The Cards Spoke

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



Grinding and Taking a Shot

"Certain individuals come here just to make money. They grind, grind, grind in the small-stakes games, they make a living and they have no down side. But they have no gamble in them, either, so they will never know the enjoyment of the high roller, the romance of gambling."
--Mickey Appleman

After a long week at work, its good to be back in blog lang and getting the energy to blast out a long post. For you loyal readers, I'm fighting through a cold that is threatening to put me to bed, but hopefully I can stay awake long enough to finish the post.

After sleeping in this morning, I finally got a chance to do some grinding, after an undesired 3 day break. Between working late, hanging out with Mrs. Double, and the site migration, I just couldn't click that "log on" button. Despite being sick and not remembering how to play poker, I fired up Party after breakfast, wondering what kind of crowd would be playing on a Saturday afternoon. I found a decent $3-6 table, and proceeded to get my ass handed to me, dropping $150 in record time (20 minutes). I played too loose, and suffered some horrible beats... my 2 pair getting flushed on the river, 2 pair losing to Quad 6s, and missing a bunch of 10 out draws. Ahh it's good to be back.

But the tide began to turn-- I remembered how to play (funny how losing 25 Big bets will do that to you), and started picking up some cards and some chips. I picked up $75 profit when my nut flush hit on the turn, and I slow-played 2 aggressive players, one who hit his set of 8s on the turn, the other with a smaller flush. After donating 6 BBs to a great player who hit a set of 4s on the turn (to beat my pocket Kings), I turned the nut straight in a huge 4-way pot for a $100 profit. This brought my stack back to life, and the vultures circling over my monitor flew away to find some better prospect. I picked up KK again a few hands later, and this time they held up for a $39 profit. I left down $60 after an hour of play, but after throwing away 25 BB in the first 20 minutes, it was a moral victory.

Becoming a Grinder
It's subtle, but I am beginning to feel myself becoming a true grinder. One of the indicators was my ability to emotionally handle the bad beats and the 25 Big Bet loss in 20 minutes. A few months ago, I would have been on tilt-- not full on, play any two cards tilt, but a subtle tilt, playing hands that shouldn't be played. I remember the drive home from my first terrible (50 BB loss) B&M session, thinking about the hands I lost with. I was pretty down, but I didn't think the loss tilted me."I'm untiltable," I thought, "I played the way I always play." And then I remembered getting outkicked by KQ after playing QTo from middle position for a raise. It dawned on me then that tilt's most dangerous form is not a Hellmuth chair throwing fit, but rather a very subtle slide from playing poker as a game of skill to playing it as a game of chance. Any time you play a hand without firmly believing that you have a positive expectation, you are on tilt.

The grinder plays when he knows he his bets have positive expectation. One trait of the true grinder is that he will muck his hand in marginal situations (when the expectation is zero). I find myself avoiding marginal calls lately, and I think I have profited from it. For example, suppose you've got AhKd in the BB, and there are 4 limpers ahead of you. You check, and the flop comes Qs Js 8c. You check it around, UTG bets, and second to act raises. The third and fourth limpers call, and now it's your turn to act.

At best, you've got 4 outs with the T, although you can't like the Ts. And maybe you can add 6 more outs if you pair one of your cards, but again, if one of those cards is a spade you're in trouble, not to mention that an A or K on the turn could give someone 2 pair or a straight. So at best you have 10 outs, so you need at least (if we assume our 10 outs don't make someone else's hand) 2:1 from the pot to call. The pot is laying you 6:1 here... IF we think all of our 10 outs are good. If so, it's an easy call, but there is no way we have 10 outs-- subtract all the spades from our outs (one of these guys is likely on a flush draw), and we are down to 7 outs. Ignoring straights, trips, and 2 pair hands, that gives us 5.7:1 that we get our hand on the turn. So, expectation is still positive, but barely.

The grinder will always muck this hand. Whenever we can't confidently determine which hands make someone else a better hand than ours (the negation of outs), we probably aren't getting the proper odds to draw. There are just too many hands out there that can beat us, so we throw away big slick without much thought with a board like that.

Joey Knish vs. Mike McD
The grinder vs. the gambler. Of course, a romantic roots for the guy who lays everything on the line. The audience sides with Mike when he tells Knish that "you see all the angles, but you don't have the stones to play them." But to me, Knish is the real poker player. Most likely Mike blows his stack after a couple bad sessions in Vegas, or if he does succeed, he'll go broke a few times on the way, after some whale catches a few cards in the $100-200 game.

But there's a middle ground. You have to be opportunistic-- once you've got enough bankroll to take a shot, you wait for the softest "big" game you can find, and lay it on the line. Which in a sense, is what Mike does in Rounders-- he beats Teddy, acquires a new bankroll and puts himself on the road back to success. Alas, we can't imagine Mike going back to the grinding style that treated him well... he's going to take another shot as soon as he gets to Vegas, methinks.

I had a suspicion that a lot of the young stars were those who had taken a couple shots and hit their mark. I know Chris Ferguson won a blackjack tourney before he really began his poker career, and that gave him the bank to produce a tourney victory. Daniel Rentzer parlayed a few hundred bucks on PokerStars to save up enough money to play some satellites to get into the WPT at the Bike, and he ended up taking home 2nd place. The great Howard L was a big loser in the low limit games for a couple years, and eventually scored when he played way over his bankroll in a soft $50-100 game, and caught some cards (check out this RGP post for details). But to be sure, I had to ask one of the stars...

One of my favorite all-around people in the poker world is Daniel Negreanu. He's honest, cares about poker players, and was nice enough to reply to one of my emails. Here are Daniel's replies to my questions:

1. How did you build up your bankroll when you first began playing?

The truth is that most of the young guys playing in the bigger buy in tournaments started out severely under bankrolled. Basically taking shots here and there. I did it several times. With a bankroll of $2200, I'd often play a tournament with a $1000 buy in! This isn't the best way to go at all, but it worked for some.

2. Is there anything I can do to move up the ladder more quickly?
Right now (when I'm not at my 9 to 5) I'm playing 2 or 3 $3-6 games
online, or the $6-12 game at the local cardroom. I'm having excellent
luck and have been successful just playing tight, solid poker. But I'd
like to move up to the $10-20 game as soon as possible. My plan is to
build a 500 small bet BR before playing in this game-- is this a decent
bankroll in your opinion?

Yup. That's a decent bankroll in my opinion. One thing you need to understand is that you don't need to be as careful as Sklansky/Malmuth advise. Why? Because you can step down in limits any time you want. Example: Say you have just 100 big bets to play with in a 10-20 game ($2000). Well that's a short bankroll yes, but you could take "a shot". Meaning, play the game anyway, but if you lose say, $800 step back down until you've recovered.

That's how ALL the high limit players got there. If you did it Sklansky's way, it would take 147 years!!! :-)

There you have it. The algorithm for becoming a high limit player:
WHILE (bankroll not sufficient to take shot) {

IF (bankroll > threshold) {
IF (SHOT = success)
Move up in limit;
Exit and return to start;

Or something like that. And no, I'm not really a computer geek.

Back to the Grind
After working on finishing a secret business plan that my partner and I are looking to turn into a multi-million dollar company (I'm serious!), I hopped back on the tables for some more fun. And boy, was it fun. I returned to two table play, being a bit to worn-down from the cold to "work on my game", which I feel is much easier to do at a single table. After an hour of play, I found myself breakeven at one table, and up a monstrous 34 big bets on the other table. Most of this came from 3 hands:

1. The first hand I played, I get AA in my BB. Amazing, of the 67 times I've been dealt rockets, 26 of them (39%) were in the blinds! What does this mean??? The rockets miraculously hold up even though the flop is 6 7 8 with 2 hearts, and I pull in $57 profit.
2. A monster $82 pot when the board pairs on the river, giving me my boat in the face of someone who flopped the Ace high straight. I've been on the other end of this one too many times, and I actually felt bad when I checkraised Mr. AK on the river. For about a second anyway.
3. After my suited connector post, big 87s came through, winning me a $67 pot. I heeded Izmet's advice and jammed preflop, and was rewarded when the flop came J 5 6 with a single heart. The lucky 9 came on the turn, and I punished some poor guy holding a set of jacks.

So it's 5 pm Saturday, and I'm up 25 BB for the day (after a horrible start). Yeeeeeee haw... I guess grinding can be fun when you are catching cards. Anyway, the fish should be hittin the tables soon, so if I can manage to fight off this cold, you'll find me at the $3-6 tables...

This post is getting out of control... so much more to say, but I'm not sure if anybody can survive this many of my words without passing out. I haven't even mentioned the BIG GAME, in which Belichek will use Jedi mind trickery to force Jake D to throw several interceptions. Patriots win this one easy. Oh yeah, and the big WPT event before that. My head may explode from too much visual stimuli... a Super Bowl and WPT championship back to back.

Poker Blog Patrol
Man, oh, man there is some great stuff out there. I think Iggy's Pokersavvy article really raised the bar, and all the bloggers stepped up their game. It took me 2 hours to get through all of the great blogs last night... I had a lot of highlights to share, but I'm running out of steam, so I can only tell everybody to keep up the great blogging.

Saturday night on Party! What could be better? Oh yeah, check out the images at my BlogSplat plus site, if I get around to putting them up. Surely the final product will be better than Russ's site.

And I leave you with the agony of playing THE HAMMER!

***** Hand History for Game 364847345 *****
Table Card Room Table 3689 (Real Money) -- Seat 4 is the button
Total number of players : 10
buggirl posts small blind (1)
Islander posts big blind (3)
** Dealing down cards **
Dealt to hdouble [ 2d, 7s ]
sharp2403 folds.
tcaldaro folds.
nordbanken raises (6) to 6
hdouble calls (6)
sammyq folds.
bossman48 raises (9) to 9
pruspapaw folds.
buggirl folds.
Islander folds.
nordbanken calls (3)
hdouble calls (3)
** Dealing Flop ** : [ 4h, 2c, 4s ]
nordbanken checks.
hdouble bets (3)
bossman48 raises (6) to 6
nordbanken calls (6)
hdouble calls (3)
** Dealing Turn ** : [ 8h ]
nordbanken checks.
hdouble checks.
bossman48 bets (6)
nordbanken calls (6)
hdouble calls (6)
** Dealing River ** : [ 9d ]
nordbanken checks.
hdouble checks.
bossman48 bets (6)
nordbanken calls (6)
hdouble folds.
** Summary **
Main Pot: $76 | Rake: $3
Board: [ 4h 2c 4s 8h 9d ]
hdouble balance $148.50, lost $21 (folded)
bossman48 balance $129, bet $27, collected $76, net +$49 [ Ks Ad ] [ a pair of fours with king kicker -- Ad,Ks,9d,4h,4sKs(kicker card) ]
nordbanken balance $203, lost $27 [ Td Ah ] [ a pair of fours -- Ah,Td,9d,4h,4s ]



Building the bankroll... the hard way

Between work and migrating the blog to another server, I didn't even get to play any poker today. This week's been rough at work, but my deadline is tomorrow so it should ease up after that.

Migrating the blog is another story... I hope my pic didn't scare anybody away, and I'm looking forward to getting movable type installed, as well as putting some images up on the site. I built my linux box today, now I just gotta find a way to get it from work to home. They've got these silly rules about these things...

Since I didn't PLAY any poker, I thought I'd take a quick run through my favorite loose-game theorist, hoping that some of his wisdom will rub off on me.

Izmet's 4 rules of thumb
1. Build pots preflop with big suited cards, suited connectors and pairs above 77.
2. Jam your flush draws if you expect three or more callers.
3. Seldom call if you can't raise.
4. Don't try to bluff the fish.

My pocket 8s haven't been nice to me, but I still like the 1st rule the best.

Izmet on Axs
Raising with Axs becomes profitable when there are enough loose limpers in play. For example, A4s will win more than 14.3% (which is about fair share of the 7-way pots) against 6+ opponents and will therefore profit from the six+ limping opponents putting more money in the pot preflop.

So, play your Axs hard when you're sure you'll get 6 callers.

Izmet on Responding to a raise
When raised, stop, think, reevaluate. A raise is an incoming message. What is the sender trying to communicate? Does he have something to say or has he just pressed a wrong button at the wrong time? Bets and calls are often automatic, not so with raises. When in doubt, fold. If you like winning, you'll have to do lots of folding. Flea and live to tell.

Izmet on the learning curve
Be happy if you break about even after a few months. You proved yourself better than most, you have beaten the house. Not everybody can.

Izmet on playing with the fish
The best strategy in loosest games is to maximize fish mistakes, build big pots when having the best of it and get the hell out preflop when in marginal situations. As the fish are often calling correctly postflop (good pot odds), it is imperative to hit them with raises when they are not. The time to do it is usually preflop, where they are apt to call with anything. If there is a reasonable chance that your hand is best, you should raise and reraise right there to destroy the implied fish odds. This is the time to maximize their mistakes. Sure, they will try to offset this with correctly chasing postflop, but to no avail. Big mistakes preflop cannot be compensated in any way. Please note that fish very often chase incorrectly too, a good example is when they try to hit a set with their small pairs all the way to the river. This is another reason to raise liberally when having a reasonable chance to collect.

Whew. Reading that makes me wanna hit the tables, but my bed sounds even nicer at this point. Thanks for reading, back to the good stuff tomorrow (I promise).


The Migration Continues...

Spent all my time moving the site so didn't have time to post... hope it doesn't crash!
Cards Speak... in color!



Loosening up, and "The Migration"

''. . . to be acutely conscious is a disease, a real, honest-to-goodness disease.''
--Dostoevsky, Notes from the Underground

It's been a while since I posted anything about theory, but recently, I've felt like my game has hit a plateau. So I've been hitting the books to try to get over the hump. I've been running good lately, but it's been mostly the cards, not my play. I've always been extremely critical of myself in whatever I do, and poker is no different: good plays are expected (and therefore forgotten), while bad plays stick to my memory and beg for a fix.

My time at the wild no-fold-em $6-12 tables at Hollywood Park have also inspired some thought about hand selection. The juiciest of these games involve huge multi-way pots (at least 5 seeing the flop) and few pre-flop raises. Obviously, the implied odds go through the roof here, and if you flop to your hand, you can collect a lot of bets.

How strong are suited connectors?
Much has been written about the value of suited connectors, and Abdul and Izmet say that we should happily ram and jam with these hands, since they will win more than their fair share of multi-way pots. But other writers have said that the medium suited connectors are overrated.

In his excellent no-fold-em simulation, Todd Mummert says that Sklansky, among others, overrates the strength of the medium suited connectors:

"In fact, as the games become looser there is a clear trend visible in Table ___ for the showdown linearities to dominate. Even if you think you're playing under the ideal conditions for medium suited connectors, if one player leaves or a new player joins the game your assumption may suddenly no longer be correct and inertia could easily lead you to end up playing what are just relatively weak hands."

His point is, since these hands are so dependent on the number of players in the pot, it is easy to misplay them. However, if you have a good handle (well, as good as one can get) on a loose game without too much raising, then it is clear these hands are extremely strong.

Lets looks at some odds: the medium suited connectors have excellent odds to flop to a strong draw or better. Medium suited connectors are 5:1 to flop either a draw with 8 or more outs or a made hand. 5:1! I found that a little bit surprising, since the odds of flopping a set is 10:1. This illustrates the power of the suited connector, and we see why it is so popular in No-Limit. With a few passive players in the pot, we can be fairly confident we'll get enough callers if we flop to a draw or a made hand.

However, it's not that simple. Suppose we hold 87c and the flop is 2c Jc Qd, with 5 players in the pot. Although we've flopped the flush draw, we have a lot to worry about. Expert players are good at accounting for the "negation of outs," or outs that will make our hand but make someone else a better hand. There is a good chance we are drawing dead on a flop like this: someone may be holding Axc, and we are drawing dead. Someone may hold QQ, JJ, or QJ, and that eliminates a bunch of our outs, and guarantees that it will be expensive to make it to the showdown.

So, the theory tells us that while these hands have great implied odds, they are extremely dangerous. They require excellent post-flop play, and if you aren't able to read your opponents well, you will end up discovering that you just threw away 7 or 8 big bets to someone holding a bigger flush than yours.

But what does the data say? Although the sample size is small, PokerTracker gives me some empirical evidence:

T9s  34  -.33  59%
98s  119  .26  58%
87s  38  .26  53%
76s  36  -.22  25%

Well, it's not very conclusive, but it's interesting. Why did I get 98s 4 times more than the other medium suiteds? I'll have to ask Russ Georgiev about that one... but the -.33 BB/Hand with T9s I attribute to poor play, such as going to the showdown with the idiot end of the straight a couple times. 76s I only played voluntarily for 9 hands, so the sample size is way to small.

So my conclusion: suited connectors are big money hands, but make sure you aren't drawing dead. Thanks, Captain Obvious. What I really mean is, play suited connectors strong, but realize that a lot of your outs might make someone else's hand a winner.

Poker Blog Patrol
My favorite entry of today has to be Royal's attempt to answer the question, "Why do I play poker?"

"I play poker to get better at poker.

As mentioned above I'm learning a lot about table selection, but it goes against every competitive bone in my body. I want to play the 9 best players in the world..."

I'm with Royal here (check out my attempt to answer this question in a previous post), but I'm still on the fence as to whether tough games should be enjoyed or not. As an ex-footballer, I always wanted to play my best against the best. But what do you do when you crush Johnny Chan in a single session? Celebrate that you got good cards and made good plays? The great players view poker as one long session. You win by having more knowledge than your opponents, so why play against the best? Just ask Ignatius.

Speaking of the guinness fiend, Iggy hit the big time, and represented all us poker bloggers in his new PokerSavvy article. Check it out! Igs writes in his own blog that he's going back to the grind after a long run on the multi-tables. I'm sure you're tired of hearing me pimp his blog, but how can you not when you get gems like this:

"But I'm glad I shifted gears for a bit. Stasis in poker = death. You constantly need to be evaluating your game, your mentality, your emotional quotient. The difference between the long-term winners and losers is character. Discipline."

I can barely keep up with Pauly, who posted his Foxwoods trip report. It took him 4.5 hours to get in a 2-4 game! I get mad if the wait is longer than 10 minutes in LA. Pauly knows a sucker when he sees one:

"Although I dropped $50 at Foxwoods, I made all my money back when I took some of Haley's friends for $200 betting on various Golden Globe categories (Bill Murray's win was clutch!)"

Pauly emailed me to let me know he may be in LA sometime in the future... I hope I don't have to watch his back when he starts a rumble in the $2-4 game after dropping the Hammer. I really miss the East Coast (but not Foxwoods), even if it's freezing over there... Yesterday I saw in the log files that 55% of my readers are coming in from the East Coast... confirming my suspicions about the literacy rate in LA.

I wish there was some sort of BlogCenter highlight reel for BG's posts... he put up SIX today, and I'll be catching up at work tomorrow...

In the low limit world, Sean sounds like he's climbing the learning curve after a trip to Borgata... and my man Paul is battling a "frozen wave of cards" to go with the cold weather.

Lord G takes us along on his Vegas trip, and concludes with a brilliant victory in the Orleans tourney. Congrats LG, you da man! The guy goes to Vegas for the first time and wins a tourney. Keep an eye on his blog...

Felicia got great news from the docs and was nice enough to give up some tourney play, and play cash games with her lucky husband. I'm sure the regular tourney crowd was happy.

Actual Poker Content
For a little variety, I sat in the $50 max buy in NL game on party last night. My NL game is much weaker than my limit game, but from my limited experience on the $50 tables, if you sit and wait for the nuts and pick off the bluffs at the right time, you can make a lot of money. I found a very weak-tight table and started throwing my chips around. I'm sure you're wondering when this post will end, so I'll keep it short:

Hand 1: On the BB I have T3o and see the flop for free. 3 limpers. Everybody checks all the way to the turn, and the board is 9 Q 5 5, with 2 hearts. The river comes Td, and it's checked through, but the guy in last position bets $10. I feel like this has to be a bluff, and I know that I'm outkicked if he has the ten, but my gut says its a bluff. I call, and he shows KJ for the straight. I told you I was a bad NL player.

Hand 2: The very next hand, I get AKo in the SB. Amazingly, everyone folds to me, and I overbet ($5), trying to convice the BB that I'm stealing. He raises it up to $10, and I have to decide if he's got a pair or overcards. I call, waiting to see what happens on the flop. Flop is 2c 4d 2s, and I check. He bets 15, and this screams bluff to me. He could have a pocket pair, but this guy has been bluffing, so I put him to the test, pushing all in for $37 more. He calls, and I get ready to rebuy for $50. The turn is Jh, and river 9s, and I am sure I lost, but he turns over... KQo! Nice call, fishie. HDouble doubles up, and I can't help but think my horrible play on the previous hand won me this pot.

Hand 3: I get AQ on the button, and raise it up to 4 after 2 players limp in. the BB calls, and the limpers also call. Flop is 9d 2c Ac, and I don't want to mess with a flush draw, so I bet the pot ($15) and I get one caller. I fear AK here, or a set, but I'm here to win money, so I bet $20 when the turn shows Js. He calls again, and the river is 8s. He checks, and I check, raking in the $45 pot when he shows T9c. Dodged a bullet there.

I mostly folded the rest of the time, but the above three hands put me up $70 for 25 hands. That's why they say it's the golden age of poker. Even if your play is a bit fishy, you can still escape with a nice little win.

Party sinks to new low
I received the following email from Party yesterday (this is not a joke):

Dear Henry (hdouble),, the World's Largest Poker Room, brings you the opportunity to be at the venue of the most happening event of this year - The Lingerie Bowl.

The sponsored "Lingerie Bowl" is the biggest and the most talked about Super-Bowl party. The event will feature two teams of supermodels who will play a seven-on-seven tackle football game.

The Lingerie Bowl will take place on Sunday, February 1, 2004 at the Los Angeles Coliseum.

For more details check out

To be present in this extravaganza, immediately mail us back at

We have limited tickets to the show and they will be offered to our esteemed clients on a first come first served basis.

Regards, Team

The migration begins
In Geek news, I've begun migrating my blog to my server at home. This should please Chris and TFG (who has been hounding me to move to a nicer home-- are ya happy Scott???), and the next step is to install movable type. But for now, please click on the link below... I'm not sure if my PC can handle the massive amount of traffic this site generates (all 10 visitors), so I'll have to see how it holds up over the next few days.
The Cards Speak, now with images! (warning: probability that server is down = 80%)

Good luck and keep the blogs rollin...



Killing skill and choking on THE HAMMER

A post-first-anniversary champagne filled blog, we're going on a run through the WSOP, one of my greatest Party sessions ever (including a hammer victory!), and who knows what else... read on...

WSOP Highlights
Thanks to Chris H., who was kind enough to send a copy of the WSOP DVDs, I was finally able to see the WSOP in it's entirety. Great coverage and terrible beats, and the intensity seems to be a lot greater than the WPT tourneys. It's a lot more interesting to see the progression of the tourney, rather than just the last 6 players at the final table. Even Mrs. Double was hooked, and we ended up going through the first 4 days in a single sitting, for a whopping two hours of poker on TV. However, when we popped in the disc for the final table, we found that it was a repeat of day 3! My wife pulled a Hellmuth and nearly flipped over a coffee table, and I think I heard her scream something about KJ offsuit.

Anyway, here are the most memorable moments from the first 4 days:

5. This Tomer Benvinisti guy is about 350 lbs, and his job title is "expedition leader". Where's the expedition go, to the fridge???

4. All interviews with Dutch Boyd. This guy got his law degree before he was 20? He sounds like Rocky. And I love that he thinks he can intimidate guys like TJ Cloutier by rolling chips across the table.

3. Grizzle vs. Hellmuth. Sam's mocking of Hellmuth, especially in song, had me dying. The close-ups on Hellmuth as the entire room laughed at him were priceless, especially after Sam called him a "goofball who catches cards".

2. The agony of the Ivey. Oh man, poor Phil. The two bad beats he took were painful. Moneymaker's miracle river card was like a knife in the back, and I was only watching the DVD. I'm too lazy to plug it in to the "bad beat o meter" on PokerSavvy, but that's got to be one of the worst ever... remember, the prize money here was 2.5 mill. I strongly believe that if Money didn't catch one of his 7 outs (I think that's right) against Phil, then Phil woulda have been the champ. He deserved it gosh darnit, and after watching his WSOP performance (he came back from another horrible beat put on him by Freddy Deeb earlier), he's up there with Lederer in the "poker idol" category. And he's the same age as me.

1. Of course, the number one highlight from the WSOP is the walk through the life of Hellmuth. I can't even begin to write about the unintentional comedy provided by Mr. Hellmuth, although I will mention that seeing him shirtless and brushing his teeth nearly put me over the edge.

Seeing all the bad beats made me ponder the benefits of tournament play. Imagine being Phil Ivey-- making no mistakes, playing perfectly, and catching great cards to boot. Then you lose all of your chips on two suckouts, where your opponent has a 1 in 10 chance at both of them. If I played a perfect football game, and the ref called me for offensive interference on the greatest catch of my life, I think I'd be on tilt for a couple months. I don't know if I can stomach the notion of losing all of my chips when I am a 90% favorite. But that's tournament poker. At least in ring games, you can always reach back in your pocket and have more ammo in your quest to get to the long run.

Short term luck is the skill killer.

The hammer swings back
Finally, after 6 attempts, I achieved victory with THE HAMMER! Not your regular hammer, I played the Hammer from the Hammer (the cut off postion)!!! Here's the hand history:

***** Hand History for Game 353798148 *****
Table Fuzzy Navel (Real Money) -- Seat 5 is the button
hdouble posts small blind (1)
KingpinKilla posts big blind (3)
** Dealing down cards **
Dealt to hdouble [ 7c, 2d ]

The hammer in the SB!!! My table image is superb, since I've been dominant since I sat down. The table is tight, so I know I've got a shot here.

Nguyenvan folds.
skinnydawg calls (3)
Rounders24 folds.
icheckraise2 folds.
zion4lyfe folds.
shadysam calls (3)
hdouble calls (2)
KingpinKilla checks.
** Dealing Flop ** : [ 9d, 8d, Ad ]

Three diamonds, I might as well take a shot...

hdouble bets (3)
KingpinKilla folds.
skinnydawg folds.
shadysam folds.

Wait a minute... everyone folded???

** Summary **
Main Pot: $15 | Rake: $0
Board: [ 9d 8d Ad ]
mpark67 balance $150, sits out
icheckraise2 balance $156, didn't bet (folded)
BIGBADBUG balance $146.50, didn't bet (folded)
zion4lyfe balance $246, didn't bet (folded)
shadysam balance $73.50, lost $3 (folded)
hdouble balance $360, bet $6, collected $15, net +$9
KingpinKilla balance $293, lost $3 (folded)

Wait a minute, where is the chat??? NO NO NO!!! I wasn't able to uncheck the "Muck all uncalled hands" box in time! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!! The agony! The humanity!

Well, that's what I get for reading Sklansky and chatting while DROPPING THE HAMMER. What a travesty.

Ah well. It's not over till The Fat Guy sings, so maybe I'll get one more shot. I'm still livid over this. What a choke. Anyway, that $15 was a nice addition to my $210 win in 75 minutes on a single $3-6 table, for a whopping 28 BB/HR. My hands were holding up, I was sucking out, and I was making bluffs at the right time. I took 46% of my hands to the showdown when I saw the flop, and won 82% of those hands. It's nice when the cards hit you in the head.

You'll notice that I only played one table. This is a change for me, as I've always felt that ABC poker on 2 tables is much more profitable than playing a single table at 100% focus. After analyzing my game, I realized that playing 2 tables just encourages quick, sloppy play. Not only are you reading 20 players when playing 2 tables, you don't have nearly as much time to take in all the variables coming in from the 10 players at a single table. The flow of the game, the mood, and the last hand has a huge influence on the actions of the current hand. These variables get lost in the chase of trying to play 2 hands at once.

In addition, playing 2 tables encourages bad habits. While ABC poker on 2 tables may increase your short term profit, the bad habits you pick up (as a player who is still improving) will hurt your bankroll in the long run.

So after making too many mistakes at Hollywood Park yesterday, I knew I had to tighten up my game. I'm committed to the true grind, a single low-limit table, selecting the best game I can find, and playing as the pot odds dictate. The true winners in the poker world are not the Moneymakers or the Mike McD's, but the real grinders who play the odds. Yeah you take your shot when the odds are good, but not until you've sharpened your game until it's like a razor's edge.

I know I have a lot of room to improve, and I'm going back to the basics. I'm hoping bet counting and a deeper knowledge of pot odds will take my game to the next level. I hit the books today, and was reminded of the following interesting stats:

--Suited connectors are 5:1 to flop a straight OR flush draw or better
--2 suited cards are 8:1 to flop a 4 flush or better (note: this is considerably better than flopping a set, which is 11:1)
--2 sequenced cards are 10:1 to flop a straight draw or better

And the most interesting:
--1 gap suited connectors are 6:1 to flop a straight OR flush draw or better

I also reviewed Abdul's great lecture on the art of sucking out. In the wild, no fold-em 6 or 7 way pots, it's surprising to see some of the draws that you can still call with a positive EV. For example, on a ragged flop with bottom pair, you are getting proper odds to draw to trips or two pair with 6 bets in the pot. Warning: this only works if you are sure your trips or two pair will be the best hand if you hit.

After 25 years in academia, you'd think I'd be able to quickly learn the stuff I read, but I'm finding that going back to Sklansky and Cloutier with more experience under my belt is makes grasping the concepts a lot easier. My long term goal is to get to that $15-30 B&M by building my bankroll, discipline, and knowledge on the lower limit games. By the time I get there, all of the calculation you need to do at the table will be branded into my brain. I have to say thanks to Ignatius, who inspired me to think more critically about my goals and my game. I am looking forward to sharing a few six packs with Iggy after he cashes at this year's WSOP. Yes, I am serious.

Poker Blog Patrol
Yeah, I'm a little slow, but I finally got to Lord Geznikor's blog. Check out his gripping account of his 2nd place finish in a huge party multi. I'm not jealous or anything.

I also made it to The Poker Coder's site... PC, I feel your pain:
"I'm at Party playing dumb *ss poker getting spanked by a bunch of guppies. Actually, I had a 70 pound tuna slap me in the face. I was then kicked in the groin by a group of gold fish. And to top it off, I stayed up way too late on the eve of a very important day. My bankroll took a 50% hit."

Speaking of Bankroll
You gotta love Daniel Negreanu... he does not pull punches, even in his current article for CardPlayer magazine:
"It just wasn’t my day and I can live with that. I went to dinner with Jennifer and Marco and was feeling fine. Somehow, however, on my way to Bellagio, $10,000 dropped out of my pocket, but that’s another story! Some waiter at the Macaroni Grill probably didn’t show up for work the next day, that’s for sure!

That really ticked me off. I mean, how dumb could I be? How could I just drop $10,000 in cash out of my pockets? I truly felt like a sucker."

The joys of living in Hollywood
The waiter at the steak restaurant we hit for dinner actually wished us a hearty "happy golden globes!" before he took our order.

Hope everybody reeled in some big ones this weekend, and thanks for reading!

Pic of the day:
Why pokergods, why???



The Hours

Apologies in advance for the quality of this blog-- I'll do my best, but I am coming off an 8 hour day of poker. 6.5 hours at Hollywood Park and 1.5 on Party $3-6. Not to mention coming off a hangover after giving 2 pints of blood yesterday and drinking a lot more than 2 pints of beer. Not good times.

But there were good times earlier today, as I finally conquered the fish at Hollywood Park: $320 to the good in six and a half hours, for a nice win rate of 4 BB per hour. However, the results were much better than my play. I played too loose, and made 5 or 6 seriously bad plays, and probably lost around $100 with those mistakes. I could make excuses like "I'm tired and hung over", but the truth is I just wasn't at the appropriate concentration level to maximize my profit.

Part of the problem was that the table began as a tricky, aggressive table full of solid players. I dropped nearly $200 in the first three hours, due to a combination of bad beats and bad play. But as the day wore on, a bunch of loose aggressive players sat down (the usual weekend crowd), and I didn't tighten up my hand selection as much as I should have. There were 4 players at the table who would play nearly any two cards, so tight play was right. My problem is that in games like these, I loosen up a bit, because I know my ATo is probably the best hand preflop, since these guys would play any suited and any ace rag. What usually happens is something like this: I flop top pair T, play it hard, and the turn or river will come a J, Q, or K. Instead of slowing down, I'll either bet out or end up calling, and the loose player will show something like J8s or K7s. If I just tighten up my starting hand selection I won't have to deal with tough decisions like that.

Luckily for me, I benefited from a couple players who overplayed their hand badly. I got pocket queens on the button, raised it up (punish the limpers!), and got 3 callers. Flop was Q J 9, beautiful except for the possible straight. I bet out after being checked to, and got 2 callers. The turn was a 9, and it was time to get nutty. I bet out, was reraised, and called by the 2nd limper. Back on me, I figured that the raiser had hit his 9, and the 2nd limper had the straight. Beautiful. I reraised, trying to trap the guy with the straight between me and the raiser. To my amazement, he capped it... could he have pocket 9s? and the limper reluctantly folded. I happily called, and then the raiser smacked his head in some revelation (what did he think I had?), and checked the river. I bet, and he called, turning over 98o, and I showed the queens to rake in a $220 pot. The one eyed man is king in the land of the blind...

So was 6.5 hours enough? No! Saturday night on Party, I had to get in the action. And after playing horribly for 45 minutes (dropping $100), I got some cards and picked up my game, and ended $5 to the good. My head hurts from all the pot odds calculations.

So, my game needs more work than I thought. I'm going to work on some fundamental skills, such as bet counting, and the memorization of the odds for each draw. Not tough stuff, but I am spending too much mental effort doing odds calculations at the table, rather than just calling them up from memory. Flush and straight draws are easy, but overcard draws, or the odds of pairing your kicker, etc. is stuff I need to have memorized.

So which parts of my game need work?
1. Play tight to start, then loosen up if you have a good read on the table (e.g. don't try to sneak in with A7s for one bet when you are in 2nd position).
2. Memorize the odds for all draws, beyond flushes and straights.
3. Make bet counting second nature (in other words, know the pot odds at all times).

Enough of this laziness at the table, I need to put my brain to work.

Poker Blog Patrol
Congrats to Grubby, whose play came to life last night in a sold out DC venue. Poker is great, but I have the utmost respect for the artist who creates something beautiful. I share the Grubster's opinion on ambiguity:

"I tend to write ambiguity into my plays. Theater is more accepting of unanswered questions than film, and I try to take every advantage in this somewhat dying medium."

The audience's interpretation of the art defines the greatness of the art, and a work of art that causes the audience member to tell their own story is the goal of the writer. Ambiguity forces the attentive audience to tell their own story, and as a result, creates a story that touches the audience more than a force-fed moral or lesson.

Back to poker. The Penguin left this comment:

"Anyway, having conquered the hammer myself (see blog for details), I think everyone should start the Hdouble challenge - nothing in it but pride.

The person who has the best results in a month with 88 (ring games only, poker trackered or records on paper) becomes king of the middle pair."

By a twist of fate, at the exact moment I read this, I was dealt 88 and actually won with it (a rarity for me). Before that hand, it was my biggest loser, at a rate of .5 BB per hand. So much for my lucky number. But maybe the Penguin has turned the tide... He seems to be lucky (and good) today, finishing second in a $10 multi, coming back from 9th chip position on the final table. Check out his painful excruciating bad beat on the final hand of the tourney. Ye gads. He also offers a superb breakdown of the meaning of bets in NL tourney hold 'em. Quality writing from PP.

Iggy cracked me up as usual, debating whether to go all-in on an ebay "hot foil stamping machine" contraption, so he could customize his chips for his next tourney:

"I can just picture a drunken Iggy trying to play with that thing. Hilarity would ensue. I'd either burn my house down or lose an appendage."

I can definitely picture Iggy surrounded by a firestorm of melting clay chips, cackling as he pushes all-in with the hammer like some sort of poker Nero.

Pauly is back at Foxwoods, and if anyone missed his screenplay for the Phil Hellmuth show pilot, check out the entry for 1/21. My favorite lines:

"CUT TO: One of the girl's fists attacking Phil's head.

Sorority Poker Player 1: This will teach you to only play premium hands!!"

CJ at Up for Poker dropped the hammer, joining the Penguin and TFG as Hammer winners who don't qualify due to the limit. The resulting chat cracked me up:

cusephenom: It's the HAMMER!
BVGrimley: I wanna know how many notes that generated?
cusephenom: Yep... guess I'm on a few buddy lists now.

Mene Gene gives a detailed lecture on the different species of fish swimming in the Party Ocean:

"The fish I don't like playing against is the Pseudo-Lederer, the player who, when the action comes around, sits there and thinks, and thinks, and thinks..."

This had me laughing, and Howie L can play at all speeds. Anyone catch the speed-chess-like battle between him and Chip Jett, going heads-up for the WPT Limit hold 'em title? Talk about playing fast.

Whew. Bedtime. Hope everybody's Saturday night was both fun and profitable. My first wedding anniversary is coming up tomorrow, but unfortunately Mrs. Double has to work. And no, we are not eating 1 year old cake. Where do they get this stuff?



We're going to California... and Texas... and New York!

I have always believed, and I still believe, that whatever good or bad fortune may come our way we can always give it meaning and transform it into something of value.
--Hermann Hesse

I really like writing this blog, but man, it takes a lot of effort to try to get a good post up every day. So I want to thank all my fellow bloggers who bleed and sweat on the keyboard pounding out post after post, day after day. Iggy said it best:

"Damn, you are only as good as your last post. And I keep pounding em out. It takes effort to put these rambling posts together. I may need a sabbatical soon."

Amen. Thanks to everybody pounding em out (uhh, the blogs, that is), you make my work day a lot more fun.

I didn't play today, so this post will probably be on the weak-tight side, but I do have a few things I think are worth writing about. I did play some last night, but I was just playing a single table and watching "American Idol" at the same time, so my concentration level was probably at about 30% of what it should be. I did manage to turn in a small profit in my hour of play, but most of the profit came from the ole Big Blind specials-- I flopped two pair in the BB twice, and made the table pay. I definitely have problems playing at a single table of $3-6 or lower, because the poker is so straightforward that I get bored easily. I should be working on my game, putting people on hands, and just absorbing the pattern of the game and storing it in memory for later use.

I've always been hesitant playing 2 tables at once, because you lose a lot of information, and therefore potential profit. Of course, if the poker is straightforward, even if you're playing at 75% of your optimum level, you still increase your profit by 50%.

The problem with this is that the players in the LA B&M games are considerably worse than those online. The $15-30 B&M games out here play like the $3-6 online games, and I've always viewed my online play as a training ground for these games. Well, a training ground and a place to build the bankroll. I need to put in the hours grinding at two tables of $3-6 to build up enough bank to get into these super soft B&M games. At 1.5 BB an hour on each table (tough, but I believe it's possible), that's $18 an hour. So after 200 hours, that's $3600, which would give me enough to play at the limit I want. Continuing the math here, if I was able to play 20 hours a week (if I was a real player), I could do it in only 10 weeks. Of course, this only works if lady variance treats me well. But looking at PokerTracker, I'm only averaging a little over an hour a day for the last 3 months. With my B&M hours, that puts me at about 10-13 hours a week.

13 hours ain't nothin, but it's not enough. I really would like to play more, but work has been kicking my ass lately, and I just haven't had the energy to endure the grind. But I do feel my discipline has gotten better, and my feel for the game is still improving, so hopefully I can increase my hours. I should probably just finish my damn book and cut down on poker, but I just can't help myself-- too many fish in the PartyPoker sea.

Six Degrees of Hammeration
Lots of hammer news. I'm a bit appalled that THE HAMMER has gotten its own section in a post, but this story is just too good to pass up.

In a previous post, I told you about my boy R-Dub, an up and coming poker star in Virginia. Today, R-Dub offered up this story (tighten up your seat belt):

"Alright I got a weird hammer story for you... Some guys from my tournament and some that live around got a 4-8 game going last night, pretty big for being mostly students, but a few of the better players couldn't make it, and it was real soft. About halfway through the night, a guy shows up who just started playing a few months ago, real easy to get a read on. He's also the type to remember any kind of beat you put on him, and complain and shit. All fold to me, I look down at a 72o in the small blind, and i've got to play it. One for the implied tilt odds, two because i think i can play any two cards against this guy for profit. So I raise it, he 3 bets from the big blind. I'm worried about a big pair, but that's even better if i can crack it... Flop is Q82, i check and call. Q on the turn, I'm ready to lay it down thinking i've only got 2 outs... He checks behind me and I'm sure he has AK. Blank on the river, I value bet my 27, he agonizes and calls with AK, which he always will. I show my 27, he starts with his usual shit, but this other guy at the table interrupts him by saying "Dropping the Hammer!"

So i ask him why it's called the hammer, since the only other place i'd heard that was from you... He says he used to play in this game in northern virginia, there was a player there who's last name was hammer. And he made some incredible bluff once with the 72, like he called the whole way with nothing and check raised all-in on the end, and from that day on they all called the hand "The Hammer"."

WOW! I don't think that quite qualifies for TFG's Tertiary Adjunct to the Hammer Challenge, but could this actually be the true origin of THE HAMMER??? I know Grubby is currently in DC, but could this be the same source of the naming of the mighty 72o?

Meme Evolution Diagram:

Johnny Hammer --> Grubby --> HDouble --> RDub --> Guy at RDub's Game
(N. Virginia) --> (DC) --> (LA) --> (VA) --> (VA)

I lost twice with the hammer last night, although I threw in a total of 8 big bets desperately trying to push people off of hands. Ironically, I flopped two pair with 72s in the BB, and was punished when a guy turned the dead man's hand for aces up. The hammer is hitting me over the head.

Check out Poker Penguin's full house with the hammer. He was even able to get a response out of the table. But luckily he was playing .50/1, so it's not an official victory.

Ugh. Just spent 15 minutes scrolling through horrible RGP posts. Where have you gone, Abdul Jalib, poker nation turns its lonely eyes to you...

I was amused to read about another hand that apparently is competing with the Hammer for popularity:

Finally, I found a good RGP post, which discusses the good and bad about my favorite poker tool (it's how I learned to play), Turbo Texas Hold 'Em. The big hole in TTH is that computer players are unable to use pot size in making decisions. For all of you programming geeks (like me) out there (Halverson and TFG, this means you), note the comparison between Programming Language generations and the Poker Simulator generations.

Time for bed. Keep up the great blogs and stay focused.

Pic of the day:
This is what it looks like when you drop the hammer



"I always raise with pocket sevens!"

I have always believed, and I still believe, that whatever good or bad fortune may come our way we can always give it meaning and transform it into something of value.
--Hermann Hesse

I type happily tonight, coming off of my 3rd straight winning session after diving into the $5-10 6 max games. Grubby's insistence that these games are soft inspired me to put in some work on these tables, along with reading about David Ross's $60,000 journey through the same waters. As John Feeney points out, if there are 2 fish at a 6 person table, this is somewhat like having 4 fish at a full ring game. Since bluffing is much more likely in a short handed game, players are forced to call you down more often, so the mistakes of the fish are greatly magnified.

My short 30 minute session at the shorthanded tables netted me $116, or 23 BB/HR. Obviously, table selection is crucial in shorthanded games, because one additional bad player increases your profit exponentially. If I had an unlimited bankroll, I think I'd exclusively play the shorthanded games. Reading hands, psychology, and quick thinking is constantly in play in these games, and you can still play a single table and not get bored (I still don't understand how Grubby plays 2).

I also played a 1 hour session on the $3-6 tables, getting crushed on one table and doing quite well on the other, putting me even after the hour. On the good table, I received 7 pocket pairs in 9 hands, including a streak of 5 pocket pairs in a row (a new record for me). Unfortunately I only won 2 of these hands (AA and JJ). Coincidentally, I was playing this table with my buddy, who demanded a tithe for the inordinate amount of luck he brought. I was ready to give it to him, until he cracked my KK when he turned 2 pair with his JTs from the BB.

Yesterday I was able to collect $105 in profit after a 40 minute session on 2 $3-6 tables. Typical tight aggressive grinding-- I won 5 pots out of the 90 hands I played, but of course I played aggressively, and they were big pots.

No hammers to speak of, although I have gotten 72 suited a couple times. I'm at the point where I'm tempted to hammer away with 62o or 83o and type HAMMER JR! upon victory. Perhaps the brilliant Hammer Challenge creator could devise some sort of "crap hand tourney" where separate crap hands get different points based on their crappiness.

So my last 3 sessions have put $440 of profit in my pocket, and I feel like I'm handling the grind better. My game is steadier... as I acquire more bad beats and losing sessions, I am better able to psychologically handle the moods of the poker gods. A great poker player has an unflinching faith in his abilities, and the ability to ruthlessly evaluate his play without bias. Practice, study, develop yourself as a player-- and then do not doubt yourself when the cards go cold.

Poker Blog Patrol
Ok, link of the year goes to Iggy (who else), with Phil Hellmuth trashing his blog. Don't believe me? Check it out... people at work were looking at me funny when I was rolling on the floor laughing.

My man Paul had a tough night at the Ho Chunk Casino, but I'm impressed that he stayed off tilt even when his SO was chirping in his ear. He learned what is (sadly) perhaps the most important rule of the poker trip:
"Don't bring anyone along who isn't also going to be playing poker."

Mr. Halverson writes that scared money will not win. He also mentions that he will probably be heading to Vegas for his younger bro's bachelor party. Be sure to ram and jam on all streets Chris... THE HAMMER in big time NL tourneys is also on the menu... I remember hearing that 72o is well known to be a big bluff hand for many years now, and players will often use this hand as an excuse to try a bluff.

I really enjoyed the Penguin's discussion of Multi-tables vs. Ring Games. I have been pondering this question for a long time, and I'm still on the fence as to how profitable multis are. I agree with PP-- if you have the patience and discipline to play the multis, they are probably the way to go. Personally, I like the action, so 2 limit rings allow me to play on the order of 10 times more hands, and a steadier profit. But I think I'll eventually end up in the multis...

Royal lets us in on his PokerTracker analysis after 6K hands at .50/1. I was comforted by his finding that 99 was his biggest loser, since 88 (my football number) is by far my biggest loser. While the win percentage is 19% with 88, I'm losing .66 BB with it on average. Explanation: it's just big enough to be an overpair on the flop, but small enough to get trumped on the turn or the river. Correction: do not play 88 past the flop on a loose table, and if played on a tight table, play it very aggressively to eliminate potential callers.

Felicia Lee showed her toughness today-- she made it to her usual NL tourney after a little afternoon surgery. I've had two knee constructions and a metal plate put in my hand, so I have much respect for those who taste the knife. No, I have yet to set off a metal detector... Felicia also had this comment for yesterday's post:

"I wish I could come sweat you in a B&M session. Maybe you could come over to Laughlin sometime?"

Forgive me Felicia, but if I was trying to get a poker diva in the sack, those are probably the lines I would use...

TFG, who had the mind-blowing experience of reading about his own blog in the Southwest Airline Magazine, had this comment about the article's author:
"So, 'Chris Tucker', if you're still reading this, here's what I have to say: You lousy sumbuck!
In typical bad journalist fashion, the author focuses on TFG's non-existent spelling errors to make his crappy article more interesting. I think TFG should drop the hammer on 'em! Anyway the famous blogger asked about casinos in Brazil after yesterday's pic of the day, which featured a Brazilian female poker star. I'm not sure if they do, but apparently there are plenty of backdoor flushes to go around.

We're reaching new lows here.

Pic of the day:
Search algorithms gone wild



Don't call it a comeback

"Now that Fortuna had saved him from one cycle, where would she spin him now? The new cycle would be so different from anything he had ever known."
--John Kennedy O'Toole, Confederacy of Dunces

Just chain me to my PC and never let me back in the B&M. After losing my shirt-- actually, I think my most expensive shirt is $30, so let me rephrase-- after losing 10 shirts at Hollywood Park, the cards smacked me in the head and I managed to walk away with $260 in 1 hour and 20 minutes last night. For some reason I'm missing $50 of profit on PokerTracker, since the auto-request seems to have failed once (this is the first time that's happened-- maybe it was on party's end?). But the BB/HR is up there at a whopping 25 BB/Hr.

I was 9 for 13 showing down, and had 6 two pair hands, a flush, and a full house. And did I get some cards.

starting_hand    times_dealt    win_pct    amt_won
AQo    2    100    49
KTs    1    100    39
TT    1    100    37.5
AJs    1    100    37
KQo    1    100    28
QJo    2    50    20
AKo    1    100    20
AA    1    100    18
86s    1    100    14.5
QQ    1    100    14.5
99    1    100    14
K7o    2    50    10
JTo    1    100    6

A grinder's dream. Note I even hit on my 86s and one of my K7o blind hands. The sad thing was I didn't feel like I was focused the entire time, but my cards were so good it didn't matter. I did make a couple of good calls, and a couple well-timed bluffs, but the old saying "it's better to be lucky than good" certainly applied.

I took pleasure in busting out two short stacked players who were tilting their money away. I ended up calling them down with small pairs, and of course they were trying to buy the pot. Each of these dying fish added $40 to my profits, so most of my winnings came from simply calling these guys down on the 6 pots I was in with them. This brings us to the simple corollary that I'm sure most of you have already figured out:

Unless a player has proven him/herself as solid, if that player has less than 9 BB on a Party Table, the probability that they are running a bluff is much higher than usual.

I suggest doing everything you can to get these short stackers heads up, which is usually relatively easy-- the tilter raises early, allowing you to make it 2 bets to go, making it much more expensive for later callers. Obviously the table's texture might prevent you from isolating the short stack, but if you think a raise might knock the others out, it's usually worth a shot.

Here's an example:
***** Hand History for Game 341773724 *****
Table Ice Cream (Real Money) -- Seat 3 is the button
Total number of players : 10
Seat 1: Conejo ( $47)
Seat 2: LTGambi ( $9)
Seat 3: markarian7 ( $146.50)
Seat 4: elvislives_ ( $301)
Seat 5: hdouble ( $173.50)
Seat 6: FeelGoodFern ( $210)
Seat 7: loubrdar ( $140)
Seat 8: Mgraw ( $63.50)
Seat 9: John549 ( $175)
Seat 10: bbadon ( $175)
hdouble posts small blind (1)
FeelGoodFern posts big blind (3)
** Dealing down cards **
Dealt to hdouble [ 9h, 9d ]
Mgraw folds.
John549 folds.
bbadon calls (3)
Conejo folds.
LTGambi calls (3)
markarian7 folds.
hdouble calls (2)
FeelGoodFern checks.
** Dealing Flop ** : [ As, 3h, Ac ]
hdouble checks.
FeelGoodFern checks.
bbadon checks.
LTGambi bets (3)
hdouble raises (6) to 6
FeelGoodFern folds.
bbadon folds.
LTGambi calls (3)
LTGambi calls all-In.
** Dealing Turn ** : [ 8s ]
** Dealing River ** : [ 5c ]
Creating Main Pot with $23 with LTGambi
** Summary **
Main Pot: $23 | | Rake: $1
Board: [ As 3h Ac 8s 5c ]
Conejo balance $47, didn't bet (folded)
LTGambi balance $0, lost $9 [ 8c 7h ] [ two pairs, aces and eights -- As,Ac,8c,8s,7h ]
hdouble balance $187.50, bet $9, collected $23, net +$14 [ 9h 9d ] [ two pairs, aces and nines -- As,Ac,9h,9d,8s ]

Short stacks make for easy prey.

Grubby and Ignatius T. have turned me on to David Ross, and his latest rush makes mine look like one of Donnie McNabb's passes. Check out his latest post on 2+2:

Then the most amazing thing happened. I went on a rush like I’ve never had before. Between 1:00 AM and 4:00 AM I won back everything I had lost that day finishing up $14 for the day. Over $1,200 in 3 hours. And it didn’t end there. Thursday saw me win another $1,616 and Friday another $1,502. From 1:00 AM Thursday morning until 4:00 AM Saturday morning that’s $4,400 in 19 hours of play. Over $200 / hr. Just an incredible feeling. Flopped quads on one hand (666 on board) and got all kinds of action from 2 pocket pairs. In a 4 way pot the final board was 5 6 7 8 9, I had the button with JT and the UTG guy bet into me, everyone called hoping for a chop and I got a raise in which they all called. If I was ahead on the flop I stayed ahead, and if I was behind I hit the river. I made so many sets on the river after being raised on the turn it was crazy. I also called down some outrageous bluffs.

No I'm not jealous. The guy has made 52K in 9 months playing full time. Note that the rush happened at 1-4 AM on Saturday night. Primetime!!! If I ever go pro (10% probability?), I will play from 6 to 3 AM (9 hour shift) on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights. The players are just so much worse then.

I need to think it out more, but my intuition tells me that you need to loosen up your starting standard BIG TIME in games where you can be sure that 6 or more players will see the flop. The implied odds go through the roof, and it seems like you can get away with suited queens and longshot suited connectors, like T8s. A lot of the poker literati will tell you that expert players often go too far by loosening up their starting standards, but this seems wrong to me in big multiway pots. Hopefully I can stumble through the math or better yet, run the turbo sims, and see how this plays out.

If I had a hammer...
Well it looks like my boy Paul took down the Hammer Challenge II. Congrats Paul. I still want to see more trash talking. When you drop the hammer, they gotta hear about it! Unfortunately I didn't get to swing it last night, although I did get 72 suited twice. It appears Jason isn't worried about me taking the third hammer, since he's thrown down the gauntlets and challenged Paul to go double-hammer-or-nothing in his blog. I haven't been able to log as many online hours as I want to (too busy blogging!), so I suppose I'm not destined to drop it. We'll see...

Thanks to Tommy, Peyton, Donnie, Jake, and you too Coy
I managed to go 3-1 on my conference championship bets, losing one of my 2 prop bets and winning my two spread bets. Peyton played awful, and most of it was due to his inability to read Belichek's constantly changing defensive formations. The Pats offense actually played quite badly in this game, and Brady seemed determined to choke, making a huge mistake (I can't remember seeing the last time he made a mistake) by throwing a pick in the endzone that would have put the game away.

McNabb couldn't suck it up when it counted, and was a disappointment after last week's stellar performance. Where was the fire Donnie? I'm still bitter after Mike Vick dominated him in last year's playoffs, losing me lots of money in the process. In his defense, he was coming off a broken leg, but D Mac, you gotta step up in those games.

Jake D has gotten a lot of crap all year, but I think he isn't that bad. He doesn't make all that many mistakes, and he's made a lot of tough throws throughout the playoffs. He reminds me of Brady in his rookie year, or perhaps a more accurate version of Trent Dilfer in the Raven's SuperBowl run. Delhomme won't win you the game, but he probably won't make any mistakes that cost you the game either. He is a little bit too excited for my taste, but some guys like a fired up QB.

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.

Buy that man a Guinness
No blog pimping today, except for a shout out to THE KING. Ignatius has been offering us poor souls great links, theory, and everything else poker consistently for a long time. It's a lot of work to write a good blog every day, and I'm grateful that he's opened my eyes up to some great reading. If I ran a 50 player tourney, you'd probably see one-sentence blogs from old HDouble for at least a week. Here's to hoping the buy-ins for the tourneys he's running can raise enough money to get him in the Big One... I want a piece of that action.

Pic of the day:
Ignatius revealed!




No, I'm not talking about Sklansky and Malmuth. Yours truly was whipped into submission on the $6-12 tables at Hollywood Park, dropping $300 over 7 hours. There were plenty of calling stations, and of course that makes for plenty of bad beats. My stack fluctuated wildly, going down to -200 all the way up to +70, and then a series of terrible beats sent me home with an empty wallet.

Looking at my notes, I see that my last session at HP was 6 weeks ago, on 11/22 for a loss of $350. The only note I have says: "bad beat city". The beats I took yesterday were just awful, and for all the grinders out there at .50/1, I don't know how you can handle it. Looking back at my play yesterday, I think I only misplayed two hands, and one of the few positive things that came out of the session was my ability to stay sharp for the entire 7 hours and avoid tilt. There's no way I could sit in front of the comp for 7 hours (unless I'm working), and it felt good to have a solid session of poker. Once you're immersed in the game, it's a lot more fun, even if you are taking some many bad beats.

The players were pretty bad. I ended up moving tables about halfway through the session when my first table tightened up. Both tables were about evenly divided between calling stations, and tricky, loose-aggressive players who would often raise on the come, and punish you when they actually had (or hit) a hand. The 3 or 4 calling stations combined into one giant fish, and usually end up biting my head off. I felt like Gandalf going into battle against a horde of orcs, destroying most of them but taking a knife in the back from an unseen foe.

I tried to keep notes on the interesting hands, and here is the list I came up with:

1. AQ in the SB, Q flops. River is T, beat by 2 pair by a guy with QT. This was the second hand of the night.
2. AA cracked by J9s for the straight on the turn
3. 42 BB, flop A 2 3, turn 3, river 4, guy wins 55 for the wheel.
4. Limp UTG with 88, flop 3 3 7, I bet, raised on turn, I muck, he shows J3o
5. Missed on three open straight draws...
6. AQ, flop Q 7 5, turn 7, I get reraised and fold, she shows 75o
7. Overplay JJ, guy 3 bets it, flop Q T rag, he check raises and I call to river-- he shows AA. This was one of the two seriously bad plays I made.
8. Last hand-- KJ, call UTG, 2 callers. Checked to river, K, guy turns over 6 8 for a straight he hit on the turn.

1. Hit a straight on the turn with 78s
2. pocket 6s, flop K 6 6 w 2 hearts, I bet out 3 players muck. The calling stations decide to fold when I have quads, how nice. Pot was around 4 SB.
3. TT overpair raising the whole way, guy also has TT (Split pot)
4. I crack AA with 65s in the BB, flop is 4 5 8, turn 6
4. AQ-- Board Q 9 9 K Q, guy bets out on the flop, I reraise. I bet the whole way, he shows QT (split pot).
5. 88- flop 8 A rag, I slowplay heads up.
6. AJ, J flops, I win.
7. AJ again UTG, J flops and one guy calls to the river. A Pot Limit player who just sat down to my left said he mucked AK on the flop.
8. QQ holds up when K hits on river.

Poker Gods, why hast thou forsaken me?
None of the above hands would have really mattered if I had won the biggest pot of the night, which went down like this:

5 limpers, I look at AQs in the SB, and raise it up, and everyone calls, so there are 6 BBs in the pot pre-flop. The flop is no good for me: T J 7 with none of my suit, so I check it and a guy in middle position bets. Everybody calls, and I know the pot is laying me the correct odds for my gutshot, since people are tied to the pot at this point. I call, and the guy to my left check raises, making it 2 bets. The first bettor reraises, but everyone still calls, so I reluctantly throw in 2 more bets, knowing that only the King can save me. The pot now has 15 BBs ($180), and we haven't even hit the turn. The turn is... THE KING OF CLUBS!!! I manage to keep my poker face, and check raise when the early bettor bets out. There is no possible flush on the board, so the early bettor has either a set of jacks, a set of tens, or JT. He calls the check raise, along with one other player, so now 21 BBs ($252) in the pot. I think I heard the poker gods booming laughter in my ears as the river paired the board with a ten, and the bettor immediately bet out. I sadly called, asking "are you full?" as he turned over JTo and raked in the $300 pot to give me my answer.

I would have been a lot happier if he had won with a set of jacks or tens, but he's got 4 cards in the deck that he can win with (10%), and he hits one of them. The 90% favorite goes down hard, and turns a winning night into a losing one. You gotta love poker. Again, this is why we need a 300BB bankroll-- to survive the cruel strokes of fate.

The annoying thing about the long session yesterday was that there was relatively little skill involved. I picked up several tells, but it didn't really matter. With the pots being so large, it was pretty much ABC ram and jam poker. I remember a guy in middle position showed down 53o for the 6 high straight, which he gutshotted on the river, and called a raise preflop with. The guy to my left asked me "was that suited?" as a serious question, implying that 53s is ok to call a raise with.

Time to go back to the masters of wild games, Izmet and Abdul, so I can "enjoy loose games" a little bit more.

Poker Blog Patrol
A blog that has been around for a while but I haven't discovered until today: Paulsburbon, where you can go to find the best hard liquor out there, as well as some great chat. Check out Paul's chat after sucking out on a fish:

maxi27: you have to be KIDDING
maxi27: \ODO
Paulsburbon: should have folded that bottom pair against me...
Paulsburbon: ;)
maxi27: KEEP IT UP
Paulsburbon: Draw being the most important word there
Dealer: Akos, it's your turn. You have 15 seconds to act
Dealer: Player Akos has requested TIME
Paulsburbon: and I took the pot... it happens
Paulsburbon: nh
Dealer: Paulsburbon has two pair, Kings and Nines
Dealer: maxi27 has two pair, Tens and Nines
Dealer: Game #217135443: Paulsburbon wins pot (3360) with two pair, Kings and Nines
Dealer: maxi27 finished the tournament in 11th place
Paulsburbon: luck wins again
jukebox: thats the game

I've been reading Table Tango for a while, but I didn't discover Linda's Book of Tales until today. I've only made my way through about half of them, but I recommend all of these to everyone. There are some excellent poker lessons in here, lessons that go beyond pot odds and table image. Check out Linda's musings about the big name players created by the media.

Next mention goes to TFG, who is back on the tables with a vengeance. Go check out his win with seven-deuce offsuit, which unfortunately (for him) didn't qualify for the HAMMER CHALLENGE because it was at the .50/1 level (read the rules carefully!). TFG also confesses that he has been playing Strat-o-matic baseball with his buddy Otis for years... I had the board game back in 87, and the computer game in 90, but I figured most folks had moved on to bigger and better baseball sims by now.

A late congrats goes out to Jason at Stick-and-move who took down the first hammer challenge. Of course I am jealous, and he's also got cool images on his site, which made me even more jealous. I guess I'll have to win the second one.

I have to put in a complaint to both TFG and Jason that there is not enough smack being talked upon dropping the hammer. Let me tell you, if HD ever drops it, I will goad the table for at least a couple orbits before relenting.

Also, one of my favorite poker bloggers talks about life as a playwright, and has a one-act showing in DC soon. If I had the cash, I'd fly out and check it out, and repeatedly bellow "HAMMER!" at the top of my lungs immediately upon the play's conclusion. Grubs had the misforgute of busting out in the big Saturday tourney when his AQ went down in flames to AK.

Reading about OJ's night at the $10-20 game at the Mirage was somewhat comforting, after coming off a similar night last night at HP. It was even more comforting to know that he booked a big win in his next session at Ocean's Eleven in SD.

Boy Genius continues to blog like there is no tomorrow, and explains how he dominated his home game NL tourney. Congrats my man.

Peyton, you're just another pawn in Belichek's game
The Pats are busy dropping the hammer on the Colts. Those Boston boys are some tough MFs. They have pounded the hell out of the Colts all game, and the Pats O-line is mandhandling people. Billy B has blown Peyton's mind, and I can't even explain how brilliant Belichek's schemes are. I just wish I had put down more cash on them. I might have to push all-in in the superbowl and let it ride on the Pats. Two guys I would never want to play poker against-- Bill Belichek and Tom Brady.

Side note: Daniel Graham, the TE for the Pats, is the TE whose game most resembles mine. Expect big things out of this guy (he had a couple big drops last week and cost me a win in the sportsbook, but besides that he has been impressive). He is big, athletic, and runs great routes, and goes an excellent job blocking, unlike Shockey or Shannon Sharpe. If I'd ever sold out and used roids, I like to think I'd be doin the stuff that Graham is doing.

Fun with keywords
My last blog entry had several references to Paris Hilton. I noticed that the ads at the top of my blog today were in French! Nice work Google theoreticians. Just for fun, I'm going to see if I can get Swedish ads with the following text:
"Jag ska vinna alla penga pa Globen Casino i Stockholm". Translation: I'm going to win all the money at the Stockholm Casino. I wish I could say something more interesting, but my Swedish sucks. More likely it will pick up on the "S&M" in the blog title, which is probably more fun anyway...

Chips anyone?
I got an email from Stephan, who runs a poker chip site. He seems like a nice guy, and the chips look really nice, so I've linked up to him. I'm still using plastic chips that I bought at Target, but if I ever win a tourney I'll probably buy this set.



Hit me Paris

Thanks to everybody for the comments about the Vegas trip. I especially enjoyed TFG's take:

How could you not let the fat girls buy you a drink? That's bad karma,
dude. They would have been talking about it for years.

When I'm sitting at the WPT final table it will be a shame if those girls
have to say "We tried to buy that guy a drink!". Unfortunately I probably
destroyed my only chance of making it by ruining my karma.

Back to reality... I busted out 6th last night in a $30 SNG, but I don't think
I played that badly. On the good side, I caught up with my old buddy R-DUB
(no relation), a rising poker star who's tearing up the tourneys at a major
college campus. He's a math major, and taking game theory courses, so his
game is only going to get better. Anyway, just after I sat down R-DUB appeared
across the table, which I was not happy about, but at least I'd be losing my chips
to someone I liked.

The table was pretty tight, and with 6 players left I had 1100 chips. I think
I'd won 2 hands, and stole a couple blinds. I got A8o one off the button
(blinds at 200/400), and when everybody folded to me I popped it up 600,
hoping for everyone to fold. But R-Dub on the SB pushed in the rest of his chips,
and was all in for 600. Not a good sign, especially when the board came K T 5
Q 9 (why can't party show the all-ins right away? it really annoys me), and
R-Dub took down 1200 chips with KQo.

In the BB I got to see a free flop with K3o, and when the flop came T 3 6, I
pushed in and collected 400 more chips to get me back to 800 when everybody
folded. The BB was 400, so I needed to catch a hand, and immediately got
pocket tens in the SB. Everyone folded to me, and I couldn't have been happier
to push my chips in, hoping the BB would call what looked like a steal and
I could double up. BB called all in for 400 more, and the flop came Jh 8d 9h...
I like it! The turn was Th, giving me trips, but putting the heart flush out there...
and the river the 4h, and I figured the Ace of hearts would knock me out.

I would have been happier if he did have a flush? Guess the winner-- Ad 7c for
the straight! Beautiful.

R-Dub went on to bust out in 4rth, so my chips didn't even contribute to a
good cause. Ah well, at least I got my chips in when I was a BIG favorite.
I'm not really bitter.

After the tourney R-Dub offered up his Party SNG theory, which explains why the
$30 SNGs have the highest EV:

To win a SNG, you need to be able to steal some blinds
once it hits 100-200. You just can't do it in the $10-- even if I have the best of it,
my A8 gets beat by some dope with a KQ and you're done. But in the 30's, you've still
got enough loose players to go broke and make dead money, but once you get
down to 4 or 5, it's 3 or 4 tight players which allows you steal and build up your
stack to put you in good position to win it.

I'm hoping R-Dub will start a blog, but I guess he's too busy winning.

Poker Blog Patrol

As you see I'm experimenting with new colors. It's been a while since I've gotten
to check out some new blogs, and there are a couple of good ones that I'm adding
to my daily list.

Londonfroggy pointed out "Poker & Devotion", a new blog from a
female poker dealer. You know you love poker when you can deal it 12 hours a day, play it,
and write about it.

Iggy introduced me to "Knowing When to Hold 'Em", a new blog from a low-limit grinder and apparently a Kenny Rogers fan. I'm happy I get to follow a newcomers
progress as he overcomes the same challenges that I fought through.

OJ offers some great tales and insights to the middle limits. He's honest and he plays in games in my area, so he's on my daily list.

As far as the old timers go, I am very grateful to Chris Halverson, who had
the time to copy and mail the WSOP on DVD. It arrived in the mail today, so
my non-espn-getting ass finally gets to see the whole tourney. I've seen bits
and pieces while playing at Hollywood Park, but it will be nice to see the
Moneymaker run in all of its glory. Thanks Chris! Hopefully that'll give you
some karma and unfreeze the cards you're getting.

Liquid Swords has been on a terrible run, but the good news is that he'll be working on his Poker Comics while he rests his mouse finger.

The Grubster continues his insane dedication to the $5-10 shorthanded games, which in my opinion are the toughest games on Party. He also let me know that
he'll be in town in a few weeks, so I'm going to have to drop the hammer on
him at the lovely Hawaiian Gardens casino. The hammer challenge is now up to
$15, so it's still a losing proposition, but hopefully I'll get another crack
at it tonight.

Pauly is booking tickets for Phish in Vegas. That sounds like a bad combination to me. Maybe they'll jam with Celine in the Colosseum.

Londonfroggy is back representing the Brits with multiple daily blogs.

Felicia took 4rth in a 50 player NL tourney, and continues to gain points towards getting in the WPT. I hope she makes it, even if she's not quite as
hot as the sexy Hon Le.

Boy Genius continues write pages and pages of quality material, and nearly took the precious hammer down. I can barely keep up, but don't miss his great
and wide ranging posts.

TFG nearly chopped off his thumb, hopefully not out of spite-- I know I have
had the temptation when my mouse finger uncontrollably calls a check raise
with when the third flush card hits on the river.

Mean Gene continues his presidential campaign, but the rumor is that the Republicans are saying he's too angry to be president. Apparently they have video of him
smashing his keyboard after losing to THE HAMMER.

And Royal gives tips on how to teach your newborn hold 'em while winning a $200 NL tourney qualifier.

Don't you wish you lived near Beverly Hills?

I probably came as close to hitting the jackpot as I ever will walking to
lunch at work yesterday. As we were crossing the street, a black Mercedes
SUV rolled up, and I was staring at Paris Hilton, who was 2 feet in front of
me. I yelled to my co-worker "Push me in front of that car!", but the
driver sped up, and blew threw the stop sign before I could wedge myself under the tire.
Man that girl is ugly.


Fish Fry

When we left off, yours truly was in Primm Valley Nevada, comforting himself with a whiskey after losing a huge pot when his rockets got cracked. But I wasn't worried... the combination of a true maniac and a bunch of calling stations made for a very profitable table at the legendary Buffalo Bill's poker room.

The maniac was 3 players to my left, and had about 4 racks in front of him. He raised the maximum nearly every single hand, and there would usually be 3 or more callers, so I limited my hands to suited connectors, any pair, and AT or above, since this was the type of table to play any ace. The hands that were shown down were unbelievable. One player would show Ace high nearly every showdown after calling 2 $6 bets.

Taking a page from Pauly, here's the lineup:

pretty 40 year old lady
guy with sunglasses
young confused redhead guy
another old guy
old guy from utah
one-legged old guy: "coach"
drunk guy

After mucking for a while I picked up big slick offsuit in late position. A trouble hand, since it does very badly in large multiways, so I hoped that someone in front of me would raise so I could make it $12 to see the flop. Maniac just called the $2 blind, as well as everyone else at the table. But a drunk, 40 year old guy to my right popped it up to 8, allowing me to make it $14 and chase off the people who understood what mucking was. (Note: this guy would order a cocktail, the waitress would walk away, and 3 seconds later he would shout "cocktail!" again. When someone reminded him that he'd just ordered, he would pause and say "Yeah I know I ordered, I just want the drinks to actually come!" (pause) "I like the come!") The BB called 12 more, and maniac reraised to 20 for the cap. Drunk guy called, and we had a 4-way, $90 pot.

Flop was no good for me-- J 8 4 or something like that, and I had to calculate my odds for drawing. With 6 outs I needed around 4 to 1 on my money to call, which I got after maniac bet, and everyone limped. I feel like calling with overcards is usually a mistake against good players, but in this case, I was happy to call.

The cowboy rode through on the turn, giving me my money card. A little check raise, and everyone folded except the maniac, who also called my river bet after a harmless river card fell. I was raked the monster pot and quickly forgot about those cracked aces. It actually took me two entire hands to stack the chips. In addition, it appeared that the maniac was only a preflop maniac. He didn't seem to raise often on the turn or river, which made it easier to play against him.

This tendency saved me a few bucks when I flopped top pair Queens with KQ suited, and had two callers the whole way. The river put a runner-runner flush on the board, and I value bet and both called. Old guy to my left showed QJ, and maniac showed... 74 diamonds for the runner-runner. He didn't have a pair or a straight draw either. But why the hell wouldn't you raise?

But Party has taught me how to deal with the old runner-runner flush. At least with party most of the hands are mucked and you don't have to see what's going on. But I began to feel sorry for this clueless collection of imposter poker players. They acted like they knew the game, and must have had some experience, because they knew how to bet (they still hadn't learned how to fold yet, but that's ok). I don't think there's any way that any of them had read a poker book. And I felt my killer instinct fading away, feeling like I was playing against pop warner football players rather than people who have played the game for years and years. But as I was dealt rockets for the second time, the pity faded away.

They held up this time. And the calling stations did their job, and my chip pyramid had grown large. I was up 100 at this point, but since I lost my original buy in I had 300 chips on the table. The maniacs had lost 2 of his racks, and had one left.

The biggest pot of the night? The dead man's hand. I got A8o in the blind (there was a single $2 blind) and decided to call in a 7 way pot for $6 more. The flop was 8 Q 6, and I checked, maniac raised, and several people called in between. Semi-maniac to my right (I'll call him coach) reraised, and I had to decide whether I wanted to call $12 with middle pair. I figured that none of these guys had trips, since people were capping it preflop with nearly any pair, so if I paired my Ace I was good. I called, and of course maniac reraised. Luckily for me, a bunch of players tagged along, so my odds weren't as bad as they could have been. The pot was gigantic at this point, so I made the call... and what do you think the turn was?

A silver bullet, giving me Aces and Eights. I bet out again, thinking my hand was now best, and maniac reraised again. Everyone dropped except for coach, who made it 3 bets. I was wed to the monster pot at this point, so made the crying call. I checked the river, which was a Jack, and called as maniac and coach called a truce on there raise war. I sadly flipped my Aces up, expecting trip queens or trip 6s, or most likely AQ. But maniac flipped over Q6o, and coach also showed Q6! The dealer pushed a mountain of over 200 chips to me, and I piled them up in disbelief. Maniac yelled "rebuy!" angrily, as the old guys eyed the pot and said "nice hand!". Where the hell was I???

Anyway, at this point I began to feel sorry for these saps. I paid the $2 blind for the old guys and the drunk guy for 2 orbits, and my rush continued when I squeezed out pocket aces in late position. 3 times in 3 hours! It was around 2 at this point, and despite the rush, I was running out of steam. The ABC poker was putting me to sleep, but rockets have a way of waking you up. The drunk guy was taking some vicious beats, and I muttered "fold" to him under my breath. But he raised me, so I reraised him, and he called me all the way to the river. I collected another monster pot, as he sadly said "I knew what ya had. But if I hit my third jack..."

The worst thing about it was that no one respected my raises. I sat there for 4 hours playing quality hands, and I've got 500 chips in front of me, but you still won't respect my raise. You gotta love calling stations.

My stack was up to 750 at this point, and I was running out of energy. There were two chubby, drunk looking girls watching the game from the rail for around an hour. They were looking over my shoulder, and I leaned back, initiating what turned out to bed the funniest conversation of the night. My wife had gone to bed long ago, which may have been the reason they were sweating me (why couldn't they have been hot, drunk, and good poker players? Is that too much to ask?):

h: "So are you guys gonna play?"
tall-less-chubby (tlc): (girly laugh) "hee hee"
short-more-chubby (smc): "we've been watching forever but we're too scared!"
h: "Sit down, you can learn."
tlc: "hee hee"
smc: "we're too scared! But you look like you know what you're doing!"
h: "it helps when you're lucky."
smc: "the game moves so fast! it's hard to keep up!" (slurring words)
tlc: "hee hee"
h: (holds up KTo so they can see, mucks) "See, if you start with a good hand, you win"
smc: "yeah! can I order you a drink?"
h: "uhh... no thanks..."
smc: (slightly insulted) "Please. Let me just order you a drink."
h: "no thanks... I uhh... have one already" (sips melted ice from glass)
h: "so i guess you guys saw poker on tv?"
tlc: "hee hee"
smc: "yeah! we play at home too! but never in a casino!"
h: "ahhh, was it the world poker tour?"
smc: "yeah! we love that show!"
h: "yeah me too. who's your favorite"
smc: (long pause) "uhhh... the... asian guy? he wins a lot!"
h: "uh huh"
smc: "and the... russian guy... he wins a lot too! Let me order you a drink!"
h: "you guys are big fans!"
tlc: "hee hee"

I pretty much gave up on them at that point and went back to mucking my hands, but I probably should have tried to get them in the game, if just for the hilarity. They probably would have been two of the better players at the table.

Anyway, after missing a few flops I said my farewells, and could barely carry the 7 racks to the counter. As the cashier counted out the money, I basked in my $500 profit in 4 hours, a new personal best as far as session total win in a B&M (although it's spread limit against idiots, so I'm not sure that counts). Mrs. Double woke up and we enjoyed a terrible meal at the coffee shop, served by a waitress with no teeth who disappeared after our food came, and we never got the check. But anything tastes good after a win like that.

The silly thing was that I probably only won about 9 or 10 pots. They just averaged around 100 each. And I think I only lost two showdowns-- the runner-runner flush and the rockets getting cracked early. I could have sat in that game forever, but honestly, that kind of game is not much fun, unless you like taking candy from a baby.

Of course I blew most of the winnings the next day getting bad beat in blackjack (card counting is the biggest grind ever) and feeding money to Mrs. Double's favorite slot (the price is right). Slot machines are EVIL! Whoever designs those payout structures is brilliant.

I need to get back to playing serious poker. A couple hours in the B&M a couple times a week. Now that the wife has the new job, we'll see what the schedule is like. I would love to make a run and get to that top section, where the rake is small and the big bets are big.

Thanks to all of you for reading! Comments and emails are highly encouraged. And if you ever get a chance to stop in Primm Valley on the way to Vegas... don't waste your time (unless you're looking for the softest spread limit game you'll ever see).

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