Quick recap of the Twitter Poker Tour Event #9 held at PokerStars

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Last nights Twitter Poker Tour Tourney was held at PokerStars and saw 41 players participate for a prize pool totaling $205.00 shared amongst the top five finishers. Last night top five were as follows:

  1: taz31362
  2: 110 Octane
  3: sotied
  4: Waz Poker
  5: S.t.B

I saw many new faces at the tables I played as well as new names that I did not recognize on player listing at the tournament lobby. Fun was had by all hopefully. I enjoyed the evening although I wish it could have lasted longer (for me). Below is my personal recap of my finishes in the last six TPT events.

Placed Event / Date
13.    Stars Tilt # 9, 02/26/09
30.   FTP Tilt # 9,   02/19/09
20.   Stars Tilt # 9, 02/22/09
5.   FTP Tilt # 8,    02/05/09
1.    Stars Tilt # 7, 01/29/09
17. FTP Tilt # 7, 01/22/09

I find these events fun and challenging. I enjoy the banter, although sometimes I am very quiet during play. It is interesting to read the tweets before, during, and after the tourney. You never know what gems you will see.

Are you enjoying the games? What could be done to improve your enjoyment of the game (besides placing first)? Do you twitter while you play? Or type or read blogs?

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Update on my issue with the PPA – Poker Players Alliance

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Shortly after my blog was posted about the “The Poker Players Alliance (PPA”, my password was reset and I received an email from the PPA with my new temporary password. Needless to say, I was very happy to put this issue to rest. Thanks go to @ppapoker and @TheEngineer2008 on twitter. Thanks also to #tpt members and @BassW for their support as well.

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The Poker Players Alliance (PPA) – Praise for them (and a rant as well)

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The following paragraph about the PPA is from their about page and says what they are about:

The Poker Players Alliance (PPA) is a non-profit membership organization comprised of online and offline poker players. Our membership consists of enthusiasts from around the United States who have joined together to speak with one voice to promote the game and protect the right to play poker in all its forms.”

I first heard about the PPA while living in Massachusetts. Someone had posted a plea to visit their website and to join in support of their efforts to legalize online poker in the United States.  This was just before the Bush administration pushed through the Security and Accountability For Every Port Act of 2006 which contained a provision that is known as the UIGEA – Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006. And that is when the problems started.

At that time, I was playing in the free and very low limit games on Doyles Room, PokerStars and FullTiltPoker. I used a service called NetTeller to transfer money to and from these poker sites. I wondered what the effect was going to be of this new bill.  It did not take long to find out. I was notified by Doyles Room that they were no longer going to allow US players in their cash rooms, but free play was ok. When I decided to withdraw my funds, I found that I was locked out of NetTeller, my online poker banking site. Not only was I locked out, but they would not let me withdraw my balance of 93.00 that was in the account. At that time, I took a more active interest in what activities the PPA were involved with and contributed to their support. (A year later, NetTeller did release the funds back. They gave players a two week window to withdraw the funds and I did get back all my funds held by them. I was unable to get my balance back from Doyles Room however).

I joined the PPA in 2007. I read their newsletters and received their emails. In 2008, there was a call to arms due to a Massachusetts house bill that was about to be passed.   At the time, a hearing on a bill that would criminalize Internet poker gambling was being held and the PPA rallied support against this provision and wanted our voice to be heard. I participated at that rally held at the Capital building in Boston, Massachusetts on March 18, 2008. That bill and more details about it can be found here. Below is a picture taken in front of the Capital building on March 18th, 2008.  To the right, in the circle, is me without my new beard. More pictures are on flicker of the group of PPA members of the Massachusetts chapter attending the rally with PPA organizers.

ppa-at-ma me-at-ppa

The PPA is a worthy organization and needs your support to help continue the fight to legalize online Internet poker in the United States and other issues that face us in the online world. All they ask for is a donation if you are able, and some of your time when needed to attend rallies, send letters and make phone calls prior to key votes in your state or by your congressional delegation.

Now for my rant.  The PPA is a service organization and as such I do expect that they would provide good service to their members. Now I know that the problem I am having is my own fault. I somehow messed up my log-in password associated with my PPA Membership Log-in.  I made a donation, created a user name, received a welcoming email confirming my membership. This happened on December 9th, 2008 and I have not been able to log in since. I have sent at least 8 unanswered emails requesting help about my log-in problem. I have twittered to the @ppapoker account. They did respond and asked me to send an email, which I did. They still have not responded. I realize that my problem is minor, compared to what they are trying to do, but still, I feel that I should be heard and that I should be helped. It is not like I have joined for free. I contribute yearly to their cause. I send out emails as they request.  The least that they could do is help me reset my password so that I can continue to support their efforts.

Have you joined the PPA yet? You should, you know (just be sure to save your password in a safe place).  Do you have problems getting service from organizations that you are a member of? How do you get them to help you?

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Shortest Omaha High/Low Tournament

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Last Monday night I participating in one of the shortest tourneys I have ever played in, at least the shortest that I remember. It was a Railbirds private tourney. And I do enjoy the challenge that playing Omaha High/Low brings.

I caught an interesting set of high cards, all suited in Clubs. They were A Q J 10. Generally this is not a good holding but not the worse either. It would depend on the flop as to how good this hand could be. This is the type of hand you want to limp in with in case the flop does not help. And limp in I tried.  The blinds were 15 and 30, so I put in 30 chips. There was one raise to 60 so I called the additional 30 chips. Including my self, there were four players in the pot totaling 250.

The flop came down a rainbow, one each of the four suits. A 10 9. This gave me top pair with a straight draw.  One opponet bet out 255,  one folded and one other player and I called the 255.  Now there was $1,015 in the pot.

The turn card was a King of hearts. This gave me the straight. The board had no pairs showing so I was not up against a full house. The only possibility was that my opponent was on a flush draw.  I lead out with a pot size bet of 1,020 chips. One player folded and the remaining one went all in.

My opponent held the following hand:   5s 3d Kc Ks given him three of a kind, kings to my full house. The river card was a nine, one of three remaining nines in the deck making my opponent a full house, beating my straight and booting me out of the tournament in 207th place. To be honest, my opponent had a lot of chances to make his full house. All he needed on the river was any Ace, King, Ten or Nine to make a full house or better, giving him 10 outs at the river.

It is a given in Omaha Poker that almost all high hands usually are full houses. It is extremely rare that top pair or even just three of a kind will win a pot for the high hand, let alone just a pair of Aces.

It just was not to be my night at the Railbird event at FTP. The actual tourney was long – just my part in it was short.

Has this ever happened to you? Have you been knocked out of a tourney really earlier and still felt good about the way you played? Was I wrong to take this hand to the river?

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Online Poker Communities – Railbirds.Com

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If you have been playing poker on line for a few years you may have noticed that many sites have private tourneys, members only. Some require being a member in order to get the nightly password while others invite any one who subscribes to their blog or newsletters.

I have been a member since 3/20/2007 of a group called the Railbirds, located at www.RailBirds.com. There are three kinds of regular railbird members and they are identified by their color or plumage.

Once you are a registered railbird
Be an active member
Be a REALLY active member

Then there are the prorails. The following in an excerpt from Railbirds.com FAQ’s on railbird status.

Prorail (Administrator)
Get selected by Railjoe

Prorailship has got nothing to do with status or who you happen to know. And while RailJoe prefers picking experts as prorails, what he really wants is people who he feels have a number of qualities needed, namely: 1. Patience 2. Reason 3. Willingness to help 4. Ability to work in a team 5. Understanding of how people work Basically, if someone sends an application, if RailJoe thinks that someone is a good candidate, or if another prorail suggests somebody, RailJoe will do a background check to see if he can find the qualities mentioned above in said person.

One of the benefits of being a Railbird is that you are given the password for the daily freerolls or daily tourneys. There is a leader board and and prizes are given to the best player for a given year.

I am a semi-active railbird, meaning that I post occasionally, I write comments occasionally and I play in some of the tourneys occasionally.  I have developed a few good acquaintances who have helped me to understand the nuts and bolts of becoming a member. I think it took me about 10 days before I was able to earn the right to receive the passwords for the freerolls. I earned that right by posting, by commenting and by just being friendly and being myself.

Even nowadays, I see new members and their first blogs. By the second or third post they will actually be whining about how come they don’t get the freeroll passwords yet. From time to time, I will respond back to them and let them know the ropes as others have done to help me.

The site contains a lot of information for a starting player and you can learn from the blogs and comments as well. Plus, you can always cry for help and someone will usually get back to you. You can even discuss how you played out a hand and others will help critique your play. All in all, I think any new player would do well to join Railbirds for the experience and yes, even the freerolls.

I am also a proud member of the “Twitter Poker Tour” group and the “RoundersRadio” Podcast forum.

Do you belong to any organizations? How do you benefit from them? How do they benefit from you being a member? What do you contribute? Are  you having fun?

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Thoughts about having AK as a hand

Big SlickThroughout the last three years, I have seen many different players having AK as their starting hand and have been amazed at how some people value and play them. Otherwise known as “big slick”, AK are perhaps the two most misplayed cards that anyone can get. In some of the lower buy-in Texas Holdem tourneys, some players will go all-in if they have AK, suited or unsuited, it does not matter.

Even players that don’t go all-in may continue to bet, to call, and not ever give up on the hope that just having AK will be enough to win the hand regardless of what is happening around them, what cards came up on the flop, or how many people have called them. I have seen AK beaten by a pair of pocket twos and heard them complain about the bad beat they got.

For what its worth, AK is a good starting hand pre-flop, not as good as pocket Aces or Kings, but worthy of some value. In all the reading I have done, AK is a good hand that also has good folding equity. What is meant by folding equity is that a good sized bet might cause others to fold, allowing you to win a hand uncontested. Of course, this works better at No Limit and Pot Limit Holdem as opposed to Limit Holdem where you can only raise or bet in fixed increments.

In ring or cash games, a recommended bet size of either 3 to 5 times the big blind in No Limit and a pot size bet in Pot Limit will usually be enough of a bet to take down or win the pot.

If you are called by one or more opponents, you need to consider what they might be holding to warrant a call from them. If called, you need to get a good flop for AK to survive. A flop containing either or both of your cards would be helpful but you also need to consider what your opponents might have as well.

They could hold pocket Aces or Kings, either of which will spell doom for your AK hand. There is always the chance that your opponent had a pocket pair of Queens or lower and the flop may have made them a set or trips (three of a kind). On a coordinated flop such as 7-8-9, you might be up against someone who always plays their J-10 suited or unsuited and have just hit their straight. Even though a flop of A-K-Q would give you top two pair, the J-10 opponent would have hit their straight again. You would only have four chances left to catch the remaining two Aces or two Kings to fill out with a full house.

Even a flop of two or three uncoordinated cards but all of the same suit could be a problem for you if neither of your two cards contained that suit. If your opponent had only one card of that suit, there are enough chances left that they could make the flush either at the turn or on the river. Of course you still might have the best hand so how you play it might depend or your stack size versus your opponents.

If the flop did not hit your hand but contained low uncoordinated cards, a continuation bet equal to the pot size might be enough to get your opponents to fold holdings of all but AA or KK. In a limit game, it sometimes is not even possible to drive out a player holding a pair of twos.

In either a cash game or tourney, I always have to consider folding my AK if I am faced with a re-raise, which would indicate a strong hand help by my opponent. I would also have to consider if I was being bluffed. But with AK, I still don’t have a made hand, just a good draw and faced with a re-raise I would have to have good pot odds before I would consider calling. I would lean to folding before committing more of my chips to the pot.

What are your thoughts about AK? Does it matter if they are suited or unsuited? Do you win well with AK? Have you overcommitted with them?

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Playing a hand too strongly with a bad kicker … costly ….

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Definition: Kicker – A kicker, also called a side card, is a card in a poker hand that does not itself take part in determining the rank of the hand, but that may be used to break ties between hands of the same rank

Last night at the Twitter Poker Tour tourney, I managed to avoid the tendencies of  getting into fancy plays. I played my good hands strongly, my drawing hands cautiously and my bad hands occasionally.  I did this in such a way that opponents would not be sure which hand was what. The way I played my final hand, however,  was not sound.

I was in the big blind with my hole cards being a Q3 off-suit. The flop came down Q 7 Q. There were five other players already in the pot. The pot total was around $340 and I had a chip stack of $1,650. I thought for a moment and then put in a pot size bet of $340. That got rid of all but one player. His stack size was about double mine and he made the call. There was now about $1,200 in chips in the pot and I made a quick decision to shove all in – thinking that by doing so he would fold.

You can see where this is heading. He had a larger stack, he called the pot size bet. He was probably worried about my having made a full house. But with my over bet, he realized that he probably had the best hand with the better kicker and that I did not have a full house.

He called the all-in raise, and showed an Ace Queen to my Queen three. The turn was a five, the river card was a two and I did not hit my three outer (there might have been at least three three’s left in the deck that could have made a full house for me).

I was out of the game in 30th place from a starting field of 43 players. I could have avoided being elimiated by taking the time allowed to think about what had happened prior to my going all-in. Why had he called my pot size bet? I should have realized that he was calling because the flop matched his hand as well.

At that point I should have just checked the hand down or folded to a raise. That alone would have left me with $1,300 in chips. The bottom line of this explanation is that if you don’t have a strong kicker, you need to play differently perhaps more slowly or faster. If I had gone all-in after the flop, my opponent would have had no way to figure out if I had a full house or not. Plus he would not have been getting the right pot odds to call. Had I made the full house, I might still have had a problem in the event that he made a larger full house, so I still would have had to proceed cautiously.

I wish to congratulate the top five finishers of the TPT Tilt # 9 event for their fine finishes.

1: thatslife1969
2: ffcowboy76,
3: Shackedin06
4: rhoegg
5: Zonetrap

I am looking forward to next weeks #TPT Stars Event #9.

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Avoiding FPS at the TPT and hoping for a positive EV

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Talk about alphabet soup in the winter, my post contains a lot of TLA’s (three letter acronyms).  It is believed that Mike Caro, aka the “The Mad Genius of Poker,” coined the phrase “Fancy Play Syndrome” or FPS. This almost sounds like a disease and to a poker player, it could be. Try Googling “fancy play syndrome” (with the quotes) to  see over 2,600 additional references about “FPS”.

The basics of FPS is playing in a way designed to lose more than you gain. This includes playing strong when you are weak. Playing good hands as though you are weak and those actions can be very costly over the lifetime of a poker player’s career.

And the interesting part about FPS is that it can be contagious just like the cold that I now have. Tonight at 9 pm EST is the TPT: Tilt Event #9 hosted by the Twitter Poker Tour I am registered and ready to play in that tournament and to try regaining my lead in the leader board with a good finish tonight.

If I can avoid FPS tonight at the #TPT (Twitter Poker Tour), I should have a positive EV or expected value. Briefly, EV has to do with the results you hope to obtain while betting on a certain hand versus what you think your opponent might have. Hands that give you a good probability of winning, are hands you should bet. Hands with a lower probability of winning are hands you should fold. Easier said then done, but those are some of the basics that I need to apply tonight in order to achieve the results I desire.

Getting ready for tonight, I have played in about 10 SNG’s (Sit and Go tournaments) and I placed in the money in 4 of those, ending up with a profit for the 10 tourneys played.

What have you done to get ready for tonight?
Do you have a favorite book that you read to brush up on tournament play with tough opponents?
Are you playing tonight for the fun of it?
Or are you playing to win because that is also fun?

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Favorite Hands vs Winning Hands vs Losing Hands

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I have a group of Poker Twitter friends and they were tweeting about their favorite hands. That got me to thinking about what hands I like to see when I look down at my hole cards. Those cards differ of course depending on the game I am playing, but in Texas Holdem give me pocket Aces every time.  The actual odds of being dealt pocket Aces is about 220 to 1 or once in every 220 hands that are dealt to you. I have not played enough hands yet to say I have a favorite hand other than the Aces.

Using PokerTracker3, I have an overall history of more than 3,500 hands so far of games played. What follows are my best winning hands.

Hand       Dealt        %won         $won    avg. per hand

AA 17 95.83 $59.00 $3.47
A4s 8 50 $51.50 $6.44
QJs 3 66.67 $35.50 $11.83
KJo 13 61.54 $35.15 $2.70
KTs 9 87.5 $33.30 $3.00
AKo 33 60 $33.00 $1.00
K9s 4 75 $32.15 $8.04
QTo 26 50.6 $30.65 $1.17
ATo 24 41.67 $30.06 $1.25
KQs 5 80 $25.40 $5.08

The following hands have cost me the most money so far, hands that I have lost with.
Hand       Dealt  %loss    $loss    avg. per hand

ATs 4 100 ($55.00) $13.75
A4o 13 100 ($29.60) $2.28
99 10 50 ($28.05) $2.80
95s 6 100 ($22.06) $3.68
AJo 20 20 ($21.68) $1.08
QQ 10 40 ($20.82) $2.08
55 7 14.29 ($20.50) $2.93
A9s 4 25 ($20.50) $5.12
KJs 3 33.33 ($20.25) $6.75

Based on the above results so far, my favorite hand in Texas Holdem is AA and my worse hand is ATs. Of course there is a lot more to the results than just the hands. How the flow, the turn, and the river was played after getting these hands helped determine the amount lost or won. I think that this is the fun part of poker. Analyzing results and then trying to apply that knowledge to your game. In all actuality, it is not really the hand you are dealt that makes a difference, it is how you play them and how you play your opponents. You can win pots with a 7 2 hand if you know how.

What are your favorite hands? How do you play them? What is your overall success rate?

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Decisions for a budding poker pro

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What to do, when to do it, how to do it and why do it?

Most of the literature I have read about becoming a poker professional states that I should play regularly at least 40 hours a week, as if poker is my full time job. My thoughts are that I should do this as a part time job and devote no more than 20 to 30 hours a week to poker. That should give me the additional supplemental income that I would like to make. I would be doing something that I love doing; playing poker, reading poker, studying poker, discussing poker, and writing about poker. Hmm. Have I left anything out?

Once of the first decisions that must be made is to choose the type of game that gives the best chances to win. That decision is not easy and requires some study and decisions. In order to be a well rounded professional poker player, one should know the fundamentals of most of the games available. There will be times when playing a different game may be the only choice available on a given day, so you should be ready.
There are so many poker game choices. The following are just a few of the available ones:
Game Choices:
Texas Holdem
Omaha / Omaha High/Low
Stud Poker, Stud Poker Hiigh/Low
5 Card Draw
2-7 Triple Draw, 2-7 Single Draw

Types of betting limits choices:
Fixed Limit, Pot Limit, and No Limit betting each have their own style of playing requirements. Not all poker players do well in all three categories. That is to say, some do better at No Limit, but not at Fixed or Pot Limit. These choices need to be looked at based on your playing results. If you are not sure which is best for you, try playing at least 100 sessions of each and track your results and how comfortable you felt playing that style of betting. Choose the lowest limits possible so that you won’t kill your bankroll finding out which betting limit works for you. Yes, I know, they play a little wilder at the lower limits but at least you will learn how to deal with bad beats and how not to go “on tilt”.

Tournaments versus cash games or both
There is the decision of whether to enter the cash games or the tournaments or both. There are pros and cons to either one of those choices and sometimes it comes down to dollars and cents. If you have a good track record in tourneys, but not cash games or vice versa, your choice becomes a little easier. If you are good at both, then the rate of return might be the determining factor. While you could win larger sums in large tournaments, the time spent might not yield a good hourly earning rate for you. Plus you have to win high enough in position to get one of the top prizes. If you don’t play online, then travel costs and other related items such as travel time and the inconvenience of living out of your suitcase in a strange town come into play.

Choosing where to play can be difficult.
If you play online, you need to be sure that you can get your winnings and be able to withdraw them easily. You need to be sure that the online fees for the winning pots, called the rake, are not so high as to cause you to lose a large percentage of your winnings. Even at a live casino or poker room, you have to contend with the rake and tipping the dealer when you win a pot. All of these are factors that must be considered.

When to play:
You need to consider the day of the week and the time of day that will give you a favorable return. If you play in casinos and poker rooms, you might find that the tight players are there during the weekdays in the early afternoons and stay until dinner time. During that time, you might not win much because of their tight playing style. After 5pm, in come the young guns, a little bit looser and wanting a lot more action. These players might be where  your source of income will come from, as well as your losses. Their loose play could mean they stay in a hand until the last card, even though the pot odds and implied odds do not justify it. The weekend players may be entirely different then the week day players.

All of this is certainly a lot to think about, but if you are excited and interested in learning, playing, and discussing poker, then this just adds to the level of fun and excitement that you can have planning out your professional poker career choices.

What decisions have you made? What games do you play? Why do you play them? What have your results been? Are you playing for entertainment as well as profit? Do you do this full or part time? Do you consider yourself to be a pro or semi-pro?  Any thoughts or questions?

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