Thursday, July 28, 2005


Right when all these cool new poker programs come out, I've decided to play something other than poker.

In case you don't know, I've heard great things about PokerAce HUD, which apparently works very similar to and Gametime+. The advantages of PokerAce HUD are that it's free, and it will graphically show you mucked cards at showdown on the screen! The disadvantage is that it only works on the Party skins so far.

Meanwhile, PokerTracker is being updated regularly, and it now uses PostgreSQL databases (instead of Access) if you want to give it a try (check out the PokerTracker forums for details). I don't know what PostgreSQL is exactly, but it's supposedly a lot faster.

Gametime+ also has a version that's compatible with PostgreSQL.

But despite all this great stuff, I've gone to the dark side of the force.

Casino gambling. Blackjack. Negative EV.

These are supposed to be the games for suckers, the games where the house wins. These are supposed to be games that only losers play who can't control their gambling impulses so they hope to get lucky in the short term, knowing that over time, their luck cannot possibly hold because the house almost always wins in the end.

But wait! There's a lot of free money out there! Free money? Yes, free money! Casinos are happy to hand out bonus money that make blackjack +EV if you follow the rules.

Here are the rules:

1) Follow the blackjack strategy chart religiously.

2) Cash out as soon as you clear the bonus.

3) Understand that you should only play a game when you think you have an edge, and in blackjack, you only have an edge if you're getting a bonus that's significantly more than the expected variance during the workthru period.

Obviously, I'm a novice at all this. For a much better guide on how to casino whore, go to this post from Sound of a Suckout, which is a great poker blog anyway.

Free money!

Monday, July 25, 2005

Photos from Vegas

At long last ... pictures!

Sorry about the crappy quality of some of them. They were all taken with camera phones. Most of them are mine, but some were taken by Drew.

Dan Harrington playing in the World Series of Poker at the Rio

Scotty Nguyen

Drew and Mike Caro at Doyle Brunson's WSOP party

Me, Drew, Matt and Nick at a table at the Rio during the WSOP

View of the WSOP action at the Rio


Todd Brunson

Me playing drunken 2/4 limit at the Sahara

Kathy Liebert

Drew only plays slots if it's a really big slot machine

Friday, July 22, 2005

Poker Sins

Here are a few things that I've done recently that are guaranteed to hurt your bankroll:

_Playing poker right after you wake up. I did this when I woke up this morning, and then again after a took a nap. Terrible results both times. I wish I would learn my lesson...

_Making decisions too quickly.

_Failing to stop playing after you realize you're game isn't at its best.

_Getting sucked out on. I'm still trying to figure out how to make sure flush cards only come when I need them, and not when my opponents need them. I'm working on it!


Also, there's a new bonus at Poker Stars. It's a 20 percent bonus up to $120. You need to deposit $600 to get the maximum bonus amount. I like Poker Stars, but I feel like I was so used to playing at the Party sites that I made some mistakes. I wasn't used to the faster speed of the games or having to wait for specific tables.

That reminds me of another item for the list above: Don't experiment with your game when changing poker sites. I was trying to be more aggressive in some situations, and I was also trying new things in terms of blind defense. But I think the several things foiled me: not being accustomed to the software and not having any PokerTracker data on the Poker Stars players.

Here's the obvious point I'm trying to make:

Don't play stupid. There are a lot of common-sense solutions to poker problems. Just think about things before making careless decisions. I've gotten pretty good at this, but sometimes I have days like today where I completely slip up and forget everything I've learned.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Game Selection

I'm not sure if this is the right way to handle game selection, but this is the way I do it:

I select a table and join it if there are fewer than two tight-aggressive players. I try to sit with the fish at my right. I want the table to have voluntarily put money into the pot more than 30 percent of the time on average. I want the table's preflop aggression factor to be less than 10 percent. If there are two fish to my right, I will stay at a table even if its averages dip below my ideals. But if the players to my right seem solid and the table seems OK, I may leave anyway.

Sound good?

I'm trying to be very picky about which tables I will sit at and who I will play against. My reasoning is that so much of the money in limit poker comes from the people who have no idea what they're doing. Because most players at least have some clue, they won't give away as much money as the real fish. Therefore, I should concentrate on finding the easy money.

It's been working well so far.

The most interesting part of the game selection experiment is that I give more importance to the stats of the players to my right at the table than I do to the table averages. Mike Caro was saying in "Super System 2" that most of your money comes from the players to your right, and I'm testing that theory.

I figure if I can either isolate the players to my right or try to play pots that they're involved in, then they are practically dead money. I'll have position on them almost every time. And that's a huge advantage.

Anyone else have different game selection criteria? I know it may be tougher to find games this loose and passive at higher limits because it's hard enough at 3/6.

Speaking of which ...

Is it just me, or are the limit games even tighter now than they were three months ago? I know a series of posts appears on the 2+2 Forums every now and then about how fewer people are voluntarily putting their money into the pot, but I haven't seen one in a while.

I think it must be true that the games are tightening a little bit all the time. Fortunately for all of us, they still have a long way to go before these games are unplayable. Seriously, the Party Poker player pool is now reaching over 80,000 on most nights. That's a lot of fish.


I know I said I would post photos here from Vegas, but I realized I don't have e-mail enabled on my cell phone, so I can't send the photos from there to the computer. I'm thinking about sucking it up and paying the money for Internet access from my phone, but then again, I'm trying to be cheap now that I don't have a job. I'll have to think about it.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Back in the Game

Well, I never really left. But I've been taking my time since moving back to Atlanta, and that included short poker hours and no blogging.

So I'll try to hit the high points of the last two weeks ... starting with Vegas!

The single-best part of the trip was playing drunken $2/4 limit poker at the Sahara. I had dropped about $300 a few minutes before at the Flamingo, and I wanted to let loose for the first time in the long time. So I followed the advice of this classic post and decided to gamble!

I straddled every time. I put a guy on tilt by winning with 10-4 offsuit. I had a steady stream of alcohol. I won hands I shouldn't have. Any time I thought I was playing too tight, I raised. I tried to play any hand that I could think of a nickname for. It wasn't quite profitable, but I didn't lose too much money, and I had a great time at that table.

Other highlights: sitting at a no limit table with Shirley Williams (the mother of 2004 WSOP runner-up David Williams), winning a tricky no limit game at Binion's and visiting the Rio while the World Series was going on.

My friends and I got invited to a party hosted by, which is Doyle Brunson's poker site. I've never played there, but I wouldn't miss an opportunity to go to a poker party with free drinks! It was weird, like something out of the dot-com boom of the late 90s. There were go-go dancers and hot California girls. I got to see Scotty Nguyen, Mike Caro, Todd Brunson, Mike Sexton, Vince Van Patton, Kathy Liebert, Daniel Negreanu and more.

Here's a quick rundown of some other site news:

_ I've decided to not change the name of this blog, even though I don't live in Chile anymore. I like the name, and it would just be a pain to change it up. If you got a problem with that, we can settle it at a heads-up table. Bring it.

_ I started playing 3/6 limit poker again on Sunday, with some success. Each time I return to limit, I do better than the last. I prefer limit poker because I find it to be more interesting than no limit because post-flop play is more important. The only reason I haven't been playing limit over the last couple of months is that I wanted to keep to the "safe" money at $100 buy in no limit ring games. But now I think my risk is only slightly more at 3/6, rakeback is higher from limit games, and the reward is potentially much greater. Go limit!

_ My poker friend from Santiago just started his own poker blog. Check out his blog, The Poker Pilot.

_ I just finished reading Jennifer Harmon's limit section from "Super System II." She does a good job of offering insight into the game and reinforcing the major limit concepts. She doesn't give much new information, but her recommendations are useful because she talks about thinking on the game, reading hands and varying your play based on the exact situation.

_ I have photos from Brunson's WSOP party, which I will post on this site soon if the resolution is good enough.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Memories from the tables

Man, Tunica was so awesome.

It's hard to compare it to other gambling towns I've been to because it had been so long since I last travelled to one of them. But I can say this for certain: Tunica has got to be one of the fishiest places to play low-limit poker.

I finished the three-day weekend with a $257 profit, which isn't bad considering that I felt like the cards were running cold for me most of the time.

My last night there, I found myself at a real juicy 4/8 table at the Horseshoe (which has a beautiful new poker room -- the best in town). I couldn't seem to catch any cards at all, and I only won five hands in my first six hours of that session.

Normally, I would have stopped after a couple of hours and accepted the loss. The fish would still be there when I get back, and it's less likely that I'd go on tilt. Also, it seems that the cards are more likely to start running hot after taking a break, even though that's statistically invalid.

But this was my last night in Tunica, and I wanted to prove to myself that I could beat these fish even without any good cards. I just needed to be patient.

So I waited. And waited. The good cards wouldn't come, and I was being slowly blinded away. When I finally started to get good hands, I was rivered repeatedly. That can be expensive. But finally, I played A8 of spades out of early position (which is OK in a game that loose and passive). I caught an 8 on the flop and another on the turn, and this gray hair paid me off. He said he couldn't imagine what kind of hand I would play that would have an 8, and I wasn't sad to show him. He was surprised given my tight table image. I was playing as loose as I could, but that was still tighter than anyone else.

Shortly afterward, a tricky but bad player tried to bluff me out of a pot in which I had top pair of tens from a starting hand of KT. He had successfully bluffed me a couple of times throughout the night, and this time I called him down. He showed second pair of nines. The last hand to put me back in the black was big slick that turned into a boat.

Score! After 8.5 hours, it was time to go to sleep at 9:15 a.m. I recorded a $22 profit at that table, which was more like a moral victory than a monetary one. Meanwhile, my friend Hal accumulated $700 in profits at his 4/8 table, which was fun to see. He had about a zillion white chips in front of him.

Now, on to some quick thoughts from the trip...

_ Live games are great for building confidence in limit because it proves that my game is strong, at least against bad players.

_ I want to make a few hundred more dollars at $100 buy-in no limit online, and then I want to return to limit poker. I plan on buying a digital timer with an alarm that goes off after 2 hours of play. That way, I could stop before I lose my concentration.

_ I need to learn how to bluff more effectively in limit games. I rarely did so on this trip because most of the players were calling stations. But it could be wildly profitable if it's successful even a small percentage of the time.

_ I wonder if there's a way to pinpoint someone's bluffing tendencies from Poker Tracker?

_ I'm fascinated by the concept of pot equity, and I plan on studying it in depth.

_ The comps in Tunica are awesome. Most of the casinos give you full credit for a huge meal after only two hours of play.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

The Ultimate Freeroll

Chile turned out to be a nine-month freeroll where I placed in the money no matter what I did.

I went there with a few thousand in savings and a $1,500 bankroll. I returned with nothing in savings but about $8,000 in total profits. In effect, I got to live in Chile, I got experience working at The Santiago Times, quit my previous job, had a lot of fun, learned a new language, improved my poker skills and returned to the States with about as much money as I left with.

I win. I wouldn't trade it for anything.

Now, back to my continuing dream life in Tunica...

Friday was the first poker marathon day I've had in a long, long time. I started at about 7:30 a.m. at the 3/6 table at the Gold Strike. This guy named the Kid was playing at the table, and he was the only other aggressive player, but that doesn't mean he was any good. He was certainly entertaining though. This other guy with tattoos got kicked out of the poker room for refusing to place his bet after saying "call," but he was back later.

Then I moved on to a $30 freeze out tournament at Sam's Town, where I lasted about an hour and a half before busting out when I went all-in with KQs and ran into J3s. My opponent hit a flush on the turn.

From there, it was back to the Strike. The rest of the crew arrived in town shortly afterward, and I played some 1/2 no limit at the Hollywood. Then back to Sam's Town, and finally a return home to the Strike, where I tried some 5/10.

Up until then, I had posted winning at every single table I had sat at. I was pretty proud of that accomplishment. But then Daniel told me that I should come back to 3/6 because it was so fishy.

It was fishy, but I couldn't take advantage of it and posted my first loss. I should have known it wouldn't go well as soon as the dealer mistakenly awarded me the pot and then took it away to give it to the correct winner. It was a bad omen.

For the next four hours, I won three hands. Two of those three hands I won after straddling -- "Gamboool!" One of those hands was a 92o, which I bluffed hard and won for my first victory at that table.

The next straddle I got an 85o that I raised preflop heads-up because my opponent was so weak that I thought I could make her fold like I did the last time I straddled. The flop came a beautiful 467 for a straight, and she called me down the whole way. My only other win there was pocket 2s that turned into a boat.

Today I want to hit the tables hard again and play some 4/8. I'm perfectly capable of playing higher limits, but I simply don't want to risk much of this money that I'll be living off of for the next few months. If today is anything like the last two, I can't lose!


The night before last was my first night back in the States. I thought I would sleep soundly because I was pretty tired after 23 hours of traveling, but I was wrong.

I had a dream where I saw my friend Steve from Santiago as he continues his life back here in the U.S.A. His brother was there too, even though I've never met him.

Then I was walking down the street I grew up on, carrying my green backpack around my shoulder and my poker laptop in my hand. Suddenly, a robber tried to grab my backpack, but it was hooked around my right shoulder, and I wouldn't let go. I chased after the would-be robber, but it turned out I had bigger problems. The robber had been working with an airplane and had tied a super-strong string from my backpack to an airplane.

I didn't let go of the backpack in time and was suddenly flying over my old neighborhood in Atlanta. I was trying to decide whether to let go of the poker laptop, drop the backpack, fall to the ground or climb the rope. All the while, the plane was lifting my higher and higher off the ground.

Then I woke up.

Friday, July 01, 2005

A Trip

Where the hell am I?

Tunica, Miss., that's where. Nothing ... like ... Santiago.

I went from winter to summer. I traveled from 5 p.m. on Wednesday until 4 p.m. on Thursday, when I finally arrived at the Gold Strike. I dropped my bags off at the hotel room and headed straight to the poker room.

So there I was, on little rest, still accidentally speaking in Spanish sometimes. I sat at a 3/6 table with something I haven't seen in a long time -- a group of Southern folk missing teeth, with Southern accents, playing live poker.

I had been away too long. I had forgotten how passive live games can be.

It wasn't long before I got my favorite hand of the trip so far. It was 54 suited from the small blind. I flopped bottom pair and a flush draw, and then I check-raised the field. The flush came on the turn, which I bet out and got several callers. I bet the river and got raised by the button, but I reraised and showed down the unpredictable flush. Nice pot.

I've been here for only one night so far, but I've won money at every table I've sat at. It's so passive compared to any online game you could find.

At 11 a.m., I'll head over to Sam's Town for a $30 buy-in freeze-out no limit tourney. The field will be about 75 players, and I plan to make the money!

My friend Daniel has some good posts on the trip so far.