Thursday, September 27, 2007
As the self-proclaimed Devil's Advocate of Poker Bloggers, I can't help but sometimes question some of the ideas of my fellow bloggers. One of the most prolific, intelligent and thoughtful bloggers around, Hoyazo, started a series of posts last week about playing top pair, middle kicker in an all suited flop out of position. His opinions are always enlightening, even if I don't agree with a particular point. Basically, as poker players, we should all be students of humanity at large. Even if Hoy and I would play the same hand in different ways, its worth it to me to learn how he or anyone else would analyze the hand. This isn't even just for later use against Hoy. Rather, its a way to open my mind up to the various ways people analyze poker.
But this is all a preamble to say that, now a week or so from first posting, I still can't get that hand out of my head. Simply put, Hoy decided to bet out once the flop came, and by the river eventually got his sole competitor (others folded earlier in the hand, post-flop) to fold. While the results were nice, I have personally seen this very situation occur a few times in live games, online and hand histories over the last week, and I just cannot agree with Hoy's decision to bet post-flop. Rather than just talk loosely, though, let's walk through the hand, so that I can explain why I think Hoy's play in this particular hand was flawed, even if it was profitable.
Let's set the scene: We are in a large field tournament on FT, with a $26 buyin. We are still in the early rounds, with blinds of 15/30 and a 1500 starting stack. We get K9h in the BB. UTG, UTG+1 and UTG+2 all limp. The SB limps, and we check.
So far, so good. I don't see a need to raise out of position, but an argument can be made that, with a pot of 150, a raise might be able to take down the pot, since all of the other players merely limped. Still, its early in the tournament, and if we hit a major hand, like a flush, straight, or two pair, we want a lot of players in the hand so someone will pay us off.
After we check preflop, the flop comes down KT6, all spades. Frankly, right here, I give up on the hand, unless I can see the rest of the cards for free. I say this because K9 of hearts on a King-high board with all spades, in a tournament, is a great hand to go broke on. You can easily face a made flush, KT two pair, a superior King like KJ, KQ, or less likely AK, or a flush draw that won't let go of their hand.
Generally, when you bet, you want to have a reason. That's logical enough. In this situation, betting can only be justified in a few ways: (a) force everyone out and win the pot immediately, (b) force most players to fold, thereby creating a HU situation that can be more manageable, (c) keep players in and build the pot, or (d) to get information to determine if you are ahead. Those are the possible reasons, but if you go through them, you'll notice that you cannot succeed in any of these goals without risking a lot for very little.
If your goal is (a) force everyone out and win the pot, you are going to have a hard time at it. First off, no flopped flushes will fold, so you run the risk of betting into a superior hand that you cannot beat without going runner runner full-house. You may be able to succeed in knocking out superior Kings, like KJ, if they fear the flush. You will probably have problems pushing out anyone with an Ace or Queen or even Jack of spades without betting a significant amount, more than pot, since there are a bunch of donkeys that like to draw to a flush in the early-goings of large field touraments. So, basically, you need to raise a high amount to push out all hands that you beat easily, all hands that have a better King, and hopefully any flush draws. But you will be called by dominating hands, and you'll likely be called by hands that can easily draw out on you. My point is, why do all this for a mere 150 pot, of which you only contributed 30.
If your goal is (b) force most players to fold, thereby creating a HU situation that can be more manageable, I commend you. This is the only time I think it is acceptable to bet out. However, I still don't think its advisable. The other guy is likely going to just call you if he has a strong flush because he wants to encourage you to keep betting into him on the turn. If he has a weaker hand like KJ (which still has you beat) and he thinks you are on a flush draw, he might call too, waiting to see what happens on the turn. If he has a flush draw with a monster card like Ace of spades, he's going to call only so he can see the turn for cheap. So, you might be HU, but you have no idea what your opponent has and you'll be acting out of position the rest of the time. If the next card is a spade and you check, the other guy can bet out no matter what he has. If it isn't a spade and you check...well, same thing. The only time you'll get info is if your opponent has two-pair, a baby flush, or a set, in which case he might raise to push out drawing hands. But at that point, you are behind, so all you learn is that your flop bet was a bad move.
If you want to (c) keep players in and build the pot, or want to (d) get information to determine if you are ahead, a small bet will work. But you fall into the same problem as (b). You'll never know what you are facing and you'll be out of position, unless your opponent re-raises, in which case you have to fold and you've lost that extra bet.
For these reasons, I'd check on the flop and be ready to fold. Without position, its hard to tell where your top pair is, and you run the risk of creating a situation where you are betting into a superior hand the entire way.
I have to admit that I like Hoy's move here, even if it wouldn't be my move. He opts to check-call. After checking, UTG+2 bet 90 into the 150 pot, and Hoy and UTG+1 were the only caller. This isn't a bad play, since its still cheap (90), and we might be able to make a play depending on the next card. However, we are still out of position, and we don't know if UTG+2 is betting for value or semi-bluffing or bluffing altogether, or if UTG+1 is drawing or is slowplaying.
The turn is an offsuit 7, and Hoy opts to bet 390, just under the 420 pot. His reasoning is logical. The non-suited card followed by a bet by Hoy will scare out the players drawing to a flush. The pot-sized bet also gives them terrible odds if they are foolish enough to call. But this still isn't the optimal play to me, mostly because it ignores the possibility that someone has already flopped the flush, a set, has a strong King like KQ or AK, or has two-pair (KT). In those instances, Hoy is likely to face a flat call (from the flush) or an uncallable raise from the set or two-pair. He might be able to push out any superior Kings, but that's the only hands he is behind who will fold right here.
As it were UTG+1 folded and UTG+2 called. Even though Hoy has a caller, he's essentially flying blind. If the river has a spade, should he check/fold? Probably. So, that's a bad scenario, that'll happen more than 20% of the time. Essentially, Hoy loses to any spade, regardless of his opponents' cards. His total losses, assuming he folds to a river bet if a spade hits, will be over 500, which is more than a 1/3 of his stack...on a hand like K9h...out of position. That's just too much to lose on a marginal hand and a marginal flop.
But what if the river is not a spade. That's what happened. The river was an offsuit 3. He basically puts his opponent all-in for 460, and his opponent folds. Congrats to Hoy, who may have had more info than I had when retelling it here, but that river bet was dangerous.
The size of the bet isn't going to vary much, since our opponent's stack is less than 50% of the pot. Instead, we need to consider what our opponent will do given the range of hands he may have. The range, as I've mentioned, has not narrowed a bit. He could have a flush (89s), or he could have nothing, drawing to a flush (As2c). If he has the flush, he is calling, and we are just handing him our money the entire hand as we bet our top pair into his flush. If he is behind, he is going to fold, in which case...why bet?
Instead, I'd check here. If you sincerely believe that he is behind, you'll want him to bet out, in which case you'll get the rest of his stack. If you think you are behind, check-folding is not the worst idea in the world. After all, I don't think you should've been playing this hand in the first place.
If this teaches you anything, it should teach you the importance of position. If you were in position the whole way, the analysis changes because you could see how your opponents reacted. Instead, we are acting first, and are left in the dark.
This, by the way, is not a knock on Hoy or his game. I admire Hoy's abilities and success at poker. This is only a commentary on a particular situation, with reference to Hoy's posts, which were so damn informative that I'm thinking about them a week later.
Until next time, make mine poker!
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Work has really upped the stress lately. Yesterday, I went with the Big Bossman to New Jersey to check out the scene of an accident involving a hydraulic compactor and a blinded man. Before we headed to NJ, we met with a client to discuss a possible case involving a machine press and an amputated finger. This required me to come to the office extra early. During our drive to NJ, we also fielded calls from a woman assaulted in a building vestibule and another case involving a kitchen appliance and serious burns. I came in early today to meet the burn victim. All the while, I'm balancing my other cases and trying to get numerous documents out to Court. I've already set a Saturday date with the office, and until then, I'll be working my poor fingers off trying to get everything else done.
But onto the poker.
I returned to the Wall Street Game last night with the hopes of catapulting myself back to first place in the leaderboard rankings. If I could take first, I'd win 1/2 of the season's accumulated prize pool, approximately $600 taken in $2 increments from each player during the season's single table tournaments.
Upon arrival, Alceste informed me that I'd need to take 1st place in both tournaments in order to win 1st place overall. He was kind enough to offer me his seat in the second game if I won the first one, since I was late in my RSVP and got locked out of the 9:15 tournament.
By the time the 7pm tournament got underway, there were only 8 players present. Those 8 players included everyone's favorite female initials, LJ and CK, along with a couple of other random players. One guy looked familiar. I later placed him as someone I'd seen at Nice Look Poker Club a few times.
The first game went amazingly well. I didn't get any monster hands, but read the table like a champ. I made calldowns with an AKQ on the board with 99 when my opponent bet preflop and checked until a pot-sized river bet. He actually had 55. I made another calldown with 44 when my opponent made a bluffing play at another scary board. Like my HUC5 Round 2, I decided that this game really mattered, so I was using everything at my disposal. By the time we got to 5-handed, and then 3-handed, ITM, I was a commanding chip leader. I took out CK in 3rd, and then found myself HU with the host, Jamie. I probably had him outchipped 10-to-1. He immediately offered a chop if I gave him an extra $10 over 2nd place. "DONE!" I replied. I didn't even think about the math. I wanted 1st place points, and I was cool with whatever Jamie worked out, mathematically. After all, he puts so much effort into these games, and I benefit so much from his hard work, both financially from poker and socially, since his games are always a great time with new people and its conveniently close to home.
After the first game, we waited for some additional players to join us for tourney two. In the meanwhile, we ate the two pizzas we ordered from a nearby place. I also went outside with CK for a cigarette, mostly to keep her company and get a breath of fresh air.
When we returned upstairs, pretty much everyone was there. I, being the addict I am, started to stack chips to encourage the game to start. In no time, we were all getting seated. Steve, a decent player, was actually in great place to win the leaderboard. If he placed 4th or higher, he had the season locked down, regardless of if I won 1st or not. Before the cards were dealt, I announced the bounty. $10 for whoever knocked out Steve...before 4th place...if I'm still in the tournament. People bitched about how I kept adding qualifiers, but I had a goal in mind, damnit!
Once the game started, I could feel the difference. I was still card dead, but I had no opportunities to make moves because of the aggressive table. More accurately, about 1/3 of the table was uber aggressive, 1/3 was fairly aggressive, and 1/3 were super tight. Steve was in the super tight group, and by the time we were down to 7 players (from 11), I had less than 10x the BB. I decided that I had to go for broke, since Steve was clearly not going out anytime soon unless he had KK preflop against AA. I pushed all-in about 4 times in a row. I took down the pots, added to my stack and hoped for more good fortune and timing. Eventually, I got all-in AK vs. Darko's KQ. He hit his Queen and I lost most of my stack (I had him covered). In a few more hands, I lost the rest of my stack in a very unexciting moment.
As soon as I lost, I stood up and said, "This game is stupid." I then followed up with, "And you know what, I saved $10, SUCKAS! No bounty for you." On my way out, I wished Decent Steve good luck. Among the Wall Street crowd, he's one of the friendliest guys, and I was glad to hear this morning that he won the 2nd tournament and the entire season. Congrats to him.
Not much else going on over here. I'll continue to bust my hump and hopefully find some time for some serious in depth analysis. Keep an eye out for an article by PokerPeaker at Pokerworks regarding poker blogs. I answered some questions for him in an interview style format, so I'm interested in seeing the final product.
Until next time, make mine poker!
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
I played some online poker last night. No, I swear, its true.
Lately, my game of choice has been Heads Up matches. Any heads up matches. I generally sign on to one of four sites, look for open rooms with one player sitting already, from $5 to $20 buyins, in any NL or PL game, consisting primarily of (in order) Hold'em, Omaha, and Omaha 8 or Better.
For a quick game of poker, I don't think there is a better option than Heads Up SNGs. By the time you are done, you are either a winner or loser, with no in-between. If you have difficulty knowing when to get up from a cash game (either based on the table situation or your real life obligations), a HU SNG will give you a definite finish time. But, best of all, its just very competitive. It's like the Street Fighter 2 of online poker. Get in, mash some buttons, shoot a yoga flame, and its all over.
It helps that I'm a part of the Heads Up Challenge 5.
Last night, I finally had an opporutnity to play my Round 2 matches against LifesAGrind. In Round 1, I took out my favorite HU competitor, Veneno, but I was nervous for this next step. In first four HUCs, I had a terrible run. I always thought of it as an effect of being the host, akin to the host curse that would always happen when I threw a homegame. Even though Fuel55 is running the show this time (and doing a great job, I might add), I still consider the HUC my baby, so the fear of the curse returning was on my mind. The other heightening factor was the $30 buyin, 3x the previous tournament buy-ins.
Once LAG and I were ready, we tried to jump into the same $10 Full Tilt HU SNG. Alas, he was too fast or I was too slow, and he ended up HU against some random player. Amazingly, he was willing to two-table HU matches, so we tried to jump into a second game. This time, I was too fast, and ended up playing against some random player.
I sucked, plain and simple. I'm sure it had everything to do with concentration and my anxiousness to get it all over with. At first, those things seemed to work to my advantage as I pulled into the lead. But a foolish all-in push or call and suddenly, I was the shorter stack. Meanwhile, I was popping in and out of LAG's match with his random stranger, trying to gage LAG's style of play. In the end, LAG had to sit out of his match (where he eventually busted), and I busted the old fashioned way, making an ill timed raise with middle pair.
We both took 15 minutes off from the computer and returned for our HU match. This time, our coordination was much improved and we got into a HU match together on our first try. Once the window opened, I opened Sirius Radio on my Internet browser and turned on Area 33, a trance station. When it comes to poker, trance music is my ideal soundtrack. There are no lyrics to distract me, and I can get into the rhythm of the game relatively easily. It also helps me block out the other distractions, which in this case was wifey Kim hovering in and out of the room as she cleaned her closet. In fact, halfway through the match she asked, "Can you help me take these things to the garbage shoot?" I was in the zone, and my curt reply was simply, "No." She got the hint and left me be. I got the hint and apologized later.
Interestingly, there was a very obvious difference between the match against an utter stranger and the match against LAG. With the LAG game, I just felt more in touch with the match. This should be of no surprise, since I was trying to rush through the stranger's match, and desperately wanted to focus and win the LAG match. But nonetheless, the difference was there. The matches were day and night, and after a lot of back and forth, I was finally able to win my first match against LAG when my JJ held up against his 55 preflop.
Match 2 went well for me also. I tried to keep the aggression up, followed by periods of tightness when necessary to change the pace or set up LAG's aggression. I can say that overall he played a smart game, and for a lot of both of the matches, he led the action. That's not to say that he led out in betting all the time, but rather that he was controlling the pacing of the game. Still, in match 2, I was able to take the lead and end it when my 99 held up against LAG's 55 once again. 55 is no goot.
After we were done, I celebrated by playing a HU game against some random player. I got my ass handed to me. I played someone else. Same thing. Quite frankly, I had blown my concentration load on the LAG matches, and now I was shooting blanks.
Whether or not I like to admit it, this game called poker requires a lot of concentration. It's definitely my weak point. Optimal poker cannot be played when the TV is on, the phone is ringing, and a web browser is open. Like most things, the importance of concentration is only heightened when you play heads up.
Tonight, I plan on making my way back to the Wall Street Game, where I hope to inch my way closer to the top of the leaderboard. This will probably be the last game this season, so its now or never. I think I need to win it to have a chance of the top spot. I said it rather than them because, while there are 2 games tonight, due to computer difficulties, I'm only registered in one. Oh well. Perhaps I'll get lucky and return home in time for the WPBT game on FT.
This weekend is looking busy. Saturday night, I'm heading to Queens to spend some time with college bud, Jefe, and Sunday, thanks to my bro Keith and his new wife, wifey Kim and I are going to a live taping of...WHEEL. . . OF. . . FORTUNE! It's going to be SW_ _T!
Until next time, make mine poker!
Friday, September 21, 2007
Another day, another dollar.
I made my second trip this week to the Wall Street Game. On Wednesday, I crashed the two $25 tournaments in a desperate attempt to stay in contention for the seasonal prize pool, but lost $50 and my 1st place status for my troubles. My goal next week is to watch my email like a hawk and RSVP for the final tournaments of the season as soon as possible. Once I get to the game, though, I have to try to find that special place I've found in my past forays where winning is just a matter of playing my game, rather than the evil place I found this week, where my desire to remain at the top of the leaderboard and my desire to play my usual aggressive game got all tangled up into a ball of bad poker.
I should admit that after that Wednesday run, I woke up Thursday with a poker hangover. I felt mostly fine the night of the loss, but the next morning found me miserable. I don't like to use the word depressed because I know from experience with family and friends what depression can really mean. Still, in this instance, there was a definite malaise and a hint of depression in my mood early Thursday morning.
To rectify this, I emailed host Jamie and told him that I was dropping myself to Maybe status for last night's HOSE cash game. I felt like a louse, since I know how hard it is to throw these things when players cancel willy-nilly, but a man's gotta do what a man's gotta do. I also felt internal pressure to spend some time with wifey Kim. She hadn't pressured me or even complained; rather, I just really love my gal, and I missed her enough that poker two days in a row seemed excessive.
By Thursday night, the poker hangover was gone, replaced by a workplace headache. I've been working my ass off lately, including a stint at the office last Saturday and another stint likely for this upcoming Sunday. As it were, I ended up at work later than usual Thursday waiting for my boss to return from a deposition. When he got back, he sprung on me the news that I was covering the conference this morning in a case that I had recently almost f'ed up. On one hand, this morning was a chance of redemption; on the other, it was a test that I could not afford to fail. Once again, this was mostly self-exerted pressure, rather than pressure from the Bossman, but that's how I roll.
By the time I got back from work, wifey Kim had already eaten dinner. I am sick of all of the delivery places in my neighborhood (FYI, in NYC, delivery is often cheaper than cooking, and the options are near limitless...I have well over 20 menus at home, and that's just the tip of the culinary iceberg). I opted to cook myself some quick grub, and then gladly joined wifey Kim for our favorite reality TV show, the premiere of this season's Survivor, which takes place in China.
I've been especially excited for this year of Survivor, mostly because of Jean-Robert Bellande, the asshole NYC native who placed 3rd in a televised WSOP Circuit event in May 2005. Many people have focused on how J-R is a real asshole, or at least played the asshole in that televised WSOP event. Still, I can't help but root for the guy. After all, he is a representative of poker players everywhere, getting mainstream exposure in a game that may actually fit his poker-player skill set and assholeness to a T. In other words, He may be an asshole, but he's OUR asshole.
Literally, whenever J-R would appear on the screen, I'd cheer and throw my fists in the air, Stone Cold style. But my favorite part of the episode took place as J-R took a walk with a smallish male flight attendant. They had barely gotten to camp when J-R, in private, said to the flight attendant something akin to, "I'm onto you. I know you are a shifty, smart guy, and I'm cool with that. I just wanted to let you know that I know."
That, in and of itself is interesting, since I've watched all umpteen seasons of Survivor and have never seen this type of conduct/strategy/conversation, especially so early on. But the best part was the reaction of the flight attendant, who, in his confessional-type interview explained, "Jean-Robert read me dead on." (paraphrased, if not exact).
GO J-R, GO! Attaboy! Use those observation and reading skills to your advantage. After all, aside from law enforcement and used car salesmen, can you think of any other professions/hobbies where a player must cultivate the ability to read people and discern lies from truth?
Keep making us proud, Jean-Robert!
As the episode was ending, I looked over to wifey Kim, who was sprawled out on the couch. Her eyes were shut. I carefully woke her from her sleepiness. Wifey Kim is a hard worker and wakes up hours earlier than me to go to her Staten Island job. It was clear that she wanted to sleep, so I let her go back to slumberland. At that point, I remembered the Wall Street Game, and decided that, if wifey Kim was sleeping, I was gamblin'. I grabbed my gear and made my way to the game, a short 5-minute walk from my apartment.
When I walked in, the players were in the middle of the Omaha 8 or better portion of the evening. I bought in for $100 for the 2/4 game. I won a hand relatively early when Tony, a new player who was learning O8 on the fly, flopped top set. I turned a straight and low, and we bet into each other back and forth. Finally, we both slowed down and I scooped the pot.
I then continued to play loose, and eventually, poorly. I was just playing too many hands, which seems to be my problem at the WS Game moreso than other games. I think it is the friendly feeling of the place. I'm there to socialize and gamble and have fun, not fold for three orbits. At my lowest, I was down to about $50, but late in the session, I had a monster run in LHE and eventually fought my way back to a $20 profit, but not before this hand:
I have AKc, UTG, and raise to $4. Only CK in MP calls. The flop is A44. I bet out $2 and, if memory serves, she called. On the turn, I think I bet out again and she raised. I opted to call. On the river, I check-called. (I'm sure I probably got the action wrong, so check the comments, where CK will be ridiculing me). At showdown, I show my AK. She shows 44, for flopped quads. Beeches.
I decided to leave around 11:30. I was happy for the $20 profit, which mitigated my $50 loss from the night before. I returned home, where wifey Kim was still sleeping. I attempted to watch some television but only got through half of Kid Nation before I decided to give in to sleep.
Tonight, wifey Kim and I will probably tackle more of Heroes season 1 on DVD, in anticipation for Monday's Season 2 premeire. I don't see any poker on the near horizon, except for a Wall Street tournament or two next week.
Until next time, make mine poker!
Fun with Hands
Thursday, September 20, 2007
Silly me. I could've made my 1001st post an actual hand history analysis, but I totally forgot that I saved a few hands on Blogger for a post. Oh well. After review, only one of them is worth mentioning, so I'll start with that and then we'll move on to the Wall Street Game recap.
This first hand is a little bit of stubbornness, and a whole lot of read. It even touches on some bet-sizing issues that I love oh so much.
So I'm playing the Monkey Tourney, nee the WWDN, and we are at the cheapo 10/20 level. I still have 1410. Astin (1530) raises to 60 and I decide to call in MP/LP with T8s. T8s is not a great hand, but it was early in the tournament with small blinds and its a good hand to get paid with if it hits. I also have position on Astin, who I have found to be very aggressive. It folds around.
The flop is Q75, rainbow, with one spade. I have nothing. Astin bet 80 and I raised 160 on top, hoping to scare off his BS continuation bet. He called.
The turn was a 2s, giving me a flush draw, Astin bet 360, and now, I changed my strategy and just call. The flop bet is to slow him down and hopefully get him to fold when he misses the flop. This call is because I've now picked up an unexpected flush draw, and if I hit, I'll likely get paid, since he'll never expect runner-runner flush. The pot was 630 before his bet, and 990 after, so I'm getting almost 3:1 on my money with great implied odds.
Until, of course, the river, which is an offsuit Ace. Fungool! Astin checked. At this point, my remaining stack is 750 or so, and he has about 100 more than me. Once Astin checked, I considered my possibilities. If I check, I lose unless he was playing awful cards. So, I have to bet if I think I can somehow get him to fold. The next question is how much should I bet to get him to fold. I could go all-in...but I don't like that play. It would look too much like a desperation push, and would, in my opinion, induce a call from a slew of hands, given the action. Also, if he calls, that's it for me. I opt to bet 460, leaving me with 290 in my stack. To me, this was the perfect bet. It (i) escalates the last bet, Astin's 360 bet on the turn, (ii) looks like a value bet because it isn't big compared to the pot, (iii) looks suspicious and confusing, since most people put out an all-in bet here, and (iv) leaves me with enough chips in case he calls or raises.
290 is not a lot of chips, but in 10/20 limits, its workable. That's the key, here. Who would keep 290 behind unless they were trying to milk as much out of this hand as possible? The answer is me. I'm always looking for the best possible outcome given all of the other guy's possible moves.
What did Astin do? Fold. And then I showed. Rock on.
You may recall from yesterday that I found myself at the top fo the leaderboard for the Wall Street season. First place gets 50% of the seasonal prize pool, now over $500, but to qualify, you must play 1/3 of the tournaments. I had played 1/3 exactly, but since there was a game last night, that would put me below the 1/3 requirments, so I showed up anyway, hoping that someone no-showed.
As it turned out, we had two no-shows, so I got in the game along with one other alternate. By the time I sat down, the first 15-minute level had already passed.
I had a tough go in the first game. I was dealt JJ and raised the blinds from 100 to 350. I got a call from Slavin in one of the blinds. He plays any two cards, so its hard to place him on a hand. The flop was AK9, and he bet out. I folded. I asked him during the next hand about whether he had a King or Ace and he said no. I asked him again later and he couldn't remember, but didn't think he had a King or Ace. I think I believe his earlier response, but maybe I'm just fooling myself. Whatever the case, I was playing for a high position, so I didn't want to bust out on JJ with an AK9 flop with two spades.
I lost some more chips when I limped with AJo UTG. There were five players to the A77 flop with two hearts. It checked to me and I bet out 400 into the 500 pot. Only Wendy called, acting from the SB out of position. The turn was a 2. She checked. I took a long while before checking. Something felt fishy. I couldn't put my finger on what exactly, but I just had a feeling, which you should all translate into, Jordan picked up on things at a subconscious level, rather than, Jordan has "hunches"... how convenient! The river was a Jack of hearts, completing a flush draw. Wendy bet 500, which was small enough to call, in case she had an Ace with a better kicker, now nullified by the rivered Jack. She actually had 75o. The mistake in this hand was my failure to raise preflop. At least I was able to slow down when I needed to.
At the 75/150 level, I had less than 1500 chips. In fact, I had about 950, so I was looking for an opportunity to push all-in. Two players tentatively limped in MP and I saw 84o in the SB. I decided to push because I had enough to scare off most stacks and I didn't put the limpers on big hands. Unfortunately, the BB had JJ and called. And so, I busted about 8th/11 players. My error here was not looking to the BB to get a read. Instead, I focused on the limpers and ignored the BB completely, to my own detriment. For what its worth, the limpers DID fold, confirming that, aside from the BB's monster hand (and my failure to read his monster hand), the play wasn't horrible. I wouldn't even mind a call from AK. I just didn't want a high pocket pair.
I played some Scrabble with CK while I waited for tournament numero dos. She claimed she wasn't experienced, so we agreed to none of the silly 2-letter words like AA, HM, and XU (check your Scrabble dictionaries, people). Then she placed a huge word to start off...so I showed her no mercy. Playing Scrabble with someone less versed in the game can be a bit difficult. After all, I was playing defensive (avoided openning up 3 Word Score boxes) while looking for ways to form double words (stick STOP on the end of DOG for DOGS and STOP, for an easy example), while CK was playing a more straight-forward game. I think I won by 80 points or so, but not before I saw here final letters, AGINAV, which I'll let you rearrange to find the hidden message.
The second game wasn't much better to me, but it was mostly my fault. I felt like playing more hands, and flopped a flush draw that I paid too much to never hit. I was down to 900 from 2500 or thereabouts, when we reached the 75/150 level again. I actually missed wifey Kim a lot. It's interesting how you can live with someone and still feel like you spend no time with them. Whatever the case, I decided to go do or die and pushed all-in UTG with QJc. I got caller with A7o. I turned the Q and won the hand. On the very next hand, I had AK and pushed again. This time, I got a call from KJ. We both flopped the King, but the turn was his three-outter J, and I busted. I left and returned home, a bit disappointed with my loss, but accepting my bad luck in the first game (JJ with an AK9 flop; AJ v 75 with a A77 flop) and second game (AK v KJ). Still, I am able to identify my errors (failing to read the BB when I pushed in the first game; playing too loose early in the second game, causing me to get short and desperate). But worst of all, my rankings dropped and I'm no longer the top spot. In fact, I'm barely holding on to the freeroll spot. Oh well.
I'm scheduled to return to Wall Street tonight for the HOSE game, but I switched my status to Maybe. I woke up this morning with a poker hangover, oddly feeling worse about last night than I did, well, last night. The game has 9 RSVPs for games that require 8-players max, so by switching to Maybe, I hope I alleviate that situation. Now its back to the grind. I just can't wait for AC in October.
Until next time, make mine poker!
1001 Ways to Destroy Productivity
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
WOW! This marks my 1001st post, folks, including a few posts that never made it to air. So, to celebrate, I'll offer you another random string of words that border on being semi-intelligible. My only apology is the fact that I peaked creatively at post 83. Only the best for my readers!
Let's start off with some fun ole analysis of why online poker just gets my goat.
Fuck online poker! Not in a mean way. No. I mean Fuck It in an indifferent way. Yes, this is coming from the guy who won a large tournament a few months ago, and a guy who spends way too much time playing online, as it were. But damn it, its just such a time suck.
I've read the recent exploits of Woffles and his foray back into bankroll building. I understand the struggle, not to mention the pull to want to just go for broke. In fact, that's been my strategy since my big win and withdrawal. I left some money online (less than $400), and then proceeded to (a) play above that roll and (b) spread it around three sites, now 4 thanks to my new rakeback deal at Absolute. In the end, I was left with depleted bankrolls all around, but I didn't care. After all, as I have lamented here many times before, online poker is just not the bee's knees to me. Its a diversion at best, a bad habit at worst, but not nearly the great pass time live poker is. That is not to put down online poker aficionados. I believe wholeheartedly that there are people out there who would be better suited for online poker than live poker, as well as people who can do both. But for me, the lack of human interaction in online poker has left me with the feeling that it is little more than a videogame. For that reason, I've withdrew most of my roll for live action, and then continued playing at my "higher" stakes, which are really $100 NLHE or 4/8 mixed games, for the most part.
This is all a response to yesterday. I played and lost $40 in .25/.50 NL on Absolute (bad cards, bad play, good times), and lost the Monkey Tourney ($11) after picking up am $10 last longer bet from Astin. When it was all done, I just felt bored. It really just felt like one of the pointless videogames that used to waste my time. Eh, it's probably just a phase (a VERY temporary phase, since I expect to play the Mookie tonight), but it still sticks in my craw.
What's the cure for online poker blues? More cowbell! And live poker. Mostly, live poker.
Speaking of live poker, guess what I'm doing tomorrow? Live poker, beeches, at none other than my favorite biweekly homegame, the Wall Street Poker Club. I would be there tonight for their two tournaments, but sadly, I was too slow with the RSVP. Fortunately, I was quick enough to jump onto the Thursday HOSE cashgame. I don't blame Jamie for limiting it to HOSE. No one wants to play Razz against Jordan the Razzmaster Razzski.
And whlie we are on the subject of Wall Street Poker, I recently took a look at the leaderboard for the current 3-month season. For those not in the know, a little background: Jamie, the host, collects $2 from every tournament buy-in and places it in a seasonal prize pool. Each season lasts 3 months. At the end of the season, the player with the best record wins half the prize pool. The next six or so players are invited to a winner-takes-all tournament for the rest of the prizepool. I have had some good runs at Wall Street, generally moneying in at least one out of the two nightly tournaments. Still, I had some bad nights too, mostly during cash games.
Whatever the case, imagine my surprise when I stumbled upon this season's stats and saw me at the top of the list. BOOYA! I'm not quite sure when the season ends, but I'm almost positive that it is done by the end of the month. If that's the case, I need to worry about Stephen, Scott and Brian, but amazingly...none of those players are in tonight's tournament. PRAISE THE LORD! I'm still trying to figure out if I'm better off playing future games or avoiding them. In the end, I think I'll have to play them, since I have the bare minimum of tournaments played to qualify and I think the amount to qualify will go up if there are more games. SHIT! Come to think of it, after tonight, I may no longer qualify. Say it with me now...LEMON!
Speaking of lemons, guess where I'll be in a few weeks? Sipping lemonade in AC! Okay, admittedly that seque sucked.
The plan is to head down October 12th weekend with Davey Roose to get some ole skool wifeless poker action. A few months later, I'll be in Vegas for the WPBT event (more likely than not) and then back in AC for A Very Jewish X-Mas. Wish me luck all around.
That's it for today. Let's hope that the season is over already for Wall Street. If not, I'll stop by there tonight with the hopes of a no-show. I shall remain VICTORIOUS!
Until next time, make mine poker!
WPBT Winter Classic
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
I haven't been to a WPBT event yet. In fact, in the past, I avoided them like the plague. It wasn't so much that I didn't want to meet my fellow poker bloggers, as much as I didn't see how going to a WPBT event could fit into my life. I don't particularly want to bring wifey Kim out to Vegas to meet my fellow degenerates because she doesn't play poker and I'd be more focused on her than on the action and the mingling. I didn't have the money or time to go either, since in the past two years (i.e., since I started the blog) every year saw me with few vacation days and fewer dollars. But if there was one last thing stopping me, it was uncertainty. I wasn't sure about what the scene would be like, who these bloggers would be, and whether this would be a great time or a personal disaster.
Those concerns have since been vanquished. Meeting bloggers in Philly for the Bash 2006 at the Boathouse and Oklahoma for Okie-Vegas 2007, along with the many, many NYC bloggers I see on a nearly weekly basis, has led me to the obvious conclusion that I can have a great time with this varied lot in just about any location. WPBT Guantanamo Bay?! I'll bring the blindfolds, you bring the canines!
This is all just to say that it looks more and more likely (but not quite definite) that I will attend the WPBT Winter Classic this year, December 6-9. Of course, nothing is set in stone. I need to see if I can get a free flight from Mama High, and work out some roommate situations. But still, I'm giddy at the prospect.
If you are going this year and need a roommate, lemme know via email (highonpokr AT yahoo). No chicks, but otherwise, I'm fairly open. I don't snore, I don't smoke cigarettes, and I don't mind either.
Until next time, make mine poker!
A recent news story reported that a man died due to excessive online poker. Specifically, the man played for three days straight at an internet cafe in China before succumbing to sweet sweet death.
Folks, at first I thought this story was a big goof. Then I thought about the implications on the UIGEA and the anti-online poker movement. But after both of those thoughts, I suddenly realized that this story hits a lot closer to home than you or I might first expect. I'd like you to read the following excerpts from a poker blogger that is widely read and adored by his fans and fellow bloggers:
"...the past couple weeks, I’ve fallen asleep through over a dozen tournaments." Sept. 1, 2007
"I gave it a shot, played almost a dozen, and lost them all, losing three in heads-up and one on the bubble despite falling asleep at the first level." Aug. 22, 2007
"Played cash games and an SnG, fell asleep, and awoke to find I placed 4th… again." July 22, 2007
"Last night, I fell asleep again while playing three SnGs." June 2, 2007
"...the SnGs that I fell asleep on (came in 4th on the bubble)..." May 1, 2007
The list goes on, people, but clearly what we have here in our very blogging midst is the next would-be victim of Online Gaming Induced Death by Exhaustion, or OGIDE as I have conveniently named it for the scientific community.
With that in mind, I ask that you join in my prayers and pray that Grubby, the author of those exhausted quotes, can find the road to recovery. Let he find the solace of a pillow. Let he separate himself from the evil box that we call the computer. And most of all, may he slip through the fingers of fickle death and the horrors of OGIDE. And we all say, Amen.
Until next time, make mine poker!
Portrait of my Coldness
Monday, September 17, 2007
As I wrote earlier, wifey Kim has been suffering from a violent cough for the past two weeks. Her coughing comes in bits and spurts, but when it comes, its horrific. She'll start coughing, a dry, loud cough, and continue coughing for a good 5-6 coughs, often followed by broken up coughing and at times, another coughing binge. For the first week, it was quite scary. When she'd cough, I'd follow the usual drill: turn in her direction, ask if she is okay, ask if I could get her anything, and then look on in fear and helplessness as she continued to cough. After the first week, however, I learned to tune out the coughing. If she was in bed coughing and I was in the other room, I would stay put instead of running and checking on her. If we were talking and she started coughing, I waited patiently for her to catch her breath. The key was that I stopped worried about it and her because I knew that there was nothing I could do.
With this background, on Sunday afternoon, wifey Kim and I went to a local bar to have some lunch and watch the Giants. While we were eating, wifey Kim began to cough. and cough. and cough. By this time, I had already become desensitized to her plight. Still, I can't imagine what the neighboring table thought. After all, while wifey Kim was hocking up a lung, the nearby seaters looked over in fear and asked, "Honey? Are you okay? Can you breathe?" I suppose they were probably prepping form the Heimlich. Wifey Kim nodded that she was fine while she continued to cough uncontrollably. But me, I just kept my head and eyes down and continued to chomp on my food, confident in the knowledge that wifey Kim was fine, but oblivious to the fact that I looked like the least caring asshole in the place. Freakin' strangers had to check if my wife was checking while I was too busy to look up from my cheesesteak.
I'm not a bad person, no matter what those nosey fuckers think!
Until next time, make mine poker!
Feel the Fire
Sunday, September 16, 2007
If you are reading this on Google Reader, Bloglines, or some other RSS feed reader, then you've probably already seen the notes I took late last night. After realizing that I had a hot day at the tables, I decided to try to remember all of the games. The result was this crude list (which I accidentally posted and then un-posted last night):
Won two two-table $26 Token SNGs
Won two 6-man turbo SNGs outright
Won a HU Token SNG
Won 2 out of 3 other HU SNGs
Placed 2nd in a 6-max Turbo PLO SNG
Placed 3rd for $66 in a single-table Turbo $75 Token SNG
I think there may've been two other 6-man tourney wins (actually one win, one 2nd place) in there somewhere, but I couldn't find an easy way to check my games played for the day on some of the sites.
Running HOT, I tell ya, but it isn't because of the cards. Yesterday, I quite simply fell in the zone. "Fell" is the optimal word, because it sorta just fell in my lap after an early morning HU session against Veneno. But let's back up a bit.
I did close to nothing this weekend. Wifey Kim was suffering from a horrific cough all week (in fact, the last two weeks), so we stayed in on Friday and Saturday night, since she was in no condition to mingle with the unwashed masses. Friday night was poker-light. Instead, I spent most of my time watching Heroes with Wifey Kim, and then I eventually played two 4-player HU matches. I won the first one ($11), but lost the second ($22). Three out of four wins, and I netted only $10 or so for my trouble, but it was still a profit. After I lost, I shut down the comp, with the intention of returning later, but that later never came. Instead, I zoned out to TV and the Wii, leaving poker to cool off for the night.
The next day, wifey Kim and I met her friends for brunch literally four doors from Salami Club. Salami has gone down the crapper, in my opinion. The cash games used to be insane for the limits spread, at the time, 1/2 and then 2/5, but after a bunch of the other clubs got raided and closed, Salami moved its limits up to 5/5 and 5/10, to accomodate the rush of new action junkies and the already-insane play. Go figure, the 5/5 and 5/10 games play more like 10/20 and higher, so for a low-roller like me, Salami is an official no-fly zone, save for the cheapo $60 daily tournaments.
After brunch, we returned home where wifey Kim returned to her whooping cough. I futzed around on the computer, but didn't get to any poker until later in the evening. I decided to spread it around, and quickly lost SNGs at FT and Poker.com. I also simultaneously played a Stud MTT on PokerStars, where I bubbled 4th out of 25 or so players. When I bubbled, I had two pair, Qs and 8s, and the other shortstack called my all-in with only 9s. He rivered a King to make two pair, and I lose on the bubble. After losing, I was sorta in a state of acceptance. Part of me felt like I should be upset, but it was quieted by the other part of me that was impressed I made it to the bubble in my worst game AND got all-in with the best of it. So I still lost? Big whoop.
So, I wasn't expecting much on Sunday morning when I fired up the ole comp. In fact, my intention was merely to check emails, but I quickly got an IM from Veneno and knew that I had to strike while the iron was hot.
In case you don't know, the Heads Up Challenge 5 is currently underway. This year, I gave the mantle to Fuel55, who did a great job rounding out a solid field of 16 competitors, and upped the HUC ante by increasing the buy-in to $30/player. One of the hardest things about running the HUC are holdouts. The HUC has a very user-friendly structure. You get matched up via brackets and then you find the time to play your opponent. The hard part is getting the one or two stragglers to get in line. Go figure, the holdouts this year were none other than the founder (me) and former Commissioner (Veneno). It wasn't for lack of trying, but rather lack of timing.
So, when Veneno popped up Sunday morning, I decided that I had to get our games in. Earlier that morning, I was with wifey Kim at the hospital (her cough continued to worsen, but the doctor said it was viral), and her meds were being filled out at the nearby pharmacy. V and I called a 15 minute start time, and I headed to CVS to do my husbandly (and nursemaid) duties.
Upon my return, I pulled up a seat to the high breakfast bar, one of those places that are rarely used in our apartment. My goal was to shut everything else out. Even though V and I were only going to play cheap tournaments ($2), I knew that there was much more on the line. In past HUCs, I barely made it past the first round. Call it bad luck, call it bad play, call it whatever you want, but I had to make a showing this time around.
Fortunately, V and I have probably played dozens of HU games together. In fact, I'd go as far as to say that she is my favorite opponent because we know each other so well. So imagine my delight when I won the first match in one hand.
I had KQo, and opted to limp or maybe call her preflop bet. The flop was Q66, and I checked. She bet. I raised. We got into a raising war and at showdown, she showed a Queen with an inferior kicker. It doesn't get much easier than that.
In the next game, we went back and forth for a bit, but ultimately, my good luck was too much for V. She shook it off and wished me a congratulations and good luck, and I decided to take some time to check on wifey Kim.
A little later that day, I fired up the comp for the other tournaments. In fact, I would start a couple of SNGs seemingly every couple of hours. It was just one of those days. And while I've listed all of my wins above, I failed to mention that, aside from one HU SNG, I didn't lose anything. I was just on fire. And as I said, it wasn't the cards. I barely remember getting AA once yesterday, QQ once also, but that's about it. I won because I was in the zone, making all the right moves at the right times, including making my stupid moves (or should I say unsuccessful moves) when I had a commanding chip lead to avoid busting out.
As a result of my hard work, my FT roll is over $150, up from $20 or so early yesterday. My Poker.com roll is up over $50, from its $18 low. My Stars roll got a little boost too.
From those numbers, you can see that I was on Online Poker Life Support. Since the $3k win, I opted to withdraw my funds and return online poker back to its videogame status. I'll play above my online bankroll because playing $1 tournaments just doesn't do it for me. Instead, I'd rather take 1/3 of my roll into an SNG and try to win the damn thing, or grind out some .50/1 NL profit with my entire Poker.com roll. In the end, none of the money is real until I have it in my hands (like the $3k), and I don't want to put too much emphasis or energy into online poker.
This week, I've got an appearance at the Wall Street Game scheduled for Thursday, and I need to find time to play LifesAGrind in Round 2 of the HUC5. I'd like to be at the Mookie or the Hoy too, so keep your eyes out.
Until next time, make mine poker.
Choppers in Flight
Friday, September 14, 2007
I wrote a long post about a week ago regarding working out chops in live tournaments (I don't believe in online chops), but I referred to a Mookie post which is now old, so I'd rather start fresh and see if I can come up with a more rounded piece. Such is the life of Jordan, lately. I'm up to my ears in work, stressed out to the max, on poker withdrawal, and yet, I insist on writing posts that ulitmately never see the light of day. Man, I need a vacation.
But before I get any vacation, let's talk about the wonderful world of chops. In fact, let's do a list, since its as easy a way to explain my random thoughts as any. So here are
Jordan's Do's and Don'ts of Chopping
Some people never chop. Good for them. But realistically, there are many reasons why chopping makes sense, so knowing how to get the most out of a chop is a good skill to have. With this in mind, consider the following tips:
DO speak your mind. If you don't like a deal, it doesn't matter what anyone else at the table or the room thinks. If you are getting pressure to make a deal, just remember that you entered the game with YOUR money, and the object of the game is to win the money of other people. That's it, plain and simple. The guy pressuring you didn't pay your buy-in, and the object of the game is not to make friends or be a good sport. Stand by your ground and reject any bad offers without fear of consequence. In fact, feel free to remind these jags that you are playing for money, your money, and you'll do whatever you damn well please.
DO know the reason for chopping. In live tournament situations, there are generally a very few number of reasons why people want to chop. You need to identify your reason, but more importantly, you need to identify your opponents' reason(s). Generally, the reasons are either (i) uncertainty about the results of poker, (ii) time constraints, (iii) outside pressures to end the game early, and (iv) boredom. The only reason why YOU should be chopping is (i) the uncertainty of poker. Hopefully, you've planned to win the entire time, so you don't have any time constraints. Sometimes in homegames, other players are waiting for the next tourney or cash game, OR in other venues, your partners in crime want to leave and have to wait for you. In either instance, you've got to be willing to tell those people to fuck off. A nicer way is to say, "I'll bust this guy in a minute and we can get out of here." But whatever you do, don't let outside pressure overinfluence your decision-making skills. If your problem is boredom, then just you shouldn't have played in the first place.
As you can see, I'm pretty hard on reasons (ii) through (iv), mostly because I think you have to always play to win. Some people never chop. For those people, (i) is not a bother. That may be you, in which case, you are wasting your time reading this. But for the rest of us, the promise of definite money can be a strong temptation, and as long as you are able to make a smart deal, I think it is perfectly acceptable.
So, once you've identified your reason, you need to know their reason. Why? Because like anything in poker, that information gives your more power. Fortunately, unlike most aspects of poker, your opponents are probably not hiding their reasons. You know that there are other people waiting for your opponent, or your opponent says, "Let's just chop. I need to get home." Good. Now you know you have an edge. It might not get the chipleader to give you more money, but you could use it to gain a few more bucks.
You can exploit your opponent by working out various angles based on their reason for wanting the chop. If its uncertainty, reinforce their thoughts and fears by sounding confident: "We don't have to chop. I'll gladly play it out."
If its time constraints or pressure placed on your opponent by other people, try to sound like you are being helpful by working out a deal: "Look, I know its getting late, so let's just work it out." By sounding reasonable, your opponent will likely let down his guard and will think that you are compromising more than you actually are. If you need ato add a bit more pressure, you can always fall back to, "I guess we can't work this out. Okay, I'm ready to play. Let's get back to this."
If your opponent is bored, then just make the deal quick. He'll be so anxious to enter the juicy cash game or do whatever the hell he wants to do that he'll generally just agree to anything that sounds near reasonable.
DO know the stack sizes and total amount of chips in play. Generally, in a tournament you know how many players entered or how many buy-ins there were by the end table. So, if there are 40 players with 2500 starting stacks, you should be able to figure out that there is 100,000 chips in play. Once you know that, check your stack. This way, when you get HU, you know that you have 43k and he has 57k.
Why do you need that info ready to go? So you can say, "Look, we are about even. There is 100k in play and I have just short of 50," after the other guy suggests a chop. By knowing this info, you can frame the situation as an almost-even affair, instead of a 2:3 situation. Here's another reason from experience: At the recent IHO tournament, when we got to HU, I thought CK had me outchipped. After a count, it was discovered that I had the lead. Suddenly the situation changed a whole lot. Before counting, I was trying to figure out how to get an even chop with my shorter stack. Afterwards, I was looking for a more equitable chop. And you'll be amazed at how many people neglect to count their stack and simply go by eyeballing the stack once talks of chopping start.
If you can, discretely work out this math or bust out the ole calculator (you probably have one on your phone) to figure out what an equitable chop would be. Now, round that number up for you, and make that your proposal or your bottom-line (depending on how bloodthirsty you are).
DO know the prize pool and the prizes for all spots still in play. Once you have that information, you can come up with a sliding scale of solutions.
This is really the core of my chopping technique. If first place gets $400 and 2nd gets $200, I like to look at the range of convenient possibilities. The range always goes from even chop ($300/$300) to no deal ($400/200). As you can see, $600 looks like there is a lot of wiggle room, but the reality is that there is very little room for improvisation at all. I'll often voice these ideas aloud once I've done the math internally: "I have you outchipped, so I'm not giving you even money. How about $360/$240? You get an extra $40 easily." If he argues, I'll explain, "I can't go any higher. I mean, the next step is $340/$260, and that isn't fair. Hell, let's just play it out." Sometimes, you can follow this up with a trick I learned from mediation. "Okay, let's just split the baby. After all, we are only arguing over $20 now. $350/$250." Splitting the baby always seems good, especially when YOU made the baby into a $20 range, instead of discussing the broad $200-400 range.
In smaller games, (single table tournaments), the range can be tiny. In some $20 tournaments I've played, 1st gets $120 and 2nd gets $80. The only reasonable chops, therefore, are $100/100 and $90/$110. If that's the case, then at least you know what you are working with and you can get right down to business.
DO have a justification for your proposals. "How about I get $280 and you get $320," sounds like a crappy proposal to a guy with a 2:1 advantage. "Let's chop $280/320. There isn't much leeway in the prize pool. Anyway, we both have less than 20x the BB, so we are both really short and if I double up, suddenly I'm the huge chipleader. It's a freaking crapshoot," is a lot more convincing. Even simple things like, "I bought in for X and I want to make X for this to be worthwhile" will get your opponent to consider your viewpoint.
DON'T take too much time working out a chop. If its taken longer than 5 minutes, just tell the other player that you'd rather just play it out if its going to be a big thing. If he/she really wants to chop, this is when they'll break and begin offering a better deal for you that a moment ago was not on the table. Or, its when they'll suddenly consider the offer you made 4 minutes ago that they insisted was unfair. After a couple of hands, if you have an edge, feel free to say that the "offer is still on the table for now" (as long as the deal is still acceptable and good to you). If you've taken a bigger lead since the last offer, you can even add a, "Now I can't make that deal with my chip stack." Whatever you do, though, don't stop the action until he agrees to a chop.
The key here is to show that you aren't desperate to chop. If you can't settle in 5 minutes, it isn't going to happen without you making a big concession. Some opponents are stubborn and others don't like chopping. In either event, you don't want to show too much of a desire to chop, so returning to the action while dropping hints that a chop is still possible (while action commences) will allow you to keep your position of strength AND leave the door open to a chop.
DON'T ask for a chop, unless you are heads up. I'm not a fan of asking for the chop. As soon as you do, the other players have the power to say no, and an astute player will use your desire to chop as leverage. They may even see it as an opportunity to run over you, once they reject the chop and get back to the action. Instead, let them come to you. At that point, you can tell them that you are open to the idea if it is a good deal. Then, ask them to give you an offer. At least you'll have an idea of what they are thinking.
I added one exception. As soon as you are heads up, you may want to bring up a chop. This is my one exception because it does not look desperate. By the time most players are heads up, they have already entertained the idea of a chop, so, if you are HU and have near even chips (2:1 at most), you can go ahead and bring up the subject of chopping before HU play begins. Once HU play begins, though, I would advise not to bring it up again unless you are even in chips and want to chop even.
The emphasis on HU chops is due in large part to the tediousness of live HU poker. With the shuffling and the constant preflop folds, it can be a slow game. Online is MUCH quicker, which is why I do not like online chops. You may as well play it out. But live, if the stack sizes are near equal and the prize pool is sufficient, a chop is much easier to work out when facing the prospect of a long HU match after a long tournament.
DON'T make any "save deals" unless you are in last place. This one drives me nuts. I'll be sitting on a big stack and some guy will say, "Let's work out a save for 4th place." Great, numb nuts, but why the hell would I make a deal to save someone else? When you are making a deal, you are making a deal for one person and one person only: YOU. If you are not going to go out on the bubble, then don't make this deal. I would think that this is common sense, but at almost every game I've play at Salami, someone suggests a save at the end. Usually, I'm in a good chip position and I'll tell the guys straight out, "Why would I give someone else a save out of my prize money." Not only does this lay out my position, but it shows that I expect to cash high. Exuding confidence is always a nice touch.
So, do you have any tips you'd like to add?
Until next time, make mine poker!
Today's Quick Tip
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
When playing poker, if you know that you are beat, fold.
That's today's quick tip!
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
I entered a betting pool with my brother in law Marc. Its an interesting pool. For $100, you are entered into a pick'em league, a survivor pool (choose one team each week, if they win, you survive to the next week; if you pick a losing team twice, you are eliminated; you cannot choose the same team twice in a season), a margin pool (same as survivor, but you keep track of the amount of points you win by and the highest total wins), and a few other random pools. I pushed for Jacksonville as our survivor/margin pick. At the time, the spread was the same as the New England spread, and I wanted to keep NE in our back pocket for later in the season. Well, JAX lost, so fuck that. Oh well. No one will ever get me confused with a sports bettor.
I am a better lawyer than I am a sports bettor, so I guess I have that going for me. This morning I had to go to Court where a Judge had already threatened sanctions against me for making simple discovery motions. This time, the Judge threatened sanctions again, and even included a price tag, $1500, but I stood my ground. I won, too. The Defendants had to give me everything I wanted AND if they don't comply, they'll be paying sanctions. Score one for the good guys.
We hired a new associate a month or two ago. He's a good guy, and actually reminds me of myself when I was first learning the ropes. He had to cover another motion for me this morning. I spent Friday walking him through the process since he was out of the office on Monday. I went through everything with painstaking detail, since I know how much it sucks to be at Court and have no idea what's going on with the Court system or the case. He came back today with the best case scenario, an order giving us everything we want AND also sets a date for us to come back in case the Defendants don't comply. Make no doubt about it, if there was a reason why law suits take so long, its the Defendants. A Plaintiff has to build sandcastles, but all a Defendant has to do is sit on their ass, and then stroll by later and kick it over. Its the way the system is and its not a reflection on the individuals who practice insurance defense, although, like most areas of law, they have more than their fair share of assholes.
Granted, none of this is poker, but I haven't been playing much. Last night, wifey Kim and I watched two episodes of Heroes (she was ready for #3, but it was getting late and I didn't want her passing out in the middle of "Four Months Ago." I've never been a fan of reruns of serialized shows, but Heroes has once again amazed me. In each episode I see a variety of things I either forgot or didn't notice. The hardest part is fielding wifey Kim's questions. "Is he a Hero?" "What are they talking about?" and so on. I don't want to ruin anything for her, but I also want to help her along, since the show can be a bit twisted and convoluted with all of the different storylines.
After we watched the shows, I signed up for the Hoy tournament. I went out 14th out of 25. I started off playing well, but in the end, my play dissolved as I got tired and less interested. Online poker just hasn't held my interest lately, but that's all fine and good. Lord knows its only a matter of time before I'm back to playing online poker nightly. In fact, I lost the Hoy shortly after wifey Kim went to bed. On one hand, when she left I felt relieved that I could focus. On the other, I actually (warning! sappy, ghey comment pending) missed her, even though we spent all night together and she was in the next room. Jordan loves Wifey Kim.
While I'm rambling, I'm sure we've all saw or heard about the debacle that was Britney Spears' performance at the Video Music Awards. I watch an assload of television, so I'd like to add my 2 cents on the VMAs in general. Britney Spears was the perfect openning act, because she really set the tone for the show. Unfortunately for the VMAs, the tone was set as "mess." There is little sadder than watching the spank material of a generation turn from underage hottie to barely of-age piggy slob. She is clearly suffering from the same problems suffered by Michael Jackson, Tom Cruise and a bazillion other celebrities before her. No one is telling her no. When you get rich and famous, most of the people around you are ass-kissing sycophants, who want to bask in the run-off of your limelight. These people are not going to tell you that you look like a pig, or that you should not go out drinking, snorting and fucking while your babies are at home with the nanny 5 days a week. Nope. Those fuckers will tell you, "Oh Britney, the orange Cheetos dust around your mouth looks so sexy!" and "That bra and panties outfit looks so hot! Of course you should wear it on stage in front of millions of people!" What trash!
But as bad as she was, the VMAs were generally a train wreck. Clearly, the production was filled with flubs, from people waiting around for their cues, to half-interested presenters who could barely read the teleprompters. It was like watching a kindergarten production. I half expected presenters to come out in paper mache turkey costumes and pilgrim hats.
Oddly, the highlight of the night came from the man who first deflowered that sweaty hog named Britney. Justin Timberlake, he of the Timbaland Tribe, challenged MTV to play more videos. True dat, JT! I mean, how can you have an award show for something that isn't even shown publicly anymore. And don't give me that MTV2 crap. MTV needs to play videos. Their failure to do so has actually hurt the artists, who now cannot get budgets for videos. Whatever. Fucking MTV.
Where the hell dd this post go. Nothing to do now but hit post and get the fuck out. Thanks for reading.
Until next time, make mine poker!
IHO: September to Remember
Monday, September 10, 2007
My my. I must admit that I am definitely a bit results-oriented, even though I do not lament results when they suffer from bad luck. But since I was a young kid, exterior signs of success were very important to me. As a young artist (who has since developed into a dormant art tinkerer), I did not understand the point of my art unless someone aside from myself could verify the artyness. At school, nothing made me happier than receiving a grade, mostly because I was able to skate through school (including law school) with minimal studying and great (later turning to good) results.
It is with that same need for an exterior validation that I was ecstatic to win the I Had Outs September to Remember tournament (September to Remember being a name that I have added to the otherwise simply named I Had Outs September tournament).
I had made my way over to Dawn's apartment via a couple of subways and arrived a scant 10 minutes before the scheduled 8pm start time. I decided to grab a chicken roll from the nearby pizza place and stumbled upon the ubiquitous CK and her friend Jesse as they headed to the elevators. On the way up, we made light conversation, as I played down my recent $400 Wall Street Game loss. Upstairs, we entered Dawn's apartment to see Fisch and two or three other guys watching the latest WSOP on ESPN. I grabbed a spot and had some dinner as we waited for the other players to arrive.
As with 99% of home games, most players arrive 30+ minutes late. I killed time by heavy-lifting and manual labor under the supervision of foreman Dawn. I also made a mental note to arrive at 9pm next time. Man, I'm such a sucker for manual labor.
Surprisingly, right before kick-off, a slew of players entered the apartment. By then CK had already set up the chips, and the players were already circling for seats. There were to be three partially-filled tables in total, the Smoker's Table on the balconey, the Main Table, and the Kid's Table, named affectionately after the cheesy folding table with mismatched chairs that always got the worst piece of the challah (Jewish holidays) or turkey (for you non-Jews) at family holiday dinners. The Kid's Table was actually a good-quality folding poker table set up in the living room. Its largest shortcoming is the seats, most of which are couches that are slightly too low for comfortable poker. That said, in New York City (including the outter boroughs like Dawn's Brooklyn apartment...yuck, outter boroughs), space and chairs are always limited, and the Kid's Table was the perfect solution to space and seating woes.
By the time I pulled my seat card (Ten of clubs), the Kid's Table was already mostly full. There were a decent amount of players at the Tournament that I didn't know well, but they didn't sit at the Kid's Table. I basically took the 1s, an actual chair (score!), as no one pulled the black Ace during seat drawings. To my left was 2-7 Triple Alceste, "the Human Stick Figure" F-Train, Kearns of KJ-Technique (at least I think that's who he was, as I didn't get introduced formally), Mary of Bacon-kini fame, Degenerate Impressario CK, and mild-mannered Jesse. If you are keeping score, that was 8 people, including me. There was an ninth player, Gus, but he chose to move to the Smoker's Table once we realized that the amount of players per table were lopsided.
For a split second, I volunteered to move first. The Smokers are a fun group, and the breeze and air was cool outside. I also didn't much feel like playing against the same people I see almost weekly at a slew of home games. On the other hand, I had played with the Smokers before, and my game suffered as a result. In my experience, the group can be very aggressive, which actually mirrors my own style in some ways. This can cause some high variance play, something that is terrible for tournaments. It can also cause me to tighten up, which I tried last time, but I felt more confident with the devils I knew, and let Gus take the outdoor spot.
Within two hands, I was glad for my decision. In the second hand, I was dealt 89s in EP. The blinds were 25/50 with 3k starting stacks. Jesse, UTG (I think) raised to 150. I called. The rest of the table folded around to the BB, CK, who called as well. If this is wrong, the only adjustment was that CK was the SB, Jesse was the BB, I limped UTG and then after CK called, Jesse raised 3x the BB, getting calls from CK and me. Regardles, the flop was J88 and CK checked. Jesse checked. I bet out 400 or so. Jesse called. The turn was a blank. Jesse checked and I raised 1200 or something similar into the pot. He raised and I called. The river was a blank and Jesse pushed all-in. I thought for a bit before calling. He asked, "Do you have the eight?" I figured he was about to ask about my kicker, but after I said yes and tabled my 89s, he showed KK. REBUY! I had already doubled up.
From there, the game was fairly relaxed for me. I played a decent amount of pots for cheap. I didn't have any amazing starting hands, but I didn't need them either. F-Train was working hard collecting chips, giving them back, and collecting them again. In fact, I noticed that F-Train and I were mirroring our Okie-Vegas tourney, except that our roles were reversed. We were even in reverse seat position, with me two to his right rather than the opposite. Not too surprisingly, we didn't get into many hands against each other, mostly because I know better. F-Train is not to be fucked with.
I also saved myself from a prop bet from hell. I can be a bit snarky. For those of you who haven't seen the term much, Dictionary.com defines it as "Rudely sarcastic or disrespectful." I wouldn't go so far as to say I'm disrespectful, because it is all tongue-in-cheek snarkiness, but sometimes I catch myself overdoing it. Whatever the case, CK asked me why I was so "snarky" (mocking my own words...), and I promised not to make a snarky comment the rest of the night. Talks of a prop bet started, but I had already mentally made about 13 snarky comments within that 2 minute time frame, so I knew I would be bound to lose. We made it a gentlemen's bet, i.e., no money was involved, which is ironic because CK and I are degenerates who would bet on most anything and neither of us should be classified as "gentlemen." I think I broke my snark-silence about 15 minutes later, when I made some comment about the Main Table being a bunch of folding losers. Shame on me.
I don't remember many other memorable hands. Right before the first break, I was dealt TT in the BB. F-Train led out with a bet and was raised by Kearns. By the time it got to me, I reluctantly folded. After F-Train folded, I showed my cards and Kearns showed JJ. In reality, laying down TT out of position facing a raise and re-raise was not too difficult, but I was glad that my decision was validated. I had another interesting hand with Kearns a little later (or was it before?). I had AKc in MP or maybe LP with Kearns in a blind. I raised it up, I think F-Train may've called, and Kearns pushed all-in. My raise was something like 1200, with blinds of 200/400. I thought for a long while, but I couldn't get a read off of Kearns. I thought he looked confident overall, but I made the crying call, since I had him so outstacked. The call was 3000 or 4000 more, and if I lost, I'd still be the table chipleader or thereabouts. He was playing well, so it'd be nice to bust him too. He showed AKd. By the turn, he had a flush draw, but the river missed him and we chopped it up. He told me it was a nice call, and I told him it was a great raise. I'm still not sure about my call, but the results were good enough.
I never rebought and by the end of the 2-hour rebuy period, I had busted Jesse again and had a stack of 14.5k. We all took a break and I chatted out on the balconey with some of the players. LJ was playing at the Main Table, and we made small talk outside.
She asked, "Are you the chipleader at your table?"
I responded, "Yep. Doing alright. How is it going for you?"
"Okay." I sensed she was not entirely pleased by the tone of her voice.
"Well, did you rebuy?"
"Do you have more chips than your starting stack? I mean, you must, otherwise you'd be short." I was trying to encourage her. After all, I like LJ, as I do most of the blogging community and NY bloggers in particular.
"I have about 19k."
"19k?" I was shocked. I was definitely chip leader at my table, but LJ's stack blew me away. When I last saw LJ's stack a while ago, she was nowhere near 19k. That, and she played it off like she was, well, just doing, "Okay".
"Damn," I continued, "looks like you got the chiplead." I was rightly impressed. Even though the game is played at the Crackhouse, the competition is a lot tougher than one might think.
After a while, the Smoker's Table broke up and three players took the three seats to my immediate right. I had effectively moved to the 1s, and Elena had the 10s. We chatted for a bit. She was upset about her shortstack and position relative to the uber-aggro Jordan, but she put on a clinic and chipped up steadily over the next few orbits. Granted, she didn't get near my stack, but my stack did have a prohibitive lead and according to Elena, the Smoker's Table was actually quite tame without a lot of rebuys.
After some time, we got to the final table. LJ still had the chiplead, with me nipping at her heels. In the first hand, I tangled with Ron, Karol's brother, and took his stack in a donktastic manner. Ron raised to 1000 or maybe 1400 with blinds of 200/400. I was in the BB with 78o. I eyed his stack and saw that he had 4k behind. I called, hoping to flop something and stack him. I also thought that Ron was loose aggressive, so I thought I could get all of his chips if I flopped a pair. The flop was J8x, and I checked. Ron insta-pushed, I called, and he showed KJ for top pair. My preflop read was correct, but he hit his pair also. The turn was a 7, and he was knocked out.
I don't remember much else for a while. I was mostly card dead, and folded away. Eventually, we were down to 6, with me, LJ, CK, Shy, Gus, and Kearns. I think Kearns went out next and Gus shortly after. Shy busted in fourth, and it was me, LJ and CK. I was still in second behind LJ at this point, and I was hoping we could get rid of CK and work out a chop. CK, however, had other ideas in mind, and slowly added to her stack. For the most part, I played conservatively.
By then, the blinds were up to 300/600 or maybe 400/800, and since there were only three of us, most hands were taken down preflop with a 3x bet (2400). With this in mind, I was delighted to see KK on the button, and opted to min-bet to get some action. I raised to 1600 (let's assume 400/800 blinds), and LJ, in the SB, announced a raise, 4000 more. I hemmed and hawed, trying to look like I was agonizing over the decision. The thought crossed my mind that LJ might have AA. After all, she exuded a lot of confidence when she re-raised. However, we were three-handed, and I am known for being full of shit, so I decided to put my fear of Bullets behind me. I raised 10k on top.
These were some big numbers. Realistically, we probably both had around 30 to 40k. I wanted to push all-in, but I thought it looked too eager. 10k on top was a nice round number, and to my delight, LJ took the opportunity to push all-in. I called instantly. She showed 44 and my KK held up. She didn't realize how deep my stack was, so by the time I was paid off, she looked like she was in desperate shape.
Like CK, LJ was not going to give up easily and battled back to a respectable stack. In fact, over time, I started bleeding chips because I didn't want to double up either of these femme sharks, and I wasn't getting cards worth dick. I raised with A7o once, but CK re-raised and I had to let it go. I was not looking to pay off anyone.
Finally, CK raised in a hand, I called with some random cards (I really have no idea now), and LJ called. The flop was Q-high, rainbow, and it checked around. On the turn, another spade, I checked and one of the girls bet. I folded. By the river, a third spade fell and LJ ended up all-in (CK barely had her covered). CK had rivered the flush and LJ lost with her flopped top-pair. LJ was a bit upset at her play, and I know how she feels. I had made the same 44 vs. KK move at the Wall Street Game not too long ago (in that instance, I rivered a 4 for a suckout) and have repeatedly caught myself making bad calls late in games. It can be very disheartening. Still, I didn't fault her too bad for slowplaying top-pair. It was hard to get any action between the three of us, so it made sense for her to try to milk some action, as long as she was cautious. I guarantee that she gets away from the hand if an Ace falls, but how could she expect that the preflop raise from CK meant T8s, for runner runner flush.
After LJ busted, CK and I counted our chips. To my amazement, I was still in the lead with about 56k to her 46k. We busted out the ole calculator and did an equitable chop, netting me $370 in profit.
After the game, CK, LJ and I shared a car service into NYC. The girls were dropped off first at a new underground poker room. A+ in Degeneracy, girls! I, on the other hand, returned home, where my wife was sleeping in bed. I sat in the living room for a bit, unwinding and flipping around the channels looking for anything to numb my mind before bed. The poker adrenaline was still pumping hard, but TV was a wasteland, so I joined wifey Kim in bed with my iPod to keep me company as I attempted to doze.
Thanks to Dawn and Karol for hosting the game. I needed that win to get me over the $1000 in losses at Nice Look and the Wall Street Game. Not too long ago, Dawn wrote about the $400 loss and said this: "I've very rarely seen Jordan lose money when playing live poker..." That means a lot, especially since I think its fairly true. I may be a lot of things at the poker table. I'm sociable, I'm snarky, I'm often wacky and unpredictable, but I'm also winning. Too bad there is no money in being a home game, low buy-in tournament specialist. But its nice for building the 'roll.
I don't see much poker on the near horizon. This is a busy week with the Jewish holidays on Wednesday night through Friday night, and the Lord don't take kindly to gamblin' (I should know; the Lord and me are tight). Luckily, the Lord has nothing against online poker.
I'll be heading to AC in October. My main man Dave Roose was there a few weeks ago with his new wife. He called me from AC longing for a guys' trip. It has been way to long, so we are booked for mid-October. Other than that, we go back again for a Very Degenerate X-Mas. Otherwise, its all homegames.
Until next time, make mine poker!
Pop Quiz Answered - Theories on Bet Sizing
Sunday, September 09, 2007
I have to admit, I did not get the amount of comments I was hoping for, but such is a blog, so I'll do what I can with what I have. Principally, the more I think about bet sizing, the more I've come to the conclusion that round numbers tend to tempt players into calling, and odd numbers (odd tend to elicit folds. While those two conclusions seem to be exact opposites, the interplay between the two is a bit more complicated, and seem to turn on whether play is online or live, tournament or cash.
Looking at the pop quiz, we start with what I consider my worst-crafted question: Playing an online poker tournament, with a pot of 120, BB vs. SB, if the flop is Ace-high, what is the best bet to elicit a fold - 80, 100, 120 or 140? Why is this the worst crafted? Because unlike the other questions, the focus seems to be more on whether a fold-inducing bet should be bigger or smaller than the pot. The comments, however, seem to lean mostly toward 100, and I'm inclined to agree. Hoyazo said 120 or 100, CK said 80 or 100, and Surflexus said 100. So why is it that 100, a "round" number if ever there was one, is actually an odd number in this scenario. The answer is the pot size. With a 120 pot, a 120 or 80 bet makes sense. Its something that can be readily quantified by an average player. 100, on the other hand, does not lend itself to a thoughtless pot odds analysis, and I guarantee you that most pot odd analysis is done subconsciously. As poker players and, for the most part, intelligent people, we understand how bets interact with pot sizes without affirmatively processing the math. We know the "feel" of an 80 or 120 bet into a 120 pot, and so we know how to act accordingly. But a 100 bet, well, that's just peculiar. So, our brains subconsciously tell us that something is wrong and we fold. Or so my theory goes.
The second question addresses the flip side: what bet sizes induce a call? The specific question is, if you flop trips and your opponent leads out with a 500 bet, how much would you bet if you are trying to induce a call - 500 more, 750 more, 1000 more, or 1500 more. Once again, the question suffers for the sheer breadth of the subject. The majority of the comments, however, chose 1000 more, for reasons that are similar but slightly different than the reasoning I am about to set forth. But first, lets examine the other choices. Surflexus liked the 1500 raise, but because it might look like a bluff because its such a large raise. In my opinion, the bet is too high and would push out all but the strongest opposing hands. Also, the 1500 bet is an intimidating one. You've broken the magical number of 1000 or even 1200, numbers that to me just look a lot more "round" and therefore comfortable. In fact, I beseech you to leave a comment, because maybe this is all just me. So I ask, just looking at the digits, doesn't 1500 look MUCH more intimidating than 1200, even though there is only a mere 300 difference? For the same reason, the 750 raise was ignored by all commentors. That 750 number is just too awkward, and your opponent is going to see that number and think that something is fishy. CK and Hoyazo thought the 1000 raise was better to induce a call because it was a standard 3x raise that would not raise suspicion, and I wholeheartedly agree. I add, also, that psychologically, the number 1000 is so round and, for lack of a better word, comforting, that it would be easy to call 1000 with a number of dominated hands.
The third question begins to delve into the idea of bet-sizing in live cash games. I believe there is a different psychology at work here, likely because you do not get to see "CALL 1000" written out on your monitor. Instead, you have to react to the bets called out, so the comfort of all those zeros (and I sincerely believe that there is a comfort to 1000 because it is so round and familiar) is nil. So, with that in mind, the question turns to how you can control people's actions through bet sizing live. In my estimation, the most effective use of bet sizing live is when you are trying to force a fold. In fact, I have started a bunch of hands with the sole intention of taking down a pot with weird-sized bets, and it almost always works.
In the third question, I asked, would you call or fold from the BB with AJs and a flop of A23, if the bettor preflop bet $13, got three callers (including you), and then (after you check) the bettor bets out $33 into the $52 pot. Hoyazo folds in a heartbeat, CK hates AJ so lets assume she'll fold, Surf check-raises for info, and msbuss folds but questions whether a check-raise is in order. I'm inclined to agree with Surf and msbuss' question regarding a check-raise, but realistically, I'm likely folding after a lot of hemming and hawing. Why? Those are some wacky-ass bets, and I don't know what the hell they mean. $13 preflop? Why not $12 or $15, both of which are more common in most 1/2 NL games? $33 post flop? Where the hell did that number come from? How about a pot-sized bet or even $25 or $30? The key is, those weird bets can be very disorientating. I know, because they often work like a charm. Players will often call the preflop bet thinking that the weird bet is full of crap and then fold to another weird bet on the flop because they realize that their initial thought on the preflop raise do not comport with the post-flop bet; this all in addition to the fact that the numbers are too awkward to analyze with any confidence. I commend Surf on his check-raise response, but I also have to wonder how big you check-raise to get the right info. You could just bet 3x his bet, or $99, or round that up to $100, but at 1/2 NL, a $100 bet is often 1/3 of your stack or more. That's some expensive information.
In the final question, I asked what you do if you call a raise to a mere $7 out of position with pocket 6s, check the KJ5 flop, and then face a $13 bet from the original raiser. Hoy folds, CK thinks its a fold/raise situation, and Surf folds most of the time. I'm inclined to fold here, since, like Hoy, I'm hoping to flop the set out of position. But the question remains, do those weird sized bets induce the call preflop ("It's only $5") and a fold post-flop ("It's only $13, but WTF does he have that he'd bet $13?!?"). In my estimation, its hard to place your opponent on a hand. He could just as easily have ATs or 89s and just bet his position postflop after his preflop pot-builder with his drawing hand. But, likewise, he could have KJ or AJ or AK or KQ or 77 or any number of hands that have you dominated. Compare this with a $12 or $15 raise preflop and a pot-sized bet post-flop, which can be easily analyzed as a strong hand, OR a $8 raise preflop and a pot-sized bet post-flop, which can be easily analyzed as a pot-builder/missed-flop-bluff. This question continued with a turn bet of $19 and a river of $27, two numbers that are not as high as they should be, traditionally, if you are trying to push a player out of a pot. Even so, I would argue that while they are smaller bets, they are as effective, if not moreso, than larger bets to push opponents out of pots. They also have the added benefit of saving you some money when your opponent has flopped a monster and is slowplaying (expect him to raise on the river, at which point, you know the jig is up and you can fold for cheaper than pot-sized bets the whole way).
Kaja asked one final question that I would like to address: "I have recently read and seen some big MTT players make x99 bets. Raise to 299, re-raise to 1599, etc. I think those are so confusing. How does that play into your psycho analysis?" Good question, Kaja, because it touches upon something I neglected to include in my original questions. We are all used to advertisements and price tags touting the $X.99 price. In fact, gas stations even list gasoline at a price that usually ends in 9/10th of a cent. They do this because the $4.99 looks a lot nicer and cheaper than $5. If you were just to take that knowledge, you would assume that these MTT players are trying to encourage calls by making their bets look smaller than they actually are. But I would argue the opposite.
We all are well aware of the 99 phenomenon, so when you see a bet of 899 instead of 900, arguably you are going to be MORE suspicious of the bet, and consequently, you are going to be more likely to fold. That 99 is a signal, subconsciously or otherwise, that your opponent is trying to "sell you" on their bet, and get you to buy. More generally, I was thinking about bets that are just under pot. When the pot is 1200, a bet of 1100 is a lot more scary than a pot-sized 1200 bet, because of the things we discussed earlier: (a) the subconscious pot odd calculations are thrown off, (b) the bet size is awkward and uncomfortable and (c) these two things get you to question the reason for the raise and in most instances people conclude that they bet below pot to try to induce a call -- similar to the $4.99 price.
If you have any thoughts on the subject, let me know, because these are all theories that I am still hammering out, and there is just too much community knowledge out there to be tapped. I thank the commentors for their input, as the three largest comments came from three of the most intelligent poker-thinkers I know, all of which have distinctly different styles and all of which are extremely successful. Thanks, guys.
And while I'm here, I might as well share, I won the I Had Outs tournament last night, with CK coming in 2nd (we actually did an equitable chop, heads up) and LJ taking third. I'm sure I'll be writing it up soon enough, but...
Until then, make mine poker!