Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Picking Up Dead Money

Unless you are a luckbox or cardrack like Jamie Gold in the 2006 WSOP Main Event, you'll rarely win a tourney without picking up lots of uncontested pots. The key is spotting the right opportunity and using selective aggession to make the correct play. To my knowledge, I've never seen an article that summarizes all of the different opportunities where you can pick up dead money, so I think I have some original content here based on my playing experience and study of the game.

Picking Up Dead Money:

1) The Continuation Bet. If you raise preflop and it checks to you on the flop, continue to take the lead by betting. This is best used in position against weak opponents on uncoordinated boards like Q72 rainbow. If the board is scary, like 987 with two suited cards, you may elect to do a delayed continuation bet (assuming you missed of course) by checking the flop and then betting the turn if your opponent doesn't show any strength.

2) The "First In" Bluff. This is simply being the first player to bet in a multi-way pot. If you are the first to bet when everybody has missed the flop, you are likely to take it down right there. Like the above, it's best to try this on uncoordinated flops so that nobody can/will call with a draw. Also, make certain that one of your opponents is not a calling station or you will bleed chips. Gus Hansen makes this move a lot.

3) The "No Interest" Bluff. A postflop bet made in a multi-way pot, it typically comes on the turn after the flop is checked around. Example: you are in SB with two cards and nobody bets the J63 flop. The turn is another 3 and you lead out with a bet. Your opponents probably don't have much here and they may think that you hit trips or were looking to check raise a jack on the flop.

4) The Standard Steal. If the preflop action folds to you in late position or SB, raise. If you are in BB and it folds to SB who limps, raise. This is best done with a tight image and a decent stack size against weak opponents with smallish and medium stacks. Big stacks rarely fold to a steal (especially in position) so save your chips.

5) The Re-steal. A slightly more advanced move where you come over the top of a suspected steal attempt with a big raise. Again, it's best to do this with a tight image and a stack size larger than your opponent's to put maximum pressure on him/her.

6) The Stop & Go. This is basically a post-flop re-steal when out of position by calling a suspected preflop steal attempt and then jamming the flop. Example: the button makes a suspected steal, SB folds, you call in BB and then jam the flop forcing your opponent to have a good hand. Once again, it's important to have a tight image and a decent stack of chips when attempting this move.

7) The Squeeze Play. An advanced move that basically goes like this: a player makes a small preflop raise, one or more players call and then you make a gigantic raise. The first raiser has to respect your re-raise and once you get past the initial raiser, the others are likely to fold their medium strength hands. This play obviously won't work if the initial raiser has AA or KK, but most of the time he/she won't have the rockets or cowboys, especially if they are loose preflop. Make sure you have a healthy stack before making this move and raise at least the pot if not all-in.

8) The Secret Move. This bluff is so good that I've only been called on it about 10% of the time. I'm shocked that this move is not written about in any textbooks (that I know of anyway) and I rarely see it utilized by even the best, most experienced players. And you think I'm going to tell you what it is? BAHAHAHAHA!

Monday, September 25, 2006

A New Adventure Into No-Limit Omaha 8/b

I’ve found a new princess, no-limit Omaha 8/b at PokerStars. Dave has been blogging about the sweetness of these games for a long time, but I didn’t feel comfortable with my knowledge of O8 until just recently. I used to get a little confused with the whole counterfeiting issue but have a firm grasp on that concept now. It’s certainly one of the more complex poker games which means the skilled players have a larger advantage (EV) over an average field. Also, I like the lower variance of the game compared with PLO where there is rarely a split pot (this is a philosophical change of mine given recent ass beatings). In short, it’s easier for a fish to get lucky and scoop you in PLO versus PLO8 or NLO8. At least that’s my impression at the moment. I’ve lost my stack countless times with AAxx in PLO but it’s hard to get stacked with AA2x in NLO8.

Like all games, starting hand selection is extremely important. If you’re new to the game, take a look at this starting hand guide. Play hands that have the opportunity to scoop (win high AND low). Suited aces, pairs and low connecting features are very valuable when packaged together correctly. A hand like A234 is garbage in PLO (rarely makes the nuts) but strong in O8. AA23 double-suited is the best starting hand in O8.

Post flop, think about high first. If you don’t have a good high hand or draw, it’s usually correct to muck to a bet even if you have the nut low since you’ll only get 50% of the pot at best. The one time you might keep your hand in this spot is if you’re playing a large multi-way pot in LO8, but even then there may be another nut low out and you’ll only get 25% of the pot. I witnessed this mistake many times over the weekend at the $100 tables. Example: on a board of A67 rainbow, a good aggressive player bet the pot and a poor player called. The turn was a T and put 2 diamonds on the board; the good player moved all-in and his opponent quickly called with 23KJ (nut low but just a gutshot straight draw and no flush draw for high). His 4 outs to the gutshot didn’t get there and he lost 75% of his stack to 7723. Don’t play low without a strong high, especially for a large stack!

Monday, September 18, 2006

Poker and NFL Musings

The dirty whore continues to treat me poorly!

When you have a pair of aces, nut flush draw and open-ended straight draw in PLO, you don’t expect to lose all your tourney chips to second-nut flush draw and a gutshot, but alas I found a way in the Stars re-buy.

Paradise Poker entered me in a $10K freeroll on Saturday with 350 donkeys, and of those only about half showed up. One of the funniest things I witness in online poker is when a player doesn’t realize that his opponent is sitting out, limps in, then checks it down and loses! HA! HA! HA! That is the ultimate in wimpy play! How ignorant can you be?! I stole time and time again, but the most annoying thing continued happening. Every time I won a pot, the software would crash and I’d have to log back in! Yes, every goddamn time! I nearly quite except I wanted to make a couple thousand and since Paradise has the worst players on the planet, I liked my chances even though I’ve been running ice cold for a couple months. Unfortunately, I jammed on the button with A5o and the BB called with QTo and hit a runner-runner straight near the bubble. Fuck you dirty whore!

At least my NFL picks are paying. I took the Eagles (-5) last week against the pathetic Texans, and the Chiefs (+10.5) and unders (38) this week. Chiefs/Broncos games are almost always close and I knew Herm would give LJ the rock 25+ times and try to keep the score low. In addition, the Chiefs defense is vastly improved beyond consensus and Plummer is inconsistent and over-rated. Plus, right now Plummer’s head is in a fog because he’s worried about Cutler stealing his job.

A QB to watch out for in your fantasy keeper league is Oakland’s 6’6” 230 lb Andrew Walter. The guy replaced Brooks and looked very cool despite facing a tough Ravens defense and it being his first real NFL action. He threw some picks, but he looked 100 times better than Brooks ever has. This QB of the future should be the QB of the present.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Clutching The Junk

Was it just me or were the football games very boring today? I even lost interest in my Chiefs after Trent Green got crushed in the head as he was sliding to the ground. When Roaf retired, I figured we would lose Green, I just didn't think it would be THIS soon!

Bored with the games, I fired up the dirty whore and she got back to doing what she does best - busting my balls. Check out this big 3/6 LHE hand where it's gets capped 5 ways preflop. I flop a set of kings (84% equity) and this moron to my left who called a raise with 97s (and then had to put in 2 more small bets) hits a gutshot on the turn. I don't hit my redraw on the river and once again I lose to a donk. Very, very frustrating! I haven't scooped a big pot in weeks.

So, once again pissed-off at ring games, I fire up some SnG's. I get KK early and get it all-in preflop against AK and TT! The flop is nice but a T on the turn busts my balls.

I don't play that many hands early in tourney's and in ring games - I'm pretty much a nutpeddler unless I have a strong draw, but that doesn't stop mother variance from kicking the shit out of me. The long-term in poker is hundreds of thousands of hands if not millions. I'm not sure I'll ever get there the way it's going.

Hypocrisy Exposed

ESPN's 'Outside The Lines' had an excellent segment on Internet Gambling this morning. It's certainly worth checking out and if I can find a video link, I'll post it here. There was a sports handicapper on the program that did a great job of exposing the hypocrisy of H.R. 4411, the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act that just passed the U.S. House of Representatives by a 317-93 margin.

In response to the legislation passing, and the Poker Players Alliance will be co-sponsoring the Phone March on Washington to Tuesday, September 12, 2006 from 9:00am ET until 5:30pm ET. Everyone is encouraged to call 800-289-1136, which will connect you to your Senators' offices. Tell them that you oppose any legislation that would prohibit online poker, that prohibition doesn't work, and that it should be regulated and taxed.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Lady Luck Loves My Opponents

Well, I returned the call of the dirty whore last night and as feared she had her radar set squarely on my package. I played ring games for about 4 hours and never won a showdown, not one.

I started playing 3/6 LHE at Stars and found myself completely card dead for 30 minutes. Then, I picked up red nines on the button and raised a limper. BB called, the limper called and the flop came KhQhTh. The SB led out and the limper called. I thought, "Great, even if I hit the straight flush I'll lose!" So after an hour of hitting nothing I moved to the PLO $100 tables. Within a couple orbits I flopped the nut straight with an open-ended straight flush draw on a 7d8c9d board! Two people bet into me and I raised the pot. To my surprise, the villan to my left also jammed the pot and BB called! I was up against 9TJx with no re-draw and 99xx. The river paired of course and I got stacked.

I re-loaded since the table was juicy and soon hit a set of aces on an A96 rainbow board! We got all-in on the flop and he rivered a straight with 78Tx. Then, I go card dead for what seems like an eternity before I finally picked up a hand, double-suited kings. I flopped a set but a calling station called a pot bet on the flop with nothing but a gutshot and hit it on the turn. Did the Q really have to come on the turn there?! Guess so. The dirty whore has a lot of making up to do.

Friday, September 08, 2006

My Love/Hate Relationship With Poker

She’s a dirty whore, but I just keep going back for more. I think I’m having fun during the act, but after I’m finished I think, "why the fuck did I do that?!" Actually, that’s not completely true. I haven’t seen her in quite a few days and her temptation is starting to fade. The problem is she’s just not treating me right and her kicks to my junk are really starting to bite! How can I possibly keep letting her play with my head morning, noon, and night!

So, lately I’ve been ignoring the calls from the dirty whore and instead hanging out with my good buddies Mr. Fantasy Football and Sir Mansion Sports Bet Freeroll. Mr. Fantasy, unlike the dirty whore, has treated me like a king for the last two years and Mansion was nice enough to line my pockets with several Franklins on Thursday night via Steelers victory. Unfortunately, Mansion rarely comes around and Mr. Fantasy is only a temporary distraction from my degenerate, money-making needs. As a result, I’ll likely return the calls of the dirty whore, maybe even as soon as tonight. If I do, hopefully we can start to mend our rocky relationship and I won’t wake up in the morning with a sore, sore package. Wish me luck.