Poker playing and life – very similar?

Roulette Wheel
Image by Keith Park via Flickr

In life and in poker we do take some gambles  but we try to base our decisions on the information we have available. Sometimes this information is gathered by observation, sometime by reading and sometimes by listening.  The source might be an expert or an experienced person or someone who is full of hot air. We don’t always know for sure what the results might be.

If we have done our homework and know what we are getting into, then we have done about all that we needed to do to assure a reasonable outcome.  You can see how this analogy might apply to both life and poker.

When we are building a house, we either need to know a lot about the process or know someone else who does. It is up to us to find out if the information we are getting is the best possible.  If we are playing poker, we need to know a lot about the process or know someone that does. You can either learn by personal experience or learn from the experiences of others. This learning could even be a combination of both.

Unlike a spin of the roulette wheel, we would like the results of our decisions to be a high percentage win, either in life or in poker (which could be one and the same). You don’t always win but sometimes you get close.

Take for example, us, the Brogans. We wanted to build a specific type of house with certain features. Some of these features were must have – like the energy saving features – some we could life without or put off getting until later. We based our house building on our available bankroll and bought a house that was within our ability to purchase and pay for. We were about 70% successful in getting what we wanted. Could we have done better? Probably, but the experience we gained will help us going forward.

When I play poker, I try to do the same. I have a certain amount of monies set aside for poker and I try to play within the limit that I feel comfortable  and confident about.

What about you? Do you take risks for the sake of the rewards regardless of the cost? Do you try to find a ratio of risk and reward that works for you both in poker and in life?  What are your thoughts about life and poker?

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Card dead at the #TPT last night

Poker Cards
Image by Daniel Gasienica via Flickr

Last night I played on the Twitter Poker Tour event held on the FullTiltPoker site. The game started at 9pm ET and there were 25 players  on three tables.

Overall my play was not too bad but I finished in 16th place out of 25 players. My biggest problem was the lack of quality hands. I was dealt 120 hands and had only three pocket pairs all evening. A pair of sixes once and a pair of fives twice. That was it. No other pocket pairs. No #fleapowder (pocket Queens named as such by @CoolWhipFlea because he almost always looses with that hand) , no AK’s known also as “big slick”.  I got the usual AQ, AT, AJ, Ace little which is any Ace with a card smaller than a ten.

For the most part I won small pots and lost large pots when I tried to use less than good hands to try to win with. Overall, I lasted one hour twenty one minutes and who knows how many seconds. I gave most of my chips away to either “Street 3” or the “GoofyRooster” and they finished ninth and third respectively using MY CHIPS. LOL.

That is my excuse and I am sticking to it.

Have you ever played in a tourney or game where you just were not getting any reasonable cards to play? Did it seem that no matter what you had, your opponent always had a slightly better hand? When you finally left the table after busting out, were you able to shake off the feeling the loss gave to you?

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All good things must come to an end …

Looking bleak
Image by Jim B L via Flickr

Lately most of my cash game play has been done at Limit Hold ‘Em games on DoylesRoom.com where I have been running well, meaning that I have been winning by the time I leave the table.

Last night I had about an hour left in the day for poker so I thought – why not try out AbsoultePoker again. I have been playing better of late, perhaps I can survive and make a profit playing at their .50/1.00 Limit Hold ‘Em Bad Beat Tables.

My initial buy in was for $10 and I proceeded to lose all of that in just the first 45 minutes of play. My pocket Aces which turned into a set of three Aces after the flop  were flushed down the drain when someone made a flush on the river holding a 7 2 of diamonds. That’s right – a 7 2 right to the river against my raising and re-raising. They were hoping for a one in five chance of making a flush and they did so. In fact, I was flushed out of my starting stack of $10 at least four different times during that session. All of the flushes occurred at the river.

I sat out a few hands before rebuying in for another $10. I managed to lose most of that as well, but at least it was not to flushes so much as it was to better hands. My pocket eights lost to pocket nines.  My AK pre-flop would not hold up. I went down to as low as $2.10 before getting back up to $5.80. I decided that I had enough poker for the night. I left the game losing $14 over all. Still ahead for the week, but learned a painful lesson that I don’t do well or am not wild enough to play at the “bad beat tables” at Absolute.

Do you have sites or table types where no matter what hands you have you just seem to lose to hands that probably should have folded pre-flop or post flop?  Does it seem that the wild ones are winning more than their share of hands? Do you avoid playing those sites or do you continue to play, knowing that eventually your proper play will win out?

Note: It was pointed out to me by@cprpoker that the image I used for the post was from my twitter poker friend @72suited‘s blog. For the record, I was an add-in called “Zemata” which does an automatic search for images based on the content of my blog or a dedicated search term and the contents of my blog. This was a fun coincidence.

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Hmm. Same avatar, same name, but they play differently….

Double Mask
Image by jorgeq via Flickr

For the last few days I have been running well, playing Limit Hold ‘Em cash/ring games at DoylesRoom. While yesterday was a successful venture, I found that the players at the table to be a little better than the night before and my overall win rate went down from $20 an hour to $5 and hour. Being that this is a .50/1.00 limit table, this is still good for that level.

Not only were the players better than the night before,   I also noticed that one of these players acted differently last night as opposed to Sunday night. Either their meds had not kicked in or perhaps more than one person shares a user name and login. Possibly college students? Maybe they have MPPD – multiple poker personality disorder? This was an interesting observation – I will have to see if this is a regular occurrence. I have seen an instance of something like this on FullTiltPoker where someone asked a player if he was say “Matt” but he responded, “no, Tim”. I did not think much about it at the time.

While this would be much harder to do face to face, I wonder how many people share accounts online?  I know that I have let my wife Diane play a Sit N Go using my login on occasion. She does show an active interest in the game and soon will have her own login and account. She has played in charity No Limit Hold ‘Em Poker events and has done better than I at some of those events.

Have you ever encountered someone online that played and acted totally different from one day to the next? Has this ever happened playing people face to face? How did that affect your playing?

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What a difference a day can make…

DoylesRoom.
Image via Wikipedia

In my last few posts, I have shared that I have been doing better in small MTT – multiple table  tourneys – and some Sit N Go’s as opposed to my cash game play.  It has been a little disappointing to me as I consider myself to be a fair to good cash game Limit Hold ‘Em player.

Of late I have been playing most of my cash games at DoylesRoom. This is a site I used to like years ago and now that they are part of Cake Poker, they seem to offer reasonable games and tourneys. I am back playing on their site. My only complaint is that there are not a lot of players there at times, so there are wait times to get on a table unless you are willing to start one up. I will start a table when I notice that there are long wait lists. Once I do, the others waiting to play will usually join me. A side benefit to starting tables is that it has helped me improve my short handed playing skills while waiting for the table to fill up.

Based on my readings and videos watched, I have a good understanding of the way the game should be played. I think that my recent lack of good results has been that I am now playing more experienced players. I just moved from the .25/.50 tables to the .50/1.00 and did not expect to have much trouble in doing so. But I was wrong.

I initially failed to see how these new opponents were playing? What their tendencies were? What hands they would play to the end, good or bad. It takes some time to figure this out and sometimes the information I got was wrong because some of the players varied their play so I was never quite sure what they had.

Prior to last night I used to be fairly tight, mostly calling if I was not in the big or small blind and hoping to see the flop for a cheap price before deciding what I would do next.  Last night it all clicked for me.  I would come into the pot with a good hand or good draw with a raise. This helped to drive out the tighter players. If I hit my flop or the flop looked like it did not hit my opponents, I would either put in a continuation raise or check with the intention of check-raising my opponents. The ones I have been playing against are very aggressive and my checking would be a sign of weakness so at least one of them would be out to see if they could steal the pot.

In any case, I was running well last night and played in over 30 percent of the hands I was dealt. My starting stack was $20 and I left the table with $70 for a gain of $50 for about two hours of playing. That is an hourly rate I could live with. As I am playing the same people a good percentage of the time, I expect that they will make adjustments to me and I will do the same.

Do you know all your players at the ring games you play? Do you take the time to record the type of hands they will play? Does this help your results?

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A good weekend online

Bad Beat on Cancer Pin
Image by larrykang via Flickr

There was a lot of poker this weekend and I was pleased with the results overall. I played in eight tourneys and Sit and Go’s and cashed in five of them. The only cash game I played in was a disaster for me. I played exactly the opposite of how I should have. Loss of focus and money.

Perhaps the most interesting of the events was the Twitter Poker Tour – Bad Beat on Cancer charity poker event that was held on FullTiltPoker Sunday at 6pm.  There were 103 entrants to the event.  I  was involved in 70 hands before finishing in 65th place. While I did not finish as well I would have liked I found it a learning experience.

On my drawing hands I was made to feel very uncomfortable by a player who always raised about six times the value of the big blind. Once when this happened I had a hand that I was comfortable in re-raising with and I did and he folded. But most of the time I was forced to fold my drawing hands that I did not feel were strong enough. It was definitely annoying having to deal with an opponent like that. And that is what I took away from the tournament. I need to adapt my style to combat that type of opponent if I want to succeed as a tournament player. He finished in 10th place so it worked for him. At one point, with twelve remaining, he was the chip leader, so maybe it did not work that well?

Do you learn and grow from your experiences? Do you take something from both your losses and your wins?  Would you have dome some things differently if you had the chance?

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Thursday's adventure results

Online Poker
Image by T.R.G. via Flickr

Yesterday, I played in both of the Twitter Poker Tour events held on FullTiltPoker. While I considered my play adequate, I was unable to finish in the top three of either event.

In the Twitter Poker Tour – Europe held at 7pm GMT, 2pm ET, I finished 6th out of 8 and 14 out of 24 in the 9pm ET tourney. My better hands did not hold up. In one hand I lost 2/3 of my stack holding pocket eights. The flop was 2 4 2, I bet and was called. The turn was another 2, giving me a full house. My opponent went all in and I called. He was holding a 2 5 giving him four of a kind, quad 2’s. I was never really able to recover after that loss, winning very few pots. My pocket Aces were always folded to pre-flop when I was in the blinds.

To make matters even worse, my Internet connection kept dropping for seconds at a time. In one hand that I was in, I had pocket tens and would have played the hand aggressively but my connection timed out and my hand was automatically folded. The two remaining players in the hand went all-in and each had the same hand, a K 4 with the flop having a king, giving them each a pair and splitting the pot. There was also a ten on the flop which would have given me three of a kind and I would have won most of the chips from the two other opponents. Oh well, thank you very much Internet Provider!

I played in four Sit N Go’s as well yesterday. One I played in between the two tourneys, and won it in first place.While not an easy game, I had gone from third place to last and ended up playing heads up with my opponent being the chip leader who had about 10,000 in chips to my 5,000. The heads up play lasted almost 30 minutes and the lead changed at least four times between us.It was a fast paced vicious exciting battle. Using the 1900 chips I had left, I played  fast and aggressive. I won the Sit N Go with all of the chips at the finish. The play was rapid fire at the end with plenty of raises, re-raises, folds and finally a game ending all-in confrontation.

After the last TPT event, I played in three “Double or Nothing” Sit N Go’s and won two out of three of those as well. So timing is everything and I was not destined to finish high the TPT events yesterday.

Do you plan to win each time you play in a tourney? Do you have a goal in mind prior to game time? Does visualizing your goal help you achieve the results you are looking for?

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Thursday adventures ….

Clock in the Royal Observatory, Greenwich, UK.
Image via Wikipedia

It will be interesting to see how today goes. There are two events scheduled today, sponsored by the Twitter Poker Tour, a 7 PM GMT
(2 PM ET) event, Twitter Poker Tour – Europe ID #101212319, and a 9 PM ET event, Twitter Poker Tour ID #101262104. Both of these events will be played on FullTiltPoker.

In past seasons, I have done well at these events and I am looking forward to a successful finish in at least one of these events today.

Of late I have been playing mostly cash games of Limit Hold ‘Em, which involves a slightly different playing strategy than No Limit Hold ‘Em. Having played so many Limit cash games, yesterday I tried playing four Sit N Go’s of No Limit and had absolutely no success. Not even one cash out. The closest was a fourth place finish. I even finished last in a Limit Sit N Go game. These weren’t exactly the type of results I was looking for.

I have decided to not play any more practice games prior to these events. I might play in a tourney either before or after but not any Sit N Go’s today.

How to you prepare yourself to play? Do you warm up at other games? Do you go for a walk or a jog? Lift weights? What gets you ready to play a tourney you want to win?

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It might be time for live games ….

Cártel de la frontera del estado de Nueva Hamp...
Image via Wikipedia

I live in Fremont NH and I have just found out that there are at least three poker rooms with 30 minutes of my home and seven poker rooms overall that are close to me in New Hampshire. The ones closest are in  Seabrook, Manchester, and Salem NH.  So far the only one I have visited and played at was the Seabrook room. My success there has been spotty. However, this was before I read and re-read my favorite poker books by Mason Malmuth and David Sklansky.

The following is a list of the poker rooms in New Hampshire that I am aware of and their location and hours of operation.

Seabrook Greyhound Park Poker Room, 319 New Zealand Rd, Seabrook, New Hampshire 03874, Poker room phone: 603-474-3065, Age Requirement: 18, Hours: Mon-Thurs: 3pm to 1am
Fri-Sun: 12pm to 1am

Sharky’s Manchester Poker Room, 195 McGregor Street, Manchester, New Hampshire 03102, General phone: 603-606-4456, Age Requirement: 18, Hours: 11am – 1am

River Card Poker Room, 185 Elm Street, Milford, New Hampshire 03055, General phone: 603-249-5548, Age Requirement: 18, Hours: Mon-Thurs: 5pm to 1am, Friday: 3pm to 1am, Sat-Sun: Noon to 1am

Rockingham Park Poker Room, 79 Rockingham Park Blvd, Salem, New Hampshire 03079, General phone: 603-898-2311, Age Requirement: 18, Hours: Mon-Wed: 3pm to 12am, Thursday: 2pm to 12am, Friday: 2pm to 1am, Saturday: 12pm to 1am, Sunday: 12pm to 12am

Sharky’s Dover Poker Room, 887b Central Avenue, Dover, New Hampshire 03820,General phone: 603-749-090, Age Requirement: 18

Sharky’s Keene Poker Room, 401 Winchester Street, Keene, New Hampshire 03431, General phone: 603-357-3038, Poker room phone: ext. 195, Age Requirement: 18

Lodge at Belmont Poker Room, Route 106, Belmont, New Hampshire 03220, General phone: 877-872-2501, Age Requirement: 18, Hours: Wed-Fri: 4pm to 1am, Saturday: 2pm to 1am, Sunday: Noon to 1am.

In the next few months, I plan to visit each room and play some Limit Hold ‘Em and try to get a feel for each room. I am aware that each room may have a different group of players and that the day of the week and the hours of the day that I play might make a difference in my results. I will collect my notes for each room and le you know what I find out.

Do you have poker rooms near to you? Do you have a favorite one? Do you prefer face to face play versus online playing?

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From NIT to Donk within 24 hours

Laughing Donkey
Image by jaxxon via Flickr

In my last post I ragged on and on about the way some of the poker players on Absolute Poker took extreme risks with bad hands in the hopes of winning a piece of the “bad beat” jackpot. In my last three sessions on AP I came away with less than what I started with. Even though I played mostly like a NIT, a tight passive player trying to avoid confrontations without having the best hand, I suffered some loses as the result of some players catching their miracle card at the river.

For a change of pace, the next day I decided to play at Doyles Room. While the pace there is usually quick, you can do well if you are a TAG type player, “tight and aggressive” or even a nitty type. I like to observe before jumping into the fray so I was able to join the table and wait for the big blind prior to playing a hand.

I saw at least six hands played out and noticed that the player to my left seemed bent on self-destruction. She had over $20 in her stack which went up to $24 and down to $8 before I had even played a hand. This was one player to watch out for as she would play any Ace and tried to raise people out of pots.

During the course of an hour of play I was able to increase my stack by 70% and avoided confrontations from the wild player on my left … except on the hand that I was dealt pocket Kings. This time I not only called her raise, I re-raised her pre-flop as well.

But there was a slight problem. There was another player that was just calling these raises, meaning that there were three of us playing in this hand.  The flop came out 3 Q 4 unsuited so I did not have to worry about flush draws.  By this time the player on my left was all-in, leaving just the remaining player and myself with chips. He would bet and I would call. This happened for the flop, turn and river.

I was concerned, but there was already too much in the pot to give up on my pair of Kings.  At the end of the hand, I turned over my Kings, the wild player turned over an Ace Two unsuited, as I suspected. But the third player in the hand turned over a pair of Queens giving him the best hand, three Queens, and a good size pot containing about $14. While pocket Kings were good at the start, I failed to consider what hands might be beating me before deciding to call, raise or fold. This episode cost me about half of my chips, leaving me with less then half of what I had started with.

After that hand, I only caught two playable hands and won some chips, bringing me back up to within 50% of my starting amount. One of the final hands I played before ending my play at Dyles, involved getting an Ace King unsuited in middle position. I raised the pot and got only one caller, the rest having folded to my raise. The flop was  2 4 9 unsuited. No help for me but probably no help for the other player who called a pre-flop raise to stay in the hand. After the flop, I raised and he called. The turn card was a seven. I put the other player as having a face card or perhaps a Jack Ten so this was probably no help as well. I bet and he called. The river card was a three. No help for me but probably no help for the other player as well. I bet out and he called.  I was right, not one of the community cards in the middle helped his hand. He already had a pair of pocket Tens and the best hand. I should have just checked down the hand and folded if he raised, instead I donked off some of my chips in the hopes that a bare AK would take down the pot.

Do you ever have days where you are the hero and then have days where you are the “donk”?  Don’t you hate when that happens?

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