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2010 Manifesto

My 200 person staff is working around the clock to get the New HighOnPoker.com up and running. We ran into a SNAFU this weekend when trying to set up the new RSS feed. At the very least, the .COM site was up and running, even if I'd have to post twice (blogspot and .COM) in order to share my posts with RSS readers, but even that came crumbling down sometime Saturday night. Now, for some reason, the .COM site redirects to the blogspot address, even though I cannot see how that would be possible, considering the changes I made to the .COM.

Thank god I'm not a tech guy. As much as I enjoy tweaking with these things, it's just a hobby and when I hit a brick wall, I can go back to being an online ham-and-egger relying upon the actually talented to help me break through these road blocks.

On an entirely unrelated note, I had an epiphany this weekend. I still want to go pro, probably now moreso than ever. It's also still a pipe dream, but the passion is still there. In fact, I think I found the one path that will allow me to go pro yet not destroy the wonderful life I have created with wifey Kim.

The key, my friends, is to hit a big score. I know that this is a ridiculous statement on its own. We all want to hit big scores. But its more than just desire now; it's soon to be action.

Now, to be clear, this big score is not unbridled. There is a bit more to it.

When I started playing online poker, I was playing for pennies. I worked my way up through some online freerolls, eventually got together enough money to play higher stakes online (but never high stakes) and then allowed my live game to blossom.

My live game started with $20 buy-in tournaments or .25/.50, $20-max-buyin NLHE held at my apartment or at a friend's place. Over time, this too grew, and I began to play the cheaper under-$100 tournaments at AC along with 1/2 NLHE. I was still largely at this stage until I started to play more in the underground NYC clubs. There, I dabbled in 2/5, along with one 2/5 run in a single session up in Buffalo. I never felt the urge to play 2/5 in casinos because the action was so plentiful and soft at 1/2. I still am in no rush to play 2/5, but I feel confidence that I can do it competently. The main key was getting comfortable with the money that could be won or lost. Having a deeper bankroll and more experience has hopefully helped shed that concern.

The big change, though, were the tournaments. Whereas I used to seek $100 or less buy-in tournaments, now I am looking for higher buy-ins. In fact, that is the linchpin of the new poker thrust for 2010.

The only way for me to continue to grow organically into something that can someday lead to poker financial independence is to continue to play higher. The goal for 2010 is to enter tournaments with $200 or higher buy-ins, live only. Online, I could still give to shits, although I'll continue to play low stakes with the hope that I can have another $3k or $2k score every once in a while. But live tournaments are where I hope to make my nut, albeit in a very safe manner.

The key is to balance the goal with my current life. I don't want to eschew my life as a husband and lawyer. I embrace that life. But I also want to continue to grow as a poker player, and that means putting in the time, effort and, probably most important to my transition, the money.

I have amassed a decent bankroll this last year, even with random withdrawals to the bank of real life. So now, its time to put it to work for me.

The start will hopefully occur in Vegas in December. While others are making plans to actually socialize, I hope my weekend trip will be practically wall-to-wall poker. The blogger private tournament is that Saturday, so Saturday afternoon is out. Friday night is supposed to be mixed games at MGM and since I love mixed games, that's out too. So, I think I've decided on a 12:30am tournament to take place at Harrah's Las Vegas. It's not quite the buy-in I am looking for at $150, but for that late at night, its the best I can find in reasonable distance from my hotel (the Imperial Palace). It's also a $50 bounty tournament, meaning that aggression will likely be the key to earning some decent cash. Whatever the case, I probably know more about playing a bounty tournament then most casual Vegas players, so I like my odds.

After that, the goal will be to play some of the Borgata (AC) higher buy-in weekly tournaments when I can, specifically the $300 Saturday tourney. This'll be tough since my time is scarce, but I must commit to making monthly or so trips to AC if I really want to break through.

Maybe poker is merely that dream of mine, always destined to be at a distance like a mirage in the desert. It's certainly a possibility. But if I don't try, I cannot succeed, and I guess that is what this is all about. I love poker and I want to succeed; ergo, I must take more chances and play higher.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 9:21 AM, , links to this post




Blogger.com Test

If you are reading this on an RSS feed, that means I have failed.

posted by Jordan @ 2:21 PM, , links to this post




Hammer Play

Hey guys. I got a random email from Ultimate Bet and noticed that they have special tables with a standing prop bet that will earn you a couple of bucks if you win a hand with the hammer (72o). Most amazingly, this was part of the email/website:

That's right, folks. They used a silhouette of a hammer in the design. Now, for a bit of history, the Hammer isn't some 1800s nickname for 72o. It was dubbed the Hammer by fellow poker blogger Grubby several years ago. It was picked up by the poker blogging community, I am sure in large part to the hammer promotions Grubby ran at the time, and has spread thanks to the interconnectivity of poker blogs.

What's most interesting is that most people probably don't know the nickname, "hammer" for 72o. And, in fact, there is no reference to the word "hammer" on UB's page for their 7Deuce promotion.

So, my only guess is that whoever designed the hammer logo must've heard the term that originated from Grubby and incorporated it into the graphic design even though the promotion does not use the official hammer moniker. Either way, mad props to Grubby and the hammer.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 5:30 PM, , links to this post




Biography and Luck

While we are on the subject of poker books, I'd like to take a moment to talk about one of my favorite sub-genres: poker biographies. I've read a handful in my day, and really, only a handful, but they are probably some of my favorite poker books to read. Usually, you get a good story, interesting characters, a touch of poker history, and a smattering of strategy. Frankly, I think I just really love the insight into the world of a professional poker player.

Amonsg my favorites are the biographies of Stu Ungar, Amarillo Slim, Mike Matusow, and, surprisingly, Chris Moneymaker. For anyone truly interested in poker as it exists today, I highly recommend the Moneymaker book.

I was reading a piece by Change100 at PokerNews and it reminded me of one aspect of the Moneymaker book that has stuck with me to this day. Change100's article goes through the different possible 2009 WSOP Champions with a very astute analysis of the what each win could mean for poker. When discussing Ivey, she recalled a hand on the final table bubble of the 2003 WSOP:

If there ever was a single card that changed the game of poker, it came on the final table bubble of the 2003 Main Event. Holding {A-Diamonds}{Q-Clubs}, Chris Moneymaker flopped trip queens and led out for 70,000. Phil Ivey called with pocket nines and hit his gin card on the turn with the {9-Clubs}, making him a well-disguised full house. Moneymaker did his bidding for him, firing out 200,000. Ivey moved all-in and Moneymaker called. Although Ivey was better than a 4-to-1 favorite to win the pot, Moneymaker rivered an ace for a higher full house, winning the hand and sending Ivey to the rail in 10th place.
This hand has been played so many times on TV, it's hard not to remember it. Regardless, what always amazed me about Moneymaker's book was his analysis of the hand.

Moneymaker's win was widely regarded as a fluke in most poker circles. He hasn't had much success since the win, so most people write him off as a guy who got lucky to win the WSOP.

Clearly, Moneymaker's book was meant, in part, to address this belief. Whether or not he successfully defeats his own luckbox image is another story, but he does make some great points about his "luck".

People looked at his AQ v. 99 hand with Ivey and said, "Moneymaker is so lucky to have hit the 4-outter on the river." But that isn't the full story, as explained by Moneymaker. And Moneymaker is right.

The hand started as a basic cointoss. But once the flop was dealt, Moneymaker took a commanding lead with trips against two pair. Ivey then needed to hit a 2 outter to take the lead on the turn. He hit his two outter, shifting the odds well in his favor and giving Moneymaker a meager 4 outs. Moneymaker then hit his four outs.

Some people think that makes Moneymaker a luckbox, and in a way, it does; just not in the way that they think. The story is not about how many outs Moneymaker rivered, but about the luck throughout the hand. Moneymaker was somewhat lucky to flop good, but no one can argue that he played incorrectly when he played AQ preflop with a solid stack. On the turn, Ivey was the one who got lucky; in fact, he got very lucky. Moneymaker may've finished off the hand with his own luck, but that's the thing about luck: it gets spread around.

This is not a hand about a lucky river. It's a hand about a fortunate setup. That's a key difference. In the first scenario, Moneymaker is a donk who called an all-in from behind. In the second, Ivey got coolered by getting "lucky" on the turn when he was way behind and then having Moneymaker retake the lead with a monster hand on the river. In scenario one, Moneymaker is a loser (not in a literal sense); in scenario two, it's Ivey.

Of course, I never meant to go into such detail. But I do recommend Moneymaker's book, if nothing else because it gives a novel view of the events that really brought upon the poker boom.

And while you are at it, if you enjoy self-destruction, check out Ungar's biography and Matusow's biography. If you like to get a feel for the old school gamblers' lifestyle, check out Amarillo Slims. All are great reads.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 2:03 PM, , links to this post




Omaha's Book Club

I love the 8-game SNGs. Last night, I took my last buy-in at PokerStars to a 6-person, 8-game, turbo SNG. I took 2nd, which was good enough to double my meager bankroll and give me enough to waste on another game shortly.

I've been thinking a lot about Omaha lately. When I first learned the game, I took to it like wildfire. My love of poker is really a love of games, and Omaha was another fun new game to learn. I felt I had a better intuitive grasp on the game than most because of the way my brain thinks (gamesmanship, mostly), but I've come to learn that as I acclimated myself to the game before moving on to others, a large portion of the online poker world (and bloggers) kept learning and probably know way more about the game than I ever did.

This was a humbling realization, but it spurred my next thought. I need to learn Omaha better. And what better way to learn Omaha (besides playing it) than to read up on the game. That's where hopefully you come in...

Can anyone recommend a good Omaha book? I'd like to cover all variations, including limit, pot limit, high only and 8 or better.

It's been a long time since I read a poker book. The last one was Gus Hansen's Every Hand Revealed, which I read about a year ago (highly recommended, by the way). So, I guess it is time, and if I act now, I'll hopefully ingest the book well in advance of my December to Remember poker tour.

And while I'm at it, if anyone else has a non-Omaha poker book they'd recommend, feel free to share. It'd help, though, if you gave a brief description of why the book is worthwhile. I like all sorts of poker books, including the biographies and narratives.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 9:32 AM, , links to this post




Another Blow to AC

It's more good news for my fellow degenerates, but more bad news to Atlantic City. For a long while, AC had a monopoly on legalized gambling in the North East. It was the home of the first casino built on US soil outside of Vegas (the now pathetic Resorts AC) and spent many years as the only legal gambling spot in the NE (and possibly the entire Eastern seaboard) until the Injuns finally realized that they could trade back our beads for casino megaplexes. I don't know the full history of all of the casinos in the North East, but we know from recent history that the taboo against gambling is dissolving, with PA first allowing slots and more recently giving the green light to table games which may include real poker. And it looks like Ohio is now in on the fun. (nod to Iggy's recent post for alerting me to Ohio's recent change of heart).

Ohioans recently voted in a referendum to legalize casinos in the city's four largest cities, Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati and Toledo. This was a departure from past sentiment, as four prior referendums in Ohio have failed over the last 19 years.

Of course, this does not bode well for my second home, Atlantic City. AC didn't have any direct flights regularly scheduled from Ohio, but apparently they did have some regular charter flights bringing in the gamblers. Whatever the case, as gambling becomes more and more prevalent and legal in the surrounding states, the appeal of AC as a gambling haven continues to diminish.

I can't be too unhappy, though. For one, I can probably fly pretty cheaply to Ohio, not that I've checked. Aside from that, the expansion of legalized gambling will hopefully continue, much in the same way as we will continue to see strides in legalized marijuana and gay marriage. Ironically, of the three, gay marriage is having the hardest time, which just goes to show what America is really made out of.

Of course, this isn't really a move toward personal freedoms or libertarian values as much as it is an exploitation of the morons running this society (I mean the voters as much as the government). The big push was based on claims of new jobs and more revenue to be taxed by the government. All you have to do is look at struggling AC or Detroit to see that the benefits are not exactly what they seem.

But in the end, more casinos means more gamblers means less taboo. So you and I will eventually be able to talk freely about our unhealthy amount of sports bets or poker games in the not too distant future without the look of scorn from John Q. Public.

I love the deterioration of Puritanical principles.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 2:58 PM, , links to this post




Snowball

Boy oh boy. Now I remember why I stopped playing online. It's like a cartoon snowball rolling down a hill. It starts off all innocuous, but by the time the poker snow ball starts gaining momentum, it's suddenly a boulder of snow, complete with cartoon skier sticking out.

I've never hid the fact that I'm not perfect, and my sometimes unhealthy love of poker is just one of my many charming faults. Since I started to get back into the online game, I've been playing regularly every night. At least I have enough self-control to choose my spots, preferring to play two or three SNGs of varying sizes and games rather than the uber long late night MTTs or the open-ended cash games. In fact, I wonder at times why I don't play more cash games online. I think it was something to do with my meager online bankroll and my steadfast refusal to play any game where the big blind is some number located to the right of the decimal point.

It got to the point last night that I considered contacting my Canadian connection (not sure if he/she wants to be outed) to hook me up with some more casheesh in exchange for PayPal money. I was down to probably my last SNG buy-in at PokerStars.

I had already lost a Double-or-Nothing tournament. That one was miserable. In these D-o-N games, it's 10-handed NLHE or PLO (in this case, NLHE), and once it is down to 5 players, each player gets double their buy-in. I've been dabbling with them mostly because they are the perfect game for my fractured concentration.

I came across a one-two-three punch that saw me go out on the bubble in 6th. First, I was mutli-tabling the D-o-N and another SNG at Stars, along with an online game of Chess at ChessHere.com. (If anyone wants to play some chess, hit me up with a comment or challenge me to a correspondence game on Chesshere, where my screenname is HighOnPoker). Much like online poker, I've been binging on online chess lately, both correspondence games and "live" games (i..e, games where two players are playing online at the same time with time limits).

So, here I am, playing three disparate games (the other SNG was not NLHE). And lo and behold, I look back at the NLHE D-o-N game to learn that I had accidentally timed out and automatically folded. This happens from time to time. I let my mouse cross over my avatar and suddenly my folded cards revealed themselves: AA. FUCK! To make matters worse, a player acting before me had already pushed all-in. Easy money and I let it slip through my fingers. There was one late position caller and the two players showed underpairs, I think QQ for the preflop pusher and 55 for the caller. The flop had a Queen and for a minute, I thought that the good graces of the Poker Gods stepped in to make me miss the hand, but the turn was an Ace, and by the river, my top set would've been good.

I'll admit that at the time, I wasn't bothered too much. Que sera and all that jazz. A little while later, though, I held 55 in the BB. It folded to the SB who limped. He was pretty shortstacked and we were on the bubble so I pushed, content in knowing that even if I lost, I still wouldn't be the shortstack. He called and showed 47s...and then turned his flush. FUCK #2!

In my last hand of the SNG (in fact, everyone's last hand), I ended up pushing all-in with A8s. I got called by the next shortest stack, who had me covered by barely 200, enough that if I won, he'd likely be out in a matter of two or so hands when the blinds came around. Even the BB, who had a decent stack, chose to fold to my meager push, leaving me heads up. My opponent showed T8o, obviously choosing to call to hopefully knock me out. He then flopped his 3-outter Ten and took down the pot, knocking me out.

I analyzed the game and realized that my only error was the AA hand, and that was caused due to my inattentiveness. I'd love to say lesson learned, but we all know better.

Oh, and that other SNG was a 2-table, 6-handed (i.e., 12 players total) 8-game Mixed. These things are awesome and are the #1 reason I'm glad I returned to PokerStars. The beauty of the game is that you start with a little-known game (2-7 Triple Draw) where you can immediately spot the donks, then enter the HORSE games, where the donks are even more defined when they start chasing in the limit hold'em round, and then continues on with NLHE and PLO, two games where the donkeys, now on short stacks, pretty much just fall on their swords.

By the time we were on the bubble with four players left, I was in decent shape, probably 2nd in chips, with one relative shortstack out of the four of us. If you are a good strategist, there is a lot of opportunity to exploit the structure. For instance, down to four, I started to just run over my competition in the NLHE and PLO rounds. I had realized by then that some people were not adjusting their play for the NL and PL games; even more importantly, it was the best place to pick up big pots with the NL and PL structures. And once your opponents realize you are going for the jugular in the NL/PL rounds, they start to fear you and will fold all too readily. I was raising preflop with Q2s on the button with absolute impunity. It was a delight!

So, there it is. These online games are just too much fucking fun and are way too accessible. I still can't pay attention for shit. But at least I'm winning often enough to keep from going broke online. I suppose that's something.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 2:43 PM, , links to this post




$20 Upgrade

Hey folks. I stumbled upon a link via Kid Dynamite recently that I thought I would share with you. It's an article about a journalist who took $2,000 in $20 bills and proceeded to see what he could get by tipping. The article is located HERE.

It reminded me of a trick I read from Lucypher a while ago. Basically, he said that he likes to slip hotel check-in clerks the old $20 and ask for a room upgrade. I had adopted this routine after having honed the more advanced, but more limited free upgrade technique at Tropicana Hotel in Atlantic City. On my first and only try of the $20 room upgrade move, I was utterly successful, scoring a junior suite (a $50/night room upgrade) for two nights. Of course, when the clerk saw it was "only" a $20, she said, "You know this is a $100 upgrade." And I said, "Yes, thank you."

I'm in the process of booking this year's X-mas in AC, and I already look forward to trying the $20 tip routine. I have a feeling that the economy will likely help my chances, since (a) the clerk could probably use the $20, and (b) the hotel probably will not be full.

One word of advice, though. If you are going to try this technique, be ready to lose $20. There are no guarantees. Just consider it a $20 bet.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 3:18 PM, , links to this post




Learning How to Lose

The streak is really over. After returning to Tuna Club yesterday for the $160 Sunday tournament, I left a loser, the first time that has happened in a Tuna Club Sunday tourney in my last four tries.

I'll tell you one thing experience has taught me in poker: How to Lose.

I don't mean How to Lose as in, How can I lose these chips? That's easy. I mean How to Lose as in, What does one do after losing.

But first let's get to the loss.

I started off running over my table. It helped that I was getting major hands, AA, KK and QQ within the first 40 minutes. I started to amass a stack, but it finally went to shit when I held AK and called a raise from a chick who I had played with numerous times in the past. The flop was KKx with two clubs. I believe I may have slowplayed here, confident that she was not flush drawing. The flush card hit the turn and the money went all in. I had about 8k, she had about 4k. Her AA included an Ace of clubs. A club hit the river and she doubled through me.

From there, I just made an error. I gambled about 1.8k of my 4.5k stack (having made some small ground back) when I called an all-in from Harris, a solid player who was on a shorter stack. Part of me wanted to take him out of the tourney early. Another part of me must've been a bit on tilt, since in hindsight, the odds were slightly not in my favor, given the price I was getting. Whatever the case, I didn't hit and Harris doubled through me, too. Leaving me with a shorter stack.

I eventually went out of the tournament when I flopped middle pair on an all spade board after being the preflop raiser and pushed all-in after the only preflop caller, Harris, checked. He actually flopped the nuts, and so I busted, about 5 minutes after the re-registration period.

Granted, this was not my best tournament. That's a different subject altogether, and its not lost on me. But part of this game is dealing with loss, sometimes caused by bad play and other times by bad luck. I've seen players go into rages or self-loathing spells. I've seen misplaced anger, useless grief and self-destruction, all in the name of a lost tournament or hand. But that's stuff for the amateurs.

When I lost the tournament, I made my usual gags: "I didn't want to re-register anyway!" I was cool as a cucumber. I gathered my stuff, made some friendly goodbyes and headed for the door.

It blows my mind when I see these guys freak out over a losing hand, or mumble under their breath about this donkey or that stupid play. This gets the player nowhere. Critical thinking about the hand is one thing, but misdirected anger, hell, any anger, over poker is just useless. It's self-flagulation and masturbation all at the same time.

Let's be real for a moment. I'm no poker pro. But I do strive to take on the qualities of a poker pro when I'm at the table. And the reality is, if you play poker professionally, you will lose sometimes. That's the nature of this masochistic game we play. So you can handle it one of two ways: you can be a bitch, or you can man up. I simply choose to man up.

Poker is a fickle bitch and the worst thing you can do when it comes to fickle bitches is to give them the attention they want. They'll just suck you into their misery, like a modern day succubus. You are much better off brushing the bitch aside and ignoring her completely. Water off a duck's back and all that jazz.

So, I didn't reach my annual goal. I still have about $350 to go, but it's within spitting distance. Live poker may be scarce this week. I'll probably be able to squeeze one night in, if I'm lucky. The real prize is New Orleans in late November and Vegas/AC in December. I'm already thinking I'd like to make an AC trip sooner, though, so you never know.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 9:26 AM, , links to this post