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The Road to Fame and Fortune

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  • The Road to Fame and Fortune

    Well, Road to Fame and Fortune may be exaggerating, at least for the time being. Still, the potential is staggering, and hope springs eternal...

    So far so good, first few days at PS have been great. Made a nice deposit to start me off, and playing the $1.50 MTTs (27 players mostly). First 20 give a net result of 35 bucks in the plus with 8/20 cashes including 4 wins. Of course there's been the usual bad beats (AA cracked by AQ, flopped straight cracked by runner-runner flush, etc) but that's part of the game.

    I wonder if this blogging works out for me...

    Now if only I knew how long it takes for a 45 player Satellite to the Sunday Storm takes to fill up...

  • #2
    Everyone knows what I'm talking about: you get it all-in preflop and you dominate the opponent. You flop the stone nuts and your opponent shoves. And as we happily walk along the road to the river, we completely disregard the 1, 2 or 3 outs he has.

    Until the dealer shows you the river. Time stops. You see your life flash before your eyes. A palette of words start forming in your mouth, that makes you glad that a] there's no little kids around, and b] your sitting behind your computer and not in a cardroom because you definitely would get thrown out.

    Twice today in a tourney. First I have KK, make a pretty standard 3x raise, and the guy shoves. Now mind this is the first hand he played out of the 35 we'd been dealt, so basically, you're looking at KK or AA. Since I have KK, I doubt he has too. So AA then? Well, if he does, kudos to him. I'm not good enough to lay down pocket cowboys against a shove preflop where calling will cost me only half my stack.
    So he turns over 88.

    You can see where this is going, and I don't have to tell you the river.

    Later - start of the final table, I'm 3rd in chips. AK off suit. I make a raise, guy before me shoves, and I call. He shows A10 off.

    Well, let's not say any more about it.

    So what is it about the river that makes it the most liked and the most hated card of all at the same time. Is it just that we don't like to get beat with only one card to come, where the opponent will hit his miracle only once in twenty hands, with no hope of escape?

    Or does it hurt just as much to get outdrawn on the flop?

    Or is it just the imagination that says it hurts a lot more on the river than on the flop? I don't know, but perhaps I'll figure it out somewhere in the next millenium....

    keep up with the blog:


    • #3

      So we're early in a $1.50 27 man SnG, and I get dealt QJ off. It's not the first time, and I tend to play the hand. Why? I'm not sure. It's a dangerous hand. So now I start thinking about whether or not to call the minraise. I'm in position, the blinds will probably let it go...
      And then I really think. What happens on the flop? Flop comes Q high, I have top pair, but what if he has AQ or KQ. My kicker's no good, and it can cost me a bundle. Same story if the flop comes J high. After all, the guy did raise from UTG. So, reluctantly, I toss the hand in the muck.

      QJ is dangerous, especially when it's not suited. It showed in several hands later that same tourney.
      Firstly, one hand the board shows a Q high flop, rainbow, and the guy holding QJ shoves. He gets called, and the caller shows the KQ. And I'm thinking to myself "Wow, that just went through my mind....".
      A few hands later the short stack (25 BB) pushes all in into an unopened pot and gets called. He shows QJ off, the caller shows the AJ.
      Later still - we're 5 handed now so everyone cashes - UTG shoves 9 BB with the QJ off, and is called by AQ.

      Add to that the big hand I lost while in another toruney where I was chipleader calling an allin with AQ off only to get pocket Queens jammed in my face....

      So, the lesson I learned playing this tourney is to be very, very wary of the QJ off. I've seen how ugly the hand can be today, several times within a few dozen hands, and looking back through my hand histories, I see that I have lost way more money with the hand than I have won with it. Now that's not saying I'll never play it again, just that I have to pick my spots a lot better.

      keep up with the blog:


      • #4

        Ever since I started playing poker, I’ve made it a habit to type Welcome to the money in the chat whenever we get rid of the bubble boy. I rarely get a response. I guess that means most people don’t bother reading their chatbox. I do.

        There’s a few reasons for it. First off, every now and then someone will tell you what cards he was holding. Now granted, you should assume a number of times people are not telling you the truth, but still. It’s information, and information is valuable at a poker table.

        It’s also our online version of table talk, and everyone loves table talk. Now at a live table you have a lot more time on your hands for table talking the pants off of others, but a few well placed remarks here and there in the chatbox can do it too. Plus, conversation is always nice.

        If you’re lucky, you’ll run into someone willing to discuss a hand with you. As long as you both showed the cards, there’s times people will do that. That’s a moment you can learn. Not only about their play and their thought patterns, not only to gather information to be used against them, but also to learn about your own play. Although I must admit, these opportunities are rare. I wish online poker offered something along those lines.

        Lastly, if you watch the chatbox every now and then you’ll see one of the players at your table throw a tantrum after yet another big suckout by the donkey that should never have been in the pot to begin with. And that’s the moment we’ve all been waiting for. The right remarks in response to his tantrum can really blow him off and put him on tilt. And that’s where we want him, because a player on tilt is a bad player. We’ve all seen Mike Matusow blowup from time to time, Phil Hellmuth steaming his way into oblivion. And that is where we want our opponents. Spewing chips. And if they feel you’re part of their tilt, they’ll be all the more inclined to donate their chips to you, stacking off whenever you’re in the pot with them. Stacking off when they never would have were it not for the tilt factor.

        The table talk is a part of poker, and I think it’s a part of the online game as well. Now I just hope I’m not alone, because I hate talking to myself.


        • #5

          A question you hear at live tables from time to time. You even get to hear it on TV. What does it mean? Simply that people are not paying attention to what's happening at the table. And although you won't ever hear the question asked in online poker, simply because the software smacks you around before you get the chance, it doesn't solve the underlying problem of people not paying attention.

          Now if you're the one paying attention, this is good, because you can prey on people who don't pay attention. It can backfire because they make stupid moves, but usually it will work in your favor.

          Paying attention is also my biggest learning point at this online poker thing. Too many times I've gotten to a point where I start doing other things while I'm playing, simply because I play the one table at a time, and you're not always in the hand. And I have learned the past few days it's costing me money. Not because I lose pots I shouldn't be losing, but simply because I'm not being as aggressive as I should be, and preying on the short stacks as I should.  In other words: I'm losing money because I'm not winning as much as I should be.

          Several times, I see I have a weak hand, and I click fold. After that, I see woops - I was on the button, and the Big Blind is sitting out. A raise at that spot means you only have the Small Blind to deal with, which makes a raise more profitable. Or when it's checked to you and you fold a bad hand, but after you do you notice that the blinds are relative small stacks, so easier to make them fold.

          Even worse: you see a flop, and you lose the chance to win the pot there because you're not paying attention. You hit a flush draw and check it instead of betting. The other way around: you hit a pair on the flop and bet thinking you only have the button to deal with, but then you figure out there's a 3rd person in the pot as well.

          So yes, it is on me, and I need to start paying more attention. After all, I'm not multi-tabling because I don't think I can keep up properly with the action at two tables at once. Maybe this is a sign I should start playing two tables....

          keeping up with my poker semi-career:


          • #6

            Every now and then you have one of those days where everything seems to be going wrong. You go to the store, they don't have what you wanted to get. You drive home, your tire's flat. You're in a hurry and this weird figure with a cap, a gun and a police badge pulls you over for no reason whatsoever except that you were ignoring the speed limit just a teensie weensie bit on account of being in a hurry.
            "But officer - this big poker tournament starts in 10 minutes and I have to be home by then...."
            With any luck you can pay the fine from the winnings you'll receive once you finally sit down behind your computer half an hour after the tourney started.

            Well, sometimes it's just one of those days. In poker, we call it variance. Usually, you win your fair share of races. Usually, when you have the best hand on the flop, it holds up. And every now and then, you lose the race and the best hand on the turn isn't able to fade the dreaded two-outer on the river. But variance isn't completely random. If you play badly, you'll see it swings to the side of you losing. If you play very well, it'll swing to the side of you winning. But you can't discard it completely as dumb luck is always a part of the game. And if you can't stand the opponent hitting his miracle ace on the river, you shouldn't be sitting down at a poker table.

            But every now and then, through no fault of your own, several of those moments where you're on the wrong side of a race will come together like a Trekkies do when the Star Trek Convention comes to town. And suddenly, losses and wins don't seem to balance out anymore, but suddenly you start losing every hand. Every big pair gets cracked, every time you flop a set, the other guy flops the straight, or a better set. Every less-than-10-percent-on-the-turn hand gets there on the river. We're running bad, as we say. It sucks. And there's nothing you can do but play your best.

            At times like that, it's nice to have a place where you can put up a number of hands for review by others. See what they have to say - did you play the hands correctly, and was it out of your reach do fix, or did you screw it up somewhere along the line? Learning moments like those are important. And since I don't know anyone who plays poker, it's nice to have a site like There, people are willing to help me figure out that it wasn't my fault the three hands in a row with pocket pairs turned into a massive loss of chips instead of a massive win. I could have played two other hands differently, but in the end, it's Lady Luck that turned my monster-stack-on-the-bubble to out-on-the-bubble in three hands.

            It happens, and I usually tend to step away for a while. Superstition I suppose, because losing a few big hands in a row has absolutely no influence on the next hand to come. None at all. Except the psychological effect - you think you're running bad, and suddenly you start losing more and more hands. Either because you don't see the hands you win, or because you really start playing bad. You start playing too many hands, including the ones that you should not be playing at all. All in the hope to recoup your losses. And playing bad doesn't lead to winning your money back, it leads to losing even more.

            So when you get to that point, the point between running bad and tilting, step away. Do something else. Have fun. Watch some TV, listen to some music (as long as it's not Justin Bieber). Come back tomorrow, and start fresh. And remember, if you play well, for every time you're running bad and missing every draw, there's also a time when you're running good and you're hitting every miracle card on the river. Because in the end, good play will shift the odds in your favor, and luck has nothing to do with that...


            • #7

              Well, it kind of depends. The later we get in a torunament, the more likely I’m gonna stick to this commandment.

              The reason is simple: it’s profitable, especially when one of the limpers is the Small Blind. One or two limpers for my Big Blind, and 6 out of 10 times they both fold. Easy picking up 4 Big Blinds. 3 out of the remaining 4 times, one of them folds. A Cbet on the flop usually is enough to make the other one go away too. And if he calls the bet, it’s time to re-evaluate the hand. Continuing on the turn will depend then on many factors, but overall, I’ll not put more chips in the pot unless I have a good feeling. It wouldn’t be the first time the limpers folds to a second barrel on the turn or a third barrel on the river. And that’s asuming I don’t actually have a hand. The 3x raise (or sometimes even 3.5x) preflop signals to the limpers you have a hand. And at the micro levels, most people don’t think ahead about how you may be trying to steal their limp. So I’m willing to make the raise with the AK suited, but just as easily I’ll do it on the 8,5 off.

              Every time until they start playing back at me. Because like I said – until they start doing that, there’s profit to be had. And the closer we get to the money, especially when we hit the bubble or the one before, the shorter stacks start playing crazier. They edge around the 20 BB stacksize, but don’t mind limping. With a stack like that, limping is the worst you can do. Well, not really – limp-folding is the worst you can do. If you limp in that spot, push the rest all-in ifb the Big blind raises you. Odds are he’s just trying to steal your limp anyway. You shouldn’t be limping in this spot without the willingness to play for your stack anyway.

              Now the question of course is how this strategy work in the long term at higher levels, where players are better, and might be aware of what you’re doing a lot easier. they’ll start playing bavk at you, 3-betting your preflop raise. Then you’ll have to tighten up your raising-range a bit, and I’m not yet at a point where I can speak from experience on the profitability of this play then. that is – assuming people still massively limp a shorthanded table at higher levels. For now – it works.

              Punish the limper!


              • #8

                In poker, we all know two things: some hands you're going to win, and some hands you're going to lose. Sometimes when you lose, it's with a hand that by all accounts should have won. The pocket Aces against the 3,8 offsuit, The pocket Queens against the QJ. It happens. Over the long run, if you play well, you'll be dealing out bad beats like that about as much as they are dealt to you.

                Sometimes, you get several of these beats in a row. And that's where danger lurks. Annoyed, you start loosening up. You start playing hands you shouldn't have, you thus start losing more pots, and it seems like the poker gods struck a deal with the dealer to keep making you loose.

                Guess what - it's not true

                When you've lost a number of chips, a considerable part of your stack, you need to be patient. How often do you see someone lose half his stack or more to a suckout on the river, and the next hand immediately donk all in? It happens, especially playing the lower stakes. Usually when these people are called, they show hands they should never have played to begin with.

                Patience is the key. Now waiting for the better hands does mean you lose chips to the blinds and antes, maybe even get far below your comfort zone, or to a stack that doesn't play very well because it has absolutely no fold equity at all. And you'll bust out. It happens. Most profitable players (far as I know) finish in the money a lot less than 50% of the time. 30%-40% is more realistic. So you still bust out without cashing a lot more than you actually do finish in the money. It's part of the game.

                Earlier today, I played a big pot, and screwed up. For some reason I decided to attempt to steal the blinds from early position with a 5,6 suited. Not a great play, but every now and then it works. But when you get called, you should probably let it go on the flop unless you flop a monster. Flop was a complete blank for me, and I made a c-bet. I got called. I then bet the turn too, and the river. The three barrel bluff works sometimes. But not when the opponent flops top set.... So I was down to 232 chips, a whopping 2.3 BBs, with 15 players left in the tournament. No fold equity whatsoever. Far from the money, as only 5 get paid. At that point I'd pretty much given up on this  tournament. Instead of going all-in the very next hand (9,6 off),  I exercised a wee bit of patience. In the BB, I checked it down, got lucky, and tripled up. Through careful, consitent play playing mostly just the better range hands, I ended up winning the tournament.

                Patience works. Not always, but when you're a short stack, you need to wait for the better hands that at least give you somethying resembling a decent chance to win it. In that case - the 6,7 off (my lucky hand here) is better than the Q,10 suited. If you get called, the odds of your Q or 10 being dominated by a better kicker is far larger, so your chances of having two live cards are best with the 6,7 off. Still, many people advocate not to put it in with hands like 6,7 off. Neither do I - it's a horrible hand. But heck - I was inj the BB, 100 of my 232 chips were already in the middle, and I flop a 7 with one overcard.

                Yup, every now and then, patience works out just fine....


                • #9
                  Poker can be great from time to time. Especially when you're hitting the cards you want to see. Of course that means for someone else, poker sucks at the same time. Earlier I played a tourney, we were in the second level, 7 handed, and the short stack pushes allin for 17 BBs. I'm chip leader at the table for well over 100 BBs and have pocket 10. There's no thinking in this case: you reshove. You really don't want to flat call and then find someone behind you flats as well, or reshoves on you. Opponent flips over KQ, so you're in great shape.

                  So far, you have done well. You made a good play, and now Lady Luck has to work her magic. With a Q on the flop.... So two outs or the short stack doubles. Oh well, it happens, we calculated that into our decision to shove. And then the river is one of your two outs.

                  Two outs basically means you're going to hit once every 20 to 25 hands. It's nice to see that one show up. So for me, my ace on the river was a 10 of clubs. I like the 10 of clubs.

                  My opponent probably doesn't like the 10 of clubs anymore. He'll just have to live with the knowledge that the next 23 times he finds himself allin facing a 2 outer on the river, it's not going to come and he will double up.Poker can be great from time to time. Especially when you're hitting the cards you want to see. Of course that means for someone else, poker sucks at the same time. Earlier I played a tourney, we were in the second level, 7 handed, and the short stack pushes allin for 17 BBs. I'm chip leader at the table for well over 100 BBs and have pocket 10. There's no thinking in this case: you reshove. You really don't want to flat call and then find someone behind you flats as well, or reshoves on you. Opponent flips over KQ, so you're in great shape.

                  So far, you have done well. You made a good play, and now Lady Luck has to work her magic. With a Q on the flop.... So two outs or the short stack doubles. Oh well, it happens, we calculated that into our decision to shove. And then the river is one of your two outs.

                  Two outs basically means you're going to hit once every 20 to 25 hands. It's nice to see that one show up. So for me, my ace on the river was a 10 of clubs. I like the 10 of clubs.

                  My opponent probably doesn't like the 10 of clubs anymore. He'll just have to live with the knowledge that the next 23 times he finds himself allin facing a 2 outer on the river, it's not going to come and he will double up.


                  • #10

                    The past week was not good for me. Somehow I managed to antagonize the poker gods, and they punished me for it. Frustration ensues, followed by mediocre play, and thus loss of funds. It's one of those things you need to get control of. Sure, it's frustrating when you see all your good hands go to waste, but it happens: that's poker.

                    It sucks even more when you see your AA and KK barely be able to pick up the blinds, while others are doubling up left and right with those hands. It's not much fun when you see your AK get beaten every time, whether the other guy holds a pair that holds up, or is vastly dominated and manages to catch his 2-outer or 3-outer on the river, but it happens: that's poker.

                    But today, things took a turn for the better. Not specifically my luck with said hands: I picked up the blinds 3x with AA, and got them cracked by AK who flopped a set of kings. My all-in 99 got called by an 8,6 and the guy turn a 6 and rivered a 6. The AK suited went all-in against a guy holding a 1/10 BB stack with A4 and he hit his 4. But unlike the days before, I tried to put those beats behind me. Sticking to good poker: resisting the temptation to go stealing blinds with the A8 suited from early position, with pain in my heart folding the KQ suited in the cutoff in an unopened pot. Grinding my way down, so that even two stupid moves didn't completely get me felted. And remembering that crucial suckout on the bubble: I just lost a big pot, and thenw as dealt 33. So I shoved with my 8BB stack, and got called by the KK. I flopped myself a set, and I was back in the game. It happens: that's poker.

                    Is this a completely turnaround? I'm not sure. We'll see what happens. For now, I'm just happy I cashed again for a change. Adding a 2nd place to my stats after all those early bustouts of the past week feels good. Now on to another win, that's been too long. But it will happen: that's poker.


                    • #11
                      Wishful thinking is a dangerous thing in poker. Well, not so much dangerous as in life threatening, but definitely dangerous to your bankroll, and expensive. In the recent past, I've seen it as the cause of several of my problems. You get a free flop in the blind with some rags like 6,8 offsuit, and hit a pair of 8 on something like a J 8 2 board. Middle pair, not all bad. And then you start convincing yourself that it's highly unlikely the opponent has a Jack, so you're good. And at the end of the hand, your 6,8 off hits the muck and a nice pots is shoved over to your opponent.

                      The same danger lurks with the suited broadway cards - the QJ, the KJ, but also the middle Aces like A8, A9. I'm developing a playing style now where I tend to just throw them away. Sure, you may hit a big flop every once in awhile, but for me they cost me more money when I lose then they bring in when I do hit. So why bother.

                      The big advantage is that I'm not the only one suffering from this behaviour. So cleaning up my game works two ways: I lose less money, and every penny saved is a penny earned, and I can win more money by hitting harder on these people. Figure out who they are, and keep attacking them. They limp, they have a very loose passive image. This is where the money is. And frankly, I'm looking to actually pay for a Holdem Manager license, so I need to win some more money this month.

                      All wishful thinkers please report to my table...


                      • #12
                        Freerolls generally don't do it for me. The fields are so large, you can only get by if you luck out the first few levels. But hey, it's free, and there's a free ticket available to the Sunday millions. A tournament with a $215 buyin, so worth a shot. Even if there's only 1 ticket available for 25,000 players.

                        So knowing that playing tight gets you nowhere in these things, when I found AK in hand #2 I shoved. Even if you get called, you have decent equity. Especially whenh the one caller holds KJ. So an early double up is mine. The very next hand, I have AK again. The guy UTG shoves, gets called, and I reshove and get called. Well, you have tio gamble in these things. And this is what I meant: the UTG guy shows J8 suited, the caller shows Ak offsuit, and the 4th player in the pot called 3 allins with T4 suited... So both AK split the pot and I tripled up in two hands. Now at least I have a decent playing stack.

                        30 hands later, we hit the first break of the tournament. The 25,000 field is down to 14,500, only 58% left. I'm in spot 2101, and my stack is 4640, which is 78% above the average of 2598. So far so good. Too bad the big stack already has more than 30k....

                        So the first hurdle - surviving the madness at the early stages - has been taken. On to the second hurdle: consolidating my shipstack. I decided to play fewer hands, but the aggression with those hands goes way up. Still far above average, I am looking for another double up. Still I soon find myself down to 4000th place with 11,000 left Guess I was still playing too many hands. Another 40 hands later, my new style seems to be working out as I break the 10k chipmark. At this point I'm playing pretty much any ace and any suited connector preflop, but when I don't hit the flop, I'm getting out of dodgee. Well, until I shove with pocket 9, and get called by A8 off and pocket 6. He fklops a set, and I'm down all the way to the bottom of the field. KJ vs KQ seals the deal at 3,265.

                        Still, I lasted longer than 21,735 others. And I needed to go to bed anyway...


                        • #13
                          Sometimes the dealer is your best friend, sometimes he's your worst enemy. I've already lost count on the number of suckouts the past few days. Unfortunately, by far most of them were on the wrong side. It's one of those times poker isn't as much fun as it can be.

                          It's something you have to deal with. As they say - you're going to lose a lot more tournaments than you're going to win. It sill sucks to go out 1,2,3 before the money so often. So, back to the drawing board, back to evaluating my play. Let's see if we can find a leak in the game somewhere that keeps me from cashing in situations where I feel I should have. Time to learn from your mistakes, because if you don't you're doomed to repeat them.

                          For now, I'm just going to keep grinding at the tables until my next cash. It can't take long. I hope.


                          • #14

                            Poker is a  game of ups and downs. I have had some ups, and last week was again a week filled with downs. Time after time getting your money in with by far the best of it, only the be facing the wrath of the poker gods. Pocket aces may look like the best thing in the world, but after the flop, they are just a single pair. If your opponent with JT flops a flush, you're done. If your opponent with AK flops a flush, the money goes the other way. And if you're in the Big Blind and the other guys at the table give you a walk, you start to wonder what you did to deserve this.

                            Best thing to do is remember the good times. The time you went all-in with AJ only to be faced with an AQ and turned the Jack. Or the time you shoved with a set of fours, only to be caught with set over set, and get the one-outer for quads on the river. Statistically, if you play good poker, the odds should be working in your favor.

                            However, the one thing that will never work in your favor is facing the idiots at the tables. And we all know them. They are the people who call preflop bets with crap like 94 offsuit, call a flop bet with no pair and no draw, and then hit their pair of Fours on the river to beat your AK. Someone once said this, too, should even out in the end. But it doesn't. For the very simple reason that I don't call preflop raises with Nine-Four off, or flop bets with no pair, no draw and only a Nine high for no showdown value at all.

                            And that's the tough patch that every beginning player has to learn to deal with. The idiots will be there at the lower stakes, and they will suck out on you at the worst possible times. But also you have to remember that we love these players. After all - as beginning players we're not very good, and people like this are more than willing to get our bankroll started by donating their chips to us. In the long run, you may not be able to suck out very much with terrible hands, but you will have a positive result against people like this. Because in the long run, statistics will win, and the AA wil be superior to the 94 offsuit...


                            • #15

                              What is it with bad beats? Everyone wants to tell them, everyone wants to have others feel for their misfortune. And mostly - people don't really want to hear too much about them.

                              So let me tell you one - early in a 27 man Sit-n-Go, I have pocket sixes, and a nice flop. It has a six. On the flop, I check, the preflop raiser bets, I re-raise, he 3-bets, I shove, he calls. He shows pocket aces. Yeehaw. I'll give you one guess what the river card was. Don't know? Here's a hint: Barry Greenstein.

                              So, what do you do? Basically, you say "Well, I played it right, nothing I could do." Then you close the window, and sign up for another SnG and hope you do better. Such is life, such is poker....



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