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Saturday, December 31, 2005

Happy New Year!

Ah, the last week of the regular season. No one knows which teams will actually field all their starters, which are playing for the Reggie Bush lottery, and which will actually show up to play. Kinda like the preseason, and I like it, if only because it feeds the inner gambler. Without further ado, I bring you today's selections.

Selection 1: NFL Football
Denver Broncos 31-December-2005 1:30 PM PST
Spread +11 for Game -105

Selection 2: NFL Football
New York Giants/Oakland Raiders 31-December-2005 5:00 PM PST
Total Points OVER 40.5 for Game -103

Selection 3: NCAA Football
South Florida 31-December-2005 8:00 AM PST
Money Line for Game +146

Moving on... (to quote an excellent poker blogger who was kind enough to stop by and read my last post, and wish me well in the weight loss bet).

We weighed in yesterday, and I hit my weight on the nose. Of all the people that made it, I'm the only one that didn't actually lose more than I needed to. I guess that's maximum efficiency. Twelve people total, nine made their weight, so we each got $133 back on our $100 investment. 33% over 3 months isn't bad if you're investing, but it's pretty crappy for a bet. There won't be any more of those goofy wagers in my future, but there is an extra $133 in my bankroll--actually $266 more, because my lovely bride matched my winnings. Sweet -- a goofy bet with a nice overlay.

Adjusting to two kids, and having the holidays come up on us took away most of my time for playing poker. Hopefully, that will change soon (I've been playing a little .25/.50 NL Hold 'Em on FTP as I compose this). I've been doing OK in the ring games lately, so expect to hear more about them.

Finally, happy new year to all you spambots, and the couple of actual people (you know who you are).

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

It's a Hobby

Gambling is a hobby for me. I don't imagine that I will ever generate steady income from gambling; at least, it's never likely to come close to replacing the steady income I get from my job. Further, I don't get caught up in maximizing my return from gambling. I'm not going to multi-table on Party and pick up extra nickels all day long. I play poker because it's fun for me. Same goes for sports betting, horse racing and craps.

Even playing for fun, I hate to lose at anything, and I really hate the feeling of being played for a sucker. I hardly ever play blackjack any more because the casinos have added decks and reduced payouts on the naturals at every turn, and make it harder and harder to play a winning game. On the other hand, I really enjoy playing craps. I have a set pattern that I adhere to, and never play the sucker bets in the middle. With an adequate buy-in, I can generally ride out the cold shooters and walk away with more than I bought in with.

Poker, horse racing and sports betting are the areas where you can theoretically gain an edge, mostly because you're going against the general public, and the casino is skimming off the top. Usually. Sometimes, casinos are known to take sides with the lines they put out, but generally they try to balance the action, and the winners are taking money from the losers, minus some vig. These are the areas in which I do a lot of research and read a lot of instructional books, especially poker. If I can give myself an edge over the Average Joe, well, that beats *being* the Average Joe, doesn't it?

I don't have an actual bankroll. Whenever I go to Vegas, I take out a certain amount of money that I earmark for gambling, and if any of it remains when I get home, I deposit it back into the bank. This has always worked pretty well for me, and it will probably continue to at least partially make up my Vegas bankroll. This time, I thought it might be fun to consciously try to build a bankroll before my trip next month, and see how long I can play it.

I have poker and sports book accounts, and I can place racing bets through the sports book. So where is the greatest amount of bankroll cash coming from?

Prop bets and fantasy football.

Seriously.

I won my division and scored the most points in the regular season in one of my fantasy leagues, which guarantees me a couple hundred bucks, and if I win out through the playoffs, that's a few hundred more. I just destroyed the competition in the first round, so things look promising there.

I managed to get involved in a weight-loss pool at work. Everyone throws in $100, and has to lose 10% of their weight by December 30. Winners split the pool. I'm 5' 10" and weighed in at 183 on October 3rd, so while I wasn't being knocked over by strong winds, I clearly didn't have a lot of excess weight. As of today, I'm 4 pounds away from the 165 I have to hit, and so cashing in this pool looks promising. It's hard to get an accurate read on the other people, but at least 3 people aren't even close, and so that would be $30 on top of the $100 I get back if I hit (there are 13 total people).

As my last poker post indicates, the tourneys have been killing me lately, and I'm probably down 120 bucks in poker. I had a decent night at the NL ring games on Friday, so I'm creeping back to even. I went 3-3 with last weekend's games, and so I lost a little vig and the ill-advised parlay bet, but I'm still up for the season. I even blew some money on horse racing last week, but just some minimum bets. All told, I'm probably currently even on the poker, sports and horses front.

So much for gaining an edge. I wonder if Caesar's sports book is taking prop bets on what I weigh.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Sunday Picks

1-2 yesterday. Let's hope these do better. Really, though...all I needed was 10 lousy points out of the Buccaneers. What happened there?

Selection 1: NFL Football
Indianapolis Colts 18-December-2005 10:00 AM PST
Spread -6.5 for Game -102
---
Selection 2: NFL Football
Arizona Cardinals/Houston Texans 18-December-2005 10:00 AM PST
Total Points OVER 42 for Game -105
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Selection 3: NFL Football
Philadelphia Eagles/St Louis Rams 18-December-2005 10:00 AM PST
Total Points UNDER 43 for Game -103

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Picks

I must feel like throwing my money around today.

Wager Type: Straight Bet

Selection 1: NFL Football
Tampa Bay Buccaneers/New England Patriots 17-December-2005 10:30 AM PST
Total Points OVER 37 for Game -110
---
Selection 2: NFL Football
Kansas City Chiefs/New York Giants 17-December-2005 2:00 PM PST
Total Points UNDER 48 for Game -107
---
Selection 3: NFL Football
Denver Broncos/Buffalo Bills 17-December-2005 5:30 PM PST
Total Points UNDER 34.5 for Game -104

Also, much like a battered wife, I continue to defend and return to my abuser--a parlay, for your consideration.

Selection Detail

1 NFL Football
New England Patriots 17-December-2005 10:30 AM PST
Money Line for Game -225

2 NFL Football
Kansas City Chiefs 17-December-2005 2:00 PM PST
Money Line for Game +125

3 NFL Football
Denver Broncos 17-December-2005 5:30 PM PST
Money Line for Game -375

Risking 10.00 to Win 31.17 USD

Friday, December 16, 2005

Hey Hey, Ho Ho, Tourney Poker's Got to Go

And here's the problem with tournaments. Large multi-table, 2-table, or even single-table tournaments give you a pretty good chance to win a big chunk in return for a smallish investment. That's probably why so many fish end up in them. The odds of winning are much better than the lottery, and the skillset required is largely similar. That may just be the bitterness talking.

So, the problem. I think it can be best illustrated by looking at the hands I held when I busted out of several tournaments last night. Betting information is generally important, but since these people apparently cannot be pushed off a hand regardless of the bet size, I don't think it really matters if I was betting the pot or twice the pot. Also, since these are bust-out hands, I was short-stacked enough to have to push every time. The old axiom is that you should be happy to get your money in when you have the best of it, regardless of the result in specific situations.

Tournament 1
Blinds 100/200
Dealt AhKc UTG+1 Raise all-in for 1960
Fold to BB, who calls with Ac5c
BB wins with Club flush

Tournament 2
Blinds 100/200
UTG raises to 600
Fold to Hero, Raise all-in to 1715 with AdKc in MP
Fold back to UTG, who calls with QdKs
UTG wins with straight

Tournament 3
Blinds 100/200
Fold to Hero in SB, raise all-in to 1330 with AcJh
BB calls with Qd7h
BB wins with two pair, Queens and Sevens

Tournament 4
Blinds 50/100
UTG raises 200 to 300
Fold to Hero on button, raise 300 to 600 with KsKd
Fold to UTG, raises 1500 to 1200 with QhQs
Hero calls 655 and is all-in
UTG wins with Full House, Queens full of Deuces


And there you have the problem in tournaments. At least, online tournaments with $5 - $20 buy-ins. The fish are willing to call with virtually anything, and so it becomes so expensive to isolate with a good hand that you are practically pot-committed when you find a hand to play, especially if you play a tight-aggressive game. When a premium hand appears, you need to get as much money into the middle as possible. The fish are going to call large bets regardless of odds with an ace-high or a couple of face cards, and you will have your chips in the middle with the best of it. Jackpot!

Or not. You can hit a very bad run of suckouts like I have, and bust out of most tourneys without hitting the money. The terrible shame behind this is that you've identified the fish, managed to get them to get their money in with the worst of it, and then you're out and can't continue to exploit them. After the fourth ugly suckout last night (and to be fair, they weren't all fish...but they were bad beats), I decided to hit the ring games again. In a ring game, you can wait for premium hands, or good hands with position, and maximize your return. More importantly, if you are sucked out on, you can re-buy and keep fishing.

I bought into a .25/.50 for $20, and waited for some good hands while I got to know the table. After a while, I'm in UTG+1 and find JJ. Standard raise of $1.50 to $2. My left calls, as well as BB and SB. Flop comes 3hJhQs. Checked to me, and I bet $10 into an $8 pot to chase out the draws. My left folds, SB folds, BB re-raises $15.05 and is all-in. This guy was too loose to call a $2 pre-flop raise with queens, so I call. Turn and river come Kd Td. Villain wins as his Ah 4h makes a straight. So, with a flush draw and 3 cards to the straight, this guy re-raised me all-in. Unlike a tourney, I have the opportunity to re-buy, and you'd better believe I want another shot at this joker.

Time passes, and I find AsJs UTG+2. UTG folds, I raise $1 to $1.50. Fold around to the button, who calls, SB folds, BB (villain in previous hand) calls. Flop 6s 3d 5c. Villain checks, I bet $1. Button and villain call. Turn comes 9s. We all check. Thanks for the free card, guys. River comes 3s and I made the nut flush. Of course, since it paired the board, and I'm having that kind of night, and villain is just dumb enough to play something like 63, I have some reservations. Villain bets $3, I raise to $6, re-raise to $9, and I call. I would have rather seen myself go all-in here, but I was gun-shy, and I'm man enough to admit my cowardice. Villain shows Qs4s for a lesser flush, and I have taken back my money from him.

Since it's pretty late by this point, I leave the table, happy to be back to even. I think I'm going to really dial back the number of tourneys I play, and focus on the cash games. Tourneys offer outsized returns for your buy-in, but it just seems harder to ride the variance when you can't strike back at the weak players. Barry Greenstein mentioned in his book that he frequently buys in for close to the table minimum on NL cash games, so that he never has too much of his stake riding on one hand. I think that makes good sense. You can always buy more chips if someone sucks out on you, and the ability to go all-in at any time can be important in neutralizing a position advantage.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Love All, Serve All

Well, well, well. Where to begin?

First off, I'd like to thank Joe Speaker for adding me to his blogroll. I guess my readership is now the spambots plus 1. The pressure to update regularly is building.

So, what to focus on today?

I'm going to Vegas in January. I have always wanted to make a March Madness pilgrimmage. What? March Madness isn't in January? Yeah, I never quite make it. In this case, March was looking awfully pricey, and my friend got an offer for free nights at Bally's in January. Combine that with a fare special from the local airline and you find Jackmama and his friend re-scheduling their trip to the Mecca. Of course, Bally's has to try to mess with the plan--you can only get the special pricing (some free, some not) for two of the nights. Well, we didn't just fall off the turnip truck, you know. We'll take the free Saturday and Sunday night stay, and then parlay all that savings into Thursday and Friday night stays at the Hard Rock.

I love the Hard Rock. There are legitimate complaints about the place, but I don't care. It houses two of my favorite restaurants in the whole world (Pink Taco and Mr. Lucky's), and I can play craps in peace. What do I mean, in peace? The Hard Rock likes to project an ambience of "cool," and so there is loud music playing all day. I don't understand why some people complain about the loud music. There is no slot machine noise! How can Jimi Hendrix at a decent volume be more offensive than "WHEEL.....OF......FORTUNE!!!!" over and over?

Monday, December 12, 2005

I have a dream

"In a stunning change of strategy, Jackmama posts his picks after the games have been played!"

Yes, I forgot to post my picks yesterday, but I feel like I should have them on record here, anyway, so here they are. I apologize to my legions of loyal readers--the spam scripts which try to dump comment spam in new blog posts. I keep hoping that the spammers will start tracking my picks, and that they'll find more value in gambling than in spam. I am a simple man, with simple dreams.

Selection 1: NFL Football
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 11-December-2005 10:00 AM PST
Spread +5.5 for Game -105

Selection 2: NFL Football
New England Patriots/Buffalo Bills 11- December-2005 10:00 AM PST
Total Points OVER 36.5 for Game +101

Selection 3: NFL Football
Chicago Bears/Pittsburgh Steelers 11- December-2005 10:00 AM PST
Total Points OVER 30 for Game -105

Selection 4: NFL Football
Washington Redskins 11-December-2005 1:05 PM PST
Spread -4 for Game -106


I am getting crushed in just about every poker game I play. Single and multi-table SNGs, Turbo SNGs, ring games, you name it. I've had to really dive down in limits in order to ride this one out. For the most part, I've been playing poker as well as I ever have, but the beats have been really bad; at a certain point, I can call the river card, because it is the 2-outer that is going to put me out of the tourney. At some point, you can only laugh about it. Ha. Ha.

I've got ambitions to write an actual poker-content article, and the first traces of an outline are forming. Wouldn't it be neat if I posted some poker articles? Oh, what do you care? You're just a spam bot.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Quoth the Raven, "Never play parlays"

Looks like I wasn't the only one to be bitchslapped by Kyle Boller on a parlay. I was one minute away from collecting my $150 before the reincarnarnation of Captain Comeback strolled down the field. I'm sure that when Brian Billick gets around to posting his weekly diary on the Ravens web site, it will be all about how we saw the emergence of Kyle Boller, superstar. He probably won't mention that the drive should have ended when he overthrew Todd Heap, a pass which ought to have been easily intercepted, if not for an outstanding effort by the tight end. Oh well, that the Ravens continue to suck is no skin off my nose. Shame about the parlay, though. Winning the three totals bets helped ease my suffering.

I've started playing some poker again lately, mostly single table sit n gos. I expected to be a little rusty on my reads, but I got killed early on in by going all-in after a flop of rags with KK in two different tourneys, only to find one guy that flopped a set of 5s, and another that hit his third 7 on the river. A fine welcome back that was. So, I'm slightly down on my return as I try to find my rhythm again.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Coming Back

I'm going to start updating regularly again, and what better way to start than with some NFL action.
Selection 1: NFL Football
Houston Texans/Baltimore Ravens 4-December-2005 10:00 AM PST
Total Points UNDER 37.5 for Game +104
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Selection 2: NFL Football
Jacksonville Jaguars/Cleveland Browns 4-December-2005 10:00 AM PST
Total Points OVER 33 for Game +105
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Selection 3: NFL Football
Green Bay Packers/Chicago Bears 4-December-2005 10:00 AM PST
Total Points UNDER 30.5 for Game +107


And how about a money line parlay to spice things up?

1 NFL Football
Cincinnati Bengals 4-December-2005 10:00 AM PST
Money Line for Game +145

2 NFL Football
Houston Texans 4-December-2005 10:00 AM PST
Money Line for Game +300

3 NFL Football
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 4-December-2005 10:00 AM PST
Money Line for Game -185

Risking 10.00 to Win 140.97 USD