Friday, May 30, 2008

No Expectations, No Disappointments

Earlier this week while holding 7,8 suited I flopped a straight flush draw at the Venetian. A gentleman who raised preflop to create the $75 pot that sits between us all, pushes the rest of his stack in. It's only $65 more. This is what I call a good situation. Playing this hand is the reason I've left my home during the week at some strange hour to come down to the Strip.

My ego would love to raise here. Who doesn't? It builds self esteem. Saying the word "raise" is good for the soul. But tonight I gotta show patience because I need another player, preferably someone with chips, to hang around in case I hit my draw. The last thing I want is to isolate the all in guy with my 8 high.

The human being with sunglasses to my left fulfills my unmet need and calls the $60. Thank you sir. A raise would have been fine but I'll take the call. If he wasn't wearing sunglasses I might guess he was on a draw. Unable to see his eyes, I attempt to confuse him and check the turn in the dark!

(How can he possibly handle my check in the dark while wearing sunglasses? I must be thinking on at least two levels here.)

A rag comes out and he checks behind me.

For those of you keeping score at home there's still no side pot to play for. Just the main pot that one of us is going to have to showdown to win against the all in guy.

I miss again on the river and am done with the hand. I have 8 high. I check and get ready to muck. The player to my left bets 75. I fold.

And then here comes the punchline. The guy to my left smiles and shows me his bluff! He bet $75 on the river with 8 high. Meanwhile the entire pot still goes to the all in guy who reveals pocket queens.

Now some of you might be wondering why this fellow to my left bet $75 with 8 high to get me to fold. It's an excellent question.

Why would the guy to my left bet $75 on the river with 8 high when he is only getting called if he is beat?

Yep. Still an excellent question.

Even in italics.

What can I say?

Uh....these are the players I play with?

When we make the film The Vegas Year, we'll have me raise him on the river with my 8 high and watch him lay down and lose the pointless $75 he just chose to bet.

Okay. I'll try to defend him. Maybe it wasn't pointless. What if the all in guy doesn't have queens? Maybe he has 3,5 off suit and the guy to my left just made the best play possible by getting me to fold my 8 high so that he won't have to chop the pot.


Who am I kidding? This type of play can only mean one thing. The WSOP poker tournament has come to town. It starts today at the Rio. The first event is underway as I type this. There are already fresh 2008 World Series of Poker bad beat stories going around!

I'm a different player than last year and a much different player than two years ago. I've become more right brained at the poker table. Logic is still there. But now I'm not embarrassed to call with a mediocre hand. I'm not scared to trust my read. I'm not worried about looking stupid at the table.

My ego is bigger. My expectations are smaller. Two years ago I needed to cash in a tournament to prove to myself that I knew what I was doing. I don't feel that pressure anymore. Whether or not I cash in a tournament won't decide how good or bad I am at poker. My being better at this game doesn't mean that I always win. Heck it doesn't even mean I always play well.

But according to our Zen coach Phil Jackson, a lack of expectations is a good thing.

"No expectations, no disappointments. "

That's what Phil said before the Lakers went into Utah a few weeks ago.

His words make even more sense in poker.

I can't expect things to happen.

I can only make the best decision for myself at that moment in time.

There is no should.

I'm a positive person but I can't expect anything specific to happen at the poker table.

Except of course, the unexpected.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Here's a Recipe For Fun.

People are always asking me how to have fun in Las Vegas. As if I have all the answers. Yet once in awhile I come through. Once in awhile I'm the guy with the club passes.* Sometimes it's good to know Robert. Like right now for instance. Cause I just came up with a new game and since we hang out like this on the internet, I'm gonna share it with you. First. Before I tell anyone else.

This game is appropriate for The Vegas Year because you can bet on it! I'm sure many readers will be relieved to read that fact. Hey you know how Bob Dylan said the answer is blowing in the wind? Well if by "answer" he meant "distinct floral breeze" then Bob may very well have been singing about my new game.

Friend, the answer is the cologned oxygen permeating throughout the casino entrances of the MGM, Venetian, Caesars.

You see where I'm going with all this?

My idea for big Summer fun is a prop bet where we go into these casinos and take a big whiff. Just really get to know the smell by each entrance. Then we blind fold each other and drive around town to see if each of us can tell what casino we're in just by using our nose.

Imagine the tension after you drive me to MGM and I get it right. Picture your frayed nerves as we pull into Caesars self parking and I bluff by walking you the exact number of steps it takes to get into the Venetian. All while my assistants are spraying Polo and Aramis in the air just a few feet ahead of us.

If this doesn't sound like fun, just add a zero to whatever amount we are playing for. If this still doesn't sound like fun, just add another zero!

And if this still doesn't sound like fun then maybe Las Vegas isn't really the city for you.

* club passes happens to be a really bad example of a way I can come through for you.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Flashback to September 13, 2006

Playing poker this week I bet in middle position with ace king suited. The big blind, a very tight player, raised me to 45. I called. In some ways this hand is similar to the Hot Grinder on Grinder Action hand that I'm going to announce the results of in a highly anticipated November blog entry.

The big difference is this time I've got the ace king and my opponent has the pocket pair. My opponent has played SO TIGHT that I'm slightly concerned he could have aces or kings. So it wouldn't have been absolutely crazy to muck ace king to his raise here. Not in terms of how many hands this guy plays an hour.

However I'm in position. I also happen to write a poker blog so of course I'm gonna call. Otherwise what are we going to talk about? You don't want me to start sharing personal stuff.

Flop comes ace king jack. They say we fear the thing that has already happened to us. Well holding ace king and seeing an ace king jack flop has already happened to me. Kind of like a character on Lost going into flashback mode, my mind cuts to a Borgata Open event I played back on September 13, 2006.

It was a Wednesday. Definitely a Wednesday.

This was the most expensive tournament I had ever paid cash to enter. 173 of us put up 5k each. 1st place was 285k. 2nd was 150k. Looking back on it now, it seems insane. Despite the potential payday this was clearly way too large of a percent of my bankroll to spend on any one tournament.

But there I was. 11 o'clock on a Wednesday morning and I'm sitting in Atlantic City with way too many familiar faces. Truth be told I'd have gotten a much better value on my money to have actually spent an additional 5k and played in their 10k main event.

The Main event was a WPT event and would be televised so there were lots of satellite winners in there. A much weaker field. This non-televised 5k event was mostly for pros. Every table had 6 or 7 recognizable faces. Barry Greenstein. John Phan, Gavin Smith, Hasan Habib. Sitting at my table to my right were Kathy Liebert, Chad Brown and Allan Kessler. Later on Erik Lindgren was moved over. It was fun to get a real hand on his first big blind, raise it up and get the stare.

Early on in this tournament I picked up ace king. I'm talking level 1 early. I bet and was raised by a guy in middle position who immediately warns me he has a big hand.

Well so do I.

I call and the flop comes ace, king, jack.

Looks good right?

I think we started with 15k in chips- whatever the amount was I would lose one-third of my stack on this hand because my opponent had pocket jacks. I was grateful it wasn't more. However he nickeled and dimed me with 2k bets on the turn and river and I paid him off. Would the pros around me have gotten away cheaper? Or would they have lost more? Both seem possible. For me, this was an acceptable loss with top two pair.

This whole sequence flashed before me this week when the ace king jack flop came out at the Venetian. I flopped top two pair yet felt fear.

I felt the Borgata.

This Borgata Open story almost has a happy ending. After the dinner break we were down to 5 tables. Around 40 something players remained when I picked up pocket queens. I bet and was raised by a guy with pocket kings. I called. I got incredibly lucky when a queen flopped and got the rest of my chips in. I got even more incredibly unlucky when a king came on the turn to knock me out. Oh dear.

I still have the complimentary Borgata baseball hat they gave all of us that day. You know. The one that cost me 5 grand. Oh sure I have a few Kangols sitting around the house but this Borgata cap is still by far the most expensive chapeau in my closet.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Internet Poker

The birds are still chirping outside my home 24/7.

Could you imagine how embarrassed I'd be if I walked into my living room and saw that I've accidentally been playing a CD of nature sounds on my stereo system for the past few months?

That somehow I hit "repeat" and that's why it plays all day and all night?

Not sure I could handle that.

I don't think I even own a stereo system but it doesn't matter.

I'm not going into the living room.

Not gonna take the chance that there's a CD of birds chirping.

I'm just going to sit here at the computer, stare outside the window at the birds in the trees that I know are there, and play internet poker.

Monday, May 19, 2008


Saturday afternoon at Mandalay Bay.

I raise it preflop to 12 with a red ace and a red queen. A guy who calls down big bets with bottom pair defends from the blinds. Flop comes ace high along with the 3 and 8 of spades. I bet 15. He raises to 30. I call in position.

The turn brings the third spade. Despite having just raised the flop, he checks to me. A check by me here would be fine to keep the pot small but I bet 20 because I think I'm ahead and want to charge him something to see the river. He calls.

The river is the 4th spade. Now he bets out 25.

My mind begins to race.

1- From what I've seen over the past 45 minutes I don't think he's a good enough player to make a move here. Against a better player I'd be real suspicious the person was betting out because it's the only way they could win the pot. But not with this guy. He's been a calling station and from what I've seen he only plays his own two cards. Which leads me to point #2...

2- Even if he doesn't have a flush I wouldn't be shocked to suddenly be trailing something like two pair. For all I know he might not notice the flush out there. That's how he's been playing. Which leads me to point #3...

3- I have no spades. Just top pair on a four flush board.

Yep. I think I'm beat and want to fold. I don't want to give 25 bucks away. It's not even the money. It's the being right. I tell myself that I'm better than that. Being able to fold top pair when you're beat is what makes a good player. Pot odds don't matter if I'm drawing dead so to speak.

Then to clinch my decision, this guy hears me mumble to myself and asks the dealer if I just said I was all in.

Okay. I've seen enough. Lets move on. I toss my cards into the muck.

Because what can feel worse than throwing 25 bucks away when I know I'm beat?

Well I'll tell you what can feel worse than throwing 25 bucks away when I know I'm beat......It's throwing my cards into the muck and then watching my opponent turn over two red kings.


As I sit here at home I CAN'T BELIEVE I folded. Simply because there was too much money in the middle. Math says I don't have to win this hand too often for a call to be correct here. I've put in around 60 bucks. So if there's around 120 in the middle and he bets 25 on the river, I'm calling 25 to win 145. I can call and be wrong 5 out of 6 times here and still make money over time!

Did I think there was a 16% chance he was bluffing?


Yet in the moment I was so focused on making a good fold that I didn't think the math through enough. I went with my read and not the math. Yes my read was wrong but in hindsight I'm way more embarrassed by the mathematical error.

To fold here was short term thinking. To save 25 bucks.

One long game thinking says a call here is correct if I can be wrong 84% of the time.

Self criticism aside, good for him! He was clearly not the best player at the table but on this particular hand he completely outplayed me.

Nice hand sir!

Friday, May 16, 2008

The Hammer

The worst starting hand at a full Texas Hold 'Em table is 2,7 off suit.

How bad is the 2,7?

It's so bad that when playing against multiple opponents you're better off holding something like 2,3 or 2,4. Connected hands with greater potential for hitting a straight and taking down a big pot.

When you play the 2,7 and go to showdown you're relying on hitting trips or two pair to win a big pot. And even when you connect you may not be ahead. Thus winning with the 2,7 is clearly a difficult proposition.

What all this means is when you do eventually take down a pot with 2,7, it's definitely time to celebrate. Your reward for winning with this hand is not just monetary. No, the real joy is getting to see the reaction afterwards on the faces of your opponents.

You played what hand?

So when I picked up 2,7 tonight I completed the small blind to see the flop. The universe must have an incredible sense of humor, because the dealer turned over king, 2, 2 to give me trips. With my 7 kicker and an entire family seeing this unraised flop there's a small chance I may not have the best trips. But that's just fear and common sense talking. The reality is I ain't going anywhere. I've got trips and I'm gonna trap someone. I check. Everyone checks behind me.

An 8 comes on the turn. I said I was going to trap someone so I check again. This time I found a customer. A mildly aggressive player to my left bets 25. Button calls. I call too. I think I'm way ahead. I want them to bet the river. I'll also admit that deep down I'm rooting for a 7 to come. Just so I can stop taunting myself with the idea that maybe the guy on the button has ace 2.

The dealer turns over the river.

The bad news is it's not a 7.

The good news is it's a 2.

I got me some quads with the hammer. It's almost unfair.

I check to let the aggressive guy bet again. He obliges and bets out $25 more. Button calls again and the action is back to me.

Obviously I'm raising - but how much? How do I raise without it seeming clear-cut that I have quads? It feels impossible.

What if I had a king? I suppose I could make the fancy move and raise to try to get another player with a king to lay his hand down. Try to convince him with my bet that I have quads. So I don't have to split the pot with either of them.

How much would I have bet to do that?

An all in might do it.

However, if I really held a king, how could I know for sure that neither of them had quads? If I raise with a king here and get reraised (significantly), I'd probably have to throw my boat away.

So without a good read, or enough alcohol, I can't raise without quads in this spot.

(Although I suppose against some players I could raise if I had completely missed...but that's another discussion for another day.)

My opponents both have around 300 in front of them on the table and I have them covered. I decide against the all in move. I think that scares them away. And I want to get paid.

After a few seconds I push out $100 total. A raise of $75.

The dealer knows I have quads. Penn and Teller know I have quads. However much to my delight neither of the players at my table know I have quads. They both call with their king full house.

I turn over my 2,7 which inspires the guy to my left throws his cards at the dealer.

Damn. Who knew they'd both call? Well besides Teller.

More importantly- does this mean that either of them may have called me if I pushed all in?

I think it's a strong maybe.

I know I shouldn't complain. I hit quads with 2,7 and got both players to pay me off. Life is good.

But boy am I curious to go back in time and push all in.

Not even for the money.

Just to see what would have happened.

Because it sure looked afterwards like both these guys thought they held the nuts.

And I think I gave them way too much credit by thinking they could get away from it.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Flopping Flushes

1:41 AM. I leave the house to go play poker. This is probably the latest hour that I've decided to begin a poker session. I mean the earliest.

2:02 AM. Seated at the Venetian.

2:07 AM. I'm next to a Phil Hellmuth wannabe who won't stop talking about how great he is. What makes this extra amusing is we're sitting at 1/2 no limit. He's already told me twice that I'm not one of the best 3 players at the table.

2:08 AM. I raise preflop with suited connectors and make a continuation bet on a king high flop. Everyone folds and Hellmuth tells me I shouldn't bet so quickly because it's obvious I have a big hand. I thank him for the useful tip and muck my cards. Of course it was tempting to show the 6 high. But then he'd be winning the battle of misinformation. Better for him to keep telling me how bad my game is.

3:28 AM. I've been bleeding for the past 80 minutes. Hellmuth is long gone. There's one really loose player who is singlehandedly making this table a worthwhile place to be. I'm showing decent discipline but still losing chips. Down to 107 from my initial 200 buy in.

3:31 AM. Minus 30 with ace queen. Down to 77.

3:33 AM. I raise someone's straddle with ace 10 with the intention of pushing all in on the flop. Everyone folds and my stack inches its way up to 90 dollars. The highlight of this hand was before the straddler folds or calls he looks at me and tells me that I can't get a read on him because he hasn't looked at his cards yet.

Hilarious! Of course my thinking is:

"Why do I need a read on you?

I'm the one who raised.

Lets just wait until you raise me before we start worrying about what my read on you is."

3:37 AM. I win a pot with king 10 on a scary looking king,7,7,9,9 board.

3:39 AM. Bingo. I call 15 bucks preflop with ace 4 suited against two loose players and flop a flush. First guy bets 35. Second guy raises to 100 something. I call all in. First guy folds. The first guy was probably done with the hand once he got called but obviously the raise to 100+ killed any further action. (If I may be greedy for a moment). This hand pumps me up to $302.

3:48 AM. Down to 268. Tough hand. I call 15 bucks four ways with pocket 4's. Guy makes a small bet on a double heart flop. I call. He makes another small bet on the turn and every instinct says flush draw. I want to raise so badly. And someday I will. However these days I find myself playing with players who are so bad I don't need to take this kind of chance. So I fold my 4's and tap the table and tell him nice hand. My kindness is rewarded as he shows his cards. The ace and 5 of hearts for the nut flush draw. So I could have won the pot if I survived an ace, 5, or heart on the river. But that almost feels like too much of a hero call here.

4:01 AM. Up to 550 after I call 15 preflop with 8,10 suited and flop 5,6,7 with two of my suit. A freaking dream. Random guy bets 30. Loose aggressive nemesis bets 60. I smooth call. First guy folds. My flush comes on the turn. Nemesis checks. I push all in for 186. He thinks. He calls. I win. After the hand he says he flopped a straight. Some say he needs to bet more to get rid of me on the flop. Then again I'm not so sure I'm going to fold here with both straight and flush draws. It's the whole reason I'm playing suited (almost) connectors.

4:08 AM. Loose kid buys in again and I call his raise preflop with 4,5 suited. Flop comes king,king,8. For some reason- I laugh to myself. Could be the hour. Could be my hand. I don't know why but I'm cracking up. I notice him notice me laugh. I check. He checks behind me. I can't remember what came on the turn but I bet and he folded. See how easy poker is? You just have to laugh at the flop.

4:11 AM. I fold king queen from the small blind to a raise because the night grew deathly quiet, and his face lost all expression. If you're gonna play the game, you gotta learn to play it right.

4:26 AM. The hand of the night. A grinder type has come to my table. We've been chatting a little bit and I have a decent sense of how he plays. He's seated to my left. It's my big blind. He looks as his cards under the gun and limps in. He tells me he's been playing since noon and this is his last hand of the night. We both have over 500 dollars on the table.

No one raises and I check my jack 8 suited from the big blind. Flop is three clubs. My suit. I've hit another flush. It's just my night. I check. Grinder guy to my left bets 40. Everyone else folds. I call.

Turn is a rag. I check. Grinder starts playing with his chips. This is so freaking exciting. How much will he bet? And how much will I reraise him? My big fear is he has a big club. I can get away from this hand if another club comes on the river. But right now I'm feeling pretty darn good.

He takes 30 seconds or so. And then checks.

River is another non club. The board has not paired. I'm good.

The only question now is how much money can I get out of him? If I thought he'd call a bet for 200 bucks then I'd absolutely do it. But there's not that much out there so I push out 85 bucks. A pot sized bet. Feels reasonable.

He insta-calls and I turn over the jack high flush.

And my grinder friend?

He turns over queen 9 suited for a higher flush.


I thanked him for not going beserk with the betting. I could have really gotten hurt here. He felt the same way and thanked me back. He said he wouldn't have called an all in from me on the river. He pointed out that I wouldn't have called a big bet either. Although to be honest, I'm really not sure what I would have done. I did not put him on a higher flopped flush. So it would have been real hard to get away from this hand. Real hard. Even if my flush was only jack high. Hey I play suited connectors all the time so a jack high flush sometimes looks like a monster to me.

He then got up and left the table. Apologized to me for the hit and run. But I had no problem with it. You can stay as long or short as you want at the poker table. That's the beauty of it.

4:41 AM. I play for two more orbits and then leave. Damn I'm happy I didn't give away my stack on that hand. Losing 127 bucks with a jack high flopped flush was an acceptable loss.

One long game.

Monday, May 12, 2008

If You're Gonna Complain You Gotta Show

I called a preflop raise Sunday night with ace 10 suited. Flop came out ace, 10, 2 and I bet. My opponent raised. I pushed all in. My opponent called. I was hoping he had something like ace king or ace queen. He could have a flush draw. Worse case scenario was a set of 2's.

I decided to show my cards. Show the whole table I had top two pair. Nothing to hide here. My opponent however showed nothing so it looked like he was on a draw. Thus I was relieved to see the flush card miss on the turn.

The river was great news. Another 10 to fill up my boat. My opponent mucked his cards and as the dealer pushed me the pot, this guy started to complain about how I had just sucked out on him and his set of 2's.

You know - that same set he didn't show.

Then he made a face and gave me the "nice catch" line.

I didn't respond.

I just couldn't muster up the energy to pretend along with him.

I was ahead the whole time and didn't need to hit the 10 on the river to pass him. Yet this guy really wanted me to think I got lucky. It was his way of protecting his ego. It's all he would talk about the rest of the night. Every time I beat him in a pot he'd go on and on about how lucky I was. Even in hands where I never improved post flop! He was just embarrassing himself.

But sticking with this initial hand, here's the thing I want to say to the guy:

If you're gonna complain about getting sucked out on then you actually need to show me the set of 2's. I can't give you the empathy you deserve if you don't show me your cards. Of course I wanna feel sorry for you. I'm a sensitive guy. But you're not giving me the chance to when you muck your cards and don't show anyone.

Around an hour later he told me he wasn't angry with me.

Thanks man. Thanks alot.

Thanks for not being angry with me for having the best hand.

On the flop, turn and river.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Playing The Rush

11:33 PM. Saturday night at the Venetian. I raise the first hand with my old friend queen 10 suited but give up after an ace flops and a player has the nerve to bet out in front of me. He's in the blinds and it feels like a middle pair testing the waters. Heads up I could play back at him and see how much he really likes his hand but with players still to act behind me, a fold here feels absolutely and utterly perfect.

11:49 PM. I'm up 45 after taking down a pot with pocket jacks. The hand everyone hates to play. Me? I'm not a pocket jacks hater. I'd be happy to sit in a poker game where I always held pocket jacks. The key of course would be that everyone at the table didn't know that I always had pocket jacks.

Meanwhile look who just invented a game. It's called "Pocket Jacks."

The way you play "Pocket Jacks" is the big blind always gets dealt pocket jacks. And everyone at the table KNOWS the big blind has the jacks. So if you raise the big blind preflop, basically you are saying you can compete with pocket jacks.

11:51 PM. I fold 6,8 suited to an early position raiser, mostly because his stack is so darn small. You could say his stack size protected him from me, or cost him money, depending on how you look at it. Because if he has a few hundred in front of him I'd call.

11:55 PM. Minus 15 with ace jack suited.

12:01 AM. Win 50ish pot with ace king.

12:07 AM. Miss with ace 7 suited.

12:14 AM. Seat 1 has been a bully. He's the big blind when I have the button and the last two orbits when I've raised my button, he's reraised me preflop. The first time I raised to 15 with ace 4 suited and he repopped me to 45. I hated the idea of flopping an ace and still not knowing if I was ahead so I chose to fold this first one. But now that I'm seeing just how loose aggressive he is, that ace 4 suited is looking more and more playable. I'm gonna take a stand against him soon.

12:18 AM. Down 60 bucks and feeling some tilt after calling a small stack's all in on a 7,7,7 flop with pocket 4's. Obviously I hoped he had over cards. Turn was an 8. River an 8. He looks across the table at me and I get to say the awesome sentence "I'm playing the board." He shows his pocket aces.

12:32 AM. I limp on button and the aggressive big blind raises again and makes it 15. I smooth call in position with jack, 9 off. Flop comes jack high and he fires out a $35 bet. It's the moment of truth. It's what I've been waiting for. His style of play dictates that I cannot lay my hand down. His style of play makes me excited to reraise him here. His style of play means that if he has a real hand he deserves my money. His style of play has earned him action.

I raise. Make it 100. He doesn't look happy.

What's funny is when I had the ace 4 suited hand and he reraised me, I had the feeling inside of "Hey buddy, I wasn't just making a move on the button. I actually have a real hand. And your reraise makes me feel like you don't believe me."

And on this hand I can definitely feel him having the exact same energy in reverse. Sure he plays too aggressively, but this time he has really flopped something and hates that he has to fold it.

He wants me to know he has a real hand.

When he mucks and I'm pretty sure I see him flash ace 6 for bottom pair.

12:34 AM. Playing the rush part 2. I'm in there the very next hand from the cutoff seat with king 9 off. I flop a king, bet and get two callers. I bet the turn. Two callers. The river is the 9 of diamonds. It completes the flush. Now normally I might check behind them on the river. Yet my antennae tells me they weren't chasing the flush and that their calls were more of the "I'm going to call you down with my middle pair" variety.

So me and my two pair actually make a value bet. It feels so silly. I think it was 20 bucks. This bet usually would mean that I've hit the flush and am just trying to squeeze some money out of it. However my bet could also be a missed flush draw. A total bluff where I'm betting because it's the only way I can win the pot.

But one thing is certain: You wouldn't expect a value bet from two pair here.

The first player folds. The second player however doesn't want to muck.

Then an amazing thing happens.

A third player who is not involved in the hand talks the guy in the hand into calling me! She actually tells him that she thinks my bet is fishy. She doesn't buy that I have the flush! Wow.

Can I remind you that she's NOT IN THE HAND?

Good for her and her reading abilities.

But bad for her and her table etiquette.

Come on people. We can't have this behavior at the poker table. I would have had a real hard time keeping my mouth shut if I was bluffing here and she talked him into calling.

The punchline came after the hand when she told the guy who listened to her "Well at least it didn't cost you too much money."

12:37 AM. Playing the rush part 3. I've won two in a row so I can't fold now. This time I play 4,5 suited and the flop comes out 2,3,6. Just like Doyle said it would.

Everyone checks and I bet. My thinking is I've just won 2 pots in a row. Please let it look like I'm playing too loose. Please let it look like I'm stealing.

Disaster ensues when everyone folds. I can't believe I made such a donk play by betting the nuts!

Yet that's exactly why I did it. Because if you were sitting there with a hand like pocket 7's you might think that you were good.

If I hadn't played a hand in awhile then I absolutely can't bet out here. But having won 2 in a row it seemed like a decent anti-move at the time. Oh well.

Reviewing the hand: I got lucky to hit the straight. I got unlucky that no one else had a real hand. But I didn't give them a chance to hit a hand either by betting the flop. So today, at this moment in time, at this table, this was a bad play by me.

12:39 AM. Playing the rush part 4. Minus 30 with 7,8 suited. I call 10 bucks pre flop and then 20 more on a 6,9,jack flop. Somehow I miss on the turn and don't complete the straight. Same dude bets 50 and I believe him. I consider raising but I don't he think he'll lay down top pair or an overpair here. I guess this was the time to have flopped a straight. Not the last hand. I fold. The rush is over. If this hand was against a grinder, there's a decent chance I raise on the flop or turn.

1:03 AM. Button raises my big blind to 15 and I call with queen, 9 suited. Flop comes 9 high with a flush draw. Of course it does. How does this hand never lose? He bets 20. I say raise. He folds. Everyone starts complimenting me. As if I outplayed him. But I think I didn't. I had the best hand and let him get away. I could have smooth called and given him the chance to bet again on the turn. (Of course if an ace comes out on the turn and he passes me, I'd have a much different opinion of how I played the hand.)

1:17 AM. I'm up around 150 after I play ace,2 suited on the button, and see an ace, 10,6 flop. I bet twice and get called down by a guy with king jack trying to gutshot the queen. How wonderful to have someone call your bets on the flop and turn trying to hit their gutshot.

Usually the only time I get to know people are chasing gutshots is when they hit and show their cards. All of the times they're missing their gutshots they usually fold at the end and I don't get to see their cards. But this guy showed the king jack.

When I win money on a hand like this it makes me wonder why I ever bother to try to out play people.

Playing against a guy like this is so much easier.

1:26 AM. Up 142 about to play blinds.

1:29 AM. Major table turnover. I'm now a big stack.

1:42 AM. I limp with aces. Unfortunately there's no action behind me and we see the flop 8 handed. I laugh thinking about what the math must be for me here with aces against 7 opponents. Flop comes 3,4,10 with 2 spades. Dude bets out 20. Guy to my right calls. My first instinct is to fold but I call too. I want to see the turn.
3 players also call behind me!

Turn is the queen of hearts. Puts double flush draws out there. The dude who bet 20 on the flop checks the queen. Guy to my right checks. They're giving me an opening. I bet $45. Gotta charge folks to draw here and just as important- I need to find out if I have the best hand. Everyone folds except for the guy to my right who announces he's all in. That's the bad news. The good news is his remaining chips are less than my $45 bet so there's no decision for me to make.
I show my aces. He shows 5,6 of hearts for what is now a straight flush draw. Whew. I'm just grateful he didn't raise on the flop. Sitting to his direct left, I wouldn't have been able to call if he had pushed in after the first dude bet 20 on the flop. 5,6 suited misses on the river and I take down the pot with my aces. You know. Because aces never lose.

2:02 AM. I call 10 bucks preflop with 4,7 suited against a tight player. Flop comes 2,4,5 and tight player leads out for 25. I think he could have ace king, ace queen kind of hand so I make the call here to see what happens on the turn. We both have big stacks. Even if he has a real big pair I could get lucky hit two pair or trips. But I'm mostly curious to see if he fires another bet on the turn. I'm not sure he has the courage to do that with just ace king.

The only thing that comes in the way of me and my plan is a 3rd player in the hand to my left who has also called the 25 dollar flop bet behind me.


Now that he's called I think a raise may have worked better for me here. Makes it much harder for him to call. And I'd find out real quickly what the tight player has.

Poker tragedy occurs when a 3 comes out on the turn. Now Mr. Ace king has a straight. Why can't I have 4,6 right now instead of 4,7? I fold.

Further "horror on the felt" is revealed when we go to showdown and I see that the guy to my left had pocket 5's. He didn't raise on the flop with his set of 5's! Thus I can't agree with him that the 3 on the turn was a bad beat. If he raises and it comes out then yes that's awful. But his not raising (and then still calling down when the board had the 4 card straight) removes all the empathy I might usually offer this human being.

By the way. For your amusement. The betting on the river was...

Guy with set of 5's bets 25.

Guy with ace king for bottom straight raises to 75.

Guy with set calls.

I told you I wished I had a 6.

Let me also say that this kind of river betting is EXACTLY why I'm playing 4,7 suited in the first place.

2:06 AM. What do the poker books say you should do when you are holding ace king and an ace gets exposed preflop? How much value is lost? That's what happened to me on this hand. I still flopped a king and took down the pot. But seeing that exposed ace definitely made me feel weaker preflop.

2:08 AM. I'm holding ace king on an intriguing and dangerous flop. King, queen, 9. Top pair top kicker ain't so impressive here. When I bet and got two callers I wasn't exactly psyched. Incredibly one of these callers was a guy with ace 10. Similar to the hand where I held top pair with my ace and the guy tried to gut shot me with his king jack. Only this time it works out for him when a jack comes on the turn.

Note to the Universe- I'm supposed to lose this hand to someone with jack,10. Not ace, 10. Please correct this in the future. Thanks.

2:13 AM. Table becomes shorthanded and I stopped taking notes.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Vegas Fact #13

When everyone folds their cards at a Texas hold em table, the players in the blinds have the option to chop. This means they can take their money back and not play the hand. The benefit is the button moves on and the blinds were able to get past being one of the forced bets without having lost any money.

Thus most players love to chop in this situation. What they'll tell you is that by chopping you are saving rake. I don't buy into this argument because I expect to pay rake. It's the cost of doing business. If I can win money from the player next to me in a heads up situation, that's a good thing. I don't mind paying 4 bucks rake in a heads up pot because it means that I've won a pot worth at least $40.

That said, I still usually chop to be polite. Even though I really like playing heads up and using my edge in short handed situations against most weekend warriors.

Of course there are some players out there who are smarter than me. They don't worry about being polite. These guys never chop. They insist on playing each hand out. Their attitude is we're not here to chop. We're here to play poker. So lets play poker!

I'm cool with both these groups. However there is a third group, a sect of human beings who peek at their cards first before deciding whether or not to chop. I have a problem with this group because they're not really chopping. They're folding and getting their money back because they didn't like their hole cards.

Luckily for me the universe punishes these people with unlucky Vegas Fact #13:

Vegas Fact #13
If a player in the blinds refuses to chop (after previously chopping other hands) he will go on to lose the hand to whatever random two cards the other player (who was willing to chop) is holding. Every time.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Hot Grinder On Grinder Action 2

Some human beings have asked for the result of a hand I wrote about almost two weeks ago in the post Hot Grinder On Grinder Action!.

I thought it was best to not share the ending because in poker we're not results oriented. It makes no difference how the cards turned out on this particular hand. It's about the choices each player made. Who hits or misses is irrelevant. The sample is too small. Over the long run the winners and losers will be determined by how well we play our hands, not what card the dealer turns over this one time.

That said, I understand it's very important to some of you to know.

I know each of these poker hands has their fan club full of believers. The pocket 10's folks will be excited if it holds up. And the ace king suited crowd can't stop taking about all their outs.

Where do I come in? Well I want to give the people, specifically these results oriented human beings what they want. That's what I'm here for. So I've decided to take a page out of the Harrahs playbook and announce the result of this ace king suited versus pocket 10's hand sometime in November after the final table of the WSOP main event.

It'll give us all something to look forward to.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Am I Better Off Than 4 Years Ago?

The IRS is sending 130 million U.S. families tax rebate checks. I think my wife and I are getting $600. This means our government is borrowing 78 billion dollars from China to ensure that every family has one buy in for 2/5 no limit.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Prophet Does Not Ensure Profit.

Early Monday Morning. My first live poker in a week so I take it easy with some 1/2 no limit at the Venetian.

12:39 AM. I'm seated and buy in for $200. Multiple players have over $600 in front of them. What could possibly go wrong?

12:40 AM. Very first hand I raise to 10 with ace jack suited. Get two callers and three of us see a queen,8,2 rainbow flop. I bet 20. With my ace queen. Or king queen. Or whatever it was that I have.

The big blind calls. He's one of the guys with $600 in front of him. Turn is another queen. He checks. Sometimes I fire another bullet here. This wasn't one of those times.

If I had a larger stack I'd bet again. But with only 170 on the table I gotta wonder how much I want to commit here.

I don't have much of a read on this guy. He looks tight and his flop call probably means he's hit and I'm unlikely to put another cent in. One could argue his 600 dollar stack implies he's doing something right. Okay. I respect his flop call and check behind him.

River misses and I expect him to bet so I can fold. I've given up. It's what my check on the turn meant. But he checks to me.

Lets say he has middle pair.

What size bet wins me this pot?

There's around 70 out there. I'm tempted to bet 45 but I can't get past my read, which is when he called me on the flop, it didn't look like he was on a draw. It looked like the call of someone who hit.

So I think the turn and the river haven't really changed too much. I think he's still calling. Unless I can put enough pressure on him.

What if I over bet 75? That's how some players might bet trip queens here since a smaller bet just screams value. Like if I bet 25 you'd think I'm probably getting called.

Or am I? Funny how in some poker games a $25 bet is more likely to get you a fold than $75.

In reality, I checked behind him. He turns over ace 2 and takes the pot with his pair of 2's. Oh dear.

Could I have taken it down by betting the turn or river?



Who knows for sure?

All I know is that if I bet and win the pot I feel great. And if I bet and he calls me down I feel stupid for giving away more money. That second queen coming out on the turn sure didn't help my argument. It made it seem less likely that I could also have one. And if he's putting me on ace king, he knows his hand is good the entire time.

Besides my lack of read, the other reason I shut down here was I still have 170 chips in front of me. 85% of my starting stack. I don't want to bluff off more chips in the first hand. 30 bucks is an acceptable loss for betting the flop, getting to the river and having my ace jack suited miss completely. I don't need to try to outplay an unknown big stack on my first hand. Especially when he could be the one actually holding a queen.

Can't we just move on?

Why do we have to keep discussing this first hand?

Why are you guys being so difficult today?

12:43 AM. Minus 4 with 8,9 suited. I called the straddle. Turns out it was an acceptable move because no one ever raised when they straddled at this table. This fact would continue to amaze me over the next 4 hours. I often found myself calling the 4 bucks with anything playable because there was gonna be a larger (unraised) pot to compete for post flop.

12:47 AM. Minus 15 with Jack,8 suited. I had to. There were 4 callers in front of me.

12:49 AM. I fold king 3 off from the big blind after an early position raise to 15. I only mention this fold because of the king, 9, 3 flop that followed. And if that didn't get my attention, it sure did when the preflop raiser bet out 25 and the other player called.

I could have been someone. I could have been a contender. Or at least a guy holding two pair on a king, 9, 3 flop at the Venetian. There's the Vegas postcard I've been waiting to see.

Preflop raiser has ace king. Looks like I'd be doubling up here.

And then math happens.

A 9 comes on the turn. Pairs the board. And counterfeits what would have been my hand.


I get it...

So that's why you fold king 3 preflop!

(Someday I'd like to discuss how embarrassing it is to watch your hypothetical opponent suck out on your hypothetical two pair while you are are in the middle of NOT hypothetically feeling sorry for yourself).

1:06 AM. A new dealer comes to the table which only reminds me of one thing: the fact that that I haven't won a single pot yet. As the old dealer gets up to leave I wonder what Martha Stewart says about tipping in these situations.

1:10 AM. I miss with pocket 7's but it's still a solid investment. People are completely overplaying top pair. I just need one hand where I can beat top pair and I will double up.

1:14 AM. I call a raise in late position with king 10 suited. Flop comes king high and preflop raiser bets 25. I want to raise. I want to call. Most of all, I don't want to fold. But I'm staring at this guy and my read says ace king. So I fold. He shows me a king and despite not seeing his second card I feel good about the hand. I don't think he raised preflop with king 9 or worse.

1:19 AM. I flop an open ended straight draw but have to fold after the wrong dude leads out with an overbet. By the "wrong dude" I mean "not the preflop raiser." If it had been the preflop raiser I would have reraised. But not against this random guy who saw this particular flop and knew he must end the hand now.

We fold and he shows his set.

Logic knows it's been a couple of good folds for me. This should feel better than it does. I'm proud I haven't lost more money. Yet it's also disappointing to keep having the second best hand.

1:24 AM. I have jack 4 suited in the big blind and hit two pair on a jack, 9, 4 flop. It's the king 3 hand all over again. Except this time I didn't fold preflop.
I check and an overly aggressive player who I've been waiting to trap bets. I smooth call because he will fold at the first sign of aggression, but seems to keep firing away otherwise. I want him to bluff off more on the turn. However when the board pairs 9's on the turn, he checks behind me.


This passive move can only mean one thing. He has a 9. I check the river. He value bets 20 bucks and I call to see his 9,7. Mainly so I can write about it. You readers need to know he had a 9. And not ace jack or something. If he has ace jack then I'm the fish. But if he has 9,7 I can sit here and think well at least he had to get lucky to beat me.

Meanwhile guess who feels sorry for himself that he still hasn't won a single hand thus far? I'll give you one hint. He has a blog.

1:26 AM. I win my first pot of the night reraising in late position. Ahh. So that's what it takes to win a pot. I forgot. I just have to get everyone to fold! Hey it's forgivable I didn't remember. I haven't played live poker in a week.

1:29 AM. I win a pot when my queen jack hits top pair. The guy to my right pays me off on the turn and river with God knows what. He's amazing. You haven't heard me mention him yet but let the record state he's bought in for 600 dollars in the first 50 minutes I've sat at the table. And he was here when I got here. So it could be more.

His game is phenomenal to watch. He goes down in flames with bottom pair. Calling the whole way too.

How nice to finally win one from him. I was starting to think there must be a larger cosmic reason I'm sitting at this table tonight. It can't be to make money.

1:31 AM. Minus 16 with ace suited. This was an iffy preflop call but I was mostly trying to play the rush.

1:38 AM. Interesting play by the same guy who called me down with ace 2 in the opening hand. He bets $20 on the turn. The board is 10 high and I'm sitting with only 70 dollars left. I raise it to 45. 25 more.

This bet is stronger than an all in. My small raise screams value. Screams "please call me." I'm trying so damn hard to squeeze another 25 bucks out of him. Yet we both know it's really a 50 dollar bet because my remaining 25 is going in the middle regardless of what comes on the river.

So I kind of expect him to fold here. Or raise back all in.

Yet after some deliberation my opponent calls.

Here's what's really strange: He has top pair. He's not on a draw. So he's either trailing or beating me. But it's not like he's hoping to improve by drawing a specific card on the river.

The river brings out another rag. I throw my final $25 in the middle and incredibly my opponent pauses.

He shows me his 10 for top pair and then folds for the final 25 bucks!!!!!

Completely shocked me.

How does he not call 25 to win over 100 bucks with top pair? When the board hasn't paired? When there's no flush out there? And after he's just paid 45 bucks on the turn!?!?!

It's so suspicious it almost feels like he's dumping me chips. In case I didn't have him beat. Who knows? Maybe I'm starring in the stage version of ESPN's Tilt.

Meanwhile I guess we finally have our answer from the first hand. I should have bet 25 on the river. Apparently that makes him fold.

That's what's so great about poker. That the same guy who called me with bottom pair on the flop of the opening hand, now folds top pair on the river of this hand. It's such a "depends" game.

1:44 AM. I limp with pocket aces. No one raises and we see an 8,9,9 double suited flop. Aces on amazing that way! How do aces make the board pair every time? And if that's not bad enough lets make sure we put the flush and straight draws out there too. If I had raised preflop from early position this would have been a nightmare flop. I'd bet, get raised and have to fold. But since I didn't raise preflop, I made a pot size bet and everyone folded. I guess it was believable that I had a 9.

1:54 AM. I'm at 149 after paying blinds. I've played way more hands than normal tonight. There hasn't been much preflop raising so it's real easy to see cheap flops. Maybe too easy.

1:58 AM. I flop top pair queen with my king, queen. I bet and get called by a non believer with ace, ten. Then I lose this hand when an ace comes on the turn. Cause that's how I roll.

2:01 AM. The guy to my right (who keeps buying in) has bought in twice more. He's now in for at least one grand. That's amazing for 1/2.

2:16 AM. Mr. 1k loses another buy in and finally leaves. He was a real treat to play with. I'll give him credit- at least he had a great attitude. Played like he was just learning the game and seemed to be able to afford his lessons. I can't tell you how many times he showed his bottom pair at showdown. Too bad he's gone. He will be missed.

2:28 AM. I'm not connecting with anything so I've tightened up. Down to 105. I just folded ace suited to a button raise and my opponent showed me kings.

2:38 AM. I raise in late position with ace queen. Get called by the blind. Flop is ace, jack, jack. I bet. He calls. I shut down. He has a jack. I'm relieved to say I only lost $25 on this hand.

It used to be real hard to get away from this kind of hand. Ace queen heads up on an ace, jack, jack flop. Especially when you only have 100 bucks in front of you and you've raised preflop.

At other points in my poker life I'd have made that call.

Just so I could complain about how unlucky I was.

These days I fold.

Because I've learned that complaining is free.

2:41 AM. Another hand, another lay down. I raise to 10 with ace 9 suited. Dude goes all in for 50. I usually talk myself into this call. Knowing that I can gamble AND have a stop loss of only 50 bucks usually feels too good to resist.

But here's the thing I can't ignore. My opponent is really trying to tell me to fold. And I don't think it's false bravado. Lots of guys like to buddy up with you at the table. They play ABC poker. They think the best hand should always win. They want everyone to fold when they raise with aces. They DON'T want action. Action means you don't believe them. They want respect. This is one of those guys.

So I review the situation and decide that I don't need to spend 40 bucks for the excitement and thrill of seeing if I can randomly flop a flush draw or hit trip 9's to win the 60 bucks that's out there. I fold and he shows ace king.

Another good fold that doesn't feel so good.

But what really doesn't feel good is running into better hands over and over again.

2:43 AM. I fold ace 5 which wouldn't be noteworthy if not for the ace, ace, 5 flop that followed. In case I didn't notice my full house, the universe added another ace on the turn.

Mucked quads for seat 9.

What happens next? Oh just a bet and raise from a couple of "minor full houses" on the river. How dare they! A lady leads out the betting with her pocket 2's. A man in late position raises her with his 5.

Oh and the guy in seat 9 grits his teeth and stares at the muck.


You know.

The guy with the blog.

2:50 AM. Table has tightened up tremendously. How tight? On this hand there were two early limpers. I raise to 8 and everyone folds. That's too tight.

2:54 AM. Am I playing too many hands? Or not enough? You decide. This time I fold 7,8 preflop and watch 4,5,6 come out. This combined with that recent ace, 5 hand are way worse for my health than all the red meat I eat.

3:01 AM. Down to 63. How did that happen? Waiting for the hand to double me up or send me home.

3:06 AM. New dealer. What's the GRE word for when a dealer sits down, deals for 30 minutes and then gets up without your having won a single hand?

3:14 AM. Up to 54 dollars. That's right. I'm up to 54 dollars. It was even worse for a few minutes. Jealous?

3:21 AM. Early position raiser makes it 10 bucks. I look down at pocket 9's in the blinds and throw my remaining stack out there as fast as I can. He's gotta call 40 more bucks to win 60.

He asks me if I have a pair. I say "Yes and I want you to call with your ace king."

And then for some reason I added "And fast!"

Not sure why I added the fast part. Maybe I was doing psychological testing.

Does someone telling you that they want you to call fast make you want to call or fold?

Looking back on the hand I misplayed with my table banter. Why? Because he's sitting there with ace jack suited. And by my telling him I wanted to race ace king, I was telling him his hand was good enough to race with. I gave away some folding equity. Like if I could have convinced him that I held ace king or ace queen he may have folded without the race. But once I convinced him I actually held a pocket pair he had to call.

Of course the reason I told him I wanted the call was that I embraced the small edge my pair held versus his cards.

After my hand somehow held up, I was back up over 100 bucks.

3:29 AM. Up to 135. I check raise on the flop with a flush draw and take down a pot with 3,7 suited on 6,8,10 board. It was against the same guy from the ace jack vs pocket 9's hand. I mention this because I think this is part of why he folds here. No one likes to double the same player up twice. Especially a tight small stack like myself.

3:32 AM. Minus 10 trying to flop a set with pocket 3's. Raiser shows aces afterwards. Everyone did exactly what they were supposed to do, except for reality not putting out a 3 on the flop.

3:37 AM. 169 after paying blinds.

3:39 AM. Ugly. I can't seem to win a pot against the player to my left. This time it gets folded around to me on my button. Lots of players will raise here with any two cards. I have ace 3 suited. Somewhat of a real hand and make it 10 preflop. My nemesis calls from small blind. Big blind folds.

Flop comes 2,3,8. Seems like a great flop for me. I actually have middle pair. If he doesn't have an 8, all should be good. He checks. I bet 15. He calls.

Turn is a jack. He checks. I want to keep the pot small so I check behind him. Lets see what happens on the river.

6 comes out. He bets 20. I call. Expecting to see an 8.

And he shows pocket jacks. He hit a set on the turn!

See how easy poker is.

For him.

I told you I can't beat this guy.

This was another one of those hands where I was just grateful not to have lost more money.

3:53 AM. I hit top pair king with my king 9 suited from the big blind and lose to a guy playing king jack off from early position. For me this has been the evening of second best hand. Losing this type of pot feels like a mistake even though it's not necessarily a mistake. Much closer to a mishap. Or perhaps we can call this loss the cost of doing business.

3:59 AM. Down to 91. I hit top pair and a straight draw with my queen jack on a queen, 10, 9 dreamy flop. I bet the pot and get 3 callers! Heck if I knew they'd come along I'd have put it all in.

The turn is a 10 and one of the blinds fires out a small bet. I'm trailing trips but I come along with everyone and call.

The river is a Jack. Yuck. I've upgraded to two pair but obviously I'm more concerned with the 4 card straight that's now out there.

And we're four handed. Which means I don't have the best hand anymore.

That's what you call a rough turn and river.

And I'm starting to sound like a broken record....(I mean a music file skipping).... but this was just another hand that I could have gotten all my money in on the flop and then not have had it hold up. There's something in the air tonight.

4:20 AM. We're short handed. I just hit top pair jacks with king jack and lost to ace jack. I lost money but at least my antennae is still working. I got away cheaply again for a headsup pot at this hour of the morning. (And with this little money on the table.) In so many ways it would be easier for me to just go all in here and lose so I could go home.

4:32 AM. Still here.

4:41 AM. About to pay blinds. I have 50 dollars on the table. To have played these hands over the past 4 hours and only lost 150 bucks feels pretty good for tonight. I gave myself lots of chances to win some big pots. I got away from many hands without too much damage.

In fact some say I won 50 bucks tonight. Since it appeared that my destiny was to leave this table with no chips remaining.

I was definitely rusty in terms of my aggression. Overall I called more than I should have. I've got to get back to raising more hands preflop. But it felt like a pretty good session in terms of my reading the other players.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

NH Donk

I've been sick this week so I've only played a little internet poker.

It's certainly fair to say that my poker IQ and poker confidence are way higher than in 2004, 2005, 2006.. The years I mostly played on the internet.

Back then you could call me a donk and I'd at least think about it. I'd review the hand and wonder if maybe I had played it poorly. It was a reasonable possibility. I was a novice and had so much to learn.

But going back online now with all of my experience, it's just so damn pleasurable to get called out for being a poor player. I know I've had more success than most of the players I'm playing against.

Yet these comments always come. And usually from the worst player at the table.

From the player who doesn't think beyond their own two cards. From the player who thinks the best hand preflop has to be the best hand post flop. From the player who doesn't understand math. From the player who doesn't understand how stack sizes effect decisions.

From the player who doesn't understand poker.

If I've learned anything at all from internet poker it would be that the time to be most scared is when you are playing poorly and no one calls you a donk.

If they ain't calling you a donk, you might be sitting with good players.

Good players don't call anyone a donk. Good players don't want you to change the way you are playing. Good players don't want to upset you and risk your leaving the table.

When I watch a player take a bad beat and write "NH" I know that's a dangerous player.

When I watch a player take a bad beat and write "NH DONK" I know that's a player I want to play pots against.

Beware. It's when they're taking your money silently, that I'd be most fearful.

These are the players you want to avoid. If I stay at a table where players are quietly taking my money and acting real polite about it, then I surely deserve the moniker Donk.

But when a bunch of amoeba call me donk?

Well then I need to stay at this table and fulfill their expectations!