Saturday, May 20, 2006

Gary Carson

Well, whatdoyouknow! Gary Carson has a blog!

Who woulda thunk it?

Gary is a poker player, author, longtime RGP poster and probably the closest thing to a male version of me as one could get. He is controversial and candid. I disagree with tons of things he says, but I love him for having the balls to have an opinion in the first place, and for sticking to his guns, regardless of being non-PC and the public backlash.

I didn't even know he remembered me, but he already has my blog listed, so I guess he does :)

If you have some real balls and can read a journal without going all ballistic because not everything in the poker world is Kumbaya, give him a read:

Felicia :)

Friday, May 19, 2006

Today's O8 Cop-Out

I'm going to start working on some O8 posts (both limit and pot-limit). Might take me a while, though, as I struggle to keep my fruits and veggies alive. Summer just simply decended upon us. No spring. We are consistantly about 10-15 degrees above the average high temps every day.

In the meantime, I will post some copy & pasted thoughts that have been discussed on 2+2 lately.
With regards to Ray Zee's high/low split poker book:

People seem to read what they want to read. You say that Ray seems to promote a far too aggressive approach, Mark Tenner tells me that Ray promotes far too passive play. Bah humbug!

The truth is, like most Two Plus Two books, it's not something to be read once, then discarded. It is something to be read again and again, as we face different situations.

Also, the times change, the games change. What works on one type of table, in one time, must be updated for the present.

HEFAP is an excellent approach to full ring Hold'em, but if it is tweaked for today's game, what do we get? SSHE, that is what we get, but because so many players couldn't adjust with the times, a whole new book had to be written (and both are excellent, imo).

So today we discard some of Ray's advice, like folding a bare A2 when there is a chance we might be getting quartered. Why? Because the game no longer plays like this: "First guy has a lock for high, another tight player and I are most likely splitting low."

Now it's more like, "Three monkeys are jamming with highs, none of them have any idea that someone else might have high locked up, I have the A2, another guy has A3 and maybe, just maybe, another guy has A2, too, but there is no way in hell I'm folding this bare A2 with 70 big bets in the pot!"

Sure, we don't set out playing for half, but not only does it happen today, we also profit greatly from it! In this scenario, raising to knock out other hands just ain't gonna work. Not only will A2 never fold, but neither will A3, nor the king high flush, nor Broadway, nor top set! So it becomes more of a guessing game. 'How much am I going to get, most likely? Am I getting half or less? If I'm getting half, I'm raising until there is no tomorrow (nut flush). But if I'm splitting low, maybe I should slow down and simply overcall along with the rest of the monkeys.'

You must use your judgment! Ray is only giving you a guide to winning, he is not holding your penis for you!!!

As far as your approach, you should definitely keep doing what you are doing and THINK about Omaha. Think about what your best move is at this time. And then on the next round, think again. That is the best, and most winning approach to low limit monkey Omaha 8. But disregarding Ray's advice is a mistake. Instead of chucking it into the fire, start adjusting it for the games YOU play in, instead of trying to make his games fit into your box. You are trying to force a round peg into a square hole.

Believe me, there is wisdom in that book. Omaha 8 is my most winning game, and I am a Stud player!!! But one thing that I know has to be done, and done all the time, is that great advice in ANY book must be adjusted for TODAY'S game, and even further adjusted for MY game.

Five years ago poker was a different world. Omaha 8 was a tight, nitty, grinders game except in a few locations on the strip and in other places. There was no online O8, there was no PLO8, there was no Chris Moneymaker or the WPT.

Think about when this book was written. Ray says you have to start playing some "real" poker at 10/20. Yeah, not anymore, thank God. You can still play nitty, rote poker at 30/60! If I took every sentence in that book and refused to adjust it for today's game, I would be a loser.

Open back up your mind, and then read it again and again when you are on the pot. Things will come to you, if you give it a chance, but it is not the end all to be all. It is dated and it must constantly be adjusted. Keep an open mind.

Felicia :)

Thursday, May 18, 2006

I Need a Laugh Today

Just because I need a laugh today, I'm going to repost this.
Glenn's Famous Blunders

I wasn't planning on posting today, but then Glenn made one of his biggest and best blunders ever.

There is a little background on this one, but just a few lines. Glenn and Al have always been compared as lookalikes. They don't really look that similar, but in photos, they look almost like twins.

Anyway, today I was lurking around Two Plus Two. In the other topics section, there are always dozens of posts which are just bizarre, or so funny that I laugh outloud. I have taken some of the best and funniest posts, and IM'd them to Glenn during the day, to give him a chuckle, too. He usually plays online poker ALL DAY LONG, and I know that he needs a break here and there, if only to laugh at the crazy subjects discussed on OOT.

So today I ran across a thread about guys getting blue balls. Glenn was in the other room, playing online, and after I read the thread, I copied and pasted the link for Glenn to read. He, in turn, started reading the thread and was chuckling about it.

At the same time, he was talking to Al on Yahoo about a techie project.

Glenn came across one quote in the blue balls thread that he thought was so funny, he decided to copy and paste it to my IM window.

Yes, you know what ended up happening.
al: no problem. i'll look it over
Glenn: You seem intelligent and cute. May I bust a nut in your face please?
Glenn: oh gawd, wrong window...
al: sweet mercy

I don't know if any of us will ever recover from this one. Nice job, Glenn!

Felicia :)

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Blogs Regurgitated

I'm so thankful to be finished with the psych series. It was very satisfying, but I always feel some sort of pressure to finish something when I'm in the middle of it. Also, I like to be done with a subject so that I can move on to all of the ideas I have for another project.

Over the winter, my right arm got extremely weak. It kept weakening more and more, to the point that about six months ago, I couldn't even lift a small, one pound weight with it, if my right hand was palm down.

Since I started gardening in late February, my arm has gotten stronger and stronger. Now I'm heaving around 50 lb. pots and bags of soil. Thank God!

Because of the psych series, I have gotten involved again with some bloggers. No, this doesn't mean I'm going back to that group, no way, no how. But it has brought me in contact with some poker blogs again, and left me with either a good taste for one, or a bad taste in my mouth.

I have always felt that poker journals can be divided into two major categories: Serious Poker and Recreational Poker. Those who know me already know that I prefer serious poker. Within those two major groups, there are many sub-groups. There are journals by those who CAN write, and journals by those who CANNOT write. There are hand history journals, bankroll journals, story telling journals, metaphoric journals, poker & life journals, meta-authored journals, online play only journals, live play only journals, stream of consciousness journals, bad beat journals, tourney play only journals, live play only journals and many, many more.

My typical judgment on poker blogs has been to list what I do NOT like in one. Usually the top categories are things that I don't like in my OWN journal, although you would think by the outcry of that community, I was going around with a hatchet and attacking every one of them. I figure everyone else lists and pimps journals they love, so I will do the dirty deed that no one else will tackle (can you really blame them, though? With the flaming, hate mail and veiled death threats that those who do stand out receive?).

Well, today I'm going to be different. I'm going to list some journals I love, and tell why they are at the top of my reading choices. I figure I pan the bad ones enough, now I need to mid-year post to laud the great ones (see my end-of-year picks and pans if you haven't experienced the outrageous, negative feedback I always receive when I post those).

I don't know if I'm going to list in preferred order, or just as they come to mind. I'll tell you at the end of the post which method I finally decided on.

1) Poker Babe (Shirley Rosario)
People sometimes accuse me of "hating" females, panning their sites, putting them down, etc. Obviously they see what they want to see, because Shirley has been at the top of my list for years.

Shirley started her poker journey as a cocktail waitress. Then she started playing. She became a prop for the Bike, and has also been one of the commentators for Live at the Bike. She is a professional player and has done some really great things in the past couple of years. She is a well rounded player and can hang in cash games as well as tourneys, live and online, LA and Vegas.

Shirley doesn't whine and complain. She doesn't post pics of her cute little kids or dogs. She doesn't post bad beat stories or hand histories. She can walk you through a hand and has some great analysis of hands from the first card, to the pile of chips that are shipped at the last.

2) Linda Geneen (Poker Works)
My oh my, another woman! Who woulda thunk it? Linda, also has been at the top of my best-liked journal list for years. She takes you inside of the dealing world with candor and a no-holds-barred approach. You may not like reading about YOU, but perhaps it will make you more tolerant and less abusive towards dealers. It ain't all Kumbaya, as so many lame blogs would have you believe. This is real life, and Linda will tell it how it is. She also plays lots of poker, for someone in the business, and you will get that side of the story, too, from the perspective of a dealer and a player.

3) Tanya Peck (MissT74)
Good gawd, not another woman! But, but, we thought you hated women, Felicia? Yeah, and you are a moron, too.

Tanya is someone I met before my heavy blogging days. Someone I met when I first moved to Arizona. Although we are both serious players, she doesn't come across nearly as jaded as I do. Not to say that she is docile. I have seen her make some pretty stiff demands on poker rooms and dealers. No crap is going to fly under the radar when Tanya is around.

4) Chris Fargis (21 Outs Twice)
This journal is probably my overall favorite. I only say "probably" because he doesn't post much and I always want more. Chris doesn't whine, doesn't cry, doesn't post hand histories or stupid pictures and simply tells it like it is. He plays all poker games, so it's not just ALL HOLD'EM, ALL THE TIME.

5) Matt Maroon (Poker Chronicles)
You hate him? I like him. Matt has always been on the top of my list, but lately has earned even more credibility by branching out into other games (I have been begging him for years). He is witty and honest. He bluntly writes when he made a bad move, or played like a monkey, although most of you don't even "see" it, because you are so busy seeing what you perceive as him calling you out, and are so very incensed that you simply read what YOU want to read, not what he has written.

He calls it like it is. When he screws up, he writes about it. When his opponents screw up, he writes about it. He admits when he is better than they are, which is most of the time, because WHY PLAY IN A GAME WHERE THE PLAYERS ARE BETTER THAN YOU? But yet again, most bloggers don't even get it, because they are in games where THEY are the live ones, and hate reading about their horrible play.

Matt is one of the few bloggers who is actively hated even more-so than I am. Go figure, the more he tries to help you out, the more you flame him and send hate mail. Hmm, that sounds familiar. Hey! That happens to me, too! ;)

6) Dave-Drizz (Nickle and Dimes)
I love Dave because he has some health problems and likes to laugh at them. I could make fun of his deaf/mute self all day long. He has a tongue as long as Gene Simmons, which is the only reason he stays married and gets some sex every once in a while. We seem like a pair, because we are pretty much the only two bloggers who like to be made fun of and rip on each other (although I wish he'd rip on me more). I told him I wouldn't play live with him anymore unless he brings flash cards to use at the table. When he speaks, it's like he has rocks in his mouth and it's not fair to me, the other players or the dealer ;)

Seriously, Dave has a great, unpretentious blog. He just says it, for good or bad. He isn't trying to impress anyone and posts with obvious brutal candor.

7) Pauly (Tao of Poker)
No one writes up stories like Pauly. Love him or hate him, he writes the way I like. He runs the gamut of writing styles, maybe because he's stoned all the time, go figure.

He is the closest thing we have to Andy Glaser now, and I hope he doesn't burn himself out on the tourney trail.

He also incorporates many things I like about a poker blogger:

a) If you comment, he responds
b) He tells a narrative (doesn't post a hand history)
c) He plays all games
d) He plays both live and online (and successfully writes about both)
e) He has a shtick (have you read any tourney reports recently??? God, if they don't suck so badly I don't know what does)
f) He listens to advice and constructive criticism

If I could change one thing about Pauly, it would be to make him more candid and less nicey-nice in person. I would have him let those balls hang all the way out. But then again, he's getting paid. He can't be TOO candid, or he won't have a job.
So there you have it. If you were left off, it doesn't mean that you aren't one of my favorites. I may mean that you just don't have a "poker" blog, per se (Al). Or maybe you only play online. Maybe you don't post enough (Grubby, Hank). Maybe you simply don't respond to comments. There are billion factors.

I guess it's obvious what order I decided upon. Girls reason why.

At any rate, I hope you give some of these journals a try if you haven't already. And you know, this is all a very subjective thing. My picks may be your pans.

Felicia :)

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

I Realize That Poker is Not Chess

This will most likely be the last segment in my Psychology of Poker series. If I can manage to get my final point across, and also wrap it all up in one post, I'll end it here. Knowing me, I might have to make two posts out of it, or risk losing those who refuse to read more than 5000 words.

Since I am doing the series more for beginning players than advanced ones, I'll try to be generous.

My last bullet point in the psych series was this: 4) I realize that poker is not chess, it is poker, and that I rarely have even as much as 5% of an advantage over the worst player at the table, because of the luck factor

I remember when I first got into serious poker. When I read that percentage I was kind of stunned, because the difference between the worst player and the best player at the table seemed so vast. At the same time, though, I was elated, because compared to most house games, 5% is huge. Even counting cards at single deck 21, with deep penetration and lax rules, one doesn't have nearly this edge against the house!

So one of my first challenges, was exploiting that slim, 5% edge and turning the luck factor into an asset, letting it work FOR me, rather than against me.

Some of the ways I let luck work for me was by memorizing the hand rankings that David charted in his book. As many of you have noticed, a drawing hand like AKs is a group one hand. How is that possible, you ask? Because in a loose, limit Hold'em game, drawing hands can potentially become more powerful than pat hands.

Playing drawing hands in a loose, passive, limit HE game is letting the luck work for you. You are limping into a lot of pots with hands that can potentially win you a huge pot, and turn a slightly losing session into a winning one. In very loose and passive games, I will play 32s.

In today's games, the 5% edge is a bit different than in pre-boom days. Today we have not one fish, but many. That makes treading the waters different than before. While our pre-boom days centered around a single live one who made the game profitable, today we tend to sometimes be the ONLY non-live one. What a world of difference.

What this means for a tight player is that we now have to be more careful than before. We must choose our pots wisely. Getting involved in even one hand can turn a good session bad. With up to nine fish schooling a tight player in Hold'em, a player who is unable to adjust his style may find himself a big loser.

Adjusting is something that is very, very important in poker. One of the number one hurdles that players must overcome in order to be successful. You must constantly be on the look-out for changes in your game. Adjusting to the game, the make-up of the table, the cardroom and the very present of poker as a whole is mandatory.

Whenever you read a book on poker, or read posts by players you respect, keep in mind that adjustments must be made at all times. You might read a book that was written ten years ago which seems odd for today's game. Remember, it may still be a valuable book. Don't pan it just because you are unwilling or unable to adjust the advice for today's game, for your game. Force yourself to appreciate it for what it is, but adjust it to the circumstances you now face at your local cardroom. The book or post doesn't become any less important just because times have changed. It may still be the "definitive" work on the subject, it just needs to be tweaked for the new challenges you may face in today's poker world.

With that in mind, let's go back to the luck factor. While in the past, you may have had much folding equity in a game, today you may not have any. So make sure to keep count of the pot and the number of players in a hand. You can't always fold with confidence anymore when it comes to Hold'em, like you could in the past. Stud has always been this way. Often, the pots get so big in later betting rounds, folding is a huge mistake. Now Hold'em is becoming like Stud in that respect.

Omaha, on the other hand, is not a schooling game and is not susceptible to luck. Yeah, I know, you are cringing in disbelief, agony and horror. You are just sure luck is a big factor in Omaha. You see suck-out after suck-out. But you are wrong. Comparing Omaha to Hold'em or Stud is a mistake. There is no schooling factor, and there is no real luck factor (which compares to HE & Stud) in Omaha. If you disagree with this, get about 100,000 hands under your belt, having studied Ray Zee's book, and then come back to me and we can debate.

So let's just leave Omaha out of the equation when we are dealing with poker and luck. You make your own "luck" in Omaha to huge, HUGE degree, which cannot be duplicated in other forms of poker.

Okay, so now we are to the next point I want to make about luck. So far, you have been taught that you should first realize how much luck has to do with poker. Then you have been told to turn the luck factor into an advantage, rather than disadvantage. I next told you to make adjustments constantly, to the game, the cardroom, and current times. So now I am going to tell you how to handle, emotionally, the luck factor.

When you are playing, no matter what your hand is, think to yourself that ANY card can come off of that deck next. ANY card, as long as it is not a dead card, can come off of the deck to beat you. You can, and you will see the toughest beats imaginable. If the card is live, it will eventually come. It might come into your hand to beat the opponent who was ahead at the previous betting round, or it may come into the hand of your opponent to beat you, when you were ahead.

In fact, you might be very, very far ahead.

Last year at the series, Glenn was playing NLHE. He was at a table where one player was hyper-aggressive, taking huge risks with her whole stack, with very inferior hands.

Not long after Glenn sat down, he was dealt QQ. As was typical, she made a huge raise before the action even got to Glenn. In order for Glenn to call, he may as well go all-in, it was such a huge amount of his remaining chips. So that is what he did, and she immediately called with JTs. The flop came with QQx, one of the queens was of her suit. Yes, Glenn flopped quad queens. The turn was an eight of her suit, the river was the nine of her suit. She rivered a straight flush.

This is something that may only happen once to you in your lifetime. You may see it happen to others here and there while you are at the tables. You most certainly will be subjected to HEARING these bad beat tales often.

But my point is, to tilt and steam in this situation is a leak and a huge mistake. Why? Because like I said, AS LONG AS THE CARD IS LIVE, ANY, ANY, ANY CARD CAN COME OFF OF THE DECK NEXT! No matter the odds, it can and will happen to you. Don't think it won't, don't think just because you have quads or a straight flush you are invincible. It will happen, so you may as well buck up right now and prepare yourself for an eventual beat that will come. Learn to emotionally accept it NOW, rather than when it happens, so that you will not tilt and steam away your money when it does.

Anger and tilt are surefire ways for you to lose what you have worked so hard to gain. Poker is GAMBLING, even if you do have an edge against your opponents. You are still susceptible to beats that sting, so if you let luck turn into a spear against you, it will stab you to death. You can and must fix these leaks right now, so that unlike that stupid monkey at the table, they can never be used as a weapon against you. You have a huge advantage if you can overcome these types of situations. You can and will be the master of your destiny and of the poker world. Not many players handle luck well, so having a huge dominance like that over your opponents is one of the most important skills in poker. Achieve it, and you will be one of the best players in the world.

Another important way to overcome the luck factor in poker is by developing your own style. This has nothing to do with the math skills needed in poker. This has more to do with your personality and your ability to add flair to your game.

Although your style might change from game to game, cash games to tourneys, cardroom to cardroom, and even within one session, you must have your own style if you want to stay in the poker scene for a lifetime. Why? For one, poker would become so boring that you wouldn't be able to keep playing if you didn't. Two, you can manipulate luck and your opponents if you have style and the ability to adjust on a dime.

Players who play exactly "correctly" according to math would be able to earn or save an extra bet here and there by adding style to their repertoire. You know, there is always that guy on your right that you can bluff off of a pot if you've gotten to know him and given him a hint of your own personality (style). Yes, he will fold to that desperate bluff if he has the perception of you being a non-bluffer and rock. That is something that the math behind poker can never teach you. Having your own style will win you extra money.

And like I said, it will also save you money. Getting to know the woman on your left who seems kind of lonely and "left out" at the table will save you a bet here and there when she stops betting and raising into you with the winning hand. Out of courtesy, she will turn up her cards, show you the nuts, and say, "Just fold, I won't bet into you." This is a great advantage to you! Let your style help you win more money!

By the way, I don't think I need to say this, but I guess I should cover all bases...don't ever, ever get into the habit of doing this yourself ("helping" your opponent. Giving him freebies, etc). Play your hardest against your opponents, whether they are "new friends" or your own mother.

So now you are equipped. You have turned the huge luck factor in poker into an advantage for you. You have style, you don't tilt, you are able to adjust on a dime.

What other things can help you realize that poker is not chess, and is still gambling? Well, just to touch on a couple:

1) Do NOT make excuses. Accept your session at the table, for good or for bad. Don't make excuses about your bad play, your tilting, your inability to adjust, your lack of paying attention or any other thing. Accept responsibility for any and every mistake you make. And you WILL make them.

2) Realize that you are NO Phil Ivey. Maybe you have seen Phil on TV playing. Maybe you think that you are a good enough player to make some of the moves he makes. Believe me, you AREN'T. Phil is his own man, he has his own style. Not only are you not good enough, but you must play correctly and develop your own style, not Phil's.

I will give an example of what I mean.

I have always advocated that cards should be memorized and players should focus on other aspects of the hand going on around him rather than constantly checking his cards again. This is correct. Don't be a moron and think you are above this.

Someone on 2+2 said they saw Phil at a final table in an Omaha event, not memorizing his cards. They said he not only failed to memorize them, but kept them up, facing him, like "movie" poker. They said that if Phil didn't even memorize his cards, what was the point? Why did THEY need to do it?

BECAUSE YOU AREN'T PHIL IVEY, YOU IDIOT! Just because Phil can do it doesn't mean you can. Just because Phil is so, obviously hyper-aware and has such good ability to read his opponents and where he in in the hand at all times doesn't mean you are some prodigy! After you win as much as Phil has over the past decade, come back to me and then insist you don't need to "play correctly."

Soooo, I guess I have reached the end of the line here. I have told you everything you need to have in your poker repertoire for helping you realize poker is not chess. I have not really TAUGHT you anything, this you must learn yourself. You can read what I have written and decide to apply the skills you need to be in control, if you wish. I cannot force you to "learn" to be a winner.

Now that I have wrapped up psychology post number six, I suppose I should wrap up the whole series for you. That is the way the real writers do it ;)

In the first post, I outlined some of the reasons I have good psychological control over poker. They were as follows:

1) I always downplay my ability

2) I am hyper-aware

3) I am emotionally dead

4) I realize that poker is not chess

I told you to "think like a fish" in that first post. In the second post, I tackled my first bullet point, and told you to "act like a loser," (downplay your ability). Then I left the list, and went over a few points about "being yourself" and experimenting with simple, easy strategies at the table with the help of John Vorhaus' book, Killer Poker.

I came back to the list in post number four, outlining how to be hyper-aware of your surroundings while you play. Then I told you that I am emotionally dead, and explained why that is both a help, and a hindrance in poker. I listed two ways to become a world-class player: have the emotional ability to overcome losing and have the will to win.

And now, that brings it to today, and the end of this series.

I have given you the necessary tools to be a winner in poker and life. Now, what will you do with those tools? You can learn how to conquer the world, or you can dismiss them. You can sit at a table, tilting and steaming away all of your money while you make excuse after excuse, and try to convince your opponents how great your poker skills are and how vastly superior you are to them, while berating their fishy play, or you can take these lessons and truly learn them, while teaching yourself to be the next Ted Forrest or Barry Greenstein.

It is not easy to be at the very top of the poker food chain, but if this is your goal, you might just have the drive, determination and correct mindset to do it.

If, like me, you realize that being a world class player is not in your future, you can still become the greatest that YOU can be, and as an added bonus, be a WORLD CLASS HUMAN BEING.

I hope you have enjoyed this series, and may all of your hands be played the very best!

Felicia :)