Saturday, January 24, 2009

EOH Anniversary Tournament

Well, I just busted out VERY close to the bubble in the EVE ONLINE HOLD'EM Anniversary Tournament.

The thing about poker tournaments is, no matter how big the field starts there is only ONE person who is happy about her finishing spot.
Everyone else thinks and wonders about the mistakes they made along the way and the last one that walked them to the door.

This was a terrific tournament with 100 players starting. 5000 tournament chips (TC) to start and 10min blinds (very short). Blinds started at 50/100 and raced upwards. But, regardless of the structure, this is the only game in New Eden and it was a lot of fun!

Early in the race my strategy was to play super tight and not bleed chips. I have found that in ring and, more importantly, tournament play seeing too many hands is one of the biggest leaks your game can have.

I turned AA in the big blind into 2500 TC within the first 2 rounds. Then my pocket jacks held up versus a very loose caller for about 4500. I coasted for a while and played more tight poker.

When the blinds were around 150/300 I found myself in the cutoff with around 15000, if I remember correctly. The player in the SB had a bigger stack. The big blind and UTG limper (if I'm remembering the positions correctly) had much smaller stacks.
I attempted to steal w/ a 3xBB raise to 900. The big stack called fast and after a few moments the BB went over the top for all his chips. UTG folded and I was only looking at 250 more chips.
But I was holding J8 off suit and looking at a bigger stack behind me still to act. I folded.

BB called right way and the AK of the big stack did not get ahead of the BB's pocket kings.

Player in the BB berated me for my fold when it was only 250 more to call and basically accused me of chip dumping or colluding. Now, I take poker pretty seriously and I took offense to the accusation. I made it clear in chat and some words were exchanged. Bottom line is: I abhore cheating and would never do it. This chap doesn't know me from Adam and I will admit to dragging out the discussion abit to see if I could rile him up. No such luck...he moved from the table shortly there after.

Not long after I had my one HUGE break of the tourney. Blinds are 200/400 and I'm SB. It is limped from early position in one place and I wake up w/ 99. Early position has around 3000 tc and BB has abit more. I have close to 8000. I shove w/ my medium pp over the top of both and BB calls fast followed by early limper. Uh oh...

99 vs. KK (BB) vs. JJ (early limper). Flop: 99 x...x...x

Wow, ok..huge break for me. But that is poker.

I nursed my stack up and kept it going for a LONG time. I watched the field dwindle and played safe. One big motivator was the fact that I had made a side bet with Mynxee for 25million ISK over who would last longer. So, I kept an eye on her and forced myself to be disciplined.

Mynxee is a very steady player. She can wait and wait for a hand and when she has one she'll be agressive. But I rarely see her bluff. This served both of us well as her stack never got overly large but her survival kept me motivated. When we were around 18-20 players left, Mynxee spoke from the rail to tell me she'd busted out. Great Game Mynxee!

I got somewhat shorted in chips (around 20k tc) vs very large (40-60k +) stacks. My last hand was:

I'm BB w/ about 25k TC. UTG +1 limps with blinds of 2000/4000. There are 12 players left. 9 places pay out. Mid positon (The_Gov) with a 50k+ stack min raises to 8000. SB (Phoebus) with an even bigger stack (~75k) calls. I look down at AK off suit.

I can limp for 4k more. But I'm already short and looking at 3 more rounds (20 hands) at best. I have to outlast 3 more players and I'm 9th in chips overall right now. I tried to decide how much fold equity my opponents had. I know AK does best when it sees all 5 cards to the river.

I shoved all my chips in and early limper folds. The_Gov thinks for a good amount of time and calls...SB considers abit and folds.

I have AK off vs. The_Gov w/ 66. I failed to catch up in the race and I'm out 12th place.

So, back to the beginning of this story: the only good place to finish a poker tournament is 1st. If the Ace or King came (Phoebus folded AQ making this harder to hit), I am golden. But when it doesn't I second guess myself. I could have smooth called for 4k more and if I miss the flop I give it up. Not a bad idea and I considered it. But I didn't know the strength of my opponents hands and they all seemed better than avg players. I know they are able to lay down moderate cards and the fold equity may have been there.

All in all it was a great tourney. I'm watching the final 5 now and rooting for The_Gov as some of his bullets were mine a short time ago.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Trip Report

Late on entries again. Ce’ La Vi!

I played some live poker over the weekend. I’m not far at all from the Viejas Casino in San Diego and I go there and Sycuan for my live poker fix from time to time.

This weekend Viejas was hosting its annual Viejas Poker Classic, a two day $1050 buy in NL tourney. There were 487 entrants ( I was not one of them) which makes the prize pool $487,000. First place was $100,000 and second was over $59,000.

I played in the ring games on Sunday. When it comes to live poker I’m small time. I don’t maintain a real bankroll so I usually play 3/6 limit or 1/2 NLHE. When I can, and the game looks good, I’ll jump into an Omaha Hi Lo or a Stud game.

The interesting thing about Viejas and a lot of the southern California cardrooms is that the limit games are often Killed. This means that if you win a pot you get the “Kill” button in front of you for the next hand, blue side up. If you win the next pot the Kill button flips over to the red side for the next hand and the limits are doubled.

This means that for a 3/6 limit game, whenever a player wins back to back pots the next hand is a 6/12 game!

Remember, in Limit Hold’em the betting is fixed. So it’s $1 small blind/$3 big blind. $3 to call pre-flop and $3 bet on the flop. Then $6 to bet or call on the turn and river. Any time you raise, you increase your bet by one increment (usually capped at 4 raises).

So, blinds are posted, UTG calls $3, 2nd position raises to $6, Button cold calls $6, SB folds, BB calls the extra $3, UTG calls and the pot stands at: $25. But Wait! RAKE!!

The house drags the blinds off of every hand dealt if a flop is seen. So $3 goes to the house and the SB $1 goes to the house by way of adding to the jackpot pool.

With $4 being taken from the table every hand, you’d better be a winning player to stay ahead of these games. The trick is to not play so many hands! Especially in ‘No Fold’em Hold’em’ as low limit Limit play is often referred. You will often have 5-7 players at a 9 handed table seeing a flop regardless of raises or re-raises.

It is vital to play position well, folding moderate, easily dominated hands early and coming in as inexpensively as possible late in multi-way situations with drawing hands like suited connectors or Ace-Rag suited.

For the record, I bought into this game for a ‘rack of blue’ ($100 of blue $1 chips) and played for almost 5 hours. I got off the table with $262 even after the rake, bad beats and dealer tips. I usually tip 1 chip on an average pot and 2 on a large pot.

For the session I had pocket aces cracked once on the river when my sole opponent’s J8 offsuit caught a third 8 on the river. And I managed to fold pocket aces on the river when I was up against 2 aggressive players who kept betting and raising into a rainbow ragged uncoordinated board. I was way behind as they each had a made set. In fact, if I was playing against more conservative players I could have folded safely on the turn. I probably should have in this case as well.

Anyway, that’s my trip report for this weekend. I hope to be back live soon. I’ve been reading Joe Navarro’s Read Them and Reap. It’s an excellent book about physical tells. I’m weak in this area as most of my poker experience is online.

Take care everyone. Hope to see you on the felt.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Chipping Up

I’ve tried to play more ring games in the EVE Online Hold’Em room but to be honest, there isn’t much action. I don’t really have the bankroll to play the 1000 limit tables and the 200 tables don’t fill up much.

One side effect of this is that I’ve been exercising my short handed game more and that is a good workout.

Last night I played several tournaments on PSO. I played a Limit Hold’em with 22 starters. A Razz with 24 starters and a Stud Hi with 21 starters. (Poker School Online is not Party Poker by any stretch. You just don’t get 100 players in a field.)

I finished 13th in the Razz (by far my worst game). I finished fourth (the money bubble) in the Limit Hold’em. And I finished 2nd in the Stud.

Playing a variety of games is great fun. My favorite format is HORSE (Hold’em, Omaha Hi/Lo, Razz, Stud Hi, Stud Hi/Lo). But I must admit that playing three separate tournaments, short handed, simultaneously is HARD on the brain cells. The screens keep popping to the front demanding action and I have to try to follow the play and remember what game each is very quickly.

Multi-tabling is not my forte.

In the Eve Online Hold’em room (EOHR), I feel like I’m starting to adjust to the kind of play that is most common. You still need to see lots and lots of hands by a particular player to get a decent read on them. But I’m beginning to feel more in tune with the general betting tendencies. When 6 players limp into a flop and the pot sits at 14 and it goes check check, UTG bets 2!, call call call. To be quite honest, this is terrible poker. But it is what it is. And if you want to take the chips you have to learn what language the natives are speaking.

I also am starting to have a better understanding of the overbet (another favorite move in the EOHR). A typical example might be an early position player limps and there are 3 callers. The pot stands at 8. SB and BB check and UTG bets 100! What? Why, where, how??

If the flop is terribly coordinated, say two flushed and 3 cards to a 5 card straight, it doesn’t matter if you have aces…these guys are going to call. But let me assure you, in the above example the over bettor does NOT always have aces or even a pocket pair. They will bet this way with over cards, top pair zero kicker, a draw, you name it.

And, of course, not everyone will do this the same way for the same reasons. But I’m improving my appreciation of who does it and why.

Enough for now, back to the tables.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009


A less poker related entry:

I recently left my corporation, CAIN, to pursue other interests. In so doing, I also left the Caldari Militia and faction warfare.

I’ve been working on my exploration skills and some industrial and transport oriented sets. So for about 2 to 3 weeks I wandered about BlackRise and Lonetrek and various regions and systems looking for what was pulling me in that direction.

And what did I find? Nothing. Working for mission agents is mind numbing. Mining into a jet can (Hulk skills are down the road abit) is mind numbing. Flying through lo sec without much purpose while lacking war targets is slightly better than the other activities…but not by much.

The exploration wasn’t bad. Radar sites and some smaller combat sites were fun-ish. But after awhile I came to the realization that I missed the increased pulse pressure of combat.

So after looking about for a good spot I’ve settled back to what I know: Caldari Militia and Faction War. I’ve joined up with the 22nd Black Rise Defensive Unit and I’m flying with some fight behind me again.

This corporation seems focused more on the plexing aspect of faction war than the ‘find them and fight them’ game. The pilots are closer to my experience and skillpoint range than my previous corpmates in CAIN.

CAIN’s pilots are topnotch, highly skilled and very competent. To be honest, I often felt out of place not being able to assist or compete on my fleet members’ level.

So, for the foreseeable future, I’ll be flying under State’s flag again with a new crew. And I’ll see what I can do about putting some more time in on the poker tables as well.


Sometimes you have to get up away from the poker table and take a break.

Sometimes you have the insight to realize it is not just bad beats, not just unlucky draws, not just donkeys or noobs playing badly.

All these things may well be happening but after awhile they can take a definite effect on your play. You start making adjustments and changes to your game based on these outside influences.

We know we’re not supposed to do that. We know that aces and kings get cracked. We know that the flush draw only gets there slightly less than half the time. But it starts to seem like YOUR aces ALWAYS get cracked and YOUR opponent’s draws ALWAYS come in.

So, despite knowing what you’re supposed to not do, you do it anyway. You unconsciously start to play those aces soft and not pushing hard against that obvious draw. And now, instead of things improving like you might have hoped, they get worse!

Now, when you’re smart enough to recognize that you’ve made a bad situation worse, it’s time to push back and stand up and get off those tables for awhile. Think about poker. Think about things other than poker. Let your odds and karma and luck and inner turmoil settle back to a happy medium. Then, however long it takes, go back fresh and do things right. Starting from the basics and with a positive attitude – formulate a plan and set some modest goals.

And if things don’t go your way, stick with your plan, play the way you’re supposed to. Don’t give in to the urge to react to bad beats and freakish odds. Just play solid, aggressive, good poker based on your table. Make your opponents react to you. Take command!