Friday, June 30, 2006

CPC Tournament Series, CPC Calendar

ChicagoJoe has been gracious enough to organize and initiate the Chicago Poker Club Tournament series. The first event is in early August, and there are 7 tournaments scheduled for this year. More information to follow...

We now have a Chicago Poker Club Google calendar to keep track of upcoming events. You can bookmark this link to this post and refer back, or you can wait until we decide to repost the calendar in a later post, as it approaches the first tournament. Also note that you can subscribe to the calendar by clicking the link below it.

(View the full post to see the calendar)
Test out MONTH and AGENDA modes to see what works best for you.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Chicago Poker Open Results

The Chicago Poker Open was tonight, and it went off pretty well for an inaugural event. There were two tournaments, a Novice event with a $100 buy-in and a "Card Shark" event with a $250 buy-in. Both events had rebuys for the first hour, and an optional add on at the one hour break.

I originally signed up for the Shark tournament, but after thinking about the fact that the blind structure would be very aggressive and the "staff" would be as inexperienced as the players, or probably more, I decided this tournament was probably -EV, despite the relative inexperience of the players. The payout was only for the top 3 (of close to 200 players) and a small prize bag for the final table. I knew I was playing for fun, and charity! I felt comfortable playing for a few hundred, but I wasn't up for playing the high stakes rebuy event with this type of structure.

I played well for the first sixty minutes. I had tripled my stack by the end of the hour. I took the add-on (hey, it's for the kids), which was an additional 1500 chips (the same as the original buy-in, not a "double bubble"). I had 4+ times my original buy-in, and was second in chips at the time. I continued to play well, and I won the blinds and a limp or two in the first three hands after the break. I had good cards each time. On the fifth hand I made a 3x raise, hoping the tight table would fold around again. The player to my left, the chip leader, came over the top. I had to fold.

After 45 minutes to an hour, the blinds had gone up to an obscene amount. I had a comfortable amount of chips left, but most of the table was getting desperate. I was
in late-middle position with AKo. There was one limper, and hence, plenty of money in the pot already. I pushed all in. The player to my left, the aforementioned chip leader, re-raised all in (which was moot, since I had everyone else covered). "Shit", I said and turned over big slick. He was the only player I didn't want to tussle with.

The flop came Ten, four, three, all spades. He flopped a set, and I was in trouble. I did have the King of spades, so I had a big flush draw. The turn came the case ten and put an end to that. In a blink, I was eliminated.

Before departing, my friend Steve and I went to check out the set up of the guys filming the event. They had a very nice custom made table, with cameras mounted under each seat position. In an adjoining room that had two guys watching and covering the action. They really had a professional setup. Also, the two guys running the show, Matt and Corey, were "good people". They let me sit in as a "guest in the studio".

If you're interested in acquiring their services for a home game or corporate event, or learning more information, let me know. I got some of their promotional material and their web address (I'll post it here later), etc.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

At last...

Is it over??

Jason wins... Jason wins!!

I had a 2 1/2 to 1 chip lead. We'd been heads up for 20+ minutes. The blinds were growing. He pushed with third pair. I thought about it for about half my alotted time, and I called with second pair. A Queen came on the river to give me trips, and put the icing on my victory.


Can I win another, or was this a blip in my downhill slide?

Is "donkey poker" bad for your health?

I've lamented lately at the poor downturn my poker results (and probably my game) have taken in recent weeks and months. I have had numerous small tournament and SnG results out of the money. Now, my low stakes cash game is on the decline as well. I am pushing small edges and getting drawn out on, I am pushing drawing hands and never catching up.

The thing is this, I've been playing small stakes online. In the brick & mortar world, I've mainly played home games and in a cruise ship's online casino (major donkey time!) I expect players to make rational decisions, and when players aren't considering the same variables that I am, they cannot make what I would perceive as rational decisions. Most of the time, an opponent is going to reflect his or her true nature. If I expect an unexperienced poker player to make an experienced laydown, I'm going to be dissapointed.

I'm trying to get a read on my less experienced opponents. I am studying their betting habits and I'm watching their eyes. When they are acting strong, they should often be weak; the converse should also be true. When they hesitate to call, unless they're making a speech of some sort, they should often truly be unsure of where they are in the hand. I'm trying to adjust my game, albeit unsuccessfully, to beat these unskilled, unpracticed players.

Should I be? I mean, I should be tearing up these games, right? When I first got serious about poker, not so long ago, I was killing these games. I'm now more read, more practiced, and more.. sophisticated?

I understand that some players are unbluffable. I have to wait for a hand against them, hope they catch a little piece, and really extract equity. Am I not getting hands? Or, am I getting impatient? Am I trying to constantly outplay opponents, and getting caught with second best hands, rather than waiting for cards to outplay my opponents with?

I need to adjust my game. Or do I? Should I be looking to improve my game against low limit opponents, or should I avoid these situations to continue to improve against skilled opponents?

Does an all-star poker player beat everyone? Or does an all-star just win when the stakes are high? Does playing all levels of competition make me better, or does it dillute my focus?

Is donkey poker bad for your poker health?

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Tournament Woes

I've got a couple big tournament events coming up, and I'm really suffering with my tournament game. I'm playing decent ring game poker, but I'm getting killed in every tournament.

Next weekend I'm playing in the Chicago Poker Open, against 100 players for a decent buy-in. In a few weeks I'm heading out to Las Vegas to join the WPBT in their tournament and festivities. Finally, while I'm out there, I intend to enter a WSOP one-day NL Hold 'em event.

In the meantime, I'm sucking up every low buy-in event I enter. I'm talking about $6 and $11 SnGs on Party and Full Tilt. I'm talking about being the first guy out in a 6 player home game. I mean bad.

The worst part is, I'm not sure if I'm playing bad. I'm really not. I've spent the last 18 months thinking about poker continually. I've read a dozen books, I've played live and online. I started this blog and community. I've listened to damn near 100 podcasts. I've discussed hands and play online and with friends. How can I not know if I'm playing badly?

Am I pushing slim edges? Am I too aggressive? Too imperceptive?

Where are my leaks? Am I playing too many hands? Too many up front?

What do you think? What do you do when your game is struggling, or worse, when you're just not sure? How can I change course?

Thursday, June 15, 2006

High Seas Poker - Bad House Rules

I played some Limit Hold 'em on the cruise portion of my trip. We were on the NCL Jewel, sailing the Mediterranean. They had a decent sized casino, which was strategically placed between most of the ship's restaurants, and just outside of the theater, where each night's major entertainmet and activities took place. The casino had only one poker table.

As it was an American-based/-oriented vessel, the game of choice was Texas Hold 'em. Had it been a more European-oriented ship, they may have spread Omaha instead. Omaha's more popular in Europe than in the U.S, and possibly more popular than Hold 'em is in Europe.

There were also two No Limit Hold 'em tournaments held - one on the first day at sea, and one on the last night of the trip. I participated in both, and struggled mightily. I never picked up cards. I mean never. And most of my attempts to pick up antes and blinds were quashed by all-ins, or big calls on the river with mediocre, but superior hands. It certainly seemed to be more the case of inexperienced players calling down naively, than it did savvy opponents reading me. But maybe they were so savvy that I thought they were beginners.

I actually made it to the final table of the second tournament by just picking up enough blinds to squeak by. When we were down to 9 players I was very short-stacked and in middle-late position. A player under the gun had called the big blind, but based on my observation of him, that did not mean he had a strong hand. On the contrary, it could be any two medium to large cards, suited or otherwise. It had then folded around to me and I found A9s. That may have been the best hand I saw all tournament. With 2 1/2 big blinds already in the pot, I pushed my stack toward the center; it was about 7 big blinds. Everyone folded back to under-the-gun who called me quickly.

"Shit," I thought.

He flipped over QT off. Really?! Wow, I was going to be back in this thing.

Alas, you already know how it ends. A Queen comes... on the river... and I go get cleaned up for dinner.

However, I really wanted to share the dumbest rule I've ever seen at a Tournament table.

We were down to about 12 players in the same tournament, so each table was short-handed, and the blinds had gotten very large in relation to the stacks. Every hand was important.

The dealer accidentally flipped the first card that she dealt to the button face up. As is typical, it sat in front of the player while the dealer finished her deal. After everyone had two cards, she did not go back and give the button his second card. No. Instead she motioned for the player to turn his card over. He looked at her, confused, but did not complain. On the second request he turned his card over with out a word. Now, of course, this was a small benefit to me, but just wasn't right. Plus, I looked at my whole cards. Or rather, I had smelled them. They stunk.

I said, "you need to replace his exposed card." She said, "only if he's in a blind". I said, "huh? That doesn't make any sense." The tournament director was with in ear shot and came over. "That's house rules sir." I checked the posted poker rules. Sure enough, it was in the rules.

How does that make any sense? The dealer makes an error and the player is penalized?

Have you ever seen that?

remainder portion of post goes here.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

My European Tour

Two weeks in Europe saw many sights, including a few poker games and an occasional poker celebrity. On our first night in Europe, we went to the Grand Casino in Barcelona, Spain. The World Heads Up Championship was going on, and although he was no longer in the event, I spotted Marcel Luske at the table next to mine.

Marcel Luske! Cool.

He was playing Pot Limit Omaha for a lot of money.

The Heads Up Championship was fairly uneventful. There was a single feature table set up on a small stage with lots of TV cameras. There were about a half a dozen other head's up-style tables with head-to-head matches underway. There were many European professionals and a smattering of Asian and one or two American players. I recognized very few of them.

I ended up playing Pot Limit Hold 'em with €5 and €10 blinds. The buy-in was €250, which was ridiculously small for the stakes. I watched the button go around about 2 1/2 times without picking up cards. I was short-stacked just playing my blinds and one or two limps. I picked up pocket 7s in early position and raised the pot. I got 3 callers! The flop came A-Q-T, and I promptly checked and then folded as soon as was polite.

I decided to cut my losses and call it a night. After all, I'd been up for about 30 hours, wasn't getting cards, and didn't have chips.

Not much of a story, I know.

More to come on my European adventure soon.