Sunday, December 31, 2006

The Beginning, And Everything Before That

"I've had a perfectly wonderful evening. But this wasn't it."


Okay, here it is. This is my blog dedicated to a hobby of mine. The hobby is poker. The blog you will probably not be reading. The handle is Goat. My mustache is painted on.

If you are reading, let me be the very first to say: Hi. Welcome. Sit down. Let me take your coat and your shoes.

You fool! You'll never see your coat and your shoes again. I've already sold them for PokerStars FPP.

Early on the morning of a new year seems to be a fine time to start a new venture. The business maxim is, 'go where they aren't', and I don't see any reason not to also apply this to blogging. Since there are almost no poker blogs to speak of at all, this should be a piece of cake. Yessir, it's like a wide-open prairie.

Um. Ahem.

I am pretty clearly late to the party. Hello, poker blog people of the Internet (or PoBloPeOfThIn's, for short), all 12,093 of you.

If you read to the bottom you'll see that I am: 1) very small-time, 2) not the sharpest bulb in the drawer, and 3) given to inane rambling. So, what's the point of this? Why am I blogging? It's a good question. Clearly, I'm not going to provide the sharp writing, in-depth strategy, and almost insanely detailed chronicling of the poker scene that you'll find in other, popular blogs.

I'm doing this for two reasons. The first is to keep me focused on my game. The second is to find my niche.

And that niche, I believe, is: annoyingly precocious moppet brought in to boost ratings.

Yes. I have said it. I will be the Cousin Oliver of poker blogs.


Well begun is half done, said the nanny, though not the goat.

So, some goals and resolutions for the New Year.

1) To seek a more balanced place for poker in my life. Basically, poker has gobbled all free time in the vicinity for a few months now. I enjoy writing, literature, and fine film, and none of those are nearly as easy as firing up PokerStars, though all pay greater psychic dividends. My hope is to limit my play to a little less than night a week.

2) To manage my bankroll more effectively. In other words, stop taking dumb stabs that are a tenth of the entire bankroll.

3) To cash over $5,000 in MTTs.

4) To win the Wheatie. It was the first MTT I ever played, and I got to the Final Table. Still one of the most exciting moments in my brief poker life. I have won the second chance recently, but that don't count.

5) To not steam. Or at least to steam creatively.

6) To make at least one post for every MTT played.

7) To not make those posts suck-holes of boring hand histories, tournament results and lazy, lazy, lazy writing. I am fascinated by poker for many reasons, not the least of which is how closely poker resembles life. I have to think that a poker blog, well written, is about life, too. Hopefully I can keep it interesting.


Here how I got to this point. About 1 year ago, I bought into Stars to play the second or third Wheatie ever held, and to see how far I could take my $100.

About 3 hours later, I was at the final table, and GRob of UpForPoker called my 4x raise in the big blind with Q3 offsuit. I had QQ, which did not help me when the flop paired 3s. (This is not a bad beat story, because my opponent had way the best of it when the money went in. I'm keeping my dollar.)

So I busted, just short of what seemed at the time to be pretty decent money. Then I cursed. Not for the last time.

About a month later, I found I could, with a little bit of luck, pluck and effort, take my $100 it all the way to $0.

I read Super/System, and bought in for another $100.

About a month later, I learned that you need at least $2.00 to sit at even the lowest level NL tables.

I read Sklansky, and bought in again.

About a month later, I was starting to question this whole poker thing. My account balance was not so much 'flush' as it was 'completely void of money'.

I read Harrington, and bought in again. This was going to be the last time, I promised.

And so far, it has been. Harrington must have clicked. I took that $100 and played tournaments almost exclusively. I ran it up to . . . well, let's leave figures out of it, but let's say a comma got involved. Also, I satellited into a seat in the Main Event of PokerStars World Championship of Online Poker.
I'd arrived.


I've since run cold. There is no comma involved anymore*. Yes, the fickle comma has fled.

Three reasons for this:

1) Bad play. I'm assuming that is the first culprit. I just need to figure out how to hone in on specifics.

2) Playing above my head after some good luck; in other words, bigger buy-ins and higher skill than I was ready for. Example? Um, I'd say the WCOOP Main Event seemed like a great idea until I ran into Premier's quad Jacks 40 minutes in. Quads? Sounds like a bad beat? No, believe me, it was hee-haw all the way on my part.

3) Playing cash games. It's -EV for me. They say you can only tell a top player by how they do in cash games. That would make me very much not a top player.

4) Grotesque beats just before serious money. You know the ones. All the money goes in on the turn, you don't even have time to pump your fist before the 3-outer sends you to the virtual rail. This happens enough to make me want to go chew lead. This SEEMS to be the first culprit for my stake's decline. I am aware that it is actually just a sign that my play is improving. Good players take more beats, yes, yes, yes, I just love those beats. They feel awesome.

As I write this, I am finishing a night where AA lost to A6 after all the money went in preflop (the six made a straight). And that was it for me, just before the dropoff between 'three times your buy-in' and 'serious money'.

Naturally, I remembered that bad beats happen to good players.

"Yippee," I said, after the beat, feeling like a totally great player.

"Zippadee doo da. What a nasty little beat that was. It hurts so good."
Or maybe I just felt like hitting something. Almost four hours for $80 is bunk when $6,400 is left on the table.

"Would the table be offended at all if I just randomly screamed in the chat box for a minute?" I typed.

"Not at all," came the general consensus.

They seemed to enjoy the ensuing rant. Who says online poker players are a rude bunch?

Three-outers on the river. That has happened to me tonight . . . let's see . . . Ah! three times. All three times, the villain had three outs when he called for all his chips on the turn. All three times, I was ahead approximately 96%. All three times, losses.

Zippadee doo da.

Of course, I'm forgetting all the ones that held up. And the 50/50 coinflips that I won. And the bad beats that I delivered along the way. I know they are there. I just remember those three-out beats that ended the roll.

Someday soon, the roll won't end. I actually do love that it is taking 6% longshots to knock me down tonight, even if I hate that those longshots are doing the knocking.


*All references to tournaments and online hands in this and any ensuing posts are exclusively regarding play money. I'd like to be totally clear about that. Totally.