Home Turf

This time 2 tables, by the time everyone that arrived late got in, maybe 20 or 22 people.

About the third hand I picked up pocket queens. Blinds were 25 and 50 but the previous hand a guy raised 250 so I raised 250 under the gun. SIX callers. Hmm. Flop came 2/3/4, 2 clubs. the BB raised 500. I figured he had stayed with something like A/rag. I considered coming over the top but folded. Yeah, a pair of 4s won the hand.
That was basically my night. Got blinded down to 1600 hundred, far and away the short stack. woman 2 seats to my right raised 1000. I figured my A/Q off was ahead, but not by much. She typically raised stuff like K/Q, Q/10. I went all in. one other caller, three to the flop. pair of Kings and a 9. She instantly went all in...and the other guy called. Board paired the 9s and a blank. She flipped up...pocket 7s. I had her beat with the board and my ace. The other guy flipped up...pocket 10s. That's right, with a raise of a 1000 and a reraise he called with that. Of course, hard to crticize it since it worked and my impatience certainly did not deserve to be rewarded but I did manage to go the entire night without winning a single hand. That was not too impressive. I sucked hard tonight.

Mixers, 2/27/07

This is the Oregon Trail Poker League and last night was the first night of the new season. Just 3 8 or 9 player tables. With late arrivals we probably had 27 or so. The first table I was at was very quiet early on until on the third hand I picked up a hand under the gun and raised it. This made a couple of them unhappy so I often limped in after that...but the guy to my left made a habit of raising. On the bright side, I quickly got a good read on him. Any 2 cards 10 or higher meant 3 times the blind. As a result I made a great number of chips off him and a couple others. Pretty soon we got moved.

Same guy immediately to my left who was raising every. single. hand. And hitting it. Every time. I picked up the cowboys and made some bank off him, flipped a straight and made a bit more. I got moved to another table.

This time I had a calling station to my left, a guy who thought he had the best hand every time but still laid them down. After a while we had narrowed it a bit and were getting close to the break. About 3 times the guy now to my right mentioned, "I need to win a hand so I go into the break with something." He went all in once, twice, and then, last hand before the break, my big blind, a third consecutive time. I looked down at pocket 9s and called. He had q/10 but drew dead and I finished him off.

He was stunned I would call with pocket 9's. I just shrugged and said I got lucky. And maybe I in 8 times I will hit a set, on more occasions I will hit a straight and he only had 6 outs that were not straight related. So I like my chances there and this time it paid off.

After a while I picked up A/10. I had not played in a while, we were short handed, so I raised it. One caller, immediately to my left. The flop gave me top pair, I checked, he raised, I reraised, he called. 4th street gave me a straight draw. He checked, I checked. The river gave me the straight. I raised. He reraised. I went all in. he called. We split the pot. Matching nut straights.

Not too long after we condensed to a final table. One guy was a bluffing machine. I doubled up a couple times, bled off a few to Josh who, for the third time, was immediately to my left...and he was going from short stack to chip leader repeatedly. Finally a pot he raised, I called, the flop came 5/2/5. He raised, I did not believe he hit the flop, I went all in, he called. He had k/5. I had him on the king, not the 5. I took a big hit.

The mad bluffer and I finally got involved when I checked in with 3/4 suited. The flop gave me an open ended straight and a four flush. He raised on 4th street and I did not believe him. I reraised all in with 17 outs. He said, and I quote, "Well, you caught me bluffing. But I think I will call anyway." and flopped up exactly what he said...nothing. 10/J. unfortunately, his nothing beat mine when none of my outs hit and I was gone.

I finished 5th, not great but not bad. I will be back.

Eden's Gate 2/23/07

4 tables, 9 people per table. Mark and I ended up at the same table. He knew I was just there trying to play my way through being "on tilt". Unfortunately for me, the guy to my immediate left, Curtis, was drunk off his gourd and demonstrating all the reprehensible behaviors that make that a by word for stupidity.

The first couple times anybody raised he just immediately went all in. He showed his hands every time (everyone folded) and once had something like K/J, a Q/10, and an 8/7 off. I was getting nothing to play anyway. Once I picked up A/Q suited and raised 3 times the blinds. He went all in. I thought about it, really did. I looked at Mark and he just grinned knowing I was going to make the call. And it hit me...if I made the call it would make me go on tilt more because I would get Rivered. So I folded it. I am proud of that fold. And after that it did take me off tilt.

Well, presently someone DID call Curtis and took him out. A couple hands later a move Mark made was misinterpreted and he ended up all in, ending up with just a handful of chips after the same guy rivered him. Meanwhile I was playing the fold, fold fold game.

Finally I picked up pocket kings. I came over the top of a raise and took down the blinds. A few hands later I picked up pocket aces and again raised, though this time only twice the blinds...and again everyone folded. So I needed to loosen up, play a few hands and get them to pay me when I got a hand. But then we broke up the table.

At the next table I had a calling station with a monster chip stack to my immediate left and a maniac to my right. Interesting. Lots of folding ensued until I picked up pocket kings. I raised, caught calls from my left and right, everyone else folded. The flop came 6/7/6. Check, check, I raised and only the maniac called. This made me nervous as I could see him playing a 7/8 or something like that. But I raised again on the turn and he called, then went all-in on the river and he folded. I chose not to show.

The next hand I picked up A/J and limped in. The turn came A/J/blank. Check to the maniac who raised. I came over the top. The calling station folded...and he folded pocket kings! The lady 2 seats to my right folded...pocket queens. The maniac called to the river and I doubled up with 2 pair.

Those were a couple very strong lay downs, by the way.

Well, lo and behold I made the final table. At that point I was ecstatic as that was really my only prove that when I felt like it I could make ANY final table at any group I play at.

Not only that...I was chipped up enough to do very well. But I could not get a playable hand, especially when people were raising every hand to the point where I might as well go all-in if I were going in at all. 2 people went out before I got a playable hand. Meanwhile, we watched A/K go down to A/10 when a 10 came on the river. 2 hands later I was in the big blind. The same guy who took out Curtis, Mark, the maniac from the previous table and Gail raised it. I read him for something like A-paint, maybe medium high pocket pair. I looked at A-K of clubs. That is a raising hand. Would not have left me much so I went all in. He thought about it long and hard. He knew I only played premium hands. Finally he called and flipped up k-10. I flipped up mine and he nodded. Flop: q,q,K. Uh-oh. turn, blank. He nodded, said good hand. Then he spiked the jack to knock me out.

Overall I felt pretty good about it. I finished 7th, I did not make any "tilt" plays, I achieved my goal and played very well. I had 4-1 on the hand I went out on to double up and did not have much time left between blinds and antes. Overall a very solid performance.


Oregon Trail Poker 2/22/07

On the surface I played very well. Out of 27 people I finished 4th and this was my first time playing with these people. But let's look a little closer.

First, I played too many hands out of the gate. I was limping in with marginal or weak hands and bled off a couple hundred before I realized what I was doing.

I played well briefly, including properly re-raising when I had A/Q suited in the big blind and raising strong even when the flop missed to push out a better hand. But I folded a couple times when I should not have, played cautiously instead of confidently.

Regardless, I was in good shape when I got to the tables condensing to 2. I reverted to folding some I should have kept, calling instead of raising, not raising when I thought I should...playing scared.
I also did not believe my reads. For example, 4 handed they called to the small blind, I raised to 3 times the big blind, fold to the small, he went all-in. I read small, weak hand...but folded my a/7 suited. He showed...3/5 off. Right read, wrong play.

I won a couple hands. Then in the big blind, just the 2 of us again. I had A/9 suited (which I should have raised up and did not). The flop came three deuces. He jumped. I read he had the quads. He checked. Remember...I read him for quads, bet 1200. He just called. I thought maybe I had misread him. On the turn, a blank, I went all in instead of checking and he of course called with the deuce. I read him ,did not believe it, and played into his hands. He outplayed me, which really hurts because watching him...he is a weak player. What does that say about me? So I got 4th DESPITE myself, not because of myself. Good result but poorly played.


OHSU Charity tournament, 2/17/2007

It started problem. I took the optional add-on to double to 2000 chips, Emily didn't. Picked up a couple early pots with marginal hands. Meanwhile, Emily busted out. she rebought but again did not take the add-on.

I slowly built my stack but other people were building theirs quicker. I noticed Em was growing hers, so that was cool. I hit a straight and about tripled up, then did not catch a hand for quite some time. Meanwhile, she joined our table and sat next to me. She was short-stack for a while, going all-in three or four times and hitting it each time. I went all-in a couple times and doubled up each time as well.

I could not pick up a hand for anything. Then came a dangerous hand. The guy in 2nd position, who played similar to me but would raise weaker hands like k/j, raised 200. It came around to me and I looked at A/Q suited. I raised to 600, folded around to him and he immediately went all-in. Folds around to me. I went through the list of raises he had made and put him on a pair of Jacks initially...then remembered his Jack raise. It was a smaller raise and I thought he might be trapping with pocket rockets. If he was then my tournament was most likely over since he had me covered and I would need 2 of my 3 outs. Or he could have a lower pair and I would be at best a coin flip. It wasn't worth it, I explained my reasons, folded...and he flipped the pocket rockets. We went rabbit hunting and I came up dry. Good fold.

Once I had A/7 and maybe 1-1/2 blinds left, maybe less so I went all-in. The flop came 7/blank/7. Then the board paired itself. They all laughed figuring I was gone. I flipped up my ace saying, "That's the card I went all-in on." One guy started to reach for the chips and I flipped up my 7. "And that's the card i will stick around a bit longer on." with the full house. It was a cool moment.

Our table got moved again and this time I was at a table where 3 different people either folded or went all-in so I could not even play marginal hands since someone was all-in every hand. I ended up all but blinded out and went out 11th.

Meanwhile Emily was playing very well, followed my advice to "don't get involved in any big hands" and built her chip stack to a very nice level. She made the final table in only her 4th live tournament and less than 2 months of playing!

She was okay for a while but really wanted the 6th place prize more than any other so when a guy left in 7th place she looked at her cards, saw 4/7 off and went all-in. 2 callers, both with better hands. Was looking good...until the flop was a 5/6/blank. She still had the worst hand but any straight would be the nuts because neither other had anything better than a shot at a pair. Fortunately she missed it and was gone in a fine showing. 6th place...I am super proud of that performance by her!!!!!

Finnegans, 2/16

I wanted to get in one more practice session using my new, more aggressive play style so I headed out to Newberg again. This time the Goose did not go so it was just me.

First hand I picked up pocket 10s. I raised it up, raised the flop, 4 (FOUR!) callers, on the flop, 1 raised, 1 folded, 1 re-raised, so I folded.

Next hand I was under the gun but picked up pocket 6s. I raised again, couple calls, no help on the flop, raised anyway, only 1 called, no help on fourth street but the board paired itself, raised again and he folded. Raked in a nice pot. Next hand picked up pocket 4s. 3 raises before it got to me, folded.

Big Slick was worth another strong raise. Dude to my right (very irritating, self-important know-it-all, by the way) came over the top all in., I hesitated almost a half second before calling. He had A-Q. No help to either of us and he was done.

2 hands later I busted out his replacement.

Meanwhile, hands I was NOT in the guy to my left was all over the place...calling down to the river on anything...then raising and getting people to fold. I paid him twice to see what he was doing. He is a maniac, no doubt. With a flop of A-Q-3 he called a raise/re-raise. He staid all the way, picked up a 9 on the river to give him 2 pairs, 9-3. He does that a lot. I mentioned I paid him twice and I could have taken it back whenever I wanted as soon as I got a hand...dude is a calling station like nobodies business. Unfortunately...I then got moved to another table.

At this one I had people on both sides of me smoking which reduced my enjoyment considerably. And unlike the first table where I was hot, here I could not catch a hand. About 45 minutes and 6 cigarettes in I cauht J-2 and played it. Yes, j/2 off. And played it when a guy went all-in. And I followed suit just to get out of there. I knew now I am able to play on their level when I wish and my purpose was accomplished. I had been table chip leader by a long shot, had some new moves in my arsenal and am proud of my accomplishment.


Poker is a really easy game...

when you are getting the cards. Wanted to try some new things I picked up between reading Hellmuth's book "Play Poker Like the Stars" and articles by Antonio Esfandiari and about several other stars and certain hands. Unfortunately, never picked up the hands to do it the other night. So last night I headed over to for a little gaming.

First up went to the 100/200 tables for a change. Only took 20K cause I did not want to lose too much.

First hand I picked up pocket aces. I normally bet into them and lose a lot of people off the bat. This time I wanted to win the max possible so I just called a raise. On the flop I hit nothing so unless someone had a pokcet pair they did not either. I was under the gun so I bet out strong. People called, nobody raised. Same on 4th and 5th streets and I took down a nice pot. Continued picking up nice hands and made 12K in about 10 minutes. But it was nervous for me playing the big stakes...I am not ready for that yet.

Went to a sit & go. Had good drawing hands the first round so I bet it. On the river I missed my draws but bet into it anyway to give them a chance to fold. Nobody did so I lost a LOT of chips. Oh, well. Kept at the strategy...and it worked. Ended up dominating the tournament and won it going away.

Back to the 5/10 tables.

First hand picked up pocket queens. Checked, someone raised it 20 so I raised it 60. 2 callers. Flop was nasty...6-8-9. I bet out as if I had hit it. Calls, no raises so I figure I am ahead. Turn was I think a 4. I bet out again. One call, one fold. River was another scare card, a 10. I led out, he called to go all in...and my humble pocket queens took down a nice pot.

Next hand picked up pocket 8s. People limped around to me, I bet into it another 60. Calls around with 1 fold. Flop came q/8/3. Unless someone was not raising pocket q's I have the nuts. Figured I would see where I was at. Raised it pretty healthy. One person called, another came over the top. Hmm, he is showing strength. Does he mean it? I re-raised and he called, the other guy too. 4th street brought me...quads. Now, how to make this the money maker? I bet in about 500 into a pot of over 2K. One guy folded, the other called. Excellent. River was a blank, I bet 990 trying to make it look like a bluff. Too much, he folded. 5 minutes I picked up 2255 chips, more than doubling the 2K I started with. I called it a night, well pleased with my efforts.



Stumptown round 3

Smallish tournament, maybe 10 people. I could not catch any cards at all. I got impatient, played a conceivably good hand trying to get back in the tournament. I had won a couple when I bet strongly after hitting top pair and people getting out of the way. This time I had Q/9 Diamonds. The flop came with Q Hearts, 9 black and 5 Hearts. I had top 2 pair and one out for anyone with Hearts was mine, a little better than 8% to improve my hand and not much for people to beat me. Lady to my left called and flipped up A/4 hearts...she needed a Heart. 4th street was a blank and the River gave her the King for the flush... and I went out 5th. The Goose did better, finishing 4th (in the money), proving once more she is a much better live player than I am. She left and I hung out for the sit & go which developed into a larger game, running to about 15 people coming in and out.

I folded in the sb, sat, sat, sat, the guy to my right raised it strong. I peek at my cards....Cowboys. I was trying a new style tonight based on stuff in Hellmuth's book so I decided to re-raise...a quick calculation said that would leave me almost nothing so I went all-in. He called and flipped the fishhooks. A little better than 4-1 advantage...I like. The flop came...and the top card was a Jack. But the bottom gave me the Alabama Night Riders. Visions of yet another top boat busted by quads flashed through my head but it did not happen and I doubled up.

Then it was back to sit, sit, sit. 3 people busted out before I saw a playable hand. People checked to me 2 spots before the small blind, I raised with q/3 suited...probably an iffy hand but I wanted to play one. Fold, call, call, all-in from the maniac who had already busted once. Huh? He was wild...on one all-in he had flipped up 10/2 off, on another a/5 suited. I folded. Next time I played I was in the big blind and checked into a q/2 suited. The flop gave me 2 more spades, 4 to the flush. One guy raised 1500, folded to me. Hasty calculation, 36% of the time I hit my hand and I called. 4th street was a blank. If I were following my new style I would have bet into it there but I had a cowardly moment and did not after he checked to me, wanting to see the free card. Whether he would have called or not is irrelevant...I needed to bet to see where I was. He checked the River too...and like an idiot so did I because I wanted to risk no more. He would have folded because he had nothing...a low pair...but his nothing was more than my nothing.

Several things: first off, I should not have gotten involved in the hand. Yes, I had the right drawing odds...but NOT the right pot odds. With only one other person in, the payoff had I hit was not worth the risk. Second, by not continuing my bet I gave up any chance of forcing him out of a pot he had small chance of winning. Third, I paid no attention to his hand when he flopped it up because I was disgusted with myself. And instead of properly mucking mine, I showed it...with only a Queen I could have easily been beaten by a higher flush and without hitting my draw I could not beat a decent pair it was a weak play all around.

Even worse, it left me with about 2 times the big blind so when I picked up j/9 I went all-in with it. This was a poor move for several reasons.
1) it was too early. I saw close medium high connectors (I know most people do not consider them connectors but I prefer the 1 separation cards since when I hit those straights I am more likely to have something A)others don't and B) others don't believe) and figured it was the best hand I would see the rest of the way. Had I waited I could have seen 6 - 8 more hands and maybe gotten something better.

2) It was a sub-par hand...j/9 off suit is something to be played rarely, never in desperation.

3) it was timed horribly. Most people had already folded out of the hand...I know, that should be a good thing as it made my hand stronger with less chance of someone sucking out. But it also severely limited the amount I could pick up if I DID hit my hand.

4) It was too early. Yeah, I said it twice. I think it may have been a slight tilt bet since I was irritated at myself for playing cowardly and not betting into the hand I should not have been in earlier.

On the bright side, I think I will be more patient in the future. When the blinds are low I like to limp in for cheap. The problem is you can bleed away a lot of chips that way and get sucked into overplaying a hand out of desperation. So patience is my by-word. I will be more patient in the future and win more hands.

On the bright side, I did improve my reads. There was one hand with Q/K/J on the board. The guy 2 spots to my right raised it. But I had his tell down...when he has a good hand he looks at his chips, then the other people. When he has an average hand or a weak hand he looks at the other people first, then at his chips when choosing to bet. I read him correctly and called a large bet with low pair on the board and took in a nice pot. So was not all bad. And it was fun...

Newberg tournament, Friday the 9th

Friday the Goose and I went out to Newberg to play with a new group. Turned out to be "Battle of the Sexes" night where if just guys were in the hand you checked it down or got out of their way, if women were in the hand you tried to bust them out.

First hand I was in the small blind so I limped in with 7/10 off. The flop came 6/8/9 rainbow and I flopped the nuts. Since I was under the gun I led out strong and picked up a couple callers. Since there were women in the hand that included men and with minimal investment I about doubled up.

I went into tight mode, limping in here and there but there were a couple maniacs to my left so I did not get in as many hands as I wanted. 3 or 4 times I flopped straights but they bet all the women out so I could not call so I had to fold. Well...when you have to fold your WINNING does not leave you much to play. Coming down towards where the blinds and antes were clipping my chip stack pretty hard I was looking for a hand to try and double up on...and I got K/Q suited. Not the best hand but good enough to call on...until the guy in second position raised all the women out. The next time I got to go I hit the straight...and he bet the women out. As I folded I flipped the cards face up and got off about my best poker line ever.

"If it weren't for luck and being the worst player at the table I would win every tournament."

The reference to Hellmuth was not lost on many of them and it generated a huge laugh as I hoped it would. Sadly, I was real low on chips and not picking up any hands...and when I did the same guy sensed it (even though I was not looking at my cards until my turn) and raised it up so I finally had to go all in with a mere Q/J suited and, while I did hit my Q, so did the woman to my right and her kicker was an Ace. Basically, had I not been being a team player I would have had a shot at winning the whole thing. Oh, well. It was fun.

Unfortunately I had never shown Emily the mechanics of dealing and to our surprise we rotated the deal. She accidentally flipped a card up and then did not know how to correct it. My fault for not going over the basic mechanics. That got her off her game....but she still outlasted 3 other people at our table and did very well for herself. Despite it being only the second time she played with anyone but me she did really well. I know she does not believe me when I say it, but the truth is...yeah, online I can play circles around her and, for that matter, 99% of the other people I meet. But live? At this moment, she is a better live player than me. Very proud of her.


Stumptown Poker, Night 2

The first time I went to their poker night, a couple weeks ago, I frankly intimidated myself. I took a look at them and thought, "These guys are better than me." I promptly put myself way behind by allowing myself to get pushed off a hand I should have stayed in, had to go into tight mode, got little to play with and, with the blinds focing my hand, went all-in and busted out pretty fast. Did better in a Sit & Go but still not well. Overall in 2 games of 10 people I finished 5th and 4th. I did better the second game, winning a couple hands, but definitely not my standards.

Last night I convinced the Goose to go along and this time I determined to play MY game. There would be no believing they were better or that I could not compete.

I started strong, building a nice chip stack and actually taking the lead. This week there were something like 16 players and I reached the "final table" doing well, bouncing between first and second place. Then someone went all in. I was on a draw and in the key moment I weighed going all in. I did not. I should have because my opponent above the common pot would have folded...and I would have won the whole thing. However, I had a weak hand, played the board, he was watching me instead of the board, he was watching me and he bet. I folded. He flipped his up...and I had folded the best hand even without making my hand. He outplayed me and I deserved to get beat. But I did learn from it.

The rest of the night, instead of watching the cards flopped I watched the other people still in the pot. I improved on knowing when they hit their hands, although I did not pick up any "tells" for sure...I just gathered enough information subconsciously to know when I was in better position. This gave me better value on my bets.

I did try a few new strategies, also. Instead of my normal strategy of just limping in when I picked up a potentially big hand I raised strongly pre-flop. This had mixed results as Big Slick got busted by the board pairing Queens once and Tens another time, both on the flop...but I made that back and more when A/5o paid off on the river.

However, it also did NOT work late game which put me under the gun when the blinds got steep and I ended up having to go all-in with pocket 10s. My opponent had the Cowboys and I was out in 4th place.

Things I need to work on: Patience. I get greedy too often. Better grasp of pot odds and odds of hitting my hand. Patience. My poker face a little bit. Patience. Remembering to watch players, not the cards. Patience. A better grasp of position. Patience. A better job of remembering who raises what hands from what position. And last but not least, patience.