Friday, April 29, 2005

Bad beat discussion in RGP

This guy who posted on RGP sounds a bit like me and appears to be taking the worst of it lately.

I am seriously considering giving up this damn game (NL Holdem). No, I am not losing heavily, and I don't think the sites are rigged. In fact, the last two months have been about evens, with the previous 10 showing a profit overall.

No, the reason I am thinking of giving up is I don't think I can handle the frustration of seeing very bad play rewarded by seemingly endless luck. And they don't always involved me being sucked out either. For example, Party Poker step higher level 2, TJ off calling preflop all in when not short stacked in a 9 player table, and hitting 2 pairs to bust AA? That wasn't me with the AA, by the way, and most certainly not me with the TJ off. But why do bad play always seem to get rewarded?

The pot I was involved in was when I held AK UTG+2, blind 50/100, 7 players left and I had 800 chips. folds to me, and I raised to 300, hoping to steal. Biggish stack with 1800 reraised to 800, putting me all in. I called, putting him on medium PP, or a weaker ace like AQ or AJ, and was prepared for a race as the small dog or the big favourite. But guess what? He flipped TK off, and catches a T to bust me. Then proceed to gloat what a great play that was. OK, he had me covered. But nearly half of his stack on TK off, and after a raise in front of him?

Its moments like that which gets me. Not being contend with playing badly and getting lucky, theses fish proceed to rub it in. What is the point of trying to play good poker, when you constantly see these fish playing terribly and win? I lost count of the times I see AX (x<9) calling allin preflop in ring game and busting QQ or KK, and small suited connectors calling allins preflop and busting big pairs. The worst I have seen was 29 suited at the button, flat calling both a raise and a reraise, 15 BBs in all. And then catches 2 pairs on the flop.

I have been tempted to try the same type of reckless/poor play, but I don't think my bankroll will allow me to, certainly my intelligence wouldn't.

Guess I am not cut out to play this game after all, so maybe I'll give this damn game a miss for a while, if not forever..

Bob offered the following encouragement:

In order to enjoy playing poker, you have to be able to take a bad beat and shrug it off. You have to keep playing your best game even if you suffer a number of bad beats in a row. If it's getting to you, perhaps it is time to take a break from poker. Or, as some posters suggested last month, smoke a joint before you play ;-}

Now, there's an idea. This last post I think sums up why you have to struggle through the bad times to one day achieve nirvana, sort of like Andy Dufresne crawling through 500 yards of the foulest smelling shit you could imagine to reach his freedom.

If bad play was not rewarded on a semi-regular basis there wouldn't be any games.

As for me and my bankroll, there's not much to report. I'm down a little for April, though not enough to get worked up about. It appears, though, that I will close out the month a loser. That will result in two consecutive months of poker results in the red, the first time that's happened in the three or so years I've been playing the game seriously. At least, I'm not going on tilt this month. (I shudder when I recall some of my play in March.)

Here's some news I enjoyed reading yesterday, from Brad "Otis" Willis and his Pokerstars blog:

Win a WSOP bracelet with W$

This, quite simply, is neat.

The fine folks at PokerStars have decided that PokerStars players will be able to use their W$ to buy into some of the preliminary World Series of Poker events. That means, if you're one of those people with a bunch of unused W$ sitting around, you can now use them for a chance to win a WSOP bracelet.

Now, there are a few things you should know before we move on. This offer will only be available for a specific list of WSOP events.

June 3-Event #2--$1,500 No-limit Hold'em
June 4-Event #3--$1,500 Pot-limit Hold'em
June 8-Event #7--$1,000 No-limit Hold'em w/rebuys
June 10-Event #9--$2,000 No-limit Hold'em
June 12-Event #11--$2,000 Pot-limit Hold'em
June 14-Event #13--$5,000 No-limit Hold'em
June 22-Event #22--$1,500 No-limit Hold'em
June 23-Event #23--$5,000 Seven Card Stud
June 26-Event #27--$5,000 Pot-limit Omaha w/re-buys
June 27-Event #28--$5,000 Limit Hold'em
July 1-Event #33--$3,000 No-limit Hold'em
July 2-Event #35--$10,000 Pot-limit Omaha, 2p.m. start

In exchange for arranging all of this for you, you will be asked to wear PokerStars clothing during your tournament play. How do you do it? It's pretty easy. Simply e-mail with the event you would like to enter. PokerStars will remove the funds from your account and will then email you with a link to the online registration software. Once the registration is complete, you'll simply need to check-in at PokerStars registration desk in Las Vegas to receive your entry.

Before you ask, I should point out, this promotion is not available for the main event of the WSOP.

There's a few events on that list I wouldn't mind playing. Now I need to raise some W$ to buy in. I figure it's better to try and win the money on PokerStars than to play satellites in Vegas. Probably more fish online, anyway. Invested $6 in a $2 + R turbo last night and got 33 w$. Now, only $1,470 more to go.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Poker writers

First, a brief moment of silence for the departure of Shana Hiatt from the World Poker Tour. Apparently, she is moving on to other endeavors. That, my friends, is a crying shame for poker fans everywhere. The girl is smokin'!

This was forwarded to me at work today. Apparently, Daniel N. has joined the Poker Brat in separate quests for poker world domination.

I’m writing to introduce you to a new weekly feature, "Playing Poker with Daniel Negreanu". For more information, please see our website at

For decades, readers have turned to a variety of bridge and chess columns to help them improve their games. "Playing Poker with Daniel Negreanu" will do the same for the estimated 50 million poker players and fans in the United States. Your readers will have the unique opportunity to learn poker tips, strategies, and other insightful and entertaining information from the 2004 ESPN Player of the Year, 2004 Card Player Magazine Player of the Year, and 2004-2005 World Poker Tour Player of the Year, Daniel Negreanu.

Daniel "Kid Poker" Negreanu is unquestionably the top young personality in poker today. His engaging sense of humor and aggressive style of play make him the clear fan favorite and the "good guy" of poker. There’s no attitude about Daniel and that’s why he’s so popular across all of poker’s demographic segments.

"Playing Poker with Daniel Negreanu" is your ticket to increased readership in key demographic segments and new advertisers from the phenomenally-hot poker marketplace.

When you visit our website – -- you’ll learn a bit more about Daniel, have the chance to read a sample column, and review a list of upcoming column titles. You’ll even be able to watch a video of Daniel in action as he captures one of his 2004 World Series of Poker titles.

Can we talk about getting your paper on board? Please reply to this email at or call me at 310-478-4781 with any questions or comments.

I look forward to hearing from you. Thanks for your time,

Steve Miller
Card Shark Media

OK, so how do I compete with that? Or for that matter, how does THIS guy compete with that?

He won $600 playing poker in 2004 and now he is a poker columnist? A syndicated columnist? Man, I've got to give the guy credit for being in the right place at the right time. I'm assuming he was a writer of some sort for San Antone and pitched this column to them (as I did here in Tuscaloosa.) The problem for me is his market is tons bigger. (But I suspect my bankroll is tons bigger, ha ha!)

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Proud papa

I received a call yesterday from my friend Brian, who will probably be spending a lot of time in Vegas with me during my WSOP trek. He might even ride cross country with me.

Brian was in Vegas this week for a convention or expo of some sort for the sports television industry, or something to that effect. (As you can see I know full well of what I speak.) You see, Brian travels around the South, operating the graphics for sports telecasts from the comfort of the TV truck. It's not a bad living. He jumped at the chance to go to this little affair, especially since it was taking place in Las Vegas.

He called not to bore with me details of the new advanced graphics machines, but to share, with glee in his voice, two final table finishes in smallish tournaments at The Horsehoe and Golden Nugget, and like a proud papa I listened intently to the accounts. You might say I helped Brian get into poker by sharing my love of the game with him, so it was with joy I heard of his tales.

Brian and some friends also hopped over to the Bellagio, where the WPT Championship was in full swing, with the first day nearly completed when he called. He told of Lederer and Negreanu and Men "The Master" sightings. Doyle Brunson whizzed through the casino in one of those scooters for the elderly and the handicapped, undoubtedly drawing the attention of all he passed. Hearing the stories, I'd have to say I'm getting Vegas Fever!

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

The wheels spin round and round

In poker, it seems, I have no outs.

After my woeful earlier efforts in the RGP challenge, which includes NO money finishes in 11 attempts, I managed to luck up and win the one last night, for a profit of about $145, I think. The thing is, earlier in the evening I played in a regular local game and dropped $170, in which the final hand my KK when down in flames to another player's 56o after a board of T-7-3-6-6.

These days I either break even or lose on any given day. On days like Monday I'm akin to a hamster running around in his wheel. I just can't seem to gain ground.

On another note, despite other players' insistence that the WSOP Steps are the worst thing since moldy bread, I've still been plugging away at them. I'm already invested. What can you do? I've got a run of about 15 tournaments on the same $12 going right now. I've been wavering between Steps 3-5 for a week now. When I get to a higher step I finish low enough to drop back down and then when I get to a lower step I finish high enough to move back up. It seems I am in WSOP qualifying purgatory.

At least I finally did something smart and re-upped with Ultimate Bet to go back and play some heads-up SNGs. During my losing streak, that's about the only thing I hadn't tried to break my cursed luck. So far, so good. Lost my first one, then won 12 in a row. I've lost about 5 of my last 7 thanks to some horrific two to four outers on the river in a few of them, but overall I'm up about $200. Of all the different ways to play the various poker games, I think I'm better at heads up NL hold'em than any other discipline (despite my bad play last night against PMJackson, in which I was lucky to take first.)

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Close, but not quite

A chart of my poker bankroll over the last couple of months would show a sharp drop in March, much like a stock bottoming out (like my stocks, which ARE bottoming out) and a fairly level graph in April.

My tournament play especially has been of the close, but not quite in the riches category. A couple of quick examples:

Playing in the FTP $6K freeroll Saturday, in which the winner got $1,200, I finished 13th of 500. I was in the SB with QQ. The button just called and I popped the 2,000 BB another 6,000. He flops a set of deuces and busts me. I win about $45.

Playing in the $25,000 guaranteed $10+$1 rebuy on PS the other night, which that night had an otherworldly prize pool of $47K and nearly $12K to the winner, I make a stupid mistake (so stupid I will not publicly embarrass myself with the details here) and go out 71st after having an above average stack at the time. I profit about $60 big ones.

I can't help but think that my struggles of late led to my bad play in the PS tourney. It was one of those moments where you push the all in button and wish you could take it back IMMEDIATELY. But, no sir, you paid your ticket and there are no refunds.

At least I'm playing a sane game in the WSOP Steps, slowly biding my time to climb the ladder. The key is to make top 5 and I've done it dashingly well. I took third in a Step 3 last night and jumped up to Step 4. I played a very patient game in that one, managing a short stack well enough to place fifth and maintain my standing at Step 4. I think once you are in trouble it's best to be patient and try to make top 5 rather than pushing all in and hoping to get lucky and make the top 3. As long as you stay at the same step there is always another day. But that's just my two cents.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Party Poker WSOP steps

It's official. I'm addicted to these. They are the greatest thing since sliced bread.

How can you not a love a system in which it's possible to win a $10,000 WSOP seat, $1,500 spending money and $2,000 in hotel accommodations for $12? Granted, it's a long road to the top, having to make it through a six-step process, but if you play a reasonable sit and go game -- tight in the early stages, aggressive as the blinds rise -- you ought to be able to finish in the top 5 most of the time, and at many of the steps you can maintain your standing on the ladder as long as you make the top half of the field of 10.

I've got about $55 invested at this point and am now on Step 3. I made it there this weekend, finishing 5th and dropping back to Step 2, but won that one and went back to Step 3. Last night, I came in 4th and am still at Step 3. Like Namath and his boast before Super Bowl III or Ruth and his point to centerfield, I have proclaimed I will win a seat in the WSOP. Now I just have to make it happen.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Arrogance is not a virtue

I find it funny how high an opinion some in the world of poker have of themselves. I'm not talking about players like Hellmuth. Their arrogance is a given. I'm speaking of some of the poker writers.

The other day I sought advice from someone about WSOP media passes since I would like to get one after I get a publisher for the book. I put my usual tagline for my blog after my name on my post. The response was that passes would be tough to come by (which doesn't surprise me necessarily) but then some derogatory remark about bloggers and how they don't count as accredited media. Well no kidding. The post also reeked of arrogance from the responder, who writes for an online poker site. I must say I was rather amused by his attitude and what appeared to be him looking down at me.

So to fight arrogance with arrogance: My work has been published in the Atlanta Journal Constitution, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, San Francisco Chronicle, and, oh yeah, The New York Times. You WRITE FOR AN ONLINE POKER SITE.


Field of Dreams?

I watched the aforementioned movie yesterday, right before the Braves opened their season to a butt whooping to the Marlins, and I noticed some similarities between Ray Kinsella and myself. He plows up several acres of corn to build a baseball field and after he's done lies on the field with his wife and muses, "I have just created something completely illogical." Later, when convincing Terrance Mann to go to a Red Sox game with him, Kinsella says that despite his seemingly crazy notions, he is the sanest person he knows.

I'm one of the sanest people I know as well. I stayed close to home for college, got a steady job in state, bought a house because it's good to put down roots and a better value for the money than apartment living. I get up, go to work every morning, come home or go play poker and enjoy my evening, go to sleep and repeat. It's as sane as it gets.

So why am I going to do something "illogical" like quitting my job and running across the country to play poker, a game I haven't been able to win at in the last two months? Andy Beal noted in his latest letter to the Corporation, the group of poker players headed by Doyle Brunson that he is challenging to another heads-up match, that it's like the question about why people climb mountains or parachute from airplanes: “Anyone capable of even asking such a question could never possibly understand the answer.” What does it mean that I both ask the question and can't answer it?

As I seek an answer to my question, the more I think the year off is not as much about poker as it is about seeking the purpose of my own life and re-discovering the things that are most important. I'm not a scientist, but I'm going to propose a hypothesis of what I will find in the next year. I'll find during my search for poker glory that the humdrum nature of everyday life isn't so bad -- that the things that sometimes drive us batty are the things that keep us going and happy to wake up the next day and begin again. I may have more freedom to go where I want and do whatever I want, but I'll miss the structured environment that keeps me disciplined and responsible. I'll miss the camaraderie of friends and co-workers, mowing my lawn on a Saturday afternoon, sunsets over the river. I'll realize that life is passing me by and I never knew it. Or maybe I'll just win the World Series of Poker.

Monday, April 04, 2005

The column has begun

Yay! I'm now getting paid to write about poker since the column has begun. It's running in the Friday Weekend (read: Life or feature) section of the T-News. It will be interesting to see the response it will get here in the heart of the Bible Belt. I'm trying to emphasize the strategy of the game and not talk much about the financial aspects of poker. One email we received about the column mentioned that the reader was a Christian and against gambling, but is interested in reading my column because he didn't realize poker could be played just for fun or for prizes. (LOL, not that it's done that way often, by any means.) The eds decided to try it for awhile in an attempt to reach that demographic that just doesn't read newspapers -- people under 30, i.e. college kids. Maybe the Friday rack sales will spike.