Monday, April 30, 2007

Thursday, April 26, 2007

LOST and Poker 003: Pot Odds Trump Pride


Today's episode found Korean automotive-and-mob scion Sun meandering between (1) a present day Ultrasound bringing both good news (the baby is husband Jin's) and bad (that means she's going to die painfully) and (2) a flashback-to-Korea blackmail plot in which Sun is forced to make a $100K decision between indenturing her new husband to her controlling crime lord of a daddy or admitting to the world that she, Sun, has married a son of a whore.

Your basic cash or pride situation, here. Sun blows it.

I've never had $100K sitting in front of me. Maybe you have (no you haven't, shut up lying), but you've still faced Sun's decision.

You've got the nut flush draw, and are looking at an overbet of the pot that just doesn't make it worth chasing. The pot is juicy, but you're behind, and you know it. But . . . you've been folding everything to this guy lately. You've helped him put the 'p' in 'pwn'. You don't want to look like a nancy, do you? Come on. The look on his face when that club hits, have a big heart. Do it. Do it.

Your basic cash or pride situation here. Go with the numbers. Hurley knows that's where the money is.

On to . . .


I have to admit, I'm confused by the ramifications of the big 'reveal' last night. "They found the plane. There were no survivors. Everybody died."

Let's roll out the possibilities:


Theory #1: She's lying. Red herring.

Verdict: Lame.


Theory #2: They're all really dead! They don't know it yet! Haley Joel Osment is the only one who can help them find peace! The island is the afterlife!

Verdict: M. Night Shamayalame.


Theory #3: The plane that was found, and all the bodies aboard, were a red herring, planted by Mittelos (anagram for 'Lost Time') and/or Dharma. The Others are kidnappers, and this was just an uber-kidnapping of these people whose inter-relational ties go way way back, though they don't know it.

Verdict: Containing only trace amounts of lame, in quantities approved by the FCC. But more than a little meh. Kind of the most obvious way to go.


Theory #4: The wreckage of the plane that we saw on the beach in the very first episode was a plant. In other words, everybody was taken off the plane, spirited to the island and then 'arranged' on the beach amid a very realistic looking wreckage. The plane itself was made to crash without our Castaways aboard, so no-one would look for them. This would explain why there are so many survivors to such a horrific crash (plane breaks apart in the air). Sayid was suspicious that so many survived. I've learned to trust Sayid's suspicion. He knows just where he is in a hand at all times.

Incidentally, I doubt that the Others come to the island in a submarine. I think they come to the island and are then placed in a submarine to allow them to assume that this is how they have come.

Verdict: Pretty much devoid of lame. The pieces fit. Explains a number of things. But we did see the Others seeing the plane break apart in mid-air. If not for that, my money would be on that one.

Theory #5: Our heroes really have been found dead in the wreckage. The crash just hasn't happened yet. The actual location of the island is in another time, and, at the end of the entire series, the plane will complete its crash back in the present, with all characters on board, to . . . um . . . save the world . . . or something.

Verdict: Julius_Goat has been eating the mushrooms Jack warned us about.


Random thoughts:

* We don't know how pregnant women on the island die. My money's on 'explode like the fat guy in The Meaning of Life'.

* Patchy McMedic! He's alive! FanTAStic! Great character, so very glad they brought him back. Gotta let me know how you manage to fake the frothy-frothy-gurgly-earblood-oh-God-my-brain!-hemmorage, though.

* Is Hurley like one of those Flowers For Algernon types that just keep getting dumber? Flare gun, spilling the beans about the cell phone, etc. If Charlie is looking at you like you're as dumb as socks full of rocks . . . well, let's just say it's good you won the lotto, dude.

* Kung fu fightin, fast as lightinin'. Jin got to do something after approximately 49 episodes of fishing in the background. Must be nice for the actor who plays him. His fingers were getting wrinkly.

* Hey, Mystery Dying Parachuter (MDP)? You only need to say "I'm dying" until they see your wound and start helping. Then you can start saying things that help us understand other things. Please?

Tune in next week, when we hear the MDP say:

"Oh, I'm sorry, I thought you said United Flight 815! No, they never found Oceanic."


Saturday, April 21, 2007

Riverchasers 001: Presto 5uck5

"Money will not make you happy, and happy will not make you money."


Post updated, added to the bottom.

All right, here's the long and short of it for last Thursday's Riverchasers event. A bind-moggling 85 of us noodleheads showed up for a shot at money, glory, and BBT points, though many seemed willing to give all that up if they could tilt Waffles.

I played well, except when I played poorly, but happily even that didn't keep me from hitting the final table as the big stack by far -- which in turn didn't keep me from hitting the rail in a thoroughly ironic (real irony, not Alanis irony) 5th. My fault entirely, as you'll see. Still, a final table is a final table, and lessons learned hurt less when you've had a good time.

In the interest of garnering feedback and critisism on my play, I'll just cover some of the major hands along the path. Some of them, I think they make me look good. Others, I know for a fact they make me look bad. Never mind, this was the tournament that was, and many thanks to Al for hosting it.

So then. Let me show you my Riverchasers run in one dozen hands or less. Then I'll show you fear in a handful of dust (no I won't).


Starting Table*

Seat 1: JTS102: Ninth generation in direct descent from George Washington. Still wears that powdered wig, which to my mind is taking it a bit far. As near as I can tell, his favorite hand is classified by the EPA and Customs and Border Protection.

Seat 2: brdweb: He's Montgomery! Flea market! Come shop! Flea market! He's exactly like a mini-mall! Montgomery! Exactly like a mini-mall! As near as I can tell, he has living room, bed room, dinettes, oh yeah!

Seat 3: Julius_Goat: No idea who this donkey is or what he is doing here. As far as I can tell, his mustache is painted on.

Seat 4: smokkee: Let's just say having smokkee directly to my right was not cause for celebration. Smokkee's got game (more so than me, I have little doubt), he's aggressive, and he'll push back at you plenty. I was hoping for an early bust so I wouldn't have to deal with him. Did I get it? No. He was sitting right there pretty much the whole tournament. As near as I can tell, he is, in fact, still not Chris Tucker.

Seat 5: Mattazuma: Matt I've played with a number of times on Stars at the MATH. I've never been impressed one way or the other, but he's 20th right now on the BBT board, and he was the subject of a classic Hoy rant, so I'll assume he's at least half-worthy, and probably it's the half that eats. As near as I can tell, he is an acorn squash wearing a poncho and sombrero.

Seat 6: sellthekids: Sellthekids seems to have his priorities in order. One simply hopes that he gets the going market rate, and doesn't simply sell in bulk. As near as I can tell, sellthekids is not a vampire.

Seat 7: Alceste: This is actually Doyle Brunson.

Seat 8: PHFlyers: This gentleman once chased me across the desert for three solid weeks, trying to bring me to justice for a crime I didn't commit. He'd have caught me, too, but my horse had no name. Made me dang near impossible to trace. As near as I can tell, PHFlyers is of average height.

Seat 9: betough: It's not that betough can't shower. It's that he doesn't want to. And that's what really ticks the rest of us off. As near as I can tell, he wrote most of the DOOM switch code for PokerStars.

*Bios and notes are completely fabricated unless I have some prior knowledge of the player, and which point they are merely slanderous.

One (1) Dozen Allegedly Interesting Hands

Hand #11: The BB Special

Blinds: 20/40
Stack: $1,692

In the bb, I find Ks4s, and check my option. Sellthekids and PHFlyers are also in the hand.

Flop: 2s 5d 4h

PHFlyers bets 80 into a pot of 120, which I read as a pretty clear attempt to just take the pot down with overs. Maybe he has a five or limped with 66 through 99, but otherwise I think I've got a little lead here with middle pair second kick. I call.

Turn: 5s

Not a horrible scare card. If he indeed has a 5, PH is ahead, but in that case, he already was anyway, and I just picked up the king flush draw. Still, if he has a 5, he's re-raising. I'd rather keep it small. I check. He checks.

River: 9s

Well, now it's time to hope this shark has a fin, but no boat. I make a weak 170 bet into a pot of 300, hoping to represent a steal, and PHFlyers presented me with a beautiful raise of 600. I pushed. Here's how it shook out:

That's a mucked hand up top. Needless to say, I put him on slow-played trips. Bad luck for PHFlyers, but I know from sad experience that slow-play makes its own bad luck.

Hand #70: Hammering Smokkee

Blinds: 40/80
Stack: $3,252

This is possibly my favorite hammer I've ever dropped in a blogger tournament.

Action was folded to me in the small blind, and Smokkee was sitting there in the big. Smokkee, he'll defend his blinds if he thinks you're weak.

So I min-raised. My thinking here is simple. The idea is to peddle it like it's Aces, typically by raising 4x the blinds. But the way you often see Aces played in a small blind/big blind situation is the min. raise, just hoping for a call and terrified of getting no action on your big pair. I wanted to make Smokkee suspicious enough to not make me have to deal with a re-raise before the flop.

Flop: 8hJc5c

I check it, with the intention of check-raising a bet. Smokkee checks behind, so never mind that plan.

Turn: Ac

If I have Aces, this is my card. Time to tell a story, tell a story. I bet out 280, and Smokkee folds. Of course, I show.

I have no idea if my strategizing was correct or necessary here. But it is always plenty of fun when you have a plan, enact it, and meet with success.

Hand #100: Cracknjacks

Blinds: 60/120
Stack: $3502

I limp with pocket sixes in early position. Cracknaces ups it 3x from cutoff+1.

I think. And think and think and think. I have a recent history with sixes. They've been my death hand the last two blogger tournaments. Add to this the fact that I have more respect for Cracknaces game than I do for my own.

Forget it. There's no-one behind me, so I know that the price for attempted set-mining for implied odds is capped. I call, knowing I am gone if I don't see a six on the flop.

Flop: 6h 5d 3c

Couldn't have asked for much better than that. Not just set, but top set, and I don't put my opponent on any of the hands that would be making a straight.

I check, hoping to induce a nice sized bet, and I get one. Crackn hits me for 669.

Most players I will probably smooth call here. Not this guy. After some thought, I overbet all-in to represent the semi-bluff.

Chad calls and flips pocket Jacks, and I take about 3/4 of his stack when the turn and river don't bring a J.

Side note: I was really glad to see Chad out of the tournament. He's very very very better at this than me. Very. He pushed all-in five times in a row after this hand, doubling BuddyDank in the proccess. On the sixth attempt, I called with QJo and beat his 53o to take the rest of his chips and HGHN. On another completely unrelated note, he has a post up now about having tilt issues.

Hand #122: Pushmonkey

Blinds: 100/200
Stack: $7,702

XupXyourXace is the only limper and I call in the small blind with Ks5s. Yeah, that's right. They were sooted. Shut up. Like you've never done this. I'm basically hoping to be hit by the flop and catch somebody holding a second best hand.

Flop: 3c Qs As

Bob's yer uncle, guvnah! Nice little nut flush draw here. I check. XupXyourXace goes ahead and bets T400 into the T600 pot.

I call, and looking back, this is more than a little marginal, since (1) I have no read on XupXyourXace's willingness to pay off an obvious made flush, and thus my implied odds are theoretical at best, and (2) smokkee is lurking in the big blind. Then again, this is Riverchasers, not Flopfolders.

So, I make a call without thinking about it too hard. Not a good way to go deep in an MTT, but a fabulous way to bleed chips. Luckily, smokee folds. Not so luckily . . .

Turn: 4d

Nada on the flush draw, and XupXyourXace is betting into me again. This time it's T600 into a T1200 pot.

After some deliberation, I put him all-in. It's my first significant bluff of the evening, but it's a bluff with outs, and I put I put XupXyourXace on a weak Ace or some other hand that is not strong enough to make a call for all your chips with.

Turns out I'm right, because he folds and I scoop.

Ugh, gotta go to work.

Continuing Post . . .

Hand #171: My Lucrative Mistake

Blinds: 200/400, Ante 50
Stack: $10,447

I'm dealt TT on the button. It's folded to Drizz, who pushes his short stack in for $1579. I make it $3000 to isolate but VinNay raises from the big blind all-in to 6648.

Now . . .

I'm pretty clearly behind, here. I've played VinNay, and he's a very solid player. The best I can hope for is AK with Drizz taking one of his outs.

But I call. It's a bad call. There are basically 5 hands I can put him on, and I'm a big dog to all but one. I should have been back to the middle of the pack here when Vin shows his Jacks.

But the river has a beeeeeautiful Ten in it, Vin and Drizz are both eliminated, and I'm near the top of the board.

That was for sure a bad call, though. If I'd thought for just a second I'd have known I was behind, and I try not to make a habit of suckouts. But MAN they are tasty. Sorry, Vin.

Hand #177: cemfredmd Chases

Blinds: 250/500, Ante 50
Stack: $19,574

We're six-handed and the initial pot is over a grand. It's folded to me in the SB and I limp with Q7o. I want to keep the action stable and make a move at the pot depending on the flop.

Flop: Th 9d Td

Good board to steal here. He's not likely helped. But a bet would be too obvious. I'm not betting a ten here. I check. cemfredmd bets out $500, which I read as weak, and I check-raise steal up to $2000.

But cemfredmd calls. Uh-oh. I am officially done with this hand.

Turn is Ac

Check check. Hmm.

River is 8d.

After some thought, I check. cemfredmd checks.

He shows 8c7s and takes the pot with his rivered pair.

The information garnered on this hand becomes important on the next hand.

Hand #195: Goat Has Some Bluff In Him

Blinds: 300/600, Ante 75
Stack: $16,474

On the button, I make it $2400 to steal with Qs4h and cemfredmd calls me. Hoy in the big blind folds.

The flop is [3s 7s Jd], missing me completely.

cemfredmd bets $1800 into a pot that's nearly $6000. Weak bet. He has not much. I re-raise to $4200 . . . and he calls.

I've been here before. I suspect that cemfredmd (who's been playing well, by the way) will call big re-raises on a draw, and that he won't apply pressure on the turn if he misses. I think that my man cemfredmd has a couple spades or a weak pair. I am leaning toward the flush draw. I may still win this.

Turn is 8c. Nice, no spade. If he bets, he's got some pair. If he checks, I am making a decision to play him like he's got the flush draw.

He checks. I decide to check. If the goose will chase on the flop, he'll chase on the turn.

River is Td. Right on. I think we've got a busted draw.

cemfredmd checks, and I bet out $3000.

He folds, and I foolishly show the bluff, just because I'm proud of myself.

I may post this in a more easily-digested separate post, because I'm really interested in hearing what people think he had. The consensus around the table is that he had at least a pair. I don't know. He claims he misclicked 'fold' when he meant to call. Mmmmm, maybe. Or maybe I embarrassed him by showing air (which was dumb).

Anyway, massive bluff near the final table pays off. If it was a mis-click, I'm a lucky donkey. I'll take it.

Hand 202: HoyBuster

Blinds: 400/800, Ante 100
Stack: $24,049

Hoy was folding to the points and was a shorty. He pushed with 55 against my semi-steal raise with A9. I was already pot-committed, called and spiked an Ace.

Not much to say here. This hand pretty much played itself, and could have just as easily gone the other way. It was fun to get a chance to bust Hoy with Ace-junk, though. Too poetic.

Remember that presto failed, though. Please remember that presto failed.

Hand 220: The Wizard Of Odds

Blinds: 500/1,000, Ante 125
Stack: $35,852

This was my first big hand of the Final Table. Too bad I played it so dumb.

I find pocket tens on the button. It's folded to MoonShadow58, who raises to $3,000. I opt to call, mainly because I don't really want to stand an all-in re-raise with tens. This is bad thinking, as it gives me no more information.

Flop: [8s 8h As]

I like the paired board, because I can't really put him on an eight here. I don't like that Ace very much. Moonshadow makes it a little less than half the pot, $3,000, and I make it $9,000.

Moonshadow calls. He's told me in no uncertain terms he has an Ace. But I'm hoping it's a flush draw.

Turn: 9s

Moonshadow bets another $3,000 into a pot that's around $25,000. What a crazy small bet. I tell myself I have to call it. Pot odds, you know.

I'm an idiot.

River: [Qh]

Moonshadow bets ANOTHER $3,000. Obviously this guy wants a call. Or he's got nothing.

I close my eyes and hope, because, you know . . . pot odds??

Moonshadow shows the Ace. I'm dumb. So dumb.

Hand #227: Smokkee's Signals

Blinds: 500/1,000, Ante 125
Stack: $21,227

Here's a hand that shows what kind of player Smokkee is.

We're now five-handed. I limp with Td9c in EP. Smokkee limps in the small blind, and Moonshadow checks in the big.

Flop [Kh Jd Qc]

Can't ask for better. I've just flopped second nuts, and AT is raising most of the time short handed.

I bet out $2,500 into a pot of $3,625. Can't slowplay the low end of a flopped straight. Smokkee calls and Moonshadow folds.

Turn: [8c]. Probably didn't hurt me, but now there's also a club flush draw out there. I bet out $6,000 into an $8600 pot.

Smokkee thinks. And thinks. And thinks.

I don't know what he has (feel free to let us know, Smoke), but I bet there's a King involved. I really doubt he wants to let this go. I bet he wants to push.

But he folds. Good players make good laydowns. Respeck.

Hand #233: Presto 5uck5, Pt. 1: Goat Is A Donk

Blinds: 600/1,200, Ante 150
Stack: $28,752

And here's a hand that shows what kind of player Julius_Goat can be. Embarrassing, but true: I donated to Waffles here.

Still five-handed. I have presto UTG and limp. Waffles, who's short-stacked, pooooooshes all-in.

I insta-fold.

Wait, no. That's what I should have done.

I won't bore you with the justifications the little fonkey devil on my shoulder used to get me to call. Let's just say as soon as I made it I realized that it was a bad move, even if Waffles was pushing with 97o (possible), I was a coin-flip favorite. There were really only 3 hands that would make me happy (2s, 3s, and 4s), and he didn't have one of those.

I really did have him on any two cards. And that was right. The two he had were both Queens, though. Weee-hubble, I'm in trouble!

Brick-brick-brick-brick-brick, and I got to be the short-stack, and Waffles got to trot on to victory (nh Waffles).

That's got to be one of the worst calls I've made this year.

Hand #239: Presto 5uck5, Pt. 2: This Is The End

Blinds: 600/1,200, Ante 150
Stack: $13,490

In the big blinds with an M of 5.5 (too perfect), with five (perfect) players left, I find 55 in my hand again.

lifesagrind raises me to $4350. He has about 22K more behind him.

I pushed. This was criticized in the chat, which frankly surprises me. I'm supposed to fold here with an M that low? Um . . nooooooo. If I call, I'm pot-committed anyway, so why not make some fold equity here? Does lifesagrind want to call off half his chips with a marginal hand? Who does he think he is? Me? I'll have to hear back on why all-in is a bad move here. Calling with 55 is terrible, I know, I know. But it's a pretty good hand for all-in here, when lifesagrind could easily be bullying me.

I push for about $9K more. lifesagrind calls with AQ, and we're off to the races.

Presto, pay me back, you son of a lizard you.

Flop: [Ad Qc 9s]

What more is there to say? I've got a seat reserved at the International House of IGHN.


I had a great time. I wish I hadn't donked off all those chips to Waffles, because I really think I had a shot at taking this down. I'm happy with almost all my play, but I think my game fell off horribly at the Final Table.

Next time for sure.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Also Lacking Badness

2nd in the Donkament! Donk-tastic! I donk-cashed donk-twice! In a donk-row!

Heads-up lasted all of four hands. I donkey-called on the flop and caught my inside straight. I donkey-checked it and Ringo wisely checked behind. The board paired on the river. Once I donkey-got-all-the-money-in, I saw that it had filled him up, not given him trips. Ringo had been having a 'fill up on the river' kind of final table. And that was that. I guess it was a dumb ending hand, but I don't know if I am getting away from a made straight heads-up, even on a paired board.

Doubt I will write this one up. About the amont of insane suck-outs and monkey-pushing that you'd expect. I am happy I was able to wade through it, and gained most of my chips when big pairs (miracle!) held up. I'll have to check but I don't think I sucked out, at least not majorly, after the reload.

Had a blasty. Next up: MATH.

ETA: (1) Thanks to Katitude for hosting; (2) How have I gone this long without knowing that a tournament this magnificently disgusting existed? $1 rebuy? With bloggers? Poker without consequences! The mind reels.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Not Bad

Finished 5th of 85 runners in the Riverchasers tonight. I'm very happy with my play the first two hours, I made a little money, and I got on the BBT board. I dropped the hammer four times successfully. I got to knock Hoy out with Ace-garbage. I even got to be the beneficiary of a sick sick suckout (sorry, VinNay).

All fine things.

I'm not entirely pleased with my play after the second break, though. I went into the final table with a prohibitive stack, then spun out of control. I made a couple completely questionable plays, a couple bad reads, lost some races I probably shouldn't have been in. My B game at the final table, at best. Probably not that good. I should have made it heads up, and I'd have gotten there if I'd played better.

Still, a good way to go out since I'm giving up poker for this card game.

Full write-up pending.

LOST and Poker 002: Go With Your Reads

Another week, another Lost Episode Review with tenuous poker connections!

Desmond can see the future. Just pieces of it. It's been telling him that Charlie, the smack-addict guitarist will die, so he's been saving Charlie's life every other week (literally).

But now it's telling him that if he lets Charlie go to the Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame in the Sky (via an awesome arrow in the throat), his One True Love will join him on the island. But he has to let Charlie die to make it happen. If he doesn't let it go down, 'the picture changes' and the island's new parachutist is no longer Penny his lady-love, but Sanjaya from American Idol.

Does Desmond have the the courage (or the selfishness) to make it happen?

And what about you?

You can see your opponent's hand. Just fragments. A voice, really. It's been telling you you're beat and you've been folding. But now it's telling you that you're facing a very weak hand. If you push with your busted flush draw, you'll win the pot. But you'll have to push all your chips. If you don't, the picture changes, and you lose a lot of chips.

Do you have the courage (or the selfishness) to stick with the read? Can you pull the trigger and put an arrow in your buddy's throat?

With absolutely no further ado, a review of:


This was a very important episode masquerading as a throwaway. Dang, I'd forgotten about Penny and her Artic-bound chess-playing Portuguese electromagnetic field watchers right at the end of Season 2. Glad that's coming back.

Sooooooooo . . . .

* Charlie getting the Driveshaft right in the thrapple to start the hour! Hooooo-puppies! Crunchy delicious mis-direction, I loved it. I would have loved it even more if that was how they actually killed Charlie, as the lead off. It would have been totally unexpected, as the traditional story insists he bite it as the big close to an episode. Nevertheless, very nice little moment.

* Kate loves Jack loves Sawyer loves JuliezzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzZZZZZZZZZZZZNNNCKWwwhaaa . . . Sorry, fell asleep for a second. Where was I? Oh yes. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

* Catch-22 was the name of the episode, which is cool because:

1) It's the situation Desmond found himself in with Charlie vs. Penny. Did saving Charlie 'change the picture', making the parachutist Penny's Portuguese surrogate instead of Penny herself?

2) It's the book that the parachutist dropped along with the too-quickly-dismissed satellite phone -- albeit a Portuguese translation of that book.

3) It's an interesting book for a Desmond-centric episode, given that Desmond's big back-monkey is his cowardice, particularly because of Catch-22's take that cowardice is sanity:

Doc Daneeka: There's a catch.
Yossarian:. A catch?
Doc Daneeka: Sure, catch-22. Anyone who wants to get out of combat isn't really crazy, so I can't ground them.


Nately: It's better to die on your feet, than to live on your knees.
Old Man: You have it backwards: it is better to live on your feet, than to die on your knees.


* The really, really big moment this episode was the picture on the Faux James Cromwell (the head monk)'s desk. It showed him with Mrs. Hawking, brothah. Remember her from the last big Desmond episode? She was the one who bought him roast chestnuts, who knew all the details of his life and told him he had to go back to the island, who basically told him he was predestined to see Penny. This strongly suggests some kind of mystical society/force/whatever, perhaps in opposition to the Dharma initiative, or perhaps in conjunction with.

*Oh, and Mrs. . . . Hawking? As in Stephen? As in the guy in the wheelchair (Locke, Ben) with the theory of everything, most especially . . . time travel? Too far fetched? I don't know, that lady was wearing the pendant of the snake eating it's own tail. I'll ask again, never mind where is this island . . . when is this island?

* Frankly, I hope Charlie doesn't die, so we can have a spin-off set 60 years later, when Charlie is 92 and Desmond is still trying to save him. "Brotha, look out! Old age! You'll choke on that sandwich. Don't slip on that ice, you'll break your hip!"


Monday, April 16, 2007

The Big Game 001: Deja Vu Is Repetitive And Redundant It's Repetitive And Redundant

"Why, I'd horse-whip you if I had a horse."

I'm a sucker for a good milestone.

Miami Don's Big Game was by all accounts a record prize pool for an online blogger event, featuring a field tougher than Goldie Hawn's skin and a buzz on the girly chat that was dang near palpable.

I suffered sad beats trying to token up, culminating in a bubble-bust when my AJ fell victim to an all-in call with A3. I decided to just man up and buy in, and I'm glad I did. I had a blast.

At my starting table (among others) were:

Al, who despite his name proved he could hang just fine. Al made a straight that was just a bit better than Katitude's, and he was off to an early chiplead.

Otis, who is one of my favorite writers among the blogerati, and with whom I had never played before. Ahem. Woot. Woot, I say. Otis was in my blind, and as his reputation is sterling, it slowed me down a bit.

oossuuu754. Now, this is the funny guy who knocked me out of the MATH last week by pushing all of his chips into a T655 rainbow board holding T7 for the top pair silly kicker no draw. I was holding 66 for the set on the flop slash boat on the turn. He hit the T on the river to send me home and wandered his way into the three-way chop at the end with my chips.

He's near the top of the leader board for the Battle of the Blogger Tournaments. Needless to say, I was happy to have him at my table. So should you be, I think.

I played lovely the first hour, dropping the hammer not once but twice, hitting good cards and making good reads. I made a mistake or two, but for the most part, I'm pleased with my play, and I kept in the top 10 throughout.

Until right before the break, when I made a pretty bad play. And worse, I made it against oossuuu754. I limped with A8d and the board brought two diamonds. Everybody but me folded to a big bet from oossuuu754. I called. The turn brought an eight, and again oossuuu754 led out with a huge bet. He's repping a pair, but I've been here before. Honestly, he could have air. I won't bore you with the ways I talked myself into a call. Suffice it to say the river brought no help.

oossuuu754 pushed all in, and I had to let it go. He really may have had nothing, but that's not where I wanted to go out.

I have to say, that was well done from osu whether it was a bluff or not. He took control of the betting from the start and didn't let up. He was telling a story and sticking to it. Good for him. And, it was a pretty badly played hand from me. My only good move may have been the fold on fifth street, and I'm not even sure of that. Bad for me. Booo, goat, booo00000000000. You know better.

So right before the break I suddenly found myself way down in the pack. I still had plenty of chips (love that deep stack like I love chocolate chip pancakes), though, and was ready to get back in there.

It went badly.

Want worse? I gots worse.

The two major chip drains came at the hands of the mighty osu. It's true, it's true.

A lot of limping and I have 44 in the blinds (I think). I decide A) I'm ahead and B) Not for long if I just limp, too, so I pop it up to take the dead money. Who decides to insta-raise me all-in? You know who.

I go in the tank for awhile. I have him on Ax, Kx, maybe even Qx. He's almost certainly got two overs. Small but spooky chance he's slow-playing a larger pair.

Bottom line, I don't want to race against 2 overs. I fold.

He claims he had tens. Either he's lying or he slow-plays tens.

Final hand of note:

I have sixes (the hand I busted out on earlier) and I raise it up 4x. Called by my new nemesis.

Flop comes Q77, two diamonds and he pushes all in for my last T900. I've already decided to call, because I know this is what he'll do with any two.

He has A8d (the same hand I had when he bluffed (?) me) and 58,709 outs twice. Two of those outs hit the board and I'm done in undignified 38th.

* * *

So, I've been beaten like the Detroit Lions in two blogger tournies in a row. Both the biggest of their respective kinds. Both by the same freaking guy, in the same freaking seat, while I'm holding the same freaking hand. And now I have to freaking consider that he may be somewhat freaking skilled when before I had no freaking respect at freaking all. That freaking hurts. Freaking ow.

I don't know what to think, honestly. Osu's had some great success in blogger tournies and I have not. Maybe he's a skilled player who just played that one hand badly against me last Monday. He's definitely got plenty of aggression, and he has busted me twice running. But that was one sick and sorrowful beat, and one horribly played hand.

Hats off to oossuuu754, then. Respeck for the aggression. Respeck for the luck. Respeck for the complete pwnership of me by him thus far. The jury's out for me on his play though. I'm sure there will be another chance to decide real soon.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Lost and Poker 001: Recognize Patterns

OK, there seems to be enough Lost fans in the poker community for me to go ahead and put up my weekly Lost-thoughts. As a bonus, I think I'll try to make a tenuous connection to poker.

Let's recap for the unitiated:

There's a bunch of airline crash survivors stuck on an island where things keep getting weirder and weirder and weirder. In particular, another group of people (the aptly named 'Others') were already there on the island long before the plane crash. These Others keep infiltrating our heroes' camp, performing experiments of the long-steel-needley variety upon them, and dressing like hillbillies and kidnapping the children among them. Not to mention the occasional light murder. Unlike State Farm, they are bad neighbors.

In last night's episode, Jack (our sort-of main character hero) allows one of them (Juliette) to infiltrate the camp. He trusts her, because when the Others, for no discernable reason, left him and his friends (who had been captives) behind, they left her behind too! Abandoned! Marooned! The poor thing!

Token lumbering fat dude Hurley: I don't remember seeing you when you tasered us and put bags over our heads before caging us.

Juliette: It was my day off.

Ho ho ho. The last time the Others let somebody they had in captivity go for no discernable reason, two people died and four got kidnapped.

Naturally, Jack puts Juliette 'under his protection.'

This is what we poker players call 'Not paying attention to the available information.'

Imagine . . .

You're playing early in the third hour of an MTT. We're just into the money, and the average M is around 10. It's folded to you on the button, and you raise 3x to steal. The big blind raises you back. He's been playing tight, so you fold.

Two rotations later, you raise 3x to steal. The big blind raises you back. You think for a while, but your hand is easily dominated, so you fold.

Next rotation, you raise again on the button. The big blind raises you back.

What do you do? Are you still using the same information you used to make your fold on the first hand to make your decision on the third hand? Have you noticed a pattern developing? What does this do to your opponent's potential range? What is going on, exactly?

The moral is: Don't be a Jack.

On to the episode review, interesting probably only to fellow fans, if that:



Jack, Jack, Jack, Jack Jack, Jack, Jack . . .

Oh, Jack, Jack, Jack, Jack Jack, Jack, Jack, Jack, Jack, Jack Jack, Jack, Jack, Jack, Jack, Jack Jack, Jack, Jack, Jack, Jack, Jack Jack, Jack, Jack, Jack, Jack, Jack Jack, Jack, Jack, Jack, Jack, Jack Jack, Jack, Jack, Jack, Jack, Jack Jack, Jack, Jack, Jack, Jack, Jack Jack, Jack, Jack, Jack, Jack, Jack Jack, Jack, Jack, Jack, Jack, Jack Jack, Jack, Jack, Jack, Jack, Jack Jack, Jack, Jack, Jack, Jack, Jack Jack, Jack, Jack, Jack, Jack, Jack Jack, Jack, ......

Come on, man. Let's have a short quiz.


Q1. Have the Others captured any of your fellow castaways before?
A1: Yes. Michael was captured before this.

Q2: Have the Others ever allowed a captured fellow castaway to return for no apparent reason?
A2: Yes. Michael again. Also Claire.

Q3: How did that end?
A3: Badly. 'Three men and a burlap sack over your head' badly. 'Dead Tailies' badly. Not goodly. Badly.

Q4: Have the Others infiltrated your camp at any other time?
A4: Twice that you know of. Ethan. (B)enry Gale.

Q5: Were they,at any point um . . . how do I put this? Kidnappy? Malicious?
A4: Starting to get the picture, Jack-hole?


OK, so let's put together some things we found out from this excellent episode, which featured a very-well-done-but-in-no-way-at-all-surprising-if-you-are-paying-attention-even-slightly-Jack ending.

* Aaron was never all that important. He's Patrick "Red" Harrington all the way. Claire was important only because she was pregnant. Now, she's nothing more than a pretty face with weird bangs.

* Sun's got a problem. She's pregnant on Pregnant Ladies Explode! Island.

* Claire's got an implant that can cause major amounts of dying. I think that it's safe to say that means that Michael, Walt, Jack, Sawyer, Locke, Sayid, and perhaps even Hurley have them too. Sucks to be them. I would also say that these implants would be a good explanation for that 'plague' that Rousseau seems to think is on the island, though we've never seen it.

* Location, location, location. You need to be knocked out to get to the island. You arrive and leave only by submarine. A plane traveling from Sydney to L.A. can crash there. So can a plane whose range can't be more than 500 or so miles, taking off from Nigeria. So it's geography is completely fakaka. I would say the assumption that we are on Earth is becoming a bigger 'if' every episode. I think it's safe to say that wherever (or 'when'ever) we are, when it's revealed, it will change everything we know about the show so far. Snow globe imagery is prevalent in the show. My current theory is that the island itself is a Very Big Hatch.

* The Others leader can cure cancer when he wants to. Seems like he usually doesn't want to. Can he give cancer? Ben is a puppeteer, but somebody's pulling his strings as well.

* I really like how they answer questions without really coming right out with it. Example: Now we know why they steal kids. They can't have kids themselves. Nobody's come right out and said it, but it's pretty clear. Very good, then.

* I cannot believe that being 'under Jack's protection' is reason enough for these people. Or that 'she needs time' to tell what she knows. This isn't therapy, and what she needs to tell isn't some deep dark secret that she needs to get out before she can grow as a person. What she knows is the answer to the question: "Who are the Others that have been kidnapping and terrorizing us since we got here and what mind games are they playing?" Come on, people. That's what we in the Stranded On A Desert of Mystery business call a critical priority.

* The fact that they are reading "Carrie" by Stephen King is not a subtle hint. Or at least it wasn't very subtlety done this episode. King should pay them for product placement. Watch for a kid with super-powers, probably Walt.

* Juliette is a really good character. She's stealth, I wasn't all that into her at first. I'm impressed by the actress. She can switch from sympathetic to creepy as hell in 0.88 seconds.

* Jack calls all-ins with Jack Aces because they are suited. Enough said.


Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Doing The MATH 002

"Lord, please don't seat me at this donkey table"

I went out right before the first break, but I'm happy with my play.

I chipped up early on Blinders when a lucky turn made me trips, though I think I should have waited to take control of the betting until the river to maximize profit. He folded to my re-raise. I lost most of it a few hands later to Oh-Crap-I-Forget-And-I'm Lazy, when they filled up with K5. OCIFAIL raised it preflop, too. Of course, I was in there calling with middle pair top kicker.

For an hour, I kept it between 2700 and 3900. Hoy, I love love love the deep-stack. Keep it up and I'm a loyal player for life.

Then this happened.

40/80 blinds.

I looked down and saw sixes. I limped in MP and so did five others.

400 in the pot.

Flop: 65T rainbow. Beautiful. It's checked to me. It's been a loosey calley kind of table, so I go ahead and make a please-call-me 210 bet.



Raise 700+! Ding ding ding ding ding!

Fold. It's to me.

I smooth call.

Turn is another 5. I've got a boat.

I check.

He raises T1000. He is now pot-comitted. He's got me covered; not by much.

I go all-in for about T1000 more. Instacall.

He has Ten seven. Offsuit. He's dead to a ten with one coming. Ladies and gents, I'm taking this stack deep.

River is a ten. IGHN, and I'm not too happy about it. Guy is now 2nd in chips. As I would have been.

Right around now, Smokkee on the observer chat earns the first ever non-Groucho opening quote.

I'm not going on a rant here, but this is exactly what made me glad to take a break. I had 96% of the hand here. I don't know if I played it perfectly, but I played it very well. I lost to a guy who went to war with Top Pair Untenable Kicker, who went on to take third and a part of the three way chop I won't call him the 'onkey' word, or the 'ourist' word, or the 'ucking oron' word, but I won't honor the play with a link.

The goat saaays: Mmmmmmmbaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Goat Is Returned To Claim The Pyramids

"Time wounds all heels."

It's been over a month away from the virtual tables. I played one 16 man homegame tournament (took 2nd), and that's been it.

I think this is for the best. Sklansky (among many many others) remind us that it isn't the result that matters, it's whether or not you made the right decisions. The same pertains to emotional reaction. It isn't the result, it's whether or not you have the right reaction. The wrong reaction is tilt, and it leads to incorrect decisions.

That's where I was. I was bleeding chips, it seemed like it was all bad beats. It really did seem like it. Looking back, it still does.

It wasn't. I don't know what it was, but life is like poker in this way: It's never ALL bad beats. Figure out what's broke, and fix it. If you can't or won't figure out what's broke . . . walk away. When you come back, you'll be more willing to check under the hood.

And I wasn't willing to do it. If you judged me by results, I was not good. If you judged my decisions . . . I don't know. I was getting in with the best of it, most of the time. But if you judged by my reaction, I was stuck. Far stuck.

(Brief aside: Actually, the main reason I was away was because I chucked Internet-tainment for Lent, which my church, though not Catholic, observes. And the point of that -- at least for many of us -- is to purposefully walk away from something that is meaningful and pleasant to us, as a way of deliberately jump-starting this introspective process. Checking under the hood, to see what might be broken, the better to fix it. Managing life-tilt, so to speak. As with poker, so with life. Which is what makes poker such a fascinating game. )

But all good (or 'good') things conclude. Poker hiatus, begone! Hi there, readers (by which I mean: Hi there, Pete and Fuel).

Now I'm back to turn this motha out. I am officially at the dirty end of Hoy's leader-board, the Battle of the Blogger Tournaments is cooking, and I officially am ready to play a completely filthy game of NLHE. Ooooooh, I'm a tiltcha. Pity da fool. Break y'arm. Mmmmmmm. < /MrT>

But I've found a new game. Or, more specifically, I have rediscovered my first game. Stars spreads five card draw, and I never really gave it a second glance when it first showed up. It wasn't until my Kings had been cracked by Jacks for, oh, I don't know, the nine-millionth time, that I turned back to old FCD.

Five card draw. For me, it was like an familiar smell from the comfortable past that you can't quite place.

I remember playing for nickle/dime/quarter in the basement in college, back when the Internet was just barely there, and online poker was not even a gleam in Dutch Boyd's crazy, crazy eye. None of us had the slightest clue about pot odds, betting structure. We played for beer money and bragging rights. Money was hardly a consideration. Being the big winner meant you were the one who bought breakfast before everybody went to sleep. Once, I'd felted (OK, formica-ed) a buddy of mine, just as his fiancee came down looking for their last $20. This would be the $20 I'd just taken from him. I quickly slid it over without a word. He looked like a dog who'd just been caught eating from the table. Money? Who had money, anyway? Back when $100 was a lot, money tended to get passed around to whoever needed it, anyway. We had a lot of future capitalists practicing a kind of welfare/communism back in the day. Poker was primarily a reason to bust each other's chops and smoke cigars. We'd play with Jokers and between 2-10 wild cards. We'd min. raise (or less) and fold to min. re-raises (or less). We all thought we were studs.

Rarely would we play the exact same rules for more than a rotation. The game would change with the dealer. When we got sick of draw, we'd play stud, with any of its endless complicated add-on rules and extensions. Since half the guys were drunk, it was entirely possible to spend 15 minutes explaining how to follow the rules of Modified Cheese Draw Guts With A Follow-The-Lady Wildcard Modifier, and then spend 1 minute playing the hand (for maybe a total of $1.32). Then we'd do it again.

I'd always choose draw, though. I liked draw. The strategy, the misinformation of how many to draw. The information I'd get from other people's hands. So I'd always choose draw, unless I was losing. If I was losing, I'd choose in-between with a triple burn, to try to re-distribute the wealth. Those of you who know what I'm talking about know that in-between is just the most disgusting game there is. You have your stories. Those that don't . . . just keep on walking, nothing to see here. Never mind the screams.

But since I've been serious about poker, it's been Hold 'Em for me. No other games, I figured I'd have my hands full just getting good at that one. So I didn't spare my old buddy draw a backward glance.

Then I saw Stars was offering draw SNGs.

Sure (I thought), why not?

I signed up for a 1-table MTT (that's all they have right now). I won it. I signed up for another. I won that. I kept doing this. I finish in the money about 70% of the time.

My friends, I am here to tell you, there is no need for a FCD strategy book. Take what you know about pot odds, aggressiveness, controlling information about your hand, and hand selection, tweak it a bit. You're there. It's a madhouse. You versus 5 calling stations. Just keep your openers Jacks or better, and don't draw three unless you just gotta. They'll call you with Ace high. They'll call you with low pair. They'll call your re-raise with air and then draw three, just to let you know they've got nothing.

This is not a game of high skill. It's checkers to the chess that is NLHE and PLO. Most of the players haven't figured out yet how to move diagonally.

I'm going back in. The water's fine.

Now if only Stars would spread a game of in-between . . .