The Battle of the Sexists

Coming to a Twitter Poker Tour near you:

Panndy v Grundy Logo

Tune in this Thursday January 22nd at 8:30 PM for a Heads Up match between @Panndyra and @Grundy. This Battle of the Sexists will be played on Full Tilt Poker just prior to the TPT:Tilt Event #7.

Above article is from the Twitter Poker Tour web site.

Limit Poker at the Seabrook Poker Room.

Palace - Gambling Keno Poker
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My beginning professional poker career playing in New Hampshire started with a whimper. I was playing Limit Poker at the Seabrook Poker Room in Seabrook NH. OK a loss. Now not a big loss as losses go, but, never the less, a loss. You know what they say … a loss is a loss is a loss.

My total losses for the day was $4. You might say “What’s the big deal. You only lost $4 … what is your problem?”

The problem is the fact that if I am playing a $2/4 limit game, I should expect to earn a minimum of $4 an hour (many of the poker books that I have read say you should win at least one big bet an hour). As I played for five hours, in theory I should have earned a minimum of $20 for my five hours worth of playing. Now, I know what you might say. “How is $20 days going to be a reasonable wage”. Well, it won’t, but that the point is that I need to get myself in the mode of playing to be profitable.

I was down $40 at point during the after noon, and I was up $55 at one point also. So ending at -$4 could have been worse. (I actually lost $55 when I was at the Hard Rock Casino in Tampa FL.)

I played at a table with 8 other players. I got to see eight hands per cycle at an average cost of $3.00 per cycle. This is because the blinds are $1 and $2 for the small and big blind respectively. So as every eight hands are played, I am the big blind once and the small blind once.  I had pocket Aces once and lost money, I had pocket Kings twice, the first time I  flopped a full house and won a large pot, and the second time when my pair of kings did not improve after the flop, turn or river and I lost money.  I had a pocket pair of fours turn to trip fours (three of a kind) and won against a pocket pair of sixes. I had a set of eights (three eights), and I lost to a player holding a straight (the board was scary and I should have guessed by the betting that my opponent was making that I lost that hand.)

The nice thing about Limit Holdem is that you can control your losses somewhat. The bad thing about Limit Holdem is that you cannot chase someone away who has a chance to draw out on you.  Case in point was my pocket Aces. I raised the pot when I entered it, but I got called by someone who had a 7 4 suited.  The flop came out 7 4 J and I bet my aces right to the river. The fourth and fifth cards were a 3 and a K, so the board had 7 4 J 3 K. When my opponent showed his hand, he had two pairs, 7’s and 4’s to my single pair of aces. so he won the pot. In limit, you can check and call, which will limit the raises if you are head to head with someone. But you can only raise one bet at a time. In No Limit, you could go all in (put all of your money in the middle (the pot) and the person calling will usually need a very strong hand, not a drawing hand, to call.

The bottom line to this post is that you need to keep track of your performance, yours wins and you losses and see how you are doing. If your intent is to be a

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Position and Starting Card Requirements

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Part of the reason that position matters is that the betting order can help to determine who stays in a hand and who folds a hand. Also, the type of betting will also play a factor in the betting action.

In a “Limit” game, the amount of bets are in increments of the big blind and usually no more then four raises of that amount can be made during any particular round of betting.

In a “Pot” limit game, the maximum bet amount is limited to the amount of the “Pot” that would result if everyone made a bet equal to the size of the big blind. As there can be up to four rounds of raises at each stage, the maximum amount become real large real fast.

Finally, “No” limit bets must be at least the amount of the big blind and can be as much as a player has in front of him. (He cannot just reach in his pockets and buy more chips during the play of a hand), hence the name, “No Limit”.

Using just “Limit” betting to explain position, I will describe the effects of implications of position. The player that is “under the gun”, or to the left of the big blind should have a good hand if the player wishes to call or raise the big blind. As there are nine other people after him that can react to his action, you can see what could happen. Up to three other players could also raise after the “under the gun” player. So it turns out that the “under the gun” player must or should have a very good starting hand if he decides to call or raise in early position. The usual range of starting hands for the “under the gun” position is AA, KK, QQ or AK suited. The other players that follow can decide to call or re-raise and can usually assume that the previous raiser has perhaps one of the strong starting hands that i mentioned (unless a bluff is being made).

In the pre-flop betting, the last player to act is the big blind. For the rest of the hand, the “dealer” or “button” then becomes the last one to act. The button is a vary favorable position to be in because that acts last in the rest of the rounds of betting. The “button” player gets to see what everyone else has done before he makes a decision. The later the position is, the less the starting requirements for hand becomes. This is because the latter player can decide if his hand is worth staying in the game with. With what is called a drawing hand, a hand that needs one or more cards from the common cards (the flop, the turn or forth street, the river or fifth street), the later player should limit the amount of bets called to a minimum to avoid large losses if the event that the later player  does not make his hand.

Many poker books will suggest a range of hands for the early players, the middle players and the late player. These range of hands are just a guideline. As you play at a table and become faimliar with the way the other people play thier hands, you can adjust the type of opening hands to fit the current conditions. In all cases, you should never be predictable as that will give your opponents an edge as they will know what type of cards you might enter a hand with and will adjust thier play accordingly.

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Security, User-names, Online Accounts, Checking and Savings Issues etc.

Bad security. Don't worry. No one can break in...
Image by mary hodder via Flickr

An incident that occurred to an online poker playing member of a poker users group got me to thinking about security issues. It seems that this player has an account on FullTiltPoker.Com and when he attempted to log in, he got a message saying that there were six previous attempts to log into his account. He wondered how such a thing could happen. Well, here are some of my thoughts as to how that may have happened.

This user group (I am also a member) has user profiles that also can allow a user to list their screen name from any of the poker sites that they subscribe to. This is done for two reasons: one is that the site gives their members freerolls and special tourneys to just members only; two – it makes it easier for other members to find a player at a certain site. On the surface, this is not a big deal.

EXCEPT … when someone has larceny as their motive, having access to the user-name makes it that much easier to try and hack into a users poker account. Some people use very simple passwords and some thieves use password crackers (software that tries to break their password). If the thief (hacker) is successful, they might try to withdraw the money or find some way to get it.  They might be able to get to the cashier tools and direct deposit it to their account.They could be in collusion with someone and go head to head and just lose to the other person.

Things you can do to increase your security or limit your losses

Better passwords – Try to use at least a twelve character passwords that contains at least one Uppercase letter and at least one number. If allowed, use a special character such as an exclamation mark, etc. If spaces are allowed in the password, you might even try to use a small phrase that is easy to remember such as “i hate fish”. Even something as simple as that is hard to crack because a phrase with spaces in it, unlike a password, has too many possibilities for a hacker or thief to consider. As a rule, never use birthdays, anniversaries, children’s names, pet names or easy to guess words like “password”. (You would be surprised about how many people use “password” as a password).

Maintain a special checking account – Never use your household checking account to either send or receive money to online sites. Even your PayPal account should be linked to a special account you maintain just for online activity. You should maintain as low a balance in that account as possible, transferring money to it from savings or other accounts only as needed. Most banks allow for online banking so you should be able to have your “online activity account”, your household account, and your savings account available and separated from each other.  In this way, you limit the amount that you can lose should your online poker account or paypal account become compromised.

Limit the amounts maintained on Poker sites – Depending on the type of games you play and your results, you should consider limiting the amount of money that any site holds for you. For example, if you like to play in tourneys that have a $5 buy-in and you play about 10 tourneys a week, keep about $50 maximum in your poker account.  If you are a winning player, make sure that you transfer your profits to your online checking account set up for just that purpose only and then transfer some of that to a savings or other checking account that does not get used by PayPal or the online sites. This will keep your exposure down to just what you have at that site.

By the way, if you think I am being paranoid, you are most certainly right. It turns out that identity theft is the hottest way for third world  gangsters and thieves to make a quick buck. And you thought that the stock market was the fastest way to see your money disappear, let alone bad poker playing decisions.  Please feel free to add your thoughts, ideas and concerns to this topic.

Photo Credit:  mary hodder

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Analysis of my hands at the TPT:Stars Event #6 – 1/15/2009

Poker Hands
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Poker Hand Analysis of my hands at the #TPT revealed that I did have 137 hands dealt me as the stats said. I only had one time where I was not dealt a hand and that was when I was moved from table 2 to table 3.

Of note regarding my 137 hands:

I had 10 pairs overall: ranging from 4’s to Kings.
I had Ax suited 5 times overall.
I had suited connectors, ie 5s 6s, up to Ac Kc, nine times.

Overall I was involved in about 50 of the 137 hands. I bluffed or semi-bluffed (this is when I might actually have the best hand) on three of my hands

I had A with 10 or higher 10 times including those suited connectors.

I played my good hands tight and aggressive and tried limping in with my drawing hands.
Overall, I might have taken a few more risks and been more aggressive earlier when I had the large chip stack to work with. By being more aggressive with my bad hands, I might have picked up some chips that others were willing to give to me.

I don’t think I played too bad, but overall, the other six that finished ahead of me did better. And that is what makes the game a challenge.

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7th Place at the TPT:Stars Event #6 – 1/15/2009 – my play at the Twitter Poker Tour recapped

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As a rule, I tend to stay out of large tournaments, large being defined as more than 45 to 90 people. This is just a personal preference based on the results that I get at tourneys versus cash or ring games.  But I do like to test my skills from time to time and last night I was tested.

Out of a field of 34 players (a record thus far for #TPT players at the Stars site, the previous being 31), I placed 7th, which is cute but, not cute enough to earn a living. Only the top five winning positions were paid at this tourney.  The following is a recap of the number of hands that I played during the tourney provided by PokerStars.  It shows only 137 hands but the email report of all of my hands showed 138. Timing I guess?

During current Hold’em session you were dealt 137 hands and saw flop:
– 3 out of 20 times while in big blind (15%)
– 8 out of 20 times while in small blind (40%)
– 15 out of 97 times in other positions (15%)
– a total of 26 out of 137 (18%)
Pots won at showdown – 6 of 11 (54%)
Pots won without showdown – 12

What the above does not show is how I either folded, bet or raised. In other words, how I played versus the rest of the field. I am currently in the process of analyzing my hands and will report on them later.

I was glad to have participated in the event and look forward to the next one.

Have a great day.

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On the button – player position and what it means

Example of position in texas holdem
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Your position relative to the other players is an import part of the Texas Holdem game to learn and understand.

For the following explanation, I am going to use a card table that has ten players to illustrate my point (plus the diagram that I found also has ten players). For the purpose of explanation, there are going to be two blinds or forced bets, one of which is a small blind and the other is a big blind. I believe the reason that these bets are referred to as blinds is because the players must make these bets without first seeing their hole cards thus the players are betting blind. Generally speaking, the amount of the small blind is usually half the amount of the large blind. For the purposes of explaining position and betting, I am going to use the amount of $1 for the small blind and $2 for the big blind.

In all online games and most casino games there is an official dealer that just shuffles and deals the cards to the players. The dealer himself does not get any cards. In Texas Holdem, each player gets a chance to be in the position of the dealer in that a button with the word “Dealer” is placed in front of him. Cards are dealt out in the following manner, clockwise, starting with the player to the left of the “dealer” or “button”. The first player to the left of the dealer button is usually the “small blind”; the player to the left of the small blind is the big blind. All of the players are dealt a card at a time starting with the small blind until each player has two cards. Once the two hole cards have been dealt, the player to the left of the big blind is first to act. This position is sometimes referred to as “under the gun” because that player must decide whether to call the opening bet of the big blind or raise or just fold his hand. The first three positions to the left of the dealer button are usually referred to as the “early positions”. The next three  left positions are referred to as the middle positions and the remaining three positions are called the late positions.

Part of the reason that position matters is that the betting order can help to determine who stays in a hand and who folds a hand. The type of betting will also play a factor in the betting action. In a “Limit” game, the amount of bets are in increments of the big blind and usually no more then four raises of that amount can be made during any particular round of betting. In a “Pot” limit game, the maximum bet amount is limited to the amount of the “Pot” that would result if everyone made a bet equal to the size of the big blind. As there can be up to four rounds of raises at each stage, the maximum amount or the pot can become real large real fast. Finally, “No” limit bets must be at least the amount of the big blind and can be as much as a player has in front of him. (He cannot just reach in his pockets and buy more chips during the play of a hand), hence the name, “No Limit”.

Generally speaking, the earlier the position that a player is in, the better that player’s hand should be to get involved in the betting and raising process. The later the position, the lower the starting requirements are for the late position player.

How each type of Holdem is played, how the betting is done, and what the results that can be is a topic for another time.

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Heading South while Going North

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They say that sometimes the adventure is in the journey and not the destination and there appears to be some truth to that.  A little bit of background – my wife Diane and I went to Clearwater Florida last weekend to visit our friends from Revere, MA who winter in Florida. While there I took the opportunity to find a local casino (within 30 miles local)  to try my hand at  face to face play.  I thought I was fully equipped for the journey. I had a Garmin 700 series GPS as my copilot and a Benjamin in my pocket for the buy-in. We just got the Garmin and I thought I knew what I was doing as we had used it a couple of times before traveling to Florida.

Friday evening, I took off for the casino. As I approached the US Route 75 North and South ramps from Route 60, I was in the right two lanes that actually go to the Tampa International Airport. I did not give myself enough space to move to the left most lanes and I ended up spending about 20 minutes trying to get out of the airport and listening to the GPS device say “re-calulatiing” about a dozen times.

As there was construction going on, apparently the GPS maps were a little off.  I ended up going US 75 South after exiting the airport and it turned out that75 South is on a causeway. I really needed to be heading 75 North and there were no exits or turnarounds for 10 miles. I should have taken a hint by my driving luck that I might be having “a not so good” night.  20 minutes more and I was finally headed US 75 North to Route 4 East towards Orlando and to my poker destination of The Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, 5223 North Orient Rd, Tampa, FL 33610.

The first thing I did upon my arrival at the casino was to find the poker room and then sign up for a limit table. I chose the table with limits of $2 and $4 with the small blind $1 and big blind $2. The minimum buy-in was for $20 and that is what I did. There were a total of eight players at the table so that meant that I had to put in at least $3 every eight hands. The buy-in would give me the ability to play in at least 48 hands. And for the most part, that is what happened. I saw about 48 hands without even catching a pair. I did have suited cards a couple of times but was pushed out of the play by the raising and re-raising that occurred before the play got to me. I ended up buying in again for another $20 and again went through almost 48 hands again without getting something to write about.  My best made hand,was a pair of kings, and I made the mistake of limping in pre-flop. After the flop which was Queen, Eight, Four, I would raise and get called. After the turn, a two was shown, so I raised and got called. On the river a Seven and again I raised and was called. My opponent showed pocket Queens, making three of a kind and won the pot.

On the whole, it was not a complete waste of time as I learned how to get into the game; learned a little bit more about how to handle my chips and how call or bet. I even learned about some of the hows and when to tip the dealer at a live game. Generally, you only have to tip the dealer when you win. On small pots, you usually toss the dealer the equivalent of the small blind. As the casino gets a portion of the bets, called a RAKE, you need to be careful that you don’t over tip and end up with no profits at all. Online, it is software that does the dealing so we do not tip the dealer, although we may still complain about the dealer.

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Looking for advantages

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Whenever I play online Sit and Go tourneys my mind sometimes wanders as I wait for the play to get around to me. And that is a big mistake (even now, I am writing this while I am playing a SNG). When you do not pay attention, you could be losing some good opportunities to increase your stack or at the worst keep yourself from losing too much of your own stack.

Why I mention this is because in a recent game, I noticed that two players were sitting out. They were next to each other. That meant that every time the Big Blind and the Small Blind got to them, their hands were automatically folded if anyone raised them. I missed this the first time around and nobody else even tried to steal their blinds.  I stole about five of their blinds before they figured out what was happening and got back into the game. (They were sitting out, coasting as it were, hoping to make the final table without having to play a hand. Sometimes this works, most of the time it is a bad idea, but…).

The other thing that that can happen when you don’t pay attention is that you can call a raise when you just meant to limp in. I have done this a couple of times and it can change the entire outcome of the game, especially if the person before you went all in and you lost most or all of your stack on the outcome because you clicked the call button without knowing what amount you were calling.

As they say, be careful out there.

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