Monday, October 31, 2005

Updated Chicago Poker Club Logo

Well, I've finally finished the updated Chicago Poker Club logo. And I like it. It doesn't look as good scaled down online, but I think will look pretty good on the 1000 new chips I just ordered from Mr. Poker Chips.

If you click on the logo, you can see a picture from the back of the chip, full scale. That should give you a clearer picture of the Chicago skyline.

If you look closely at the cards, you'll see that one is an Ace of "Sears Tower" and the other is a Ace of "Wrigley Building". I thought that might provide a nice little Chicago touch. Let me know if you'd like image files in order to promote our site, or for your own custom chips.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Is Jennifer Tilly the Greatest Female Poker Player in the World?

Actress-cum-poker player Jennifer Tilly just finished winning back-to-back titles. First, she won the Ladies No Limit Hold 'em Championship at the World Series of Poker. Then, she won the WPT Ladies Night III title.

Is she the best ladies player out there? She's definitely very good. She plays a lot of hands, about 50% of the hands at the WPT final table, actually. She's aggressive. And she seems to get away from hands where she's badly beaten.

There are a lot of very good female poker players out there. Kathy Liebert is playing excellent poker. Mimi Tran gets a lot of respect, and a little bit of TV time. Poker hotties Clonie Gowan and Evelyn Ng are very good, as is Annie Duke, sister to poker pro Howard Lederer.

Jennifer took town five other talented players at the WPT final table, one amateur and four accomplished pros, including my new favorite - Isabelle "No Mercy" Mercier.

Jennifer is on a role. She's the current ladies World Champion; she's the current Ladies WPT Champion. What's left?

Only Phil Laak knows for sure.

Monday, October 24, 2005

You're as Cold as Ice!

So cold. Brrr....

I can't win. I don't mean a tournament, I mean I can't win a hand. I've played five online tournaments in the last 24 hours. I should say that I've played the early minutes of five online tournaments. I also played two live tournaments last Friday night.

In the first live game I had two memorable hands. When I was at or near the chip lead, I called an all in bet on the button. The raiser had QQ and I had AA. He caught a Q on the turn and took half of my stack. Twenty minutes later I was trying to battle back and found 10-10 on the button. Somehow I got two callers to my all in - they were A-2 (what?!) and 5-5. A deuce came on flop and another on the turn, I got knocked out. In the second game it was down to three players, and I was probably tied with another player for second. I ended up all-in against the chip leader with top pair and a good kicker on a non-threatening board. The caller had second pair, but paired his kicker on the river to knock me out.

Tonight, I found AA, A-K, and A-8 on consecutive hands. Not bad! The blinds were 15-30 and I raised just to 80 the first two times. Everyone folded. The third time I made a big deal about raising only 2.5 BB, partially to talk everyone into thinking I had a monster. Again, everyone folded. Hmmm... super tight table. I played A-J aggressively four hands later, and ran into KK. Three hands after that I was super short stacked with A-K. (I know incredible cards! I was serious when I asked for bad cards.) I induced someone to raise me all-in, and gladly called. He showed Q-J. So, the first card off was a Q, and his pair held up to knock me out in tenth place!

I'm getting great starting hands. I'm playing only premium hands. I'm playing observantly, and pretty well after the flop. I'm getting killed.

I'm retired.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Mouth's Mouth Gets Him in Hot Water

"I didn't throw nothing at nobody."

In case you didn't read about it back when the Main Event was being played... In case you didn't hear about it on Phil Gordon's WSOP Podcasts... In case you didn't watch this week's WSOP coverage... Mike "the Mouth" Matusow's big mouth got him in trouble... again.

This guy is almost as much fun to watch as Phil Hellmuth.

Mike was irritated with a hand, and he flipped his cards into the muck (the discard pile). His speeding cards skimmed the finger of the dealer who called over a floor person to complain. Mike explained that he was merely throwing them into the muck and that he didn't throw them at anybody.

The floor accepted Mike's answer when the rest of the table backed him up. As the floorperson left, Mike whispered something to a player to his right, and quietly dropped the "F bomb", a violation of this year's WSOP rules. The dealer eagerly called the floorperson back over, and Mike was assessed a 10 minute penalty. He needed to leave the table for 10 minutes. In defending himself, Mike dropped the bomb several more times, landing himself 40 total minutes of penalty.

Yeah Mouth!

Without giving too much away, for those of you watching the WSOP without prior knowledge of the outcome, the penalty did not seem to negatively impact Mike's finish.

Best Online Poker Room?

What do you think? Which is the best online poker room? Why?

Do you play at multiple rooms, or prefer to focus your time and cash on a single room?

I've been playing Party Poker for a long time now. I also have played at Pacific Poker, (good promotions), GamesGrid, and Fabulous Poker (back in the day). Party Poker has a full selection of games, tables are always full, they run regular promotions, and the competition is beatable. My only real complaint is that you cannot set up private tournaments (though you can set up private ring games).

What do you think?

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Deal Me Bad Cards, Please!

Friday night I played in a local "home game" tournament, known as Ali Babba's Monthly Hold 'En tourney. There were close to 160 entrants - hence the quotes around "home game" - and 14 places were paid. I finished #14, and got the last money spot.

I was pleased as punch at finishing in 14th, not because I got paid - because it was a very small profit for 4 hours of work - but because of how I played my cards. Here's the thing, in 4 hours of poker I did not once get AA, KK, QQ, JJ, 10-10, 9-9, or 8-8. I never got A-K, suited or otherwise. I got A-Q once and A-J twice. What the hell did I play? I'm not sure, actually. I mostly played my blinds and some suited connectors. I played the three aforementioned hands, a pair of sevens and a pair of fives (which I lost with).

With 15 players left, I was at just under the average stack for my table, but blinds were very high in relation to stack sizes. I had to push all edges. Inevitably, I got unlucky, losing two coin flips and doubling-up two short stacks over four hands. Then, stuck in the small blind with 1 1/2 big blinds left, I was forced to go all in. The big blind caught an inside straight on the river to send me home in 14th.

Over the course of a full tournament, I didn't get dealt a single "group 1" hand, and I finished in the top 9%.

The lesson here? Root for bad cards.

Sure, it's great to see big pocket pairs and "big slick" from time to time, but it also can get you into a heap of trouble. How many times have you bit your cheek after making a big pre-flop raise with QQ or JJ and then you see an ace and a king on the flop? How about catching an ace on the flop with big slick, and then losing to two pair - aces and nines, or something equally painful?

If you don't get big starting hands, you don't overplay your starting hands. If you limp in with suited connectors, and you flop a flush or the nut straight, you know you're probably way ahead. The question is how to extract the most money without allowing your opponents to catch up. If you're four to a flush or straight, you have some choices, depending on your opponents and your position, do you want to try to take it down right away, or do you try to make a pile of cash when you eventually hit your monster?

Perhaps this is an extreme point. Sure, you'd rather get Aces and Kings every hand, and then dodge the few scary boards. But, in the absence of loads of great cards, you have to focus on digging treasures out of your garbage. Last Friday I could have been featured on the Antiques Roadshow.

Friday, October 14, 2005

World Series of Poker - Main Event

ESPN's coverage of the World Series of Poker Main Event began this past week, finally. Hoorah!

Despite my criticism of their coverage on some of their earlier broadcasts, THIS is the way WSOP coverage should be. We've got all the personalities - Jennifer Harman, Greg Raymer, Daniel Negreanu, Phil Hellmuth, Sam Farha, Chris Moneymaker, Dan Harrington, and Rober Varkonyi. Celebrities Hudson, Toby McGuire, and Shannon Elizabeth.

We've got the commentary of Lon McEachern and Norman Chad. Which, as you already know, I enjoy tremendously.

And we've got no shortage of great hands, bad beats, and early eliminations of great poker players.

So far:

  • Daniel Negreanu gets no love on the board. Despite playing what appeared to be excellent poker, he got knocked out on the first day.
  • Jennifer Harman and Oliver Hudson (brother to Kate, and son of Goldie Hawn) lose their opening hands with made full houses. Oliver gets knocked out by Sam Farha's bigger full house (sick!) and Jennifer loses most of her chips to a straight flush on the river (so sick!)
  • Men the Master, Chris Moneymaker, Chris Ferguson, and whom else? are knocked out on Day 1
  • Phil Hellmuth shows up very late. Surprise.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Hold 'em Poker for Advanced Players

I just got Hold 'em Poker for Advanced Players in the mail today. I'm looking forward to improving my Limit Hold 'Em game.

Have you read it? What do you think?

(end post)

Monday, October 10, 2005

I finished 11th out of 10?

I played in a "single-table" SnG at a Rockford Charitable Games event the other night. "Single-table" is in quotes because, as some of you may already know, they seat 12 players at a SnG. The buy-ins of players 11 & 12, become the house (i.e. charity) funds.

Twelve people at one table is ridiculous. The blinds start at 25/50 and go up every 15 minutes. The blinds had doubled by the 4th hand, and by virtue of having been in the blinds, and limped in from the SB, I was already down to 9 BB by the time I found myself with QQ in late position. The table checked around to me, and I put in 4 BB. I knew this was a borderline play with 9 BB (or an M of 6, as Harrington would say), but I needed to get something going in these odd circumstances. The big blind called, and the board came 5-9-K rainbow. This is why I didn't want to commit half my stack.

The big blind, who had won two big hands already, put me all in, and then glared at me. Everything about his body language said that he didn't want a call. He was on the edge of his seat, leaning toward me. He was staring me down - hard. His cards were messily plopped on the table, not a habit that would imply he was protecting a whopper. He was the big blind, the big stack, and a bully. I called off the remainder of my chips, and he showed me a K-Jo.

I was out of the SnG in 11th place. I thought, "that seems like a record". Then I remembered, someone just went out in 12th.

Despite a couple of misstakes on my part, I felt pretty confident that I had read my opponent correctly.

My questions are these:
What was my opponent's body language telling me, that I missed?

What types of behavior do you look for at the poker table?

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

WSOP Coverage Short on Poker?

This year, the World Series of Poker has recieved more television coverage than ever before. Every Tuesday evening ESPN airs two one-hour episodes back-to-back. There are 42 events in all (not including the circuit events), and about a third have their final tables on television.
Nearly 15 WSOP events televised, and I'm not satisfied.

How can that be, you ask?

The WSOP televsion coverage is short on poker.

First of all, there are 9 players at a final table. Sometimes Lon McEachern will merely mention, "Joe Blow and John Doe were eliminated in 8th and 9th place, and here are the seven players we have left..." I understand, it's only a one hour show, and the final table can take hours.

But that's just it.

The show is only an hour. Perhaps I'm spoiled by the WPT's two hours of actual poker, but why can't ESPN do that? Why don't they use the two hour time slot for a single final table. Then, they can play the other event's final table in the wee hours of the morning, left for only serious poker diehards, people with Tivos, or both...
Then, there's this horrible habit of not even showing the entire hand in which someone gets knocked out. To me, that's simply not acceptable. They'll come back from commercial break to say, "In this hand, already in progress, Dave Smith needs a heart, or he will be eliminated." If ESPN had a heart, they would at least give Dave Smith the 3 minutes of air time that his hand required, as he's eliminated from a final table at the World Series of Poker.

Perhaps the most irritating omission are the tournaments that aren't even broadcast, or worse, squeezed into another tournament's tv time slot. Johnny Chan set an all-time World Series record by winning his tenth bracelet in a Pot Limit Hold 'Em event. It was aired as an "oh yeah, by the way" moment on the broadcast for another tournament. The winningest WSOP poker player of all time, setting the record, and they can't even air the final table on its own broadcast!? I don't get that.

What they did do was air a No Limit Hold 'Em final table (won by Farzad Bonyadi) and frequently cut over to Johnny Chan's final table. Oh, did I mention that they also frequently cut over to the Ladies Event final table (won by Jennifer Tilly)? Three tournaments, one hour. Come on!

Wait. I'm not done. When they weren't busy showing the No Limit Event, the Ladies Event, and the Pot Limit final tables, they took time to show Mike Matusow, Eric Lindgren, Robert Williamson, and Ted Forrest play ping pong, air hockey, card toss, and compete in a spelling bee as part of a proposition bet.

ESPN, do us all a favor, pick a horse and ride it.