Wednesday, 22 October 2008

On the search for a weekly live game

After my cash at the Leicester Gala I have decided to try and find a good weekly tournament to play whilst working in London. I know the Grosvenor Victoria has a wide variety of poker tournaments but it is a long travel time from where I am working in Heathrow. Couple that with possible late finishes and the traffic in London which inhibits me driving in, I am trying to find something a bit closer.

I went to the G Casino in Picadilly after looking at the website with the impression that it holds poker games. Well it doesn't, just table poker. What a shame as this is only an hour or so on the Tube.

So I am still looking to find a closer casino that does Hold Em! Until then I will continue to play my online game from the hotel room.

Keep it Tight

Friday, 17 October 2008

Gala Leicester £20 + £20 add on

The poker room at Gala Leicester

Seeing as it had been so long since I played a live tournament, and seeing as my live poker juices were flowing after reading 'Ghosts at the Table', I decided to take a trip to my old haunt Leicester Gala Casino.

Many of the same faces were there, but there was one difference, it was the first night they were using 9 man tables. Normally the tournaments are run here with 7 man tables, 3000 starting stack and blinds every 30 mins which leads for a fast structured game (nay crap shoot) and levelled out many of the skill benefits of better players.

This time, however, the tournament had the same starting stack and levels but a slower drip of the blinds which, coupled with the add on at the end of the 2nd level, allowed for a lot more poker to be played. The only let down was the number of entrants it gathered, only 19. But seeing as I have been concentrating on the STT circuit I felt this tournament was right up my street.

The start of the tournament went pretty standard and I went into the break with an average stack of just over 7000 (including the add ons). By the time the tournament had whittled down to the last 9 players I was sitting on around 12,000 chips with blinds at 400/800. At this stage of the game is where my key hands took place and looking back also shows where my game has changed from what it was a few weeks back.

The first hand of note which identifies my change in thinking was when I was sitting in the SB with 8d6h. It folds to the Button who limps in for the 800. I complete my SB and the BB checks his option. The flop cam Kd,Td,4h. I check, BB checks, Button checks. Turn card is an 8s. I check, BB checks, Button checks. River comes an As. I check, BB checks, Button bets in for 2400. Does anyone call here?

I ponder then call and the BB folds. So why the call?

The Flop was checked with 2 diamonds, so I think no one has a K. The Turn which was a blank for someone with a Ten that hadn't bet the flop because of the K still had not bet, so I think no Ten. The River is an A and still no bet from the BB, so he doesn't have an A, and the button bets now, surely he would have raised pre flop if he had the A so I figure the A has missed everyone leaving my pair of 8's probably good. The only thing I hadn't figures was that the Button had the nuts with QJ, which he had and he scooped the pot. So why is this a key hand for me if I lost it? Well it proves I am thinking alot more about the game, all my deductions about the tabled cards were correct, and I proved to myself I can make a "hero" call, even though this time it didn't help me win the hand. Would I have bet the pot if I had nothing on the button in this scenario, most definitely, and I will snap one of those steals sooner or later rather than just ditching my cards in the muck.

The other key hand was with 5 players left and the blinds at 600/1200. It folds around to me in the SB holding KcTs. I have a stack of around 9000 including my posted blind. I decide to play with the BB whose sitting on about 30,000 and min raise to 2400, he calls. The flop comes 8d,6h,2h. I bet out 3000 and the BB calls leaving me about 3600 behind. The turn is a Qc. Now I think for a while and push all in, why?

Well I figure at best the guy has paired the flop, which is going to be a weak pair and I still have 6 outs for the win. I would have to be really unlucky if the guy had paired the Q and as such use this as a scare card for my bet, so he may fold his weaker pair (would have been better if I had more chips though). The guy might be on a draw and I don't put him on an A as he didn't re pop my short stack raise pre flop so K high might still be good. He did call my all in holding 5s7s for the open ended straight draw. A K hit the river and my lead in the hand was confirmed and I had just got myself back in contention.

You could be ultra critical here and say my initial steal was a weak bet, but there was history here with this size of raise and I felt it suited my position best. The main thing was I made 3 pops at a pot with K high, this is a mile from where I have been playing previously, and this time it had paid off.

By the time we reached 4 players my stack had dwindled to the shortest at around 8000 chips and blinds of 1000/2000. At this point I pander to the big stacks consciences and ask if there is going to be any consolation prize for the bubble boy (i.e. me) to which they agree £8 each from the prize fund for the 4th place.

The very next hand with me on the Button and having folded 93os I take a drink and look back to find both the SB and the BB all in. The BB with AQ had the SB with AJ covered and the SB went out on the bubble with his donated 24 quid. I had made the money!!

I doubled up once but on the second attempt of stealing my blind from the SB I call again this time with 67s. His T3s of the same suit had me dominated in every way and I went out 3rd for £144.

So a small live win and more importantly my newly found game seemed to hold up well at this level.

So now onwards and upwards!

Until next time.

Keep it Tight!

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Ghosts at the Table!

Why, after 4 years, am I still playing this game, Texas Holdem.

This isn't a question that has arisen from constant losses, boredom or any other negative reason. This is just a general question as to why I continue to play this game, after all you are always dealt just two cards, and there will always be a flop, and there will always be a turn card, and always a river, yet still I can't wait to fire up my laptop and meet the same challenge with a daily renewed vigour.

Well one aspect which enthuses me definitely has to be the draw of the money. That win that will take me much higher up the poker ladder and into a lifestyle I can only dream of is potentially, always just around the corner.

Then there is the challenge!

The challenge to master the game, to reduce the luck factor to such a low level, to read situations so perfect every time that you become practically unbeatable.

The challenge to beat your previous results, to improve on %age of wins in SnG's, to increase the cash rate in multi tournaments or to reduce losses at a particular level.

All these to me were givens, and then I read the book Ghosts at the Table written by Des Wilson.

This is a great piece of work. It opens your eyes and heart as it takes the reader through the 4 ages of poker. Starting in the Wild West with characters such as Wild Bill and Wyatt Earp it progresses through to the river boat gambler, then the Texas Road gambler (TJ Cloutier, Doyle Brunson), on to the Birth of Poker in Vegas and the WSOP culminating in a review of where poker is today.

It truly shows the romance of poker along with the dangerous past that the players of old had to endure just to play this beautiful game. It lists the iconic moments in pokers history and what made the stalwarts of the poker world what they are today. In essence it explains so much of why poker, just a game, mirrors so much of what happens to us in real life.

So if your struggling with drive, and the money doesn't do it for you anymore, or the challenge isn't there then read this book.

Because if you're like me, it will give you one more reason to play this game ... to become one of the legends.

Until next time.

Keep it Tight

Sunday, 5 October 2008

A whole new world born from playing on TILT

I remember reading an article on Neil Channing shortly after his Irish Open win where he stated that until he understood the importance of position his game hadn't advanced.

Well playing on tilt (not the website but the emotion of playing out of control and out of anger) has had a similarly enlightening effect.

Now I am normally so controlled when I play I liked to think that I was immune to tilt. However this time, after I had ground out to the bubble only to get in ahead (my opponent only having 3 outs for the win) 5 games in a row only to lose by their luck sent me raging. " @##!! That's it !! ... whats the point of playing with skill to have a @?#! draw out to beat you ... aaarrrgghhhhh!!!!" and words to that effect. I had seen red and knew I should have stopped playing but it was Friday night, I was having a drink and it was time to hit another SnG .... and raise ... raISE... RAISE!!!!!!

I started in a completely out of control fashion, starting UTG with K3 I raised for it to be called by the button only ... my continuation bet took the pot! Next hand in the BB I re raised all the pre flop callers to take the pot without a flop. I continued to raise hard, with anything in and out of position. I was still folding to resistance and getting lucky with a few calls and bets but didn't let it deter me from raising the next hand. I honestly entered every pot but not without raising and I won the thing.

My steam was starting to cool down with the win but I was still drinking and the aggression continued. I cashed in 9 out of 13 ten man STT.

I went to bed a little worse for wear but happy that I had showed them!

It wasn't until the next morning I started to think about what had just happened!

Normally TILT is seen as a negative thing and I wonder if I was truly playing on TILT. Was I just playing well but angrily ... was I playing better? I wasn't throwing my chips away, I was using them with aggression, but loose aggression. I also realised it had led to me having to outplay people post flop with the worst hand.

For the following week I tried out a whole new game plan, I was going to play with refined anger (but only on small buy in tables!) and it is working.

I am developing a way of playing that is sitting well with my personality but is a mile away from where I was at previously and it seems to be working. Admittedly I need to play on the higher levels, so far it is only being tested on up to $22 buy in tournaments, but I do feel like I have just discovered I can play real poker. Last night I finished 5th out of 294 players in a tournament I had qualified for on TITAN poker.

So TILT has been my friend this time .... but I must not let it affect me again??

Until next time

Keep it Tight.