Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Midnight Madness

In a 22-minute span just now (yes, just after 12:00 midnight to start 2009), we crossed the $11,000 mark in Yahoo poker.

Counting a Wednesday afternoon session after our "year-end" post, we had a $442 gain on the day! Details on how it happened, coming soon....

Yahoo! Our Year in Review

We began 2008 with $2,824 in our pretend Yahoo poker chip stack.

As of this posting, we're at $10,613.

Wow -- a gain of almost $7,800! We've more than tripled our total! How did that happen?

We actually drooped to a low for the year of $1,890 on May 7. But we rallied to above $3,100 in late June.

On July 3 we dabbled in Yahoo blackjack, and had a big gain of $661. That put us above $4,000. We did it again August 7, and gained $1,500 in one fell swoop -- pushing us to almost $6,000. Another $800 came September 1.

But since Labor Day, almost all the gain has been from poker -- a jump of about $3,500. We think it's because we play at small tables (3-6 players), fold bad hands before the flop (you'd be surprised how many online players don't), and get away while we're ahead.

In real tournaments, we had first-place finishes at Lil Kim's Cove in January and December, seconds in April and July, and a couple of thirds as well. Six "podium finishes" in 32 nights?! Not bad.

May you have even better success in 2009!

Show and Tell II

We wondered what you thought of the ClubWPT.com "bluff chip."

It strikes us as an interesting gimmick -- and sometimes a dream come true. But we'd want to hold it until it's absolutely necessary. For instance, if things look like a showdown between two big hands or big bets.

Ecclesiastes 3:6 says there's a "time to seek, a time to lose...." If a bluff chip is in play, we'd sugegst choose that moment of "seeking" carefully -- as in seeking the information about your opponent's hand. Else you might make yourself a target, and your ability to bluff might be diminished.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Show and tell

We were watching the "ClubWPT.com" marathon on Fox Sports the other night, and saw something which was new to us -- the "bluff chip."

Each player has one, that can be used anytime in the game. Throw the bluff chip at your opponent, and he/she has to turn over hole cards so the entire table sees them.

Good idea? Bad idea? Our thoughts on it are coming shortly.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

H-2-No

Quickly updating a couple of items:

1. Club H2O will NOT have poker on Wednesday night, December 31. The club's web site is promoting a year-end party with a $10 admission fee. (Their poker nights are always free to play.)

2. With no local tournaments available for us on our best nights to play (Wednesday-Thursday), we're sticking to Yahoo online games. Our updated total is $10,245 - up $107 in a week.

Monday, December 22, 2008

A "boat" and pairs

At our online table Monday, a player whose ID begins with "wood" won a pot with a full house.

"The ol' wooden boat," we wrote to congratulate.

A few hands later, that player did it again.

"Fleet of wooden boats!" we wrote.

"All that and Noah!" the winner replied. Now that's the way to turn the discussion Biblical.

"Well, he really only needed one," we noted.

"Right on!" came the reply.

"And he had much more than two pair."

If you're puzzled by this post right now, we invite you to review Genesis 6-9. Noah built a boat to save the human race, because he was obedient to God. Then pairs of unclean animals and sevens of male and female clean animals entered the ark, and God preserved them as well.

We're not sure how the full house in poker gained the nickname "boat." But one of the most full "boats" which ever sailed made it possible for us to write this -- and for you to read it. Noah's obedience mattered that much. Are you obedient to God that much?

Sunday, December 21, 2008

One card later

It occurs to us that we gave this blog the wrong name. It shouldn't be On the Flop. It should be On the Turn.

A lot can happen on the "turn card," you know. Hopes for a flush can disappear -- for instance, if two spades are on the board and you're holding a third. But if you're holding the right pocket pair, the turn card can give you three of a kind. Or even quads.

The Christian life centers around a turn as well. Turning from a life of sin, to a new life in Jesus Christ. Some call it the "conversion" process.

We've written an article about that, and posted it online. Find a Bible, and take a little time to read it. One good "turn" deserves another, you know.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Poker Night #52: Better Late Than Never

First the bad news: The Thursday night poker action has changed at Lil Kim's Cove. There's now a tournament doubleheader -- first game at 7pm, second around 9:30pm. So when we showed up at 8:20pm, the action was already down to three tables. All we could do was watch.

Now the good news: we WON the nightcap! With about 30 players taking part, we survived to the final two. Then we split the prize money with a young man, who looked like a college student. We win $30; he gets $20 and the "bucket of beers" we don't drink. But we had a 2-1 chip lead when we settled, so we can claim victory. (Or at least we're going to!)

Several big bets did not go well for us early. But then several all-in moments did. One with pocket aces gained us a double-up of 9,000 chips, which gave us enough cushion to hold on to the final table. We also were helped by the fact that a couple of players quit early for the evening, and "shared the wealth" with everyone else when they did. We're calling this "Barack Obama rules."

At the final table, we started with a rather small stack. So we bided our time while a couple of players ran out of chips and patience. Then the pocket pairs came in bunches. In one case, our pocket Kings led to a third on the board -- and we sang a poker version of "We Three Kings."

In another case, we took out two players at once:

BLINDS: 5,000/10,000

IN THE POCKET: 10-10

A woman to our right goes all-in with 30,000 chips. We dare to call it. Then a third player goes all-in. Both our opponents have the same hand: A-J.

ON THE FLOP: Other stuff. They were turned over so fast that we couldn't take notes -- but the 10's held up, to knock the field down to four.

A couple of hands later, we had pocket 7's when a man across from us went all-in. A third 7 came on the turn, and he was gone.

We'd like to declare our recent live tournament slump over. This was our first final table since late September at The Roadhouse, and our first time in the money (top two) since July.

MINISTRY MOMENT: Two players had a look at our "Jesus as your Savior" coin. One woman quietly agreed with the message, saying nothing. We never could ask the question to the second person -- a man who had a scorpion in a tiny plastic case for his card protector. He explained it was a horoscope thing.

UPDATED POKER SCOREBOARD: 22 final tables in 52 nights (42.3%) - 7 cashes (13.5%).

We should note Lil Kim's Cove will be closed the next two Thursday nights for holidays. (We had work commitments, anyway.) We're assuming Club H2O will be closed for Wednesday night play December 24; we'll have to call about December 31, because we're not sure.

YAHOO POKER TOTAL: $10,138 - up $531. (Off $130 from our record high, set Dec. 17.)

Life, or Something Like It

"We're playing an online cash game with pretend money," a player named Supersonic wrote at a Yahoo poker table this morning. "God, we have no lives."

I commented in reply that I was practicing for a real tournament tonight. We plan to be back at Lil Kim's Cove on Fourth Street (you're invited to join us; game time is 8:30 p.m. ET). But Supersonic was not impressed.

"Go practice at a no-limit game, for real," he wrote.

"Such as?" I replied, looking for recommendations. But he folded his hand and left as I wrote that. Too Supersonic for me.

But let's go back to the comment which started this. Do you have a life? Is poker your life? Or are you looking for a better life?

If poker is the only life you have, I'd like to recommend a better one. It's a new life which comes from accepting Jesus as your Savior.

"As Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father," Romans 6:4 says, "we too may live a new life."

You might be surprised to learn you DON'T have to give up poker to have that new life. There's no verse in the Bible that says card-playing is sin -- poker or otherwise. But God wants you to make Him the primary focus of your life. The reward is eternal life in His Kingdom.

How do you do that? "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins," Peter explained in Acts 2:38. Repent of sin. Then be baptized into the Church of God, symbolizing death to self.

"For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God," Paul wrote in Colossians 3:3. You'll still have a life, but somewhat in disguise.

Play poker in that disguised holy life, and you'll probably get noticed at your table. Not smoking, not overdrinking, not swearing -- that makes a Christian poker player tends to stand out from the crowd. Any comments about God and Jesus simply come at no extra charge.

Monday, December 15, 2008

The 10K run

Here's some more on our personal milestone at Yahoo poker. We just stepped away from an online table, staying above $10,000 at $10,077.

We topped 9,000 for the first time less than a month ago, November 20. Since then, we exited with 12 additional records -- with only six declines in our bankroll along the way.

Among the highlights:

Dec. 8 -- I gain $196 to $9755, winning five pots in a row! (Can you top that?) But somehow, Yahoo doesn't register that gain.

Dec. 9 -- Next time out, I gain $164 to $9723. Yahoo stores that one.

Dec. 10 -- A bad session, with me losing $116. But that session isn't recorded, either. Yahoo gives, and Yahoo takes away (a good principle to remember in poker, from Job 1:21).

Sunday, Dec. 14 -- In less than 30 minutes, we jump $274 to $9997. A mere pair of kings wins us a $168 pot, as people fishing for better hands fall short.

Then this afternoon, we gained $80 more -- and stopped atop the $10,000 pyramid. So should we move on to bigger online games? Whattaya think?

Sunday, December 14, 2008

10K! 10K!!

Our pretend Yahoo online poker count topped $10,000 Sunday. We haven't dabbled in blackjack there since early October, so we've earned about $1,600 in two months solely from poker games.

More details coming shortly....

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Poker Night #51: The Professor is Wrong

"You remind me of a professor of poker," a man said when he saw me at Club H2O Wednesday night. I think he was comparing me to poker pro Howard Lederer -- but I don't have the beard, much less the bankroll.

Now this was a poker tournament -- as 140 players crowded around tables, at what's probably the biggest poker night in Columbus. We lasted a long time. More than two hours, in fact. But we didn't win, finishing in a fairly respectable unofficial tie for 33rd.

Poker is played Tuesday and Wednesday nights at H2O. It's up a set of glassy dance-club style stairs, and free to play. There are NO extra chips for buying drinks, unlike some places we've visited. And with only $100 in chips to start and slow-rising blinds, conservative play is somewhat encouraged. (But that didn't stop one player from going all-in on the first hand at our table, and seeing his three 10's lose to a full house.)

We gained a few pots, which were more timely than huge. In one case, we had a queen high vs. A-A -- but the board gave us an ace-high straight, which beat his three aces. In another case, we went all in with A-A and it held up.

The final straw came a couple of hands after that man called us a professor. With the blinds at 20/40, a man ahead of us went all-in with $75. We had K-Q of spades, had only $80 left, and decided to go all-in as well. But a third player who stayed in took the pot with a pair of 7's, when the board didn't pair anything we had.

This tournament seemed more like Las Vegas than any we've experienced. The table and seat assignments were determined randomly by a computer, among the 140 players. Yet after a couple of table combinations, we wound up with last Wednesday's top two players at either side of us.

H2O pays well, which may explain the crowd. First place wins $175. Second is $75, and third is $25. And by the way, sodas only cost ONE dollar -- half-price, compared to other places with poker.

MINISTRY MOMENT: We took our silver "Jesus as your Savior" coin for a card protector again. "Do you agree with that message?" we asked a man sitting next to us while we waited for play to begin. Thankfully, he did. A second player read it later in the evening, and didn't really have a response to it.

UPDATED POKER SCOREBOARD: 21 final tables in 51 nights (41.2%) - 6 cashes.

OK, here's the spin on that. If we had played at Lil Kim's Cove (which we won't Thursday night due to other commitments) with a tournament about 1/4 the size of H2O, a 33rd-place tie whittles down to about ninth -- and we're fighting for a seat at the final table.

YAHOO POKER TOTAL: $9,607 - up $45.

There's spin for that, too. The total should be about $9,800, as we won five hands in a row Monday to gain $196. But Yahoo never recorded our gain! So much for trusting in Yahoo finance....

Get a Clue

Some online poker players openly tell you what they have, as if they don't care. We don't mind dropping hints, as opposed to blatantly telling all.

Some pocket hands have a lingo of their own. Example: A-A = "Pocket Rockets" or "American Airlines."

K-K = Krispy Kremes.

Here are a few clues we might drop, if you ever play us....

A-Q = Al-Qaeda. (Not nice, admittedly.)

A-J = McClungs. The late A.J. McClung was a Mayor Pro Tem in our city, and the main football stadium in town is named in his honor.

A-10 = Xavier. Top basketball team in the Atlantic 10 conference.

K-10 = Ada. Ada, Oklahoma is where you'll find KTEN-TV.

K-9 = woof. (Obvious.)

8-9 = WLS. The "Big 89" on AM radio for years in Chicago.

We'd say more -- but we'd be giving too much away now, wouldn't we? :-->

Since it's raining....

We're planning to try the poker night at H2O this evening for the first time. The sign says play starts at 7:30 p.m. ET.

It's located on Veterans Parkway, just south of Whittlesey -- where Muldoon's used to be, next door to Goodwill Industries.

We understand this place had 150 for poker a couple of weeks ago. So this WILL be a challenge.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

The Three Tenors

(n) -- What we call it when we have pocket 10's, and a third 10 hits the board.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Your turn to win

We have to miss Thursday night poker at Lil Kim's Cove, due to work commitments. Perhaps next week we'll be back (no guarantees).

We've been so busy that Yahoo poker has been an "as we can" proposition. In four sessions since last Thursday, we've lost nine dollars to $9,553. If the buyout rumors about Yahoo are true, we want the bankroll made real.