Thursday, March 09, 2006

"Imagination is at the heart of poker. Just as there is no right way to write a song or paint a picture, there is no right way to play poker. The best players are experimenting and adjusting all the time. The beauty of the game lies in this ever-shifting landscape, and it keeps us interested each time we sit down."
Erik Seidel

K, official announcement time.
And a shoddy tangential uber post.

WPBT WSOP Satellite Tournament
March 19th - Sunday
9pm EST
Paradise Poker
$30 NL
password: email me (address is down blogroll on right)

Winner wins a seat in the 2006 WSOP $1500 event of their choice.
Because of Paradise's software, we now need 55 players to pull this off. For the record, Paradise is the third largest online poker room, offers a 25% deposit bonus and is where I lost my bankroll back in 2000/2001. Please consider signing up with my Paradise Poker link to help me recoup those losses.

The only requirement is that you have a blog, any kind of blog.
I'm willing to buy Aaron Gleeman's entry fee, damnit. Any and all baseball fans should be reading him every day, much less you Twins fans.

Anyway, I'm praying that there's enough interest for us to send a motley gaggle of bloggers to the WSOP this year. Please consider playing.

We'll get 2500 in chips.
20 minute blinds.

One of my main influences to do this is to play with some folks who haven't played with bloggers in the last year. There's too many to call out by name, but ya'll know who you are. I hope some old schoolers come and play, damnit.

I'm open to any and all feedback as we try to get this going.
Feel free to email me.

I have a million things to blog about but I figured I should get this info up ASAP. I'm excited to finally get this going. Maybe we can get some bounties going since this has been so long coming?

Commence psuedo uber post.

Met some interesting folks in the 10.20 game at my boat this past weekend. GMoney was hustling the tourists in a 4.8 game while I battled a buncha regulars.

But there was one guy I had never played with before. Let's call him Big Pink Breathy Rich Jock Guy. He was the self-appointed table captain and was a first-class needler. But there's a difference between witty needling and outright unfunny dickhead needling. He excelled at the latter.

In one hand, Big Pink Breathy Jock guy raised out of turn because he didn't see another guys cards because his hands were covering em. He immediately starts screaming at the guy to stop hiding his cards, yadda yadda yadda.

Regular average guy says, "Holy smokes, relax."

Big Pink Breathy Jock guy screams, "This IS relaxed you fucking moron!"

I actually snorted out loud on that line, even though the floor was called. Big Pink Jock guy only got a warning but he still took a walk. While he was gone, another fellow sighed and said playing with Big Pink Breathy Jock guy was like, "Nails on a chalkboard."

But that's the ironic part.
That guy wanted to annoy. To be unliked. To get action.
It was completely calculated. And it werked.
A nasty guy. All full of bad cliches and blustry unfunny chiding and taunting.

Big Pink Breathy Jock guy also had a line of "put that in your blog and smoke it" after he won a pot which I actually thought was pretty funny. I asked him later on why he kept on saying it to which he replied, "Every fucking two-wit jerkoff has a blog these days."

Nice. Thank God I didn't out myself as one of those two-wit jerkoffs.

He did, however, bust a cheating kid, who took his bet back after losing on the river. The kid claimed he was a newbie, and I was inclined to believe him, but the pink breathy jock guy called him a crackhead and rode him hard.

The kid beat him out of some monster pots later on in one of those heads-up "who has the bigger dick" raise-fests.

To be fair, Big Pink Breathy Rich Jock Guy was overly nice to me, cognizant that I was directly to his left, so he wasn't the clueless sort. He did call me "sweetheart" once. He also called me a "midget Pocahantas" one other time when he didn't think I could hear him. Geezus, what the fuck does that even mean?

But I had fun with a 40 year old lady at the other end of the table. She was, in her words, a full-time online poker pro who plays exclusively at Party Poker. She makes most of her money playing the late night, early morning 50.100 tables. I didn't doubt her because she was a very, very strong player.

She had never heard of PokerTracker.
But it was fun to talk shop with her. Topics discussed included: session lengths and keeping focused, multi-tabling, tracking players, aggression level in post flop play, stop win/loss limits, and of course, online cheating.

At the near end of the evening, I asked her if she thought I should dabble in the higher limit games. Her reply, "Hell, as tight as you play, you'd do fine." I laughed after hearing this but it made me take pause.

Anyway, enough of my boring drivel. This blog has become my personal chewtoy.

But I'm going to plod along, for better or worse. I owe it to my readers to Destroy Workplace Productivity as best I can.

I have neglected to mention all the upgrades on the Party Poker software. Allow me to mend this oversight right now. Here's a summation, of sorts. Or hit their web page if you prefer it direct from the source: Party Poker software updates.

  • Resizable tables
  • SNGs – Starting chips go from T800 to T2000! The levels are now time based (10 mins) instead of hand based.
  • Evidently the end of data mining

    Among the new features are more games at different limits, and a total revamping of the tourney structure.

    Sit and goes now start with 2000 chips. MTTs with 3000. Big buy-in MTTs with 5000. S&Gs now increase in levels after 10 minutes rather than 10 hands.

    Even flatter payout structure for MTTs.
    Antes added to NLHE tournies.

    Amazingly enough, Party beat PokerStars to the punch with WSOP qualifiers. Here's an interesting post from 2+2 pertaining to this:

    It seems like Party is renewed in their quest to send people to the WSOP. They are even matching Stars as far as the free hotel (not out of the prize pool).

    Plus the freerolls are amazing, you can play 12 times a day for a shot into the Saturday freeroll which they give away a seat to the $50,000 HORSE tourney and 9 main event seats ($10,000)and 10 seats to a smaller event($2000).

    Thats pretty crazy, even Stars doesnt do that, sure they have their FPP tournaments but nothing close to this in a freeroll.

    If stars just puts out their same package, (4 DS a day plus one Sunday qualifier), no reason to pass up on all the Party options.

    Every saturday, they are giving away $160,000 worth of prizes, so over the next 12-13 weeks, thats over 2 Million dollars.

    Not for cash, not for Party points or Frequent Player points, completely FREE. I understand these Saturday tournaments will have probably 3000 people in them, but thats still only 150 to 1 win something, and again, it wont cost you 10,000 FPPs like Stars. Id like to see if Stars will give away $2,000,000 for absolutely nothing.

    Plus, Party is going to have 13 people in the HORSE tournament, how cool is that? Maybe its just me....

    Here's the official page detailing all of the WSOP promotions that Party Poker is offering.
    Party Poker and the 2006 World Series of Poker

    That's Bonus Code IGGY on Party Poker, damnit.

    With that out of the way, let's uber it the fuck up, shall we?

    Found this post about the first-ever "Card Player Of The Year" awards show. Brad Garrett apparently capped on all the pro's.

    A couple weeks ago I attended the first-ever "Card Player Of The Year" awards show. It was hosted at Hollywood's Music Box Theatre in Los Angeles.

    The theme of the night was to be like the "Oscars" of poker.

    They presented awards like "Best Cash Game Player" (Chip Reese), "Most Feared Player" (Phil Ivey), "Best Female Player" (Jennifer Harman), and "Player Of The Year" (Men

    The Emcee was Brad Garrett is the guy from "Everybody Loves Raymond"... he plays Ray's brother (the big tall one with the deep voice).

    Anyway, he is FREAKING HILARIOUS. I honestly don't know if I've ever laughed so hard in my entire LIFE!

    He completely busted on all the professional poker players in the audience. It was ruthless. Below are some of the jokes I remember.

    (Disclaimer: Please don't read on if you have sensitive ears. Remember that these aren't MY jokes... I'm just recounting what I heard at the awards show!)


    Right away Garrett started ripping on Phil Hellmuth:

    "We've got Phil Hellmuth in the house tonight... No one told me that, I just know because I heard WHINING as I came in."

    "Next year we're actually gonna have the award show OUTSIDE, that way Phil can bring his ego..."

    Then it was on to Mike "The Mouth" Matusow...

    "Mike Matusow is also here tonight. Hey Mike, where you at? Oh wow... I'm surprised you can raise your hand with those cuffs on!"

    "Mike Matusow is nominated for an award tonight, which proves Darwin didn't know s**t!"

    Later, Matusow presented the award for "Best Poker Ambassador". Here's what Brad Garrett had to say about that:

    "Having Mike Matusow present the award for Best Poker Ambassador is like having Dick Cheney present an award for marksmanship."

    Then it REALLY got bad...

    "Jennifer Tilly is shacking up with Phil Laak, the Unabomber. Jennifer told me backstage that "Unabomber" is code for one testicle -- and apparently she's having a ball."

    "I love watching Jennifer Tilly on that celebrity poker TV show... people, those aren't nipples. Those are triples!"

    "Jennifer has the best rack in all of poker-- Wait, I take that back. She has the second best rack in all of poker. The best belongs to GREG RAYMER!"


    "When Greg Raymer says "all-in", it's at the buffet table."

    "Greg, you seem like a really nice guy, and you won a couple million dollars last year... now try eating a f***in salad!"

    Garrett had plenty of one-liners for others in the audience too:

    "Amir Vahedi, I haven't seen him since flight school..."

    After the break:

    "Welcome back ladies and gentlemen. The theater wants me to remind everyone that there's no smoking inside. Amir, please put out your shoe."

    To Doyle Brunson and his son Todd:

    "Hey Doyle, the Civil War called, they found your journals."

    "Todd Brunson skipped the clan meeting to be here."

    When speaking to Daniel Negreanu:

    "Don't worry Daniel, I'm sure your nuts will drop soon."

    To Scotty Nguyen:

    "Please Scotty, have a sandwich. You look like my X-ray."

    And last but not least, Garrett cracked on Barry "Robin Hood" Greenstein. Here's what he said:

    "Barry Greenstein gives all his winnings to charity... of course, Charity happens to be a STRIPPER who works the late shift at Spearmint Rhino. If you hurry Barry, you can catch her after the show!"


    Let's get some of the top poker news articles out of the way.

    Ted Forrest wins National Heads-Up Poker Championship

    Drug may curb pathological gambling

    The Grand Old Man of Poker
    If You Haven't Lost a Game to Johnny Moss, You Haven't Really Played Poker

    I found this article by the late, great Andy Glazer about meeting Josh Arieh for the first time. Scroll down to the second article.
    In the Town That Never Sleeps, The Sun Can Shine On the Same Dog All Day

    I've linked this column before but I find the topic fascinating so here's a redux. Poker is the playground of the intelligent introvert. Wonderful brain fodder - I need to noodle around on that for a bit, maybe post an essay later.
    Poker and Introverts

    Champions like Johnny Chan, Dan Harrington and even Chris Ferguson also come to mind. Are they introverts? I wonder. I strongly suspect deep-thinking poker people like David Sklansky and Mason Malmouth are introverts also.

    Extroverts are expressive — not exactly a winning characteristic at the poker table. They generally talk a lot — and we all know you cannot listen when you are talking. Extroverts want to be, and perhaps are compelled to be — the “life of the party”. Expression, expression and more expression. How can any of this be good for your poker game?

    Steve Sax compares Backgammon with Poker.
    Backgammon: The game of constant action

    High stakes poker episode 8 torrent.

    Is this the future of B&M poker?

    ESPN: Deserving Players Snubbed for Heads-Up Competition

    NBC addresses snub situation

    From today,
    Broke in an hour
    , by Phil Gordon. A conversation between Phil Gordon and another poker player immediately following the L.A. Poker Classic.

    The new March issue of 2+2's Internet Poker Magazine is out and about.

    Anyone else enjoy Freakonomics? They blogged about online poker cheating. Some may find it interesting.

    Wow, the Times Online started up a blog and even pimped some of us. Kudos to the Times and to the fine folks at Allin magazine.

    Poker and blogging: a marriage of convenience

    All In, the American poker magazine, has launched a website to complement its print edition, featuring, among several other innovations, a "blog monitor", which will take a glance through more than 200 poker blogs with the ambitious intention of bringing the ever expanding cyber-poker community into one place.

    "There are some great blogs out there," said Eric Raskin, managing editor of All In. "They include Pokerati, Guinness and Poker, Tao of Poker, Bill Rini, Wicked Chops Poker and Absinthe's Troubles."

    Raskin might be advised to look over the Atlantic as well, where several British players and observers give poker a prominent place in the blogosphere.

    Boooo! Those dirty micks started a Guinness blog without me.
    Oh the humanity.

    My British friend over in Ireland, Mike Lacey, sent me this cool interview with Andy Black & Mike Matusow chatting in Monte Carlo. Good stuff as they take the tar out of each other - check it out. If you're so inclined, here's the post where I went to the UK with my dad this past fall, drank a boatload of Guinness and took a train up the Irish coast to play poker with Mike and 100 of his Irish pals.

    Cutting the Wire Overview
    If you’re curious about the whole WTO/US trade dispute, or why the federal government is currently using a law passed in 1961 to restrict Internet gaming, check out Cutting the Wire, David's book on the topic.

    Here's a CardPlayer link to some nice Behind the Scene video clips from the Headsup Championships featuring Todd Brunson and Mike Matusow, Phil Hellmuth, Daniel Negreanu and John Juanda.

    I was reviewed by Squidoo, one of those social bookmarking sites. Here's what they had to say:

    Guinness and Poker

    This is probably the most popular poker blog these days. Very biased towards playing at Party Poker but there are some great poker articles and stories, both about poker and life intermingled.

    Some great pics as well. Generally, a good poker read but the language can be pretty strong so stay away if you'll be offended.

    Alrighty then, I nearly forgot to complete the story on the Andy Beal versus The Corporation battle.

    Andy Beal update.
    Ivey takes another 10 million from Beal
    Ivey saves the reputation of the professional players and puts quite a beating on Beal netting ~17 million in the past two days. Gives the corporation a net gain of ~10 million over the month of play with Beal.

    And here's Michael Craig's take on it. Hurry up and write that book, Michael!

    My apologies for the delay. Ivey wins $10 million today. Beal is done with poker. More to follow.

    Again, and for the last time, I apologize for the delay. Here are the highlights:

    1. They played $50,000-$100,000. Ivey wanted the higher limit and, of course, Beal wanted it. Ivey convinced the pros, who I think were very divided about it. And even though Andy lost $10 million today, he made a point of thanking Phil at the end and saying, completely sincerely, "Thanks for getting the stakes raised to fifty and one hundred." Not sarcastically, but honestly.

    2. Andy was ahead by $1-2 million for the first half of the match. Like the first two days, Phil controlled the action by always raising, always betting, but Andy had him timed very well for picking him off.

    3. In a space of 3 hands, Phil made back most of that deficit. Big pots, concealed strength, wicked rivers, etc. etc. etc. (See the May issue of BLUFF for the details.) But Phil took over the lead and just ACCELERATED.

    4. He made the $10 million in about 4 hours. (I'll check my notes after returning home and get you an "exact" or you'll read it in my May story, but Andy had the lead for half and Phil had the lead for half. But Phil had it for the better half, and the bigger half.)

    5. The game became wild, reckless, and unrelentlessly aggressive. The timing Andy had in picking Phil off had failed. Andy got some river suck-outs but, now behind, probably became dispirited when he was the victim. (Phil, in contrast, was not affected in the least when Andy sucked out. So I can't tell you if Andy took more bad beats or just got affected by it more.) But with constant reraising and nobody folding, the river will decide a lot of hands. Phil won more of those, which made the game just that much more out of control.

    6. It finished up about 45 minutes before my first post. Andy said he's done with poker for ever. One of the pros said he would bet me that Andy will be back within six months. It's not a matter I'll speculate about. (I will tell you, though, that Andy Beal gave me his pocket watch at the end. Say what you will but he BELIEVES that he's done.)

    7. Andy was a total gentleman, and so was Phil Ivey, and so were the several pros in the room, who came because they were concerned about how their investment was doing but kept discretely hidden so not to appear to be gloating over the result.

    I'm heading for home and may try to post something late, late, late tonight, or maybe tomorrow. But you're going to be looking at one helluva story for the April issue of BLUFF, about Andy's first two trips to Vegas this month, and a very interesting conclusion which I think BLUFF will run in May.

    I consider myself lucky to know Andy Beal and to have gotten to see all this from this vantage point. I saw a lot of remarkable play by the pros, but I have to admit that sitting across a table from Phil Ivey for three days was MIND BLOWING. I don't think anyone has ever tried to show that or describe that. Maybe I'll give it a shot.

    Michael Craig

    Hoist of the Guinness to Scrabylon star, Jim Geary, for pointing out this list of poker players as Motivational Speakers, from All American Talent & Celebrity Network.

    You blackjack players might enjoy this rejoinder from Gary Carson on RGP:

    I have made an interesting observation

    Alot of the top video/computer game players are doing very well in poker. I guess since they were able to be the best at counterstrike or warcraft etc, they have used those same qualities which made them into the best players at those games into some of the best poker players. They see online poker as just another computer game that can be beaten. I know some of the top NL $5/10 players in the Stars game used to be great at computer games aka. Tillerman.


    Ken Uston became a great pac-man player after he got barred from blackjack tables.

    Some people just like to play games.

    Gary Carson

    BTW, there was a big retarded flame up on RGP a while back as Crazy Russ GCA claimed he would play Barry Greenstein in a heads-up poker match. Barry actually tried to arrange it but Russ flaked out, of course. But I thought posting Barry's early thoughts on this matter as well as playing Daniel N headsup.

    Subject: The Truth About 'Pretty Boy G'


    -from barry greenstein-

    ["When Daniel proposed his head up matches, I offered to play him all the games that are commonly played. I gave him a list of 20 games and said we will play them one at a time. He declined and said he would choose what games to play.

    I asked him to come to LA and play me if he wants. He said he would only play me at the Wynn. Since I wanted to play him, I met his demands.

    If I had time, I would be more compromising, but my schedule is pretty full. My girlfriend has been asking about a vacation in Europe for two years now. Either poker or being a father always seems to get in the way. I'd really feel like a jerk if my first trip with her to England was to play poker with Russ.

    Just to give you an idea of the things I turn down: I did a couple of scenes with Robert Duvall for the movie "Lucky You." They asked me to film for two more weeks. I didn't have time. I have had three offers for movies about me. Seems uninteresting to me, but I turned them down because I was too busy. I turn down several interview
    requests a week. I answer all my e-mail, although I am never caught up.

    I have never done a book signing, which my publisher is not too happy with.

    Should I cater to a guy who says I wouldn't play poker with him and always ran away. Then, on other occasions, he says we played together many times. Neither is true, but he should stick to one story.

    I'm also leery of playing someone who accuses me of cheating. If I win, will he just say the decks were marked? And as a model to others, is it even wise to play against a known cheat? Last time I jumped at this kind of challenge, the guy's name was Rick Riolo. I lost due to an intricate set-up with cameras.

    I am interested in playing Russ because it seems like a fun thing to do. I have always liked beating down bullies in defense of others. Russ insulted some of my friends, most notably Eric Drache who is arguably the most honest guy in poker. Eric is the one who opened up a cardroom in Las Vegas in 1978 with new rules: no cheating. He also was the first tournament director for the World Series of Poker, which got that going smoothly. Eric always ran a place where dealers didn't have to pay for their jobs.

    If Russ is really interested we will play sometime, but I have a feeling that even negotiating limits, games, and format will be too much Russ shenanigans for me to deal with.

    I won't be able to keep up with these threads for a few weeks, since I have to go to the Bellagio to try to earn a living."]


    I know everyone loves the mud slinging between pro poker players, but this time I'm going to share a nasty spat between poker publishers, Barry Shulman and Mason Malmuth. The father of the fellow who posted this was a 'name' PGA golfer back in the day. This is actually kinda old, but eff it - I'm still posting it. From 2+2:


    On Tuesday night May 4th I was playing in a super satellite at the Horseshoe; sitting on my left was Barry Shulman, publisher of Card Player Magazine. At one point Casey Kastle came over to speak to Mr. Shulman voicing his concerns on the potential conflicts that occur when players share percentages of their tournament results.

    Casey had a copy of an article that Mason Malmuth had written for Card Player regarding this problem and asked if he would consider republishing it. After looking at the article Shulman said in no uncertain terms that he would not publish it; he then referred to Mason Malmuth as an "idiot" and a "disgrace to poker".

    I was somewhat taken aback by his comments due to the fact that he made them in public without regard as to who might hear them. I have known Casey Kastle for a number of years and consider him to be a person of integrity and consider his concerns a problem that few in the tournament poker world are willing to deal with. Shulman seemed less concerned, making the comment that this is a frequent occurrence in professional golf. At that point, I made the comment that this was untrue, and that the PGA tour had expressly forbidden this practice since the 1950's. I do not know Barry Shulman; I have known Mason Malmuth for more than fifteen years and consider him neither an "idiot" nor a "disgrace to poker". For better or for worse, the success of Two Plus Two Publishing has made Mason the object of much professional jealousy from other authors, publishers, and poker players. Barry Shulman's words were poorly chosen, and someone in his position has an obligation to a more reasoned
    temperament in public.

    Mike Souchak


    Two Plus Two Publishing LLC has ended our relationship with Card Player magazine and all affiliates of Card Player. We intend to keep this separation permanent.

    Best wishes,


    Geez, why don't they just play heads up 2k.4k and settle it like men?

    You say you like flames? Well, I'm not gonna recount the dozens spewed out here, but suffice to say, this guy was a smoldering mess by the time folks smarter than him got done. He kept trying to insist it was a Great Deal but the bitchslaps kept coming....

    Subject: Investing in a Friend going to the WSOP

    I am putting together a syndicate to invest in a friend of mine to play in a couple of WSOP's events.

    Planning on selling 100 shares at $100 each for $10,000.

    $7k for entry fees (2 event or 3 events)
    $3k for incidentals/airplane/hotel

    My friend would get 10% off the top, so the shares would go towards 90% of his winnings.

    Does this sound like a good deal?
    Is there anything I need to be concerned with?



    My fave response not calling him a fucktard:


    So, 30% of the money is out the window right from the start, then another 10% is effectively tossed out since your friend is investing nothing and taking 10% of the winnings? So, if I've got this right, your friend needs to win a bit over 11K for me to break even, which is 1.6x the 7K in entrance fees.

    If you are looking for something to be concerned about, one thing is the fact that you think that he needs winnings of over $90K to show a profit. Anything over $10K (~$11K since he is taking 10% off the top) should show a profit. If he makes $12K, then I should be getting back (12K - (0.1*12K))/100 = $108. That's an $8 profit for me. I certainly wouldn't be giving my money to someone who can't even figure that out
    or who worse is going to try to con me by saying that he needs $90K in winnings before I will see a dime.

    He'd have to be a pretty good player for me to be willing to give up 40%. For a noname player that I've never met before this isn't going to happen.



    Here's a cautionary tale of woe. Take heed and play within your means damnit!

    Subject: Man, did I f*ck it all up

    Two week ago my poker and financial life was looking pretty good. After playing almost 10 years of limit and, since a year ago, NL holdem, I had become a winning player. Sure, I was down from the time I had started but I had grown my account on Ultimatebet and Party Poker to almost $2500 each, playing mostly $200 NL full ring games with a little $400 thrown in. My last 2 trips to Sandia in NM had brought me another $2000. After many years of study and play, I felt I was finally getting the poker piece together.

    Then it happened. I had my sixth knee surgery (I'm not a young man anymore) and came home with a week's work of Percocet. While now feeling invincible, I proceeded to try the shorthand $1000 NL table. BOOM! Party Poker account wiped out in one night. I pulled back to lower limits and finally got off the pain pills while watching my account on Ulitimatebet stay even for over a week. After thinking I was on my game again and wanting the $2500 back (now) that I lost on Party Poker, I hit the shorthand $1000 table again. BOOM! Ultimatebet account wiped out in one night.

    In a state of desperation and depression, I proceed to loose another $3000 over the next few nights. I try to get off the $1000 table but can't pull myself away. Everything I know about discipline and patience seems to be gone. I've lost almost $8000 in 2 1/2 weeks. If my wife knew, I'd probably loose her as well.

    Many of the losses were some horrible bad beats (i.e. lost a huge pot last night with A's full to 4 J's) but much of it was me playing over my head (got pushed off a big pot when a 4th diamond hit the board and I didn't have one...the other player showed and didn't have one either...had him beat if I'd stayed). This has never happened to me on this scale. I haven't played this badly in many years. Impatient, desperate, playing in limits I have no business even thinking about.

    Now my confidence is shot. I can't sleep or eat. I feel like everything I've worked towards for years is gone. Do I hang it up? Do I admit I don't have what it takes and the last few months of winning was an aberration? When I think about playing I thinking about going back to the $1000 table again. Everything is upside down.

    Have similar loses in a similar manner happened to others? What did you do to get back on track? Is it even possible? I can't express in writing how completely devastated I feel.

    Thanks for any input. I have no friends that play poker that I can talk to so this group is all I have.


    Poor bastard. He needs to walk away from poker and go into sherpa mode.

    This next one was actually a pretty large thread.
    Poker kills!!!

    Subject: Poker Kills

    What is your health worth to you? 1 BB per hour? 2?

    Before internet poker I lead a really active lifestyle, always looking for something new to fill my time. A lot of outdoor activities and many work around the house projects.

    Then slowly but surely, poker began to consume most of my off work hours.

    First of all, I quit playing golf every afternoon after work (always walked.) I got me a nice 'perfect fit' chair from 'relax your back.' Stocked the liquor cabinet with plenty of spirits and started buying Skoal by the roll.

    Since I am a computer programmer all day long, I am pretty inactive during work hours. Then I go home and slide into my ultra comfortable chair and play poker until bed time. Throw in a few(too many) Cranberry and Vodka's and your have never felt healthier.

    All of a sudden, my 'fat pants' wouldn't fit anymore (38's).... a little shortness of breath at the top of the stairs.... always feeling run down.

    Well, we decide to replace the carpet in the back of the house with hardwood floors. The wood is $1700 and the labor is $1600. WHOA! I can put down those floors for that. So I start ripping up carpet and prepping the floors. The first day I put down 6 rows of flooring and I am exhausted. The next day I get half way finished with one of the two bedrooms. (This is after work BTW) Then everyday I get stronger and am able to do more.

    This is when it occurs to me. POKER IS KILLING ME. It is so easy to become inactive after 50 and I guarantee, inactivity will kill you just like cancer. So, I am starting to put poker on the back shelf. More time at the gym, renew my golf membership this spring (who cares if I suck at it?) and look for something that needs fixing at the house first.

    Poker in itself for most of us is a bad hand.

    Does anybody resemble these remarks?


    Anyone wanna watch Phil Hellmuth get his head shaved in the 2002 WSOP? Background: In 2002, Phil was knocked out by eventual champion Robert Varkonyi with Q-10. As he exited the tournament area he stated loudly; "If this guy wins this, I'll shave my head!"
    Here's the video (WMV file): Phil Hellmuth gets his giant bulbous head shaved.

    More Carson. Gotta love this answer from the King of Crank.

    Subject: Using Caro's book of tells, what kind of player am I?

    I'm reading Caro's book of tells not because I want to gain an advantage in finding my opponnets' tells, but because I want to stop any tells I may be giving off.

    I'm only about 30 pages into the book, and the beginning gives some basic insight on a player rather than giving any specific situations. I'm not playing B&M this weekend, so I won't really get a chance to digest the information until at least later in the week (man...10 straight days without any B&M poker...I haven't done that since I quit smoking and avoided the B&M's altogether for fear of tilting on a nic-fit).

    Okay, so here goes.

    I'm generally well dressed, but not entirely emaculate. During the winter, I wear a flannel with khaki slacks and what I like to call "dress tennis shoes". During the summer, the only real change is that I'll be wearing a button-down-the-front short sleeved shirt instead with the top button always undone. I don't press my clothes, but I do make sure they are removed from the dryer quickly so they don't become wrinkled. I don't tuck my shirt in for B&M sessions, either. My hair usually has the semblance of being combed, but I like the "messy" look. It covers the receding hairline. My goat-tee, however, is always emaculately trimmed, and the rest of my face is always clean shaven.

    I tend to be extremely neat and orderly at the table. My chips are always in precise stacks of 10, and if I'm bored between hands, I'll even take the time to sometimes line up the colored stripes. My cards are always directly in front of me lengthwise precisely parallel to my line of site. The button goes to my left, exactly (or as close to exactly as possible) halfway between me and my opponent. I don't use any good luck charms, and I always use the lowest possible denomination chip available to protect my cards. It goes directly in the center. My reasoning for my meticulous surrondings has more to do with trying to make the dealer's job easier than anything else.

    I always lean forward and try to give the impression that I am intently paying attention to the action at hand until the point where I actually muck my cards or flip them up. I also never make eye contact with my opponents while in a hand, but that is mostly because of a terrible strabismus I have in my left eye (I realize this can be disasterous when trying to get action, but it is a part of my game that will, unfortunately, never change. I simply can not stare someone down).

    Lately, I've been getting upset because of the fact that I give off a tight image when I sit down and can't get action when I hit monsters, especially early in the night against unkown players. If someone was familiar with Caro's book of tells, would my demeanor lead them to believe this? Should I be intentionally wearing wrinkled shirts and pants to the casino? Should I mess up my chips? Or, should I just simply raise all the way down with 2-5 offsuit my first hand? It seems that, unless that 2-5 hits big, it's cheaper to change my appearance.

    Carson responds thusly:

    Subject: Re: Using Caro's book of tells

    You are very uptight, excessively concerned with how people view you. You actually seem to care about buttons, wrinkles, hairline, and other stuff. That seems to be an important part of who you are, having nothing to do with poker.

    It's very unlikely that you'll be able to hide that from an observant player no matter how you try to scramble your chip stacks. So rather than try to create some kind of false image just be aware of it and exploit it.

    Learn who's paying attention and get more aggresive with them, Attempting to create a false image will only succeed with the ones who really don't pay close attention anyway.

    It's funny because the original poster was stunned by Gary's take and actually thanked him profusely for opening his eyes.

    Damn, let's do another Gary quote, shall we?
    Here's a nice snippet I found from Gary Carson, replying to someone else's comments in talking about tight versus weak players and such:

    >A tight passive player (weak) will not raise non-nut hands if someone
    >bets into him, will not raise draws, and will fold to scare boards

    What the word means depends on who is using the word.

    If you're using the term in conjuction with a strong/weak scale, then the above isn't really accurate.

    A passive player won't raise draws, but a weak player might. Whether he's tight or not has nothing to do with whether or not he'll raise draws.

    A weak player will fold to scare cards, and fold to raises -- they give up easily. Passive players don't neccasarily give up easily. Strong probably isn't a good word for the other end of the spectrem, tenacious is better -- a tenacious/weak spectrum.

    Tight does not mean that they give up easily, it just means that they seldom get invovled in the first place.

    I see a lot of mistakes in games because of a mischaracterization of a tight player. Many novice players think that a tight player is easily bluffable. But, most tight players aren't that weak, the won't give up once they get invovled.

    If you insist on looking at your opponents as two dimensional, as you'd be required to do if you wrote for two plus two, then I have no idea what weak means. I've always suspected that when Malmuth uses the word it doesn't have any meaning at all, but I'm not sure about that.

    The whole idea of wanting the keep the pot small in a loose game is just laughable. Sure, let's be sure and limit our profits. If you aren't careful you might let those pots get too big and be able to start eating out in restuarants that serve rich food. Could cause gout or something. It's much better to keep the pots small so that you don't run those medical risks associated with eating well.

    Gary Carson

    What kind of an uber post would this be without a Howard Beale contribution? A shitty one, that's right.

    Subject: I wish I was a woman

    When playing poker. What did you think I meant?

    I've seen the advantages of being a woman poker player mentioned occasionally in books and magazine articles but not in depth enough to fully explore the advantages that women players have. I think that those advantages are greater than most people realize. It's apparant to me that the vast majority of men do not know how to play against women.

    Generally speaking I think that women either get far too much or too little action, much more than men would get under the same circumstances. A bad woman player will win more on her good nights and lose less on her, more frequent, bad nights. A good woman player is going to make more than she 'should'.

    Why? Even in America, where we flatter ourselves that we have made good progress in removing traditional barriers encountered by women in all fields, there is still an attitude amongst most men that they are going to treat women differently, that they have a lesser respect for their abilities and that they are simply not going to let a woman beat them. Too many men chase draws they shouldn't, won't 'punish' a woman for
    playing a bad hand as they would a man, won't check-raise them, show them their hands when it's over, give lessons and all the rest. I've seen men lose $$$$$$ trying to beat some woman player who has beaten them in a few pots and then be satisfied when they finally take a small pot from her. Some victory and small satisfaction but they do it over and over.

    If you men recognize any of this in yourselves I'd suggest you rid yourself of any lingering vestiges of chauvinism, misogyny, condescension or tenderness and learn to play against women properly by absolutely ignoring their gender.

    And, besides making more money, I'd finally get to see what goes on in the ladies room which is a secret guarded as zealously as the rituals of the Masons.
    Howard Beale

    These are the people who play me at Party Poker.

    Mr. Treesong is one of the few cogent poster left in RGP. So humour me as I post his trip report.

    My impending move to Minneapolis means that my days of playing multiple
    tournaments at in February and June at the Commerce are on the scrap heap of history. Despite trying to wind up a fifteen-year career and all the things that entails, however, I made the time to play yesterday. I'm glad I did. I drive into the oh-so-familiar surroundings with a feeling of impending nostalgia, if that be possible.

    I have a good draw for the $1500 NLH: five seat at table 25 up near the stage. Room behind me and easy access to a drink holder. Better yet, nobody I fear in the game. One seat is a gambly Asian. Two seat is a young Russian man with square glasses and a white denim jacket, circa 1971. Three seat is yet another gambly Asian guy who clearly has no idea at all what he's doing. And I know nobody else. know. That doesn't last long, however: on about hand 10, I'm getting a cup of coffee when
    the nine seat gives all his chips to the Gambly in the four, busts, and is replaced by my old nemesis John Pham. I go looking for the Armenian Express to see if he wants a last-longer, but he waves me off and I strike a deal with David Levi instead for $1K.

    As usual, I spend the first hour studying hard and looking for spots. I play a couple of hands, but nothing really happens until I notice that the Russian is continuation-betting 100% of his hands: if he raises preflop, he's autobetting after the flop. I decide to test my theory shortly after we go to 50-100, and call on any two (Ks4d) to his next raise. Two of us to a J T 4 flop with 750 or so in the middle, and he bets 400 like clockwork. I make it 1200 right away, he tanks for a time and mucks. Cha-ching! An orbit later, the Gambly in the one seat smooth calls under the gun for 100 and the russian and the other Gambly call. I have Ac5c and 4000 in chips, with the Russian and the second Gambly easily covering me. I play. Three callers behind me, and seven see the KcQcTd flop. Gambly number one bets right out for 400. Two limpers call and I make it 1200. I have a massive draw to the nuts and may well be able to push him off. Limpers vanish, Gambly calls. Uh-oh. But the gods bail me out when the turn card comes 6c and Gambly shoves in for 2700 more. I have him covered, barely, and reflect that it is a very sweet feeling when you hold the nuts and someone stacks off into you. I call, he shows KhQd and the river changes nothing. GGHN (Gambly Goes Home Now!).

    I then fluctuate between 6 and 8 thousand for two hours, playing no huge pots. Our table breaks and the new lineup is much tougher. Thor Hansen in the one and Dr. Buss in the seven; I'm in the eight. Two rocks in the three and four. I steal some blinds, and I have 9800 when Dr. Buss raises me to 800 from the button, playing 100-20025. I look down and find QQ. I make it 2800, expecting him to fold, but no: he pushes for 3400 more. Shit. I look behind to Dr. Buss's twenty-five year old friend, but she's no help: she just gives me a ten-thousand-watt Southern California smile. She's a stunner, by the way. I shake my head and call, hoping to see AK. No sir, not today: the good Doctor has the Rockets. I ship him 2/3 of my stack and the blinds go up: I'm now playing 2900 on 200-400-50.

    I look around and Levi is gone. Sweet!

    Naturally, my table breaks, putting me on information deficit on a short stack. I wait five hands until I can get my whole stack in from late position as first action, but I get called right away from the big stack in the big blind. He has AK, and I'm very live to it with a sorry 8-3. A turn three however, and I have new lease on life. One hand later, a young man two seats to my right raises to 1200 and I push in for 5800 more with 77. He's on a short stack too, and he finally mucks after thinking for almost a minute.

    I'm at the next break table.

    I hit the dinner break in a good mood, and find a beef stick and corn-nuts at the snack shop after a shower and a steam in the spa. The doors open on a perfect Southern California night: 72, with a light breeze blowing. I let it carry my thoughts away and bat them around for a minute or two before stepping back into the moment and concentrating on what I needed to do. I find Levi, who steals my beef stick as he's digging for the $1K he owes me. Marker down!

    Back at the game, a hugely gambly Korean guy is now one seat to my right. He plays waaaaay too fast and is made of glass; so I determined that I was popping him on any two the next two times he raised if he was first in. On my left, I'd been chatting with a guy. When I first sat down with him one table before, I noticed a stylish haircut and a sweet $1500 suit that wasn't rack-bought. I then saw his nice watch and
    expensive shirt: he looked to me like an agent or entertainment executive type. Turns out he's a bond trader for a foreign bank with a branch in Beverly Hills. He's thankfully normal, but very tight. He showed nothing but Type I hands, and did not reraise PF one time in two hours. More on him later.

    Gambly behaves as predicted: he rases to 1800. I have about 9000 and I stack off after looking at one card: a four. He mumbles and mucks. Two hands later, he raises again. I repop, this time with AJ. He mumbles again and mucks again. I then gear way down and decide I'm not going near him unless I'm fairly certain he's beat. He cooperates twenty minutes later by raising again; I reraise with QQ and he mucks for a third time, giving me a look of severe displeasure. I determine to make a living from this guy, but our table breaks again and he's far across the room. Greg the Stylish Bond Trader wishes me good luck, and we exchange ritual "see you at the final table" wishes.

    I find QQ back to back and stack up both, one preflop and the other for the entire stack of a young man to my left. I then go quiet, but my table breaks again; at least now I have enough chips to last for a bit, though -- around $28000. I'm back with Dr. Buss to my right and Craig the Bond Trader across the table. I'm between first and second gear: I'm not overstealing, but I'm raising once every orbit and a half,
    usually from late position. I'm there for about forty minutes, when the following comes down: Playing 600-1200-100, I open-raise to 3000 from the cutoff. Button and SB fold, but Greg in the big blind instantly makes it $10,000 straight. I go into the tank with QQ. Normally, that's a no-brainer call, but we've been at the same table together for about two hours. He's shown down two hands: AK and AA. He doesn't raise
    often; less than once per orbit. And I haven't seen him reraise PF a single time. I'm not trying to run over the table; I think he perceives me as fairly solid, somewhat tight. I count him down: he has $15,200 behind and I have $15,100. Shit. We're at thirty players, where twenty-seven pay.

    This is clearly the decision of the tournament so far. He's not a pro. He's an articulate guy, but he doesn't seem to have read Harrington and plays more by instinct than by math. The stylish clothes and casual, articulate chat belie a rocklike style; I haven't seen him waste a chip all day long. Against a smaller stack or any other player at the table, this is a no-brainer push, but after I play back what I've seen him do all day, I'm fairly sure I'm in a race at best, and very possibly behind. AK is sixteen ways, and AA and KK are six ways each. He's a
    sixty-forty favorite with that range, and I just don't see him making that move on anything less than that. I hate it, but I finally muck. Against my better judgment, I nod my head and show him. He's a nice guy, and feels obliged to do the same; he almost mucks dark, but finally shows . . . . 88.

    I say: "Very, very nice, sir," and for once, really mean it. I catch up with him on a break, and he says that he'd been watching me all night -- and that he knew that I perceived him as quite tight. He made a great move with third-level thinking, and I failed to give him sufficient credit for it -- to my woe. We shake hands, and I find some Red Bull and consider what Tanya Peck might say to me here.

    After the break, I'm somewhat card dead, and find very little. We finally break at 3:30 a.m. with twenty left, playing 800-1600. I'm either the anchor man or one up from that, with $15,100. I'll need a spot soon on day two, but I've done it before and can again.

    For a swan song, it was a hell of a day: one of the most enjoyable poker days in quite some time. Kudos to Greg the Bond Trader for a perfect move and to Dr. Buss for his excellent taste in women fifty years his junior.

    -Howard Treesong

    OK, time to wrap this up.
    Per usual, this post brought to you by Bonus Code IGGY on Party Poker. Or hell, if you wanna support this humble poker blog and already have an account there, try out Paradise Poker.

    And last, but certainly not least, I relate to this column by Tommy Angelo ever so much.


    I played poker for ten years before I discovered folding in 1984. That's when I met Bobby. He had a big belly, a big beard, and a big laugh. Bobby was like Santa Claus, minus the giving. He just kept throwing his hand away, and he didn't seem to mind. Then he would carry the money away, and the players didn't seem to mind.

    So I started folding more often, to see what would happen. I folded before the flop with ten-nine a couple times. I folded queen-eight suited. I folded an ace when somebody raised. It was so new, so exciting. I was high from it, like an explorer. I kept adding more hands not to play, trying to get my starting-hand folding rate up with Bobby's. But it didn't stop there. Oh no. Before long I got hooked on the hard stuff, like folding on the river when I had a good hand.

    Soon I went to Vegas. After a week in the desert, I felt like Charles Darwin must have felt on the Galapagos Islands, having traveled to an isolated land, where he found strange new ecosystems populated by bizarre species. What I discovered on Las Vegas Island was that in the poker ecosystem, at the top of the food chain, sat the folders.

    I need to stop here and tell you exactly the kind of folding I mean. I'm talking about folding that is done often, and conspicuously, and audaciously, and without a fuss.

    Every now and then in the Vegas games, a non-folder would say something to a folder, sometimes friendly sometimes not, about playing so tight. I couldn't get over how comfortable the folders were, with all of it, with the folding, with the comments, and they'd just sit there behind their tall stacks and long smiles, and muck, one more time.

    I was like, okay, I see how this works now. It's like a club. The folders club. Well, whatever it was, I wanted in.

    After my first taste of big-time folding, I felt that if I could get really good at it, I could quit my job. So I made folding my holy grail, my quest, my mountain to climb. I could see the mountain. I could see my path. I looked at the ground in front of me, and I took a step.

    By 1990 I was folding enough to support my food and rent habit. This freed up lots of time for lots more folding. Before long I got so good at folding that I could afford to get stupid at first one flavor of gambling then another and another. My tether line to solvency was always the folding. Anytime I was low on money, all I had to do was stop betting and stop eating and get back to the folding.

    Eventually I outpaced the gamble demon and the cigarette demon and the tilt demon and several others I met along the way. My path became a gentle incline that coaxed me up to a sunny ledge where I stopped, and sat, and I looked around in wonder, for I could see the top of the mountain far away and high above, and I could see the bottom, waiting for me, should I neglect my folding.

    When I play now, in 2006, one of the things I don't do during the opening drive of the game is wager much. I like to get to the folding right away. My ideal session starts with a sip of coffee, then somebody raises and I fold from the big blind, then another little sip before I fold my small blind, then I take as big a sip as the coffee's temperature will allow, and I sit up straight, and I get ready to play my button, and I exhale consciously, and most likely fold.

    Which brings me to the hand that got me to writing about my folding fetish in the first place.

    The game was brick-and-mortar $80-160 limit hold'em. It was my first hand of the session. I was in the big blind with ace-ten offsuit and no hearts. One player limped, the small blind folded, and I checked. We were headsup going into the flop with me first.

    The flop came ace, ace, nine, with two hearts.

    I checked. He checked.

    The turn was the eight of hearts.

    I checked. He checked.

    The river was the seven of hearts, making the final board A-A-9, 8, 7, with four hearts.

    I checked. He bet. And I folded.

    Of course no one at the table had any idea I had a hand like that. After all, all that happened was limp, check -- check, check -- check, check -- check, bet, fold. If any of my opponents were to draw a conclusion from what they had seen, it would not be that I had folded a good hand. It would be that I had chosen to not bluff, three times, with a bad one. And that's why I fold the way I do, with a quiet mind and a silent body, so nobody knows what I had.

    Sometimes folding makes me feel like a puppet master. Like when I openraise from the cutoff with not much, and the button calls and the blinds fold, and it's headsup with me first, and I miss the flop, and I check and he bets and I fold. Or if I raise before the flop and someone reraises behind me and everyone else is out and I call and the flop comes and I check and he bets and I fold. With punts like these, I make money twice. Once by immediately ending my worst situations. Twice by making it correct, in their worlds, for the bluffing types to bluff when I check, and for the folding types to fold when I bet. And all of a sudden, I can't lose. I love folding.


    Thanks for reading. I'm off to the boat.

    Link of the Day:
    Vote for an Honest Politician

    Jonathon Sharkey, candidate for governor of Minnesota:

    Honesty is very seldom heard nowadays, especially from a politician. So, I am going to break from political tradition. My name is Jonathon "The Impaler" Sharkey, Ph.D., L.D.D.D. I am a Satanic Dark Priest, Sanguinarian Vampyre and a Hecate Witch. My Magikal Path name is: Lord Ares.

    I despise and hate the Christian God the Father. He is my enemy. ...

    I am a strong believer and supporter of Impalement for terrorists and criminals. I am sure my belief of use of Impalement will be challenged by the ACLU and organizations who oppose the use of corporal punishment, by them saying it serves no purpose and is inhumane.

  • Wednesday, March 08, 2006

    Know who Joe Rogan is?

    Joe Rogan fights on MySpace

    Monday, March 06, 2006

    Quick blog here before I contemplate a good old-fashioned uber poker post.

    I wish I could formally announce this tonight but it will likely have to wait a day or two.

    I've been trying like crazy to organize a weekly WPBT satellite tournament to the WSOP, similar to what we did last year. I would truly like to send a ton of poker bloggers to a $1500 WSOP event. Hell, I'd like to send some to the Championship event but the logistics seem like a pain in the ass.

    So for now, we're gonna take aim at a $1500 event. Hell, whoever wins can play any $1500 WSOP event that he or she wishes. We can send a bundle of us there if enough people want to play.

    I would prefer to have run these on PokerStars but I'm tired of waiting on them. It's been six weeks now and I'm ready to get the ball rolling. Plus, this way, Otis can play.

    And hell, in a first, Party Poker beat them to the punch this year in running WSOP qualifiers. Should be a battle to see which site sends more online qualifiers this year.

    Anyway, here's the way things are shaping up. I'm going to start off with one of the oldest and largest online poker rooms, one that everyone knows.

    I've cajoled and groveled for us to get a better-than-usual structure.
    2500 in starting chips and 20 minute blinds. Not too shabby.

    It will likely be a $30 entry fee so we'll need 50 bloggers to play for a WSOP seat. Any remaining prize balance will be awarded to the bubblers.

    Can we get 50 poker bloggers to play? I'd sure as hell like to think so, damnit. We did it easily last year, after all.

    A couple bloggers who I bounced ideas off told me that the tourney should be password protected and an email being required to get it. I'm down with that, after all, that's the point of doing this - sending some of our own into the big dance, new blogger, old blogger, doesn't matter. Let's just get some bloggers in there in our name, damnit.

    And so I'm hoping to announce the official poker blogger WSOP satellites any time now. It's looking like a weekly event, on Sunday evenings. Weee!

    I hope we get enough players to get a headstart on this.
    Sure as hell would be fun to pull this off.

    "Limit hold'em is a game for morons who can't play poker."
    Mike Matasow

    Guilty as charged.

    But I'm done fucking around with the push monkeys and no-limit poker.
    I give up trying to put the monkeys on hands in this day and age.
    I give up on coin flips for my entire stack.

    No more guessing games.

    I'm a big believer in not spreading your poker thinking around too thin. It's too easy to do, at least for me. Yet I've gotten away from that and been screwing around too much lately in NL and tournament play. I'm going back to what I do best. Grinding.

    And so allow me blog this limit poker treatise by one of our founding fathers, Abdul Jalib. I still can't believe he deleted his web site.

    Originally posted April 27, 1999.
    The archived version (and clearer/cleaner hand charts) is here:

    Hold'em Preflop Strategy According to Abdul Jalib

    Due to the effect of community cards, hold'em is a game of
    "domination," a term coined by Roy Hashimoto. A hand is dominated if
    it has 3 or fewer outs against another, like AJ against AQ. Second
    best offsuit hands are what make you money in hold'em - when *other*
    players play them. With the flip of a card, pairs and suited hands
    can transform from dominated to dominating.

    Big and small pairs, suited hands, and offsuit hands play differently.

    Small pairs, suited cards, and zero and one gap hands (examples: 22-66
    A6s, and JTs and QTs respectively) thrive on "implied odds", a term
    coined by David Sklansky, meaning they will frequently be folding
    after the flop unless they flop big, and so they normally want to see
    the flop cheaply.

    Offsuit hands have "reverse implied odds", since they cannot usually
    bet and raise with confidence towards the end of the hand. Normally,
    an offsuit hand likely to be best should make it expensive to see the
    flop, in order to harm the hands that would have good implied odds to
    see the flop cheaply. A strong offsuit hand is still strong when
    facing several opponents, between its chance of making a AKQJT
    straight, two pair (usually using a low pair on the board) or a top
    pair that holds up.

    Big pairs have reverse implied odds as well, but they are much more
    robust, since they can win unimproved, or by making two pair with a
    low pair on the board, or by making a set or full house.

    The flop is the nexus of the hand; limiting raises preflop goes far
    towards disguising your hand.

    The next sections detail strategy for opening, playing against
    limpers, playing against raisers, and defending the blinds. Six
    representative hands, namely QQ, 55, ATs, 76s, AQ, and JT, will
    illustrate preflop strategy for each of these situations. However, if
    you think you know better for your particular situation, you probably
    do, as "it depends." In any case, this simple desert nomad does not
    claim to be always correct, only always thought provoking.


    When no one has yet entered the pot, the following chart shows you
    conservative minimum opening hands for various positions to the right
    of the button. The farther off the button, the tighter you have to
    play, as you need a reasonable chance of having the best hand.

    Button Pairs Suited Hands Offsuit Hands

    JJ AKs
    TT AQs AK
    99 AJs AQ
    6/7 88 ATs KQs
    5 77 A9s KJs QJs AJ
    4 66 A8s KTs QTs JTs AT KQ
    3 55 A7s K9s T9s J9s KJ QJ
    2 44 A3s K7s Q9s 98s T8s A9
    1 33 A2s K6s Q8s 87s 97s J8s A7 KT QT JT
    22 K4s Q6s 76s 86s T7s A6 K9 T9
    0 K2s Q4s 65s 75s A3 K7 Q9 98 J9
    Q2s 54s 64s 85s Txs A2 K6 Q8 87 T8 J8
    43s 42s 63s 7xs K5 Q7 76 T7 J7
    32s 62s K4 Q5 65 86 96 J6
    K3 Q4 54 75 85 J5
    K2 Q2 43 53 63 J2

    Note: The hands are sorted horizontally to make them easy to locate:
    aces, kings, queens, zero gaps, one gaps, two gaps, and "other."
    When a hand is "missing" in the table, it belongs with the lower
    hand; for example, Q3s belongs with Q2s since Q4s is just above Q2s.
    Jxs fits in the same spot as Txs. Jxs refers to baby suited jacks
    lower than the zero gappers, one gappers, and two gappers, in other
    words J2s-J7s. A handy way to refer to the rank of nonpairs is by
    the connectors 32-KQ and then big aces AJ-AK. So for example
    "77/QJs/AJ or better" is a short way of saying 77-AA, QJs, KJs-KQs,
    A9s-AKs, and AJ-AK. On the button the minimum openers are 22/65s/98
    caliber hands. Weaker hands are listed for when you wish to steal
    with more hands against tighter opponents in the blinds.

    Adjustments: You can open one level looser when your opponents are
    properly tight, at least two levels looser when they are too tight,
    and two levels looser on pairs and suited hands when your opponents
    are too loose. You can also open an additional two levels looser on
    pairs and suited hands when your opponents are passive. A normal rake
    will move you back up one level, and a harsh rake will move you up two
    levels, more in late position.

    In early position you have to play fairly tightly, even in loose
    games, since you don't know how many raises there will be. Consider
    how likely you are to be raised by weaker (or stronger) hands if you
    limp, how likely you are to be called by weaker (or stronger) hands if
    you raise, and how likely you are to steal the blinds if you raise.

    When opening in tight games in any position or loose games in late
    position, your attention should be on getting heads up with a blind or
    outright steal the blinds. Most hands are worth less than the blinds
    and so for most hands stealing the blinds is a coup; hence, raising is
    correct for most hands. AA is worth about four times the blinds, so
    stealing the blinds with it and your other very strong hands is a
    major disaster. Without other concerns, in a tight game you should
    raise with marginal hands, and limp (and usually reraise if raised)
    with your strongest hands. This advice contradicts Sklansky
    and Malmuth. Balance your hands that you could have in various
    preflop scenarios, mixing strong with weak and weak with strong, so
    that you do not give too much information away by your actions, yet
    strive to still play most hands appropriately.

    Here is one way to balance your opening strategy for a tight game
    where you are fairly likely to steal the blinds if you open-raise:

    Tight Game Opening Strategy

    Raise and call 2 QQ JJ TT KQs KTs JTs
    Raise and call 1 77 QJs KJs AQ AJ
    Limp-reraise / raise & call 2 AKs AQs AK
    Limp & call 1 66 55 A9s A8s A7s KQ
    Limp-reraise AA KK 99 88 AJs ATs

    Note: "Call 1" means call one raise back, fold for two, and similarly
    for "Call 2." When two ways to play are listed, separated by a slash
    (/), do them each 50% of the time or adjust depending on the texture
    of the game. In general, you should mix up your play a bit on all
    hands. Because players tend to put you on AA or KK when you limp-
    reraise, often refrain from doing so heads-up. Some plays are
    "sacrifice plays" for the sake of balance, such as limping with KQ in
    early position when in isolation raising would be better and folding
    would be best. Other plays are profitable only in context, such as
    being able to play 55 early under the cover of the limp-reraising
    hands. Beware reraising when the raise comes from the blinds, as few
    players will raise from the blinds without holding QQ-AA or AKs.

    Example: You are in early position, 6 off the button, in a game that's
    so tight that an early raise often wins the blinds. The pot is not
    yet opened. How do you play your hand?

    QQ Raise to add support, but limp-reraise is more immediately profitable.
    55 Limp if (and only if) you limp-reraise often with other hands.
    ATs Limp-reraise to profit from opponents folding AQ & AJ to limp-reraises.
    76s Fold. A raise would be better than a call, though, to steal the blinds.
    AQ Raise, for win share and to get heads up.
    JT Fold. Dominated. Even KQ is played up front only for balance.

    In games where a raise generally gets 1 or 2 callers, but rarely
    steals the blinds, open-raising with any playable hand is very
    reasonable and helps avoid leaking information.

    In a loose game, where you will gets lots of callers if you limp and
    almost as many callers if you raise, proper play is more
    straightforward and includes playing more suited aces. Here is one
    way to balance the hands for loose-aggressive games:

    Loose-Aggressive Game Opening Strategy

    Limp-call 2 / raise & reraise 99 88
    Limp-reraise / raise & reraise AK AKs
    Raise & reraise AA KK
    Raise & call 2 A5s A4s A3s KQs AQ
    Raise & call 1 AJ KQ
    Limp & call 1 QJs JTs QTs 66
    Limp & call 2 ATs A9s A8s A7s A6s KJs KTs 77
    Limp-reraise QQ JJ TT AQs AJs

    Note: For loose-passive games and extremely loose games, replace all
    limp-reraises with "raise & reraise."

    Example: You are in early position, 6 off the button, in a game that's
    so loose that you always see a flop, usually 5-8 way for 1 bet or 4-6
    way for 2-4 bets. The pot is not yet opened. How do you play your

    QQ Limp-reraise to punish them, except raise in very loose or passive games.
    55 Borderline call/fold. Play if you can see flop cheaply.
    ATs Limp and call all raises, fearing that raises indicate AK, AQ, or AJ.
    76s Fold, but it's close for very loose-passive games.
    AQ Raise to destroy the implied odds of the fish and narrow the field.
    JT Fold. Dominated. KJ and QJ suffice in very passive games with no rake.

    In middle position, you will be raising with more weak hands to steal
    the blinds, so you can raise with most of your strong hands too,
    especially since limping is unlikely to induce a raise.

    Example: You're in (late) middle position, 3 off the button. How do
    you play your hand?

    QQ Raise. No one is likely to raise for you. Provide cover to steals.
    55 Raise if you can get heads up, call if you can get 4 callers, else fold.
    ATs Limp-reraise if you are limp-reraising with AA and KK, else raise.
    76s Fold. Likely dominated downstream. Cannot count on enough callers.
    AQ Raise, for the same reason as early position.
    JT Fold. You'd need a minimum offsuit of close to AT or KJ to open here.

    On the button, you should be open-raising with a lot of hands if your
    opponents defend the blinds properly, and if they are too tight you
    can raise with any two cards at least until they start adapting.

    Example: You're on the button. How do you play your hand?

    QQ Raise. It is too conspicuous to limp here.
    55 Raise. Your pair is quite strong here, if you get heads up.
    ATs Raise.
    76s Borderline raise/fold. Laying odds. Fold versus loose small blind.
    AQ Raise. This is a monster. A3 would suffice.
    JT Raise. Finally, on the button or one off, it is likely best, barely.

    A rake seriously reduces the number of hands with which you can steal,
    as you will be paying a lot for a crapshoot against the big blind.
    With a Draconian rake, like where the big blind gets dropped once the
    flop comes, you would need about JJ or better to open on the button!
    Even with a modest rake, JT and 76s should be folded.


    You should raise an opened pot when you will win the pot more than
    your fair share of the time or your hand would play better without
    additional players in the pot. Consider whether calling would lure
    dominated hands to call after you (or additional hands period to give
    you odds for your draw), or whether raising would drive out dominating
    hands after you or allow you to get heads up (or almost so) versus a
    hand you dominate.

    Most people think that you should play looser after limpers compared
    to opening. If a tight player limps, you have to be careful. Even if
    the limper raises with his best hands, versus his weak limp you have
    to play about as tight as if you were opening in his position, as you
    have no chance to steal the blinds, though you should still raise if
    you suspect you might dominate his hand. On the other hand, if the
    limper would limp with his best hands, then you must play much
    tighter. After several tight players limp, you can play hands that do
    well multiway (any pair, any suited ace, big suited kings and queens,
    and medium to big suited zero and one gappers), but the only offsuit
    hands you can play are AQ and AK, partially for fear of domination,
    partially for fear of the big cards being "dead." (AJ and KQ are okay
    after just one tight limper.)

    Example: You are facing one tight limper and you are on the button.
    How do you play your hand?

    QQ Raise. No need to worry about stealing blinds. Calling is a mistake.
    55 Borderline fold. Unlikely to get heads-up and cannot get 4 callers.
    ATs Call. Proceed with caution if you flop an ace for fear of limping AJ.
    76s Fold. Similar to 55 case. Borderline fold/call versus 3 tight limpers.
    AQ Raise. Same with AJ and KQ. Your hand is likely best. Get heads up.
    JT Fold. Dominated. Fold QJ/KJ too. Calling here is a huge mistake.

    With loose players coming in with hopeless hands like T7 and J6, then
    it's true that you can play looser after limpers, with "trashy" suited
    hands like T8s and K4s, and any pocket pair. You should raise
    liberally to punish them, since weak offsuit hands really get hurt by
    preflop raises, as they have only a tiny chance of winning the pot.
    After many limpers, even Q6s and 65s can play best with a raise on the
    button; suited aces, kings, and queens and suited zero gappers win
    more than their fair share of pots versus many loose limpers. Offsuit
    hands likely to be best will also win more than their fair share of
    pots and should raise.

    Example: You are facing five loose limpers and you are on the button.
    How do you play your hand?

    QQ Raise. You will win the pot more than your fair share, though < 50%.
    55 Call. About 8-way to flop, but it will win less than 1 in 8 times.
    ATs Raise. Big suited's win more than their fair share in multiway pots.
    76s Raise. Even suited zero gappers win more than their fair share here.
    AQ Raise. Your hand is likely best, by far.
    JT Fold. If you want to play offsuit cards, you must have the best.

    It is a myth that hands like AQ are in trouble here. You are in
    trouble if you don't raise, but if you raise you wreck the implied
    odds of the suited garbage your opponents hold. AQ frequently wins
    even in family pots by making aces up with queen kicker or an AKQJT
    straight. Also, your cards have a better chance of being live if no
    one raised, so you will win the pot considerably more than your fair
    share of the time. Similarly, if you were likely to have the highest
    hand with something like KJ or even KT, you should raise here, again
    partially for win share, partially to wreck the implied odds of your
    opponents. This advice contradicts Sklansky and Malmuth, as
    well as others. Their argument is that the fish will call correctly
    with gutshots and pairs on the flop if you raise preflop, but the problem
    is that the fish will be calling with pairs and gutshots no matter what,
    and their loose calls usually will be correct whether you raised or not.
    Would you prefer they pay 3 small bets to see the turn or would you like
    to let them get off cheaply for just 2 small bets to see the turn?
    However, if you make a mistake by usually laying down AQ on flop that
    misses even though you believed you had the best hand preflop then
    perhaps you would be better off playing incorrectly preflop by not
    raising. Another exception could be made if your opponents will "check
    to the raiser" if and only if the flop contains an ace, king, or queen.

    It is a myth that you should raise with baby pairs like 33 after six
    (or fewer) limpers, even if you know the blinds will call, because
    though you will flop a set more then 1 in 9 times, you will win the
    pot less than 1 in 9 times. This too contradicts Sklansky and
    Malmuth. A possible exception is when the raise has a decent chance of
    buying you a free card on the flop, as this now improves your chance
    of winning to better than 1 in 9, but it is normally rare that all 8
    opponents would check to the raiser.


    The key concept when facing a tight raiser is: "run away and live to
    fight another hand." Most players raise with their best hands, limp
    with their worst hands, and you can exploit this by deftly
    sidestepping their raises and punishing their weak limps with raises
    of your own. You need a hand a couple levels higher than the raiser's
    minimums to consider playing. Offsuit aces are especially vulnerable
    to being dominated by a tight raiser. The implied odds of suited zero
    or one gappers are trashed by raises. Medium pairs can easily be
    dominated by bigger pairs, and otherwise it's usually a crapshoot
    against two overcards. Versus a tight raise, you can only three-bet
    profitably with AA, KK, and AK. Therefore, to avoid giving away
    information, flat call with these hands preflop and go for a raise on
    the flop.

    Example: You are facing a raise from 77/QJs/AJ or better. What do you do?

    QQ Call, for fear of AA, KK, or losing to something like AK.
    55 Fold. You need about 99 to call, two levels higher than his 77.
    ATs Fold. Dominated. You could call with AQs, barely.
    76s Fold. Implied odds are shot to hell. JTs/QJs/KQs should fold too.
    AQ Fold. Against looser raises you could call. See AQs note under ATs.
    JT Fold, unless you are a fish.

    Versus a loose raise, such as a steal raise from one off the button
    when you are on the button or small blind, you should reraise
    liberally to isolate, unless you fear your hand could be beat by the
    raiser but could be called by some weaker hands behind if you flat

    Example: You are on the button facing a raise from one off the button
    from a good player with competent opponents in the blinds.

    QQ Reraise. You do not fear AA or KK here.
    55 Reraise. Your hand plays much better heads up than 3-way.
    ATs Borderline call/reraise. For fear of AJ, AJs is the first safe reraise.
    76s Borderline reraise/fold. Your hand plays better heads up than 3-way.
    AQ Reraise. Keep it heads-up to preserve chance of winning unimproved.
    JT Borderline fold. Could call versus an even looser raise.

    Versus a raiser plus cold callers, you have to play a bit differently
    than versus just a raiser. Tight cold callers are bad news; each one
    increases your calling requirements. Loose callers relax the calling
    requirements for suited cards, and for pairs if you will have many
    opponents for the flop.

    Given how tight you have to play versus a single raise, you can
    imagine how tight you have to play if there is a raise and reraise
    from tight players in early position. You can still play with TT and
    JJ, unless the reraiser is extremely tight. This contradicts Sklansky
    and Malmuth. This is a reraise or fold situation. Make it four bets
    with TT-AA, AK, AKs, and fold everything else, normally. Now if it's
    a steal raise and a resteal reraise, then that's another story, and
    you could wade in with 88/QJs/AQ and up, certainly, and probably a bit
    weaker hands as well.

    When you are in a crazy game that is constantly having capped family
    pots preflop, you can call with a minimum of 22/JTs/AQ. If the game
    is crazy but tighter, only getting capped once or twice per lap three
    to five way, you must play very tight, playing not much more than
    JJ/QJs/AK and up.


    Raising in the big blind after limpers gives away information, but a
    raise often can buy you the pot by the turn if the game is not too
    loose, as your opponents will often put you on AA or KK. You can raise
    fairly liberally in the big blind versus loose limpers, with 88/JTs/KQ
    and up, possibly a bit weaker. Versus tight limpers, you have to be
    sure your hand is best.

    The rankings of hands when defending the big blind versus a raise is
    quite a bit different than the rankings for opening. You are getting
    over 3:1 odds to flop something good, or at least a pair. Proper big
    blind defense strategy varies dramatically depending on the raiser's
    minimums. Against typical raises, call liberally with hands that have
    straight or flush potential, as well as pairs. Get away from big
    offsuit hands that are likely dominated. 65s is usually on par with
    KQ here. If flopping a pair won't do you any good, because the raiser
    is so tight that he is likely to have a big pair, then fold liberally,
    especially offsuit hands. More specific recommendations are in the
    table below. The minimum hands are listed, and you can defend with any
    hands "between" the ones listed and the column headers.

    Big Blind Defense vs a Raise

    Raiser... Defend with minimum...
    Is Has
    Type Minimum | AA AKs KQs QJs JTs J9s J8s Jxs AK KQ QJ JT J9 J8
    ===== ========= | == === === === === === === === == == == == == ==
    Tight 99/AJs/AQ | 55 AJs KQs QJs T9s ... ... ... AQ .. .. .. .. ..
    Legit 66/JTs/KQ | 22 A2s K2s Q2s 43s 53s 74s 9xs A2 K9 Q9 54 42 85
    Steal 22/54s/76 | (all but Q3 J4 T5 94 84 73 62 32 or worse)

    Notes: Versus a tight raiser heads up, do not reraise - you are
    either beaten, or you'd like to check-raise on the flop. Versus
    multiple loose players, you can reraise fairly liberally, e.g., with
    88, ATs, K9s, QJs, AQ, KQ or better. Versus steal raises, reraise
    heads up almost any time you are likely to have the best hand, as
    your opponent is sure to call one more bet before the flop, but not
    necessarily on the flop. Bet into a steal-raiser liberally on the
    flop. Versus one or more callers in addition to the raiser, get
    away from offsuit aces below about A9 and your weakest offsuit hands
    like 42, but you can call with any two suited.

    Example: You are in the big blind, a sane player raises in middle
    position, and there is no rake. (Assume he has 66/JTs/KQ or better.)
    What is your best play?

    QQ Call. Go for check-raise on the flop.
    55 Call. Do not necessarily give up if you do not flop a set.
    ATs Call. Bet or check-raise on most flops, but check-call when ace flops.
    76s Call. Check-raise the flop if you have a draw or flop a pair.
    AQ Call. Consider a check-raise on the flop even if you miss.
    JT Call. Proceed with caution if you flop a pair.

    Keep in mind that versus a very tight raise, like from 99/AJs/AQ or
    better, the situation is much different, and you should fold even AQ
    in the big blind for fear of being dominated.

    A rake will severely reduce the number of hands with which you can
    defend heads-up. In the above scenario, JT should be mucked when
    there is a rake. If the rake is harsh, like 10% with a cap, you should
    defend with very few hands indeed.

    In games where you are facing a preflop raise that is bigger than the
    big blind (like a $4 raise to $6 against the $2 big blind in 1-4-8-8),
    obviously you are not getting much odds and must play much tighter
    than normal.


    Small blind openers are similar to button openers, but you should go 2
    levels looser on the suited hands, and a bit looser on zero and one
    gap offsuit cards as well, while actually playing a bit tighter on
    weak offsuit widely gapped hands. Do not raise with all playable hands,
    as you would like to call with your weakest hands and you need to provide
    them some cover, and also there is no small blind to knock out.

    When the pot is not raised and you only have a fraction of a bet to
    call, the situation is similar to calling a raise in the big blind, as
    you are getting big odds. You still need to get away from hopelessly
    dominated hands like Q5 except versus many loose limpers. Getting big
    odds to see the flop is no good if you are dominated.

    The small blind's size relative to the preflop call amount of course
    makes a big difference. There are 3 common blind sizes:

    Blind Size Example
    ========== ============================================
    1/3 $2 blind in $6-$12 with $2 and $6 blinds
    1/2 $5 blind in $10-$20 with $5 and $10 blinds
    2/3 $10 blind in $15-$30 with $10 and $15 blinds

    The $1 small blind with $1 and $2 blinds, $2 to go, in a 1-4-8-8 type
    game, is more like a 2/3 type blind, than a 1/2 blind, due to the
    implied odds of flopping something.

    It also matters how many opponents you face and how tight they are.
    The more opponents, the looser you can be on the suited hands. If the
    limpers are tight, you still have to be extremely conservative with a
    1/3 blind, especially with your offsuit hands, as shown in the table
    below. Again, you can play any hand "between" the listed hand and the
    column header.

    Small Blind Defense Versus 1 Tight Limper

    Blind Size AA AKs KQs QJs JTs J9s J8s Jxs AK KQ QJ JT J9 J8
    ========== == === === === === === === === == == == == == ==
    1/3 22 A9s K9s ... ... ... ... ... AQ .. .. .. .. ..
    1/2 22 A2s K2s Q7s 76s T8s J8s Jxs A7 K8 Q9 T9 J9 J8
    2/3 22 A2s K2s Q2s 43s 53s 74s 9xs A5 K7 Q8 98 97 J7

    Note: Play tighter if the big blind is likely to raise.

    Example: You are in the small blind versus one tight limper. Best play?

    QQ Raise. Calling would give the big blind a free shot to beat you.
    55 Call. A raise will be unlikely to get rid of the big blind.
    ATs Borderline raise/call. Call when you have to put in 2/3's of a bet.
    76s Borderline call/fold. Fold for 2/3 bet, since 3-way is bad.
    AQ Raise. You want to be heads up so you can win unimproved.
    JT Call for 1/2 or 1/3 of a bet, fold for 2/3 of a bet. Be careful.

    When the players are looser, you can loosen way up when you are
    getting your discount in the small blind:

    Small Blind Defense versus 5 Loose Limpers

    Blind Size AA AKs KQs QJs JTs J9s J8s Jxs AK KQ QJ JT J9 J8
    ========== == === === === === === === === == == == == == ==
    1/3 22 A2s K2s Q2s 43s 42s 74s Jxs A3 K7 Q8 JT .. ..
    1/2 22 A2s K2s Q2s 32s 42s 52s 62s A2 K2 Q5 54 J9 ..
    2/3 22 A2s K2s Q2s 32s 42s 52s 62s A2 K2 Q2 32 42 J8

    Example: You are in the small blind after 5 loose limpers. Best play?

    QQ Raise, for the same reason you would normally after limpers.
    55 Call. See if you flop your set before investing more.
    ATs Raise, for the same reason as in late position after limpers.
    76s Call. Harder to win pot out of position so may not win your fair share.
    AQ Raise, as you will win more than your fair share.
    JT Call. You certainly cannot raise. Enough of a discount to call.

    When defending the small blind versus a raise, your minimum
    requirements are about midway between your minimums for calling in the
    big blind versus calling a raise cold - a bit tighter for a 1/3 blind,
    and a bit looser for a 2/3 blind. Additionally, a 2/3 blind can call
    a raise with any suited ace. When defending versus a raise and
    reraise, defending the small blind is not significantly different from
    calling 3 cold.


    The above is the result of a lot of hard work on my part, trying and
    discarding many approaches before arriving at my goal of an accurate
    preflop strategy that novices can understand (I hope.) However, I
    stood on the shoulders of giants. My thinking has been especially
    influenced by David Sklansky, Roy Cooke, Mike Caro, Paul Pudaite, Jim Geary, Annie Duke, Ed Hill, J.P. Massar, "tangram", "Randall Flagg", "Lonestar", "Ramsey", Andy Latto, Roy Hashimoto, Lee Jones, Barry Tannenbaum, Steve Brecher, Michael Maurer, Eric Holtman, Tad Perry, and hundreds of rec.gambling.poker posters, though this is not to say they would agree with my recommendations. All the charts come from Turbo Texas Hold'em 2.0 and 3.0 simulations, as interpreted by me, and so I have to thank Bob Wilson most of all.

    All Content Copyright Iggy 2003-2007
    Information on this site is intended for news and entertainment purposes only.

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