The Cards Spoke

After 5 years of silence, I'm back! Check out the new poker blog.


After a 5 year layoff, I'm back!



Grubby, Grubette, and the Big Dog

"The great gamblers, and there are not many, don't need anything. They simply wish to prevail. And we all know how dangerous people are who don't need anything."
--Stephen Dunn

After a marathon, 9 hour session at Hawaiian Gardens on Friday night, I don't even know where to begin. This night had everything-- great plays, horrible plays, maniacs, fights, and best of all, an appearance by Grubby and Grubette.

The original plan was that Grubby would arrive from DC late afternoon, and we'd meet up at Hawaiian Gardens for the 6:30 Limit Tourney. But I got word that he'd missed his flight, and he wasn't going to make it in until 9. Grubs later explained that he probably would have made it on time if he hadn't played "a few more orbits" on Empire, trying to win one last pot. I figured I'd try to make it to the tourney anyway, since I'd been looking forward to it after a grueling week of 50 hours of writing ASP code. The application went live on time, and what better way to celebrate than winning a limit tourney?

Of course, Friday night traffic in LA had other plans for me. Hawaiian Gardens is about 30 miles south of LA, located in the nation's poker capitol, Bell Gardens. It's about 10 minutes from the Bicycle, and half an hour from Commerce, and the cheap rent in the area allows many pros to make a decent living preying on the fish. Anyway, it took me an hour and a half to fight through the freeway traffic, and I arrived 15 minutes after the tournament began, only to find that the waiting list was already 20 deep. I think if there is a hell, it probably looks something like the LA freeways.

Walking into HG, I was overwhelmed by the sheer number of people playing poker. My usual joints have around 100 tables going on the weekend, but HG must have had at least 300, and every available inch in the casino had a full table. Although physically the place wasn't that big, the swarm of 3000 people made it the biggest cardroom I'd ever seen, and I walked around dazed by the action.

Although I was annoyed at missing the tourney, I knew I had a lot better chances of making money in the ring games-- getting to the final table in a 300 limit table was difficult enough, if I could even stay awake for the entire thing... the tourney ended up going on for over 6 hours, and I was already worn out from the week. I quickly got a seat at the first $6-12 table I could find, and tried to get a read on the players. The first thing I noticed was that the drop was far more reasonable than at Hollywood Park, which has a ridiculous $5 pre-flop drop no matter how many players are in the pot. HG took $5 only if there were 6 or more callers, and less depending on the number of players.

Another difference between this table and my usual was the black box embedded in front of seat 10-- a shuffle machine! This made the game considerably faster than the manually shuffled games, and the hands went by at a blinding rate. More hands = more profit, and it seemed like the machine shuffle was better than the dealer's imperfect manual blending.

A reasonable rake, a lot more hands per hour, and plenty of fish! This was better than Party! (waiting for lightning bolt to strike...)

The table wasn't a great one. A couple calling stations, but the players were mostly solid, and I knew it wasn't a typical Friday night crowd when we didn't see a flop for 3 hands. But it had potential... all it would take was one drunk, one guy who had a bad week, and this table would be fired up. I played tight, and picked up a big pot a few hands in to put me up around $40, but I didn't see anything close to a playable hand for the next hour, and was quickly blinded back to my buy-in. I think my discipline has improved-- I didn't find it hard to fold for an hour straight, whereas before I would be tempted to take a shot with Q8o or some marginal hand out of impatience.

Then, as if sent from the poker gods, a young, slobby, round guy waddled into seat one with a sweat shirt reading, "If you can't run with the BIG DOGS, go home!". You could feel the atmosphere of the table changing, and the sharks sniffed blood when he raised in early position on the first hand he was dealt.

Big Dog was a true maniac. Talk about firing up a table-- the guy immediately to his right would 3 bet nearly every Big Dog raise, and probably 50% of the hands were capped pre-flop, with at least 4 players seeing the flop. I was happy to be to the right of the maniacal combo, as I could punish them by capping with premium hands. The best part was, although I tightened up considerably, nobody cared... I was showing down premium hands, but the size of the pots made people lose their mind, and people continued to call my raises with junk. At one point, the Asian lady to my right told me, "You play too tight! Like a virgin you so tight!", but my raises weren't scaring anybody away.

As I tried to remember all my reading about "Playing against maniacs," I got a text message informing me that Grubby was in the building. I looked around for a trail Wendy's wrappers, but couldn't find any... I sent a text telling Grubs I was playing 6-12 wearing a tan baseball cap. 10 minutes later, still no sign, so I hit the call button on the cell... no answer, but I turn around to see the mighty Grubby himself, in the flesh! We exchanged greetings, and I suggested he do everything he could to get to my table full of insanity. Grubs was younger than I expected-- I was thinking he would be a little bit older, being an established playwright and all that. But it was great to finally put a face to all the great posts, and it was strange to think how much time I'd spent reading this person I just met.

Check back tomorrow for the conclusion of the HG trip report... you won't want to miss:
Back to back pocket Kings against the maniac
Two Aces on board, and 2 in the hole
Grubs and Grubette take my chips

...and best of all

Grubby drops the HAMMER!

Well, it's finally done. The Cards Speak is in the process of moving over to a friendlier and prettier environment, my very own linux server running movable type. After next week, the BlogSplat site will be taken down, and I'll only be posting to the new site. So replace your bookmarks! The new site is here:

Poker Blog Patrol
Ignatius serves up yet another superb post before taking a well-deserved break from blogging. He points out the trade-off between writing about poker and studying the game:

"But I've gotten too far removed from focused studying and reading. Running sims. Replaying my hands. Building up my bankroll. I hit my year end goal in '04, (thank you very much Steve Lipscomb!) but I seem to have caught some kind of malaise since early January. As my original poker coach once told me, breaks from poker tend to re-energize you and you come back with a renewed vigor and focus."

I too have seen my study time fall off, and will probably go into a cave in the near future in order to fine-tune my game. I hope all the other poker bloggers can step it up while Iggy's gone-- his daily wit and insight will be sorely missed.

Chris Halverson put me on to Bloglines, an excellent web-based subscription tool that uses weblog feeds to notify you of an update. Highly recommended.

The Penguin actually turned something I said in my recent ramblings into a profit. He doubled up several times in the supersoft NL ring games on Party, which I ranked in my last post as the highest EV game in online poker. If you haven't yet, go sit in an NL $25 or $50 ring game and watch your bankroll grow. Penguin, this link's for you: Penguin Baseball

TFG continues to amaze me, feelin the pain after a marathon brush-busting session, Chainsaw massacre style:

"I'll probably have to super-glue my toothbrush to the counter and rub my teeth back and forth over it, my arms are so weak. Heck, my toenails hurt."

The Fat Guy writes code all day and still makes it out to the woods to fire up the chainsaw. I'm jealous, they don't even have trees out here in LA...

Royal explains the rationale behind his 10,000 hand quest at .50/1:

"I agree that putting in a bunch of time at the same limits and tables, say $0.50/$1 at Party Poker, is great from a human pattern recognition standpoint. Human beings have a unique ability to do neural pattern mapping and quickly recall those patterns."

With a background in AI, I've coded up plenty of neural networks, which attempt to learn patterns from the data you feed them. Royal points out that humans are far better at filtering the input-- recognizing which variables have a significant effect on the outcome, whereas the computer can only use the explicit variables you feed it. For example, a typical pattern I've seen is for short-stacked players to bluff excessively when their stack is below a certain size. Sure, a neural net could discover this rule if you explicitly gave it some threshold value and enough data, but this would only be possible if you've discovered the pattern first for yourself.

This is the real reason why I now believe playing one table is important if you are looking to improve your game. Two tables interfere with your ability to see patterns, which is what makes you a better player.

Lord G is off and running in his pro poker career, crushing the online $5-10 games while building his bankroll. LG is the only poker blogger playing for a living, so it's great to see him off to a big start.

I finally made it over to Ugarte's Poker Grovel, a nice-looking site with multiple authors. Check out an account of the latest home game, featuring Pauly.

And thanks to Iggy for pointing out Suited Trash, the first Meta-Poker Blog in history. Liz keeps tabs on the poker blog world, and gives out a coveted asterisk to the "especially recommended" blog of the day. Hopefully I can earn one of those in the near future...



"Oh the humanity!"

"Industry executives and analysts often mistakenly talk about strategy as if it were some kind of chess match. But in chess, you have just two opponents, each with identical resources, and with luck playing a minimal role. The real world is much more like a poker game, with multiple players trying to make the best of whatever hand fortune has dealt them."
--David Moschella

The good news is, I found myself highly ranked in a top ten list of poker bloggers. The bad news is, the king of the poker blog did not even make the list, along with many of my favorite bloggers. So, I'm not sure how I feel about the list, but I guess a little PR is probably a good thing. But in tribute to the man left out:

Sign up at Empire Poker with bonus code IGGY1! (and get $100 and a date with Iggy)

Ok, I feel better now. In all seriousness, if you haven't yet, go read Ignatius, where you'll find great poker content and the best set of poker news links anywhere.

Party Poker Games by EV
Since I didn't get to play any poker tonight (I'm exhausted after finally finishing a big project at work where I was the designer, programmer, and lead tester on), I thought I'd take a stab at figuring out which games on Party offer the "best bang for your buck", or highest expected value. I can only write about the limits I've played, but I'd love to hear other opinions (email me, or click on the comment link below this post).

6. NL $100: Party's best no limit players hang around here, and although the games are still good, the players at the lower NL limits are considerably weaker. If you want to play NL, don't waste your time here, take a step down to $50 (see below).

5. $5-10 Limit, 6 max: Grubby insists these games are Party's most profitable, but the sharks hang out in these waters. Even the minnows can jump up and bite you in this game. The variance is huge, and without a sufficient bankroll, you will not survive. This game requires an iron will, and the unwavering belief that you WILL win, or else you'll succumb to tilt when the fish bad beat you on the river. The best thing about these games is that if you find a table with 3 fish, then you only have to split the winnings with 2 other players, as opposed to 6 others in a full ring game. These games are full of tricky, aggressive play, and are not without psychological warfare. An excellent place to test and develop your poker skills, but if you're looking to make money, spend a lot of time finding a fishy table.

4. $5-10 Limit: Although these tables are usually tighter than a nun's bustier, I've had my highest win rate here. Unfortunately, there are usually at least 10 people on the waiting list for every table, so it takes a while just to get a seat. Although the tightness makes the pots smaller, it's relatively easy to put players on a hand, and bluffs and semi-bluffs have a reasonable chance of success. The $5-10 games feel like "real poker" to me, where psychology and hand reading are crucial, and can win you a few extra pots per hour.

3. $3-6 Limit: Depending on the time of day, there are usually plenty of fishy games with open seats. Tight, aggressive play is rewarded here, and the bets are big enough that it's possible (sometimes) to raise out ridiculous draws, which limits the number of bad beats you take. These are the tables you'll usually find yours truly at... I'm afraid of cheating at the higher limits, and refuse to wait forever for a $5-10 table. A bonus is that a wide variety of players jump in these games, so each table has a different feel to it.

2. $15-30 Limit: From what I've seen, the $15-30 games aren't much different than a tight $3-6 game, with the added bonus that you find plenty of players trying to throw money at you and bluff you out of a pot. If your bankroll is big enough and you aren't afraid of the cheaters (be afraid, be very afraid... with that much money at stake and the ease of hopping on instant messenger, I believe cheating is RAMPANT in these games), you can rake it in at Party's highest limit.

1. NL $50/$25 Ring: The true grinder's game, the lower limit ring games on Party are full of passive pre-flop players, who are happy to go in with top pair. In many games, you will find 7 or 8 people limping in for the minimum bet. In a no-limit game, this is the grinder's dream. Just sit and wait for the nuts or near nuts, push all your chips in, and double up when one or more players calls. The implied odds of multiway pots are through the roof if you can be pretty sure that you can get one caller to the showdown. Just think, you can play 25 hands for $1, and only have to flop a big hand (and get at least 1 caller) once to double up. Not a bad hourly rate. The downside is that this style of play is barely poker-- almost no strategy, and very little risk, but it will get you the money in the long run.

The list doesn't include tournaments... I'm still on the fence about Party tournament EV. There is lots of dead money in both SNGs and Multis, but you start off with so few chips, it's just too much of a crapshoot. I've done pretty well in the 40 or so I've played, but my intuition is that the long term EV of Party tourneys isn't nearly what it is in the ring games. Of course, that's the nature of tournaments... much higher variance, and much greater potential profit.

The Bot Question
There has been a lot of talk about poker bots for a while now, and after getting a master's in Artificial Intelligence, I've been intrigued by these discussions. Iggy addressed this a while back in this post, suggesting that while a bot could play good ABC poker, it would not extract the maximum profit, and would have great difficulty in reading an opponent's hand. To me, the real question is:

If I had a year or two to program a bot, how would the bot's win rate compare to mine in low-limit games?

Well, the simple answer is that the win rate would probably be inferior to mine, but by how much? If it was only 50% worse, then the bot is a profitable endeavor-- clearly a bot can play twice as many hours as me, and is unsusceptible to tilt, fatigue, and hunger. But as you escalate in limits, psychology and hand-reading grow in importance, and the logic for the bot becomes far more complex.

The poker player should aspire to use all of his or her knowledge and skill to extract maximum profit, and this will not happen at the low limits. I've gotta get to the limits where HDouble beats HDouble 1.0, otherwise I might as well spend my time coding.

On to the B&M...
Can't wait to sit down at Hawaiian Gardens casino tomorrow, after a LONG and stressful week of programming. I'm looking forward to meeting Grubby and his sister Grubbette... a $20 buy-in limit tourney, followed by heavy action in the Friday night games. You'll only get the REAL version of what went down here-- Grubby's a playwright, so he believes in that poetic license thing.

Congrats to Pauly for winning his first SNG!

Thanks for reading, and take it one hand at a time...



Heads Up with Grubby at Burger King

"The entire table can't help but hear him say, "I'd just like to know one thing - what is the biggest difference between playing 100-200 and 10-20?" I look at him and say, "The limit - this is a different limit," and he gives me an uncomprehending look and then smiles because he thinks I'm joking and says again, "No, really, I mean what's the major difference in play in these games?" And I say, "The chips are different - these chips are worth more money." And I say it completely deadpan and now he thinks I'm taking the piss out of him and he wipes the smile off his face. I see Johnny trying hard not to laugh. "You see if we were playing 10-20 we would be using red chips, but we're not." Everybody thinks I'm trying to make a fool out this guy, but I'm just saying the only completely honest thing that I can. But it's not what this guy wants to hear. I want to shake him. I want to shout, "Look at me! Listen to me! There is no difference in play!!" But I don't say that, I just repeat in a small voice, "This is a higher limit. The game is exactly the same as 10-20 but we use different chips."
--Jesse May from Shut Up and Deal

Ahh, nothing like writing about poker while drinking Theraflu and your nose leaks uncontrollably. For you, loyal readers, I go the extra centimeter.

I signed in to Choice Poker to see if it was possible to work off 300 Hand bonus (I no longer believe in bonus whoring-- I usually end up losing money on these). As usual, there was a single table going, and I sat down to check it out. A bunch of tight players (most likely props)... but who is that over in seat 3? Could it be... Grubby himself! After everyone folded to the blinds for 3 hands straight, I challenged the bad beet king to a little Heads Up action to work off the bonus. Bring it on Grubs!

I started off dominating, quickly going up 120 to 80 (on a $1-2 table) after we both bought in for 100. But the Grubster got a read on me quickly, and began to battle back. The key hand came when I slowplayed my pocket aces, and he caught a flush on the river, punishing me for 6 big bets.

This disaster began a downward slide, and he made all the right reads, and took a big lead at something like 110 - 50. They were raking away quite a bit, but at least the bonus hands were wearing down at lightning speed. I finally got a read on Grubby's play, and fought back to even it back up at 70-70. I lost a hand or two, and realized that while I fought it out with an excellent heads-up player, the fish were happily swarming over at Party.

"I've got to let you go, Mr.Grubs," and I got ready to go back to more familiar waters, but I took my last hand in the BB. Ahh, Big Slick, and Grubs raised from the big blind. I reraised, and when the flop came 2 4 4, I felt pretty sure I had the best hand. Grubs bet out, I reraised, and he just called. I figured it would be nice to go out with a bang, and the 7 on the turn didn't worry me too much. The raise war continued, and I started to fear I was up against a pocket pair, so I just called... the river was another 4, and I called to see the Grubster turn over...

43 offsuit! Poker Gods, what did I do to deserve this? Well, at least he won the high hand bonus, collecting another $25 on the hand, leaving me $60 in the hole after getting my ass handed to me by quad 4s.

Much respect to Grubby, but I will take my revenge this weekend, on my home turf. Grubby, Grubette, and yours truly will be taking on the Hawaiian Gardens (right outside of LA) limit tourney, followed by some action in the loose ring games. Grubby's advice: "Bring lots of money!"

Why waste time in a negative EV game when there are so many fish to fry? Well, the bonus hands were calling me, and I couldn't resist the chance to serve up a bad-beat whopper to the stellar blogger/playwright. Veteran grinder Iggy stresses game selection, and it's definitely something I need to work on:

"Because most winnings come from the relative difference between your skill and that of your opponents, and are not just a function of ability alone, any player - pro or not - who plays to win money, should simply table hop and find a table to their liking."

Don't be stubborn, hop along to greener pastures. A single extra bad player is worth at least a big bet an hour. Get your avatar ass out of the seat and hop to the next table.

The most difficult step for me in my poker development has been going beyond session-based thinking. The most valuable thing I've learned from Ignatius is that you absolutely cannot judge your performance or your poker skills by looking at short-term results. Yes, it's tough to lose 25 big bets in a wild and loose game, but it's even tougher to go back and analyze the hands that you lost with. Did you abandon your hand selection? Were you getting proper odds for your draw? Did you give a free card because you made the wrong read?

Sometimes you play perfect and you are outdrawn. In my former life as a football player, the day after a game would always be tough-- your replay your mistakes in your head in slow motion all day, and you do your best to improve and avoid making the same mistake in the next game. But in sports, results usually go with performance. In poker, perfect performance often results in loss-- even Aces are unlikely to win with enough players in the pot.

I keep reminding myself that in the long run, my hands will hold up, and the results will come. If I'm patient, and commit to the grind, I know that I will win.

A $100 winning session at a wild $3-6 table tonight was a nice end to the poker night, although the money came in true grinder fashion. No outstanding plays, just raking a few big pots in the 80 minute session (although I did lose a $120 pot with KK when four diamonds appeared and my king high flush was beaten by the ace of diamonds). I'm probably jinxing it, but that's 7 winning sessions in a row. But session-based thinking is in the past, and I have made far too many mistakes during the run. A poker player never stays the same-- you either get better or worse, and I'm hoping writing about poker will make me better.

Thanks WPT
I received a package from the WPT yesterday, and I was expecting to find a free entry package to the Commerce tourney, but got something nearly as good: duplicates of the $180 set of DVDs! A letter explained that many of the first set were found to be defective (they did skip excessively), and they bit the bullet and replaced them. I thought the $180 price tag was outlandish, but they gained many points for providing replacements. Especially since I left the disc with Lederer and Chip Jett playing heads-up speed hold-em on my flight back from DC to LA. But that's a story from another time...

RDub with the Celebrity Poker Crew
If you remember from earlier posts, my buddy RDub has connections with Celebrity Poker announcer Phil Gordon, and made it down to Houston for the filming of the most recent episode. I won't spoil it, but he's got the inside scoop on your favorite celebrities, as well as plenty of hilarious stories about our favorite card-catching goofball. That's right, Phil Hellmuth was there! When he's not studying game theory or beating the hell out of the frat boys at his high-powered state university, he'll be writing up his trip report. I'll post it here as soon as I get my hands on it...

Chris Halverson has an excellent post detailing his start as a poker player:

"I finally came to the decision that if I wanted to actually learn how to play, I would have to pony up. I deposited $25 into UB and started playing the .25/.50 tables. I remember the first time I reached to move my mouse to click on that "Call" button. It was nerve wracking, this was real money after all! Well, OK, it's only a quarter, but I was still nervous. That all went away when I won my first pot. After all, this is real money!"

I find it interesting the different ways people arrive at poker. For those of you that have read Cards Speak from day 1, you'll remember that I got to poker after a frustrating stint as a blackjack card counter. The edges were just too small, and my bankroll not big enough to make a good hourly rate on the blackjack tables. And if you think poker is a grind, try counting. In blackjack, the biggest edge you EVER get is around 5%, and you have to wait hours to see anything like that. No thank you.

Lord G also debates whether to make "the leap" to playing poker for a wage. Danger Will Robinson! Most everybody wants to "roll up the stake and go to Vegas", but if I ever went pro, I would have to prove to myself that I had what it takes to make it. Sufficient proof? 2 BB/HR for at least 500 hours. I've never really aspired to play pro, but if I lost my job right now, I'd probably play at least 40 hours a week. But grinding for survival is a lot different than grinding for fun, and even if I was making a decent amount of money, I'm not sure I could handle the lifestyle.

Study these guys!
Every time I read Abdul and Izmet, I realize how pointless it is to post strategy or theory stuff here. It's all been said. Read Abdul and Izmet. Every word. Then go back and read it again. You are not maximizing your profit until you do so. I can't stress enough how much the concepts they discuss will help your game. And it's free!



How Tom Brady broke my heart, and the Grublog Classic

If I hadn't downed a tasty mixture of Guinness and Coors Light, I don't know if I could have swallowed Brady's interception in the red zone yesterday. With the Pats up by 5, and Adam V practically on the field to put them up by 8 (I took the Pats and gave 6.5), I was thinking of what tourney I could buy into with my winnings... But Brady, the rock, the quarterback who NEVER makes big mistakes, pulled a Favre and threw the ball up for grabs in the red zone. For a guy who plays smart, this was probably the dumbest play he's ever made, in the biggest game.

And then the Pats give up an 85 yard bomb to Muhsin Muhammed, who runs a slower 40 than HDouble. Stud safety Rodney Harrison's (who was hurt on an earlier play) backup played undisciplined in the zone coverage, and it nearly cost the Pats the game.

From the betting perspective, it was a heartbreaker. From being up a sure 8 points, to Brady's INT, leading up to the Pats improbable 2 point conversion to put them up 7. It was mayhem in HDouble's abode after that 2 point conversion, only to be followed by a Hellmuthian temper tantrum when the Panthers came back.

Point spreads aside, it was a great game, although both teams were sloppy. Very sloppy. The Pats special teams were awful, and Carolina picked up penalty after penalty. For super bowl teams who thrive on playing smart, it was an unimpressive performance. But what a game. The Pats showed their character, making the big plays when they needed to, while the Panthers dropped big passes and didn't step up their game. Except for Jake D-- he made me eat my words, playing a superb game. No interceptions, and his passes were on the money all game long.

I didn't even want to talk about this, but Scott's rant was too good to leave out:

"It was a boob, and a damn unsightly one at that, from a woman who is circling the drain and knows it, exposed by a talentless jackass who's circling the drain and knows it, produced by a brainless cable show that is circling the drain and knows it, and broadcast globally on a leaderless over-the-air network that is circling the drain and knows it.

Anyone shocked or surprised or delighted or enlightened or titillated by this hasn't been paying attention for the last decade. I don't want to have to tell you people this again."

Well said my man.

Grublog Poker Classic
Luckily for me, I didn't have time to wallow in my sportsbook sorrows, as I discovered that the Grubster had taken the plunge and finally gotten a venue for the blogger tourney:

Date:Sunday, Feb. 22, 2004
Time: 2100 ET (9 p.m.)
Tournament Format: No-limit Texas Hold'em
Buy-in: $20 + $2
Prize Pool: $1,000,000 (if 50,000 bloggers enter)

That's right folks, set your calendars... HDouble is signed up for Choice Poker, a ghost town of a poker room, with a colorful interface. TFG seemed to like the color scheme:

"Looks a bit like the UB client, except uglier in a 1979 Burger King kind of way."

I'll take a Whopper and an SNG victory... To Go! When I logged on at 4 pm Pacific, there were only 7 players on the $1/2 table, and I think I saw a dust bunny roll across the screen. But they do have heads-up games, so if anyone wants to take my money take their chances against HD, email me and we'll set it up.

I actually got to play a little
I wanted to make it to the 7:15 Limit Tourney at Hollywood Park tonight, but after a brutal day dealing with the INS (Mrs. Double is Swedish, and we spent the afternoon talking to a wonderful Immigration officer), I couldn't muster up the energy to fight through the downpours and LA traffic (rain and LA drivers do not mix), and ended up playin in the $30 NL tourney on Party, along with 941 other people. I actually feel bad about this, because live tourneys are about 10 times more exciting than online tourneys, but sitting in traffic for an hour put me back in front of the comp.

321st out of 941... after making several mistakes early, but catching some big hands, I found myself with a decent sized stack with 321 players remaining. I get AQo in middle position, and test the waters with a decent sized raise. I throw in 500 (blinds are at 150) of my 2500 chips, am raised to 1500 all-in in late position, and reraised 2500 all in by the big blind. I think, and think, and think, and I do the gollum routine "Nooooooo, AK or KK, you're a LOSER! Yessss, you're committed, and you have 2 overcards!" I take my odds and my chances, hoping that I've got 2 overcards, I push all in, trying to triple up. The flop is 3 Q 8, with no flush... the turn an Ace, and I'm reaching for the 6K pot. The river is a ten... and middle position shows KK, and Big Blind? You guessed it, TT for the set on the river.

Well, I guess I was a big dog preflop, so there you have it. Another river casualty. First prize? $6200.

I need to play a couple limit tourneys before Grubby gets here on Friday so I can win a last-longest bet between me, Grubette, and Mr. Pokergrub himself. The Grubster is coming off a huge multi-table tourney victory, and I hope he continues rolling... all the way to second place this weekend.

Poker Blog Patrol
Well, the Penguin won the third hammer challenge, which should have been mine (see previous post). Penguin gets my respect for demanding a response, yelling HAMMER! not once, but two times in chat. Alas, the table was left speechless.

Lots of buzz about the Poker Blog tourney. I think my buddy Pauly may need to lay off the wacky tobacky-- he actually listed me as the favorite in the Blogger tournament. Surely he couldn't have been sober when he posted these odds:

HDouble 3-1
The Penguin 4-1
Iggy 9-2
Grubby 5-1
London Froggy 8-1
Pauly 10-1

Thanks for the compliment Pauly, but I definitely am not the best NL player of the bunch. Iggy's been playing NL since before I was driving, and Grubby and The Penguin have been dominating the Multis lately. Not to mention Lord Gorbachev, who just tore it up in Vegas. And if Felicia jumps in, we're all in trouble-- the woman plays NL tourneys every night, and is a proven winner. But can she adjust her B&M game to online play? I'm hoping the answer is no... and if Royal joins, I fall even further down the list. With that many skilled players in the game, the SNG is pretty much a crapshoot. Short term luck always wins, and even Lederer would be something of a long shot in a SNG with such amazing talent. I'm serious, I think.

The king of Poker News informs us that the WSOP is going to be a 7 day affair. Ye gads. If I plan on going, that means 5 precious vacation days sacrificed, just to sit on the rail.

And last but not least, my favorite non-poker content comes from the infamous Boy Genius, who refuses to pull punches. BG takes us through his day, beginning with the agony of Valentine's day. He also answers the question, "What's in your wallet?", with a post revealing what the Genius carries in his back pocket. My favorite journey, however, is the no-holds-barred account of my least favorite activity... yep, underwear shopping:

"My 'bad' underwear was outlet mall irregular stuff, and it’s not surprising once you put it on to figure out why. It’s as if the Spandex truck didn’t show the day they made my four pair, but they kept on sewing anyway."

Refreshing to see somebody tellin it like it is.

Keep winnin folks, and may your top 2 pair not get outdrawn on the river.



Super Bowl Blog

"Whether he likes it or not, a man's character is stripped bare at the poker table; if the other players read him better than he does, he has only himself to blame. Unless he is both able and prepared to see himself as others do, flaws and all, he will be a loser in cards, as in life."
--Anthony Holden

Short post today, as I've gotta watch the WPT special before the big game. Lederer and Hansen at the final table, so I'm expecting some fireworks. People have called Gus "lucky", but from what I've seen, the guy can really play, and his bluffs are well-timed and well-planned. It will be interesting to see how Lederer fares against the uber-aggressive Hansen. I was also shocked to see that Juha Helppi, the Finnish amateur who won the Aruba tourney, made the final table. He seemed like a good enough player, but he doesn't have much experience in live tourneys... but neither did Moneymaker. I suppose if Varkonyi can win the world series, anybody can... short term luck beats skill every time...

For my superbowl pick, I'm reposting my prediction from 1/19:
But this week Delhomme will be overwhelmed by the brilliance of Belichek and Crennell. The Pats will pick this boy clean, and the backers will eat him alive. The Pats are giving up a whopping 6.5, but I think I'll still drop a few bills on my boy Billy B. This game will probably be low scoring, but I'd be happy to see a couple Patriot defensive TDs early. Billy also gets an extra week to prepare, which is worth at least 3 points.

The Pats have been to the Big Dance before, and from the interviews I've seen, Carolina has been partying it up all week. Business trip for the Pats, party for the Panthers. I took the Pats and the points today.

To Play or To Write
Yesterday I blogged about becoming a grinder, but the most important thing about grinding is that you put in the hours. Both Iggy and Grubby have lamented recently that reading and writing Poker Blogs has severely cut into their playing time, and I couldn't agree more. There are lots of great blogs out there, and my daily reading list is growing exponentially, as I discover more folks who can both write and play poker.

Grubby explained this well in his post yesterday:

"More and more, poker has consumed my life. The excellent poker blogging going on is no help! Catching up on the poker blogs is an addiction unto itself.

If I were doing it for a living, that would be a different story. That would be an excuse to play even more. But trying to balance time spent playing (which is at least 3-4 hours a day, plus another couple hours with Poker Grub as well as reading other blogs and boards) with the day job and personal life and sleep is becoming harder to manage.

Personal life and sleep -- eh, what's that?"

Iggy also weighs in on the effort involved in coming up with daily posts:

"Good God, I'm too drunk tired to post anymore. I really just want to play some damn poker, rather than writing about it. I hope you all appreciate the time spent on this craziness."

I like to write, and I like to play poker, but finding the balance is tough. Especially when you've got to pound out code day after day at the 9 to 5. I wish I didn't need sleep.

Poker Blog Patrol
Grubby's most recent post takes us through a journey through poker addiction and a big multi-tournament victory. This post is one of the best I've read in a while, and I was at the edge of my seat reading it. What a story-- you devote yourself to something, you dive in, you struggle, and then you're rewarded. That's how it's supposed to be!

Iggy continues to bring us the best of poker on the web, and he saves me the hassle of scrolling through junk posts on RGP by only providing quality links. Oh yeah, and there's a chance that I'll be on the rail with a Guinness, cheering the poker BlogFather at the WSOP final table. If he gets to face off against Hellmuth, I think my head will explode...

Chris H. has a fancy new blog format. Hopefully I can get mine to look as good when I get the site moved over to Movable Type.

Paul finally ponied up for PokerTracker, and I'm looking forward to a breakdown of his 10K hands at .50/1. Hopefully that will heat up the cold cards he's been getting lately.

The Penguin continues to blast out intellectual posts, and has reached the second rung on the 100 BB challenge. He also got 3rd in a Multi... between him, Grubby, and Lord G, I think I'm gonna get crushed in the poker blogger tourney.

Mean Gene is cool, his Mom told me:

"The dealer would shake his head. "I'm sorry, you're playing Chip Jett. No one as uncool as you can beat him."

I'd fight hard to keep my lower lip from trembling. "My mom says I'm cool."

Stick and Move writes about his recent run of cards... I wish I was pulling in 31 BB pots.

There are a bunch of great blogs that I haven't got around to linking up to yet, but hopefully I'll get a chance to roll through those soon.

Poker's On, time to go! Hope the cards hit you in the head, and Go Pats!

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