March 24, 2008
On my way out to Pittsburgh, I’m currently enjoying a 2-hour layover in Las Vegas.
I rarely carry much cash on me, and coming to this airport, I only had $2 in my wallet. My intent was to lose that $2 playing Wheel of Fortune, but my plans have gone awry. My first pull on the machine, I hit a spin for $20.
Good times… And I think I have the willpower to stop here, so I’ll call it a good start
July 30, 2007
My company does sales kickoff meetings twice a year, in January and July. About 4 years back, I started a tradition where we have a poker tournament on the second night of the meetings. It’s not a company-sponsored event, but we’ve now gotten to the point where over half the company participates, and I expect the number to rise next January.
As I’ve pointed out, I’ve actually won the tournament twice, January 2006 and July 2006. We played again a few weeks ago, and I had big hopes for my entry fee. After all, I’ve got a baby on the way, karma should dictate that I win another one, right? Given the size of the tournament, with 32 players (buy-in of $40 each minus food/beer), we had our first prize pool in excess of $1000, and our 1st-place prize was nearly $500. It’s by far the biggest we’ve had (the last one was 26 players), and with the new office we moved into, we had four nice tables in one room.
The tournament started off well. I played ultra-conservative, and won a few mid-size pots as the blinds started raising. As is typical, I don’t remember a single hand I won. As I started building some chips, it was about time to press.
One hand came along, and I had A-T suited. I raised pre-flop, and pushed all but one other player out of the hand. Flop comes queen and two blanks. He had position, and bet into me. I pushed and raised him, hoping to catch him out on a bluff. It wasn’t many chips, but given my conservative play, I knew it would make him think. He called, and I was worried. Turn comes, another blank. He checks, and rather than throw more chips away, I check behind him. The river comes, another blank, and he bets big into me. Given that I was on nothing more than ace-high, I had to step away from the hand.
Not long after, I pulled pocket 5’s. Pre-flop, I raise, trying to push everyone off the hand. One guy stays with me, and he’s a serious player, so I know I’ve got to tread lightly. Flop comes A-2-3, giving me an inside straight draw, but with a big card out, scaring the hell out of me. He checks to me, perhaps thinking I’m holding an ace. I bet 200 chips into him, looking to push him off if he’s holding KQ or something similar. I know he can’t call without an ace. Well, he doesn’t call. He moves all-in. This puts me in a tough spot. I know he’s a strong enough player to make a bluff on that, but also know that he knows I’m a conservative player, and won’t get into a hand if I don’t have something. I felt a little like the below scene… I knew what I knew, knew what he knew, but knew that he knew that I knew what he knew. So all bets were off. I judged that there was no way he’d make a move like that on me without an ace, and even if he didn’t have an ace, it was too early in the tournament for me to throw it away on a hunch. So I folded again. I did find out the next day that he was holding an ace with a weak kicker, so we were both in a position of non-strength, but I was happy with my decision.
So at this point, my stack is starting to drop off. Blinds are raising, and I need to find a place to make a move. I have a little over 400 chips, and the blinds are 50-100. So I’m getting to an all-in or fold moment. Luckily, a dream hand comes. A-Q suited. In position. You can’t ask for much more than that. I figure I’m a shoo-in to steal the blinds, and if I do get into a hand, there’s only a few hands that I’m actually an underdog to. So I move in. Everyone folds but the big blind, who (I wasn’t paying attention and didn’t realize it) was pot-committed. He’s in for maybe 275 chips or so, and he’s dwindling so far that in the big blind, I think he’d have called on anything. Well, he had 6-7 offsuit, so there’s not much “anything” below that. Granted, I’m a fair favorite in this hand, but I know all it takes is a 6 or 7 to beat me. And a 6 comes on the flop, but so does my queen. So I’m no longer a fair favorite, I’m now a pretty strong favorite. We’ve each got a pair, but I’ve got the big pair and there’s only two cards to come. And then he hits his 7 on the river, to beat me with two pair, leaving me in an UGLY chip position.
Now I’m desperate. With the blinds at 50-100, and me with only 120 chips in front of me, I know I need to pick my best hand and move in with it, and pray for luck. And again, a hand comes along… Ace-King offsuit (king is clubs). That’s a heck of a lot better than I can expect when I’m only two seats out of the blind, so I move in (obviously). Given the tiny move it was, three players stick in the pot. Flop comes with three clubs in it. I’m thinking I’ve got a shot, but two other players move all-in on the hand (the third player folds), so I’m a bit worried. The guy who moved me off the pot earlier shows two low clubs, and the guy who is about to double him up shows something else (it was obviously inconsequential at this point). So all I need is a fourth club and I’m golden, I quadruple up and the other guy still makes a nice big pot. The turn is a red card. River is an ace, but not of clubs. And I’m done.
All told, in a field of 32, I finished roughly in the high teens. Not great, but I didn’t do anything stupid. Looking at all the hands I played, I can’t think of a way that I could have played a single one better, given the circumstances. I’ve had tournaments where I’ve won but made some questionable decisions, but this was one of those days that I made great decisions yet still lost. So I was happy with my performance, just not my results.
I was a bit pleased that the tournament was won by a fellow Boilermaker. There are only two Purdue guys in the entire company, and between us we’ve won the tournament 3 times. Given that the company is in California, and Purdue is in Indiana, I think that’s a nice bragging point. He was at a different table, so I didn’t get to see his tournament, but I’m told it hinged on one hand. For some reason he called two all-in bets preflop with 2-4. Nobody knows why he did it. But I think he ended up making a full-house with that hand, and that was the one everyone remembers. One guy in particular, Joe, who is a decent player, was complaining about that hand all night long, as he got knocked out. But the winner, counting a little side bet, walked away with over $500.
We’ve had a few side games occur during the tournaments. I decided, for the first time, to actually take part in this game this time. Usually if I’m not at the final table, I’m observing it, in order to get enough interesting information to write a poker summary that the entire company has grown to expect the next day. But this time, I decided to throw responsibility to the wind, and join the “loser’s” table.
We ended up with 8 players, in for $20 each. We started with a huge number of chips in comparison to the blinds, and we ended up being ahead of the blinds the whole tournament. Given my conservative nature, I love playing with enough chips to disregard the blinds. I’m sure I could have simply folded into 3rd place (the low-money spot), and possibly even into second. With players who were all amped-up and looking to make up for their poor performance in the big tourney, it was a lot of wild betting with little purpose. So I just sat back and played a tight-aggressive strategy, and watched as everyone picked each other off. Getting down to 4th place, I knew I was in decent shape. When we finally hit the money, I started opening things up a bit, as I was the short stack at the table (without being a small stack, I was still the shortest at the table). I also started getting some decent cards.
We knocked off another player, and were down to 2. I started pulling a few big hands, and took the chip lead by a decent margin. A hand came up, and I was holding 2-7 suited. Not very good, but I was in the big blind and my opponent, Joe*, simply called. So with a free flop, I checked. Flop came 7 and two other blanks. I move all-in, knowing I’ve probably got the best hand and that my opponent will see the move as a bluff. He calls. Turn comes 7, and river comes 2, for a full house.
I managed to win the loser’s table, but considering that I won $90, I was still $30 in the positive. And that’s not even counting the case and a half of free beer. It was cheap beer, but it was free cheap beer, so I’ll take it.
All in all, a nice evening. I certainly would have liked to win the whole thing, but any time you make money is a good night in a poker tournament.
* Joe is the same guy who lost to me with 2-7, and the winner of the big tournament with 2-4. Not exactly his night, and he’s still complaining about that!
July 29, 2007
I used to smoke. My friends when I started were all Marlboro Red smokers, so that’s what I started with. Over time I switched to Camel, and eventually Camel Lights. But I had heard that smoking lights wasn’t any less unhealthy than smoking regulars. The reason is that smokers, when they switch to lights, tend to take deeper and longer drags in order to compensate for the lighter “feel” of the cigarette.
I realized over the last few nights that the same thing occurs with light beer. Recently I did a poker night with a bunch of coworkers (I’ll have to post that story soon), and since I organize it, I’m always there to the end. We reached the end of the night and had a case and a half of beer left, so I managed to bring that home with me. It was a case of Coors Light, and half a case of Bud. These are two things that never see the inside of my fridge.
The Bud was actually better than I expected. It had a more full taste than most American macro beers I’ve had, and I’d seriously consider buying it sometimes instead of Miller Lite, my usual beer when I’m just looking for something cheap and drinkable. But the Coors Light, well, wasn’t full-bodied. I can take an average bottle of craft brew, and I find if I’m just having one in the evening I’ll gladly nurse it for an hour, taking my time. But the Coors Light was different. With such a light body and flavor, I find I’m taking bigger gulps more often. I can sit drinking a nice IPA for an hour, I might finish a Coors Light in 15 minutes and feel completely unsatisfied.
It seems just like light cigarettes. Light beer might have less calories and alcohol than regular beer, but if you drink more of them and drink them faster, you’re not doing yourself any good. Might as well get the real stuff and at least feel satisfied afterwards, right?
July 21, 2007
This is an angle that I haven’t quite seen exploited on this story:
Poker champion Phil Laak has a good chance of winning when he sits down this week to play 2,000 hands of Texas Hold’em â€” against a computer.
It may be the last chance he gets. Computers have gotten a lot better at poker in recent years; they’re good enough now to challenge top professionals like Laak, who won the World Poker Tour invitational in 2004.
But it’s only a matter of time before the machines take a commanding lead in the war for poker supremacy. Just as they already have in backgammon, checkers and chess, computers are expected to surpass even the best human poker players within a decade. They can already beat virtually any amateur player.
This is a really interesting test of AI. Games like chess are fundamentally different than poker, because a computer knows precisely where all of a competitor’s pieces are located at all given times. In poker, you only have imperfect information. Knowing how to calculate odds is important, but reading your opponent is often more important. You can only guess from your opponents betting trends and behavior as to what cards he holds, and a good pro knows how to vary those trends enough to fool just about anyone.
The question of computers and poker are not new, as I mentioned here. Typical poker programs are set up with a varying level of aggressiveness, willingness to bluff, risk tolerance, etc. Setting up a computer to play a moderately “correct” strategy will usually be enough to beat mediocre players, but against a pro, won’t work at all.
So this will really be a good test of how far AI has come. The better they teach the computer to read Laak and vary its own behavior, the closer we’ll get to a computer that can really “think”. So for geeks, this one is pretty interesting.
There’s a bit of a different component, though… Phil Laak has a nickname, due to his fashion sense (hooded sweatshirts). He’s known as “The Unabomber”. The Unabomber, of course, was the guy who was attacking technology companies. Does anyone else find it a bit coincidental that he’s the guy picked to go against the highest level of artificial intelligence and technology?
April 11, 2007
I know a couple of my readers have regular poker games they attend. Watch out next time, you might have black-clad, heavily-armed men busting down your door.
And people actually wonder why I am a libertarian…
January 18, 2007
As I’ve mentioned before, my company has kickoff meetings twice a year, and we started a tradition a while back to do a poker tournament on the second night of the event. I’ve won the last two events, with the help of some luck, and I knew it couldn’t last forever. We played last night, and had our biggest turnout with 26 players. I managed not to take the last place finish (which is the winner of a lime-green t-shirt, another tradition), but finished 14th of 26, well out of the money. I only got a few decent hands, mostly in positions where I couldn’t make any money from them, and then as the blinds increased just never increased my stack to have breathing room. In the end, I went all-in and was called on a coin-flip hand, where I didn’t come up “heads”…
What was odd, though, was how much turnover there was. None of the paying spots in this tournament were in the money 6 months ago. And while the money seats were definitely dominated by some of the more solid players in the group, there was one statistical outlier in the group. One player who knew very little about poker, and was drinking pretty heavily, worked his way into 2nd place. It’s odd how someone who has to constantly ask what his options are (to be told repeatedly that it’s to “check, bet, or fold”) can manage to get into 2nd place, but when viewed statistically, it’s merely an aberration. We all catch good cards and bad cards. I won two tournaments in a row partly due to good poker, but also heavily due to catching the lucky card precisely when I needed it. This guy managed to catch the cards without playing good poker, and it was enough to get all the way to the end of the tournament. But it’s still disturbing. I watched as the guy who eventually won (who is an excellent player) was getting frustrated at his inability to destroy a player who had no idea what he was doing.
I’m reminded of something in poker. Being a good poker player is a tremendous indicator of long-term success. But it means absolutely nothing when short-term success is considered.
January 10, 2007
I can’t say I like this show. Howie Mandel and the whole pace of the “we’ll progress to the next step— after this break” is annoying as hell. That being said, it’s a brilliant concept.
But I find that people don’t understand the game one bit. There’s one crucial bit of knowledge that has nothing to do with the game, but which every person who is on it focuses on:
WHAT’S IN YOUR CASE DOESN’T MATTER!
All that matters is what’s left on the board and how many cases you have to choose. The offer you’re given is typically slightly lower than the probability of the outcome you would get, so the entire key is what’s on the board. You should never* open the case you initially chose, so what is in that case doesn’t make a difference.
I was watching tonight, as a lady had $1, $50, $400K, $500K, $750K, and $1M on the board. Basically, it’s a dream board. At that point, you take no offer— no matter what it is— until you get down to a situation where you have only have one big number left. This lady got several big offers until she got to the point where the only things left on the board were $1, $50, and $1M, with an offer of $313K. At that point you’re forced to take the offer, because the benefit of $313K is worth forgoing the 33% chance you have of picking the $1M case on the next turn and losing it all.
Mathematically, it’s a simple game. It’s a simple probability question, and if I got a chance to actually be on the show, I’d know exactly how to make the right and wrong decisions. Of course, I’m not prone to insane emotion, so I wouldn’t make for good TV, but I’d be sure to only make the gambles that are likely to pay off.
* It is a rare circumstance where you actually end up getting to the point you choose that final case. If there are two big numbers left on the board, you may end up going down to the final choice as a gamble. I.e. if the two numbers left on the board are $500K and $750K, you’ll probably get an offer somewhere around $610K. In that situation, I’ll make the gamble for $750K even though it could screw me out of $110K. Note that I say it would screw me out of $110K, not out of $250K, because that would be the difference compared to the offer.
December 13, 2006
And this is what Ted Stevens thinks of the internets:
Ten movies streaming across that, that Internet, and what happens to your own personal Internet? I just the other day got… an Internet was sent by my staff at 10 o’clock in the morning on Friday, I got it yesterday. Why? [...] They want to deliver vast amounts of information over the Internet. And again, the Internet is not something you just dump something on. It’s not a big truck. It’s a series of tubes. And if you don’t understand those tubes can be filled and if they are filled, when you put your message in, it gets in line and it’s going to be delayed by anyone that puts into that tube enormous amounts of material, enormous amounts of material.
I hate it when my coworkers send me an Internet and it gets delayed!
Now, I knew there were people less knowledgeable about computers and the internet than my father. I just didn’t know they were in the Senate.
always usually funnier than I am, really gave it a more complete treatment. Responding to Stevens’ question of why the “Internet” was delivered late:
“Maybe it’s because you don’t seem to know jack shit about computers or the Internet â€” but that’s okay â€” you’re just the guy in charge of regulating it.“
Watch below for as hilarity ensues.
October 19, 2006
Earlier this week, I saw something odd. When I caught the first college football lines, I was dumbstruck to see that Wisconsin was only a 4.5 point favorite over Purdue. Purdue is 5-2, with only one blowout win, and we lost by a large margin against the only two decent teams we’ve played. Wisconsin, on the other hand, is 6-1, and outside of a respectable loss to Michigan, has blown out everyone else they’ve played.
So, 4.5? How can that be?! I’m partial to overestimating Purdue’s capabilities, but even I would have set that line between 9 and 11. Apparently, a lot of bettors agree with me, because sportsbook.com has 96% of bettors taking Wisconsin and the points. In fact, it’s shifted so far that way that the line has increased to anywhere between 6 and 7 (depending what Casino you check). Apparently everyone thinks Wisconsin is going to cover. And there’s no way that everyone is wrong, is there?
Or is there? One of the things a good friend of mine— also a bookie— told me once that any time everyone bets one way, he’s reasonably certain the outcome will go the other. Oddsmakers in Vegas aren’t paid to be wrong very often, and if they’re setting a line so low, there’s a reason for it. Oddsmakers are smarter than the average bettor, and it’s a lot more likely that they’re right than that they’re wrong.
I had a chance to catch up with my buddy this week, and brought up the situation, to pick his brain on it. After the conversation, I posted the below thoughts on a Purdue message board where we were discussing the line.
Okay, so I was talking with a bookie I know, and I told him the situation re: Wisconsin. I now realize that since he is an *amateur* bookie, what he said about “most bettors being wrong” was more related to casual bettors, not the big professional gamblers in Vegas. Since he lays most of his bets with casual gamblers, he typically sees that when they all break one way, they’re usually wrong.
He also mentioned something else. Casual gamblers tend to bet the favorite. It’s partly psychological, where you don’t want to hope the team you bet loses but only by less than 3, you want to hope the team you bet wins the game “by enough”. Professional gamblers, OTOH, tend to be underdog bettors. Professional gamblers lay their bets late (Friday/Saturday) So the fact that the line is quickly increasing (now 6-6.5, depending where you look), may be due to the amateur gamblers (the ones who are usually wrong) betting it up big time, and the professionals will swoop in towards the end of the week and it will start to adjust back down.
But here’s where it gets interesting. He thinks the oddsmakers set it too high at 4.5. Wisconsin is a team with a lot of “hype” at this point in the year, who’s been televised nationally several times, and who have a reputation for covering their spread. Naturally, they respond by setting a line higher than they think, because they think the bettors will bet it up. My coworker thinks, based on the situation, that the oddsmakers probably think it should really be 3.5, but set 4.5 trying to set it high, and now the casual gamblers think they’re getting a steal, and they’re swinging it up to 6 or more.
When the professionals see this, they’re going to see that the oddsmakers set it very high, then that the amateurs pushed it even higher. They’ll come in later this week, and bet the house, because seeing the movement will make them think they’re getting a deal.
All this shows one thing: the oddsmakers don’t believe in Wisconsin the way the fans do. And that’s only a good thing for the Boilers.
October 17, 2006
Really, would you expect a liberal to say something this friendly to the forces of liberty?
If an adult in this country, with his or her own money, wants to engage in an activity that harms no one, how dare we prohibit it because it doesn’t add to the GDP or it has no macroeconomic benefit. Are we all to take home calculators and, until we have satisfied the gentleman from Iowa that we are being socially useful, we abstain from recreational activities that we choose?… People have said, What is the value of gambling ? Here is the value. Some human beings enjoy doing it. Shouldn’t that be our principle? If individuals like doing something and they harm no one, we will allow them to do it, even if other people disapprove of what they do.
It’s okay, Barney. You can come out as one of us. I’m sure your family and political party may not approve, but then, supporting freedom in the face of government isn’t very “socially acceptable” these days. Maybe, if you really get adventurous, you might start advocating economic liberty? You may have to add a subscription to The Economist to your repertoire, but it’s a small price to pay to finally let your true colors shine through.
Bravo, Barney. We’re here, we’re libertarian, get used to it!
Hat Tip: Catallarchy
October 4, 2006
As some of you probably noticed, I had a couple of links on the left-hand sidebar that were ads for PartyPoker and two Casinos. I had an affiliate relationship with them, that while it never actually produced money (since I didn’t promote them much), might have been lucrative if people had signed up through my links.
PartyGaming will no longer accept wagers from US Customers once the Act becomes Law.
Customers resident in the United States or accessing us from US will no longer be able to access our real money gaming services. Customers will still be able to use the play money and any non-gambling services we may offer. They will also be able to cash out their present balance if they wish to.
Due to the imminent passing of the Federal Unlawful Gambling Enforcement Act by
the United States Senate on September 30, 2006, and in line with the high level
of service that we have always provided to our affiliates, it is important for
us to advise you that our clients have decided not to accept wagers from
residents in the United States. We will therefore stop handling U.S.-based
traffic effective October 4 2006.
Thanks a lot, Congress. You’ve given a new meaning to “The Land of the Free”. It now holds about as much meaning as you’ve let the 10th Amendment have…
I never thought I’d say this, but it might be time that we here in the USA are going to have to start using proxy servers, like the Chinese, to make sure we can go to the places online that the Feds have determined are too dangerous for us to access.
October 3, 2006
Congress is, once again, doing the Lord’s work, making sure that you don’t have access to immoral offshore gambling web sites.
US President George W. Bush this week is expected to sign a bill making it harder to place bets on the Internet, a practice which already is illegal in the United States.
Bush was expected to act quickly after Congress approved the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act making it illegal for financial institutions and credit card companies to process payments to settle Internet bets. It also created stiff penalties for online wagers.
Billions of dollars are wagered online each year and the United States is considered the biggest market.
The bill’s chief Senate sponsor was conservative Republican Jon Kyl, who, like Leach, has said he believed Internet gambling was a moral threat. He has called online betting as the Internet version of crack cocaine.
“Gambling can be highly addictive, especially when its done over an unregulated environment such as the Internet” he said this year.
You see, you are too weak to make your own choices. Especially in an “unregulated” environment. Perhaps we, the esteemed Congress, might allow you gamble from time to time, but only when we’re watching over you.
This, like every other vice law, doesn’t do anything to stop gambling. Especially since the “unregulated internet” moves a lot faster than Congress. Try to shut down one payment method, another will crop up. Just like with every vice law, from gambling, to drugs, to prostitution; if people want it, they will find a way to get it.
When it comes to a vice law, though, this is typical government behavior. They made it illegal. It didn’t stop it. So they’re going to expand their power, in order to try even harder to find the behavior, and punish it more severely. When that doesn’t work, they’ll expand their power again, expanding their reach and control over our lives, because they have to crack down on this “immoral” behavior.
But the true coup de grace? They’re protecting the family and the children…
“It is extraordinary how many American families have been touched by large losses from Internet gambling,” said US Representative Jim Leach, the bill’s main sponsor in the House, in a statement after its passage early Saturday.
Leach cited research which showed that young people who tend to spend hours of leisure time on the Internet, are particularly vulnerable.
A 2005 survey by the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg Public Policy Center found that 26 percent of male college students gamble in online card games at least once a month, while nearly 10 percent of all college students gambled online at some point last year.
“Never has it been so easy to lose so much money so quickly at such a young age. The casino is in effect brought to the home, office and college dorm.
“Children may play without verification, and betting with a credit card can undercut a players perception of the value of cash, which too easily leads to bankruptcy and crime,” Leach said.
Ahh, it’s for the children… How can you argue with that?
The Unrepentant Individual linked with I Hear China Has Some Good Proxy Servers
July 17, 2006
Our wonderful Congress has decided they need to ban online gambling:
The House easily approved a bill yesterday to curb online poker games, sports betting and other Internet-based wagering that gained infamy as a central focus of a major lobbying scandal.
The 317-to-93 vote came nearly six years to the day after a similar measure went down to surprise defeat. At the time, unknown to its conservative supporters, the bill was derailed by lobbyist Jack Abramoff and the office of then-House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, on behalf of the disgraced lobbyist’s gambling clients.
“This is the opportunity to expunge a smear on this House done by many lobbyists,” Abramoff included, said Rep. Robert W. Goodlatte (R-Va.), one of the legislation’s chief sponsors. “Now is the time to set the record straight.”
Oh, you’ve set the record straight. We can see that you care very little about freedom, but that if you’re getting enough money, you’ll care about whatever you’re paid to.
Thankfully, a new group called the Poker Players Alliance has stepped up to fight for our rights. Let’s hope they’re doing more than tilting at windmills…
Michael Bolcerek, president of the Poker Players Alliance, released the following statement after the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation that would prohibit Americans from playing poker on the Internet.
“We are disappointed that the House of Representatives would assail the rights of Americans to enjoy the great game of poker on the Internet. It is unconscionable that a skill game like poker gets swept into the net of prohibition, while online horse betting and Internet lotteries get free passes,” said Mr. Bolcerek.
“The United States should follow the lead of the United Kingdom by regulating and taxing online poker, not banning it. An economic analysis just released by our organization shows that U.S. regulation of online poker has the potential to raise more than $3.3 billion in annual revenue for the federal government, in addition to another $1 billion for state coffers. We hope that this analysis will give a fresh perspective for U.S. Senators about the benefits of regulation.
“The Poker Players Alliance is undeterred in its mission to promote and protect the game of poker and we will continue to advance the cause on behalf of poker players in the United States.”
I do have a problem with this. They harp on the fact that poker is a skill game— which it is— as the basis for it being allowed. I’d rather just let them argue for liberty, rather than arguing that poker is worth of an “exception” to regulation.
I don’t wish to let any Congressperson, even my own, tell me whether or not I have the right to play poker online. I’m an adult, and I can make that decision for myself. And frankly, if I want to play a little blackjack or roulette, I’ll do that too.
July 12, 2006
I mentioned last week that I got some free money from PartyPoker, played a tournament, winning it and $150. I didn’t mention it at the time, but the next day I played again, winning another tournament, for another $100.
I figured, knowing my luck, that I’d be screwed last night when it came time to play the company tournament.
But I won it… Again.
It started off beautifully. We had two tables, and I immediately knew I was at the “soft” table to start. There are some very strong poker players at my company, but only one of them was sitting at my table. So I started off, and within the first 15-20 hands had basically doubled my chips. I had aces one hand, kings another, and ended up busting one player out with those two hands. So from an early point, I was riding high.
Then I made a mistake. I was holding QJo, and raised the blind (from $60 to $180) to try to buy the pot. One player stuck around with me, and the flop came out rags. He checked to me, I bet $200, and he called. The turn was another blank, he checked to me again. I responded by betting $300, roughly half his stack. He moved all-in on me. Since I was heavily bluffing, I just couldn’t call. I realized as soon as he moved in what an idiot I was. In that situation, I have to either take the initiative and push him all-in, or simply check. All things considered, since he’d called me on the flop, checking would have been optimal, but moving all-in wouldn’t have been a bad idea. But not betting weak into him. By betting I was giving him the chance to force me out of the pot, instead of forcing him to make a decision. Of course, he later told me he had pocket kings that hand, so I was screwed either way, but I still misplayed it.
After that point, things got a bit tougher. I was nearly all-in against the other strong player at the table (he was all-in). I was holding KQo, and raised about a quarter of my chips preflop. He moved in on me, and I called him. I had him barely covered, but would have been a serious short stack if I had lost. And when he turned over ATo, I thought it was over. But I caught a miracle queen on the river, and managed to knock him out, nearly doubling myself up.
And from there it was just gravy. The cards weren’t great, but good enough, and they were there when I needed them. At the final table I played relatively conservatively until we were down to the last few players, and found myself heads-up at the end. The player I was heads-up with is a semi-professional poker player, and supplements his income at the local card house. But he’s got a flaw. He’s a limit ring-game player, and I’ve been honing my no-limit tournament skills. He’s come a long way from where he was in no-limit, but once we got heads-up, I think I just had a little more experience on him. That and cards, which are probably the important part. So after about 10-15 hands heads-up, we went all-in and I took him out.
That was a nice $315 win for me.
But that’s not the end of the story. I’ve been withdrawing everything I can from PartyPoker, but can’t pull out that last bonus $40. So today, I decided to see what I can do with it. I played another $30 sit-n-go, and won it too! That’s another cool $150. And my luck is flowing so much it’s absolutely laughable. I never should have survived a few of the hands I was in, but got just so damned lucky.
PartyPoker just claimed back their bonus, and I just cashed out my winnings, so I can’t play on there unless I deposit. But waves like this don’t come along often, and you need to take advantage when they do. Since I’m in California this week on business, I’m halfway tempted to get in the car and go to Vegas. I figure I can be there by 1 AM, play cards until 4, and can still get back to work by 8ish… I’m not actually going to do that, but it sure is tempting!
July 2, 2006
As most of you know, I play poker online at PartyPoker.com. I had hit a rough strain of luck, and ended up losing everything in my account, a year or so ago. Really, I had been pulling money out every time I had a big win, so I was definitely up overall. But with the run of bad luck, I hadn’t played much since.
Well, PartyPoker sends me an email about once or twice a quarter telling me they’ve put free money in my account. It’s the sort of thing where I must play a certain number of hands within a certain amount of time to keep the free money, and since I usually play tournaments, I need to win some tournaments to actually make money.
Well, I got an email a few days ago that they were putting $40 in my account. I used it to play a $33 buy-in single table tournament. Normally I’m pretty cavalier with the free money, but decided I’d play it conservative this time.
I was getting some decent cards, and pushing hands when I needed to. I always had a decent number of chips, and as the blinds increased, everyone else started knocking each other off. Eventually, we got to the top three, and nearly every hand I was holding ace-high or king-high. I ended up winning the tournament, for a cool $150!!!
This has me just about ready for my company tournament next week. Since I haven’t played poker much in the last few months, I needed a tune-up. My coworkers had better be ready, because I’m looking to repeat!
The Unrepentant Individual linked with I am Unstoppable!