Friday, May 28, 2010

I Love Poker

It's been a strange month at the poker room. The cap on the buy-in amounts is being removed July 1st here in Florida. Everyone is talking about it. Everyone waits in anticipation for our state to finally have "real" no-limit hold em. We shall see how everyone feels on August 1st.

I'm not sure many people understand the variance involved in any sort of a percentage probability. That's to say you can lose a lot of coin flips before you may ever win just one. Try it with a quarter some day when you are bored watching re-runs of American Idol, well if the old David Archuletta shows aren't on that is.

You'll find that heads or tails can come up, in a row, for 4 or 5 times, maybe more, in the short time you flip the coin. What's more, if you flipped the coin endlessly there would be a massive streak at some point. Well, if you relate this to poker, and you lose that many coin flips in poker, and let's say each time it for 500 dollars or more, well, one might go broke.

It's difficult to play poker when a person is concerned about the money. It's called "playing with scared money". When an opponent thinks you may be playing scared he is much more likely to apply pressure by putting you to repeated decisions for your whole stack. It wears on you like nothing else. I promise.

Thankfully I've developed a mode of play that sort of counteracts the issue. To prevail takes apathy is and will be my motto as poker changes here in the sunshine state. I try not to make big plays when I am, at best, a small favorite in the hand. It does not stop others from making massive plays against me. Luckily, TPTA handles that issue as well, as long as I adhere to it.

Yesterday, I limped with pocket kings. No one raised. Uh-oh. Warning lights on. Five of us took the flop of 10-6-2 with two spades. The big blind led out for $50. One caller, and now it's on me. I don't like the other guy in the hand, and I'd like to find out how committed he is to the hand. I min raised to $100. Everyone else folded.

The original bettor, a female who is a regular at the poker room and who I have played many hands against, now says "Alright Eric, I'm all in". The 3rd person folds immediately. Now it's up to me, and it's going to cost me $157 to call her all in.

I have to call, I know this. There is now almost $450 in the pot. I'm almost sure she has a flush draw or two pair. If she has two pair I will need to get lucky, and if she has a spade draw I will have to fade a spade on both the turn and the river. I hate it. This is exactly the spot I don't want to be in.

If she has the nut spade draw, that is she holds the ace of spades in her hand, then she has 12 clean outs to beat my pocket pair. 12 outs twice (the turn and the river) is the equivalent to having nearly 52% equity in this hand. That would mean I have 48% equity. So, I need to be lucky in this spot too.

She had A-3 of spades, and a spade came right on the turn, and I lost.

I misplayed the hand, however. This much I know. I should not have raised on the flop. I should have waited and seen the turn. Once the spade came I could have gotten away from the hand and lost much less. I played it poorly. I mean, on the ledger sheet, money saved in a losing hand is worth just as much as money won in a winning hand. A dollar is a dollar is a dollar.

So, what was my point? I can barely remember.. oh yes. If people continually get all of their money in on a coin flip there will be a lot of broke folks. I figure it will take a few months before people begin to realize they cannot sustain that type of play. Well, the wealthier will sustain it, but the number of players may dwindle.

I'll be waiting for the aggressive players. Waiting for my spot to pounce. I'll play better than the other tight players, and I'll trap the loose one's. I will prevail through a seemingly apathetic approach to the game. You and I will know the apathy is only a mirage. I want all of the chips. I want to take a cruise next winter, with my wife, maybe another couple will join us. The kids can stay to home because they are rotten anyway.

I'm playing golf with my son, a friend, and his son. It's warm, but I'm looking forward to it. Afterwords, I will most likely take my seat at a table down at the poker room. Maybe the wife will want to join me, maybe not. I'll be there, lie detecting my way through an evening of glorious triumphs and bad beats. It should be fun.

I love poker.

Codsey out.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

I Can See Clearly Now

Have you ever been in a situation, or just had an incredible feeling, that everything seemed so very simple and clear? I've had this strange sensation since I went on the recent trip to the Dominican. Maybe you've read about, maybe not, but the bump on the head may have knocked something loose.

It was all right there. I was supposed to take the header down the short flight of stairs in our hotel room and then never wake up. At least, it could have just as easily turned out that way.

I feel like I have just survived a coin flip in poker. Except this poker game is for all of the marbles. I took my pocket 6's and shoved all-in. The Grim Reaper called with his Ace-king suited. The dealer ran out the cards and I won. I won the coin flip.

Now, please understand that this is different than having cancer and beating it. I don't want to try and compare such things. It is only pure chance, or something else, that allowed me to land partially on my shoulder and not completely on my head.

Of course, I was hoping I'd get dealt a pocket pair. The alcohol I consumed made that evident. Sure enough, just to top it off I ate almost nothing the entire DAY. How could one be so ignorant? (insert your own punch line as to the less than average intelligence I reveal on a regular basis)(I won't argue).

So, I got the pocket sixes, Life made it's STANDARD pre-flop raise, and I pushed in. I won. What did I win, let's see if I can properly explain how things have been as of late.

I'm going to start professionally speaking because I just tried to write about my relationships with my family members and it wasn't making any sense at all. So, let's talk poker.

My win rate has gone up sharply. February, March, and now April have been solid months. It feels like I can see how the hand is going to play out very early in the hand. This allows me to get away from marginal situations and really pump up the betting when I know I'm well ahead.

In Biloxi while I was on a poker/family trip I noticed what I am 99% sure was a well designed group of players who had common interest as the basis of their actions. That is a stupid way of saying they were colluding, spying on others hands, using signals, and employing many other forms of cheating I could never catch.

I saw it unfolding before it happened. I saw the big raise by the asian kid, I saw the young black man begin to move around the back of the white guy in the hand. I said to myself "this guy is going to look at his hand and signal the asian kid". (I hope you know I use these terms only for descriptive purposes, you can change em up and make whoever you want be the asian, black, and white guy. I'm just describing what I saw).

While everyone watched the asian kid count out his chips for the massive raise he'd just made I watched the black kid and the white guy. The white guy contemplated his next move and then, here he goes, he begins to peak at his cards. It was like slow motion, and then yes, he is, the black guy looks over the white guys shoulder.

The black guy's expression changes to a look of surprise and fear as his eyebrows go upward, he takes a long step back and away from the table, and puts both hands into the front pockets of his jeans.

Signal complete, even I knew the white guy had a monster hand, and now the asian kid knew it too. So, what does an honest poker player do? What does a player, who takes pride in being able to play well enough to win without cheating, do when he witnesses such a crime?

He asks the dealer to "call the floor". He then asks, in front of everyone and once the floor person has arrived, why the black guy is looking at the white guy's cards. He causes a big scene and implicates the whole city.

What was my point of telling this again? Talk about rambling on and on about things.. oh yes, I could see it happening BEFORE it happened.

In retrospect, I probably should have thought of the safety of my family, who were staying in the hotel with me, and just kept my mouth shut. The white guy was an idiot for not protecting his own hand, so maybe he deserved to have his money taken. I don't know. White guy went all in, and asian kid folded, by the way, if you were interested. White guy showed the nut straight. Asian kid never showed his hand.

Yes, professionally speaking, the knock on the skull seems to have helped. Of course, it may be just that I am improving all of the time, at a faster rate than those around me, and therefore just playing better poker. If that were all that was different than I may say yes, but there is more.

Socially speaking I feel like I am having an easier time relating to others. It's almost an increased ability to feel empathy. This also relates professionally because the realization of one's moods can help explain one's actions. You can see how that knowledge would help. It also helps in relationships as well.

It's quite possible that I am just paying closer attention. I don't know.

I've always loved my wife and kids. As the kids have grown I have come to like and care deeply for their personalities. We have our clashes but I have tried to be understanding and have asked for their understanding many times as well.

M, the wife, has never looked better. She even has seemed to improve her story telling so that I actually remain engaged in her conversations. This has clearly helped our relationship. She still has a way of leading me where she'd like me to go, but she has improved on her ability to mask her motives. Again, this aides the relationship.

All in all, these past few months have been quite bizarre, to say the least. It could very well be that I am running good, both in poker and in life. It all started by winning that coin flip in the Dominican Republic. It may all come crashing down soon enough.

No, that coin flip was a turning point. I can almost see it. Just wait and see.

Codsey out.