush draw. Some fireworks would have ensued and I could have gotten paid off nicely.

10:55 PM. I'm up $90 when I join a family pot from the button with queen 10. I flop nicely: jack, 9, 5. One opponent leads for 15 and three of us call. I miss my straight draw on the turn and this time the blind leads out for 25. Everyone folds. I've only been sitting with this guy for 30 minutes but I am pretty sure of two things.

1- He will pay me off if I hit this straight. Even if a king or 8 comes on the river, he will bet and then call a reasonable raise from me. He doesn't like to be bluffed, and based on his taking over the betting lead on the turn, I think it's reasonable to put him on a hand like two pair.

2- He won't fold if I raise him here.

So raising is out of the question against this opponent. I can fold or call.

I chose to call and hope to get lucky.

However I missed on the river and mucked like a good tourist.

10:57 PM. This time it's minus 50 for me with the same ace 5 suited hand. It's funny to have a second ace 5 suited hand to discuss because I really don't like to play ace suited hands. Especially against any kind of substantial preflop raise. It's too hard to figure out where you are at if an ace flops. I almost prefer the small suited connectors for this reason. But what happened here was I limped in for 5 bucks and then flopped the nut flush draw. So here I was stuck in the hand again.

It was checked around to me on the button post flop and I fired out $20. It's a win/win bet. I'm happy to take it down. I'm happy to build a pot.

I got three callers so I guess I was building a pot.

I miss on the turn and now one of the blinds fires out 25 bucks before I can act. Uh okay. He's ahead and doesn't want to give any free cards.

There's one caller and one folder in front of me. With the nut draw and in position I call too, but none of this matters when I miss again on the river.

And that my friends is how you lose 50 bucks with ace suited.

11:14 PM. Basically the same hand for the third time in less than an hour! I get ace suited a third time, once again flop two of the same suit, but cannot hit to complete the draw.

Lets analyze this mathematically. I've now chased the nut flush draws three times. (Not to mention the open ended straight draw I also chased).

I'm not in love with chasing. But as far as these flush draws went, I should win 1 of the 3 hands. And hitting 1 of the 3 could have made the experience profitable.

Sometimes I will get real lucky and hit 2 (or even 3) out of 3 draws and win a large percentage of money. However very often I will lose all 3 of my 3 trials I'm down money and wondering why I'm chasing.

The voice inside my head reminds us that we had 3 good opportunities to win some nice sized pots. Specifically against opponents whom I believe would pay me off on the river. Implied odds if you will.

Against better players I could reraise these hands on the flop or turn and play some poker.

Against these weaker players I will actually need the better hand to win at the end.

And let the record state that I'm fine with having to showdown if this means they're calling my bets on the end and I'm actually getting full value the times I can hit my hand.

What this discussion eventually comes down to is variance.

How much do I want at the table?

Yes I will win and lose more money by playing more hands. And while folding borderline hands is fine, when I play them I am trusting that I can outplay most of the opponents at my table post flop. But against bad players, when my draws don't hit, it just feels like bad poker.

11:18 PM. I smooth call a $20 raise with pocket 9's in late position. Three of us see a 2,2,8 flop with two hearts. The guy who raised to 20 preflop checks. Guy to my right bets 50.

This is a hard hand to play. Despite his 50 dollar bet, I really think I'm ahead of the guy to my right. I've watched him reraise a few times preflop with strong hands. If he was holding something stronger than pocket 9's, I think he would have reraised the $20 preflop bet. That was just his style.

This makes me think two things are likely. Either he has two hearts. Or he has something like ace 8. And the way poker works he could certainly be holding something as scary at the ace,8 of hearts. I wanna see what comes on the turn.

Meanwhile my bigger worry here is still the guy behind me. My best hope is that he raised preflop with ace king. However his actions could also resemble someone holding a big pair who is about to checkraise the flop.

So I'm hoping to find out more by calling the 50. If the gentleman indeed has an overpair, he will let me know by here raising. And if he has ace king he will fold.

I'm gonna spend 50 bucks to find out where I stand. And find out I do. The initial preflop raiser bumps it up 50 more to 100. Perfect. Thank you sir.

That's the bet of someone holding an overpair. Someone who thinks he wants the call. Someone who thinks he's ahead.

And with a 2,2,8 board his only legitimate fear is that either of us has pocket 8's.

It's far less likely that either of us could be holding a 2.

Before I can fold my 9's, the guy to my right who bet the first 50 pushes all in for 350. I guess I can officially fold now.

After some thought the initial preflop raiser calls. Both of their cards were sort of predictable. The preflop raiser had pocket kings. The all in pusher who bet the flop had ace 5 of hearts. And off they raced.

I think if the board was something like 2,6,8 the pocket kings guy may have folded to the all in since there would be 3 possible sets with that board. But with a 2,2,8 flop it's REALLY hard to lay down pocket kings.

If I was truly a grinder I could have saved 50 bucks on the flop. However in terms of my growing at poker, I was happy to see that the guy to my right wasn't ahead of me on the flop when he bet the 50. If the 3rd player had indeed held ace king, I would have won this hand.

And what good is 50 dollars anyway? What am I gonna do with 50 bucks? Buy groceries?

11:24 PM. It's been a pretty busy first hour. I'm playing too many hands but this is intentional. It's me adjusting my style to fit the table. People are paying people off. I just need to actually hit something at some point. Despite all 4 draws missing and my giving away 50 on that 2,2,8 board with the pocket 9's, I'm only down 128 dollars.

It's also fun to admit that I wasn't satisfied when I was up 90. Why? Because I had no perspective. Now that I'm down money it would be great to be up 90. It's kind of like that Mike Caro line about how "you are ALREADY even." Every time you begin a new hand. You are even. At that moment. There is no up or down.

11:31 PM. I get pocket 9's again but check out of the hand after an ace and king flop. I then sit back and get to watch a third 9 come out on the turn. Oh joy of joys.

11:40 PM. I fold pocket 3's to a raise and reraise preflop, and then watch a 3 come out on the flop. More joy.

11:48 PM. My cards have really slowed down. I'm down 133 and about to pay my blinds.

12:02 AM. Still card dead. Been folding for last 20 minutes. The guy to my right keeps flashing his cards to my end of the table every time he's in a hand. Intentionally. I've never had someone do that before over and over again. But I'm real glad he's showing because he's on such an incredible streak. I've seen him get pocket aces and pocket queens 4 times each since I've sat down. And so when he keeps raising preflop no one on the other side of the table believes him. And why would they? How often can someone really get pocket aces? Once every 200+ hands? Yet this guy really kept having what he was representing. To the rest of the table the truth was less believable than fiction.

12:06 AM. Our table is discussing how to "play the player and not the cards" and our dealer has an interesting suggestion. His recommendation? Go sit at 1/2 and don't look at your cards. Then sit back and try to play the hands completely based on the behavior of the other players. In other words, don't distract yourself with your own cards and whether or not you've hit the flop. Just completely focus on the other players. And obviously at 1/2 the most a mistake here could cost you is 200 bucks. Sounds like tuition well spent to me.

12:26 AM. I've got nothing going here. So much so that I just folded king 10 suited in the blinds to a 30 dollar preflop raise and felt good about myself. Just because I'm not getting cards doesn't suddenly mean I need to defend my blinds with king 10 suited out of position against a tight player If I was running well it's different. But right now if I play a hand I gotta make sure I've got the best of it. I can't play it just because I haven't played a hand in awhile.

12:50 AM. Still card dead. Just had 9,10 suited but had to lay it down after a raise and reraise behind me. These guys aren't making moves. They're getting cards. My stack has dwindled down to the point where I'm willing to overplay a big ace or medium pair if there is money in the middle of the table. The painful part tonight isn't being card dead. The painful part is seeing that there are bad players at my table and I can't take advantage financially.

1:00 AM. Down 319 after I lose to runner runner. I feel nothing. I even say "Nice hand sir."

1:07 AM. I win back half of my loss thus far with 10,8 off suit flopping trips and turning the full house. Why don't I do this every hand? Why do I make poker so difficult for myself? Why don't I just hit a full house every hand?

1:16 AM. The guy to my left keeps raising to 35 preflop and each time I've reraised his bet he's folded. I like being out of position against him and letting him bet my hands for me.

1:25 AM. I limp in again with ace 5 suited. Damn that hand. Big blind makes it 25. 20 more. I'm dying to fold but there are two callers in front of me so I join the dance party. Flop comes ace high which looks good at first. Real good. That is until the big blind fires out $50. Me and my top pair go quickly into the muck. Nice bet sir. No need to look you up here.

1:33 AM. Three hours in and I take a walk down 200. Being down 200 feels a-okay. It's all relative. There will be one hand at this table tonight when I have the chance to double up. I can point out the 3 players it's going to happen against. I can't tell you which one specifically. But I'm definitely going to double up through one of the 3 maniacs to my left. I just gotta wait patiently for the right moment.

1:40 AM. Phil Ivey walks through the poker room and into the upper limit Bobby's Room. There are actually two games going on in there tonight. A 100/200 no limit game....and the Big Game.

Isn't that great that 100/200 no limit ISN'T the Big Game?

The 100/200 no limit table looks like a bunch of rich guys but not necessarily poker players. Our last dealer said he pushed an $80,000 pot to a guy in there with second pair. I just wanna know what hand called him? Bottom pair?

Dealer also told us the Big Game that night was 8 mixed games with 4000/8000 blinds. Looking through the glass I can see our old friend Jennifer Harmon. Eli Elizra. Minh Li.

1:43 AM. Ivey leaves. Maybe he was just picking up money? Maybe the game wasn't good enough? Who knows. All I know is if you're sitting in Bobby's room you probably gotta take a deep breath and sigh of relief when Phil Ivey exits.

Like I wasn't even at the table and I felt more relaxed when he left.

1:48 AM. Two locals at my table keep checking it down anytime it's the two of them in a pot. It's happened a few too many times now and a guy at my table just yelled at them that this is not real poker and then he got up and left. He's right of course.

What keeps happening is the aggressive local raises to 20. Everyone folds. And the other (passive) local calls him and then immediately shows his cards.

What I don't understand is if you don't want to ever play the hand out, why the hell call in the first place?

If you're so scared to play your cards post flop, or you don't want to take your friend's money, THEN JUST FOLD.

I was sitting between them and kept finding myself tempted to play hands just to see what they'd do with a third guy in pot.

1:52 AM. Another amazing display of The Power of Negative Thinking TM. One of the local guys is all in with his pocket aces on jack high flop. The other player puts him on ace jack, and then calls with queen, jack.

These are the players I play with.

How do you put someone on a hand that beats you and then call?

So the turn is a rag and as the dealer peels off the river the local guy with the aces says "Give me a queen!"

And the dealer turns over a queen.

I just can't help myself: "Why did you ask for a queen?"

"Because I didn't want one" he says.

1:59 AM. Down 226 after paying blinds.

2:17 AM. Down 236 after paying blinds.

2:18 AM. Minus 15 on button with pocket 2's.

2:23 AM. I raise to 20 preflop from middle position and get called by the button. Flop comes out 9 high and I bet 40. He folds and shows me ace king. I show him one card. A king. I guess I was trying to stimulate future action by showing him a card that could mean anything. He probably put me on kings. But otherwise he may have been ahead of me. The significance of this hand will come into play 15 minutes later.

2:38 AM. 15 minutes later I limp in with pocket 10's fully expecting to get raised behind me. This is what happens at 2:38 in the morning. People get bored and that leads to players lowering their starting hand requirements, and getting out of hand with their preflop raising. I counter their new found aggression by limping more with my stronger hands to trap them.

The guy to my left, as he has done alot tonight, reraises me. Same guy who keeps making it 35. This time he makes it 20. Both blinds call. It gets back to me.

The button raises too many hands. If he woke up with a hand this time I'm gonna pay him off because I don't believe him. I think I have the best hand here.

I am betting the button raised with rags and that if either of the blinds had a hand stronger than 10's they would have already reraised. So I raise all in.

Button immediately folds and I'm feeling good about taking down the three $20's.

But then the blind (the same guy who showed me the ace king and then I showed the king to) asks me the classic "Do you want action?"

Well sir I moved my wife to Vegas almost a year ago.

It also just so happens that I am sitting in the Bellagio at a poker table.

So one might conclude that "Yes" I do want action.

Lets consider what I might say to him if I had pocket aces. Hmmm.

I'd probably shrug my shoulders and mutter "I don't know."

So that's exactly what I did. I told him I didn't know and shrugged my shoulders. It was close to the truth. I probably want his action because he doesn't have my hand presently beat. But it's also fine if he folds and I win 60 bucks. I don't need to race his big ace here.

Much to my surprise he finally decides to call. Neither of us shows our cards.

Flop comes out king high. Damn. Not a good sign.

An ace comes on the turn. Double damn. Could it get any worse?

A queen finishes me off on the river. What hand can I beat at this point? Pocket 9's?

I look at him, shake my head left and right, and say "You got me."

But he doesn't turn over.

I want to be done with this hand. I show my 10's and I'm not embarrassed. You can all have the information that I repopped preflop at the Bellagio on Friday night with pocket 10's. Win or lose, lets move on.

And then this dude turns over pocket 6's. Huh?

I look back the board.

On the board, as part of that king high flop, was a 6.

Oh dear. He got lucky. He hit his two outer and made a set.

I didn't exactly appreciate the slow roll part, but I still smiled and said nice hand.

The pain of his hitting a set was numbed for me by the fact that I was already losing to any ace, king or queen here. It didn't matter how I lost. Just that I lost.

The hardest part of playing poker is nights like this when being right doesn't mean winning money. At other things in life, usually when you are correct in your work, you gain.

In poker I can make a play like this, correctly read my opponents and the situation and yet still lose money. When my 80% favorite doesn't hold up it makes no difference to my refrigerator that I got all of my money in good.

Do we need to discuss his call here?

I'm not sure I've quoted Led Zeppelin before but "it makes me wonder."

What was he hoping I had here?

He couldn't be thinking too deeply. He probably just wanted action. Wanted to gamble. This must be true because the only hand he is happy to see me turn over is a smaller pocket pair. More likely I'm either crushing him with my overpair or we're racing if I have ace king.

Calling an all in with pocket pair as low as 6's likely turns whatever hand I have into a race. Even if I was making a move with 9,10 suited, it's still the classic overcards vs pocket pair race. However this isn't a tournament. Blinds aren't going up. There really isn't a good reason to call an all in at a cash table with a small pair. Unless you just wanna gamble. Even if you catch someone making a move you're still basically 50/50.

Truth be told, his call with pocket 6's is a DREAM for me. I'm certainly not complaining. I return home from another evening in the poker room, happy with how I got my money in there. Unhappy about how it turned out.

I beat myself up at times but my job at the poker table is only to pick the right times to get my money in there. I can't control what happens beyond that.

There is no justice. There is no fair.

I might have been an 80% favorite here but 20% absolutely happens.

Next hand please.

Friday, November 16, 2007

I Haven't Forgotten About You.

It's quite the opposite.

The truth is I can't stop thinking about you.

However my move cross town and the associated tasks ended up taking more time than I had expected.

I can't wait to get back to what I do best:

Playing mediocre poker and writing about it!

The benefit to having been away from the table for an extended period of time is my tilt level is at 0.

I am at peace with the game and ready to go play.

I don't feel the need to force anything

I am prepared to fold my first hand.

I plan on putting in alot of hours this weekend which means I should have something worthwhile for you to read on Monday.

Unless I'm still sitting at the table.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Slow Poker Week

I tried to play live poker earlier this week but just didn't feel right. I lacked proper focus which was probably due to the stress and anxiety related to moving. So I did what I do best. I avoided the tables for a few nights.

The good news: there is hope on the horizon. We found a cool place to live and it's pretty close to the Strip.

I'm hoping the short commute makes it even more enticing to go to work. I could literally walk to the poker room if I wanted to.

I guess that was always true. How about...Now I could walk to the poker room and actually get there in the same hour.

I also know myself well enough not to declare this "walk to work" as something that is actually going to happen. But it is nice to know that I could walk there on a nice day. You know. To get some exercise.

And if you guys really want to, we could turn my walk to work into one of those sponsored walks. I think the kids call them "Walkathons." I understand that normally you might sponsor someone to walk a certain distance to raise money to fight a disease.

However if my gambling is really important to you, I could do this couple of miles walk from my home to the Bellagio to raise money to put on a roulette number. Or if there are objections to roulette we could "walk" over to the craps table and place it all on hard 4.

As you can see, the specific bet doesn't matter. The most important thing is that I use your donations in some philanthropic way. One of those selfless gestures that makes us feel good about ourselves during the holiday season.

Walk talk aside, I really am looking forward to the shorter commute in the car. When you don't have a schedule it's nice to be able to get back and forth on a whim. Right now we live 15 minutes away from the Strip but in Vegas time that's an eternity. It's real important that I be able to get to the poker table in 5 minutes or less.

So we'll see how this works out. If this house isn't right then perhaps we'll just have to move right into the Bellagio. However I might need to step up in my betting limits if they're gonna let us live in their hotel with our cats.

Monday, November 05, 2007

To Bluff or Not To Bluff

I had one hand over the weekend that would be alot of fun to simulate over and over again just to see all the possible outcomes based on the size of my river bet.

It was pretty simple. I was on the button and had the ace of hearts. There were 3 hearts on the board before the river. One guy bet. Three people called in front of me. I called too knowing that if a 4th heart comes out I could win a nice pot.

A 4th heart did not come out and I was done with the hand.

However when it came time for the river betting, the guy in the blinds was confused and turned over his hand to reveal the 4 and 7 of hearts for a 7 high flush.

The dealer went around the table to see if anyone still desired to bet.

Everyone saw the flush and folded until the action got around to me.

Now here's the big moment. I can clearly see he has a 7 high flush.

If I bet here I am saying that a 7 high flush doesn't worry me.

Or I am bluffing and can only win this hand by betting and getting him to fold.

Either way....What is the correct amount to bet?

Lets say we each have 500 in front of us and there is 100 in the middle.

This is the scenario I'd love to run over and over.

If I push all in does that make this an easy fold? Probably. Then again it also smells like a bluff. After all if I could beat a 7 high flush wouldn't I bet smaller to get him to call?

So how much would I really bet if I did have a higher flush and I wanted him to call?

A pot sized bet like 100?

Perhaps something smaller like 60 or 75 if I really want to get paid?

And if he is a good player perhaps he recognizes that the smaller bet is begging to be called.

Like against some players a 60 dollar bet might get them to fold their 7 high flush more often than a 100 dollar bet. The larger bet often looks like a bluff.

I am usually able to take down pots with smallish bets. It's the big bets that make people suspicious.

There is no right or wrong answer. As usual it depends on who you are playing against. And in reality I didn't know this other player well enough to bluff here. I wasn't sure what he would lay down to.

Some guys refuse to fold their 7 high flush. Other guys will muck a picture high flush to a reraise.

In this case since he didn't lead out with a bet on the river there was a decent chance he folds if I make the big bet. Obviously he didn't feel too strongly about his holdings.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Lightning Finally Hit Me

I was in the right place at the right time tonight. That meant in the big blind holding 4,6 off on an ace, 3, 5 flop. Some gentleman bet $10 and three of us called. A 2 came on the turn. The same gentleman now bets $50.

The button reraises him to $200.

At this point I actually looked back down at my cards to double check what I'm holding because I'm pretty sure this is all too good to believe. I have the nuts. And there are two players betting into me. Wow. They are. They really are. Thank you. Thank you so much.

There really are so many people to thank. I want to thank God. My Wife. The Bellagio. Jerry Yang. The folks over at Warner Brothers and Fox Searchlight. My whole team at Don Buchwald. I want to thank The Blerge. Bobby Baldwin, Ellen Schauben, Joe Orell, Full Tilt, Ultimate Bet, my family, friends and everyone in Brooklyn.

You know what? The thank you list is a little long and I didn't even mention everyone I wanted to. Next time it might be easier for me to just list the 2 or 3 people that I really don't want to thank. Maybe that's how I should handle it. Just mention those people.

So I reraised all in for 462 and the button paid me off. I never did see his cards but I wouldn't be surprised if he was as weak as top pair. From what I had witnessed he was that bad of a player.

Its been awhile since I had a hand like this. A hand with no decisions to make. These are the good times in poker. When the chips just come my way. Almost like I have a magnet. It's not that often that I get paid off in this spot but it's wonderful when it happens.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

I woke up this morning to the sound of my doorbell ringing.

Further investigation revealed a man outside trying to unlock my front door.

This got me dressed.

By the time I got downstairs he was around the back of the house and staring in through the glass doors that lead out to my backyard.

He said he was a realtor.

I'm not sure why didn't I ask him for a business card. Probably because I just woke up seconds before.

Truth be told it didn't really surprise me there was a man standing outside trying to get inside my home.

There has been a "For Sale" sign outside in the front yard since June.

The house has been in pre-foreclosure for roughly the same amount of time.

According to some documents the house may have already been auctioned earlier this past week.

My landlord may no longer be my landlord.

I'm not too sure how much longer we will be here.

I really don't like living like this. Probably not too surprising. Not many people would.

Home is very important to me. I've always liked spending way too much time at home, wherever home may be. And so when this security and comfort is threatened I definitely feel it.

We've looked at a bunch of houses and apartments the past week. We did find one interesting place in a 1960's part of Las Vegas that has some character.

My wife and I also discussed leaving Las Vegas. I don't need to be here. I don't have to live here. Not at all. If we want out here is our chance. And for a few minutes today I think that became our reality.

Yet simply giving ourselves the freedom to leave may have been enough to calm that "get me out of Vegas" feeling.

With the present mindset our best move is to do a month to month or 6 month lease somewhere.

We still have a few more things to accomplish in Vegas.

Our new health insurance just kicked in and we need to let that go for a few months to do COBRA even if wanted to leave town.

I'd also like to rebuild my bankroll regardless of whether or not I'm playing poker full time in the future. This new home will decrease our monthly expenses drastically and hopefully give us the chance to save money.

And finally, and this is the silliest reason to stay, but I'd really like to finish the Second City acting/comedy program that we're doing. Right now we've completed 60% of the process.

If I were a betting man I'd bet that we do not spend next Summer here in Vegas.

But another 6 months might be just about right.