Monday, July 30, 2007

A weekend of variance

I never did make it to Fallsview on Friday – hopefully Kat and I will be able to arrange another Vegas North meet before the summer (and my half-day Fridays) come to an end.

Nevertheless, much poker was played this weekend.

I started my weekend early with a win at the Thursday night league. Holy hell it’s been a long time since I won a game there. The first three seasons I was the top of the leaderboard, but this was only my third cash since November – and my first win since even earlier.

The best part of the win was that I was extremely short-stacked before the break – I had 275 chips and the blinds were 30/60. I battled back and had built an average stack with some good steals and a nice double up from the SB when I had Jacks and the BB had Nines. (Normally, the flop would bring a 9 here, and I would go home. I was shocked when my hand held up). But my stack was now in contention, but it was another hand that gave me the win.

The blinds were 75/150 and I was in the BB with 8s9s. UTG limped in, everyone else folded to the SB who completed. I checked after briefly considering pushing. The flop was Qs 2s 5x. SB checked and I pushed – hoping just to take the pot. UTG called, and SB called. Oooops.

Now UTG had been drinking heavily, so I put him on a flush draw…but SB isn’t dumb enough to call an all-in and a call with nothing…so he had to have at least 2 pair.

The turn was a Ks, making my flush. UTG goes all-in for the remainder of his chips, and SB calls with less. The cards get flipped and UTG has KxQx for two pair, SB has trip deuces and my flush is leading. No pair on the board means my flush holds up, and I scoop a pot worth over 3500 chips and after that, nothing was going to hold me back.

Once it got to heads-up, I had a 7:1 chip lead, and got AA on the second hand. I completed the SB, knowing that if the other player had any face he’d push, and if not, if he hit any part of the flop he’d push. True to form, he had 8 10, hit an 8 on the flop and pushed. I called and my Aces held up.

It felt so bizarre to have my hands hold up. I’ve been so accustomed to losing as the favourite.

The only downside to my win…it was a small game, so my top prize didn’t make much of a dent in my current deficit. As my mother would say "Beggars can't be choosers". She'd also tell me to wear a skirt to work, but that's another topic altogether.

Friday afternoon I decided to use the $100 I got from FullTilt on a refer-a-friend bonus to play some 5/10 OHL – which I killed. I built it up to almost $400, then lost a bunch, then built some back and cashed out +$200. That was fun – but my love affair with online poker has definitely cooled. I’m going to cash out my little profit and play with the remainder…I’m just not a good enough online player to keep donating. It still kills me when I look at my results this year and see what a gaping hole has been left by my attempts to play online.

Friday night was the Georgetown game again – and that was a lot of fun. I didn’t cash – didn’t even get close this time. But I busted out just in time to see Banky scoop a monster pot in the cash game when he went all-in against two players on the river when the board was 4,5,6,7,8. Only one player called, and Banky tabled the 9,10 for the nuts. It was killer.

Another gaping hole was ripped on Saturday when Banky and I went to Rama. I got completely brutalized in the 5/10 LHE game when every draw got made against me, and every draw I had failed to materialize. It just wasn’t my day. All the profit I made on FullTilt was gone. The worst part was, the game was a bore. No one was there to have a good time. I left and played Pai Gow for an hour. Total Pai Gow profit: $5

It’s 4 sleeps ‘till Vegas. Yehaw.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

There's nothing an Oreo Cheesecake Blizzard can't cure

The best part of the game I played last Friday night was that when Banky and I busted out and headed home, I saw the bright shining light of Dairy Queen and made it in for a Blizzard with 1 minute to spare. 10:59 baby!

It was one excellent Blizzard, let me tell you.

Truth be told, I didn’t feel all that bad about the game. It was just kind of uneventful. There were no blunderous mistakes or gut-twisting suckouts. It was just kind of…meh.

For the past few weeks I’ve played a lot of poker, and I feel like I’ve been playing very well – but I haven’t seen good results. I know there are ebbs and flows in the game, but I’d really like a little boost to the old bankroll.

I’m heading out to Fallsview on Friday – wish me quads!

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Pokerless Friday

You know it’s a good party when some guy starts playing a didgeridoo in the corner.

Banky and I ditched the Georgetown game this Friday for a party at friend’s place, and I’m so glad we did. We had already played poker on Wednesday and Thursday, and were planning on playing Friday night – but we frequently talk about putting friends & family before poker, so it was a no-brainer to accept the invitation.

Our friend Derek lives downtown – and it’s quite a different life than what we live in the ‘burbs. When we have parties I break out my homemade guacamole & chips. When we got to Derek’s place he was shucking oysters while his girlfriend was stuffing freshly roasted peppers with goat cheese – they made the whole night seem effortless. Martha would be proud.

We actually met Derek through poker – another example of how poker has impacted our lives. We never would have socialized with this particular group of people if we hadn’t been trying to win Derek’s chips every week for the past couple of years.

I’m not the most social person and I find it really hard to make small talk – especially when I’m sober – so there were some uncomfortable moments. But all-in-all it was a fun night. At one point I was laughing so hard I was crying, and that’s one of the best feelings in the world. After a stressful week at work, and some frustrating poker sessions, that feeling was exactly what I needed.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Drinking the blues - but not feeling them!

I was feeling celebratory on Saturday because I cashed in the Georgetown tourney on Friday night (more on that below). Banky and I decided that a night of cocktails was in order. I got inspiration from the Ralph Burch pin-up calendar that Banky got me for Christmas, so a quick trip to the liquor store and we had all the fixings for Indigo Blues.

With tequila and sour mix as two of the ingredients, it was strong & tart…just like I like a drink. After a couple of them I added some Fresca to the mix and they went down even easier. Getting up this morning, however, wasn’t so easy.

Nevertheless, it’s been a good weekend. The Georgetown game was great – just like Thursday, I felt like I was ‘on’, and I was making the right decisions. But unlike Thursday, the decisions also ended with good results.

There were a few really memorable hands:

I had KcQc on the button with 1 limper. I raise, only the BB calls. The flop comes 8h, 9h, 4s. The BB bets out, and I raise, he calls. The turn brings a low heart (maybe a 3?). The BB checks, and I bet out about half of my remaining stack….with my heart about to jump out of my throat – but he quickly mucks.

Sometimes a successful bluff is more exhilarating than flopping the nuts.

In another hand about half the table limped and I had 33 on the button. A ‘poker god’ (who had a huge stack after sucking out a flush with Kh2h in an early hand) was also in the hand, and I was drooling. He had a really arrogant air about him, and commented on how other people played their hands. It was easy to predict his plays, and I was just waiting for a hand to double through him. My dream came true when a sweet, sweet 3 came on the rainbow flop along with an 8 and Queen, and to my amazement the SB bet 5,000 (just over half his stack). Then, in another minor miracle, the poker god came over the top for 10,000. I only had 9,000 chips…and they were all-in the pot in a heartbeat. The SB called as well, and then I got slightly worried that maybe one of my opponents had a better set. But no, the SB had 8-rag, and the poker god had 8 J. So…..yeah, that sums up the competition. Unfortunately I didn’t have enough chips to take out the poker god on that hand – but I took enough of his chips to take some of the wind out of his sails, and he busted out not long after.

One hand I was in caused a brief controversy at the table because the other player attempted to angle-shoot me.

I was in the SB and it got folded to me. I completed with 9 3 off. The BB – new to the table and friendly with another new-to-the-table player who was VERY loud and obnoxious, just checked. The flop was 3d, Xd, As. I bet my 3 and the BB called. I figured he had either a flush draw or a weak ace and I decided I’d let go of this hand unless a 9 came on the turn – but then a 9 came on the turn. Ding!

I bet again, he called again. I was positive he was on the flush draw now. The river brought no diamond, so I pushed the remainder of my chips into the pot. He hemmed and hawed and counted out the chips and placed them next to the rest of his chips (off to the side, not out in front). And then he said “I know I’m beat” and flipped over his cards (Ad, 7d). To me, that was a fold, and I pushed my cards forward and started to scoop the pot. He said “Thank you. I win, she mucked”. The dealer said he didn’t hear a call (and neither did I) but the guy’s obnoxious friend insisted that his friend said “I know I’m beat, but I call”, and that since I mucked my cards, my hand was dead. Luckily for me, I pushed my cards forward, but didn’t throw them into the muck, because the dealer said that since my cards had not touched any part of the muck (and were actually still right in front of me) my cards we live. I turned them over and won with my two pair.

It’s hard to describe exactly how he said “thank you” and “she mucked” – but it was an obvious angle-shoot. But lesson learned – I’ll wait until the dealer declares a winner before I release my cards in any fashion.

I got a little revenge later on the obnoxious loud guy when I took a huge pot away from him with a flush to his two pair. He self-destructed and busted out just out of the money – despite having an enormous stack when we were down to 2 tables.

Ultimately I finished 5th out of 61 and took home $250 for my troubles. I was happy with the finish, but wish I could have lasted a little longer since first place was worth $1100. But a cash is a cash, and I happily recorded my stats – very nice to see a result without a negative in front of it!

Banky was card dead and busted early, but more than doubled up in the wild & crazy cash game. So our combined efforts gave our bankroll a little boost.

Not too bad for a Friday night.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Thinking makes my brain hurt

If you haven’t been reading Tao of Poker for Pauly’s take on the World Series of Poker, you are missing out. His Main Event coverage starts today. Go. Read. Enjoy.


I was touched to see the comments to my post the other day. I knew that the poker-bloggers were a supportive bunch…it felt really good to have it come my way. Also got a bit of a “wow” moment when I saw Larry’s comment…I’ve read his book, he’s read my blog. Wicked!


Last night was our Thursday Night League game. We missed a game when we were out in New Brunswick, and it was the first game we’ve missed in the two years that the league has been running. Banky and I have attended more league games than anyone else, including the host! He went on vacation for 3 weeks last year and we hosted the games at our place when he was away. We missed the game, but got to be around this instead…

It was good to be back at the league game, and I decided to experiment with some of the concepts I read in the FullTilt Strategy Guide. I felt like I was playing really well, making some great decisions – but the night never really came together for me. I lost two key hands to Max….one I folded on the river because I knew I was beat, and the second I should have folded on the river because I knew I was beat. Max is so tough to play against because he’ll play with any two. I love to have him in a pot with me (he’s come to the league games for a year now and never cashed until last night), but he also catches some brutal, eyeball squeezing, suckouts.

I got a nice healthy stack early on only to bleed it out for the remainder of the game. This has been a recurring theme for me…something I have to think more deeply about.

I made two very tough calls that were ‘correct’, but would have been winners. I find it hard to shake off those ‘hands that could have been’. Another thing to work on. I thought about one hand for a long time (probably longer than I’ve ever thought about a hand).

There were 7 players (including me) and I was on the button. The blinds were 30/60 and I had around 700 chips (having recently lost 2 big pots). The entire table limped and I had 6h 7h. I knew this type of hand would play well in a multiway pot so I happily limped along. The flop came out 10h, 3h, 2s. It got checked to the cut-off (a tight player on a short stack) who bet 120, I called (which in retrospect I think was a mistake) and the BB called.

The turn brought the 4s. The BB checked and the cut-off went all-on for 460. At this point I knew the tight player had either a set of 3’s or 2’s or the wheel. And I figured I had either 11 or 12 outs to beat him (the 5s for the straight and the flush cards) – I wanted to call, but didn’t have the odds. Even if the BB called – he’s a bit of a table sherrif and likes to call All-Ins – I still wouldn’t be getting the right price. I also got the sense that he would fold if I called. It’s easy to see that all now, but at the time it was a tough fold.

The BB did call with A 4 for a crappy pair and a straight draw. The cut-off did have a set of 2’s, and the flush came on the river. Making me the winner who didn’t call. Ugh.

But for me, it was probably the most I’ve ever analyzed a hand from the beginning – deciding to play because it’s a good multiway hand, putting my opponents on hands, and figuring out the odds when the decision wasn’t easy. So it was good from that perspective.

Unfortunately the game didn’t get much better and I was out 7th of 9. Bah.

Banky busted out a while later and we went home and fired up the PVR to watch the debut of Big Brother 8. Oh let the summer of trash TV begin!


Tonight we’re heading out to the Georgetown game again. Hopefully my results will be a little better now that I have a sense of the type of game it is.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Not the news I thought I'd be sharing

I write this blog anonymously – mostly so that I can write freely without worry that the bigwigs at my corporate job will find out about my poker deviancy, but also to give me the ability to write freely without worry of self-incrimination (especially when talking about other players I play with, or about my craptastic play). Despite this, I’ve hesitated to write anything really personal. The closest I got was my “7 things” post which was incredibly fun to write. I’m not sure why I haven’t shared more of myself here – especially considering that some of my favourite bloggers (Pauly, Amy, Change, CC) are very open and weave their life into their poker blogs. I guess much of it has to do with fear. Fear of not writing well enough to interest anyone. Fear that I’d pour my heart out and no one would read it (or care) – except for dear Banky who reads everything (and when he doesn’t I bug him until he does). Fear that my life isn’t interesting enough to write about. Maybe all that is true - but even if it is, if I wrote more about ME, maybe I’d get more out of the experience of writing, and of life.

So dear readers reader, I’m jumping into the deep end.

I hinted in my last post about dealing with life in a good way, and I had hoped to be able to share some good news with everyone (ok, anyone?) reading my blog, but life takes some funny turns. A few months ago Banky and I found out we were going to be parents – the Tart was with tartlet. Unfortunately 13 days ago, during my first ultrasound, I found out that the baby I was carrying was no longer alive, and 4 days later I miscarried. It’s been an incredibly difficult time for both of us – but we’re dealing. What on earth does this have to do with poker? Well nothing, really, but poker has everything to do with how I’ve been dealing with the loss.

Between the ultrasound and the miscarriage I left for a family vacation and with me I brought the Full Tilt Strategy Guide to Tournament Poker by Michael Craig. I’m more than halfway through and it’s awesome….I know I’ll have to reread quite a bit of it. The book, and the concepts shared in it, brought me lots of needed distraction during a difficult time. After the miscarriage, and after talking and tears, I knew Banky and I were going to be ok when we started talking poker again. It was like a sign that our life was not over because of this one situation. We are still the same two poker dorks who relive the best (and worst) hands we’ve played, who look forward to our weekly games with childish anticipation, and who PVR Poker After Dark so we can make fun of Annie Duke.

I just got back to work from vacation and it was weird coming into the office where only a handful of people knew I was pregnant (and who consequently now know that I am no longer pregnant). I used to have this big happy secret, and now I have another, sadder one. I found it really hard to concentrate so I turned to catching up on my poker blogs. Tao of Poker was my first stop, naturally, and I’ve been engaged in tales of CK Hua’s man-purse, Sartre’s lobster, and of course, reading about Pauly’s WSOP cash. Even though I’m not part of the poker-blogger circle who all know each other – it’s felt good to get immersed back into their world.

After I spent some time reading, it occurred to me just how much poker is a part of my life. Even though I haven’t played a game since I found out our sad news – reading about it, talking about it, watching it – it has all helped me get back to feeling normal. Well – as normal as I ever was.

So that’s the scoop on me and where I am in my life right now. I was almost a mother. Now I’m back to the 30-something poker player trying to find her way.