Archive for August, 2006

Lessons Learnt

Posted: August 31, 2006 in Atlantic City 2006

Home again after a week on the road, nice to be back in the right timezone after almost three months in India, Hong Kong and the US. So we did Atlantic City, and in the main we survived. Did we leave our mark? Probably not. Did we come home richer, guess so – all of us enriched by the hours at the poker table, and some of us with a modest pay-day to boot.

And so to lessons learnt, as promised on day 6. How was it that I was consistently winning in limit; Shane consistently winning in no-limit; and the boys struggling to stay afloat in either. Will leave Shane to explain his own success, but I think I can summarise my end, hopefully without unleashing flames from the rest of the crew!

#1 – Table selection

My top money making and money saving tip of the trip. There were so many games at so many limits available, why bother sticking to a table that’s not full of loosey goosey’s. The beauty of AC is that right through the low and mid limit tables, nobody has the first idea how to play. I saw a whole bunch of some of the weakest players I’ve ever had the pleasure to sit down opposite at both 6/12 and 7.50/15. So why waste hours trying to grind a few bucks out of a tight table when there’s money to be made next door, even if it means dropping down a level for a few hours? I walked away from too-tight tables three times on the trip, every time leaving one of the boys still sitting and trying to make a stand.

#2 – Seat selection

So, having picked the right table, it’s critical to pick the right seat. The books will tell you about trying to put the aggressive guy with big chips on your right or the passive skint guy on your left; ideally both. That’s all well and good, but over either I’ll take the idiot who doesn’t know how to look at his cards without flashing them at the table behind him. Doesn’t take much effort to outplay a guy who’s shown you his hand, eh? Even Albert could manage that one. 😉

To take this a little further though, just because you start in one seat, doesn’t mean you have to stick there. To illustrate the point I moved three times in as many hours somewhere mid-week, literally chasing a maniac around the table. He was a nutcase, raising randomly with almost anything. This was a guy I definitely wanted on my immediate right. Eventually he got fed-up with me exploiting his loose play and shifted tables – if he hadn’t’ve moved into the only seat at that lower limit I’d have changed again with him!

#3 – David Sklansky “Small Stakes Hold’em”

Good work, you’re at the right table, sitting in the right seat, so what to do next?! Well, hopefully you’ve prepared properly and read the bible on hooking the loose passive fish who populate the average low limit aquarium. I’m not going to try to summarise the book in a few paragraphs, suffice to say that it details exactly the adjustments you need to make against these sort of opponents – the novices who play too many hands, from thewrong positions, and take them too far.

#4 – Pay Attention to Your Opponents

Easy to say it, tough to do it – but watch those fish like a hungry seagull! Low limit players are a world of tells. Watch the guy on your left, he’ll usually telegraph his pre-flop action way out of turn, effectively putting himself ahead of you in the betting order. Watch everyone’s betting patterns, does the guy opposite bet or check top-pair on the flop?; is he a check-raise monster? (it’s usually a mistake if this sounds familiar); does he continuation bet his overcards on the turn when he still hasn’t hit after the first four cards are out?; you get the idea…

If you find your attention waning, play the Hellmuth game and be continually trying to put your opponents on a hand, even when you’re out of the action. Every little thing counts, don’t waste your time and value checking out the waitresses / cursing your 72o fold into a 772 flop (it was still the right thing to do) / day-dreaming about yesterday’s big win / chatting to your buddy on the table behind.

#5 – Pay Attention to Yourself

It might be fifth on my list, but I can’t overstress this one to be honest – pay absolute attention to your own play. Not just the easy stuff like are you on-tilt (perhaps in pale imitation of Albert “Tilt Master” Ho who can lose it even when he wins the hand, albeit after frustratingly only getting called by the half-asleep ace-flush when he had the straight-flush), but also the more subtle things like are you playing the right cards in the right position; are you coming over the top of guys who are capable of making a laydown rather than trying to bluff the calling stations (hey, we’ve all done it, just recognise it and don’t do it again!); are you calling your half-decent hands on the end (this is limit damn-it, whattaya doing folding?!!). There are a whole host of moderately poor plays that your opponents are making every hand, don’t let yourself fall into the same slack-jawed trap.

Well, that’s about it for my low- to mid-limit advice. If I can strong-arm the boys into it, next year will be Vegas 2007 where I’ll be testing myself against the 10/20 and 20/40 games, watch this space folks. 😉

Oh yeah, before I forget, #6 – Readjust Once You Come Home

Dumped £100 to the gentlemen of the weekly Mile End poker game this week, taking the same loose/aggressive small-stakes style into our regular and much tougher pot-limit dealer’s choice ring-game. D’oh!!


Drank away the horror of last night’s ridiculous tournament error until 6am, so quite a late start this afternoon. Hit the tables around 4pm intending to play the pink chip game again, so just grabbed at seat at Mike’s 4/8 table while I waited for my name to come-up.

First hand was pure comedy. The button’s just passed me by, and I’ve posted a blind to sit-down. There are two callers before me, and my 42o isn’t looking too pretty so I just check it. The mouse on my left flat calls, the button folds and the blinds check.

Flop comes 47A rainbow. Checked round to me, so I bet to try to win it there. Mouse flat calls again, rest of the table folds. The turn is a beautiful 2, giving me two-pair. I bet, mouse calls. River is a blank. I bet, mouse calls, and I rake in a tidy pot against his AQs. Apologise for showing such an ugly hand, while thinking what a muppet this guy is for not raising pre-flop or on the flop to protect his hand.

In the first round I infeasibly win another two big hands, playing tough-guy against what turns out to be a very passive field. In about five minutes I’m up over a ton. Sod the pink chip game, there’s money to be made here.

A few rounds later I suddenly realise that mouse is actually showing me his hole cards on almost every hand. He’s sitting to my left and is checking and rechecking his cards about ten times throughout each hand, does this mouse have amnesia or something? Anyway, this isn’t a friendly home game this is the real thing, so can you blame me for keeping quiet and taking full advantage of his poor quality play?

Play proceeds for about three hours, during which time I ride my $300 buy-in up to $550, mostly thanks to mouse’s poor quality tight/passive play. How can I go wrong? His style allows me to loosen-up and play more drawing hands from earlier position because I know he’s not going to raise me. I can bet him off of anything but top pair, which he calls to the end irrespective of his kicker. He doesn’t need to show me his cards, I can outplay him without looking at either of our hands!

Decide to invest a few bucks in a back/neck/head massage at the table side from the resident masseuse. Can life really get any better, having the tension kneaded out of my weary shoulders while getting paid with my sixth AA of the holiday. 😉

A few hours down and I’ve got a good read on most of the table, pretty much ducking and firing in all the right spots, and only losing a single showdown through the whole period. However all good things must come to an end, and I quit the game around 8pm after making a terrible play with AQs against a young lad who’d only joined the game a round or so earlier. He was playing quite tightly and I hadn’t really had time to work him out when I found myself getting my pre-flop raise re-raised by him in the button. To cut the hand short I got nailed on a board of QKAK7 by his AA full-house, and dumped a fairly sizable pot to him on a hand that I could have got away from extremely easily on the turn. Decided that hunger and tiredness were getting the better of me, so it was time to wrap-up while I still had a healthy profit.

Luke: cash +$720, tournament -$185 = +$535 (in 31 hours)

It’s coming to the end of our poker tour of Atlantic City now, so sometime tomorrow I’ll have a go at summing-up some of the things I’ve learnt in the last six days. Today’s experience with the mouse and the full-house actually serve to illustrate important points that I’ll cover in my final post, so check back soon folks for my parting words.

My day starts at midday watching from the sidelines at Alb gets nailed for $400 in the pink chip game ($7.50/15). He tells me he’ll write it up separately once he gets off tilt, so check-back in September folks.

Manage to get a seat at a new pink chip table myself, slightly nervous that this is the biggest limit I’ve played yet and the biggest game in our home casino. However there’s little to fear, across from me is a young guy giving out cash like an ATM, there are two calling stations down the table, and really only one other player that I figure I should watch-out for. Instincts are right, the table’s one of the easiest I’ve sat at yet. Without too much stress take my $400 buy-in up to $650, and then back down to $500 when my Aces get cracked by Q2o. Pretty philosophical about that sort of thing really though, I mean that’s why you sit at a table with guys that’ll call a capped pot with anything, you’re going to get paid in the end…

Anyway, sometime around 6pm I realise it’s ten minutes until the start of the $10,000 guaranteed tournament, and lo-and-behold – my stack is at exactly $520, perfect for the $100+20 buy-in. Am not remotely superstitious, but figure it’d make a nice story to create 10K out of thin air in a day, so cash-out and buy a seat for the big one.

Luke: cash +$535, tournament -$65 = +$470 (in 24 hours)

So I can almost hear you thinking back to the title of this post and saying ‘what’s the stupidest thing Luke ever did?’ How dumb can he have been? Pretty dumb, I can tell you, bear with me.

So, I sit-in at a table full of maniacs. These guys have been watching too many World Series final tables, it’s an all-in almost every hand for the first ten minutes, and this is a freezeout. Feel like I’m the only person at the table who actually knows anything about tournament theory, so figure I’m just going to sit tight and pick someone off once I catch a hand. Anyway, don’t catch a hand through to the first break at the one hour point. Almost straight into the ante period and I’m annoyed to have to move to a new table as they’re breaking us up. Oh well, my image as a rock has been wasted and I’m going to have to start over against a new bunch.

Get sat at table 3 where it’s a totally different story. There are a couple of big no limit players, one of which already has a huge lead over the rest of the field. This is going to be tough.

So, it goes around and around a few times. I win a pot and steal another and am generally keeping level around the 5,000 mark. However while I’m sitting level the blinds are rising and the antes are doing their work, eventually my average stack has become a short stack so it’s time to make a move. Find myself with A8o under the gun so jam my headphones on, pull my hat down and chuck it all in. Get just a single caller, and find that I’m racing against his 44. My eights stand-up, and at last I’m back into the game with a bit of room to maneuver.

Two hands later I’m in the small blind. It’s folded around the table to a big mouthed asian dude on my right, who flat calls. Now, this guy is a great player, but he’s taken a recent beat and he only just has me covered. He’s been taking a lot of flops cheap and been trying to outplay the field once a few cards are out, so I figure his call is a weak one and maybe I can take him off the hand here. Hey, I’ve only got K4o, but I’m playing the situation rather than the cards, and this definitely feels like the right move to make. Again, headphones get pushed in, hat comes down and chips go in. The big blind insta-folds and the asian guy goes into the tank to think. I’m avoiding his eyes, all I can see are his cards, and when he folds and flips them face up to show me his laydown I chuck my cards in the muck and go to rake-in the pot.

Except my noise cancelling earphones did their job, he didn’t fold, he called. I just threw away live cards, albeit live cards that were only 32.81% to win it.

Walked away leaving the rest of the table shocked at my insane move.

Luke: cash +$535, tournament -$185, throwing it all away in a moment of madness $priceless = +$350 (in 27 hours)

Day 3 – Bogata

Posted: August 25, 2006 in Atlantic City 2006

Insta-update as still in that bar.

Quick breakfast at midday and down to the Bogata. Sit in at 6/12 limit. Perfect spot, maniac on the right and weak tight player on the left.

Sit down for $300 and play some of the best poker of my life. Ride it up to $550 in about 4 hours, sweet. Had a solid read on most of the table, used maniac to my advantage, raising to isolate him in all the right spots.

Split at 7 for the bar am in now. Heading back to confirm that I’m better than this limit in a second. If nail a new table again will switch up to 10/20.

Luke: cash +$415, tournament -$65 = +$350 (in 19 hours)


Day 2 – No Limit?

Posted: August 25, 2006 in Atlantic City 2006

Day 2 evening, down to the Trump Taj hoping for an Omaha high game. No joy so take a seat at 1/2 No Limit. Figure I have a local pro on my left (a bad spot for him to be in) so split after taking $35 off the only person I can at the table, Shane (sorry buddy). Move to the 3/6 and ride the win up to $60. Not bad, but still small change.

Luke: cash +$240, tournament -$65 = +$175 (in 14 hours)

Take a break at about 2am, and foolishly get tempted by a bucket sized glass of red. Then around 4am the walk home gets way-laid by the poker room at Ceasers. Bad move to sit-down drunk and tired at No Limit $1/2 again. Manage to bin $75 between by 5.30am.

Nevermind, just learnt a cheap lesson…

Luke: cash +$165, tournament -$65 = +$100 (in 15 hours)


Up bright and early at 8.30am this morning feeling refreshed and relaxed. No sign of the likely lads, so Alb and I grabbed a quick breakfast and then dropped straight into the morning $50+15 NLH freezeout tournament at the Trop. Pretty quiet turn-out, think everyone was on the beach watching the airshow (with the Blue Angels (?) – sounded impressive, but to quote Alb “we didn’t come here to watch planes”). Anyway, of the four tables in play mine table turned-out to be the softest, plus there was plenty of play in the structure with 20 minute levels from 50/100 and each player starting with 5000 chips.

Thought I’d begin aggressively, and must have managed to steal seven of the first ten hands, getting quite a lot of respect until I inevitably got picked-off by someone holding top pair on a connected board. After that I couldn’t make a move without being policed by someone. Noted the change in dynamic and kept it steady, doubling up a few times with QQ and AA against smaller holdings. Alb dropped somewhere around 18th place and wandered off to the $4/8 cash game, I held on fairly card-dry until 10th, when I smelled weakness, made a move on a guy with man-boobs, and got picked-off when he caught a random looking Jack on the turn. Man-boobs finished me off two hands later when I was forced to push pre-flop with A7s.

Luke: cash +$125, tournament -$65 = +$60 (after total of 8 hours)

The boys were all embedded in their own games by now, Shane and Jon at the $2/4, Mike and Alb at the $4/8. The smaller game just looked a bit random to me, playing against nine calling stations can be long-term profitable, but just dull as hell. Anyway, a new $4/8 was opening-up, so I jumped at that.

Was a good move, the play was better quality and it was possible to get value on decent cards and still buy a pot or two in the right spot. Had a reasonably decent run for the first hour, and pushed my $150 buy-in up to about $250. Watched some absolutely appalling play from a few of the fish at the table. One particular donor would without fail call to the end with any pair, irrespective of how the texture of the board changed. Got chatting to the guy on my right – Ed, an insurance actuary from Baltimore, after he nailed her with a very modest holding betting it for value all the way.

However, chatting to Ed turned-out to be a bit of a mistake. He was far too interesting company to keep the focus on both the game and the conversation. In the end I realised I’d chatted my way down to a $55 profit, so decided to wrap-up there and take a break to write-up the day’s play.

So, dinner later and then we’re heading over to the Taj to try to find an Omaha high game to sink our teeth into.

Currently pretty unimpressed with the standard of play. Certainly couldn’t make a living at $4/8, but given the quality of the local opposition I think could turn a profit pretty reliably. Could soon be time to pad-out the bankroll and move-up another level to the famous ‘pink chip’ game – $7.50/15 limit (the pink chip is the Trop’s $2.50).

Luke: cash +$180, tournament -$65 = +$115 (in 13 hours)

Day 1 – At the Table

Posted: August 23, 2006 in General

Quick flirt with the hotel receptionist and manage to secure the gang upgraded rooms, bingo! Try the same on the Polish waitress at dinner, but no free desserts forthcoming, must be losing it. 😉

Claim our comps from the Trump Taj: All -> All + 20, and then scoot back to base at the Tropicana to checkout their well proportioned poker room.

It’s getting close to 48 hours awake and I’m starting to feel it, so sit down at the tame looking $2/$4 limit Hold’em. Mike joins me after giving-up on the $4/$8 game, the list of names isn’t moving. Shane sits at the $1/$2 no limit hold’em, Jon at another 2/4 table, and Alb finds the only $3/$6 Omaha hi-lo table in the room.

Mike and my table is pretty weak. Practice good solid play for about an hour, grinding my stake up to about $130. Mike makes a nice contribution betting into my set of 2’s, which doesn’t go amiss, however in general the table’s pretty dull. On the whole the play is pretty amateurish – watched incredulously as one old lad check-raises (for value?!) his Js Kc into a board of Td Jd Kd Ah – ludicrous. Mike and I get bored, decide to try to move up to 4/8 if there’s a seat.

We picked-up our comp cards at the start of the night. They have a barcode that gets scanned every hour, play enough hours in a week and you start to get cheap rooms/free stuff/etc. In a moment of perfect comic timing, Mike, who missed the comp-scan on the way into the table by one hand, stands-up to leave and almost trips over the comp-scan guy on his way back around for the second time. I get two hours logged to Mike’s zero for almost the same 60 mins of play. Hilarious.

Quick scout around the room to check status of the team. Shane is nicely up, he’s bartered the $100 he borrowed from me (his ATM card wasn’t working) up to about $150. Jon-boy is looking about level, and Alb is marginally down (and Mike tells me playing loosely and badly – must be the lack sleep getting to him too).

No movement on 4/8, so Mike and I barge in on Alb’s Omaha game. I top-up another $100 putting $230 on the table.

The next hour’s a bit of a blur, have trouble holding all four Omaha cards, let along figuring out what I’m doing with them. This should be easy, but exhaustion is starting to press. Come out of my Night of the Living Dead daze around the 50 hour mark realising I’m down to ~$160. Damn you George A. Romero!

It’s 12.30am and blinds are coming around, so plan an exit for my under-the-gun hand to avoid paying another SB/BB toll. Last hand of the night A25J with two hearts. Flat call from UTG, mid-table raiser which I and another three players call. Board comes 348 rainbow, sweet – have the nut low, a wrap for the wheel and an ugly backdoor flush draw. I bet-out, it gets raised, and I call (lady to my right looks interested in something, so figure I’m currently probably chopping the low with her). Turn is Jh, giving me a flush draw and pairing my spare card. I bet-out again, and again it’s raised, sweet. This time I reraise, and the original raiser drops-out. I have the lady heads-up. River doesn’t help my straight or flush, but is a surprising sweet looking third jack. Nice. Bet and call and I three-quarter her naked A2.

Good timing, puts me back up to $195 dead, leaving me with a well earned (given concentration level) loss of $5 for 3 hours play.

Converting the Sterling win at Gutshot, I’m calling a current tally of +$125 for 6 hours of play.

When I left the boys, Shane was finished already and down about $50 (not sure what went wrong while we weren’t looking), Jon down about $40 claiming a bad-beat from a someone rivering his nut straight and with a 5 high-flush draw, Mike looking up and Alb looking up.

Nice for a change that it’s not a zero-sum game between our gang.

Right – off to bed, not sure what I’m doing torturing myself writing another post at this time of night – the clock says 1.30am, the body says half-past arghhh.



Posted: August 22, 2006 in Atlantic City 2006

Alb has just pointed out that through the wonder of technology and somebody else paying the phonebill I’ve started blogging in realtime. Continuous logging / clogging, has a certain charm and aptness.

Can see where this is leading:

17:42 Getting off the bus
17:44 Unloading suitcase
17:45 Crossing the road
17:45 ‘What’s that noise?’ ‘Get your head out of your BlackBerry you Limey dickhead!!!’
00:32 Hospital bedside

Maybe I’ll put this away until have something relevant to write, this is ExtremePoker after all.


Ps. See something that looks like a casino strip on the horizon. This had better be it, today is starting to feel like the driving to Vegas scene in Swingers.

Day 1 – On the Road

Posted: August 22, 2006 in Atlantic City 2006

Feels like we’ve been travelling forever. Cunning plan to defeat the timezones has backfired, no sleep possible in cattle class on the plane, must have turned soft from the First Class luxury of the last few trips to HK and India with work.

Slighly bleary memory of shambling through the airport this morning like a zombie. When asked by the custom’s official when I was last in America I’m pretty sure I answered ‘six and a half girlfriends ago’…accurate if not particularly enlightening.

Anyway, must have looked harmless as was allowed into the country anyway. So jumped (or at least flopped) onto a bus into Manhattan to meet our poker compadres for the week, Mike the Fish (self-proclaimed, he’s nothing of the sort), Shane (no nickname as yet, perhaps he’ll earn one this week) and Lucky John.

A swift beer, quick catch-up on their weekend exploits in New York, and now we’re back on another bus to AC.

Realise that it’s coming up to about 40 hours without sleep, and I haven’t even see a dollar chip yet – the marathon sessions were supposed to be in the casinos not on the road, might have to dip into Mike’s stash of 96 pro-plus before I hit the tables tonight.

To cap it all, have just realised that I’ve been leaning the arm of my favourite shirt (the Diesel orange stripey that Kat hates and every other girl in my life loves) in a smear of grease on this cheap-ass bus’s window. Super. Definitely booking a limo for the return journey…


Day 0 – Gutshot (London)

Posted: August 21, 2006 in Atlantic City 2006

So, we couldn’t quite wait until taking off before getting down.

Alb and I join the £1/£1 PLH, starting a new table and as is traditional sitting opposite each other. Fast aggressive play from me quickly took £30 buy-in up to £60. Perhaps a little over-tight trying to preserve early lead, folding JJ to a pot-sized reraise from the button. Actually wanted to get out of Alb’s way as he was original raiser, but he just folded behind me in turn.

About 30 minutes later and writing this blog on blackberry as I play, Alb just hooked a big one busting the raiser. However his replacement who’s been looming over the table looking hungrily at the fish opposite me for a few rounds now (not you Alb) sits down and immediately hammers me for a £60 pot with trip Kings against my AJ two pair. Alb wins a massive pot around midnight against some dude who was fast asleep. The guy posts a straddle and just keeps pushing chips without looking. Calls Alb’s reraise all-in on the  flop barely looking at the board and looks slightly vacant as Alb makes trips on the turn and takes his money. All the sharks eye sleeping beauty’s pile of chips greedily.

Alb’s on a streak, breaking a nice guy on my left with 23o, his 30 buy-in is up to over 100.

A little later and my KQ get outdrawn by QJ, dropping me back to starting place, but then Alb comes to the rescue, doubling-up my KK with his 99 on a raggedy board.

The sleeper is back with another £50, yippee. Unfortunately I can’t get into a hand with him. Still, he’s got cash and I can wait.

 !!! Sleeper just checked the flop without looking at it, I swear. Then turns and glances at it and nearly falls off his chair with a double-take. Big push on the turn and a Texas wave passes around the table (like a Mexican wave, only players are throwing their cards rather than arms in the air).

Anyway, sod sleeper for a moment, I just tripled-up to over a ton with the nut flush into the second nut flush, other part of the triple was a donation from Alb with the open ended straight-flush draw – yikes!!!

Starting to realise as I pay the second table charge of the night that I’m not really paying attention to the game, more focussed on this blog entry. Think I’ll pack-up for the night and close this post later.

Coffee time!!!

Post-game write-up sitting in the BA lounge waiting for our flight. It’s 8am and we both look like death. Still, feeling smug having started as we mean to go on this week.

Results: Alb £30 -> £50, Luke £30 -> £105.