Monday, December 26, 2005

Merry Christmas!

I hope everyone has a joyous holiday season and spends time with the people they care about.

I'll write up some things about my time in Vegas soon, but today I'll be spending with my family.

Friday, December 16, 2005

America vs. Rest Of The World

No, this is not a political post. I've just been seeing on Tony G's and Bluejay's blogs that they're both competing in a $5000 buy-in shootout tournament, with an American team and a Rest Of The World team. Tony reports that he was named the captain of the World Team, and that it should be broadcast on Fox Sports. (Maybe I'll find it on Bit Torrent sometime, but unlikely.)

I guess it starts/started on Thursday the 15th, so it will be over before I get into town. Too bad, I would have liked to be there to support the World players.

Okay, here's the politics - when listening to the Card Player Magazine audio of the WSOP final table, I was annoyed to hear them start the game by having everyone sing the (United States) national anthem. Sorry, but I think poker now qualifies as a sport of the World, not just the United States, and making everyone sit through a song about how great the U.S. is (even after recently invading and overthrowing a foreign government for trumped up reasons) is inappropriate.

Play the goddamn game, leave the nationalistic jingles out.

Vegas, Baby!


Cleared my Party Bonus with several days to spare. At one point I was within $1.50 of breaking into the black for the total of my $1/$2 play, but I have slipped down to about $40 in the red again.

Going for a bonus makes me play faster, more tables, and sloppier. When I get back from Vegas, I will concentrate on finding a good loose table and playing my best game. Gotta close out this category.

Unexpectedly, I've already cleared out the $2/$4 category. Several nights ago I noticed that the PartyPoker Bad Beat Jackpot was up around $370,000, which is pretty high. I've never played on those tables, so I decided to play one orbit and see what it was like. I grabbed a $2/$4 table with a spot open at random and sat down.

Maybe I just got lucky with my table draw, but it was amazing. 7 players in on every flop, very few raises pre-flop. Everyone seemed to want to be in the hand if they had that shot at the jackpot. I got TPTK on my first hand and bet to the river, with two players calling me the whole way there, then mucked with essentially nothing. Made $60-some my first hand. Lost the next hand so sat out one or two, then after confirming how loose passive the game was, limped in with A7s. No one raised, I made my flush on the turn and still had callers to the river.

I finished up my orbit about $70 ahead and left the table with my mouth still slack in astonishment. Maybe I should have kept playing, but it was already late and I was tired and not going to be playing my best.

Somebody must have hit the jackpot overnight, since it was done to $75,000 the next day and play didn't look quite so crazy from my quick check. I'll wait for it to get up to donkey-inducing levels again and happily go back.

When I next checked my stats, my results for $2/$4 were now exactly at $0.00. Even steven. My jackpot-table winning exactly cancelled out my previous losses. That was a nice surprise.

A couple more hours of work and I'm outta here! Leave tomorrow for a week in Las Vegas. A week is a long time, but I still feel like it's not going to be enough. We'll see!

Monday, December 12, 2005

Feeling Good

Warning - more blathering.

I played a good deal of $1/$2 on Party yesterday - my girlfriend was out to go to a friend's wedding, so I had the house to myself and could poker geek-out. I played for a couple hours in the morning, tore myself away and went to the gym, came back and played a few more hours before I felt myself tiring and told myself to stop.

Sunday morning and afternoon is a very nice time play, since it's Saturday evening in the states and there are a lot more crazies (hopefully who have had a beer or four) on and doing silly things. I wonder if I can schedule my work time a bit differently so I can get some time for poker playing in N.A. prime time hours?

I did something borderline stupid on Saturday - I finished up my last deposit bonus on Stars and had no new ones, so signed up for a bonus on Party. This is borderline stupid because I usually play more stupidly when trying to clear a timed bonus (Stars' aren't, thankfully) - playing too many tables, and not paying enough attention to each. So now I have 800 raked hands to clear by next Saturday, which coincidentally is when we fly out to Vegas.

My play on Sunday cleared half of these already, even netting me a reasonable profit. Nice! If I can make another $34 at this level, my stats in PokerTracker will emerge from the red. It's nagged at me that I was basically a losing player at limit holdem, and only started making a profit when I switched to no-limit. If I can make another $40, I can declare victory. I think what I have learned is the obvious lesson that all poker players must learn - discipline is paramount. Discipline to fold your marginal hands instead of talking yourself into playing, to bet the best hand when you fear the monster under the bed, to quit when you are tired or not playing your best.

I still have losses on $.50/$1 and $2/$4 to overcome, but they're smaller amounts and if I can profit at 1/2, I am sure I can clear those other levels as well. It feels good.

nano In Hand

Just a quick note - my poker winnings iPod nano finally reached me on Friday evening. I was beginning to think it would never work out.

It's tiny. Really, really tiny. My first impression is that it's nice but I won't be getting rid of my 20 gig third-gen iPod yet. Still, 4gigs holds all my regular listening (podcasts) and a good chunk of other stuff that can cover most of my idle listening needs or sudden desires to hear such and such a song. Maybe I don't need 20gigs after all.

Then again, those new ultra-slim iPods with video are pretty damn sexy. Even my girlfriend wants one now.

Friday, December 09, 2005

nano Tonight -- maybe...

I went out to the Thursday night live game at the JPPA last night, for two reasons.

  • Get a little more live poker practice before I show up in Vegas in a bit over a week.
  • Pick up my iPod nano, won from my Everest Cup victory weeks ago.

    I showed up around 5:45pm, with the game scheduled to start at 6:00. Doyle and one other player (I think he goes by Dr_K2? Note to self - maybe I need a better handle for my play at JPPA. Then again, maybe I'm too late to change it.)

    The first words out of Doyle-san's mouth were, "So, did your iPod arrive?"

    Me: "... Isn't it here?"

    Doyle: "... No, we shipped it to your address a few days ago!"

    Sure enough, when I got home I found a notice in my mailbox that the delivery service had come by at 10am to try to deliver it, but naturally, no one was home. If I hadn't been in such a degenerate gambler's rush to get to my PC and play some quick poker over lunchtime, I would have checked my mailbox and seen the notice, and rescheduled the delivery for that evening. I.e. I would have had my damn nano here today!

    Irony. Let me just sit and consider the concept a moment.

    Anyhow, I scheduled the redelivery for tonight, so I should get it when I get home and can play with it over the weekend. It may come in handy for my trip to the States, too.

    My bad luck continued during the Live Game play last night. This month is limit holdem month for the live games, I found, which was perfect considering that's the game I'm trying to work on now. But I played for 3 hours and got shit-all for cards, bleeding away three racks of chips before calling it a night. I got AA very early on, when there were still just three of us playing, and it bumped my stack up, but after that the only playable hand I got was pocket 5s. Called, the flop missed me, and I folded to K2's bet. Late in the game, I called into a family pot (we'd grown to 10 players by that point as more folks drifted in after work) with J2s. The flop was a rainbow 10-K-Q, and K2 bet at it again and everyone called (about 7 players) including me. Ace of the fourth suit fell, so I made my straight. I got into a betting war with two other players, capping it on the turn. Of course I figured them for the other Jacks, but I was willing to split it and if they didn't have it, I was going to make them pay. Another 10 fell on the river - bet, raise, I called, Taipa-san called. I showed my Jack, Taipa-showed his Jack, and the last player showed his K-10 for the full house. Boom. I flushed my few remaining chips on the next hand and bailed to go home and grumble about my lack of iPod nano.

    The game didn't bother me - it was a good reminder of several things. Live games are slower than the online games, so a streak of bad hands will last longer. If I'm going to play tight, I have to take into account that it's going to be slower going and discipline to stay tight and not start playing crap hands after 2 hours of nothing better than 55 will be important.

    Also, sometimes bad luck just happens. I can't expect to have winning sessions all the time. If I have a bad session in Vegas, I'm going to have deal with it, leave the table, go do something else and HAVE FUN. I will not let a bad game ruin my vacation. My JPPA game was a cheap reminder of this - I'm glad it happened.

    Only a week until my Vegas trip! Sucks that I will miss the bloggers descending on Sin City this weekend, but I guess that's just how it goes. It sounds like Dr. Pauly might be in town next weekend, after the Bellagio tourney's finish up. I'll be keeping my eyes open for him!
  • Warning Signs

    Yesterday, during my lunch hour I rode by bike back to my apartment since I live close by, ate my lunch at home and played for 30 minutes on PartyPoker. Found a loose, gambling table and made $25 profit from my $50 buyin, which is quite reasonable, I'd say.

    By my own standards, this is teetering on the edge of degenerate gambling. Mixing poker playing into the middle of your work day is asking for trouble.

    The trouble is that lunchtime here is prime time evening hours in North America, and the tables on Party are just full of folks gambling it up. When I get home from work, it's late night and the fish have called it a night and the hard core types are still at it. Mostly I see rocks, neutral aggressives, and tight aggressives around during my local evening hours.

    I'm not going to do this often, but once in a while I'll treat myself to lunch at the fish tank. I deserve a treat now and then.

    Wednesday, December 07, 2005

    Japanese Tourney at Aladdin

    Bluejay reports that they held a tournament at the Aladdin for Japanese players yesterday! That would have been cool to see, or even attend. (I think they would have let me in as an honorary Japanese player.) Photos are here.

    Apparently only 11 players attended, though. (Wonder if they squeezed them all into one table?) Still, there were 8 rebuys!

    JPPA regular Jumbo took the top spot. Congrats!

    Will Everest Survive?

    I like the international focus that Everest Poker is going for, as I have commented on before. I used their client in Japanese for a while to check it out, then reinstalled into English to make things a little easier for me.

    Their actual game interface has never appealed to me much, though, so I haven't played there much. I played a few of their freeroll SNGs and won enough of them to boost my bankroll by 10 or 20 cents, but at this stage of my life that counts as a four-star waste of my time.

    Lately I loaded it up again to have someplace to play while PokerTracker was compressing databases and dumping out player information to notes files, which can take a long time. I've gone looking for $1/$2 limit tables and found nothing. It's not that there are no open tables, there's no one playing those limits. The only limit players I saw were on the $.02/$.04 table. Yes, one table.

    This does not look like a good sign.

    Tuesday, December 06, 2005

    Hammer Dropped

    I realize that there are a lot of poker blogs out there nowadays, with lots of people blathering about the same old stuff that I am. I'm going to continue my blathering about the basics of learning to play, but I will try to make it clear at a glance if my post is the normal blathering, or actual poker-in-Japan comment and insight. Skip over all the crap, that's fine.

    I had a very good online session last night, giving me hope for my goal of beating the limit game. Sunday was bad for me - I played for several hours (my girlfriend was off in Saitama so I could geek/poker out) and just didn't catch any cards. I reviewed with PokerTracker afterwards and found a lot of small-loss hands, and only four or five winning hands. I didn't find any glaring mistakes, so I'm chalking it up to a bad day.

    Last night was heartwarming, though. My table was perfect - lots of loose players jamming the pot pre-flop with any two suited cards, who would turn passive and call any bet after the flop hoping to hit their flush or straight on the turn or river. I waited for good cards, caught top-pair-top-kickers, and bet them to the river and was paid off many, many times. Doesn't it feel good when it works out?

    I turned my $60 buyin into about $125 in 30 minutes. I could feel a bit of tilt coming on, that tilt you get when you're running good, feeling flush with success and tell yourself, Okay, these are pretty marginal cards, but hey, I'm way up! Lemme have a little fun, I can afford it! Dangerous.

    Then... I got dealt the Hammer. Good old 2-7 offsuit. They say you're not a poker blogger until you habitually play this hand like a winner. If I'm going to tilt and play crap, might as well play the Hammer! One limper to me, and I raised it up. The blinds folded, and the raiser... re-raised! Uh oh... I'm screwed!

    A true poker blogger would have re-re-raised. I just called.

    The flop was something like Q-2-10 rainbow. Woo, I had a pair. The other guy bet. I decided to call to the river just to play out the hand, take my loss, give myself a little object lesson in losing money by tilting when running good, and finish up still well ahead.

    The turn was a low card of the fourth suit. At least I could rule out flushes beating my puny pair of 2s! He bet, I called.

    The river... was a 7. Two pair. He bet. I called.

    Yes, I called! I can only wish I had the balls to reraise at the end!

    He flipped over... pocket aces. Rockets.

    I cracked his aces with the Hammer. Maybe someday that will make me feel like a masterful player, heir to the high standards set by the likes of Iggy, Dr. Pauly, and Bobby Bracelet. Instead I was shocked and horrified, and apologized to the guy.

    God, I am such a wuss.

    Friday, December 02, 2005

    Everest Produces!

    I should point something out - my iPod nano is apparently waiting patiently at the JPPA card club for me to come pick it up! I just got notice of this yesterday - I hadn't planned on going there this weekend, but I might now.

    Hats off to Everest Poker for encouraging Japanese poker players! I can't wait for my new toy. Every day it will remind me that even a poor player can get lucky now and then.

    Thursday, December 01, 2005

    Starting Over

    Trying to improve my limit game feels very much like starting completely over. I started with limit and played for a long time and never got to a point where I could turn a profit in the long run - instead I tried no-limit and found I made a lot of money by playing relatively tight and waiting for some idiot to do something stupid for all his chips when I held the nuts. On lower levels on Party Poker this happened a lot, enough to decide that maybe limit was just not my game and no-limit was more my style.

    Recently I start to think I missed out on something by not figuring out what I was doing wrong in limit play and correcting it before moving on to no-limit. Even if I can make a profit at NL, I want to keep plugging away at limit until I get a handle on it, and then I can leave it for NL with a clear conscience, if that's what I choose.

    So I am playing a lot of limit right now, trying to follow WLLH as closely as I can. I still screw up, but I seem to be doing better. I'm having winning and losing tables, but winning slightly more than I am losing so it feels like progress. Checking PokerTracker afterwards to look for stupid plays that seemed to make sense at the time and try to see the bigger picture.

    Plus, there are a lot of helpful souls out there who are all too happy to give valuable play advice when they see you make a questionable decision.

    One off of the button with As Jd, I open with a raise. Button and SB fold, BB re-raises. I call.

    The flop comes Th 7c 8h, so all I have is an inside straight draw. BB bets, and I call.

    The turn is Qc, which gives me another inside straight draw, though now there are two hearts and two clubs out there. BB bets and I call.

    The river is 9s, so I make my straight. No flushes out there, so when the BB raises I re-raise. We cap it, and he turns over Ah Jh, so we both have the same straight and chop the pot.

    DaStoneKILLA said, "what did u have"

    DaStoneKILLA said, "on the flop"

    I'm not quite sure what he's asking at this point. Was his attention diverted and he didn't notice that I also had A-J and we split the pot, when he thought he must have had it won? I give him a few seconds to scroll back and check.

    DaStoneKILLA said, "frkin cant"

    DaStoneKILLA said, " believe the play"

    DaStoneKILLA said, "understand english"

    I get the feeling he wants me to respond, despite the lack of a question mark to indicate it.

    JamesAt15 said, "is that a question?"

    DaStoneKILLA said, "its a ? ahole"

    Ah, so his question mark key does work. That's a relief.

    JamesAt15 said, "well, I had AJ on the flop, same as you"

    DaStoneKILLA said, "i had a flush draw"

    DaStoneKILLA said, "u had a longshot"

    Hmm, he's right! He was betting both a straight and flush draw, and I was calling with just a straight draw with two hearts on the board. And two clubs after the turn, too. So I had considerably fewer outs than I was thinking.

    JamesAt15 said, "yep"

    DaStoneKILLA said, "we both got there"

    DaStoneKILLA said, "where were ur pot odds"
    DaStoneKILLA said, ">"

    That must be another attempt at a question mark, although he missed it and hit the key next to it. His consideration for my desire for proper punctuation is touching - he doesn't seem to be in the habit of using it and is making a special effort for my benefit. I remind myself that many people don't use computers as much as I do and may have difficulty finding their way around a keyboard.

    What's more, my benefactor seems distressed at my blunder. I try to put his concerns at ease. He should look on the bright side - my poor play actually made him money, according to Sklansky!

    JamesAt15 said, "why are you asking? you should be happy if I call without proper odds"

    DaStoneKILLA said, "u had nothing"

    DaStoneKILLA said, "get u nxt time"

    Helpful to the end, he reminds me that even though my play didn't lose me money this time around, in the long run this is -EV. I nod and remind myself of the dangers of results-oriented thinking.