Archive Apr 2008: Bond18

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Around the world in 90 days

Just a quick entry today. My flight leaves in 5 hours. Tilt has yet to give me a URL to link to so I don't have that to provide at the moment, but it woudln't surprise me if that was sorted by the time I touch down in Venice somewhere around 36 hours from now.

There won't be a ton in the way of blog entries made specifically on tworags over the following months, though Tilt may want me to just link to them through here for every entry, I'm not fully sure yet.

Anyway, I'm out. Here goes nothing.

Permatilt

I’m normally a pretty calm guy. It’s something I pride myself on, since I very rarely feel anything from poker outside very slight annoyance or disappointment. Lately though something about me has been off. I’ve been more short tempered, tired, and quickly frustrated not only when I play poker, but in life. Today didn’t help things.

The day started bad before I even woke up. I had a vivid nightmare where I was being hunted through a mall by Ugandan dictator Idi Amin as played by Forest Whitaker with the intent of killing me. I managed to escape the mall by disguising myself in a fat suit, hat, and glasses, but the panic felt real. Yes, I watched ‘The Last King of Scotland’ last night.

I was woken up before I’d gotten enough sleep by Bondgirl telling me I needed to get ready for the family dinner we were due at in half an hour. I dragged my tired ass out of bed and jumped in the shower dreading what lay before me. I actually like and get along with Bondgirl’s parents. However, family functions are a fucking pain. It’s normally a group of about ~10 and I’m the only non Chinese speaker there. The family sits around speaking Mandarin while I zone out and try to think happy thoughts like Brett Favre throwing touch downs or any sketch from Chapelle’s how. Every now and then someone will say something followed by my name, then everyone will laugh and look at me with some kind of expectation to which I’ll blankly respond with “What?”
The first time I went to a family function the passive-aggressive asshole uncle thought it’d be funny to try and sabotage me. I’d done my best to try many of the various dishes but there was one Bondgirl told me I should absolute avoid since I’d likely vomit if I tried it, the 100 year old egg. The egg’s are apparently buried in the ground and left there for a while or something to that affect, but either way they look like rotten eggs that might be poisonous. When Bondgirl stepped away from the table for a moment the uncle saw his chance. He grabbed the tray of eggs, stood up from the table, walked over and placed it squarely in my face.
“You try!” He said, with a phony good cheer smile.
I debated ‘keeping it real’ and telling him to “Get that mother fucking egg out of my face before I use my chop sticks to jam it up your ass” but seeing as this was my first time at such a function it seemed like that’d likely result in a case of ‘when keeping it real goes wrong’. I decided to play hardball instead; I grabbed the egg, jammed it into my mouth, chewed, and swallowed without flinching despite the God awful taste then politely muttered “It’s a bit strong for me.”
“Haha! Yes! Very strong!”

That night was also my first chance to have a talk with Bondgirl’s oldest cousin Steven. Steven’s a fun loving guy who talks like he fell out of the movie ‘Dude Where’s My Car?’ Despite being 100% Asian he described to me his absolute hatred for Asians, and as he says “If I could I’d wipe them off the planet.” Charming boy really.

The youngest cousin, 9 year old Kevin, is a real treat though. He’s the type of precocious kid you think only exist in movies and is at that age where he’s starting to figure things out but totally devoid of understanding social taboo. As a result, he says whatever comes to his mind, which is awesome to listen to. He was asking Bondgirl about playing poker for a living while sitting next to me tonight, and we had the following exchange:
Kevin: My teacher told us that it takes 5 years to get good enough at poker to make money. She used to be a gambling addict.
Bond: Is you’re teacher a he or she?
Kevin: A she.
Bond: Your teacher has no idea what she’s talking about Kevin.
Bondgirl: Well maybe she just meant it takes years of practice before you get any good?
Bond: Or maybe she’s just a degenerate who has no clue?
Kevin: Yea she’s a blonde and she’s really dumb!
*Pause for laughter*
Kevin: We learned about sex too.
Bond: Really? What’d you learn?
Kevin: About penises, and testicles, and sperm.
Bond: Yep, pretty standard stuff. How old are you?
Kevin: Nine!
Bond: Awesome.
Sucks to know one day he’ll start thinking before he speaks, I could listen to that shit all day.

Outside my conversation with Kevin, the dinner was otherwise the standard two hour zone out. Of additional annoyance was the fact that this particular Chinese restaurant did not serve rice whatsoever, despite being a buffet. For those of you from the States or other places with mostly nationalized Asian food, you take it for granted that a meal at an Asian restaurant would come with heaps of rice. It’s lesser known though, that many Chinese families elect not to order rice when they go out to dinner since it’s often a special occasion and filling up on rice which they otherwise eat all too regularly, seems like a waste of space. When it comes to me though, I love rice with my Asian food, and not getting it is an impediment to the whole meal. Even though I’d been out plenty of times where nobody else wanted to order rice, it was always available.

After dinner we went out to our car which had recently been having some form of gear box trouble where it refused to change gears mid driving and you’d have to turn it off and sit in the middle of the street praying it works again when you turn it back on (it only started yesterday, but had done it a couple of times since.) Within 30 seconds of driving the gear box shut down again and this time refused to turn back on while we were in the direct middle of the street blocking traffic. It took ten minutes of attempted start ups before it got going and let us get home. We examined under the hood when we arrived home and found the oil cap on the engine was missing, resulting in oil being spewed out an enormous rate, covering the engine and inside of the hood. When we measured the oil the dip was at about 30% of what was considered the minimum. I’m praying a couple days like this haven’t done serious damage to the gear box.

After that was sorted my friends Dave and Joel came over so we could all play the midnight Pacific Poker 3 million guarantee. It started very well for me and I took the 5k starting stack and turned it into over 16,000 within the first hour. Several hours later I was well above average with 38,000 at 500/1000 and not too far from the money. I open raised AA to 2500 in MP2 and the button with 70k 3 bet me to 7500. The blinds folded and I called. The flop came T97 and I check shoved over his 10k which he snap called with TT, then turned the fourth T for emphasis. Awesome.

I also played a $500 WSOP satellite on Pacific with 4 seats guaranteed and made the final table. I raised TT utg with 15 BB’s, got flatted in EP, then the SB decided to come along as well. The flop came 832 and I got it in vs the SB who had me a brilliant pre flop call with 88 getting way, way more than the implied odds on a set he needed verse my 15 BB stack. Way more, I assure you.

After that I got 3 handed for a WSOP Seat at Mansion Poker, with 2nd and 3rd getting nothing. I was against two awful opponents sitting 2nd in chips with 36k at 400/800, not far behind the chip leader who had about 40k. Mansions software is pretty much the ultimate piece of shit, and when you select the raise size box to type over what’s pre selected it doesn’t delete the number that’s already there, it adds to it. Because of this you need to be very careful to delete the number in the box first before typing the bet size you’re looking for. At one point I attempted to raise J8o on the button to my standard 2000, and made sure to delete the raise size already in the box. Through some fucking disastrous chance, a ‘0’ stays in the box and my bet was fired out at 20,000. The BB naturally shoves and with over 60% of my stack in the middle I’m forced to call. He tables KK and that’s a good game for me. My rage at this mistake shifted between the God fucking awful cocksucking piece of shit software that is Mansion poker, and myself for not double checking before firing the bet out.

Combine all this with a number of other frustrating but far less interesting or dramatic beats I took in pretty much every tournament I played all night which resulted in my current state; ‘permatilt’, to the level that I write a blog entry that is basically one massive bad beat bitch fest. How mature.

Online poker is over for me, at least for the time being. I’m temporarily retired. Sure there’s a ton of massive value tournaments tomorrow, including the $500 buy in Sunday Million, and I’m finally on the appropriate sleep schedule to play them. Fuck it though, I’m tired of this. All I’m going to do until my departure on Wednesday is write, get high, play call of duty, and watch movies. I want to go into this trip with a clear head, and if not clear, I prefer it jammed up with THC than jammed up with frustration over poker.

Rounder

“Hey Steve, you remember those games I was telling you about?”
“Right yea mate, are you going tonight?”
“Yea, did you want to go?”
“Nah, I’m mackered. Did you still need the cash for it then?”
“Yea definitely. I’ll swing by and pick it up and kick your ass in Madden while I’m there.”
“Sure you will.”

Stevo was used to my asking for money whenever I needed a large amount of AUD at this point. I’m constantly cash broke in Australia, since previous to my signing up for Moneybookers a couple weeks ago I had no real means of transferring money to and from online to anywhere within the continent. The first time he loaned me we met in front of a bank wearing dark sunglasses where he handed me $12,000 in an envelope, we exchanged a few words, then I turned straight back around and walked off. Now I know why drug dealers think their so cool.
I drive over to Stevo’s, count out the money, then barely beat him in Madden using a vastly superior team. A wins still a win bitch. I jam the $8,000 Stevo has given me into my jeans pocket and keep the other three in my wallet. The wallet is busting at the seams attempting to contain the money from pouring out, and I begin debating other places to hide the cash on my person. Sure, I’m driving to the game in a safe neighborhood, but after what happened to JP you can only be too careful (for those who don’t know, JP was a guy down for the Aussie Millions who got mugged outside of Crown while carrying $30,000 on him.) I’m already a fairly paranoid person, and waltzing around at night with $11,000 in cash on me isn’t helping.

Prior to tonight the largest game I’ve played in a live setting is 2/5 NL, and I’ve played PLO perhaps a dozen times. Tonight’s 10/20 NLH/PLO mixed game would be a welcome change from the constant grind that is waking up every morning for the tournaments while still having the potential to make real money. I’d sold half my action to Stevo to reduce the variance but considering the way the game is rumored to play there was still the potential for huge swings. I haven’t done any serious live play since the Joe Hachem deep stack series in February, but I figure if I’m going to go play 3 months of live tournaments I ought to get some practice.

The live poker scene in Melbourne is fairly robust but also requires a high level of discretion. I normally prefer to tell and say all in my writing, but due to the circumstances it would be very inappropriate for me to say where I play and who with. More accurately, I would likely get my ass kicked for putting it in writing, or at the least, get banned from all the games. Those in Melbourne who are looking for the games don’t really have to look that hard, but neither can we walk up and down the halls of Crown casino screaming “IF YOU’RE LOOKING FOR A 10/20 PLO GAME SHOW UP AT SO AND SO’S PLACE AT NINE!”

I realize when I get to the building that I’ve forgot to ask which number it is. I don’t have anyone at the games number in my phone, so I have to call Bondgirl and ask her to call someone there to give me the number so I can ring up. A guy I know comes on to the balcony then calls down for me to ring up to number X. When I get into the room I realize I’m on a first name basis with almost everyone in the game, which is pretty much what I was expecting. It takes about half an hour for me to get a seat at the full table.

Let’s be honest here, I’m a pretty bad Omaha player. I’ve played PLO perhaps a dozen times, and almost all of those were at 1/2 home games that were just for fun. I’d played a few more times recently leading up to this and was starting to get some feel for the game. Considering the home games play loose, aggressive, and wild I felt like just using poker knowledge, common sense, and the little experience I had would be enough to give me an edge. I once heard an analogy that hold’em is like learning to ride a skateboard and Omaha learning to drive a car. With a skateboard anyone can get on and coast along at a functional level, but learning all the tricks, balance, and intricacies takes years. Meanwhile you can’t just stick someone in a car and say ‘Drive fucker! DRIVE!’ but once they get the hang of it it’s fairly automatic. I’m sure this kind of analogy wouldn’t apply at the highest levels, but in the Omaha games I’m playing I feel like it does. Don’t draw to flushes/straights on paired boards, don’t pay much to draw to anything but a nut flush, don’t overplay small sets, two pair ain’t shit, don’t play bad hands pre, bet as hard as possible when you have and there’s draws out. Seems fairly basic right? Except plenty of guys in the game completely avoid these and in fact do the total opposite.

I sit down and buy in with $3000 to start. It’s not long before I find myself in my first major hand. In a limped pot I’ve seen the flop on the button with TT97 in late position, with seven players to the flop.

Flop: T 7 3 two diamonds
It checks to a loose player in MP1 who bets pot of 140, it folds back to me and I repot to 560. It folds back to MP1 and he calls.

Turn: Jc
Not my favorite card. MP1 doesn’t seem thrilled by it either and checks. MP1 is loose enough that I think I can value bet pretty easily here and he’s never going to check shove without the nuts. I fire out 1100, and he thinks for a long time before calling.

River: 9d
Fuck. That. Card. MP1 thinks it over for quite a while, then checks. I quickly check back and table my set with zero hope.
“It’s good” he says he lifts his cards for the players next to him to see.
One of them sees the confusion in my face “He had two pair.”

I continue finding big hands and flopping very well. I’m up a few thousand by the time my next major hand arrives:
I hold As3sQcJh in the SB. There’s a couple limps, then a raise in MP and numerous calls when it comes around to me, and I call as well. The BB plus limpers call and we see the flop with a pot of 960.

Flop: Ks Ts 9h
Boo yah! Nuts + redraw to more nuts + spewy aggro game = check. It checks to an EP player who bets pot and the player I tangled with before calls him. It folds around to me and I raise it the pot to 4800 with about 2000 more back in my stack. It folds to the player who launched out the bet and he sticks the remains of his stack in, about 1600 more. Now it’s up to MP who has a stack the same size as me. He tanks for a while. And then he tanks some more. And then he keeps tanking. A few players in the game try and call the clock but it’s declared only someone in the hand can call the clock. I decide not to say anything since I don’t want to rush him into a fold, but most importantly I don’t want to do anything considered rude the first time I’m at a game. Home games don’t mind banning cocky young assholes who are obviously no value, and I sure as hell didn’t want to open the door to that. MP1 tanks for about five minutes in total before folding middle set. He shows the all in player his hand before he folds, which causes the all in player to announce “I’m totally fucked” as he tables his KTxx.
Turn: 8
River: 7
I drag a massive pot and begin wondering to myself if calling the clock would have got MP to put his 6500 in.

I run smooth the rest of the night and upon calling it a night around 4 or 5 find I’m up $6,330. Fuck me for selling half my action to Stevo. The man who runs the game counts out the money and gives me a Crown 5k chip. I put the chip in my pocket and jam the wad in my sock because you know, they’d never check there.

The next night I go into Crown where they hold a similar game of PLO that plays as a 5/10 with a forced 20 straddle. Unfortunately my hands are dull and uneventful all night and I finish down about $300 with almost zero drama. However, there was one non PLO interesting facet of the night; two tables over was a table full of an unusual amount of people enjoying themselves. Every now and then the table would explode in raucous laughter and the guys on my table would get annoyed at the noise. A few hours into the night I look over at Stevo and ask "What the hell is going on over there that they're having such a good time?"
"George from Seinfeld is over there, that's why."
"NO. FUCKING. WAY. Jason Alexander! THE SUMMER OF GEORGE!!!"
"Seriously, he's in seat 5 with his back turned to us."
I turn around and watch him intently waiting for him to turn to the side so I can tell whether it's really him. At one point he stands up and turns around and I get full view. It's really him, Costanza himself. It's tempting to go over and bother him with something stupid like "I hear your mother caught you" or "Bring me a calzone Costanza!" but I'm sure he gets enough of that shit for a life time.

The night after I meet up with some friends for dinner, including the first Australian to ever win the Sunday Million, Max (see people, appeal to my ego and say you like my blog and you get mentioned in it, that’s how the process works.) While I’ve written several times that if I ever won a major tournament I would walk up and down the streets in a $ suit and cane slapping people with a wad of 100 dollar bills, Max is one of those people completely unchanged and unfazed by such sudden money, entirely devoid of materialistic pretention or the desire to beat people with a large wad of money. Creepy huh?

After dinner the group splits off and I head over to another home game. The line up is pretty similar to the other game since there are only so many guys willing to play for those stakes in the city. I buy in for $2500 but it’s not long until I have to top up my stack from losing small and medium pots. When I’m down $1500 I decide to buy in for everything I brought with me, giving me about $4000 on the table. The game is playing pretty loose and I have a good tight image when the following hand comes up:

I hold KKT8 double suited, spades and hearts, in the SB. UTG limps, EP raises pot as he often does, there’s a couple calls to me and I repot to 390 total. I get two callers including the original raiser and one other player who has me covered. Both players involved in the hand consider me a tight and thinking player.

Flop: K 5 2 all clubs. The pot is about 1200 and I have about 3500 back. What the hell do I do now?

For those of you who play Omaha, let me know what the move is here. Keep in mind that both of these players will likely fold a J high flush to me given my image. They’ll obviously quickly repot the nut flush, and both will regrettably repot with the second nuts. This is the kind of Omaha situation I have no clue about, so what now?

‘Rounder’, a prelude

…I jam the $8,000 Stevo has given me into my jeans pocket and keep the other three in my wallet. The wallet is busting at the seams attempting to contain the money from pouring out, and I begin debating other places to hide the cash on my person. Sure, I’m driving to the game in a safe neighborhood, but after what happened to JP you can only be too careful.

Prior to tonight the largest game I’ve played in a live setting is 2/5 NL, and I’ve played PLO perhaps a dozen times. Tonight’s 10/20 NLH/PLO mixed game would be a welcome change from the constant grind that is waking up every morning for the tournaments while still having the potential to make real money. I’d sold half my action to Stevo to reduce the variance but considering the way the game is rumored to play there was still the potential for huge swings. I haven’t done any serious live play since the Joe Hachem deep stack series in February, but I figure if I’m going to go play 3 months of live tournaments I ought to get some practice…

Things it took me a while to learn part 18, Self Improvement

As some of you know this entry was on the front of www.pocketfives.com for a little while, and they ask me to delay a couple of days before I move it over here so the content can be original. With that request fulfilled, it's ready to go here.

At any point in my poker career you could ask me “how were you as a player 6 months ago?” and I could honestly tell you “My God did I suck.” Ask me the same question now, and not only will I tell you I sucked hard 6 months ago, but I still suck fairly often today. Self improvement is a slow and long process, and often times players don’t know the most efficient means of getting better. There’s also a lot of pitfalls and misinformation out there, so not only do you need to know how to get better, but you need to know how to avoid getting worse. So what steps can we take to improve our game?

1. Coaching: Coaching seems like an obvious and natural first step. Coaching is a very quick and efficient way to find leaks you may never know you had, as well as work on your overall understanding of the game. Most coaching is done through either having the coach give you a hand history review, talking on Skype (for those of you who aren’t aware of Skype, it’s a free program to download where you can make unlimited calls from your computer to other computers located anywhere completely for free), submitting specific hands to a coach, or any combination of the above. The hardest part is finding a good coach. For the most part if a poker player is worth the coaching then his time is fairly expensive. A good MTT coach can run between $50-$400 an hour and there’s not really a list located anywhere that I know of with available coaches and their rates. I’d guess your best bet is to start a thread on your forum of preference stating that you want a coach, then list what you’re looking for in terms of training, what you’re willing to spend, and what you hope to learn. I’ve done serious coaching time with two players, Ajunglen and NoahSD, and having paid them about ~$200 an hour each I can honestly say it was well worth the money I spent. Both of them opened up my eyes to things I had never even considered in the game before, and I give considerable credit to both of them for making me the player I am today.

2. Hand History Reviews: This is a great exercise to do both by yourself and with other players you respect. Take the HH from a tournament where you feel you had a number of interesting spots, plug it into your favourite HH replayer, then go through the relevant hands and review how they went down and how you could have played them better. If you don’t know how to save the HH’s to your computer or where to find them, here’s the basic break down; In the case of Stars/Tilt (it’s a little more complicated with some, so we’ll do the simple version for now) fire up the program, log in, then go to the ‘options’ choice at the top of the program. Scroll down to ‘hand history’ and if it’s not already clicked, click the ‘Save My Hand Histories’ box and make note of where to find them. They will likely end up in program files, ‘full tilt’, ‘hand history’, then select your user name and there they are. I personally like doing HH reviews with other players I respect via Skype and going through the hands together to get a number of opinions on what I could potentially do differently. This normally works best with a maximum of 3, maybe 4 guys. If you enlist too many you inevitably get people trying to talk over each other to get a point across, or too many arguments occurring about the proper way to do things instead of looking to reach a consensus. Most of the time though, the reviews I do are with one person and we exchange ideas back and forth about how to play the hands better.

3. Posting on Forums: I started playing poker in 2003, pre-Moneymaker. I didn’t find online forums until early 2006, and I learned more in a few months posting on forums than I did in 3 years of reading books and talking about hands with local poker playing friends. Some forums are better than others for strictly hand strategy discussion, and it’s no secret where I do the vast majority of mine. Whichever forum/s you decide to do your posting on, being able to have the input from a wide variety of players and styles is an awesome way to broaden your horizons. One difficult part of some forums though is that they can feel somewhat elitist or intimidating at the start, since you’ll be unfamiliar with the vernacular, the process by which things are done, and who’s who. Hang around, do some reading, and PM those who you respect and feel are approachable with questions if you’re not entirely sure whose advice to trust. There are plenty of easy going guys on the forums who don’t mind answering beginners PM’s about how things go down (myself included, so feel free as long as you don’t mind a slow reaction time) and will point you in the right direction.

4. Reading Books: Except there’s a catch here, some books contain good or mostly quality material, but a ton of poker books are from outdated players who I personally think have weak fundamentals and give fairly poor advice. I haven’t read every poker book but two tournament books/series I can legitimately recommend are the ‘Harrington on Hold’em’ tournament series, and ‘Kill Everyone’ by Lee Nelson. Harrington has been honest in that he feels his books are slightly outdated (the game has evolved a lot in 3 years), but I think beginning/intermediate players will still learn a lot. Kill Everyone is a great read but considering the concepts and math it covers is likely a bit heavy for beginning players and is more so on the intermediate to advanced level. As far as the other material on tournament poker out there goes, I’m not familiar with a lot of titles but I know that the old Cloutier/McAvoy ‘Championship Tournament Poker’ book is massively outdated and preaches a hilariously nity style, and Skalansky’s ‘Tournament Poker for Advanced Players’ is fairly vague and only gets into specifics on a few subjects, though I believe there is an extended edition out now which I have not read and cannot comment on.

5. Experience: Some things really do only come with a level of experience. One good example is being able to anticipate ranges. It’s fairly hard to teach a person what a range is and what to expect as far as ranges go from certain plays. Yes, there are certain outlines you can give, but for the most part there many patterns that you only tend to really sense and anticipate after you’ve played tens of thousands of hands. There are a number of things that just become so much more natural with the more you play, and there really is no substitute.

6. Self analysis and honesty: There are very few people with an ego about their poker game who don’t suck. You need to honest with yourself about what your leaks are and you need to able to ask others whose opinion you respect what they think and be able to take the criticism in a constructive way. When you post a hand you need to know there’s a chance people might jump down your throat and say things like “this hand is an abortion.” Some will word it kinder than that, but most who think you played the hand bad will use honest language. With a post like that you can’t take comments personally, and if a person says “I think you played it bad” but doesn’t elaborate, you need to have the confidence and curiosity to answer with “Why? How can I improve it?” instead of “Why are you such a dick about it?” I’ve gotten my ass kicked for posting an atrocious hand more times than I can count, and I learned something every time.

7. Networking and AIM’ing with other players: Making connections in the poker world is a relevant aspiration. You want players that are roughly around your skill level to discuss strategy and concepts with, and these days many players simply circumvent public posting with AIM conversations with those who they respect. It’s important to find players that are fairly close to your level because an inequity in skill can create an awkward situation. If you spend a lot of time talking to a player who is vastly better than you he may feel like what he’s doing is coaching and he might want to charge you for his time. Conversely, if you talk to players way below you in skill level you’re on the other side of the equation and you can’t learn much by simply preaching the same basic concepts over and over again. There’s of course nothing wrong with having friends who are a variety of skill levels, and naturally most of us would like to pick the brain of a player who we think is really excellent but when it comes to finding a group of players that you spend the majority of time discussing strategy with you’ll want a group who are more or less at the equivalent of your level. If you have a personal friend who happens to be a poker God then you’re in luck, and some top pros are certainly approachable and willing to answer questions all day long, but it’s a short list. However, many pros also don’t want dozens of people messaging them asking for AIM details so they can spend their valuable time telling someone to shove AK with 12 BB’s over a raise. As far as me personally goes, I’m always willing to answer a PM with a hand or with a link to a HH/post, though as I said before it may at times take a few days for me to put down the xBox controller and get around to answering. Feel free though, but for God sakes convert your hand histories people.

That’s all I’ve got for now. As always if there’s anything else people want to go over or have questions about, just ask.
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