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Wednesday, June 28, 2006

It Ain't Me, Babe

I am, quite possibly, the worst chess player on the face of the Earth. I've certainly never played against a worse player. I'm so bad that I actually revel in my ineptitude, taunting opponents when they fail to take me out right away, and hooting over my rare victories. Something about the game just doesn't mesh for me; I think it's because chess relies on both strategy and tactics. I can handle tactics. Making moves to accomplish some short-term goal, whether it's taking a rook or getting my king out of trouble, is not a problem. It's putting all these tactical encounters to work within a coherent strategy that causes me trouble. I'll take the time to get some pieces into a nice defensive position, move some others into attacking position, and then move one of the defenders because there is a tactical advantage. Of course, short-term tactical advantage costs me the long-term strategic advantage, and my crippled defense gives up an important piece. I don't know if that says anything about me as a poker player. Maybe. I guess I'll consider myself lucky that poker is more a tactical game--the next hand has no bearing on this one.

Mrs. Jackmama put a beatdown on me in the first game of chess we played last night, and then didn't care to play the second game and so I ended up winning. Very unsatisfying, to win because the opponent didn't care to play. I decided to play a little .25/.50 NL on Full Tilt, because even at small stakes the opponents are interested in playing.

It's tough to get a read on the table online. Since so many avatars are the same, it's hard to notice when someone is replaced at the table, and due to the high turnover of players, it would be hard to track them, anyway. Usually, one or two tend to stay at the table for the length of time that I am there, and I get a decent read on them. Otherwise, I apply the generic read "Internet player" to all the others. It's not terribly accurate, but it's better than nothing.

After a couple hours of hanging around the breakeven point, I found myself down about $10 of my $50 buy-in, primarily due to some aggressive betting. The table had several family pots in a row, and I was coming into pots with big raises when I had cards, trying to shake people out of their comfort zones. A few flops missed me, and I found myself a little lighter for it. In the big blind, I suddenly found myself with the Hammer (2d7c). UTG+1, the button, and the small blind all call. I'd been pretty aggressive in my betting lately, and so I simply check to see the flop.

Flop comes out 2s Ac 7d. Now that's a fine how-d'ya-do. The only player I have a read on is the button, who likes to see a lot of flops, but folds in the face of aggressive betting when he has nothing. The other two players are generic "Internet player." I figure that player to call the blinds with A-anything, middle suited connectors, a couple of face cards, and maybe low pairs. Since I'm facing a pair of aces, I figure I'll chase out some draws, and get a feel for where I am with a half-pot-sized bet of $2. UTG+1 calls, the button and small blind fold.

The turn is 4s. I figure this guy has an ace. I aim to draw some money into the pot with a $4 bet, and hope he doesn't hit his 3 on the river. He raises to $15. I guess he wants me to know that he has something. The odds of pocket 2s or 7s are somewhat low, since I have a couple of them, and it would be risky to call $2 on the flop with a pair of 4s, so I have to believe he has the ace, and he thinks the ace is a winner, probably because of a higher kicker. He must think I have an ace, too, right? Given the likelihood that I have the best hand, and his apparent belief that he has me whupped, I re-raise all-in to 38.75. He calls, and shows 4h Ah. Ouch.

I console myself with the knowledge that I had him read correctly, as a generic "Internet player," and that it's just bad luck that the rag part of A-rag happened to come on the turn. That'll happen, I suppose.

The river comes 7h. Oops, I just caught a full house on the river. Someone's crying about a bad beat tonight, but it ain't me, babe.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Viva Tao Poker

Pauly gets this party started right. In my brief exile, I missed the news about media restrictions at the WSOP, specifically that Pauly will not be allowed to provide updated chipcounts and winners' photos. Certain larger media organizations (undoubtedly rhyming with PardFlayer, though I haven't done any research into it. If I did research, the Internet Police would revoke my blogging license) have claimed exclusive rights to ditribute that info. What a crock of shit. Fortunately, I never read Pauly for that information, although I didn't object to its presence. No, I love the Tao of Poker because he provides a window into the experience of being in Las Vegas during the WSOP. If he simply wrote about cash games and ignored the WSOP, I'd still be hitting his site every day.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Welcome Back

If it weren't for the dates on the posts, this page would always look like it had just been updated. The unspoken beauty of the Intarweb is that the thing never ages, pages just go 404.

Following two trips to Vegas in quick succession, I just never got back in the online poker groove. For a while before that, I had lost interest in tourney poker, and the weak hold of ring games was never re-established. In retrospect, I probably should have taken the opportunity to become a regular at the local bingo hal...er, Indian casino, but time just slipped by. With April comes baseball season, and with May comes summertime. In the absence of a full-on poker obsession, there is little incentive to play.

I jumped onto Full Tilt this weekend to play, and wandered into a $10+1 SNG. I figured it would be fun to get back into the swing of things with a tourney, in honor of the beginning of the WSOP this week. I played tight for a short while and woke up with QQ on the button. Blinds were at 25/50 and 4 or 5 people called ahead of me. Time to thin the field, so I raise to 200. UTG calls and a middle position player calls, and everyone else drops. Nice.

Flop comes rags, with two clubs and a 9 as the highest card. I figure the likely hands that beat me are slow-played AA or KK, and maybe 99. I fire out 500 at the 800 pot, UTG re-raises a negligible amount all-in, mid-position folds, and I call the couple hundred re-raise. UTG shows 84c, proceeds to hit his flush and leave me crippled. My desperation push a couple hands later goes nowhere, and I go out first.

I guess that's how poker treats you when you return. It stores up all the bad beats you would have gotten and delivers them in one majestic blow.

[UPDATE: I realize that the numbers don't add up. Yeah, my memory sucks. It's basically what happened, though. Big raise pre-flop, not quite pot-size bet.]