July 6th, 2010

Missed the final table

Posted by pokerlover in online poker

Here I am finally home after a long 4th of July weekend partying in the Hamptons. We have a huge heat wave here, and it is good to be back in my air conditioned apartment. I am now plunged back into my favorite sport: Texas Holdem Poker.

My two volumes of Harrington on Holdem have a lot of tear as I have read and reread them for the past two months, so here I am ready for some online poker at Pokerstars. I began with a $5 sit and go to get back in the game, and victory! Then I played in a $3 MTT with 3,800 players, I went out 309th in the paying places on a bad beat.

I had a pair of queens from the small blind and I raise to 3 BB. The big blind with a stack equivalent to mine reraised all in. If I won this hand I would have been in the top 5 in chips count, but if losed that I would have been almost out. I did not see him with kings or rockets, maybe AK. I hesitated but this spot was too good to pass, this was the third best starting hand after all, so I called. He showed AQo and I was a super favorite as he had only three outs. The flop came AA8, the turn was blank, the river a blank. Damn there are days when it is better not to wake up, but this is poker.

I am not discouraged so I start another multi table tournament online. I ‘m at a good table from the start. They raise and reraise with garbage, I do not touch any good hand but I’m patient and it pays. My good hands find a few good customers and it keeps me with an average stack until I double up with KK, finding myself in 7th position out of 17 remaining players.

Then I get AQ offsuit from the small blind, everyone folds, I bet 3600 as the blinds are 600/1200 and the big blind reraises all in. If I win this hand I would become 3rd in chips and the final table would be almost guaranteed, if I lose then I would be near elimination. Did I not just write the same thing at the beginning of this post?

This should be a fold without hesitation, no need to risk everything at this stage and AQo is not such a monster, leading to possible coin flips versus a pocket pairs. Anyway I called and he showed a pair of eights. Of course no ace or queen on the board.

I don’t think I took the wrong decisions in both tournaments. Luck was not there for me at that time, but it will be back. So I decided to try something else and I visited www.onlinevideopoker.com. This is a website dedicated to online video poker, a more peaceful type of game as you play the house, not the players.


June 21st, 2010

Maximize your poker gains

Posted by pokerlover in poker tips

For a poker player, the goal is to earn dollars in general. Indeed it is rarely to lose money, is it? Some players play mostly for the fun, but who likes to lose money? So why not trying to maximize your gains?

In December, I was still playing with a bankroll relatively low, and due to financial constraints, I pulled almost all my winnings online in order to pay for my expenses: rent, food, Internet access, parties, drinks. Rapidly, I thought I had to find another way to pay for some of these expenses.

So I understood that the best way to earn more was to play higher stakes, assuming I would still be profitable with tougher players. I had to keep more money at online poker rooms so that my bankroll would be larger, enabling me to play these higher limits with proper bankroll management.

Another idea was to do a little bit of bonus whoring. The principle is you register at a new casino poker room, with the goal of cashing out the bonus, and then you move to another room and do it again. Also the VIP programs help. Once you have obtained a certain number of points at the poker room, you can redeem these points at the store, against gifts or cash.

Examples of online poker rooms with good offers. At PokerStars 500 FPP can earn a $150 bonus. At Full Tilt Poker, Mansion Poker, Titan Poker, Chili Poker also there are similar offers where it is easy to collect a few hundred dollars when signing up. Or to join the VIP programs, which are equivalent to a rakeback system. For smaller players it is very interesting.

I personally unlocked about $ 1,500 in December. I sometimes registered more than once, using the name of my girlfriend or brother. But there are cons with this method. It is harder to play well and harder to adapt to each room, with little information about the players whom we play. And you will have small poker accounts everywhere, wasting the chance to play seriously at these rooms.

But there are great positive points. This method allows you to set up a good bankroll very quickly, and to join in VIP programs that are effectively equivalent to rakeback. I have started slowly doing that.

Since that time my bankroll has grown steadily and I now play NL100 quite profitably, looking to move up to NL200 next.


May 17th, 2010

John D’Agostino prefers cash games

Posted by pokerlover in poker strategy

John D’Agostino is a Full Tilt Poker pro. John made a major name for himself by winning some big-time poker tournaments. So why would he rather play cash games?

Given TV’s infatuation with tournament poker, the twenty-something millionaire seems downright de rigueur. What’s often overlooked, however, is the rigors of not just securing a day in the sun, but a life in the black.

Some players ride auspicious and ultimately unsustainable tournament results into financial ruin. But one young pro, a throwback of sorts who has managed to balance tournament savvy with cash game acumen, is 28-year-old John D’Agostino.

Despite his recent 8th-place finish at the WPT North American Poker Championships in Niagara Falls, John bared his teeth when discussing tournament poker. “If tournaments were not televised, I would never play one,” he warns. “Tournaments are ten times more luck than cash games. The blinds get too high too fast and tournaments turn into pre-flop idiocy. ”

Let’s break it down this way: in cash games if you play really bad and lose nine sessions out of ten, everyone knows you’re the sucker. But in tournaments, if you play really bad and lose nine times out of ten but one time get really lucky and actually win the tournament, all of a sudden you’re a superstar to the public.

Most of the tournament stars are broke because they play cash games so damn bad. “Strong words from a man accustomed to sniffing the rarified air of major tourney final tables. None was more memorable than his 2004 heads-up match with Phil Ivey at the Fox Sports Net’s American Poker Championships.

“That was a good early moment of my career,” he recalls. “That was a great final table and everyone seemed to love it because it was broadcast live and they showed every hand. I think I played pretty well at the final table especially three-handed with Phil Ivey and John Juanda, which is one of if not the toughest three-handed spot in the world.”

John D’Agostino’s total live tournament profits surpass $1.6 million.


March 11th, 2010

When to quit a session

Posted by pokerlover in online poker

When to end your poker session? This is the topic of much debate and recommendations in online poker forums. Everyone has his own method more or less effective and no one really agrees. One thing is for sure, when to end your poker session is one of these things that are not exactly poker strategy but that are important to optimize your bankroll.

Should you leave after losing 10 stacks in a ring game? Once you are tired or when the whale is gone? For me this is not what matters. Whether the fish is no longer on the menu is irrelevant. Similarly for getting tired, this is just a consequence of poor time management.

Remember that online poker is just a game, and it is not worth getting emotional after taking a bad beat. You must strike the right balance between concentration and emotions. The key is to leave the session when your fear of losing becomes more important than your pleasure from winning. Without fun, the game becomes boring and at the first error, you will feel guilty for not having stopped earlier. How many times did we curse ourselves for not having stopped the session on time, as we ended up losing all our profit of the day.

Whenever this feeling of guilt starts to rise in you, think about the two following ideas:

1) Do not consider the amount of money acquired as being yours while you are still playing. Your stack including your profits so far at the table is money to be invested. And like all investments, there is a risk attached to them and you can lose your entire investment.

2) You’ve gained confidence in yourself after winning money, and you are not playing your A game anymore. Poker is like a ski race at full speed where thinking about the record-breaking pace you just achieved is distracting and instead you should focus on your skis and trying to reach the finish as quickly as possible. In poker it is the same, you should not think about money that you have won or lose so far in the session. Otherwise it will affect your decisions, which will often turn out to be poor.

In summary basing your decision for quitting a session on a set of predefined rules related to time or profit is not conducive to your poker success. It is better to play without such constraints and to leave the session when you start to be afraid of losing everything, and the desire for win fades.

A session can not be tied solely to time or profitability constraints, simply because they do not take into account your mood or state of mind. So rather than turning into a robot, follow your feelings. When you feel that you are not enjoying the game, just go. Or if you are through a long session but you feel that you are doing great and that you could even win more money, just stay.


January 13th, 2010

Las Vegas’ Mandalay Bay

Posted by pokerlover in gambling

From L.A. to Vegas to New York, Ivan Kane has reinvented nightlife with some help from the world’s most beautiful dancers.

“I’m not in competition with other nightclubs in Hollywood or New York,” Ivan Kane said just days before construction began on his first New York location. “There are a lot of great nightclubs out there, but they are four walls, lights, and sound. We’ve created a niche for us that is very unique and therein lies our success.”

For Ivan Kane’s Forty Deuce, which had burlesque clubs in Hollywood and Las Vegas’ Mandalay Bay, that niche generally involves live music, beautiful women, and a sexual energy you won’t find anywhere else.

But this is not your grandfather’s burlesque house. Kane is all too familiar with those rundown speakeasies, having visited his fair share cutting school as a New York youth to hang out in Times Square (the name Forty Deuce is an homage to the square’s 42nd street).

Kane, along with his muse, wife, and former burlesque dancer Champagne Suzy, has instead established some of the country’s trendiest clubs; clubs built around spectacle and unmatched ambiance. “I want people to know that if Ivan Kane’s name is in front of a nightclub, they’re going to get a complete sensory experience,” says Kane.

Nowadays the show by Forty Deuce is only found at Ivan Kane’s Café Was. This is Ivan’s new venue in the center of Hollywood, with live music, of course the bar and a bohemian atmosphere not found anywhere else.

Ivan has the reputation for creating some of the best burlesque shows, in fact reviving the genre. Ivan’s Forty Deuce was even featured on the television, at a Bravo reality series as well as the BBC. Following this fame, the big guns from Las Vegas came knocking at the door and this is how the show was presented at the the Mandalay Bay.

So if you come by Hollywood, make sure to stop at the Café Was.


December 17th, 2009

Avoid bad beats

Posted by pokerlover in online poker

You know the feeling. It seems like you have become the target of such an incredible run of bad luck at online poker that it seems like a conspiracy. how can you be so unlucky? Is your bad luck there to stay or will it go away?

So is it just bad luck or is it also compounded by bad play? As Johnny Chan, one of the best poker players in the world once remarked “A real great player plays almost the same way when he is losing or when he is winning”. Yes this is true of great players, but most players react badly when they are losing, making the problem worse.

If you are loosing too much money consistently, maybe it is not all about bad luck, and maybe you need a poker strategy to get back on track. Here are a few ideas to improve your results.

Face as few opponents as possible when you are playing a hand. It is true that when you have many opponents you can win a huge pots, but this is taking a big risk. Because the more opponents, the less chance to win the hand. Betting, raising, reraising, check-reraising are all tools that you can use the thin out the field.

Play in the game right for you. Note that playing poker on the Internet can be very stressful as there are so many bad players. They will call big bets with weak hands (calling stations), or raise and reraise with weak hands (maniacs). Sometimes these bad plays are simply made by lack of knowledge, sometimes they have the knowledge but cannot rid of their bad habits. So know your opponents and the types of games you are joining, and be ready for bad luck in such settings.

Learn not to get affected by the outcome of one particular hand. What matters is not the result, but to determine if you made the correct play or not. Try to make the correct play and detach yourself from the result, and you will get great results over the long run.


August 10th, 2009

How to play ace queen

Posted by pokerlover in poker

AQ can be tough to play at times.

Domination is a situation that occurs in Texas Hold’em in which one hand matches up well with another, i.e the hole cards have a card in common. For example, AA dominates AQ. It can also describe pocket pairs of two players when one has a larger pair than another. For example AA dominates 22.

There are many other examples of domination, and this post is specific about domination in respect to the AQ. Most poker books and theorists will tell you that AQ is a monster starting hand in No Limit Texas Holdem. They advise that you go in for a big raise preflop of about three to four times the big blind.

However, this hand is also a monster of a different breed. I remember watching a World Poker Tour final table. Phil Ivey, who’s arguably the best no-limit holdem player alive today, was having trouble with this hand. In fact, he got busted out of the tourney with it. He mentioned he’d been having a lot of difficulties with AQ, but wouldn’t have played it any less aggressively. That’s Phil’s style, and he’s sticking with it.

I started to wonder if I should play my AQ differently. Perhaps, playing it slower by not re-raising so much pre-flop, I could save some money and potentially trap a player if I got lucky. Well, guess what? Trying to trap with an AQ almost invariably trapped myself instead. By calling or checking preflop, I got no information on what anyone else was holding. With a hand that can be so easily dominated, you sort of need to know where you stand.

I also tried raising a bit more than 3-4 times the big blind. Well, other players seemed to think that I was bluffing. They’d call me with rags and suck out. Or, they’d reraise me all-in with an AK or rockets. Neither of these scenarios endeared AQ to me any better.

After experimenting with this hand, I realized that Phil Ivey and the books were right. So, how do you play AQ? I don’t know about you, but the only way I’ll play AQ in NLHE is:

Raising big from any position pre flop. That’s at least 3-4 sizes the big blind. No more, no less. If I get a sizable re-raise (double what I raised initially or more), I’ll consider folding unless it’s just me and the person who re-raised me in the hand. Then, I may call if either I’m short-stacked and need to get lucky or I think they’re bluffing because I’ve got a read on them.

Once the flop comes, I’ll bet if I’ve made top pair or a fantastic drawing hand to the nut-flush or nut-straight. Or I’m on the button and last to act and no one’s done anything scary ahead of time. Otherwise, I’ll fold it there. On the turn and river, I’ll sort of follow the same set of rules as I would post-flop.

The goal here is to get people to fold pre or post flop unless you’ve made a flush or a straight. Hopefully, you’ll learn to win big with AQ or lose minuscule amounts. Don’t chase the nuts post flop unless you have a really good feeling about it or read on your opponents.


January 4th, 2009

Actor Lou Diamond plays poker

Posted by pokerlover in poker

Actor Lou Diamond Phillips has seen Hollywood through the lens of his Monday night poker games.

Imagine the setting. It’s the late ’80s-early ’90s and a revolving door of actors, stuntman, and assorted Hollywood types congregate Monday nights in the San Fernando Valley home of actor Lou Diamond Phillips. David Schwimmer shows up regularly. Brad Pitt makes an appearance. George Clooney stops by. Jason Priestly and Brandon Lee come by for a game.

Some win, some break even, and a few lose their shirts as they play the quarter games and share their script misadventures and audition fiascos. At this moment, with the possible exception of host Phillips, they’re all nobodies.

“That game has been going on for 16 years, if not a little bit more,” says Phillips, who still hosts the Monday night games at his home. “It’s been kind of a rotating game.” While the original cast of characters has changed over the years–Pitt and Clooney don’t stop by anymore–the latest crop of players might be even more colorful.

Phillips’ poker buddies today include assorted out-of-work actors, stuntmen, Olympic skier Klaus Heidegger, a German Baron, and Dennis Haskins, best known as Mr. Belding from TV’s Saved By the Bell. Good friend and 24 star Keifer Sutherland doesn’t play, but Phillips is a fixture at the regular Wednesday night games of 24 creator Joe Surnow. On any given Hollywood night, he doesn’t have to look far to find a game.

“You could play every night if you wanted,” says Phillips. “There is the Commerce Casino. You can pop in any night and play against one of the superstars of poker. Dave Schwimmer has his own home game now. So does Tobey Maguire.”.

Sure, these games are always a marquee opportunity to practice the grand traditions of male bonding. But as with anything in Hollywood, networking opportunities abound. Phillips has seen it firsthand for almost two decades. Where a lot of people “in the industry” once closed deals over cigars and brandy at the nearest golf club bar, poker tables are where execs now do lunch.

“It’s basically become the new golf,” says Phillips. “You can sit there and be chatting away and find out about this thing going on or that thing. And because you’re poker buddies with someone, they tend to look a little more kindly on you. Unless of course you take their money.”

With numerous appearances at the World Poker Tour’s Celebrity Invitational, Lou Diamond Phillips isn’t your typical bandwagoning poker dilettante. That Phillips is originally from Texas helps his table image, but he admits that it doesn’t bring anything more to the table than mystique.

In the past few years, Phillips has become a consistent presence at tables everywhere. Whether competing in the Hollywood Home Game or the WPT’s Celebrity Invitational, he’s never too far from any California poker tournament. But he’s not just another celebrity trying to sneak his way into the limelight suddenly surrounding poker.

The man’s from Texas, after all, and has been playing his home game long enough to know a fish from a sucker. Never mind the occasional tournament he’ll play in up and down the California coast, not to mention his regular presence at tournaments in Aruba and Tunica.

It took him a while, but Lou Diamond Phillips has finally earned his poker stripes among pros and amateurs alike. “When they see me show up for other events, especially events that are outside Los Angeles,” he says. “They know that I’m serious about the game.”

Away from the WPT, he can’t go a week without playing and considers Scotty Nguyen, TJ Cloutier, and Phil Laak not just mentors, but peers. Peers that tend to take most of his money, mind you. “It’s really nice because I so admire those guys and their play,” he says. “It’s a little intimidating to sit down at a table with them, but if you catch the cards and you play them well anybody can win any game.”

With that scrutinizing eye and his passion for the game, Lou Diamond Phillips can appreciate the sting of a bad beat as well as anyone. One bad beat in Aruba left him so disillusioned, he wrote a screenplay about it. He plans on directing the script once he secures the necessary funding.

Playing in Aruba with a J–9 and the big blind limping in, the flop revealed a jack and two hearts. “He’s got pocket queens. Boom, I hit a jake on the turn. Somebody behind me goes, ‘he did it again.’ The guy in the big blind is literally standing up shaking his head,” he remembers. “He is about to turn away from the table when the river falls, it’s a queen. The hotel was two miles away. I didn’t want to get a cab, I just had to shake it off. So I took a two-mile walk on the beach just to try to calm down. That was a tough one.”

Apparently you never forget your worst beat, even in Hollywood.


November 3rd, 2008

Hip Hop Hold’em

Posted by pokerlover in poker

Can you keep a secret? Method Man can beat you at poker without even trying.

It’s a pretty exciting day at Metropolis Studios in Harlem. The latest episode of Hip Hop Hold Em is being shot that day. The new poker show, which features a wide range of players from boxer Zab Judah to producer DJ Clue, has been generating some great buzz in the poker community.

As of right now, everyone seems to be waiting for the guest of honor: Mr. Clifford Smith, otherwise known to the better part of the world as Method Man. He is late (he does that sometimes) and when he does arrive, he doesn’t really smile much (he does that sometimes too).

But there’s a reason behind the grimace that goes beyond your usual poker face or thuggish posturing. The rapper/actor/icon has got a lot going on.

Between his solo albums, work with pioneering rap group Wu Tang Clan, movies, and television work (including surprisingly jarring appearances on intense dramas like CSI and the Wire), there is little Method Man hasn’t done.

An impediment to all of that is the fact that Meth cherishes his “me time.” So when he is doing promotion for an album or film or tv series, he gets it all done hastily before retreating back into his private life. So right now at Metropolis, he is looking to bust out of this episode of Hip Hop Hold Em as soon as possible. But don’t get him wrong. Method Man loves cards. “I’ve always played cards,” he says. “I started out mostly playing spades but I’ve been getting into poker more.”

Trying to bust out, Meth has decided that he’s just going to start going all in right from the get go. At least he’s taking the time to look at his cards. But he’s making it plainly obvious: he’s got places to go right now.

But as the poker gods usually have it, this bust-out strategy is backfiring. The few times other players call his all-in bets, they lose. Very quickly, one of the world’s most recognizable actors is falling ass-backwards into the chip lead. It almost makes him look like an amateur when it comes to cards. But he’s not. He just doesn’t care much for the table.

Yes this is sometimes the way to win in poker when you do not care so much about winning, and this is exactly what happened that day when Meth won this poker tournament.


July 6th, 2008

Muck your hand

Posted by pokerlover in poker strategy

It was as unbelievable as Santa Claus suffering vertigo, Captain Bligh getting seasickness, or Mary having a little lamb. The “it” in this case being a neighborhood poker game I had been invited to take part in.

Here I must tell you that the guys in my neighborhood, well, how can I put this delicately? They are so old that they keep in touch with their friends through the obituary column. So anyway, I was looking forward to playing with a bunch of guys who were so hungry for “action,” any action, they would play solitaire and bet against themselves if nothing else was available.

And so, with the prospect of a night out and winning some of their ill-gotten money, I accepted the invitation for a night of poker and a heated argument about pension plans, should these guys get wound up from playing cards.

Arriving fashionably late, I was “treated,” if that’s the right word, to a table filled with clowns in clown’s clothing. A player wearing Armani sunglasses here, another with his baseball cap turned backwards and his silver pony tail hanging down, and enough bling at the table to light up a Christmas tree. All this just to play a game called Texas Hold ’em.

But let me tell you this is where the farce ended. For the rest and with the benefit of hindsight, it almost looked like it was a set up. As I lost all my chips quite rapidly to this crowd of old timers. Yes they knew all too well how to pretend to be donkeys, while in fact they all were deep-sea sharks with very long teeth.

So if there is a morale to this story, never believe the appearances at the poker table. Do your homework and try infer the playing style of the players by how they play, not how they look.

Good luck.