Wednesday, August 20, 2008


The appliance of Chaos Theory in poker really hit home last night. That is, much like the Butterfly Effect, what has happened earlier in a game can affect you for hours, days, even months into the future.

I am referring to Tilt of course. I can only think of one player who seems immune to it. Recently I thought I had bested it, but I must have grown complacent with my seeming imperviousness to steaming.

I had a bad night in the £250 game the other day, mainly due to bad play. So last night when I went to the Vic I decided to just grind it out in the £100 game. I still felt antsy so I figured I'd be better off getting my head back together at a lower limit.

Well, what a good move - it wasn't long before I was winning and playing ok. Some guy came to the game and it was pretty clear that it was maybe his first time playing in a public card room.
It wasn't long before the dealer had to tell him off for string-betting. Sure enough, it wasn't long before he did the same thing again. This time, though, he got annoyed about it and now a couple of the other players, including myself, politely told him why the Vic has a rule about dropping your chips in one by one.

We told him to either state the amount of his raise or just cut out the chips behind the line on the table and then put them in the pot. Not hard is it? Well, for some reason this guy just didn't get it and continued to make the same mistakes.

He also was acting out of turn a lot and doing things like trying to take his own change out of the pot. If the bet was £55 he would count out the amount in red chips really s-l-o-w-l-y instead of just putting two blues and a red in. All petty stuff I know and I've seen it all before, but for some reason this jerkoff really got under my skin.

Usually players who are new in a cardroom tend to be nervous (understandable) so you expect them to make mistakes. I guess I got annoyed with this guy because instead of being nervous he was trying too hard to be matey whilst simultaneously being a blowhard.

The truth is, he was just a tool who wanted a little social interaction to go with his poker game, and there's no crime in that.The real crime was perpetrated by me when I decided I had to iron him out just to get him to shut up and fuck off from the game. Did I wait until I had the goods to teach this schmuck a lesson? Of course not - I had let it get personal and it wasn't long before I had dusted off my winnings to him plus a little more.

I actually can't remember the last time I got the needle with somebody like that. Usually I can just ignore it or laugh it off. Jeez, was that guy really so bad? Probably, but certainly not worth me playing like an absolute cunt. God, I'm even more irritated by the whole episode as I type it out and read it back.

But it's nothing to do with the novice player, it's obvious I reacted to him the way I did because I still hadn't gotten over doing my bollocks on Sunday night.

The fact is, as poker players we are in a semi-permanent state of vexation aren't we? Even when one is in a better mood because one is winning in the game there's always some fuckwit at the table testing your patience.

A great example of this occurred in the £250 game on Sunday night after Stavros won a huge pot off Adam Stoneham* When the pot was over Stavros moved seats and at the same time a new dealer came to the table. The new dealer saw Stavros sitting down in an empty seat with a pile of chips and innocently asked Stavros if he wanted to post.

Now everybody knows that Stavros is, to put it mildly, irascible, but you'd think that immediately after winning a nice big pot like that even Stavros might be feeling somewhat jollier than usual. Heh, you'll be alright. Stavros exploded! The poor old dealer got a right telling off - "I just moved seats from over there you idiot! You're worse than Hitler some of you!"

* Folded round to Stoneham in the SB who makes it £30. Stavros in the BB makes it £200. Call. Flop 8 3 7, two clubs. Check, Stavros bets £700. Stoneham calls. Turn a blank. Stoneham checks and now Stavros goes all in for £20k! Long, long, long, long, long dwell from Stoneham - he had about 7 grand left - and then he finally calls. River a 9. Stoneham has 8 T and Stavros wins with 8 3 offsuit for a flopped two pair.

Monday, August 11, 2008

When I Grow Up I Want To Be Yilmaz

I found myself in a tough spot in the £250 NLH game with Neil directly on my left and then Yilmaz immediately after. Imagine trying to get through those two. Yilmaz especially.

Mind you, it was a pleasure to watch Yilmaz play. He may be one of the best LAG players I have ever seen. Fearless and tricky, you never know what he has. Complete air or the nuts, he's always putting pressure on you.

Now that I think about it, I should have just bought in for the minimum and played a pre-flop game. Trying to take on the likes of Neil and Yilmaz with a pesky middling stack is akin to climbing Everest on your knees.

A huge £32k pot developed between the two of them at one point with Neil being on the losing end of a set over set situation. Poor old Neil was very annoyed with himself, but I'm sure if the hands had been reversed Yilmaz would have gone broke too. Also, against a player like Yilmaz whose hand range is so wide, slowing down with middle set is only leaving money on the table in the long run (imo, whatever that's worth).

As Neil said at one point I was playing "squeaky tight". The irony was that the few times I woke up with a hand one of the other super-granites at the table would come in from the cold and raise it up.

Steve Luca, very solid and probably playing tighter than me (in fact I know he was from another hand which I'll talk about in a second), suddenly decided to make it £200 after a bunch of limpers. I look down to see KK in the small blind. Jeez, what a time to find what is quite likely the second best hand. Steve's stack was a healthy looking £2k-ish (I had him covered) so I just called. Naturally Yilmaz couldn't resist and he and one other player came along for the ride too.

I suspect many players, especially internet ones, cannot believe I didn't re-raise there, but I felt in my heart of hearts that Steve had the Boots here. Yeah, I know, if I really think I'm beat I should just fold my Kings quietly there too, but it's freakin' pocket kings and I guess AK is also in Steve Luca's range in this spot.

Anyway the flop comes down 4 4 5, a pretty safe flop for an over-pair and we all check to the pre-flop raiser who duly bets £300. Wow, that's a small bet. I have Yilmaz and the other player behind me, but it's unlikely either has a 4. Still, I'm sure that Steve would check AK here and only bet AA, KK and QQ. I couldn't get it out of my head that he had aces so I went with my feelings and folded.

Wha??!?!! Yeah I could be wrong, but wtf? It was going to cost me another two grand to find out and I figured there were better spots. Steve told me later at the cash desk that he did have aces. Of course, he could be lying.

So why did I think this particular player had a better hand than me in that spot? Well, earlier on I limped UTG with 44. By some miracle neither Neil or Yilmaz raised (one of them might have even folded!) before the flop and four or five of us saw the flop. 4 6 K - gin! I led out for about £50, one call and then Steve Luca called.

The turn comes an ace and now I bet £100. The middle guy folds and now Steve made it £300. Hmmm, trip 6s is a definite possibility here, in fact when he called on the flop I thought, "Uh oh, what's that about?". I may be tight, but I'm not a big one for folding sets, so I just shrugged and stuck it all-in.

Steve now went into the tank and as he gave it the genuine dwell I realised that trip 6s was odds on. Shit. My very good hand had now turned into a bluff.

Luckily I also realised that it really looked like I had limped pre-flop with aces or kings because I was expecting a raise behind me from either Neil or Yilmaz. I could see that was the very thought going around Steve's head. Unlike Neil I'm useless at talking my opponents into doing what I want them to do, so I just kept quiet, funking for him to muck.

Thankfully, Steve is not the type to angle-shoot or piss about and after not too long he passed his hand saying that I must have aces or kings. Phew. That's how tight he is (middle set on the flop! I could never fold that!) which is why I didn't feel too bad about folding my kings later on.

I guess having a nitty image does pay off sometimes. I'm guessing that Steve Luca probably doesn't play something like pocket fours upfront and he presumes a tight player like myself wouldn't do so either. He's right actually, sometimes I don't.