Monday, February 23, 2004

Well, I think everyone enjoyed the Grublog Classic. Thanks Grubby! And congrats MG!

Yours truly busted out 16th (hey, 50th percentile--yeah!). The highlight of my night was winning in the big blind with 2 7 suited (is it not the Hammer because it's suited? or because I was in the big blind and didn't have to call?) when I made the flush on the turn card. I even checked it down to show off. Anyway, I was pretty pleased with that, although I could have used the extra chips at the end! I also made a few good plays of my own to get to T3000 before I got killed off.

It was a lot of fun to go up against Love and Casino War (my money was on him) a few hands, including his call of my raise all-in when the board came 9 T J rainbow (and we both had J Q). I was taken out finally by Grubby, but what else can a host do?
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Friday, February 20, 2004

A bad blogger I have been, since it's been a week since my last blog, and I will continue to be, but I have a moment to post, so...

Busted out in the 60s (of 185) in the Empire 50K last weekend. For those of you who read my last post on foxes and farmers, I tried to be more foxlike early on. And I got slammed down every time. This tells me I am not good enough to be a fox yet (at limit anyway), or that I was just unlucky (that was it partly, as my callers several times went all the way with underpairs--if only I had some cards to match all the high ones on board!). After three hits, I tightened up again and tripled up in no time. Then I returned to foxiness and got slammed down again (this time by players with the cards). My opinion after this:

Stick to your personality--maybe I'm a bit more conservative than the big players out there, but if I have had good results there, then so be it. I can switch gears at the end.

Beyond that, I've just been playing NL on Party, and doing fairly well (but I won't be retiring). I've tried a few limit games, but found I couldn't gear down for them enough.

I've got my dad in town this weekend, and I'll be out of town next weekend golfing with him, so not much poker will be afoot for me. I'll be free for the Grublog Classic this Sunday, however. So until then, best of luck to all.
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Friday, February 13, 2004

Over the last three weeks, I’ve done pretty well in a few multis I’ve played. I’ve busted out of a couple as well, of course, but my best finishes (Limit Hold’em: 9th of 86 and 21st of 970; NL Hold’em: 2nd of 24, and 2nd and 1st of 10 players in Qualifier SNGs) seemed to indicate some proficiency. And based on one of my successes, I came up with the following rule to abide by in these tourneys:

"Finish in the money. I feel like a scoundrel and a coward dying a thousand deaths as I fold, fold, fold when I’m close to the money, but I don’t have the chips to push anyone around. However, patience truly pays. Wait for a top, top hand or for someone else to make a play."

I haven’t read much on tournament play per se, but last night I read for the first time Chuck Thompson’s article, “The Fox and the Farmer” (http://www.playwinningpoker.com/articles/03/06.html). Steve Badger of Winning Poker calls the article a “classic,” and I’ll recommend it as pretty darned informative. What’s interesting is I've learned that I am indeed what Thompson calls a farmer, maybe a bit more adept than some fishier farmers out there, but I do not yet qualify as a fox.

Of tournaments, Thompson writes:

“It's in the seventh level that you reach the wall. Only fifteen percent of the field remains in contention. Half the remaining players will finish in the money; the other half will have put in a long exhausting day for nothing. At the wall, the average amount of chips in front of each player is about five and a half large bets.

About seventy percent of the remaining players are farmers, bent on protecting what they have and trying to figure out a way to finish in the money. The other thirty percent are foxes, energetic speedsters out to steal from the farmers and the other foxes. The foxes, many of whom have familiar winner-circle names, will not be thinking about finishing in the money. They will be thinking about winning the tournament.

The Limit Holdem tournament started with ninety percent farmers and ten percent foxes. Those farmers who have managed to reach the wall have had more than their share of good luck. The foxes, with their aggressive style and tournament savvy, tend to make their own luck. They have held only average cards but have stolen their way to the wall.”

Compare this to my rule above. Just call me Farmer Ed, I guess. I might not be 100% farmer, but I can see now another big difference (above and beyond the skill, experience, and knowledge factors) between myself and the professional:

I want to place more than not place; he wants to win more than not place.

And that's a big difference there at the end, where 10 tenth-place finishes won't pay as well as 1 first-place.

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Monday, February 09, 2004

This is the story of how I almost made it onto the PartyPoker Million III cruise, almost but not quite, and why it’s ok, if slightly bittersweet.

On Saturday, I thought I’d try to qualify for the Sunday 25K at Empire instead of plunking down the whole bit to play (I’d placed in this tourney two weeks earlier, but busted out the next week). I lost that qualifier summarily, catching nary a card, and on tilt I left to go hit balls at the local range. There’s nothing like stroking golf balls to put one back in line. When I returned home, feeling more myself, I decided to try instead to qualify for the very last PPMillionIII semi-final. So I played a $25 NL qualifier, and I came in 2nd, which got me a free entry to another qualifier. I fired up the second one, and I won that one, with the help of some truly gorgeous cards: in three hands, I caught pocket Kings twice, and both tripped on the flop. Having won that qualifier, I registered for the Sunday semifinal.

On Sunday, PartyPoker split the semifinals into two tournaments because there were so many people registered. My half started at 3:30, with about 970 people. One in fifty paid a seat on the cruise, so top 19 paid.

Here’s where it gets interesting: I discovered just before I started playing that the PPMillionIII cruise was set for the very week in March in which my wife and I had already made plans to travel to Thailand (plane tickets already paid for). So, if I won, I really would have messed up our plans for our biggest trip ever. No problem, though. Only one in fifty paid. Those are some tough odds. My wife and I joked that I would of course win because we had this fluke conflict. Of course.

But since I was there already, with this $200 seat, I played. What else should a poker player do? I played tight and aggressive the first hour, and doubled up. I played tight and aggressive the second hour, and I doubled up again. Then my trip Queens got beat by a runner-runner flush (he was actually drawing to an inside straight, the maniac), and I got knocked back to where I started, although the blinds were, of course, 2 hours higher. Oh, well, ‘twas a good run, but thank goodness I’ll be knocked out. I thought.

Over the next three hours, I went from T1000 to T80,000. Amazing. I made some good plays, a couple well-timed bluff-raises, a few steals. And no one sucked out on me when I had a hand. So I have double the chip average, and about 80 people left. Remember, loyal reader(s), I can’t go on the cruise. I’m going to Thailand that day.

And I started to get nervous. And I hit the wall. I had to fold top pair to a raise when a straight draw was completed. I got smacked down on two hands when my overcards missed. And missed. Was the nervousness that did me in? Maybe so. After all, I played my best when I knew I didn’t need the prize—zen poker. Detached involvement. Don’t worry about the prize, just play the hand with balls and flair (or with a sledgehammer, if that’s better suited).

All my cards dried up as we whittled down from 30 players. I tried to steal one set of blinds and got re-raised, and had to fold. I managed to survive until the money, finishing in 21st place. Top 19 got the cruise. I did get $900 for my troubles, which eased the sting. And if I had won, then I’d have a lot of headaches, trying to change the airfare, the reservations, paying all sorts of fees, and probably having to cut short what will be the biggest, most exotic trip my wife and I have taken.

What a great and unique situation: to be strangely relieved not to have won (but to still get some ducets). Of course, I’m a bit sad for what might have been, but there’s always next year for that. I’ll leave March open.

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Friday, February 06, 2004

Public best wishes to LordG as he tunes in, turns on, and drops out. Carrying forward the Merry Pranksters/Ken Kesey-esque metaphor, I would argue that poker is pretty close to drugs (McManus makes lots of comparisons); obvious destructive/addictive possibilities aside, the high is sure fun, and like drugs, we can argue that the smarter you are, the more benefit you can get from the experience.

Playing for one hour last night, I twice ran into trips on board (where one player held the case card). Twice. The first time was in a limit game, so it wasn't too expensive, but the second was NL. I had KK in early position at a wild table, so I smooth called hoping to isolate a raiser. No one raised, so there were about 7 players for the flop: A A A. So I've got the nut hand, unless the case A came out in the half-deck dealt. I called a small bet from a bluffer, as did one other guy. J fell, and I called another bet from the bluffer (hoping to beat the players, who though their J would be good). On the rag river, I raised the bluffer all-in; he folded, and the case Ace called. Ouch.

Lesson learned: Show extreme patience in this situation if you do have the case card. It sure paid off for the man with the last bullet. And if you have the second nut, be careful of a caller. He might have you beat.
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Tuesday, February 03, 2004

Thanks to Pauly for including me in his table of odds. But to rewrite Groucho Marx, I'd like to play cards with anybody who would bet on me being the winner of any tourney! No poker content today, but I'll toss in the following two pennies:

I throw into the ring the idea of making a charitable donation with part of the prize pool, or part of the bonus moneys generated by referrals at ChoicePoker. Something non-political, I'd guess: the Make-A-Wish foundation, St. Jude's Children's Hospital, what have you. There's also a pretty cool elephant sanctuary (for retired show elephants) in Tennessee. Maybe a penguin sanctuary?

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Monday, February 02, 2004

Count me officially in for the Grub’s first annual bloggers tourney—I’ll get set up with Choice Poker this week or weekend, but y'all can count mine among the Jacksons to be deposited in the pool.

Sunday, I tried another shot at the ol’ Empire tourney, hoping to post a second finish in the money, and hoping for a low turnout because of the Superbowl.

Well, I got one of my wishes. Attendance was low, but I busted out in the twenties. I caught a few hands, but I made two mistakes, which I hereby record so that I (and others) might learn from them.

1. Don’t chase. I did chase one hand, holding my TT against one player’s bets all the way down the line with a Q on deck. That was just plain stupid.

2. Don’t get married to your AKs. I did, against one opponent. I called his raise from the blinds (granted, it very well could have been a steal-raise; I honestly made him for a weaker Ace). Then I bet out every street on a rag board, and was shown TT. TT again. That was the curse hand, apparently.

One lesson to add to the books: Look at your chip count in the later stages of tournaments. This has killed me before (and it killed me Sunday), but I sometimes get so involved in a hand that I fail to notice I am betting off my entire stack (one big drawback to not using real chips). In later stages, when you’re only at about an average chip count, you can blow through two-thirds of your stack just by betting out one hand. If you’re betting a semi-bluff, this can cripple you (why am I using the second person here? Substitute "me" for "you".)

Taking off a few days from the tables after my loss, but I'll return.

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