Thursday, September 25, 2008

Poker Night #45: You Push Me, I'll Push You

A change of work plans opened the door for us to play tournament poker two nights in a row. But Thursday wasn't as successful as Wednesday -- as we only reached the semifinal tables at Lil Kim's Cove, finishing 15th overall.

Aggressive betting worked early, as we hit a 3-4-5-6-7 straight on the turn with a pocket 7. A bet of $450 (blinds 25/50) on the turn was called. A $1,200 bet on the river wasn't.

But then it didn't work, as we went fishing without success for a few big hands and lost the edge. And for awhile we couldn't bet at all, as the pocket cards were dreadfully weak.

But then it worked once -- in a battle of the 200/400 blinds. The flop was a 6-7-9, and in the small blind position we went all-in straightway with a pocket 9. That scared our opponent off.

But then the final failure came....

BLINDS: 200/400

IN THE POCKET: K-Q of diamonds

Our stack is low at 3,350, so one off the button we raise to 1,000. A couple of opponents call.

ON THE FLOP: 9-6-4, rainbow (no diamonds).

A man across the table bets 2,000 ahead of us. It's a tough decision time, and with two "over cards" we go all-in with 2,350. An easy call for our foe -- and he has a 9, so he leads the race with a pair.

ON THE TURN AND RIVER: The dealer put these out so quickly that it's a bit blurry, but I think it was A-10. In any case, I missed a straight by one card -- and the opponent's 9's hold up.

MINISTRY MOMENT: "Good Lord!" a man to our right exclaimed when he received the latest in a series of unplayable deals.

"He's good all the time," I answer. Jesus did that when He walked the earth (Acts 10:38). Hopefully you do, too.

I've learned in recent years how to answer outbursts about God or Christ. Say something short and to the point, of about one sentence. And if the oath-maker takes issue with you giving a Christian response, I say: "Hey, YOU brought Him up."

UPDATED SCOREBOARD: 21 final tables in 45 nights (46.7%) - 6 cashes.

YAHOO POKER TOTAL: RECORD HIGH $7770 -- Up $114, in a single Thursday session (a topic for another time).

We're #2!

Not in some tour rankings. (Bummer.)

But do a Google search for "poker ministry" and you'll find this blog as the second item among the results. Right below a writer who seems to dismiss such things. (Bummer again.)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Poker Night #44: One for the Roadhouse

We went to a Wednesday night poker tournament for the first time tonight, and we did well. But the turnout was smaller than we expected -- as we expected laid-off Bill Heard employees to show up, trying to win some money. (See our other blog Thursday for more on that.)

We played at a rock-and-roll bar called The Roadhouse, at 11th and Broadway. Modern rock and hip-hop tunes played in the background all evening long, as thankfully no band was on stage to distract us. (Or at least me.) A lone TV behind the bar showed the ESPN baseball game.

Reflecting the bar setting, most of the players were younger than I -- and the crowd was almost completely different from Lil' Kim's Cove on Thursday nights. Still smoking, drinking and cursing, sadly -- but different.

So how did we do? Very well, actually. We finished fifth at the final table. And we could have kept playing awhile, except for this hand (memory admittedly a bit fuzzy):

BLINDS: 2,000/4,000


I'm on the button with about 34,000 in chips. I raise 10,000 when the play comes to me. Most players fold, but a woman an opponent has labeled a "cheerleader" calls me.

ON THE FLOP: Three high cards -- two of them hearts, the other Kd.

The play checks to me, and I bet 15,000. The cheerleader calls.

ON THE TURN: A smaller card (I forget which one).

The cheerleader bets, and I go all-in with my remaining 9,000. She calls me, with no Aces. I'm feeling good until....


I have top two paid. But the cheerleader had two smaller hearts in her hand, so she hit a flush. Ouch.

Should I have gone all-in on the flop? I didn't because I wanted to bring more chips my way, instead of scaring everyone off the pot (as I did once before with the big blind at this final table).

MINISTRY MOMENT: "I haven't lied about my hand all night," a man next to me at the semifinal table said a couple of times.

I praised him for his ethics, then reworded a bit what he said. "You should not bear false witness against your neighbor." (Ex. 20:16) I don't think he really caught what I said.

UPDATED SCOREBOARD: 21 final tables in 44 nights (47.7%) - 6 cashes.

YAHOO POKER TOTAL: RECORD HIGH of $7656 (Up $212, all from poker) -- and since "We Wuz Robbed" (post below), the gain in six days actually is $512.

Special Wednesday Edition

We're planning to try Wednesday night poker tonight, for the first time.

The tournament is at The Roadhouse, near 11th and Broadway -- and from what we've heard, the rules seem to be similar to what Lil Kim's Cove has on Thursdays.

Except we expect the music to be a bit louder than classic country on the jukebox. Our ministry may stand out more than ever....

Friday, September 19, 2008

We Wuz Robbed

Remember that $300 gain we mentioned taking at Yahoo poker Thursday afternoon?

We went back Thursday night -- and found our earlier total. Yahoo never registered it.

That's twice Yahoo has missed a gain on our part in a month. Maybe Microsoft DOES need to merge with it. :-->

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Poker Night #43: When Not to Race

I wondered if I would be rusty tonight, after five weeks away from Lil Kim's Cove. Then I took the first hand of the evening, with two pair.

But it was all downhill from there -- as I was the second player to crash out at my table of eight.

I think I bet a bit too aggressively on a few nice-starting hands, hoping the flop would fall my way. In the Yahoo pretend-money cash games, that doesn't cost you much. In a tournament format with no limits, that can whittle away at your chip stack.

There was big-time drama when I held K-J and three queens showed up on the board. The river card was a K, and I went all in -- but a woman across from me had a king as well, so we split the pot. (An older woman also had a full house, but with Q's and 6's. Yet she survived longer than I did.)

It came down at the end to an all-in bet I couldn't refuse, but almost did:

BLINDS: 200/400.


I smooth call as the wave comes around -- but a ponytailed man two seats to my right raises 800. A couple of us go in with him.

ON THE FLOP: Kh -- plus two small cards I forget now, one a heart.

"I'm all in," the ponytailed man says.

I've played this man before, and know he hardly ever bluffs. He probably hit something, and I think I K-now what it was. I have a longshot flush chance, and give it some thought.

"Let's have a race," I say -- and in goes my 2,350. (He has me covered with ease.)

Sure enough, my opponent paired a K. No hearts or jacks come on the turn and river, and I lose the race by two cards.

Because no one mentioned this blog, I give the man who eliminated me the prize I brought -- two movie passes to Carmike Cinemas. He seems to like them. "I can go to a movie this weekend," he says. Now all he needs is a date -- as he said something during the game about splitting from his wife a few hours before.

MINISTRY MOMENT: "Turn, turn, turn," the man to my immediate right said as he was dealing.

"As in the book of Ecclesiastes?" I say. He seems to get it -- the 1960's rock song based on Ecc. 3:1-8.

The Moffatt translation has for verse 6: "A time to seek, a time to lose, a time to keep, a time to throw away...." In poker, it's all about the timing. Tonight mine was bad.

UPDATED SCOREBOARD: 20 final tables in 43 nights (46.5%) - six cashes.

YAHOO POKER TOTAL: $7444 (Up $189, +221 with blackjack ruled out) -- a RECORD high. It was fueled by a $306 gain in a hot streak Thursday afternoon. But things cooled considerably down the street.

Back tonight at last!

It appears all is well for our return to Lil Kim's Cove for Thursday night poker. We're assuming game time hasn't changed, at 8:30 p.m. ET

And to hype things up a bit, the first player to mention this blog tonight in our earshot wins a prize!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

12's are Wild

Boo-hoo -- just lost about $150 pretend dollars at a Yahoo table, where someone completely threw me off my game.

This person claimed in a chat message to be 12 years old -- and he acted like it at times. He'd bet on almost every hand, whether he HAD a hand or not.

In one hand, he bet big $$ all the way to the river. But someone kept calling him -- and he got caught holding a 3-2, which didn't match anything on the board. "Yuthful exuberance," he explained afterward. Absolutely. (By the way, he left the table with his "chip count" at more than $6,000. Yes, negative.)

That sort of ultra-aggression, "devil may care" approach admittedly can scare me out of a lot of pots -- especially if I have a small pair. I dumped a pair of 2's at one point before the river, which seemed promising.

When someone is that wild, it's not easy to stay calm and focused. The last time I placed second at Lil Kim's Cove, I quieted my enthusiastic opponent a bit by using the strategy of Proverbs 15:1, KJV: "A soft answer turns away wrath...." It also makes you look MUCH more civilized than the person across the table.

Now how do you do that online? I'm open to suggestions....

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Back to the action?!

If all goes well, we'll resume our Thursday night tournament tries at Lil Kim's Cove this week. (Wow, we've been away five weeks!)

After being bitten too many times by Yahoo blackjack, we only went there once this past week. We quickly lost $105 in pretend money, and gave it up for awhile. But online poker has been VERY good of late....

YAHOO POKER TOTAL: $7255 (Up $233, up $338 if blackjack left out -- down from a RECORD high Sunday night of $7293)

Sunday, September 7, 2008

A lost edge?

In the last few weeks, my gains at Yahoo poker haven't been much. But I can explain it, really.

I'm sticking around a few hands too long after a big pot win. I'm lingering in marginal hands on the flop, hoping to hit a turn card. And Yahoo poker lets me try some approaches I probably wouldn't take at a real tournament.

Are those acceptable excuses?

By the way, another "all or nothing" dare night at Yahoo blackjack left me busting out again -- but then making another ridiculous comeback, to a record high of $6900. I haven't done that since. (I need to quit daring myself at bedtime this way.)

YAHOO POKER TOTAL: $7024 (Up $833, but only +41 from poker)

Monday, September 1, 2008

$500 overflow

Happy Labor Day -- and may you rest in some holiday action, which just unfolded in a Yahoo poker room.

IN THE POCKET: Q-10 off suit.

The maximum ten players are at this table, and they're in a betting mood. We go all the way before the flop, $12 a player.

ON THE FLOP: 8h Jh Ad.

A nice draw for a top straight. I keep betting, as do several others.


The King is coming! The King is coming!! (Rev. 19:11-16)

But hold it -- flush chances abound on this board. I keep betting, as do about seven others to the $20 max. The pot climbs well above $350, which is huge for Yahoo's small cash games.


Uh-oh. Did someone hit the flush? I'm committed big-time to the pot, and so are several others -- so the betting goes to the max again.

We all turn 'em over -- and a player to my left has 8-8. He hits a FULL HOUSE on the river, and takes a $514 pot! The biggest I've seen at Yahoo.

I took another big pot minutes later, with 8's and 3's. It was worth $184. Nice.... but oh, what could have been.