Saturday, March 21, 2009

How'd He Get To Be So Good?

Robert Costner folding pocket acesThe April edition of Northern Virgina magazine features a photo and article about Robert Costner on page 76. The article is titled "How'd He Get To Be So Good?"

In it Robert, Veteran of hundreds of poker tournaments, gives advice on how anyone in the neighborhood can get in the game and win.

In the article there is a story about Robert sitting down late, as the eighth player, in a poker tournament at Addy's Bar and Grill. He looked around and immediately saw seven fish. Twelve minutes later, three of the guys had no chips.

If he sits at your table, just ask for a seat change. You may be stuck with him, but don't give up your chips without a fight.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Fun Blackjack

I've wanted to learn how to count cards in Blackjack. Since I run a "mini-casino" - i.e. the poker league - I ought to be able to find a way to do this.

What I've done is buy some decks of cards, a blackjack shoe and discard tray, added some poker chips, and now we have Fun Blackjack.

We've played a few times at Addy's and KC's. I spoke with one of our players, JC, and he is going to "manage" the free Fun Blackjack on some nights. It looks like based on his schedule, we will have Fun Blackjack at 6:00 PM on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays.

It's informal for now. I hope everyone has fun with it.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Hooters Poker Club Shirt Prize

The Red, White, and Blue Poker League got it's start running tournaments at area Hooters restaurants. That was several years ago, and we don't play there anymore, but I wanted to renew my relationship with the company.

Part of that has been they have given us a number of freebies to use as prizes in our tournaments. Recently we gave away, as an additional tournament prize, a Hooters Poker Club shirt at Addy's Bar and Grill, then later at KC's American Grille.

Tonight on the Third Thursday tournament at KC's, Deborah Brown won the second tournament and took home the Hooters Poker Club shirt.

It's a nice blue shirt. Made by Dickies. It has a collar, buttons up the front, a fan of cards and Hooters Poker Club emblem over the front pocket, and the back has a large full color playing card (a King drinking beer) and says Hooters Poker Club.

Joey Lee was the winner at Addy's in the second tournament on the Last Wednesday of the month. He won the Hooters Poker Club shirt there.

We are going to be doing some more promotions with Hooters. We have the Hooters Poker Club meeting at noon on the third Saturday of each month. We have some of the Hooters Girls, in uniform, playing poker with us at KC's. They gave me a Hooters Shirt to wear at poker tournaments. And we have some Hooters Girls going to Atlantic City with us.

Look for more interactions between the Red, White, and Blue Poker League and Hooters.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Antes at the Final Table at KC's

I decided to play in the Sunday Ante at KC's American Grille. The tournament is different from the regular Red, White, and Blue Poker tournaments because we have 20 minute blinds, not 15 minute blinds, and we have antes.

If I haven't said it enough, I hate Antes. An ante is a small forced bet by everyone at the table before the cards are dealt. The sum of the antes at a full table will about equal the big blind. The reason I hate antes is because I am lazy. It doesn't fit in with my style of playing poker.

What I like to do, and often do, is accumulate a large stack of chips early in the game. Then I can be lazy and coast - not bother to play any hands unless I really like them. But with antes, I can't just ignore the hands, I have to bet when I am not in the blinds because I am losing chips with the antes. In the higher levels, this can kill me if I don't play.

Everyone could tell I was tired in this game, so my play was not optimal. I had lost a lot of chips to the antes and my stack no longer looked good.

So on Sunday when I moved to the final table I looked at my opponents and stated "It's time to stop playing cards and start playing poker."

I concentrated on my game, and I picked up most of the next few hands. People commented to me on how tired I looked, and before long I left the tournament with a 4th place finish. Greg finish first.

I hate antes. They killed my game and took my win from me. That is why I am playing in games with antes. With practice I can overcome this. I can beat the antes.

I first learned to hate antes at Caesars in Atlantic City. Antes are a part of all the big tournaments in the WSOP and WPT. Antes are in the big money tournaments I play online. I'll keep playing antes until I discover the guy across the table from me hates the antes more than I do.

Then I'll love the antes and gladly take his chips from him. :)

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Jamal Plays in Irish Open Grande Finale

Last Sunday we had our first of two mini regional poker tournaments to try to win the $7,000 prize package for the Irish Open. The tournament began at 5pm and lasted about three and a half hours. At that point we had a winner of the regional, ready for the Saturday Grande Finale.

Jamal Sullivan is the man we sent to the first National Grande Finale for the Irish Open. There were 88 players in the tournament that started at 2:00 PM Saturday. Representing Team Red, White, and Blue Poker, Jamal doubled up on his first hand.

In the first hand a player caught a set of 7's, but Jamal produced a set of 8's at the showdown, winning the first hand. If only the rest of the tourney could have gone like that for Jamal. A few ugly hands later he was back to an average size stack like everyone else.

In the end, Jamal finished 44th out of 88, a disappointing finish for him

Jamal says "I like Doyle's Room… I'll play there a lot more."

Next Saturday we have our second player we are sending, Steve Loving. We hope Steve can make it to the top.

Friday, March 06, 2009

WSOP $300 Event

It's Friday morning, and the next WSOP event is for $300+$40 at noon at Caesars. I'm there and so are 900 other players. The purse is about $280,000 with the lion's share going to first place.

I really would have expected about 1,100 players. I attribute the difference to a bad economy. My play is average. I finally start to die os slow death of attrition after the dinner break and finish as number 159. They pay the top 90.

Time to go home, or is it?

I drive up to Harrah's to catch the Friday night 8:15 tournament. I rock. People keep losing chips to me. I'm mostly going form straights and flushes, and I keep catching the straight. I get them about one time out of three that I try. (This means I'm folling the odds.)

But the players I'm up against just won't believe I keep having my straights. To be honest at some point I didn't catch and everyone folded to me anyway. When we got down to two tables, I had 24% of all chips in play sitting in front of me.

A final table, a few more hands, and I'm the winner. It was a small tournament, so I only won $2,200. But at least my week was over and I have gas money to get home.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Poker at Billy's

Today was a resting day for me. I do not have a WSOP event today. I'm only going to play in a tournament or two and maybe some cash games. My plan is to play at Showboat and while there to pick up a baseball cap for a friend, maybe from the House of Blues company store.

I got up early for the breakfast buffet at Caesars, then down to the poker room there for some cash game time. I was too tired to play, so back to my room for a morning nap. I missed the 2:00 tournament at Showboat (and the 1:00 at Bally's for that matter.) I ate a late lunch at the Bally's Diamond Club, easily the prettiest of the Atlantic City Diamond Clubs.

I changed my mind and decided on the Bally's 7:00 tournament rather than the Showboat game. Billy's poker room at Bally's is on the 6th floor of the same tower I am staying in, so it is an easy walk. But there was no game as they only had WSOP second chance events that day. So it was off to Showboat

As fate woudl have it the regular 7PM game was replaced with a semi-private tournament with a $200 buy-in. It was a bunch of farmers come to AC for a convention. There were 180 farmers and me in the tournament. I figured this to be a turkey shoot. Top prize was about $6,000 for first place.

I don't know what went rong. I barely made it past the first break. Then I was out of the tournament. And out another $200.

Tomorrow is the WSOP event. Either I win that and stay for a few more days, or I scronge gas money to get home.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

If it wasn't for luck...

This year's first event was smaller with about 800 players in the first $300+$40 event. I started in Caesars at noon. Soon I was the chip lead at the table. I had three players with significant losses in their chip stack, to my benefit. This made me the clear chip leader at the table.

Poker is a game of deception. The way I make massive chip gains is by applying the fundamental theorem of poker. That is, I have the advantage when the other player thinks I have something I don't. To be blunt, I lay traps and wait for the other players to get caught.

The perfect situation for me arose in this game. I'm sitting in late position and I get dealt pocket Aces. To make it perfect, a player in early position had what he thought was a good hand, so he made a preflop raise. From his attitude and play I put him on a high pocket pair. Of course I called with my pocket Aces.

Then came the flop. The board was trash, obviously helping neither of us. He opened for a large amount, I raised, and he went all in. The trap was sprung. He showed pocket Queens, I turned over pocket Aces and he knew he was done. I had his chips and he was out of the game. That is what I like to see in poker.

The turn was a third Queen. If it wasn't for luck, I would win most hands I go in on. After doubling him up, I stayed in the game for an hour, but that was the defacto hand that knocked me out of the tournament.

The Cash Game
A bite to eat at 6ix A Bistro, and back to the poker room at Bally's. I bought in for $200 and began over the next hour to lose my chips. Maybe this is why I don't like cash games. I lost about $150 and decided I needed to concentrate, then curb my losses by leaving and going to bed. I was dealt A-J suited, spades, in late position and decided to take a chance and play it.

A player in middle position raised preflop to $25. That was about half of my stack. I called. So did about four more people. The flop came. All trash. That was it for me, I did not catch a card and had nothing. Unless. Unless I could play with something other than my cards.

I boldly announced "All-in". I moved my $23 remaining chips across the betting line. It was a pure bluff. I had nothing. Two players who would later have had the winning hand folded based on my bravado. But only two players folded.

You see I did a pure bluff, not a semi-bluff. With a semi-bluff you actually have something, but are hoping it will improve. You might win because everyone folds. You might win because your hand improves. Hey, you might even win because you had a hand. Three ways to win in a semi-bluff. But I had a pure bluff. I had nothing. And not everyone folded. With a pure bluff, you can only win if everyone folds.

I didn't catch on the turn. I didn't catch on the river. I had nothing. I was devastated at losing it all. Two people showed their hands. Amazingly, I then scooped up all the chips with Ace high.

After chipping up to blacks I walked out of the poker room with more than I entered. Time for bed.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Cash Game at Showboat

I drove up to Bally's in Atlantic City this afternoon to play in the WSOP Circuit event at Caesars this week. I decided to go eat the comp buffet at Showboat, and while there play a little poker.

Lately for some odd reason, I've been afraid to play cash games. For about a year now. It's been several months since I've played last, maybe late last year. I'm fine with tournaments, but I have been doing nothing but losing in cash games lately.

(The photo was taken by me in my room tonight. It is a Copag card sitting on a table in the room at Bally's with Caesars chips.)

I bought in for $200 in a $1/$2 No Limit Poker game. Tired as I was, I still wanted to play at least one hour. Seventy minutes later I had just finished losing $80 in the last two hands I was in, plus initial bets in several hands I folded. I chipped up to greens and went to the cage.

After an hour I had $298, which means I made $98 in that short length of time. I'm trying to teach myself that when I am tired to get up and walk away with my winnings, while I still have winnings.

That's about $100 for the hour. I like making $100 an hour, plus free hotel room and food.

The room is great. Bally's has me in the Bally's tower. Try to avoid the Claridge and Dennis towers. I have a king bed, windows on two walls - a view of the beach and the hotels on the strip. The bathroom is upgraded with a glass enclosed shower and an oversized oval tub. I'm using wired internet, which I prefer over WiFi.

WSOP in the morning.

Monday, March 02, 2009

WSOP Event at Ceasars in Atlantic City

This Wednesday will be the WSOP Circuit event in Atlantic City. Last time at Harrah's there were maybe 1,100 or so in the "little" event.

I like to play in the small $300 buy-in events, and stay away from the $5,000 buy-ins.

Based on my budget, my choices this year are
  • Wednesday March 4th, $300
  • Friday, March 6th, $300
  • Sunday, March 8th, $300
It's the wee hours of Monday morning now. I have tournaments Sunday through Thursday to run.

I guess I'm about to pack a bag and take off. I just don't know when, or which casino I'll be staying at.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Playing for Points

I played poker last night, on a Saturday. It was an odd kind of home game, first in that it was not for money, but for points.

It seems the Manassas Mostly Poker meetup group plays poker about once per month with no gambling, no money, only points. In a way it is a lot like bar poker. They had two tables of players, paper cards, no felt, and little knowledge of regular poker rules.

The group played dealer's choice. Guts was a popular game, though I'm not sure what relationship guts has to actual poker. Hold'em, with a $1 (point) ante and no blinds was a popular choice as well. Five card draw came up a couple of times, but you can't play five card draw with eight people. Just not enough cards in the deck.

We also played Ohmaha, stud, and some other variants on poker.

I finished the night for a loss. But it was points, not cash, so I may have lost at poker, but my wallet was no lighter for the experience.