Wednesday, December 26, 2007

ITH "2" is finished!

I have finally completed the 2nd edition of my first book, Internet Texas Hold'em. I have wanted to revise and update this book for a long, long time and have finally completed it. The book will have a new title as I have deemphasized the "internet" part of the book and adjusted some things here and there to make the book appropriate for both live and online limit games. I pretty much have the new title nailed down but will wait to announce it once I have it finalized.

I basically went through the entire book to make little changes here and there to make it read better. I also added/deleted/updated a few concepts where I saw appropriate. For example, there were a few concepts which are used so rarely I just deleted them. I also put more emphasis on certain concepts - for example playing in loose games/multi-way pots. I updated the Starting Hand chapter and guidelines to allow for more looser games. I also gave the "beginner" player more credit to learn faster to I added a few more hands here and there which I think people beginners can play profitably.

The most significant change however is the addition of three new chapters. There are two new chapters which cover short-handed play and one chapter on multi-way pots. I am very pleased with all three. It was a challenge covering short-handed topics in just two chapters, but I think the material will really help people who start to play short-handed. There are starting hand guidelines for short-handed play as well as my generaly approach to these games (which happens to be favorite form of limit hold'em).

So I've finished the manuscript. I am having it professionally copyedited for grammar and style, it will need to be typeset again, and then printed so we are looking at a late March/April release date.

I expect the Rizen/Ape/Pearljammer book to come out in May.

I played last Sunday my normal 9 tourneys and came away with nothing for the first time ever. I finished 38th in the RB event where they paid 36 losing A9 to KQ. I wasn't crazy about the guys call with KQ. I raised from middle position with an M of about 4.5 to 5. The player with a huge stack called me from the SB with his KQ. I think this is a decent call in a "normal" situation as many players would raise with all kinds of hands with a short stack. However, many players tighten up 2 away from the money so not sure if his call was the best there. But in any case he stopped my streak and cashing at least once on a Sunday.

I played very well for a few hours and then things started to go awry I think for two reasons. Around 7 to 730 I had 7 tables going. I have made a few mistakes playing this many tables before and I made another one this time as I didn't see a third player involved in a hand. I also seemed a little tired so I think I got off my game. It was a shame as I was chip leader in a PCA satellite for probably a couple of hours and then fell short having misplayed a hand.

I'll probably play this Sunday and then I'll be off to the Bahamas for the PokerStars tourney in early January.

Oh, I forgot about an amazing 100-200 limit game I played the other night. There was an absolutely horrendous player in the game. He raised UTG with 92 on one hand (6-handed). He called a flop raise with 6-3 on a board of K-J-2. The best hand was on this board though, AA727. He leads out flop and turn and I call. He bets the river, I raise, and he calls. He had 9-8! Unfortunately the 9-2 hand took a $4k pot from me, but I still managed a very nice win in just about an hour.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

and Life...

The title of this blog is Poker and Life. Although I am heavily involved in poker from many aspects - websites, books, and playing, I also enjoy a very healthy family life. This entry is mostly about life with a little bit of poker thrown in at the end.

We lived in New Zealand for a couple of years back when I wrote Internet Texas Hold'em. We also visiting there earlier this year for a couple of months. Our best friend's son, Sam, came to visit us this week for five days on his way back to New Zealand from England. Sam is 19. Diana's niece is also in town who is 15. So this week I was the tour guide for Atlanta.

Sam arrived on Sunday so no poker for me. We went to Midieval Times that evening for dinner. Midieval Times is located in 6 or 7 cities around the country. It's basically a dinner theater, but the show performed by live "knights" and horses doing horse tricks, jousting, and fighting. And then of course you eat dinner with your fingers. My two boys were totally enthralled so I was watching them watching the show half the time. Overall great fun, although on the expensive side. Kind of one of those things that is worthwhile to do once.

On Monday we visited the Acquarium, which features the largest fish tank in the world. It is only 2 years old and quite nice. We then saw The Alps at the Imax about a guy climbing the Eiger. I love movies and I love Imax. That evening we went to Lake Lanier which features Christmas lights. The boys just had a fantastic time once again. Sam is a great kid and Joshua really took a liking to him and they bonded quite well.

On Tuesday we went to Stone Mountain park. Great family fun for a very reasonable price. $18 for adults and $14 for 3 and up (Zachary was free). The park has a mini-town which they decorated with more than 2 million Christmas lights creating a great atmosphere. We saw a 25 minutes Christmas song and dance show, a 25 minute 4d movie of The Polar Express, a 12 minute laser show on the side of the mountain, and concluded the evening with a "snowfall" celebration and fireworks. That took us about 4 hours with dinner and walking around the shops. There were a couple of shows we missed as well as the train which goes around the mountain with Christmas decorations. Overall great value and I think we'll probably plan on going there every year as the boys just had an absolutely fantastic time.

On Wednesday we had dinner at the top of the Westin Peachtree hotel, which has a restaurant at the top which rotates in a circle giving great views of Atlanta.

All of this really put me in the Christmas spirit. Joshua really understands Christmas now and Santa Claus so I'm really looking forward to Christmas this year. All of my family is coming to visit so should be a great time.

On to poker....How about Scott Clements?! Is there a more accomplished tournament player over the last couple of years? He has won 2 WPT titles, 2 WSOP bracelets, and he just won the premier online event, The Poker Stars Sunday Million. He has basically reached the pinnacle of what I call the Big 3 - WSOP, WPT, and Online tourneys. I don't believe I have ever played with him and I don't know him - but congrats Scott on an amazing run.

I'd also like to congratulate Rizen for winning $50K+ in one of the UB special $500 events.

I did manage a couple of short-handed limit sessions which I haven't played in quite some time winning about $1200. One particular hand was fun. I raised from SB with 63s, the BB 3-bet, and I 4-bet as he had been quite aggressive from the BB against me. I couldn't wait for a premium hand to make a stand against him. He flopped 2 pair and I hit a flush on the turn so I won a huge pot. He typed in chat "keep 4-betting with 63s", so I replied "keep 3-betting with J high!".

I hope to play the big Sunday tournaments before the holidays.

Happy holidays everyone!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Two shoes

I had quite an embarrassing moment the other night doing something that I've never done before in my life. I took Joshua and my wife's niece, Laura, to the park the other day (the weather here has been gorgeous lately). Joshua and I are swinging away and at the top of my swing, I get a great view of my shoes right in front of me. There was a problem - I was wearing two different shoes! I had a black tennis shoe on and a black casual shoe on.

Laura, who is fifteen, couldn't stop laughing. After thinking about it for a while, I'm surprised I've gone almost 41 years without ever having made this mistake. I have all of these shoes in the closet, I grab a couple, and I'm off. I can see where I might make this type of mistake. If anyone has done this also, please post a comment as it would make me feel a little better :).

Sunday's tourneys didn't go too well. I cashed 50th in the UB $215 and that was my only cash. I lost a big pot with A-K vs AJ with about 60 left which would have put me in the top 3 in chips. I made some really good calls on Sunday that I was quite proud of, and I think indicative that I am starting to understand the online player a little better. I did make some questionable plays in the FTP 750K guarantee. I was doing quite well in that event. I had 7 tables up and running and I find that I sometimes panic when 2 or 3 tables are going. I need to learn to use the time clock and take my time on big decisions. In any case, there was a raise, and I made a big overbet allin raise with A-K from middle position. The SB woke up with AA and busted me. I should have known better to commit such a large stack but I just started to panic a little and didn't think about my position and the players behind me. It seems like every Sunday I make one of these types of "online" mistakes due to multi-tabling.

Now that I am playing a lot more online MTT's, I can see where the variance is quite frustrating. In many of these tournaments, 50% of the prize pool is paid in the top 3-5 spots. Let's say you have a 50% ROI. You invest $100 in the tournament. You expect to cash $150 for each tournament played. This means you get $75 when you finish in the top 3 and $75 for all other cashes. You are losing money until you get that top 3 finish! So far this year in the bigger tourneys, I've won one PS nightly tournament and won a seat to the Bahamas. I've had lots of cashes, but most in that 11th to 50th range. Getting close just isn't good enough in tournament poker. I feel good about putting myself in a lot of situations to get that big win, but it's frustrating falling short so often. Hopefully if I keep working on my game, just a very slight improvement here and there will get me over the hump.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Official Announcement for Rizen, Apestyles, Pearljammer books

I've hinted a little about three new books that I will be publishing next year and we finally released the "official" announcement this week.

From the press release:

"The first two books, yet untitled, are a two-volume set written by three of the top tournament players in the world, Eric “Rizen” Lynch, Jon “Pearljammer” Turner, and Jon “Apestyles” Van Fleet. Collectively, they have over 200 wins, 1000 final tables, and have cashed for more than 6 million dollars the last few years playing in both live and online poker tournaments.

This series will analyze real hands played by the authors to demonstrate their thought processes and strategies they use to achieve their success. The books are set for a spring and fall release in 2008.

Eric “Rizen” Lynch has also teamed up with Matthew Hilger to write No-Limit Hold’em Tournament Strategy: Expert Strategies for Live and Online Play. The book is scheduled for a Fall 2008 release and will look at advanced concepts and strategies for succeeding in no-limit Hold’em tournaments."

We are currently working on the first volume of the hands book and so far the material is excellent. I'm learning a few tricks myself from these guys are am really enjoying working with all three of them. There will be at least 50 hands from each author that they walk through from start to finish. It will likely be a book that players of all levels will be able to learn from.

Eric and I call the NL strategy book, the "big" book. The hands books are going to be great, but I am also very excited to start working on the NL book which we will probably start writing in January. We have put together a tentative table of contents and I can't wait to see what Eric has to write about some of the topics. I highly recommend that you read some of Eric's articles found at Cardplayer and Bluff to get an idea of how good of a writer he is.

We will be collaborating similarly to how Ian Taylor and I worked on The Poker Mindset. Eric will be doing most of the writing and I will be helping him from start to finish with feedback, suggestions, etcetera. And of course I am the publisher also.

I really enjoyed working with Ian on The Poker Mindset and I hope to be publishing more authors in the future. I find it a lot more fun to work in collaboration with others rather than working on a project all by myself. I also think the end product turns out much better. Hopefully the next three books will set the bar very high.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Another Deep run

I won’t go into much details. I thought I played the best I’ve played in quite a while, especially in the FTP Mulligan where I finished 13th. Yet another deep run without hitting the big payday. Lost one key hand with about 50 or 60 left (?). I made what I think was a great call with 77 and lost to A3 and A8 – with A3 having the bigger stack of the two opponents. If ace doesn’t hit the river I’m in top 5 in chip count but that’s the way it goes sometimes. Also cashed in the Sunday Million but for small amount. I’m playing most Sundays now in about 9 tourneys and it seems like I always have one nice deep run, hopefully I’ll hit soon.

On to better news…

It was my boys’ birthdays this week. They were both born on November 28th and are now 4 and 2. We had a Chuck y Cheese party today which was actually quite fun. The boys got this riding bike that connects to the TV to play games – the first toy I’ve seen Joshua get addicted to. He played for 4 hours until it was time to go to bed. I loved seeing it because I remember my addictions back from my childhood days. Great stuff and I’m glad they had a lot of fun.

My fantasy football seasons are about to end with me missing the playoffs in both Leagues. In the ITH League, I lost 2 games by less than 2 points, one by 2 yards – which pretty much did me in. In my main League, it was just a struggle all year long. There are ten teams. I had one draft pick who exceeded its draft “value” – Kellen Winslow. Bush was average. McNabb was average. Hines Ward was good but injured. Everyone else was a disappointment, especially Rudi Johnson, Lee Evans, and Baltimore. For only having one good thing happen all year (Winslow being hot and not getting injured), I actually had some momentum a couple of weeks ago and a shot to make the playoffs.

I tell you, if you think poker is frustrating from all of the bad beats, try fantasy football! – busted draft picks, injuries, lineup miscues, unlucky scheduling…it’s brutal and I have no idea why I keep doing it :).

I’ll be making a big book announcement very soon so stay tuned.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Show me the Money!

Last night I watched Jerry Maguire for I don't know how many times. This is one of my favorite movies of all-time. Many probably don't include it on their top 10 list but I think it's a classic.

It is hard to classify this movie. It certainly has funny moments. It has once of the best romantic relationships ever to be shown on film, built by some of the best memorable movie lines ever. And there is a lot of drama. It's also a sport's movie. So it's a sport's dramatic romantic comedy?

Of course, you have the big-name movie star. In this case, Maguire is probably Tom Cruise's best performance. Not many actors can pull off a role requiring both comedy and vulnerability. I think this was the role of a lifetime for him and he far exceeded my expecations. He won a Golden Globe for best actor and was nominated for an Academy Award.

Then look at the supporting cast. This was Renee Zellweger's breakout role. Cuba Gooding jr won a best supporting actor award for his hilarious portrayal of the superstar football player with an attitude problem. The movie also featured one of the more memorable "cute" little kids who had some great scenes. After these supporting actors, there was even a really good supporting-supporting cast with Bonnie Hunt, Regina King, and Kelly Preston. Everyone simply nailed their roles which showed what a great job was done with the screenply and casting.

Think of one of your favorite movies and try to remember your favorite lines from that movie. Now think of Jerry Maguire. Several of the lines became embedded in our culture:
Show me the Money!
You complete me.
You had me at hello.
You are my ambassador of quan.

In a previous post, I said one of the things which really makes a movie great is one that inspires or teaches you a lesson about life. This movie is that kind of movie. It ends with the quote, 'I don't know everything and I've had my share of failures, but I love my wife and I love my life, and I wish that kind of success for you."

Monday, November 26, 2007

A Costly Bad Beat

Last night I finished 12th in the $100 rebuy event at Poker Stars. $40K was paid out to first place and I was paid out $1900. I lost an unfortunate hand right towards the very end. Blinds were 3-6 with 300 antes. I raised to 18K from the cutoff. The SB RR to 65K. I Reraised another 65K or so and my opponent pushed allin for another 50K. I called and my opponent showed A-J. If my hand holds up, I am second in chips with 11 players remaining. My opponent spiked a J.

The following isn't to bitch about my opponent's play. I am very happy that he trapped himself and I got my chips in as a big favorite, so this isn't bemoaning a bad beat but I think it gives a good example for players to learn from.

My opponent made a big mistake in this hand. He thought that he was ahead of my range of hands with A-J. This was correct. Since I was in the cutoff, I would raise a wide variety of hands in that position and would fold to many reraises. The problem is that he picks up $35K or so when I fold, but is mostly a big dog when I put him allin. Because of the awkward chip stack sizes, he was close to being pot-committed with his hand after he makes that reraise. I need to go doublecheck this later, but I think we was basically committing an addition 115K to win 360K. He pretty much needs to call after building such a big pot. So he can't escape his reraise which means he is basically risking 180K when a big dog to win 35K. This isn't the best risk-reward ratio!

The lesson of this hand is that you shouldn't always play a hand simply because you think it is likely the best hand. You must look at the risk-reward ratio for the times you are ahead and the times you are behind - something my opponent failed to do.

So another deep run on Sunday that falls just short. MTT's is a tough business! I needed to make the final table to break-even for the day as I played nine big tourneys yesterday.

I really need to get my workspace upgraded so that I can play multiple tables without my laptop. I had problems with my wireless yesterday, and to make a long story short, timed out with a set on the river with a big pot in the 750K guarantee at FTP. It was a big pot and really pissed me off for about 30 minutes afterwards. Time to get an upgraded monitor!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Testimony in Congress about Online Gambling

Many people have some misconceptions about the law "against" online gambling. The main misconception is that online gambling is illegal. This just isn't the case. The law passed last year in Congress prohibits financial institutions from permitting transactions to online gambling sites. The law doesn't make it illegal for a player to gamble online. Having said this, the law has made it more difficult to fund an online poker account and has communicated a perception that online gambling is illegal, so fewer players are signing up today than before. This hurts the industry and every player even if we continue to play online today.

Some recent events have been quite favorable for the movement to make online gambling legal. There currently are three bills in Congress that aim to make online poker legal and are in various stages of development. The World Trade Organization has ruled against the United States for hindering global trade. This could potential cost the US government billions in fines if we continue to go against the decisions of the WTO.

Congress recently held a public hearing to discuss online gambling. Annie Duke, a popular poker player, testified and gave some very good arguments. I encourage everyone interested in this topic to read hear testimony here:

Whether or not you like gambling or not, this is an issue about personal freedoms. An adult ought to be able to do whatever it wants in its own house as long as they don't inflict harm on others. As Annie Duke mentioned, it is fine if you think gambling is immoral, but it isn't fine for people to dictate their morals on others. Millions of players enjoy poker, it is part of our American pasttime dating back years and years where Presidents have played the game. It is silly to prevent people to play the game over the new medium -the Internet - which is so much part of our lives in today's new technological world. But read Annie's testimony as I think it gives a very good overview of the issues.

I also encourage everyone to join the PPA - the Poker Player's Association - which is doing a good job of bringing this issue into the mainstream media.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Funny "I told you so" from Joshua

Joshua will be 4 years old next week. Laura is Joshua's cousin from Colombia who is visiting us for the holidays.

Here is a conversation we had today...

Me: "Are you looking forward to Laura visiting?"

Josh: "Yes, I want her to come today."

Me: "Well, she's coming on Sunday."

Josh: "Why - today is Sunday."

Me: "No, today is Tuesday."

Josh: "Dad, look - do you see the Sun?

Me: "yes."

Josh: " isn't Tuesday - it's Sunday. I told you so."

Monday, November 19, 2007

Won a Seat to Paradise!

I had a good Sunday yesterday - finally. I've been making the money with a good frequency recently on Sundays but keeping finishing a hand or two away from the really big money. Yesterday I turned that around by winning a $12K package to Paradise Island this Sunday. I've been wanting to play that tournament the last few years and could never work it into my schedule so I am excited to be going. I've done several cruises and Aruba a couple of times but never PokerStars biggest event in the Bahamas. Should be a lot of fun and hopefully I'll turn my entry into some real big bucks.

The satellite was a $650 entry fee with about 350 entrants. They gave away 17 seats. Strategy in a satellite becomes very different when you start getting close to the seats. If you have a good stack, you might sometimes fold AA before the flop as there is no reason to keep playing. This makes the whole dynamics of the hands quite interesting as the short stacks who need chips often do not meet a lot of resistance since the bigger stacks don't want to risk chips trying to break them. From a strategical perspective, you are always asking, when do I need to take some chances and when shouldn't I? I hovered around 10th to 14th place for most of the time while we went from 35 to 17 players, so I basically didn't play many hands, but did have to play some here and there to make sure the blinds and antes didn't dwindle my chips down. I folded AQ once from early position which was really not a difficult decision. I got dealt AA in the big blind and normally you would love that, but it actually wasn't ideal because even AA can lose if I get involved in a big pot. For example, someone raises, I push allin, and he calls with KK - if he hits a K I am not one of the shorter stacks or possibly even out. You actually don't want to take chances in a satellite when you don't need to. It turns out that the small blind made a mini-raise and I knew he was weak so I just pushed all-in. I had another tricky situation with AKs in the small blind. I needed the blinds and antes to feel more comfortable with my stack, but at the same time wasn't crazy about risking a lot of chips since I was about 13th in chips at the time. I made a raise and fortunately wasn't faced with a tough decision as my opponent folded.

I played nine tournaments yesterday which seems to be my normal Sunday total. I cashed in one other event, although I must say I wasn't very focused on it as the satellite winded down to the final seats. A little disappointing that I didn't give that tournament the attention it deserved but at least I cashed.

So two cashes, but one nice one to make up for some of my recent Sunday losses. See you in Paradise!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Why I love movies

I love movies. I think one of the main reasons why I love movies so much is that they give me a couple of hours to completely relax and escape everyday life. If I’m showering, going to sleep, driving a car – I’m always thinking about something…I need to fix this, or make an appointment, or figure out the title of my next book. Some of my best business ideas come at the weirdest times in my daily routine. But in a movie, I think about absolutely nothing. I am totally focused on the story and nothing else ever creeps into my mind. And it’s funny, as long as a movie isn’t just terrible, I will enjoy myself. I enjoy the two hours whether or not the movie has Oscar potential.

And of course, movies can be very entertaining. They can make you laugh or make you cry. They can give you an adrenaline boost. They can make you think while educating you. Sometimes they make you appreciate how lucky we really are. And the best ones inspire us. People sometimes laugh, but Rocky is one of my alltime favorite movies. It is one of the great underdog stories ever, but it inspires us whether we are a teacher, doctor, student, or poker player. Whenever I feel like I need to motivate myself for something, I start thinking of the Rocky theme in my head. Movies that encourage us, inspire us, and recognize the simple things in life makes our lives outside of the movies that much better and that it what the magic of movies is all about. Can’t wait to go see my next one!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Bad weekend of Poker

I went to the IP Poker Classic this weekend. Friday was a $500 buyin and I finished about 20th out of 100 players. I played very well. I doubled up early but then had some unfortunate luck on 3 hands within a 15 minutes span. Was extremely short-stacked but then quadrupled up and then really abused the table with my short-stack. The play was pretty bad and I had a very loose image. Unfortunately I could never really get a big hand and eventually busted out raising J-9 allin on the button against AA in SB. I imagine the play would have really tightened up around the bubble so disappointing to not a chance to exploit it.

The main event was Saturday with a $2K buyin. 100 entrants. 5K in chips and a very good structure. Unfortunately I didn't win a single hand for 2 1/2 hours. The play was horrendous, but so bad that I had to hit a hand to get chips. For example, 50-100 blinds and 3-4 limpers and then someone raises to 700 or 800, he might get 2 callers! There was really no way to creatively pick up chips and very difficult to push a player off of a pair post-flop. So wait and hit a hand...but I just couldn't. I finally got my chips in with QQ but found myself against 3 opponents. Fortunately, 2 of them had A-K and my hand held up so I won my first pot. Lost 2-3 pots rather quickly after that and then picked up one small one. Then I went out- can't even remember the hand. So I basically drove 6 hours to win two hands- ugggh!

But I did go back to my room to watch UGA have a convincing win over Auburn. We're looking quite good and scoring lots of points so very encouraging.

I got back on Sunday in time for a birthday party my boys went to with all of our neighbors. It was a bowling event and quite fun.

We got home and Joshua was sleeping. It was 4:00 so I decided to play the Sunday tournaments. The worst decision of the day was deciding to play. First, I was a little tired and not really into it and it showed. I made a few silly mistakes and definitely did not play my best poker. Was a little too anxious to make things happen and was actually hoping to lose so I could just get it over with. I played 6 tournaments and busted in all of them.

Although I want to play more on Sundays, you should never play if you aren't really into it. But I felt like I couldn't miss it. So I made an excuse that I would play and just take Monday off to see my family after missing them for a few days. But I am playing thinking about my wife and boys upstairs so it just wasn't a very good decision.

But I have the day off! Diana and I plan on going to the movies and then I'll enjoy some time with the boys when they get home from school.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

IP Poker Classic

I am going to the IP Poker Classic this weekend and will try and post daily updates. The IP Poker Classic is in Biloxi which is the most convenient poker room for Atlanta. It is about a 6-hour drive so whenever I bust, I just go straight to the parking lot and I'm home six hours later.

Last December we went to Colombia for a month. In January, we left Colombia for Australia for the Aussie Millions. We then spent February and March in New Zealand where Diana and I lived between 2001 and 2003. We came home, enjoyed our house for a couple of months and went to Vegas for the WSOP for six weeks. We came home again for a couple of months and went to Colombia for three more weeks. To say the least, I am not anxious to jump on planes and leave home for poker tournaments right now. But Biloxi and Tunica are comparatively convenient for me as opposed to most other poker tournaments. So I go there whenever I can. Driving to tournaments is always better for me as I like the flexibility of being able to leave the casino whenever you want.

So I head to Biloxi this weekend. I may be going to New Orleans in early December (another drive). I suspect I'll be in Tunica in January for the WPT and WSOP events.

This weekend in Biloxi there is a $500 warmup on Friday and $2K main event on Saturday.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Another Deep Run Falls Short

I wasn't planning on playing Sunday as my father was suppose to come into town, but he missed his flight so I decided to play. I started at 4:30 and played 7 tournaments. Each Sunday I've been playing about 7-9 tourneys.

The two big ones each Sunday are the FTP and PS $1 million guarantees. I haven't been playing both for very long, but I think I have cashed in one or the other just about every Sunday I have played. Yesterday I kept that going with a small cash in the FTP million.

I busted in the UB 200K guarantee before the money but I really like that tournament. The blinds are quite small to your stack and they go up quite slowly so there is lots of time to look for good opportunities and play patient poker.

I went deep in the PS 2nd chance giving me my 2nd cash of the day which I guess isn't too bad out of 7 tourneys. I had twice the average stack for quite some time but went pretty card dead once we made the money. But I was still alive and kicking as we started getting closer and closer to the final table. Unfortunately, I missed out on 2 coin flips in fairly large pots and crashed out in 21st place. AlwaysLook was at my table. He never said for sure, but I am pretty confident that this is Luke Chesnick(? - sorry if I butchered your last name Luke) who I beat headsup in 2002 for the NZ poker championships. I still remember when my AQ beat his 33 when 2 pair hit the board. Anyhow, a good deep run but another frustrating finish. It seems like just a matter of time before I'll get my 2nd major online tourney win.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Halloween Fun

This halloween was a lot of fun as it was kind of the first where my oldest son understood what was going on. My two boys turn 4 and 2 this month. Joshua was Superman and Zachary was a Knight. With our neighbors, there were 3 supermans, a supergirl, and a superdog - how original lol. But Joshua started talking about being Superman at least a month ago. He was really into the whole thing.

One of our neighbors came up with a great idea. Call me lazy - but answering the door every 5-10 minutes to give out candy is a real drag. So our neighbor suggested that we setup a table out on the street and we basically just had a big block party on the street. All the kids just came up to the table and took candy from our bowls. We had about 15 of our kids running around playing while we drank and ate. My mother and stepfather also came over so it was a lot of fun.

Once the kids were ready to trick or treat we just walked around with them and then went back to the block party. It was a great idea and something I hope we do every year.

Joshua is usually a little timid at first with new people or new things, but this year he went right up to the door ready to ring the door bell. He told one neighbor "gracias" and it was just a blast watching him in action. Zachary says very few words right now but we got out thank you at every house which made us proud.

Work-wise, this hasn't been the most productive of weeks. I have been a little under-the-weather so not quite up to writing or editing. I have started getting feedback on my two new chapters that I will be adding to Internet Texas Hold'em that focuses on short-handed play. All the feedback has been quite positive and I'm excited with some of the suggestions which I think will make the chapters an even better read.

I guess this is as good a time as any to announce that the "2nd edition" of ITH will likely be retitled "Winning Strategies for Limit Hold'em". The new book will focus more on the strategies and concepts to make it applicable for both live and online play - so some, but not all, of the Internet stuff has been taken out. There is also a new chapter on Multi-way pots. Overall, it will read much better, has 3 new chapters, and will have about 50 new hand examples. I am aiming for a Spring release.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Another frustrating Sunday

I have recently committed to playing the Sunday tournaments with a lot more frequency. I have been going relatively deep but just finishing short of the big paydays.

Yesterday was quite frustrating from several perspectives. I started out terribly in all of the tournaments and couldn't get anything going in even one of them. I lost several big pots to 2 and 3 outers which didn't help matters. In all, I played nine tournaments with total buyins of about $2300. In the evening, I found myself alive in only two - the FTP $1 million guarantee and the $55K guarantee.

In the FTP I was in very good shape once we made the money. I think I was something like 40th with 200 players remaining. I then got a little unlucky. An early player pushed allin, another player reraised all-in, and I woke up on the button with KK. Unfortunately, the 2nd player had AA and I didn't improve. That pot would have put me in the top 5, but now I was down to an average stack. I say unlucky in that there really wasn't anything I could do with kings there. In fact, I always say, the other guy could have had kings and I had the aces and the hand would have played out the same. I didn't play poorly, but was unlucky in that I was dealt the worst hand in a situation where I couldn't get away from it.

But I rebounded very nicely and really made some good moves to get my stack back over $100K which was above average at that point.

In my other tourney, I believe I made a bubble mistake with 58 players left and 54 spots being paid. I had $6K in chips, with $400-$800 blinds and $100 antes. I decided to push in middle position with A-6. Although my "M" was only 3, I could afford to post the blinds one more time to wait for for a better situation. With $4500 in chips, I would still have good folding equity with the BB being $800. In other words, I wasn't desperate quite yet. Add that to the fact that pushing allin with A-6 is a borderline play to begin with from middle position. I think this was pretty much borderline here, so given the bubble I could have waited a little longer to either get a better situation, or at least move up into the money. 2 cashes on the night would have been nice although I was obviously playing for the win.

Going back to the $1 million guarantee. I got blinded down to $80K in chips which was about average when the following hand came up. I got dealt A-K of diamonds in middle position and raised to $10K. The cutoff called and the flop was Q75, with two hearts. My first mistake as making a continuation bet here. The Q is actually one of the worst cards in this situation. The play was quite tight with few players seeing flops. Therefore, a realistic range of calling hands at this point in the tournament before the flop are hands like A-Q, K-Qs, and maybe any pair TT or below. It is doubful that players would call with A-J, or K-J, and they would like raise hands like JJ or better or AK. So the most likely scenario is that my opponent flopped a pair of queens, a set, or he has a middle pair. Even with a middle pair, he is likely to call a flop continuation bet. But I bet and he called. First mistake...

The turn was a blank and we both checked.

The river was a blank and I actually put him on a middle pair now. I figured if I bet 75% of my stack it would look very strong and a middle pair would fold. Well, he didn't and called with TT. I was now down to $15K having lost $65K in a pot that I never should have gotten involved in on the flop! There is nothing worse then misplaying a hand deep in a tournament.

So I crashed out in 100th place getting paid $750 for the tournament. So I cashed once and lost $1500 for the day. Quite frustrating given that I had two tournaments to try and go really deep and frustrating that I felt like I was playing very well, only to give it up all on one hand.

The good news is that I learned two things on that one hand and hopefully will not make the same mistake again in the future. There is nothing worse than misplaying a hand late in a tournament, but in some ways, it's better to go out that way while learning something to improve your game rather than suffering a bad beat and not learning anything.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

We're all masochists!

Tourney players are a weird breed. We go and play tourney after tourney after tourney, and most of the time it is just plain frustration. Maybe we don't get any good cards which can be quite frustrating. Or maybe we finally get good cards only to lose to a bad beat. Or sometimes, we finally get good cards only to not get any good action.

Last night was one of those tourneys where I felt like I was playing well and getting good cards, but I couldn't make a big move as I just wasn't getting any good action. Winning a poker tournament is a lot about good timing. For example, last night I flopped a straight and my opponent folded on the flop. Why couldn't he have an overpair, or two pair, or a set? Later I flopped a flush and my opponent bet-folded the flop of KT6. Why couldn't he have AK or a high club? I raise with KK and everyone folds. I raise with A-T and I get reraised. To win a tournament you have to have good timing or things just don't go your way.

In another tournament, I started out on fire in terms of quality hands. On the very first hand I flop a set of fives. I bet pot on the flop and on the turn, and my opponent hits a gut shot straight on the river. The very next hand I get dealt TT and the flop is 977. My opponent bets and I call. The turn is a blank and he pushes all-in! OK, I guess he had 99 or A7, lol. I folded. The very next hand I get dealt JJ. I can't remember the post-flop action on that one but I lost it too. There goes over 1/3 of my stack in 3 hands! We're all masochists!

My online pro for a couple of weeks experiment has now ended. We leave Colombia tomorrow to go back to Atlanta and a normal life again. I played 96 tournaments over the last couple of weeks, cashing in 17 of them. That is an 18% cash rate which sounds pretty good. Unfortunately, I didn't hit any big cashes so I actually lost money. To make money in tournaments you have to go real deep to get the big pay days. I had a bunch of finishes in the big fields where I finished 30th to 60th - just not quite deep enough for the big cash. In the smaller field tournaments (100-250 players), I made a few final tables, but no wins and they were in the smaller buyin tournaments.

Even though I lost money, I am happy with my results. I certainly didn't play perfectly, but in the bigger tournaments I felt like I had good concentration and was giving myself good chances to make some good money.

So back to Atlanta. I won't be playing tournaments daily while I'm in Atlanta but I do plan on trying the play a lot more on Sundays. Sundays is when all of the big tournaments are and they are just too lucrative and too fun to miss. These will also be a great way for me to continue to work on my game and improve my play so that I will be really ready for the WSOP next summer.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Lots of tournaments

I'm continuing to play lots of online tournaments while in Medellin. This "experiment" started out really where I was getting several chances at a really big pay day. This past Sunday I went deep in 3 of the 7 tournaments I played. But since then it has been a littl frustrating. Monday through Wednesday, I was cashing quite a lot, but not getting very deep. Then Thursday, I was 0 for 15! Yuck! I must say I suffered some pretty bad beats but nevertheless frustrating. It was like my WSOP summer all in one day!

Yestereday I made two small cashes out of six tournaments. That was comforting to get back in the money. Unfortunately, my two cashes were in small buyin $25 tournaments rather than the $150-$200 buyin tourneys. Oh well, that's the way it goes sometimes. I'll take the day off today and then I hope to give Sunday another good run tomorrow.

Meanwhile, I continue to write a good bit. I almost have my short-handed chapter finished which will be added to the next edition of ITH. I hope to finish the 2nd edition by the end of the year and will be aiming for a Spring release date.

For those interested in fantasy football, I suffered one of the worst "bad beats" you can suffer this past week. Sunday night the games were over and it showed my buddy Tbone ahead by some miniscule margin. That game would drop me to 2-4 so I wasn't too happy about the loss. When I woke up, I was miraculously ahead! Sometimes they update stats so this wasn't too surprising to me. I enjoyed my win and gloated for three days. Then Thursday, I woke up and my record was changed to 2-4 and it showed me losing by .04 points! .04! It turns out, my opponent had only been rewarded 5.9 points for Marion Barber (59 yards), when in fact he had 61. 2 freakin yards and he wins! Of course, not only did I lose by the smallest margin possible, I had gloated for three days my win. Talk about a bad beat!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Colombianitos and Project Medellin

As you know from a previous post, we recently had the inauguration of Project Medellin which was a big success. Diana and I visited the project again this week to get to know the team members there a little better. The team consists of a Coordinator, psychologist, social worker, and two soccer trainers.

80% of the people living in the immediate area of Colombianitos are displaced families as result of the guerilla conflicts going on in the countryside. For those who don't know, the guerillas control a substantial part of rural Colombia. As they move into new territories, families are forced out and many flee to the cities for opportunities. Our Colombianitos project is located high up on the mountainside that surrounds Medellin. Just 15-20 years ago this was just open land, but it is now filled with poor displaced families. Many of the families are headed by single mothers where the fathers have abandoned them.

The godd news is that Colombianitos is here to help and the project has started off with a big success. We had close to 200 children enroll in the first couple of weeks. The week following the inauguration, over 100 more children enrolled! Marcelo who is the coordinator for Medellin, started up our project in Cartegena. They now have 450 children but he said Medellin is way ahead of Cartagena in terms of where they were after a few weeks.

The team expressed many concerns in what they have seen so far in the children. The education level is very low and this is one of the main goals of the Colombianitos program. Colombianitos provides a lot of support in helping the children with whatever they need to do well in school. One requirement to participate in the Colombianitos soccer program is that first, you must attend school, and second, you must do well.

Colombianitos requires that each child presents the appropriate identification documents. Many of the children are lacking these which basically means they don't exist to the the Colombian government, and therefore are not entitled to the benefits that come with that. Obtaining the documents is a simple matter of the parents going to a government office to obtain them. Hopefully Colombianitos will be the incentive for these parents to get their children legally recognized by the government.

I talked with Marcelo in some detail about Cartegena to try and gage any comparisons or differences he sees between the Cartegena project and Medellin. It was really encouraging to hear the impact that Colombianitos has made on the community in Cartegena. When he arrived, he said drugs were openly consumed on the sidewalks and houses in plain view of all the children. Now, although the drug trade continues, consumption is no longer accepted within the community. He says you can see a definite distinction when walking from one sector into the sector where Colombianitos is located. It's encouraging to hear that Colombianitos is making a difference.

The psychologist and social worker are having an open meeting this weekend for the parents. This will be the beginning of establishing a dialogue with the parents. In the future, the idea is that the parents should feel free and open to come to them for support and help. At the same time, Colombianitos will be contacting them directly when they find particular problems with the children that need to be discussed with the parents.

One great idea that they are working on is a cooperative which they hope to establish to gain employment for the women to clean and cook. I think it's a great idea to use our contacts and credibility within Colombianitos to identify people willing to help out by providing jobs.

The soccer trainers already are very busy. They run classes from 8 or 9 in the morning until 4 in the afternoon. The school program runs a morning and afternoon program so Colombianitos has children all day long to work around their schedules. There are only 2 instructors and up to 60 children in one class which is something we may need to look at and improve as we expect the program to continue to grow in numbers.

The Medellin team is currently in the diagnostic phase, identifying the main problems and concerns which need to be addressed with the children and community. Once they have a clear idea of the problems, they will then develop programs to address them. The soccer program is much more than just soccer. For example, let's say that determine that they need to develop values in the children to respect property (the surrounding area is very dirty with trash). They will teach this on the soccer field, rather than having them listen to a lecture. This could involve some type of exercise on the field, while stressing the importance of property. They might put cones on the field where each cone represents some type of value they are trying to teach. What is impressive with Colombianitos is that the entire team works very close together in achieving their aims. On our visit to Bogota last year, we were extremely impressed with the programs about family and social values that the soccer coaches had in place.

All in all very exciting. It will be very exciting to see the progress made when Diana and I make our next visit. There are some challenges. The current office is not adequate so we will need to address the budgeting needs for this. I can already see that the soccer coaches are stretched in terms of number of children so this will also need to be addressed. But there is a great team in place and great support from the community, so it really is quite exciting for the children there and for Colombianitos.

As a reminder, you can support Colombianitos by making a donation at

We are also selling Christmas cards to support Colombianitos which you can buy in the store at ITH:

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Sunday tourneys, close 3 times but no cigar

Today was tourney day again on Sunday for all the big major online tournaments. I played seven tournaments today. I am sure this doesn't compare to what some of the young guns do, but I can only fit 4 tourneys comfortably on my laptop :).

First up was the UltimateBet $200K guarantee tournament paying $45K to first. I finished in the top 50 for a measly $900 payday - compared to first! The blinds were quite high towards the end so I just needed a good hand or two and I would have been right there in the mix.

Next up was a $650 satellite to the Caribbean adventure. 18 seats and I finished 47th - ug.

Finally, the Full Contact Poker $750K guarantee wit $140K to first. I finished in the top 90. Again, the blinds were quite high and I just couldn't get that rush to propel me up the leaderboard.

In between these three I got knocked out pretty early in the others I played. Overall, I was very pleased with my play. I don't recall any major mistakes and I only have a few hands where I'm not sure I did the right thing or not - I'll need to evaluate that later when I'm fresh.

It was a tough day in terms of being card dead towards the end of all three of those tourneys. It was a good day in that I got more than my fair share of luck with the crappy hands I was forced to play. I felt like I was very patient, but at the same time, I couldn't wait all day for the cards to come so I pushed when I thought the situation called for it. Eventually my luck caught up with me. On one hand, you might ask how could I go out with hands like K5s and KQ. On the other hand, I never would have made it as far as I did without pushing hands like that earlier - but eventually it will catch up with you.

For all my efforts, I made a $400 profit. Not fantastic, but at least I gave myself 3 chances for a big payday.

I got some great hand examples for the books I'm working on so that is a plus. I wish my night would have lasted longer but time for some sleep!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Online Tourney Marathon!

Yesterday I had my first online tournament marathon. I basically played from 8 in the morning to a little after midnight. First I started with a few tourneys around 8 AM. I few more tourneys around noon. Then the afternoon tourneys at 3. Then the nightly starting at 8. I played to close to 20 tournaments in one day. I've got to tell you, no wonder these young Internet sensations are taking the live tournament world by storm. In one day, I got close to the same amount of experience I get in six weeks at the World Series of Poker. Of course you can't compare a $20 buyin tournament to a $1500 WSOP tourney, but in many ways you get the same amount of play since the hands are dealt so much quicker. In one day, I got experience of two final tables, one headsup match, several in the money drives, and several unfortunate bubble experiences. If you do this 5 days a week month in month out you can't help to really refine your game.

This leads me into a slightly different topic. My game has been sort of stagnant the last couple of years. Between having babies, writing books, working on my website, traveling around the world, I play a little poker and then don't do much for a few months, then play a little poker and then don't do much for a few months. It's really hard to improve your game without some consistency. I've been playing a lot more Internet tourneys lately and I am definitely learning some new tricks and insights. It is motivating and I hope to find more time to keep this up as I am excited about learning once again.

As far as my tourney marathon, I think it went similar to when you actually run a marathon. I felt great at the start and did quite well, I tatered off in the afternoon and made some silly mistakes, I almost lost it in the evening, but then got a 2nd wind and recuperated quite well.

I went deep in the first few tournaments of the morning finish 2nd in an $11 180-man sitngo. I've played like 5 of these 180 sitngos and now have 3 final tables so pretty good results in them so far. They are fun because they are quick and don't drag on for hours. My headsup opponent spiked a T on the turn with KT on a Kxx flop while I was holding KJ and he ousted me.

I also bubbled in a $100 buyin tournament on a disastrous hand. There were 20 people left and they paid 18. I had about an average stack. A guy from early position raises and I accidently miniraise from the big blind. This happens on occasion with my laptop which I am using in Colombia. So I price my opponent in and am sitting on 73offsuit out of position! Of course I make things worse for myself. The flop is T32. I'm pretty happy with this flop. I make a smallish bet and my opponent mini-raises. I put him on a middlish pocket pair and think I can get him off his hand if I push all-in. If he calls, I also might have some outs. He thought a long time and called with J-T. I think if he has something like 88 he would have folded, but at the same time, I really didn't think through the possibility of him holding a T. In any case, that hand pretty much pissed me off. I was playing so good and then a technical malfunction leads to me losing the tournament -not withstanding my aggressive post-flop play :) At the same time, I cashed in another tournament finishing in the 20 somethings while losing TT to KK.

The next wave of tournaments included a six-max event where I finished in 7th place out of 150 entrants. Six-max is a lot of fun and my style is well-suited for it as I am comfortable raising a lot of hands and playing post-flop. I can't remember the specifics on my exit and plan on going back later to look at the hand history.

In the afternoon, my play started to deteriorate a lot. I bubbled in a $50 and $70 tourney - playing poorly in both. I made a really bad play with A6 in the SB vs BB, calling his allin raise. It was a shame as Tall Paul and Toronexti were also deep with me so it would have been fun if we could have gone deeper together. Toronexti cashed and TP and I both fell short of the money. Shortly thereafter I bubbled in another tournament. I was tired and I knew it so really shouldn't have been playing, but I was kind of in the tourney mode.

That night I couldn't resist to play the nightlies. I play in 3 $50 tourneys and one $150 tourney and got off to poor starts in all four of them. I fought my way back in a couple of them only to lose to bad beats to put me on the rail. Finally I had one more shot and a big pay day as I made the money in the $50K guarantee. At one point I was third in chips and determined not to put myself in vicarious positions. Then the following hand came up. 500-1000 blinds. UTG folds, next player limps, next player raises to $3k, button calls, and I'm in the SB with AK. I have about $47K in chips and none of them have more than $20K. There is almost $10K in the pot already and none of my opponents can hurt me too bad. I'm not a big fan of risking my chips with AK with stacks of 20 big blinds or more, but with the caller, raiser, and caller, the pot was quite big. I couldn't really just call here so I raised to $14K basically pot-committing any callers. The limper raised allin immediately and I knew I was in trouble. I called the extra $10K and now I'm down to $27K. Ugh, but I'm not sure I would do anything different on the hand. Sometimes opponents make good plays and trap you and this is one of those situations.

The last hand, I had worked my way back up to $47K. A little later there was another limper with 600-1200 blinds. I called on the button with 87 of hearts, the small blind calls. The flop is 962, with two hearts giving me an open-ended straight and flush draw. This is a great flop for me but risky. I am willing to commit to the pot while at the same time I'd like to win it on the flop. The early player bets $4800 and is close to pot-committed. I call. The small blind raises to $18K. He has me outchipped. I have about $25K remaining and I pushed. He called with T4 of hearts. So now I have the straight draw and outs to the 8 or 7. My opponent won a $72K pot with T high (the avg stacks was about 20K). Once again, I don't think I can get away from that hand as I want to see a river with it. So my day finished with a smallish cash which was disappointing going from 3rd in chips to out in a relatively short time period. But I was happy that I fought through my sluggishness from the all-day marathon to focus and play pretty good that night.

Today I'll be taking a break. Tonight, Josh and Zach's cousin Laura is having her 15th birthday. In Latin America, a girl's 15th birthday is quite an affair! We are having 35+ people to the house and everyone will be decked out in their best dresses and suit and tie. Josh and Zach will also be getting dressed up so it should be a great night for pictures. I have to ball dance with the lady of honor in front of all those people so I have a little practice to do this afternoon!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Deja Vu!

I've been playing a LOT of online tournaments recently. I've probably played more in the last couple of weeks than I have the whole year. I've come really close to a big score the last couple of days falling just short. I finished 30 something in a $55K guarantee at FT and 24th in a $100 buy-in at Poker Stars.

The Poker Stars tourney was an afternoon tournament which I have never played before. Right before the money, deja vu! - Taz from the ITH forums was at my table. For those who don't visit the ITH forums, Taz is one of the more popular and active posters we have at the Forum. He can also boast the biggest win of any ITHer as he took down the Poker Stars Million for a $150K payday a couple of months ago.

Taz and I had the displeasure of playing against each other at the WSOP main event on Day 1. I say displeasure, because I surely didn't want to take his chips and I know he didn't want to knock me out of the tournament. Of course, I am still going to play my game, but it was just a weird situation to be in. This was his first WSOP and so I know he wanted to do well. At the same time, I had a long summer at the WSOP and really wanted to do well also. It wouldn't be fun to get in the way of each other's dreams.

Fortunately, we were sitted at the opposite side of the table so you would think that we wouldn't have to go to battle very often - NOT! We got involved in several big hands together as I think we just both happened to get big cards at the same time. The sneaky guy slowplayed aces on me to start off the foray. I got very short-stacked with about 5K left in chips and the blinds were 300-600. I limped UTG with JJ, Taz raised, and we were off to the races as I went allin and he had AK. Fortunately for me I doubled up, and don't get me wrong, I was very happy - but I hated to do it against Taz. I took another pot from him with AK vs his AQ. Those two pots got me rolling and I ended up making the money in the tournament to end my summer on an upbeat. But that situation was quite strange as I had never played someone I knew where the stakes were so high.

So here we are yesterday at PokerStars and I find Taz at my table. We both went pretty deep making the money but both finished short of a big payday. This time it was a lot less stressful and we were able to avoid each other except for Taz stealing my blinds one time.

I had one hand where I questioned my play. I had 20K+ and raised UTG with TT. The next player called and the button called. The blinds were 300-600? and I raised to 1600. I'm not sure about that exactly but something like that. The early player had 10K left and the button 5k. The flop was KK. I decided to make a continuation bet with the intention of calling any raise. However, I wonder if check-raise allin would have been a better play. Checking would either get a pocket pair to bet or induce a bluff so that I could get their chips. The only advantage in betting here is to protect my pair so that they don't take a free card. It just seems like their range of hands would lean towards smaller pocket pairs. Given the size of the pot and the damage a bad free card would do, I probably made the correct play by betting out, but sometimes I will take the risky play to try and get additional chips. They folded so everything turned out fine.

We've decided to stay another week in Colombia so I'll probably get a lot more tourneys in before we leave as it is easier to play them here on vacation than when I'm home.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

We're having a baby!

I am proud to announce that Diana and I will be adding a new addition to our clan next April. We are having a baby girl and her name will be Isabel. Diana had a very tough first trimester but as in her previous pregnancies, she has started to feel much better beginning with her 2nd trimester. It's fun watching our 3-year old Joshua listen to mommies stomach as he is now old enough to understand that Isabel is "making noises".

Surely I can't follow-up an announcement like this with poker stuff :)

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Arthur and the Invisibles

I took my 3-year old son today to see Arthur and the Invisibles. I know, this is an old movie, but we are visiting family in Colombia and some of the movies are quite dates. As some of you know, I am pretty much of a movie freak. I love spending a couple of hours every week where I can stop thinking about life and enter another world. I pretty take Joshua to just about every animated feature that comes out.

I am not much of an animated fan. There are very few that I really enjoy. For some reason, I really enjoyed this one. I say that because the movie got hammered by critics. Many of the animated features that they like have bored me, but I thought this one was clever, had great effects, and had enough adult comedy to keep it entertaining. It is a very creative and out-of-this world story. I'm not sure what the critics didn't like but I thought it was very good and it kept me entertained - and it was in Spanish! My spanish is a little rusty but I was able to follow just about everything in the movie. In any case, a great fantasy film.

At some point I hope to post my top 100 films of all-time which is currently a work in progress. Being a movie critic is one of those careers which I think would be a lot of fun, so I'll probably use this blog from time to time to vicariously fill the role every now and then.

I'm playing a lot of online tournaments while I'm here in Colombia. I'm racking up some good hand examples for some book projects that I am working on. I played pretty crappy Monday night but was real pleased with my play last tonight even though I have nothing to show for it.

I am also putting the finishing touches on two new chapters for a revised ITH - short-handed play and multi-way pots. I haven't written for a long time and I must say that I am pretty pleased with what I have come up with. One could write an entire book on short-handed but I am pleased that with one chapter I think I pretty much convey the main philosophy of good short-handed players. The multi-way pot chapter focuses on three concepts. Some are already discussed in other sections of the book, but I think the focus will make sure that players grasp the concepts better.

Monday, October 8, 2007

The Inauguration of Colombianitos in Medellin

Diana and I had a very rewarding weekend as Sunday was the inauguration of Project Medellin for Colombianitos. Colombianitos is a charity founded in Atlanta. It has several programs, but its featured program is "Goals for a Better Life" which supports education and family values through a soccer program. Children who want to participate in the soccer school must attend school, achieve good grades, and attend various classes provided by Colombianitos focused on family values and morals. The children are provided with food and drink while in class.

Diana and I discovered Colombianitos a couple of years ago. We had started donating money to various causes for children and ran across Colombianitos. It was a perfect fit for us as they focus on Colombian children and my wife is Colombian. The best part was that we could participate directly with the organization since the Board is based in Atlanta. We soon became members of the board and have been working with them for a couple of years.

As soon as we became Board Members we started encouraging them to open a project in Medellin, Diana's hometown. We were fortunate enough to find Luz Maria, who pretty much knows everyone of significance in the city. She quickly became enamored with the project. Late last year we found the perfect site for the project located in the outskirts of Medellin, high up the hills in one of the poorest neighborhoods in Medellin. There was a soccer field already in place next to the local school and local leaders were very optimistic and supportive of the project. Earlier this year, she contacted various local companies and along with Colombianitos President helped raise the remaining funds needed for the project.

The project opened up two weeks ago and already 250 children are enrolled. We expect the numbers to increase over the next couple of weeks as the inauguration was a big success in the community. The mayor of Medellin attended and several hundred children. There was music, dancing, rap, and games and everyone seemed to have a great time. It was encouraging to me to see a mother walk up to our coordinator with her child and ask how she could get enrolled.

The highlight for Diana and I was seeing this guy Freddy. We met Freddy last December when we visited the location. He is a popular guy in the community with an infectious smile and lots of energy and was wearing a hat from my alma mater, The University of Georgia. The hat was a little dated and we promised to bring him a new one on our next visit. It was amazing to see the appreciation in his face and smile when we brought him the new hat. He said it was like receiving 1 million in pesos (or $500) and told us that he wished we could see how open his heart was at the moment. He later introduced his mother to us. He also has a rap group and they had prepared an original song about Colombianitos which they performed for everyone. He is just one example of how appreciative the community was to have Colombianitos there.

So it was a great day for Diana and I. This community is extremely poor, but you can see hope in the children and support from the parents and leaders of the community. Hopefully with some opportunities some of these children will be able to rise above the daily problems they have to face every day. It will great for Diana and I to be able to visit the school and see their progress every time we come to Medellin to visit family.

There is a great documentary that I encourate everyone to see to learn about some of the hardships that people suffer in suburbs of Medellin. Medellin has one of the highest murder rates in the world due to gangs and drugs and teenage pregnancy is the norm rather than exception. Hopefully a little education can start to make a difference. You can rent it through Netflix and it is called La Sierra.

If you are interested in learning more about Colombianitos please visit, Donations are tax deductible in the states.

Friday, October 5, 2007

180-Man Sitngos

Today I made my first foray into some of the multiple table sitngos. I've never played them before and actually had quite a good time. The first was a $50 45-man tourney. It was a turbo tourney so the blinds increased every 5 minutes! I finished 5th and won a little over $200.

At the same time, I played an $11 180-person tournament, again it was Turbo with 5-minute blind increases. You basically can't wait very long for a hand and at the end of the tournament it becomes a push-fest. Still, at these limits, many players don't understand correct short-stack strategy. I finished 3rd in this event, again winning a little over $200. At one point at the final table I was chip leader with an M of only 7! I think this tournament finished in less than 2 hours which is why I enjoyed it. Deep structures are great, but sometimes you just don't have the time to grind out a long tournament win.

I got lucky in both tournaments winning some hands where I was the dog, but I went out of both tournaments with the best of it.

Unfortunately, my fun came to an end when another tournament I had registered for 1 1/2 hours before, finally had enough players to get started. I had forgot about that tournament and wasn't really up to playing another one. It was a $20 tourney but with 15 minute levels I lasted about halfway through that one and I got knocked out. I raised with A4s and someone called me. He had plenty of chips left, I believe around $3K. The flop was 237. I checked, he bet $600 (less than the pot), and I moved all-in. I thought my checkraise was a very strong move but he called me with 55. I guess he thought I was bluffing! lol I think my play works at the higher levels but I guess for $11 people take a lot of chances.

In any case, a lot of fun.

My family and I are in Colombia on vacation for a couple of weeks and I hope to go to the casino for some tournaments and cash games. Last Christmas I was here and the tournaments were juicy! If I remember correctly, you start with 2 million in chips, lol (the exchange rate here is 2200 for one dollar so everything is in millions). I'll be sure to post once I've had a chance to play.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Disappointing WCOOP

I played the WCOOP main event at Stars last night. This is the biggest online tournament of the year with a $2500 buyin and almost 3000 entrants. A cool $1.4 million goes to 1st.

Overall I felt like I played a pretty good game. I can't say that I was in the "zone" but for the most part I felt like I was making the right plays. The competition was very tough so you weren’t going to get a lot of easy chips. Against these types of players, you sometimes need to try unconventional moves to try and confuse your opponent.

With about 600-700 players, I didn’t need to confuse my opponents very much on this hand. I raise with AA, a player goes allin, followed by another player who moves allin. The big blind thinks for at least 30 seconds and I’m yelling CALL at my computer! Unfortunately he folded. I was against JJ and AK. The bad news is that a jack flopped. The good news is that I won the side pot. I broke even on the hand but could have found myself with a very nice stack that mroe than twice the average. As it was, I was slightly below average and had to continue fighting.

At this point we were getting close to the money with 500+ players remaining and they were paying 420 spots. I played a hand from my big blind against a large stack in the small blind who was playing very aggressive. Small blind vs. big blind situations are always quick tricky, especially against a loose player since it is so difficult to put your opponent on hand. On the other hand, you can't let him run over you either. I made a risky play with my hand which unfortunately didn't work out and I was out of the tournament. I don't want to give very many specifics on the hand here as the hand might end up in a new book I am working on that will be coming out next Spring.

Speaking of books, I have some exciting announcements coming soon regarding Dimat Enterprises, the publishing company I started which published my first three books. As you probably know, The Poker Mindset by Ian Taylor and myself came out in April and was our first foray into publishing other authors. Much more is on the way and there are some very exciting books in our pipeline. I hope to be making a more formal announcement soon.

I also want to welcome Alan Schoonmaker, author of The Psychology of Poker and Your Worst Poker Enemy to the ITH Forums. He is our monthly guest for the Ask an Expert forum. If you haven't visited this Forum I highly encourage you do to so. Some of our past guest have included Ed Miller, Matt Matros, and Collin Moshman. The Ask An Expert forum is a great opportunity for you to ask any questions you might have to some of the players and authors in the game.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Boston Legal rocks!

Boston Legal is far and away my favorite television program. I'm a netflix guy so we mostly watch movies, but I go out of my way to watch Boston Legal each week. I like the show so much that I rented seasons 1 & 2 to view all of the episodes. Season 3 has just been released and Season 4 premiered last night.

Boston Legal is obviously a legal drama, but it is the characters and comedy which make this show different. The court room scenes are always insightful and on topic with current news and the writing is brilliant. But it is the in-office shenanigans that make the show great. Last night I was practically in tears when Denny Crane was complaining about the velocity of his peeing comparing it to a dripping faucet.

Boston Legal has two of the best characters on TV and probably two of the best characters ever in a legal drama. Alan Shore, played by James Spade, is a savvy lawyer who constantly fights the establishment and is willing to cut corners on behalf of his clients. The writers of the show do an amazing job as his closing arguments are always brilliant and insightful. He is a lonely man, without morals, who is constantly focused on sex, but at the same time he will give his life for his clients. I've never been a James Spader fan before this show, but his portrayal of Alan Shore is brilliant. He recently won Best Actor at the Emmy's.

William Shatner plays Denny Crane, an old sleezebag, kinky, has-been senior partner who likes to make people believe that he is losing his mind. There isn't much to admire in his character, but he is extremely loyal to his friend, Alan Shore, and as soon as you think he has lost it, he will surprise you with something brilliant or insightful. I can't tell you how many one-liners he has that are just hysterical. They're even making t-shirts now of some of his best quotes. Just like James Spader, I was never a William Shatner fan, but he is also brilliant with this character and won a Best Supporting Actor Emmy a couple of years ago.

These two characters are best friends on the show which ends with them on the balcony smoking cigars and discussing the day's events. On many levels they are sad characters, but you love them for the bond they share and for their clear thoughts on what's right and wrong.

The supporting cast is full of interesting characters and great actors. Be sure to check it out!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

AA vs. KK

There aren't many cases where you should fold KK before the flop. The one time you should consider it is when you have very deep stacks and there are lots of reraises going on. I had one of those scenarios today in the $1000 PS WCOOP event and made the wrong play. I raised to $125, a middle player reraised to about $450, another player called. I was out of position so I decide to pot it again and raised to $2K. We all have about $15K each. He raises another $4K! Enough is enough! I should fold. But I pysch myself out sometimes thinking about how some of the internet players play. There were at least 900 "qualifiers" for this event who won satellites and I assume they are weak. My problem is that my best scenario is either QQ or AK. Against AK, I am a favorite, but not a huge one. Against AA, the most likely hand, I'm a big dawg. I should have folded but I pushed and lost against AA.

One thing that frustrates me about online tournaments is that I am at home and have lots of things I would like to be doing. This caused me to gamble a lot early in a tournament hoping to either doubleup or bust. If I make it deep I then start to buckle down and try to play my best poker. The problem is that I often have the worst of it when I gamble early on. Maybe that's OK for a $200 tourney, but I should be playing my A game with a $1000 buyin.

A little frustrating and hopefully I will learn from this mistake.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Multible tables and a river bluff

Last night I tried playing 4 tables of 30-60. I am still just amazed at these stories of people playing 8-12 tables at a time. Granted, I was playing 6-handed so the action was swift, but I still don't see how someone could play 8 tables. I guess NL full tables is a lot slower/different than 6-max. In any case, I won't be playing 4 6-max tables any more. I eeked out a small profit, but I seriously question whether I could do it long-term profitably. I found myself on too many occasions just hitting the bet button, not really knowing if I was first to act or whether I had raised before the flop. A very humbling experience to know that I just can't keep up with the young guns.

I played one fun hand. I raised in the cutoff with 33 and the BB calls. The flop was AT8, all clubs. I had the 3 of clubs. Check-bet-call. The turn was a T. Check-check. The river was an ace and my opponent bet. About the only hand a reasonable player could bet here is an ace, or possibly a T. He could easily be on a flush draw and be bluffing in this situation. This was a rather straightforward situation for a river bluff and my opponent folded. There is no better satisfaction in limit holdem when you can bluff your opponent off of the winning hand on the river.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Jena 6

I hesitate to write about things without knowing all of the facts, but I am having a hard time understanding the Jena 6 controversy.

This is what I understand about the story. There is a school in Jena, Louisiana where the whites would hang out under a large tree. Last August, several blacks decided to go and hang out under the tree. The next day, some whites had put nooses in the tree. These whites were suspended (I believe there was an initial decision to expel them which was overturned).

In the following months, tensions were very high until December, when a white was beaten unconscious by six blacks. Although beaten severely, he was able to attend a school function that night. The six blacks were originally charged with 2nd degree attempted murder, but those charges have been reduced (I am not sure of the current charges). Whites were never prosecuted in the case.

This week, there was a major protest involving thousands of blacks to support the six blacks charge. The main message seems to be "equal justice".

I understand that our legal system has many flaws. I understand that it is racially biased. But I don't understand how you support six people who beat another person unconscious. What are they protesting? Do they want the accused blacks to be set free, even though no one disputes the beating? Do they want the whites to be charged? OK, I can understand this but I don't understand how you can "support" six people who beat another person unconscious.

Some black leaders are calling this the beginning of a movement to protect criminal rights. Maybe that movement is needed but I don't think these six black kids are the poster children for that movement. They beat a man unconscious which is against the law and they should pay for their punishment. If some white students beat another person, they should be punished also but I'm not sure I understand the cries for "equal justice" in this particular case.

Yes, the whites shouldn't be provoking others, but that doesn't give you the right to beat them unconscious.

Maybe I am missing some facts or just missing the point, but I think it will be hard for the blacks to gain support and sympathy for their cause when no one argues the guilt of the six defendants. With all of the problems in the legal system, it just seems like you could find much more compelling cases with defendants whose rights have clearly been violated. I just don't see it in this particular case.

For those looking for some poker, I played the $320 Poker Stars tourney Wednesday night. I think this is probably my favorite tournament of the week and I am going to make an effort to play it more frequently. There were over 700 entrants making for a nice payday. I flopped top two pair in the 2nd hour and my opponent turned two better pair and my evening was cut short.

For those who missed it, I was on ESPN last week for the WSOP main event. I was playing with Gus Hansen so we were on the feature table. Unfortunately, I just did not have very many interesting hands that day so my appearance on TV is mostly just watching the action. I flopped a boat against Gus on one hand and bluffed him on another hand, but unfortunately he folded both times on the flop costing me my chance at TV glory!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

A straight flush!

Today I decided to play the $200 WCOOP Limit Event at Stars. I love tournament poker, but limit tournaments are like pulling teeth. If sites are going to offer limit tournaments, I wish they would be short-handed. The same goes for the World Series of Poker. There are several short-handed NL events at the WSOP but no short-handed limit events. I would venture to say that short-handed limit is more popular nowadays online than full-ring games.

In any case, I decided to play since big limit events aren't very common. Early in the tournament I raise with 98s from middle position and get reraised. I flop a flush draw and turn the straight flush. To my delight, my opponent had AKs for the nut flush! The turn and river were capped and I was off and running. I won something like the first 8 of 28 hands and found myself in 3rd position of 2000 entrants. As hot as I was, it was surprising to see that two players were even hotter!

Of course the inevitable happened and I cooled down and got eliminated with about half of the field remaining.

On a somewhat related note, the Poker Stars Sunday tournament lasted for about 20 hours! I love a good structure as much as the next guy but playing from 4:30 PM to noon the next day is a little much. I would personally like to see faster structures in the beginning and then longer structures once the money is made. If you're going to have a crapshoot, have it early and then give the players who make the money a little room to play.

I hope to possibly play the $1K this Sunday if family committments allow.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Poker Wonks and the ITH convention

Welcome to my blog. I've been wanting to do a blog for quite some time but was waiting for the official launch of our new poker blog site, It took much longer than expected to launch delaying my own poker blog but we are now ready to launch.

Poker Wonks is a place for poker bloggers to find a wider audience. Anyone who writes a poker blog is invited to join and we hope to have the best, most comprehensive listing of poker blogs on the net. And to join the fun, this is the first post of my own blog.

I just got back from our annual ITH convention. This is the third year of our convention and it was blast as always. This year we went to Atlantic City for a change of pace and had Members come from as far away as California, Norway, and Sweden. For those who don't know, ITH is the more common name for my poker strategy site, ITH features a great forum to discuss poker with other players and the convention each year is a great way for us to associate faces with Member names.

In any case, the convention this year got off to a great start. We had a cocktail party on Thursday at 7:00. Unfortunately I arrived a little late as I had quite a hectic day of travel missing my original flight, having my car break down on the way to my second flight, sitting through a weather delay on the runway for over an hour, and then finally getting pulled over for speeding on the way from Philadelphia to AC. I've been pulled over about 10 times in my lifetime and this was the first where the cop symphasized with me and only gave me a warning!

The drinks were already flowing by the time I arrived. Some of the Members I met for the first time included Janeg, Wynton, Rocketplayer, Mxrider, Sami, and Wade. And of course we had a lot of the regulars from previous conventions.

Several of us decided to play the midnight madness tournament. $50 entry fee starts at 12:12, 12K stack, and 12 minutes blind levels. I played until 5:00 in the morning finishing 13th for a $92 payday! For $8 an hour I ruined all the rest that I was hoping to have to start off the convention! Nsidestrate also cashed so we both got off to good starts.

Friday morning we had our "seminar". This year featured a Q&A session with Ed Miller, author of 4 poker books. The session went really great. Ed is very personable and quite articulate and I think everyone joined the session. Ed did most of the talking but it really became more like a roundtable session as everyone joined in with their own ideas.

Bullajami won the first event Friday afternoon which was the limit event. That night Wade took down the NL event. Only having a few hours sleep, I decided to hit the sack so I would be rested for Saturday festivities; unfortunately, I missed the annual ITH drunk-fest game. Three stories quickly spread about the game the next day.

1/ Suitedpair led the drunkedness part of the game and the cocktail waitresses couldn't keep the drinks coming fast enough.
2/ Ed Miller lost his first rack of chips and then disappeared for a few minutes, only to return with 4 racks of white chips announcing, "Now I am properly bankrolled for this game!" [they were only playing $2-$4 which is indicative of the action in the game]
3/ Ed calls for the Qc on the turn, only to see it hit to the amazement of everyone - and then Ed folds the river!

I was thinking this game would go on Saturday night but evidently everyone was too exhausted for it a second night in a row.

On Saturday, Bugsbunny won the limit event. Ed cashed and donated his winnings to Colombianitos (, a charity that my wife and I support and serve on their board of directors. Thanks Ed!

Wynton won the main event with Janeg finishing runner-up. Congrats to both!

Saturday night I decided to play midnight madness again with a few others since the ITH drunk-fest game wasn't running. Unfortunately I busted out early losing KK to AA. Ammbo went on the win the thing in a 4-way deal where he netted $3400! Congrats!

Overall a great weekend and I think everyone had a great time. It amazes me how people from all walks of life can come together once a year and act as if we had known each other for years. I am really proud of the community we have built at ITH and the convention each year just shows what a great bunch of people we have who frequent the boards.

Thanks everyone for a great time and a big thanks for Tanya Peck for coordinating another great convention!