Thursday, February 26, 2009

Poker Night #59: The Bad Beat Blues

OK, maybe we should recall that post two items down -- about rather being good than lucky. These days, we don't fit either category. A two-day online tailspin led to an ultra-fast exit tonight at Lil Kim's Cove -- last place, out in less than 15 minutes.

We walked to the club reminding ourselves against getting suckered into big pots. For a couple of hands, we did that. But then holding an A-7, we had two pair at the turn and looked good. But a club on the river brought a 2,000-chip bet from the player to our right. We suspected a bluff. He had a flush.

That was a major pain. Then came the next hand....

BLINDS: 25/50.

IN THE POCKET: A-3 of clubs.

Standard bets are made, and we join in a full table. We're one off the button.

ON THE FLOP: Qc-5c-Qd.

A man in the lead position bets 100. A couple of people call. Given our weakened chip stack, we call and hope.

ON THE TURN: K of clubs.

The audacity of hope, indeed. But the man to our left nonchalantly bets 300.

We've played together many times at Lil Kim's Cove, and I know this man tries to bluff his way into pots as often as not -- especially heads-up, as he might think I'll get cold feet and bail out. But here I have a superior flush. That trick won't work this time -- right?

"I'm all in," we announce -- adding 1,550 to the 300. Our opponent calls with little hesitation. We feel good.

"I think you have a 9-10 of clubs," says the man to our right. He had those cards last hand, and thinks he's found the "hot cards" of the night.

We turn over our A-3 of clubs. "That's even better," he says. But our opponent then quietly turns over a Q-5 off-suit.

"It is over," a woman sitting between us declares. After a puzzled moment, it hits me. He hit a full house on the flop, and was sandbagging it with moderate betting.

ON THE RIVER: An 8, which doesn't matter.

For the second tournament in a row, our potential powerhouse hand turns out to be our demise. It's time to regroup -- and our annual Serious Spring Cleaning will allow for that. Thursday night tournaments are NOT guaranteed over the next few weeks.

MINISTRY MOMENT: Someone showed up for poker night with a hole in his jeans. "Those are his church pants," a man joked. "Holy."

Then another player asked how everyone was doing. "Trying to be holy," we respond. "The other kind." We'll talk more about that another day.

UPDATED POKER SCOREBOARD: 24 final tables in 59 nights (40.7%) - 7 cashes.

YAHOO POKER TOTAL: $11,539 - down $273 in two weeks. We were at $11,982 two days ago -- but that tailspin happened.

Back to the Table

After a week away for work commitments, we should be able to return to Lil Kim's Cove for tonight's poker night.

We play the first tournament of the doubleheader only, at 7:00 p.m. ET. And if you eat dinner there, you'll get 1,000 free chips!

(Uh, that's poker chips -- not as in fish and chips.)

Friday, February 20, 2009

I'd Rather Be Good Than Lucky

In a long-anticipated ruling (ha!), a South Carolina judge has ruled Texas Hold 'em poker is a game of skill. It's not luck after all.

Agree?

Monday, February 16, 2009

A fleet of boats

At Yahoo poker just now, we had THREE full houses in the span of about seven hands! We gained a quick $130 (pretend dollars) from them.

What's the hottest run you've ever had at the table -- real or online?

Friday, February 13, 2009

A Sermon on Poker and Risk

A pastor in Southern California makes a confession about his history with Texas Hold 'em, as he encourages you to go "All In." This has audio accompanied by PowerPoint.

A check of the church's web site shows it has occasional men's poker nights. We wish more had this sort of thing.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Poker Night #58: Broken Hearts

Humbled. That's the only way we can express what happened tonight at Lil Kim's Cove. Our big hands were humbled by something bigger, not once but several times. And the result was a last-place bust-out -- our worst showing since November 2007.

We walked to the tournament remembering a TLC tune: "Don't Go Chasing Waterfalls." That approach worked for several hands. But we were at a table with people making moderately-large raises before the flop, daring you to commit -- and our promising hands kept winding up as empty promises.

In one case, a player who went all-in with less than 1,000 hit a full house on the river to beat our pair of A's. In another case where we folded, a man with pocket 3's stunned everyone by revealing he had quads. Then there was this hand....

BLINDS: 50/100.

IN THE POCKET: Ah-Qh.

A few players call before us. Our wounded starting stack is down to about 2,700, so we hope now is the right time. We raise 200, and a few players join in.

ON THE FLOP: A-7-3. (The 3 is a heart.)

We bet 300, but this is an "I dare you" table. A couple of players call.

ON THE TURN: Q.

Two players check ahead of us. "I'm all in," we declare -- pushing in 2,225. A man to our left who seemed to be gunning for us from the start is undaunted. He calls, to stay in.

ON THE RIVER: 5.

"You just lost," the man to our left says as soon as this card is shown.

A smart mouth? No, a smart mind. He shows a 4-6. He hit a straight the hard way. We sit stunned for a few seconds, before finally revealing how right he was.

"I told you it's not my night," we say to the woman between us and the winner.

MINISTRY MOMENT: Not our night there, either. We weren't even at the table 30 minutes, so never developed anything.

UPDATED POKER SCOREBOARD: 24 final tables in 58 nights (41.4%) -- 7 cashes. Please note we will have to skip next Thursday night, due to work commitments. (Maybe we need the break!?!)

YAHOO POKER TOTAL: $11,820 -- up $116.

Survivor: Texas (Hold 'em)

Why watch other people play Survivor when you can do it yourself?

A Texas Hold 'em tournament is a bit like Survivor -- outwitting your opponents with bets, outplaying their hands, outlasting their chip stacks.

Our Thursday night version of Survivor takes us back to Lil Kim's Cove near the Columbus Civic Center tonight. The first half of the tournament doubleheader (the only one we'll play) starts at 7:00 p.m. ET.

And if you don't do well? Maybe that other Survivor will be on a TV screen.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Thanks for the link....

To the Crimson Tide Pride blog!

Which leads us to think.... isn't it only a matter of time before ESPN-U or some other network shows something like a "Collegiate Poker Challenge?" Or would UNLV be too big a favorite?

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Sunday Rewind: Cool Like That

In our review of Thursday's poker night, we asked which Biblical fruit the man to our left was lacking when he slammed the deck of cards on the table in disgust.

First let's point out where the "fruit of the spirit" can be found. They're in Galatians 5:22-23.

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control."

If our dealer had stayed in the hand with his 10 and hit quad 10's on the turn, he definitely would have needed self-control. Blurting out what he had at that moment would have made the entire table fold, and minimized his gains through betting.

Keeping self-control at the poker table can be challenging for newcomers. Trained players with sharp eyes somehow know how to spot bluffers who bet big when they have little. We don't claim that skill at this point. But thanks to a few drama classes we took in college, we know how to "stay in character" during challenging hands. (No, we don't hide behind sunglasses to do it.)

The opposite of self-control is what poker players call "being on tilt." You're ready to bet anything, and you don't care about the outcome. More often than not, that's dangerously wrong. Enough speeders drive by us on the highway to know that.

So self-control matters, and keeping cool at the poker table matters -- sometimes even you're merely dealing.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Poker Night #57: The Blown-Up Boat

We'll remember tonight's tournament at Lil Kim's Cove for a long time to come -- not because of how we played, but because of what happened in a hand we folded.

BLINDS: 100/200.

IN THE POCKET: A-8 of clubs.

We're "one off the button" at a full table. A woman two seats from us raises to 300. We join in, as do a couple of other players. The dealer, who is a college student (he wore his ID badge on his belt) folds. Yes, that will matter.

ON THE FLOP: 10-10-3, one of them a club.

With the dealer folding, we're now effectively on the button. But players ahead of us make sizable bets of 500+, and we don't risk it. So we fold.

ON THE TURN: 10.

"F***!!!!!!!" exclaims the dealer -- and he throws the deck down so hard on the table that the cards scatter from one end to the other. "I had quads, man!"

OK, so now we know nobody else does. Trouble is, no one's sure which cards to burn and turn for the river.

"I had a ****ing boat!" a player across the table says in frustration. He has pocket Queens. Another player turns over A-3, so he had hopes of an even better full house.

In Wild West poker legend, pistols might have been drawn at this point. Thankfully, that doesn't happen -- and everyone keeps their cool. Well, except the dealer is still muttering about giving up quads.

The tournament director is called over, and he agrees there's no way to sort out which card should come up next. The players still in the hand agree to divide the pot. But that doesn't mean everyone is agreeable about it. It takes a minute or two for the dealer to apologize, and the man with the Q's to quickly accept it.

Poker Quiz Time: Which Biblical "fruit of the spirit" was our dealer lacking? (The answer is coming in another post.)

As for our game: we turned A-Q in the pocket into a couple of early straights, and built a starting stack of 5,000 chips into a lead of almost 14,000. But we couldn't catch any cards after that, and our chip stack slowly drained away. We survived an all-in bet with 9-10 of spades when no one called, and held on to finish tied for 11th [CORRECTED] out of about 30 players.

The end came with a double-take out, as the college student joined us in going in with blinds at 1,000/2,000. We had A-J, but a woman with pocket 7's caught a third one on the flop to seal our fate.

MINISTRY MOMENT: We attended a funeral out of town during the afternoon, and decided to wear our suit and tie to poker night. (It works for Mike Sexton, after all.) But we put on a lapel pin which said "PRAISE JESUS."

We lost an early hand after showing what we called "almighty pair of 2's." Then at break time, we turned to the now-composed college student to our left. "This is what I really consider Almighty."

The student strained to read the pin, but he agreed with what we said. Now if the cigarette-smoking easily-frustrated young man will learn to live by it....

UPDATED POKER SCOREBOARD: 24 final tables in 57 nights (42.1%) -- 7 cashes.

YAHOO POKER TOTAL: $11,704 -- down $24.

Take 2: If it's Thursday....

The phone hasn't rung yet, calling us to a change in work plans. So we'll try again tonight to play at Lil Kim's Cove. You're invited to join us, to talk poker and more.

It's a doubleheader, but we'll play only the first tournament at 7:00 p.m. ET.