Wednesday, November 14, 2012

A stranger in a strange land... news & notes on 2/5

Although a departure from the normal paragraph form of posting, I wanted to take down some notes / observations from the 2/5 tables and share them with you:

  • Game speed: Everyone knows their move and has thought about it in advance.  The action moves along much more quickly as there isn't as much thought for routine plays.  Players are paying attention to the action and are well aware when the action is on them.
  • Awareness of odds: On a number of occasions, I made an "outlandish" raise of 8x in the various positions (mostly from SB/BB because I really don't want to see a multi-way flop from OOP for the hand) and almost every time, would-be callers were investigating my stack to ensure proper odds.  On a few instances, I got folds around the table because the odds to call and set mine simply were not there.
  • Aggression factor: Most players have a good grasp that aggression wins.  There were much fewer limped pots, must less willingness to stack off on limped pots, and a TON more positional raising.  Blind stealing is much more rampant and there is far less calling of 3bets.
  • Bluffing: 2- and 3- street bluffing seems to be more normal.  There are definitely players who will 3bet or bet 3 streets with air.  The game is somewhat of a sit down and strap in situation.
  • Thin value bets: I saw a lot of betting on the river where a 1/2 game would likely check through.  Two pair hands got more value in this game than they do in lower stakes.
  • There are still donkeys: As I sat down, I quickly was reminded that this is still the same game: NLHE.  Once the nerves wore off, I settled down to play my hands and put other players on a hand to the best of my abilities.  It's still the same old game I've been playing all these years.
In summary, I was a winner for the night.  I ran well on the first table, doubling my initial buy in.  Not feeling comfortable with 200BB quite yet, I requested a table change and pocketed 100BB.  Upon switching, I immediately got hit with suckouts and monster draws not getting there, and found myself down 50BB.  I wound up winning around 50BB for the short night - I'll take that; it's around double my hourly rate!

I'll probably wind up playing 2/5 at nights and 1/2 during days until I'm more comfortable with the flow of the game.  I can still crush 1/2 and I think it's a cash cow that I shouldn't readily give up.  In the meantime, I look to 1/2 for ego support.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Adjustments... Dealing with regs / competent players & moving up in stakes

Before I start, I want to share a hand that happened last Friday at the Chuck.  The hand involves 2 regs / competent players + 1 donk:

I join a host of 2 limpers with 98hh in middle position when the reg highjack bumps it up to $~14.  A supertight flats the $14 in the BB, a LAGbot flats, and I come along to see the flop, figuring I have good pot odds + great implied odds - oh yeah; I'm $1100 deep, the reg is $~200 deep and the supertight has around $900.  I make the call primarily for the supertight, but figure I can hook the reg and/or LAGbot if the flop comes right.  If not, I can get away.  The implied odds are simply too great though.

Flop, natch, comes 5c6h7c (ho hum... just the nuts...) and it checks to the orig. raiser who leads for $45.  I'm fairly certain that this is an auto-cbet, which I intent to flat if no one else comes along.  However, the supertight flats the cbet.  I'm faced with a dilema: do I get more money in now, or do I slow play and see a turn, letting supertight & reg have a cheap card?  I opt for more money, because I want to get most of the stacks in by the turn.  I raise $100 on top, to $145 clean.  I lose the reg, which is kinda what I thought would happen, but supertight flats once again.  I now know that he flopped a set and is looking to improve to a boat.  This is great information: I can *ABSOLUTELY* get away from any paired board, and I get to see the turn on my terms.  His implied odds are 0 and mine are $650.  Good situation indeed.  Turn is a Qh, giving me a backdoor flush draw + flopped straight.  He checks to me and I think for a little bit, carving out $400 at first then deciding on $300 (THIS IS A 1/2 GAME, AFTER ALL :-) ).  This truly paralyzes him and he talks through the hand.  By this point, I know exactly what set he has; 55 - he talks through 666, 777, 98, 84, 43 - all hands that beat him.  He eventually folds, face up, and I silently muck, much to his chagrin.  I let it be known that I flopped top two and he has a pained look on his face.

Moving onto the related topic today, I played my competent player somewhat incorrectly.  I didn't read him for as tight as he actually was; able to lay down a flopped set for a less than pot-sized bet on the turn.  I bet $300 into $390, trying to get stacks in, when I should have realized that he was not the type to go into call-down turtle mode.  I would have been better off putting out $200-250 and making a semi-healthy river bet, happy with partial stacks rather than full.  Obviously, this is a per-player adjustment, and also a per-stack adjustment; the reality is that if he has $200-400 in his stack, he's getting it in without a hesitation.  He has $900 and it's a much more careful decision process.

The point is this: I don't make a TON of money from regs or competent players.  My primary source of income at the poker table is the donk who calls down his top pair or whatever BS he may have, even so far as knowing he's crushed.  When I nut on the regs, I need to get out of the mindset of bet bet bet value value value as if they were the donks.  These players are aware, just as I am, how to play the game.  They can sense when they're beat.  I need to play a little trickier.  I need to check a street.  I need to make smaller value bets.

Realizing the above, I have come to the decision that I will henceforth be splitting time between 2/5 & 1/2.  I will be playing 2/5 on Thursday nights and 1/2 on Friday days until I have a good grasp of 2/5 and will move into 2/5 full time.  I have moved away from 99% value / 1% bluff lines to around 80/20 lines - and I pick my bluff lines carefully.  I am adjusting to all players.  My average $/hr yield has been ever-increasing (prior to February of this year, I was running around 10BB/hr average but have since moved to >15BB/hr, implementing bluffing and better lines).

In closing, I leave you with the following non-traditional line from Friday, where I did adjust for the player, rather than bet bet bet.  Admittedly, I get lucky more than once, but I still like my lines here:

I have KK UTG.  I look to my left and see a redbird ($5 chip) in the BB.  "Feigning ignorance," I throw out 3 reds, and "realize my mistake" by saying I thought that was a straddle...  I get called in 3 spots and action waits on the BB.  The BB pushes out his remaining $51 and I now have a decision: There's $45 in the pot + $51 that he just pushed out.  If I raise here, I'm basically isolating into a situation of what could be (doubtful though) AA vs. my KK.  If I isolate, I limit the pot to calling $36 to win $96, not a bad deal, but my upside is limited to $96.  If I flat, though, it will likely encourage at least one other player to come along.  I did not expect to see both the bad player flat the $51 and the LAGbot come along.  The flop, again the nuts (natch): Kc 4c 7h.

I look to my left and see the bad player readying a bet.  Additionally, there isn't too much that hit this flop other than random clubs draws and sets.  Therefore, I check and let the bad player lead $75 into the blossoming pot.  The LAGbot calls and I decide to call, not ready to blow out the big guns.  The turn is a blank 5d; the nuts are an unlikely 68 or 63, but I'm truly not that concerned because of the $51 PF raise.  The bad player dumps in his remaining $75 and the LAGbot calls.  LAGbot has $~240 behind, and I have him covered ($360).  I check / shove my remaining $340 and put LAGbot to the decision with my set of Kings...  There's $894 (including my bet) in the pot and it'll cost him $240 to call.  I'm obviously praying for the call, but he folds and I scoop a nice pot (bad reg gonna be a bad reg, called $51 second in PF with 45s for the turned 2 pair).  Oh yeah, K on the riv for the quads.

Again, these in-game changes to my approach make a dramatic difference to my win rate.  I'm ready to start adjusting to the 2/5 flow.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

My approach to AK in live games

While playing last Friday, two situations came up when I held AK from out of position - once was from the small blind and the other was facing a 3bet against my UTG raise.  I am writing this blog entry to lay out my approach to AK, which has definitely changed over the past year (has it been THAT LONG?!??!) that I've focused solely on live poker.

Never has it been more apparent to me when I sit down at the (1/2) tables that I have such a HUGE advantage over the average player.  Therefore, in my live game, I've taken a much more passive approach with AK than I have over my prior poker career.  Let me explain.

AK is an easy raising hand; 2 hands have you squarely dominated, but all others are roughly a coin flip - and, if the situation is right, a dominating situation (AK vs. Ax, AK vs. Kx).  You are beating all hands in between by at least a 60/40 edge.  Therefore, it's profitable to raise AK.  What happens when you raise and are 3bet, though?  Let's operate under the assumption that 3bets in 1/2 - even 2/5 for that matter - are fairly infrequent.  For the average donk, a 3bet generally consists of 1 of 3 hands (AA, KK, 50% QQ & 50% AK).  Very simple.  Combined, those 4 permutations account for 2.5% of all hands - and if you split the QQ, AK at 50/50 like I propose, you get somewhere around 2% of hands - even easier to define.  In other words, you're not getting 3bet very often at these tables, and when you do, it's a very focused, defined range.  Against this focused range, AK should be an easy fold; you're not going to make money very often against it.  Moreover, the implied odds are simply not there when you're in a coin flip situation or worse (KK, QQ can lay down against an A high flop, and QQ most of the time will not be paying off big enough on a K high flop to be profitable).  So given your average donk, AK is a fairly easy fold against a 3bet against that range.  Therefore, against 3bets from more predictable opponents, I've taken to the practice of folding my AK opens to 3bets.  It should be noted that this practice does not hold true for my more aggressive, wider openers (including short stackers who feel "pressed" to get it in with any two picture cards, etc.).  In other words, AK is not an auto-fold to 3bets; it is situation dependent with most of the dependency coming from the image of the 3bettor.  I don't know that my approach to AK in this situation has varied so far from my online game; I'm generally folding most of my opening range to a 2% 3bettor.  However, my next approach has changed significantly.

Facing a raise from an in-position opponent: a tough situation to be in, indeed.  Ultimately, I've taken to the general approach of not wanting to see a flop when I have AK from out of position.  When I'm OOP, I'm tending to flat more and 3bet less.  I really want to limit my exposure to a bloated pot with little or no control for the rest of the hand.  I am trying to pot control from the earliest onset of the hand, pre-flop.  If I feel as though I can 3bet and take the pot down right away, I may lean on the side of doing so (i.e. eliminating the coin flip situations of pocket pairs <= QQ vs my AK), but for the most part, 3betting AK from OOP does not accomplish a heckuvalot - particularly with stubborn opponents - but against most live opponents who will call any bet with their small pocket pairs planning to check / fold or hit their sets.  On the other hand, a typical raiser will be raising AT+ and calling their suited Ax  and KT+.  Those are precisely the hands I want calling and feeling comfortable.  3betting those hands will only make my opponents fold, reducing the value I get from future streets when their K or A does indeed hit.  In summary, 3bets fold out the hands I dominate and isolate the hands I flip with.  Is that a situation I'm after (rhetorical; of course I don't want to be in that situation, silly!)?  Oh yeah - by the way - I have the play from out of position for the remainder of the hand.  So, again, I have taken the approach of passivity for holding AK OOP.

When I'm in position, it's a whole other beast.  In fact, my 3bet range is FAR wider in position than out.  I can include AJ+, some suited connectors (far less frequently), smaller pocket pairs (88+), etc.  I'm able to read the action and act last in future streets, so I can decide whether the table gets a free card or if I'm charging for it.  However, that's neither here nor there; this entry is about playing AK from OOP.

One last bonus note before I end this entry: when I'm in the blinds and facing a host of limpers, I've taken to raising to an "inappropriate" amount which is unlikely to get callers - and if it does, it will likely be no more than 1 caller.  I've typically opened from the blinds for $20-$30, dependent on the amount of limpers, for example.  Rarely is there someone laying in wait to spring a trap with his monster; a limp / raiser.  I want to get value from my strong hand that will generally flop weakly.  Therefore, I try to take it down immediately without much hassle.  I want to close out the 56, T8, QJ, small pocket pairs, etc., because I'm going to be up Shit's Creek with so many limpers and such a huge range of hands to outflop.  If that means closing out your K5s, so be it, but there are far more hands that have good equity against me when allowed to open limp than hands that I am crushing.

Monday, October 22, 2012

What goes down must come up & never offer to buy a Russian a hot dog

As planned, I hit the tables once again.  I had Friday off and intentions of redeeming myself.  Recall that in my last session, I lasted all of an hour and found myself down 2.5 buy ins.  Whenever I have a stinker of a session like that, I question myself, my abilities, and my instincts.  I also question whether I want to go back to the tables.  I know that the reality is I need to gut check and get back in there to prove that I can continue to crush the donkeys, but it is so disheartening to lose money to absolute idiots.

I got to the Chuck an hour before noon and am able to sit instantly - tables are churning, but they don't have a waitlist.  They probably had 10 1/2 games going in addition to a handful of 2/5 and 1 5/10 game.  I sat down to a young hot shot who had a nice chip stack - in the range of $900 or so.  He just kept on hitting hands and stacking his opponents, who, invariably never believed him.  They were all willing to play big pot poker, unbelieving he had a better Ace to their Ace-rag.  They were not ready to accept that their second pair was no good to a Q high board.  I quickly determined that he was frequently raising pre-flop not because he wanted to take down blinds but wanted to get value out of his tremendous run of good hands; AQ, AK, QQ, KQ, etc. - a seemingly endless run of premiums and semi-premiums, all which seemed to hit.  I knew the way to play this dude was to sit back and let him fall into a second-best trap of his own.

However, I would have to face problems of my own, first.  In addition to combating the complete lack of cards, I ran my AQ into QJ - a familiar situation from last week which sent me of the edge - on a Ks Ts x board (all in on the flop where I cbet my PF raise and a short stack shoved his remaining $50 into my $30 cbet.  4-way flop x $15 = $60 + $30 + $50 = $140 gives me great odds to call $20 to win $140 with my gutter and an over).  Dude refuses to flip and I tell him I think I just took the pot as the Js hits the turn.  Well, the 3s on the river has me doubting that win when he flips over QJo with the Qs.  Once again, QJ > AQ to a 7-outter and I'm down $100 40 minutes into the session.  I fished out a $100 chip from my pocket (I buy in for 2x buy ins and keep one in my pocket to allow for topping off my stack so that I not only don't interrupt the game to change cash, but don't make it obvious that I'm topping off).  Joy - I'm now down 3 full buy ins within a sum total 2 hours of poker.  Within 5 hands, though, I find myself all in on a PF raised pot with a set of 3's on a board of 3 7d Qd; young hot shot had bumped the PF to $12 and got a host of callers.  Cbets $25 and old man who can mix it up raises to $100.  Looking at my stack, I can't see ever flatting here and offering the young hot shot decent odds at calling so I shove my remaining ~$190.  Young hot shot thinks and folds, and old man snaps.  I believe he had AQ, and I take down a decent pot.  Finally, I'm in the black!

While I'm patiently waiting for my next payoff, I'm watching the young hot shot mix it up with a Russian / former Soviet bloc dude (you know the type - Adidas zipper track suit, neck as thick as his accent, pitbull-like forehead, etc.) who is completely tilted by the fact that he can't win a hand...  "Is bullsheet," is his accented response.  After being stacked 2 times, he gets up and storms off.  He was very vocal about his tilt, and the young hot shot really knew what to say to keep him going.  I would chip up, though, hitting a wheel and getting modestly paid, followed by back-to-back KK and, though not doubling through, chipping up nicely.  In fact, I never was able to mix it up with the young hot shot, as he declared himself scared of me.  He would call raises from me (which I would predictably do in position, though I don't know if he picked up on that) and either check / fold the flop or check / fold the turn.  He claims to have folded a low flush to me, but I have my doubts about that. I couldn't 100% tell whether he was a lucky fish or somewhat knew what he was doing.

Regardless, at some point, the young hot shot upped and left with his mountains of chips (by this point he left with well over $1500), and in comes the Russian again.  I was watching him on-and-off through the corner of my eye.  He sat down to the slot machines and hit a $260 jackpot on a $1, which sent him back to the tables.  Evidently, he did not need the win / money because he bought in for another $200 cash and kept the $260 check in front of him.  It became immediately apparent that his tilt had not subsided during his time away, and his jackpot win only emboldened him to become more aggressive.  Though I was an active participant in relieving him of the contents of his wallet, watching this mess was awesome.  I nicknamed him "Boris." Well, Boris got so amped up that he started bitching about the cost of drinks (rail drinks I believe are free at the Chuck, but if you want premium product, I think it's around $8 per.  Hot dogs are $3.50 per)  This was not satisfactory to Boris.  He lose his money and they not pay for food or drink.  Is bullsheet.  The waitress was the unwitting victim of his tirade, but he did tip her and leave her alone.

At this point, I had lifted $~600 from him, and, upon hearing his complaints, I told him, "though I don't encourage drinking, I'd like to buy him a hot dog," a genuine and noble gesture.  I wanted to accomplish two things: I wanted to absolutely keep his Soviet ass at the table and playing cards, and I wanted him to not get fall-down drunk.  I suspected he was the type who would hold his liquor, but I knew he had been going since [at least] the early hours of the morning (he was at the table and liquored up when I got there earlier) and didn't want him falling asleep or getting too tired.  This offering was apparently an insult to him, and he let it be known.  Boris started ranting and raving - how I think I'm so smart; how he can't win a hand; how awful players we all are; and "is sheet" to offer to buy hot dog.  "Is insult to buy hot dog for Boris."  Needless, I did not buy him a hot dog.  Turns out, a hot dog is a phallus and this particular Russian is insulted by me insinuating that he eat my phallus(?!?!?!?!)  We all (the table) figured that out after he stormed off yet again after getting stacked.  He came back, bought in for the last $100 in his pocket (don't know where the $260 check went), and I decided I'd had enough.  My wife and I had agreed on a time and it was fast approaching, I was up 5 buy ins, and the Russian was out of money.  Book a nice session win and comeback from the stinker last week.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Poker Fridays...

Tomorrow, I will go and avenge my record session of last.  I will have from 10am - 4pm to get things in gear and move them along.  I've found in the past that when I have a "major" down session, it's usually followed by an even greater up session.  Here's to hoping fora  major up session.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Crash... and I'm still not sure what happened

I went to play a rare Sunday night session and was violently reminded as to why I hate weekends at the Chuck (credit given to The Poker Barrister, who came up with the name for the Charles Town WV casino).  I sat down at around 8:50 pm to what would soon be my shortest, losing-est session ever.  As to the title, I'm still collecting my thoughts and I'm still not sure what happened.  A few hands in, I've decided to take an aggressive table posture and get in raising and pushing people off the pots with cbets.  I realize that there are a few terrible players at my table and a few older gentlemen who think they're good but have as many holes in their games as the Swiss do their cheese.  I'm humming along nicely, up $50 or so and then I start getting played back by the table en mass.  I miss my flops and have to fold to heavy action, dropping my stack down to around $160 when the following takes place:  the loose older Asian man to my right raises to $6 from the CO.  I'm sitting on AJs on the button and bump it to $20 to go.  Folds around and loose Asian calls.  Flop is K T x and he checks to me.  I lead for $30 and he min-raises me to $30.  Here's where I'm pondering my play: should I be shoving here with around $80 behind in total?  WTF?  Based on my read, I'm fairly certain he didn't hit here, but I think my mistake is not shoving right here & now.  I have a gutter and an over, but I'm really afraid of a flopped set of Tens at the time.  I should have taken an extra moment and pushed here, but I call.  The turn is an Ace, so I have a gutter and now a pair.  He leads for $40 and I top it off with the $40 remaining.  He shows QJ for the turned 7 outter which just drives me insane.  Calling a 3bet OOP with $140 behind, check raising his draw and then jamming the nuts... facepalm...  First buy in, gone within 30 minutes.

Rebuy.  Limpers galore - and and older 50's gentlemen who already "took note" of my aggro play, as so noted to his buddy to his right.  He's across the table from me and I look down at AQo.  I pop the bet to $15 from the CO and it folds to 50's mediocre player who limp / raises it to $60.  I have a fresh $200 stack and my decision right here in my mind is shove / fold.  I opt for the more aggressive line, telling myself that he's been waiting for this kind of move with any two - but he snaps me off with QQ.  I sweat the flop of all diamonds (I have the Ad) and don't suckout.  Second buy in gone within 35 minutes.

I take a walk.  Try to relax myself.  I resolve to play my normal, tight, wait-on-the-nuts game.  I'm wound up and didn't drive 50 minutes to turn around within a half hour.  This is absurd.  I sit back down at another table, miss my draw and lose $60.  The new table is full of regs (all of whom I recognize and recognize me) and I want nothing to do with it.  I switch over to another table where I am dealt AA in my first hand (I just bought the button so I'm in the BB now).  I'm facing a $7 raise with 3 callers so I raise to $27 and all fold.  That's more like it; I'd like to see a flop, but not 4-way, and I hate being out of position.  3 hands later, I'm dealt AKo and facing a $7 raise and one caller.  I bump it to $25 and the SB shoves.  I've played with him before, and he knows what he's doing for the most part.  His shove was $80, so I call figuring that I can't be all that bad unless he shows KK or AA.  He shows JJ and we're set for a flip.  J on the flop, J on the turn and I'm to the rail again with AK vs. quad Jacks.  I'm done.

1 hour and 2.75 buy ins.  Quickest session ever.  Still not sure whether I suck or I'm coolered.  I think the first hand set me off to tilt land - a rarity for me; I'm the guy who sits patiently and waits for huge favorite spots.  I'm still reeling from this session.  I'm so rattled right now that I'm debating going back to my "regular" off Friday day session this week.  I'm still not really really sure what happened...

Thursday, October 11, 2012

My first Full Tilt correspondence in a LONG time!!!

I suppose we're getting closer to getting our money back!  See below:

Dear XXX,

As a player on Full Tilt Poker, you may be aware of the recent settlement reached with the U.S. Department of Justice (the "DOJ").

Full Tilt Poker will not offer real money online poker in the U.S. until it is permissible to do so under relevant law

In relation to your account balance, you will have the opportunity to file petition with the DOJ through a remission process which will be administrated by the DOJ.

In light of the above, only play chip games will be available to Full Tilt Poker players in the U.S. following re-launch, in the first week of November, 2012. Your Full Tilt Points balance will remain intact in your account.

Please note that we are unable to answer queries in relation to your funds - all such questions should be directed to the DOJ in accordance with the procedure to be defined by them.

Please retain this email for your records.


Full Tilt Poker

Monday, September 24, 2012

Royal Flush! And getting paid out on the resultant jackpot!

I played Friday, on my every-other-Friday off work schedule.  As usual, I went up to CTown and grinded there for the better part of 6 hours.  I was card dead for most of the day, treading water, bouncing between down $170 and down $150 until I hit a KJh royal flush!  Ctown offers a jackpot of $1600 for a Heart Royal; half to the winner and half divided between the table.  Boom!  Payday!  And to top things off, I went on a nice little heater to turn my session loss into a nice little session gain.

I guess I'm break-even on the bad beat jackpot contributions now...

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Freakonomics post on Why Online Poker Should Be Legal

Some of you may enjoy this read:

Thursday, September 13, 2012

More live tells

More hands from last Friday:

I can't quite remember exactly how the hand played out, but by the river, I was heads-up with a poor player who mainly relied upon luck and improbable bluffs to win at poker.  I'm somewhat certain that I had at least a top pair, top kicker or and overpair by the river facing a 4-straight 4-5-7-8 -type board.  I remember checking to the the player who led large (the pot was somewhat large so this bet was consistent with pot size).  However, he did not think about the prior action, and how unlikely it would be for him to show up with a 6.  More interestingly, almost immediately after putting out the bet, I started counting chips and thinking about the hand.  Due to his "impatience," he called out "I have the straight," while looking right at me.  Then, "realizing his mistake," said,"Oh, you didn't call, huh...  you haven't called yet...  Damn...  We'll I'm going to be nice and let you know that I have the straight.  You should fold and save yourself money."  It was so poorly timed / coreographed, that I wasn't sure whether he was trying reverse psychology.  This attempt at accidentally calling out his hand was so poor that I thought he was trying to make me think that he intended it to be a false tell.  With nothing left on his end or mine, as far as betting, I started talking to him.  I asked him after he started insisting on the straight that he show me the cards.  He flat out refused.  I said show me one card then.  Immediate and sharp refusal.  After working up the profile, I concluded that he was bluffing and made the call to take the pot vs. his AJ two overcard bluff.  Almost a week later, and I'm still stupefied that someone could bluff so poorly.  His tell was precisely so poor and obvious, looking at me while acting shocked and embarrassed that I hadn't made the call after telling me that he had a straight was just awful.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Continuing to improve in both live poker & poker in general

Friday I played another decent session at the Chuck - $800+.  I'm rolling along.  This follows a downer of a session on Sunday, where I wound up in the hospital with abdominal pain immediately following a loss.  It was determined that I have a hernia and need surgery.  Fortunately, a friend of mine is an abdominal surgeon and will be getting me under the knife on Friday.  Wish me luck, but that's not the point of this post:

I called a raise of $6 in the BB with 8s5s after 2 callers (MP opened & semi-tight BTN and CO called), which encouraged a host of limpers to call the nominal raise - I think we were 6 way to the flop of 8d 5c 3d and I charge the flop with a $15 donk bet, wanting to ensure that draws are charged and overpairs are emboldened to raise.  In retrospect, I should have bet larger - $20-25, but at the time, I wanted to give others enough rope to hang themselves.  Nevertheless, I want and encourage the action.  The super loose EP overcaller calls as does the semi-tight BTN, and we see a turn 7d, completing the 3 flush and wonky straight.  Looking at the 2 players, I did not get the feeling that they were chasing flushes; it just seemed as though they were trying to hit an over, or some random pair...  in other words, I felt as though I still had the best hand.  These players were the kinds of players to raise their draws given such a weak bet, hoping to push the better hands off and play position.  Both players called the flop bet with some thought - indicating to me that they were not necessarily chasing draws like flushes.  Therefore, I wanted to continue charging for whatever pair / draw they were on and this time led for $35, wanting to ensure the payment for a 4 flush.  Again, in retrospect, I think I'd like this bet to be larger; there is now $15x3 + $6x6 in the pot - ~$81 - a $40-50 bet seems more appropriate.  However, given the 3 flush and 3 straight already out there, and that I'm not 100% sure on my read, I want to make a cautious bet but still get value.  What I'm not thinking about in this spot, though, is what happens if I get raised.  It's very easy at this point to raise me off of my hand, though the following happened: the super loose guy sighed unhappily and folded.  The BTN simply called again.  The Qd on the river shut me down.  With a 4 flush out there, I can't possibly bet, because I'm only getting called by a good diamond.  On top of that, I have a nominal showdown hand and there is a chance the BTN will bluff.  Bet he did, as he tossed out $45, a small bet compared to the pot, just as I had led the two prior streets.  Here's where I'm getting both as a live player and a poker player:

I took ample time in wading through the hand in my head.  He called the flop bet of 2 diamonds, and simply smoothed the turn bet.  This guy was fairly straightforward and would likely raise his turned flush if had hit it, and my read didn't jive with the fact that he had a turned flush.  Also, he would have raised the turn in order to not only get value out of his hand, but to ensure value in the unlikely event that a diamond river shut down his action.  So if I assume that he didn't hit is flush on the turn, what could he call the flop bet with that had a Q+ of diamonds?  Well, the Qd is out there, so he had to call the flop with a combo of Kd / x or Ad / x.  He's not likely to call Kd5x, or Kd8x, but it is somewhat possible for him to call Ad8x or Ad5x, but I have to believe that he's shutting down the turn bet - though perhaps not.  It's not easily in his range to make an A/X offsuit call as being a semi-tight player.  Sticking with my read, there simply are more bluff / weird hands that don't hold a diamond than do have a diamond and a strong diamond (enough to bet the river and not go to showdown), so I made the call and was surprised to see Ts6s as a very odd and unexpected showdown - a floated flop, turned open-ender.

At any rate, I learned two things from the hand: there is no auto-fold at the Chuck.  I should never mentally click that "fold to any bet" that I so often do.  The Chuck is full of player whose hands don't entirely add up, and sniffing through the BS is tantamount to my success there.  Second, I need to make my decisions slowly and deliberately, and piece together the hand and reads as they played out.  I have written that before, but this is confirmation that I'm staying the course.

Friday, September 7, 2012

There's that little something you pick up on...

Can't explain it, as I wanted to detail a few more hands from my monster session the other day.  I stacked a guy on the river (which was such a bad board), but still went ahead and stacked him with QQ vs. JJ:

I pick up QQ on the button / hijack and raise to $15 which was typical for me to charge the limpers.  Anything more, I get folds, but less and everybody and their brother come along.  In this case, I get 5 callers and a flop of 8 6 3 - two diamonds.  Checks around to me and I push out $45 into $65, hoping that the little baby pairs didn't hit their sets.  Decent, semi-tight player calls in the BB and grandma pushes her remaining $~5, creating a side pot (BTW, nice call - $15 pre and get it in with $5 on the flop LOL).  Turn is an off suit 8, and I rarely put a semi-tight/ okay player on A8 or suited connectors & random 8's in his range.  If that's the case, he was first to call $15 in the BB and it would be somewhat uncharacteristic of him to make that kind of call with that marginal holding.  I push out $85 and he takes a good long time before making the call (for some reason, I pick up on the fact that he is not on a diamond draw, not on an 8, and place his range squarely on TT, JJ - his mannerisms, his thoughtful call, his hesitation, can't put my finger on it - that squarely strikes his range in this spot; I think he's raising intending to get it in if the trips hit him) but he has around $170 behind.  FWIW, I think he check / raises me on the flop or leads the flop with a set of 6's or 3's (and certainly tries to get it in on the turn given my sizable turn bet).  River is a 6 of diamonds and I push out the $170 figuring if he calls $85 on the turn he'll call $170 river thinking nothing has changed by the river other than the 3 flush...  I'm fairly certain he has me on a not-believing AA which is what I am "trying" to represent / he's playing level 1 poker based on the strength of his hand and his hand alone.  He calls and shows JJ, precisely what I put him on, and I scoop a large side pot to grandma's $90 quadruple up when she hits her AJ diamond flush.  Bummer I couldn't scoop overall, but good read.

The reg next to me could not believe that I pushed the bad board like that with QQ, and I just had that feeling that he was not drawing.  By the 6 double-pairing the board, it all but eliminates the set combos down to 3's.  That fact, coupled with my read of non-draw sets up the river for a shove.  In retrospect, I don't know what I'm going to do if the river is a J or T - I'll be incredulous and disbelieving and I'm not quite sure whether we get it in on the river in that situation.

For what it's worth, I'm still bemoaning the lack of online poker...  If I were playing online poker tournaments, I'd be much happier :-).

Friday, August 31, 2012

The Nuts! I mean, "Do you have the nuts?"

Anyone who knows me knows that I can't keep my trap shut for very long.  I have the equivalent of the runs when it comes to my mouth.  It makes for some interesting poker situations, to say the least.  I don't know; when I sit down at the live table, I have an ADHD that suddenly turns on - like a dog who's nose is picking up every scent and hearing everything and is having sensory overload.  Okay, well maybe it's not quite that bad, but I'm fidgeting in my chair, talking to anyone who will listen, trying to move the game along.  I guess I'm far more comfortable with online poker because it draws my entire attention in to keep me focused on the 10-15 tables I have running at the given time.

I've noted some bad habits since I've been playing live - some perhaps downright rude - all of which I'm working on.  On occasion, I know when I make a raise to get other players folded out, I am 100% sure that it will work, and have my cards ready to muck.  I've played enough to know when someone calls a $6 bet on a limped pot and I raise to $20, for example, when the action folds back around to them as the last player to act and they're looking at their cards once again, it's a given that they're folding their 2 overs or at best, bottom pair.  While they're re-assessing the situation, I have my cards (with my hand on them) half-way to the muck as an encouragement to move the game along, though I'm not quite sure my opponents see it the same way, but I digress from the original point: speaking too much.

Last night, as I had a record session (both at Charles Town and for live poker overall - $1300+), I raised 5 limpers with KJo in late position to $15.  Welcome to Ctown - I get 3 callers and a juicy pot to boot.  The flop comes a very blank - Q 8 3 rainbow.  ~50 year old calling station, which I had been noticing was a calling station, but not in the way that wouldn't know when he's beat (assumption mistake FWIW), leads for $17 into the $60+ pot.  He gets a decent Asian player to call and I come along, floating and thinking I'll take it away on the turn.  The turn is an Ace, which is a decent card to rep - I expect a check but station leads for $16 this time into the now-ballooning pot (that kind of bet from a station says to me that he still wants value, but is clearly afraid of the Ace and tells all sorts of weakness).  Asian guy folds (he saw me grab a large chip stack intending to raise (mistake because I should have trapped an additional $16) and I decide to push it to $55.  Betting less on the turn than on the flop is a pretty decent sign of weakness IMO.  Station quickly and thoughtlessly calls, which has me instantly checked out of the hand - 25BB lost on the turn is the mental calculation; bluff did not work; DO NOT BLUFF STATIONS DESPITE YOUR DUMB READ!!!!  However, the river bails me out with a beautiful Ten (no flushes, etc.), making my backdoor straight.  Emboldened and upright, station now carves out $40 of his $~180 behind and puts it across the line.  Pretty big sign of strength is my read, and I stop, take my time (been working on that - need to stop acting instantly like I do online), and push out two stacks of red (1 stack of red = 20 chips x $5 = $100 x 2 stacks) putting him all-in and to a decision.  Almost instantly he takes his chips and starts to move them forwards, motioning a call.  As soon as I see this, I call out "Nuts!" and in the same instant, realize that he did not call, but was kinda playing around with the chips, contemplating still...  Quick thinking, quick witted me, I change my exclamation to "Do you have the nuts?" but I knew it wasn't going to pass muster by anyone... the whole table knew what just happened.  Well, the whole table, except one person, who was STILL considering a call.  Looking around the table, and trying as best I could to stifle a laugh (the whole table was putting on their best poker faces too - shout out to the table "THANKS!") he sighs and says "Well, I guess I should call you - I call."  I instantly flip the goods and he shows Ace Ten for the rivered 3 outter 2 pair.  Everyone busts out laughing (except calling station) and as those internet kids say, "hilarity ensued."  Well, hilarity ensued for everyone except the station, who sulked off, embarrassed, and beaten down.

I guess that's part of running well...

P.S.  It's interesting when people see you make moves like raising the turn on a draw.  The more attentive players at the table gave me a quizzical look, which shows they misread me in general.  I think that's a good think; it balances my range of bluffs / monsters such that they are aware that they feel more comfortable calling me light in those kinds of spots.  The reality is that I'm infrequently making that kind of move with bluffs; probably an 80/20 split, but it certainly serves to loosen my opponents' calling ranges.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Back in the saddle

I've been miserable at the tables lately - every session for, for the last 3 (excluding last night), I've experienced an awful suckout, culminating in a bottom set vs. top two situation at the 2/5 tables for a full buy in.  Naturally, the limp pot / smooth caller responds to the check raise on the draw-heavy 2 spade 2 straight board by shoving all in for a full buy in with his top two.  I sat and thought for a few seconds, disbelieving that he could limp the button pre with 8's or Jacks, but so be it; my set of 3's from the BB are likely good here.  Low & behold, they're good until the river Jack sets him up for the win.

Nobody wants to hear about bad beats and bad runs - I certainly don't, but it's all I can think about going into last night.  AA overpairs all in on the flop vs. QQ overpairs (turn queen, natch), backdoor flushes getting there, etc. and I've experienced losing in all manners of new ways.  It sucks.  Last night was different, though.  I ran really well, my hands held up, and I was sitting at a table with an Austrian woman who was learning how to play.  She was simply running over the table with her rivered two pairs or trips, continually either smashing the flop or getting there before the river.  Moreover, she'd almost always invariably get value when she was ahead. Now I'm not saying that she was a good player - in fact, she's anything but that.  She was a megafish.  However, that very megafish was sitting on EASILY $1k in chips at 1/2 and raising / calling / playing seemingly randomly - but almost always getting there.

Not one to shy away from a goldmine (not to mention that she had totally tilted a heavy-set reg Asian lady), I realized upon sitting that I was at an AWESOME table, and simply needed cards.  The formula for last night was simple: get cards, get paid.  Unfortunately, I can't report that I had a bankroll-breakout session, but I did have a very nice session.  I rarely ever got into a big pot with the Austrian, but definitely doubled through more than once off of the tilted Asian lady, which felt EXCELLENT.  I love when people experience karma, but have no idea how or why.  This lady was 100% trash - dressed very nicely, but the the outward appearance thin veneer could not hide the fact that this lady had zero clue about societal norms and behaviors.  She would casually slow roll when the mood struck her, taking her time to stare at the board and then back at her cards before flipping over the winner.  She was constantly snorting snot with her nose, lest she use a tissue like a normal human.  She would continually pick her teeth - that horrible act she would at least perform with her other hand covering her mouth so that we were protected from seeing that cavern of despair.  She was a downright noxious human being.  It was unbelievable to me that a reg could act in such an abhorrent manner - she was also downright rude to players, particularly the newbie Austrian fish.  I got all in with her twice - both with the best of it (KK vs. JJ - shoved into me), and AA vs. 99 (not quite all in, but we're $500+ deep and she's committed $350+ to the pot folding a $150 turn raise / shove by me.  I'm pretty certain that she purposely miscounted the first all in for $237, giving me only $227 while counting in front of the dealer.  The dealer, BTW, did not re-count her stacks as he should have.  It was up to me to realize her "error" and call her on it.  I did not tip the dealer for that hand.

The Austrian was a piece of work herself.  I was mentally counting her chips in my head, but could not seem to get ahold of them.  The table, and especially the Asian lady described above, could not figure out that she could not fold pairs.  I saw them frequently try to bluff her off of her middle pairs only to find out the obvious: she doesn't fold.  It was astounding that they could not figure out something as simple as this.  To my pleasure, the fat Asian lady lost all of her $~900 to the Austrian.  More than twice, she would walk off, steaming from the "move" that she had just made.  To top things off, the Austrian was a heavy drinker - could hold her liquor - but still drinking heavily at a game where you've never played before is of questionable judgement.  More than once, I caught the Austrian cheering when she dragged a nice sized pot.

Anyway, big post and rambling with not much more to say other than I had a nice session and my hands held up for the first time in a month.  I figure that from an EV perspective, I'm looking at a $1500 difference.  Last night was hopefully the start of my way  back to earning back that equity.  Only another $1300 in EV to go....  :-)

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Lego Wire

I'm a HUGE fan of The Wire.  If you haven't watched it, definitely check it out.  I've probably gone through the 5 seasons x ~15 episodes around 4 times now.  I'm currently on Season 5 on the 5th iteration.  Anyway, I found this spoof on yahoo this morning; perhaps you'll enjoy it as I did:

Friday, July 13, 2012

Frustration turns to success at the Chuck...

I went and played a little 1/2 at Charles Town as I've been wont to do on Thursday nights.  It started out nicely enough; I was at a mostly loose passive table,  the 2 gamblers to my right and the more passive players to my left.  I built my starting stack up from $200 into $400 in short of an hour before I left for dinner with my buddy.  This was the kind of night I needed, given the variance that I experienced last Saturday - KK into AA, AK into QQ, etc.  Nothing irregular, mind you, but a lot of losing end on the coin flips can drive you insane.  So I come back from dinner and notice that a person I haven't seen in over 5 years sitting across from me at the sitting at the table - my old Tae Kwan Doe instructor - who I had no idea knew how to play poker.  Other than him, the table hadn't drastically changed.

To make a long story short: I get sucked out on with AA vs. QQ vs. my buddy, AI on the flop - turn Q natch - down $200.  I get sucked out on my SB when my 72 hits two pair on a K high board against a limped AK who CANNOT lay down to a shove on the turn (my long-time buddy had KJ which was folded on the turn) and now I'm down $400.

My final $200 in play, and I watch a fish go on a massive heater and what I'd like to call "win tilt."  He started by calling a $50 3bet with 33 and flopping 3's full of 6's to get it all in against the AA 3bettor and a 77 overpair who could not lay down, for a $800 pot, and continued with another hand which escapes me.  He starts raising nearly every hand to $17 plus & I could sense the table start to tighten up & catch him.  I caught a few pieces of him when I called a $15 bet with A4hh and flop a Q high 2 heart board.  He leads for $25, I min raise to $50 and he calls.  As on the turn and I lead for $75, hoping for a call and he folds.  I proceed to take a few more hands, building my stack back up to over break even...  prolly around $700 when the following happens:

KK in the SB and the whole table limps.  I raise to $35 with my fish in sight...  and it works; he calls $35 on the button with a limp.  His stack has dwindled from a peak of maybe $1200 to approx. $600.  The flop is 3 7c Qc and I lead the safe flop for $45, wanting him to call anything that he may have had preflop but limped (which essentially rules out most Q's and pocket pairs...  yeah, he's raising a wide range but included in that range is 22+ and broadway).  He flats.  There's about $170 in the pot and I lead a turn 8 for $85.  He calls yet again - $330 in the pot.  The river is a Q and I check, hoping he'll represent the rivered trip queens.  I realize fully that there's almost 100% chance that he's never limping broadway hands here; there are very few Queens in his range.  But, as planned, he leads out for $175 and I think for a few seconds before snapping him off to see his 7 5o.  Nice ending to a 6 buy in swing night.

Lesson learned:  When I was down 2 buy ins, coupled with Saturday's performance, I took a walk for a bit to think things over and confer with the friend I had driven up with.  There are two questions to ask yourself when you're running crappy: Am I at a good table?  Am I playing my A game?  The answer was "yes" to both of those questions & I proceeded to stack my opponents.

Friday, June 29, 2012

What goes down must go up....

Short post: I had a very very decent session at the 1-2 Ctown tables last night.  I was dealt Aces 4 times within 6 hours, got dealt 2 sets and a nice sprinkling of flushes and straights.  I got paid on nearly all of my hands, and more than overcame the run bad I experienced the other night at Ctown.  My table was absolutely TERRIBLE - 2 competent regs and the rest totally loose passive players who would fit or fold the flop - a great setup.

Charles Town opened their newly relocated poker room on Wednesday, so I was playing in it on the second day that it was open.  What a difference!  They situated it downstairs, steps away from the table games, with plenty of slot machines within eye shot.  The location is SO MUCH better than before; there were a TON of walk-ins from slots / tables, which is precisely what I want as a player.  The result was a ton of action without any tough decisions.  They kept the old poker room upstairs for tournaments - 30 tables - while the new poker room holds 26 tables or thereabout.  Needless to say, I was extremely happy with the new setup and the results.

Monday, June 25, 2012

2-5 Recap & a taste of Caesars AC poker room

This post is a few days late; I've been busy going from one vacation to the next.  I was in Ocean City at the beach last week, while this past weekend, my family & I made our way up to Long Island, NY for a birthday party for my wife's aunt who turned 80 years old.  We stopped at AC along the way up to NY, and I was able to get in a 5 hour session at Caesars (their bad beat jackpot was north of $500k, and they pay out all of the Harrah's / Caesars properties when someone hits it).

2-5 @ Charles Town:  Not much to report here.  I lost around $50, short stacking, trying to find a hand to shove with good equity.  I made a limp / raise plays when the money in the pot got decent (i.e. limp - limp - limp - raise - call - call I raise 3-4x and get folds), but other than that, in the 2 hours I played, it was fold fold fold for me.  I sat down at the 1-2 table, realizing that I wanted to play a little poker rather than sit & wait for a hand with a 40BB stack.  I sat down and ran into two hands where I was favorite and got crushed (one was an OESFD + overcard, AI on the flop & instasnapped by a donkey with nothing more than top pair, and one was AI on the turn with AA vs. TP improved to top two on the riv).  This was the first time I had ever run through my pocket bank roll at a casino, and could not rebuy as I had expended all of my money (of course I could have hit the ATM, but it was late and I didn't really want to do that).
I think the 2-5 game played a little more aggressively than the 1-2 game; I saw a lot more check / raises and slow played medium strength hands; I'm not really sure what to make of that.  I suppose the players give each other a bit more respect for their folding capabilities and allow each other to "catch up" a little bit, but there was a certain trickiness to the element of play.  I was able to read each player fairly accurately, though - just as other players were able to do to each other.  It remains to be seen whether I'll go back to play 2-5 again; it may become an every-so-often type of thing as opposed to a regular thing.

1-2 @ Caesars / Atlantic City: Wow.  This was a calling station fest.  I didn't really hit any hands here either, though I did walk away +$50.  I was able to run a play or two (check / raise 2 players on an A high board on the turn where I knew both scared of Aces up; had a OES draw).  These players were the antithesis of Charles Town players - totally readable and ABC.  I saw one player limp everything, hit 2nd set (Jacks) on an Ace high board and check / call a river bet vs. bottom set (no draws on the board, just the second stone nuts), limp KK and get paid by the same player, and hit all manners of odd straights and flushes but never bet / raise and get paid the minimum.  He walked, or I believe was in a wheelchair, so rolled away with +$400 or so.  It is maddening to watch donkeys luckbox their way into hands and then not get paid.  Give me those hands!  Regardless, I did not hit the bad beat, nor did anyone at the other properties.  Oh well.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Shotting 2-5 @ CTown

I'm getting ready to take a shot at the 2/5 game at Charles Town.  From my limited research throughout the web, I've concluded that 10x BB per hour is considered "crushing the game."  While my averages are not quite $20 / hr at 1/2, they're within ~10% of that mark.  With a decent sample size under my belt, and my recent work getting me back in the black for Ctown, I think I owe it to myself to try it out.  My plan is to short stack the game, buying in for $200, to get a feel for how different it plays.  I intend to look for spots to 3-bet shove, playing the spoiler of short stacker, but mainly want to see what it's like.  The lure of $50 / hr is calling my name.  I'm ready to answer the call.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Finally... Profitsville...

I am proud to announce that I am finally a break-even player at Charles Town!  It has been 33 sessions - almost 2 years in the making - but I got there!  I knew I would eventually, and knew I was close going into last night's session (~$450), but I'm officially done.  Time to move on.  It just goes to show how much I've won at Delaware Park in the [limited] 10 sessions I've played there.  The DP winnings have more than made up for the losses at Ctown, and now I can look forward to profitsville at Ctown as well.

A few hands to share from last night's session:

First hand: I hold KQo in the hijack, facing 4 limpers.  I am coming in for a raise with this hand, nearly always, from this position.  However, I look to my left (as is good practice and any live poker should almost *ALWAYS* be looking to their left to see what the action ahead of them will be doing) and see the #1 see (BTN) with chips in hand, ready to raise the pot.  From the looks of it, he will be raising to $15, as is typical for this particular player - loves to position raise, decent player, lays down when he's beat and bets when he's ahead.  I decide that instead of coming in for the raise myself, I will let him raise and get trappy with the numerous over callers, as they are wont to do at CTRS.  As expected, he picks up 2 [I believe, if memory serves me] callers for the $15 raise, and I face a decision for the ~$54 pot.  After taking a look at the 2 limp / over callers, and finally peeking at seat #1 (I'm in seat #10, so this is no easy task given the dealer's positioning), I decide to keep with the original plan and limp / raise to $50 even.  Watching #1's genuine discomfort, he motions to call and then looks at his cards for a few moments.  After some deliberation, he folds his hand, as do the over-callers.  I have played my first non-traditional live hand, and won - read the situation for exactly what it was, executed the move and was rewarded perfectly.

Second hand:
UTG with JJ - I again, decide to get trappy.  I know full well that if I raise to ~$11, I'm going to get a host of callers where, with a hand that's going to flop overcards somewhere near 45% of the time, I'm going to be miserable playing a large pot from out of position.  I decide, given the table dynamics (nearly every hand is raised and/or 3bet), to limp / raise as I did with the KQ hand.  To make such a move from UTG says a much stronger hand than from the other positions, but I'm happy taking a flop with 1 or 2 people instead of the 20 that would normally call the $11 raise.  As if scripted, seat #1 (same dude as above) raises to $12 and picks up 2 callers to the BB, an ABC player who, though a nice guy, tried to act and portray a more experienced player than he actually was.  He decides to 3bet to $45 (a bit small for my tastes, but a sizable 3bet which forces me to reconsider my plans).  People are folding out of turn, assuming I had made a move, while I sat and thought about the hand and the player.  In fact, everyone folded back to the 3bettor and I got a ton of information as to odds (if I'm calling this bet, I'm assuming I'm set mining, and will need about 3 callers + the 3bettor in order to make it immediately profitable).  Now I'm faced with an even easier decision, whereby I'm likely behind and getting terrible odds (20% of the effective stacks).  I fold and ask him to show - he shows AA and I pat myself on the back for losing $2 :-).

Third hand:
Simply a whining hand but evidence of the BS that goes on at CT.  Late in the night, I decide to raise TT from middle position after 1 limper; I toss in $13 and get 4 or 5 callers.  Flop comes Kd 7s 3s - pretty decent for my hand.  SB leads for $30 into the ~$60 and I'm faced with a decision (my worst annoyance as described above; out of position with non top pair holding).  There are 3 players ahead of me yet to act, with a flush draw board and an overcard.  There are PLENTY of kings in each of the caller's ranges: 2 calling stations and an aggro decent player.  The 2 stations do as they do: call, while the aggro folds his BTN.  They trio go to the turn and see the 8c; brick city.  The SB continues to bet $50 and both call (one particularly bad terrible station is short and calls his $45 remaining stack).  The river is an offsuit 2 and it checks through.    I'm going to begrudge my crappy luck at CTRS and show the hands: Ks5s for the SB, KJ for the better of the 2 calling stations and the particularly bad calling station: K2 for the semi-scoop and KJ wins the $10 side pot.  WTF?  Case K?  I have 50%+ equity pre-flop!  Facepalm.  I just love the super bad station's comment afterwards: I knew I was beat there but I had to call.  "I knew I was beat but had to call."  LOL.  Oh yeah, then he changed his story to: "I felt like the 2 was coming...  I knew it was coming."  Sure...  2 outter on the river...  too bad I couldn't capture any of your money which was clearly on fire.

That's it.  I'm improving at live poker.  I'm definitely utilizing my reads.  I find myself acting more boldly, trusting my instinct, and watching players more intently.  I love the limp / raise move for nothing more than reading the situation.  I'm trying to think out of the box more often, instead of just trying to peddle nuts.  I believe there are a bunch of spots where I can be profitable if only I take advantage of them.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Growing confidence and angle shooting from the prior post

Growing confidence

I'm definitely becoming more confident at the table - both with my reads and my play.  I want to share a little HH with you where I called with the sole intention of taking away the pot on a later street (a move that I don't ordinarily feel comfortable with in live poker):

6 limpers (including me in the UTG+1) face a $15 raise from the BB (table had turned passive; more limps / less raises).  I call his raise (he's a competent, by-the-book player), along with 3 (loose passive SB and BTN) others with JdTd.  We see a flop of A 9s 4s.  He cbets $17 into the $~65 pot and I call, wanting to see what the BTN would do.  My plans are upset when the BTN folds but the loose passive SB calls and we see a turn card of Ac.  SB checks and BB continues, but bets $5 into the growing pot.  I sit and think for a few moments - and realize that SB is likely leading all Aces in this spot, as she's out of position and realizes that if she turned trips, BB will likely check through giving us all a free river look.  With BB leading so small, he's so polarized towards pocket pairs scared of the trip Aces, but wants to give the small bet means strong impression (i.e. I dare you to raise me, bro).   Realizing the situation - SB is likely drawing or nipped a small piece of the flop - and BB likely has JJ or TT - I raise it to $35.  SB instafolds, as does BB, but shows QQ.

Point is, I'm feeling very comfortable making this kind of move.  I'm definitely improving as a live player.  I will be posting a WWYD later in the week - as soon as I have time to get to it.

Angle shooting

Clearly, I'm conflicted by my prior post, A quick hand... and an update.  I've been thinking about it, talking with a few poker buddies, and racking my brain as to whether it was ethical to verbalize a false hand in order to induce a call and get an extra bet on the river.  I'm still unsure whether it's ethical or not - I'm not sure where my ethical line is drawn on this issue.  On the one hand, if I'd had this happen to me, I'm not even thinking twice about it...  I consider it a good play to get the intended action.  However, the reality is that I'm likely not allowing my opponent's act to influence my decision.  I'm not so concerned about the hand itself; I won the pot, I'm not giving it back to the guy - move on mentally.  However, the question still remains whether this is acceptable behavior in the future.

A friend pointed out to me that this is the kind of action that gets someone to wait for you outside, and on some level, I agree with that thought.  He pointed out that the issue is the verbalization of the false tell - not the actual act.  One can engage in false physical tells - well within the ethical rules, but verbalizing a false statement under a false pretense (i.e. "thinking the guy was making the call") is what makes this issue a gray area.

I am still considering the action - this is not something I'd ever do among friends at a home game, clearly.  My intent is to maximize my wins at the casino, not be Mr. Nice Guy.  When I'm playing among friends, my intent is have a good time, and enjoy the company.

Ultimately, though, I think my conundrum is based on how others perceive me.  Everything in life has a price tag - is my reputation worth $50 in this instance?  Clearly, no.  I do not want to be known as an angle shooter or cheater in any game whatsoever.  Although I don't view my actions as angle shooting, I truly wonder how some of the more experienced live players perceive my action.  Is this acceptable at the poker table filled with strangers I'd likely never see again?  I can't assume that because I'm okay with the action - both on the receiving end and the giving end - that others will be.  Thoughts?

Thursday, May 3, 2012

A quick hand... and an update

In the post- Black Friday world, I am continuing to struggle along - learning more about live poker than I ever thought I would, and actually improving.  I'm around $400 away from break-even at Charles Town, but more importantly, I'm far more comfortable with playing there.  I've found the nights that I should be going (where the players are less inclined to act aggressively, and are mostly passive fish), and the nights to avoid (Friday / Saturday) where the players are aggro and less fishy.  Finally, I've been learning how to take advantage of reads and comprehend what players' bet sizing indicates.

On the point of taking advantage of situations, I have a quick hand to share which I feel as though I played very well:

I'm in the SB with Kd6d and I complete to see a 8-way flop at 1/2.  The flop comes A 6 2 monotone diamonds - I flopped the nuts.  Being the Panicky Pete that I am, I am ultra-concerned about a 4th diamond on the turn and want to get value when and where I can.  I lead for $15 into the $16 pot and get one caller, a middle-aged gentleman who has shown the willingness to call bets light and bluff.  All else fold :-(.  Naturally, a 4th diamond falls on the turn and I feign disappointment.  I check and he bets for me - $25 I think.  I think for awhile and call, trying to represent a weak Ace or weak diamond.  A 5th diamond rivers and the board shows a flush.  I snap bet $50 into the growing pot, fearing that the villain, uncomfortable with the turn of events, will check through the river.  Clearly, this surprises him - the speed at which I bet the river board flush card - and the bet in the first place.  He hadn't expected that bet and I knew it prior to betting the river.  As expected, he took his time in considering the situation.  He counted out a few chips and went back to his cards picking them up as if to muck.  I "interpreted" his move as a call- he did take a long time to act - and claimed, "I play the board...  errr..." and quickly shut up and looked down in "embarrassment."  This action on my part to set his wheels in motion - spinning ever more quickly...  he even said, exasperated, to me, "I don't know what you were doing - whether that was intentional or not..."  In my mind, he's going to fold anyway - at least his actions said fold.  I figured that by blurting that out and acting embarrassed, I would at least get a higher percentage of calls than allowing him to fold quietly.  Finally, he worked up the gall to make the call and I instantly showed him the bad news.  He was *NOT* happy and exclaimed "What a dick!"  True - it was a dick move, but I love the move and will definitely look for an opportunity to do it again!

Monday, April 16, 2012

An unlucky outcome but still a good move

What do you think of this line?

Limped pot, I'm on the BTN and limp along with Q5s (live 1/2, $1050 stack size; have everyone at the table [easily] covered).

Flop comes Q Q 3 rainbow.  Checks around to me, and I lead for $5 into a 6x$2=$12 pot.  I get a call from the most readable guy there; definition of calling station, who will call HUGE bets down to the river with any and all pairs, and totally passive.

Turn is a 5, and I'm convinced that he has a Q and will call any bet.  He checks to me and I'm not yet thinking out of the box; I bet $25 into the now $24 pot.  He calls.

River is a 7 and he leads for $30.  He has $300 behind.

I shove the $300 effective into the $100 pot - he INSTANTLY calls and shows Q7 for the rivered better boat.

I just think there's so many hands that he's calling a shove here, without the nuts.  I think this is profitable, though unlucky that he hit his [second time on the night against me] 6%.

What do you think of the overbet for value?  No matter, in this case it would have been the same outcome (i.e. if I go through the more standard raise / re-raise / shove process), but he's clearly check / calling his weak Q as a bluff catcher, and will call off tons of $$$ with the non-nuts bluff catch.  Same could be said if the river double paired the board with a 3.  I think that in these situations, you need to extract max. pain against the loose / passives who are happily calling you down "just to see."

The hand earlier in the night, I flopped TPTK where I raised to $15 PF and he called his T6s (WTF?).  Flop is J T x and I got 3 streets of value on him when he hit his 6 on the river for 2 pair (he check / called my $45 river bet, which I debated checking through).

Sigh...  That hand above was the difference of a $1200 winner (which would have been single session tops in my short live poker career), vs. $500 winner on the night...  Oh well.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Sunday night at Charles Town

I got a rare Sunday night to play poker; I continue to have solid success playing there.  Although my sessions are short-ish, I'm playing tight and smart.  I doubled through with KK three hands (AIPF) into the night (vs. QQ) and AA on a 8 8 3 board (AI vs. 9 9).  Those were the major hands of note; it was not a slow bleed of limp / fold or raise / call / fold action.  The tables on the "off" nights, i.e. non-Friday / Saturday, continue to be soft as can be, with action typically limping around and getting to see flops cheaply.  With these players, I can establish myself as the tight player I am, and my raises get lots of respect.  I can typically make a move from the BTN when it is limped to me where I'll raise to $15-$17, allowing me to take down the dead money without a fight.  Fun times, fun times indeed.  I'd like to have a day devoted to a session, as I am not a huge fan of these mini- 3 hour sessions.

Last Thursday night, I went looking for Mr. NewinNov at the Omaha 5/5 tables, but no one admitted to being from Alexandria, VA.  Hey Newin, if you read this: leave a comment with your name, so that I can ask for you by name and introduce myself to you.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Thursdays at Charles Town

I am slowly coming around to the idea that my continual poor results at the casino in Charles Town are due to the days of the week that I'm playing.  In the past, I'd primarily play Fridays and Saturdays - prime days in which the gamblers are playing any two cards, the games are far more aggressive, and I'm the one playing more fish-like, in that I'm calling more and raising less.  This is due to an overall lack of cards, but more so being continually drawn out on.  Raises on a Friday and Saturday are met with no respect, and a $15 raise at 1/2 fetches 4-5 callers...  heck, a solid 3-bet can get 3 callers.  Regardless whether I have the best holdings pre-flop, chances are, without a pair, that I won't have the cards when I see the flop.  This is in polar contrast to playing Thursday nights, which I've been playing the last 2-3 sessions.  Raises get far more respect, and even though the post flop play is just as bad at 1/2 during any night of the week, Thursday-night players are not there to gamble it up with literally any two cards.

It's funny; I would figure that I want callers when I'm raising - my PF raises are nearly 100% value-oriented, 0% bluff-oriented.  The amazing thing is that these players don't care that they're behind PF, and clearly have no recognition that they're not getting paid when they hit their flushes or straights.  I should do better on Fridays and Saturdays over Thursdays because I'm getting the calls I want.  However, when that father variance rears his ugly head (which I've seen at Charles Town since I've been playing there), I can't allow myself to get called down to the river holding my Ace-King high vs. a villain's Ace-9 which happened to flop top pair.  Or the best is the typical AK 3-bet vs. Ax  setup hand where they call the $50-60 flop bet and turn two pair to stack me on the turn / river.

I'm tilting myself now, thinking about the nastiness that I've experienced at Charles Town.  I'm actually showing a profit for Charles Town in 2012.  I'll try to continue the Thursday night trend :-).

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Poker rooms near Indianapolis, IN?

I'm possibly going on business there next week - mid week.  Anyone know of decent poker rooms in the area of Indianapolis?

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Updates & Trip Report - Celebrity cruise from San Juan to the Southern Caribbean islands

It's been awhile since the last post.  First, a few updates:

  • Life is going well.  I continue to excel in school, with 5 classes now under my belt in pursuit of my MBA at Johns Hopkins.  Last semester was one of the more useful classes, Corporate Finance.  Net Present Value (NPV), Future Value (FV), Free Cash Flows (FCF), NPV of annuities, etc. was very useful.  I'm in fact using it to value investments I'm considering in the form of purchasing real estate in the Univ. of Maryland / College Park area.
  • Segue to the investments.  I'm considering purchasing a small condo in the College Park area as I alluded to above.  The price is fairly cheap, but getting a loan for an investment property is apparently incredibly difficult.  I'm running into funding issues.  Moreover, it seems that even though 25% down is required for the loan, investment purchases in Prince George's County, where College Park is located, require quite a bit of up-front escrows in the form of taxes.  I'm looking at about 25% + ~15% in closing costs alone.  I was considering partnering with my brother-in-law, but I think he's uncomfortable with the net cash requirements.  Anyone out there know how to get real estate investment loans?  Any suggestions for contacts?
  • I've been toying with the idea of starting an investing blog.  It would be nice to have a place where I can convey my thoughts about ideas I have for investments.  I have been on somewhat of a buying binge (since February), when I was able to roll out prior 401(k) moneys that had been rolled into my current job's 401(k) when I joined my current company.  I've purchased a few companies, and have done well thus far: MAKO Surgical (MAKO) @ $36.21 & $35.58, Corning (GLW) @ $12.95 & $13.53, Jinpan International (JST) @ $8.42, Microsoft (MSFT) @ $30.21 & New York Community Bancorp (NYB) @ $13.23.  Would love to go into my rationales for purchases, but am happy I'm up around 8% collectively.  Problem I have is that the S&P500 is up ~6.9% over the same period...  are my returns simply beta from the market?  I'm confident in my investments, but I'm never sure as to how to properly measure them.
  • Bodog / Bovada is shutting down its business to residents of Maryland.  No big loss here; I wasn't playing all that often since they stopped publishing names of players.  However, this leaves me without an online poker home.  Any suggestions for U.S. facing sites that I could deposit?
Celebrity cruise trip report:
I got back from a cruise with my wife, originating from San Juan and hitting: St. Croix, U.S.V.I., St. Kitts, Dominica, Grenada, St. Thomas, and back to San Juan, Puerto Rico.  It was a fun time - beautiful ship, the "Summit" - and they naturally had a poker table.  It seems that every ship I've been on has at least one table, and this ship did not disappoint.  The table was a PokerMate table consisting of 8 player seats with 8x ~17" 4:3 touchscreen displays, coupled with a ~30"16:9 display in the center to show bets, community cards, blinds, etc.
I've played on this type of table prior, and the interface remained identical.  Once you get the hang of protecting your hole cards by pressing in a location on the screen, it is similar to playing online poker with the exception that your opponents are sitting in front of you.  You can set up preferences for you session (i.e. auto-muck, auto-post, etc.), and change languages.  Other than that, the game plays like a regular poker game - bet / fold / raise / etc.
The play was ridiculously soft; I would love to be trapped on a ship with these turkeys as my captive audience.  Besides the one other player who knew what he was doing, the rest of the players fell into two types: ones that were happy to take gambles for the entire stacks with any pair and others who would meekly fold to significant action.  Figuring out each player type was fairly easy, and it became as simple as waiting for a hand to stack the calling station types (who would call all manners of pre-flop bets as well - didn't matter whether I 3-bet or initially raised big), or pre-flop raise the meek who would usually call and fold to a cbet.
The primary problem with the poker on board the ship, though, was the arduous task of getting enough players for a game in the first place.  I refused to play the sit-n-gos that they scheduled (twice nightly, but at inconvenient times - during dinner and the show), so I was relegated to cash games.  Gathering up enough players at the right time was such an ordeal that I played a total of 3 one-hour sessions before the game broke up.  The first session, I ran poorly and dumped ~$70, but the next two I would wind up winning for $170, making my 3 hour poker foray a profitable one.
The secondary problem with the poker on board was the rake.  It is a miracle that I beat the rake, a hefty 10% up to $15!  Highway robbery, anyone?  I get that the Celebrity Cruise Line needs to make their nut, but come on - you want games to play, so why not encourage them?
The nicest part about the tables, in addition to the personality of each player who, by the way, were in vacation mode and super happy to be gambling, was that the casino would offer us a round of drinks whenever we got a cash game together.  At least "some" money was "rebated" back to us.

At any rate, I have a quick hand history for you:
$200 effective stacks around.
EP raiser who was semi-loose / solid raises to $6 which was fairly customary for the table.  MP (loose / bad player) flats and LP (tight / bad player) flats around to me with AKo.  I jack it up to $25 which folds the blinds and gets EP to flat, along with MP and LP.
Flop comes a very coordinated 4♣ 5♣ 6♣ - all clubs - giving me the nut flush draw holding the A♣Kx.  Checks around to me and I lead into the big pot with $40.  I get instantly check/raised from EP to around $80, with MP flatting and LP flatting.  I'm getting GREAT odds and sit there for a minute to figure things out.  While I'm contemplating my move (which skews heavily towards a shove for my remaining ~$160), MP shakes his head and says, "you're not going to believe this."

What would you do?

Click to see results

I folded my cards. I couldn't imagine any scenario where I was ahead, and had huge floating visions of straight flush, once the loose / bad MP started yammering. I knew that I was beat by the EP at the moment; was pretty sure he flopped a set (solid though straightforward player as he is). I had no clue what LP was doing in the hand, but my main concern was EP... Why are EP & LP flatting to a check-raise instead of getting it in? Things were not adding up for me, and I conceded that even though I'm getting great odds, I have to fold here. The turn, natch, was a club and the river a blank, netting me the nut flush. However, on the reveal, EP shows a set of 5's, LP shows a Q high flush (Q♣Qx - no preflop 3bet / 4bet / etc.) and MP shows ... 7♣ 8♣ for the flopped straight flush and the sweet triple up. Needless to say, I was patting myself on the back. Probably the only time I've folded for a read of a straight flush.

Quick follow-on: same player who called my 3bet would sit down 2 nights later with ~$100 and go broke on the third hand of that night to weird action he called my $8 PF raise with A2 vs. my KQ on the button.  The flop was 2 x Q - an EP caller led $10, he flatted, I raised to $30, EP folds, he raises to $60 and I shove (he calls).  See what I mean?  Bad players abound...

Thursday, March 1, 2012

35 Years of Buffett's Greatest Investing Wisdom

I read this article today, and I'd like to repost it here, even though this a poker blog.  I think there are bits of knowledge that can be extrapolated to the poker table, because investing is somewhat similar to playing poker.  Anyway, credit to The Motley Fool's 

35 Years of Buffett's Greatest Investing Wisdom

Last weekend, Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE: BRK-A  ) (NYSE: BRK-B  ) released Warren Buffett's annual letter to the company's shareholders. As always, Buffett delivered with a combination of ever-quotable folksy wisdom and an easy-to-digest view of the year that Berkshire Hathaway had.
The ritual of the annual letter is far from new. In fact, this most recent letter was the 35th edition that Berkshire has posted online for investors to peruse. Most of those letters' contents are dated in terms of when Buffett put pen to paper, but to show just how enduring his wisdom is, I thought I'd take a look back at some of Buffett's best quips over the past three-and-a-half decades.
1977: "Most companies define 'record' earnings as a new high in earnings per share. Since businesses customarily add from year to year to their equity base, we find nothing particularly noteworthy in a management performance combining, say, a 10% increase in equity capital and a 5% increase in earnings per share. After all, even a totally dormant savings account will produce steadily rising interest earnings each year because of compounding. ... we believe a more appropriate measure of managerial economic performance to be return on equity capital."
1978: "We make no attempt to predict how security markets will behave; successfully forecasting short term stock price movements is something we think neither we nor anyone else can do."
1979: "Both our operating and investment experience cause us to conclude that "turnarounds" seldom turn, and that the same energies and talent are much better employed in a good business purchased at a fair price than in a poor business purchased at a bargain price."
1980: "[O]nly gains in purchasing power represent real earnings on investment. If you (a) forgo ten hamburgers to purchase an investment; (b) receive dividends which, after tax, buy two hamburgers; and (c) receive, upon sale of your holdings, after-tax proceeds that will buy eight hamburgers, then (d) you have had no real income from your investment, no matter how much it appreciated in dollars."
1981: "While market values track business values quite well over long periods, in any given year the relationship can gyrate capriciously."
1982: "The market, like the Lord, helps those who help themselves. But, unlike the Lord, the market does not forgive those who know not what they do. For the investor, a too-high purchase price for the stock of an excellent company can undo the effects of a subsequent decade of favorable business developments."
1983: "We will be candid in our reporting to you, emphasizing the pluses and minuses important in appraising business value. Our guideline is to tell you the business facts that we would want to know if our positions were reversed. ... We also believe candor benefits us as managers: the CEO who misleads others in public may eventually mislead himself in private."
1984: "[M]ajor repurchases at prices well below per-share intrinsic business value immediately increase, in a highly significant way, that value. ... Corporate acquisition programs almost never do as well and, in a discouragingly large number of cases, fail to get anything close to $1 of value for each $1 expended."
1985: "[A] good managerial record ... is far more a function of what business boat you get into than it is of how effectively you row ... Should you find yourself in a chronically leaking boat, energy devoted to changing vessels is likely to be more productive than energy devoted to patching leaks."
1986: "We intend to continue our practice of working only with people whom we like and admire. ... On the other hand, working with people who cause your stomach to churn seems much like marrying for money -- probably a bad idea under any circumstances, but absolute madness if you are already rich."
1987: "The value of market esoterica to the consumer of investment advice is a different story. In my opinion, investment success will not be produced by arcane formulae, computer programs or signals flashed by the price behavior of stocks and markets. Rather an investor will succeed by coupling good business judgment with an ability to insulate his thoughts and behavior from the super-contagious emotions that swirl about the marketplace."
1988: "To evaluate arbitrage situations you must answer four questions: (1) How likely is it that the promised event will indeed occur? (2) How long will your money be tied up? (3) What chance is there that something still better will transpire -- a competing takeover bid, for example? and (4) What will happen if the event does not take place because of antitrust action, financing glitches, etc.?"
1989: "Because of the way the tax law works, the Rip Van Winkle style of investing that we favor -- if successful -- has an important mathematical edge over a more frenzied approach."
1990: "Because leverage of 20:1 magnifies the effects of managerial strengths and weaknesses, we have no interest in purchasing shares of a poorly managed bank at a 'cheap' price. Instead, our only interest is in buying into well-managed banks at fair prices." (He wrote this in reference to Berkshire's purchase of Wells Fargo (NYSE: WFC  ) , a bank he continues to laud today).
1991: " An economic franchise arises from a product or service that: (1) is needed or desired; (2) is thought by its customers to have no close substitute and; (3) is not subject to price regulation."
1992: "[W]e think the very term 'value investing' is redundant. What is 'investing' if it is not the act of seeking value at least sufficient to justify the amount paid? Consciously paying more for a stock than its calculated value -- in the hope that it can soon be sold for a still-higher price -- should be labeled speculation (which is neither illegal, immoral nor -- in our view -- financially fattening)."
1993: "The worst of these [arguments for selling a stock] is perhaps, 'You can't go broke taking a profit.' Can you imagine a CEO using this line to urge his board to sell a star subsidiary?"
1994: "We will continue to ignore political and economic forecasts, which are an expensive distraction for many investors and businessmen. ... Indeed, we have usually made our best purchases when apprehensions about some macro event were at a peak. Fear is the foe of the faddist, but the friend of the fundamentalist."
1995: "Any company's level of profitability is determined by three items: (1) what its assets earn; (2) what its liabilities cost; and (3) its utilization of 'leverage' -- that is, the degree to which its assets are funded by liabilities rather than by equity."
1996: "In the end, however, no sensible observer -- not even these companies' most vigorous competitors, assuming they are assessing the matter honestly -- questions that [Coca-Cola (NYSE: KO  ) ] and Gillette will dominate their fields worldwide for an investment lifetime." (A decade and a half later, and he's yet to be proven wrong, though Gillette is now dominating as a Procter & Gamble (NYSE: PG  ) subsidiary, making Berkshire P&G's fourth-biggest shareholder and Coke's largest.)
1997: "Only those who will be sellers of equities in the near future should be happy at seeing stocks rise. Prospective purchasers should much prefer sinking prices."
1998: "[W]e give each [of our company managers] a simple mission: Just run your business as if: 1) you own 100% of it; 2) it is the only asset in the world that you and your family have or will ever have; and 3) you can't sell or merge it for at least a century. As a corollary, we tell them they should not let any of their decisions be affected even slightly by accounting considerations. We want our managers to think about what counts, not how it will be counted."
1999: "Our lack of tech insights, we should add, does not distress us. After all, there are a great many business areas in which Charlie and I have no special capital-allocation expertise. For instance, we bring nothing to the table when it comes to evaluating patents, manufacturing processes or geological prospects. So we simply don't get into judgments in those fields."
2000: "But a pin lies in wait for every bubble. And when the two eventually meet, a new wave of investors learns some very old lessons: First, many in Wall Street -- a community in which quality control is not prized -- will sell investors anything they will buy. Second, speculation is most dangerous when it looks easiest."
2001: "Some people disagree with our focus on relative figures, arguing that 'you can't eat relative performance.' But if you expect as Charlie Munger, Berkshire's Vice Chairman, and I do -- that owning the S&P 500 will produce reasonably satisfactory results over time, it follows that, for long-term investors, gaining small advantages annually over that index must prove rewarding."
2002: "Many people argue that derivatives reduce systemic problems, in that participants who can't bear certain risks are able to transfer them to stronger hands. These people believe that derivatives act to stabilize the economy, facilitate trade, and eliminate bumps for individual participants. And, on a micro level, what they say is often true. ...
"Charlie and I believe, however, that the macro picture is dangerous and getting more so. Large amounts of risk, particularly credit risk, have become concentrated in the hands of relatively few derivatives dealers, who in addition trade extensively with one other. The troubles of one could quickly infect the others. On top of that, these dealers are owed huge amounts by non-dealer counterparties. Some of these counterparties, as I've mentioned, are linked in ways that could cause them to contemporaneously run into a problem because of a single event (such as the implosion of the telecom industry or the precipitous decline in the value of merchant power projects). Linkage, when it suddenly surfaces, can trigger serious systemic problems."
2003: "True independence -- meaning the willingness to challenge a forceful CEO when something is wrong or foolish -- is an enormously valuable trait in a director. It is also rare. The place to look for it is among high-grade people whose interests are in line with those of rank-and-file shareholders -- and are in line in a very big way."
2004: "Over the 35 years [ending in 2004], American business has delivered terrific results. It should therefore have been easy for investors to earn juicy returns... Instead many investors have had experiences ranging from mediocre to disastrous.
"There have been three primary causes: first, high costs, usually because investors traded excessively or spent far too much on investment management; second, portfolio decisions based on tips and fads rather than on thoughtful, quantified evaluation of businesses; and third, a start-and-stop approach to the market marked by untimely entries (after an advance has been long under way) and exits (after periods of stagnation or decline). Investors should remember that excitement and expenses are their enemies. And if they insist on trying to time their participation in equities, they should try to be fearful when others are greedy and greedy only when others are fearful."
2005: "[For CEOs] huge severance payments, lavish perks and outsized payments for ho-hum performance often occur because comp committees have become slaves to comparative data. The drill is simple: Three or so directors -- not chosen by chance -- are bombarded for a few hours before a board meeting with pay statistics that perpetually ratchet upwards. Additionally, the committee is told about new perks that other managers are receiving. In this manner, outlandish "goodies" are showered upon CEOs simply because of a corporate version of the argument we all used when children: 'But, Mom, all the other kids have one.' "
2006: "Corporate bigwigs often complain about government spending, criticizing bureaucrats who they say spend taxpayers' money differently from how they would if it were their own. But sometimes the financial behavior of executives will also vary based on whose wallet is getting depleted. Here's an illustrative tale from my days at Salomon. In the 1980s the company had a barber, Jimmy by name, who came in weekly to give free haircuts to the top brass. A manicurist was also on tap. Then, because of a cost-cutting drive, patrons were told to pay their own way. One top executive (not the CEO) who had previously visited Jimmy weekly went immediately to a once-every-three-weeks schedule."
2007: "A truly great business must have an enduring 'moat' that protects excellent returns on invested capital. The dynamics of capitalism guarantee that competitors will repeatedly assault any business 'castle' that is earning high returns. Therefore a formidable barrier such as a company's being the lowcost producer (GEICO, [Costco]) or possessing a powerful worldwide brand (Coca-Cola, Gillette, [American Express]) is essential for sustained success."
2008: (Recall that the financial crisis was raging) "Amid this bad news, however, never forget that our country has faced far worse travails in the past. In the 20th Century alone, we dealt with two great wars (one of which we initially appeared to be losing); a dozen or so panics and recessions; virulent inflation that led to a 21 1⁄2% prime rate in 1980; and the Great Depression of the 1930s, when unemployment ranged between 15% and 25% for many years. America has had no shortage of challenges.
"Without fail, however, we've overcome them. In the face of those obstacles -- and many others -- the real standard of living for Americans improved nearly seven-fold during the 1900s, while the Dow Jones Industrials rose from 66 to 11,497."
2009: "We've put a lot of money to work during the chaos of the last two years. It's been an ideal period for investors: A climate of fear is their best friend. Those who invest only when commentators are upbeat end up paying a heavy price for meaningless reassurance. In the end, what counts in investing is what you pay for a business -- through the purchase of a small piece of it in the stock market -- and what that business earns in the succeeding decade or two."
2010: "Money will always flow toward opportunity, and there is an abundance of that in America. Commentators today often talk of 'great uncertainty.' But think back, for example, to December 6, 1941, October 18, 1987 and September 10, 2001. No matter how serene today may be, tomorrow is always uncertain."
2011: "The logic is simple: If you are going to be a net buyer of stocks in the future, either directly with your own money or indirectly (through your ownership of a company that is repurchasing shares), you are hurt when stocks rise. You benefit when stocks swoon. Emotions, however, too often complicate the matter: Most people, including those who will be net buyers in the future, take comfort in seeing stock prices advance."
Voila! And there you have it, 35 years of Buffett's wisdom. If you haven't quite had your fill of Buffett and want to hear about the industry that he -- and some other savvy investors -- have been diving into, you can grab a free copy of The Motley Fool's special report "The Stocks Only the Smartest Investors Are Buying."

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