Sunday, January 01, 2006

TRIP REPORT: Atlantc City, Dec 29th 2005

Well I went to AC for on December 30th, 2005 for a little 4/8 action at the trop. It was a great day. I got some good cards and some great flops. I played a very tight agressive game. The first hand I was dealt was AQo in the big blind. After looking at my cards and taking a quick look around the table I thought it was raised so I threw in four whites and the dealer said raise. Whoops, oh well its probably a raising hand anyway but I'm sure the other players had their doubts when I raised the first hand.

I ending up missing the flop but bet out and got 1 caller, then I bet again on the turn after missing on the turn as well. My only competetor thought for a moment and folded. Decent pot, nice start.

I quickly noticed the ten seat. It was a middle age guy who appeared to be pretty drunk who was playing any two cards. Awesome! I also quckily noticed that there was usually at least 5 to a flop. Awesome!

I didn't have any other hands until I peeked at KQs in EP. I raisied and got about 6 callers. The flop came J10x raindbow and I of course bet and I got 3 or 4 callers. Then I got a 9 on the turn for the nuts. I bet and got 2 callers. Then after a blank on the river I value bet and get two more callers, nice big pot.

After hitting a few nice hands the drunk raised from UTG. At least two times before he raised from one of the first positions with total trash. Once he had 10-7o and other time he had K5o I think. It was folded around to me when I look down and see QQ, dreams do come true. I 3 bet and it was folded back to the drunk who of course called. The flop came rainbow with 3 undercards and the drunk checks, I bet, he calls. The turn another undercard, he checks, I bet, he calls. The river was another rag and he bet. Crap, did he hit two pair or hit a set? I figured this was his last ditch effort to try a steal and I re-rasied and he called. I showed my queens and he mucked mumbling something. This guy would blow through a hundred, disappear for awhile then come come back with another crisp 100 dollar bill in hand.
It got quite funny because he was gone for quite awhile several times. Dealers would ask about him and we would say things like "he'll be right back" because we wanted him in the game. Eventually he didn't come back though and his card was picked up, crap.

Some of the other hands winning hands I had were a couple of straights, a set of tens, and one where I held 88 on a KKxx board. I bet the river because no body showed any strength and was a little surprised when the dealer shipped me the pot, but I guess i shouldn't have been surprised. Two of the straight hands I won with were draws to straight flushes. One I hit the flush and the other I hit straight, both on the turn. On the hand where I made the flush an Ace came on the river and the guy called my river bet and said, "show me the Ace" in a disgusted tone. I said, "No ace, flush" I guess he had a smaller pair and thought he was ahead until that Ace came.

I also spotted my first "tell", well I think so anyway. I wasn't in the hand but I seen a player look at his chips, count a few out, then check. I immediately thought I would bet and the other player in the hand either seen what I did or had a strong hand and bet immediately and the player folded after thinking for maybe 2 seconds.

All in all I made about 34 BB's in around 6 hours. The players where bad, I played pretty good, and I got some cards which made for a great session.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Tight is Right

Here are several reasons why tight is right early in a tournament.

1. It gives you a chance to observe your opponents. Are they maniacs or rocks.

2. The blinds are small so there isn't much pressure too play. Not much reward.

3. A lot of players figure its cheap to see the flop so therefore its hard to put them on a hand.

4. Top pair is almost never good with 4 or 5 to the flop, where it becomes a much more powerful later it often loses to two pair or better early.

5. Usually two or three players will overplay their hands early and get short stacked. Once they are shortstacked you can apply force to them without fear of getting busted yourself. If you happen to hit a good hand against them they will often push any marginal hand.

ADVANCED: Heads up button fold

A lot of pros seem to favor raising everytime on the button with any two cards. They say get more money in play when you have the positional advantage. I think this makes a lot of sense but I like to fold my really, really, bad hands. I like to fold several times early in a heads up session to let my opponent think I am only playing quality cards and will fold junk. Then a bit latter hopefully I hold 36o then get a flop of 9, 3, 6 and bust them. Now this ideal doesn't work too well if you opponent is also folding a lot hands also. In that case I do start raising any two cards.


The starting hand recommendations in most books are pretty similar and seem to provide a very good first lesson for NLHE. I sort of look at starting hands in 3 classes. The first class is the hands you are going to play in almost every circumstance. These are AA, KK, QQ, and AK. These hands should almost always be bet or raised pre-flop. The time to be careful is if you are holding QQ and there is a raise and a re-reraise before you. If the players are maniacs then don't worry, but if they are tight players beware. The initial raiser may have a hand like AQ or 99 but the re-raiser will almost always have a big pair or AK. In low limit games this usually means AA or KK and sometimes QQ or JJ. I can't recall too many re-raises with AK, low limit players seem not to push AK like they do high pairs.

The next set of hands are hands that are strong but you must be careful with. These are hands like JJ, 1010, 99, 88, 77, AQ, AJ, KQ and the suited face cards liked A10s, QJs, and KJs. The first class of hands can win without much improvement and so can these hands but you must be very cautious. These hands really like to improve to be profitable. On a flop of A, J, 2 holding pocket 10's is dangerous since most players with play any reasonable Ace(AK thru A-8) and any Ace if it is suited. The Jack is also dangerous because a lot of players with play any two facecards suited or not. With 10's you really are hoping for a flop that has all undercards like 6, 2, 9 or even better 10, A, 5. The second one is a great flop for you because you made a set of 10's and someone probably made a pair of aces. This is a hand you expect to win 90% of the time and the fact someone hit their ace makes it very likely you are going to get paid off bigtime.

The third set of hands are what I call 'peek' hands. These are hands you hope to get a cheap 'peek' at the flop. These are small pocket pairs and suited connectors(66, 55, 44, 33, 22, J10s, 98S, 78s, etc). The goal with these hands are to flop a set, two pair or a strong draw. Low sets are big winners in my experience. Flushes are a little bit harder to hide but a low straight can also be a big winner. The small pocket pairs can be played from any position but beware if there is a lot of action. For instance if there is a small raise in early position and three or four callers, I love to play pocket 2's here. I'm getting good odds and nobody has showed real strength. If I hit my set I am way ahead. Now if there is a big raise and a call I fold by 2's in a second. If one of those have a higher pair I am a big underdog and it is going to cost me a lot to see the flop. The odds of flopping a set is 7.5 to 1. If someone has a bigger pair I am a 4 to 1 underdog. Against a really bad player I will usually call the raise and pray for my set. If it comes I can usually get all their chips if they happen to connect with the flop also. This is a low percentage play but the reward is very high.

These requirements are for a full table of 9 or 10 players. As the table shrinks so does the starting hand requirements. In a 5 or 6 handed game a pair of 9's, KQ or A9 is probably the best hand at the table. In a 3 or 4 handed table A5o is a strong hand and so is any pair. Heads up any Aceor two semi high cards are good starting hands(A4o, K70, Q8o).

Thursday, October 27, 2005


I started playing no Limit Texas Holdem in March of 2005. The reason I learned how to play was simply so I wouldn't look like a fool on a golf trip where I was told to we would be playing Holdem. Being the competitive person I am I decided I needed to understand this game so I wouldn't lose all my money.

So the first step was to start watching poker on TV and pick up some reading material. Not having any idea what the heck I was doing I decided that Phil Hellmuths book was a good place to start. At borders he was the only name I recognized on the shelf. Well other than Chris Moneymaker and my perception of Moneymaker at the time was he was just some random dude that got lucky. While I would recommend other books now, Phil's book provided a good foundation. Although Phil is an ego maniac and he reminds the readers about every other page that he has NINE world series bracelets he gives some pretty solid beginner advice. He basically tells beginners to be aggressive and don't play junk hands. There are other lessons, some good some not so good, but that's what I got of the book.

About the same time I got my first poker book I also loaded Party Poker. I played the free games and got down the basic rules pretty quickly. The online free games play almost nothing like a real cash game or torney. Not willing to make a real money deposit I loaded Poker Stars and found their 45 person free money tourneys to be a little more sensible.

So with Phil, Party Poker, and some TV viewing I went on the golf trip and did ok. We played two nights and the second night I actually got 3rd place out of about 12 guys.

Then I started playing in a friends neighborhood game. The first one I got 8th of 16th, not bad I thought, but then I got top 3 in the next 3 I played(2-2nd's and a 3rd) and I thought the game was pretty easy. I have one 4th place recently but I had 4 or5 where I didn't cash or just got my money back.

Now I am really getting into the game. I then found the 2+2 forums which are a HUGE poker resource. Thousands of users talking poker, how cool is that. Unlike other boards there isn't much trolling and nonsense on 2+2. 2+2 is a publishing company which has produced some the most essential poker literature ever written. What makes the forums unique is the owners/authors actually post on the forums. Poker authors David Sklansky, Ed Miller, and Mason Malmuth post frequently. Also 2004 World Series of Poker Champ Greg Raymer used to post frequently and his posts are filled with knowledge. Its a great resource and its totally free.

So then I decide I will make a deposit at Poker Stars and see what I can do online. My main motivation was to improve my game and try to win a seat into the 2005 WSOP. Well I never won that seat but I think I have greatly improved my game. After losing the few cash games and not cashing in a few satellites I was down around 30 bucks. I have been in black since then although I'm not going to be quitting my job anytime soon.

The next big step in my poker life was my first trip to Atlantic City(JUL05). On a Friday night I decided to give the Saturday morning 100+20 tourney a shot. So I drove down in the morning and played poker for the first time in a real casino against real people. I was a little nervous but I was more worried about finding my table, the right seat and generally not looking like a total tool. I ended up busting out about 90th out of about 180 players. My final hand was KQ against AJ. I caught a K but he caught a A, oh well.

Since then I've made several trips without much success in the tourneys. I am up playing 3/6 Limit though. I have focused more on the limit in the last few months(SEP05, OCT05) although I still like No limit. My last trip to AC was during the US Poker Championships going on at the Taj Mahal. I seen Jesus Ferguson, Phil Ivy, Barry Greenstein, and Ted Forrest and several of the other top pros.