Category Archives: The Bandit Strikes

Give a Crazy Person a Bunch of Lottery Numbers, and This is What Happens

So an interesting thing happened to me today. I was checking my external hard drive (a 2 TB monster I bought a couple years ago) to see if I had ever backed up the DVD for The Incredible Hulk to it. Why was I doing this? I wanted to get the quote from Edward Norton — as Bruce Banner — saying in Portuguese, “Don’t make me hungry. You wouldn’t like me when I’m hungry.”

Sadly, I had never backed up that movie. But while I was digging around in my hard drive, I discovered Continue reading

Poker: Sometimes It’s About the Endurance

Since my last post, I’ve played in quite a few more tournaments on Full Tilt Poker. I really need to slow it down a bit.

Anyway, let’s get to the point. What do I mean by endurance? Take a look at this screenshot showing my statistics for the last tournament I played in:

Endurance Poker

This is where I sat after outlasting 81 players in a tourny of 90. What it shows, essentially, is that I’ve been dealt 52 hands and I’ve won 3. I had only played four hands past the flop, and I won two of those.

So even though I had only played a few hands, winning only 3, I had lasted long enough to place “in the bubble.” You just got to be smart, knowing when to play and when to fold… though Kenny Rogers says it so much more eloquently. Outlast everybody else, no matter whether you’re winning or losing.

Sometimes poker is as much about how patient you can be as it is getting lucky. Few amateurs understand this.

Here’s a “What would you do?” scenario for you.

I am dealt pocket kings. There is a pre-flop raise to 160 (double the big blind.) Three people ahead of me call, I call, plus two people behind me call. The third behind me raises all-in (about 6,000 or so). There’s a fold, then another raise all-in (to about 10,000), and a caller right behind him. It comes to me. There are two players left to act after me.

What would you do?

Most people would call. I folded. Why? Odds.

I don’t care if the three people that called before me had absolute junk. If I call, my odds are less than 30% regardless of what they’re holding, and I can be almost certain two of them have an ace. For 30% I’d call a small raise, but no way am I going to risk everything. If either of the two players behind me call, my odds shrink even more. And, as you could probably tell, I’m at a very loose table where the odds are high one of the two will call.

So what happened? The two players behind me followed my lead in folding. The players flipped their cards, showing mediocre garbage. At first I laughed, especially since one of them flipped a 10-6 and nobody had an ace. Then the flop brought the player on the 10-6 a straight draw. He landed his straight on the river. Then I laughed again and told everybody what I had laid down. They probably thought I was nuts without any idea why I ever would have laid down pocket kings pre-flop.

Odds my friends. If you don’t understand them, then you’re simply playing by luck. There’s your poker lesson for the week. That’ll be $20.

Getting Hot on Full Tilt Poker

With the feds banning the ability to deposit money into online gambling accounts in the U.S., I went looking for some crazy loop hole to get around it. Well, I didn’t have to look far. Full Tilt Poker allows deposits through third-party off-shore accounts.

I haven’t quite yet had the desire necessary to go through the process of opening a new account with a money-transfer service, depositing money into it, then transferring the money to Full Tilt.

But one thing that I found fun was that they hold play-money sit-and-go tournaments, something that most other poker sites don’t have.

The tournaments are nice because when money’s not involved, there are simply too many crazies out there, betting when they normally wouldn’t on the hope of getting lucky. Sometimes they do, but even if they don’t, they just get more chips and keep going at it. It’s tough to have a serious game with those kind of players around.

Thus the tournament. The crazies end up getting knocked out and aren’t allowed to return. Eventually, all (at least most) of the crazies are out of the tournament and you can have a decent game with the serious players.

How crazy are people? Well, let me put it this way. The last tournament I played had 90 players to start. After one hand — yes, the VERY FIRST hand — 22 players got knocked out. After just 12 hands more than two-thirds of the players were gone, leaving fewer than thirty. At that point I had only played three hands.

After 17 hands, I took the following screen shot showing my stats for the game up to that point:

I ended up coming in seventh, the 10th out of 16 tournaments in which I had placed “in the bubble” as they say. My stats for the entire game:

Here’s a quickview of my Full Tilt Poker play-money tournament history:

game players finished winnings
Texas NL 9 1st 1,125
Texas NL 9 4th 0
Texas NL 9 1st 1,125
Texas NL 9 4th 0
Texas NL 9 9th 0
Texas NL 9 2nd 675
Texas NL 90 29th 0
Texas NL 90 36th 0
Texas NL 18 3rd 900
Texas NL 18 1st 1,800
Texas NL 18 1st 1,800
Texas NL 18 ? 0
Omaha Hi PL 9 1st 1,125
Texas NL 9 2nd 675
Texas NL 18 2nd 1,350
Texas NL 90 7th 900

I know the game will change if I ever decide to play for real money, but my record thus far has me feeling pretty good about it.

What the Pros Have Taught Me About Poker

This is an old post I wrote, and just never got around to getting it up. I’ll post it now, only because it ties in somewhat to my next post.

At a poker game I hosted about a month ago, I came in third place (of 8, where 4 players did a rebuy, meaning I essentially beat out the equivalent of 9 players rather than just 5).

That doesn’t seem particularly astonishing; unless you consider the fact that I only won four showdowns and two pots where other players folded. Despite almost never winning, I was able to outlast other players who won several (up to 5x) more hands than me. I was able to last long enough to place “in the money” thanks to a minor change in my game play that I’ve been working on for quite some time.

The problem with poker is that it can get to be quite an emotional game. You get upset with yourself when you fold a hand that you would have won had you played, and you get upset when you lose a hand because somebody sucks out on you. Those two cases are quite normal.

But you also get upset when you’ve put a large portion of your stack in the pot to try and prevent someone from outdrawing you, and some psycho calls you with a long shot drawing hand and gets their draw.

There is also the situation where you commit a large amount of chips pre-flop, just to be reraised by another player, or get called by another player with junk and you get a junk flop.

Essentially, anytime you commit a large amount of chips, then later realize you’re going to get beat, it’s extremely frustrating and has often caused me to go on tilt. Going on tilt, of course, results in getting busted out early.

But as I’ve watched the pros over the years, I began to realize that a major factor that separates winning pros from losing pros is the ability to keep one’s emotions in check. Committing a large part of your stack, laying your hand down after realizing you’ve been beat, then collecting yourself and continue playing based on proper tactics rather than emotion — those are the hallmarks that separate the good from the bad.

This change in play is about the only victory I can take away from recent games, as I am currently on an 11 game losing streak. Prior to this losing streak, I had won 8 of the 30 home games I had hosted, averaging a win 1 in every 5 games.

Now my average has dropped to a win every 6 games. And while a few of those games were simply the result of a couple bad moves on my part, for the most part it just seems that the stars are against me, as in the last several hundred hands I’ve played, I couldn’t sell my soul to the devil to get decent cards.

But no worries. The stars always rotate back around, and the wins shall return.

Old Stu Poker

About a month ago I was playing a game of poker with some good friends of mine. It was about an hour into the game when I looked at my rapidly shrinking stack of chips and had what you might call a “brick to my head”.

Looking at the stacks of the others at the table, I realized I was the short stack, and had been for nearly the entire game. What had happened to me? I’d been playing like a scared little pissant for several months now, and was barely keeping my head above water as far as my poker winnings.

This wasn’t right. I knew it wasn’t. For a guy that used to be able to read other players so well, and based my play on my reads… at some point I started playing my cards instead of the cards of my opponents. And I had started judging their hands based exclusively on their betting patterns.

After playing poker for 19 some-odd years, I had turned into some idiot amateur that had no idea what was going on!

I mentally smacked myself in the face. Where was the old Stu that wasn’t afraid to reraise the guy that was trying to steal the pot? Where was the Stu that played his opponent’s cards instead of his own? I looked at myself and realized, I make myself sick!

Time to get back to old-Stu (as opposed to old-school) poker!

Boy, let me tell you, after beating myself up it didn’t take me long before I was the chip leader again. In the end, I built a near insurmountable lead which allowed me to bully the other players into submission and win the game.

But that wasn’t the end of it. Two weeks later I was able to become the chip leader early on, which allowed me to take more risks (giving me the opportunity to get lucky more often as well) and lose quite a bit of chips without it hurting my position.

I made one high-risk move that cut my stack in half. After calming down, I got back in the game with some great plays, coming back to chop down the chip leader’s stack and eventually win the game.

These last two games have helped me remember why I play poker. It’s a game of psychology, and I love out-playing my opponents! Chalk another two wins up for the bandit!

I’ll take this opportunity to show off my new chips:

Life at the Stratosphere

For our 10 year anniversary, my wife and I took a trip to the Stratosphere in Vegas. I took my wife to see the Blue Man Group at the Venetian while we were there.

I won about $180 or so at the blackjack table. I had quite a bit of luck there. I didn’t play any poker (casino poker tournaments don’t do much for me), though I find myself wishing that I had.

Here are some pictures for your enjoyment:

Stratosphere Tower
This is the view of the tower from my parents’ room. It’s a free ride to the top if you happen to be staying at the Stratosphere hotel, $10 otherwise. $10 for a 15 second elevator ride? hmmm… I’m just glad I had a free ticket.

Top of Stratosphere Tower
A view of the hotel from the top of the tower.

Stratosphere Swings
One of the four rides at the top of the tower.

Stratosphere X-Treme
Just watching this ride gave my wife the willies. It sure looked like fun!

topoftower
Me at the top, with the strip behind.

There’s a good possibility of my returning to Vegas (this time for business) in June for the eBay Live event taking place at Mandalay Bay. I’ll probably room with my mortal enemy, Ryan, aka Buck. If Ryan doesn’t kill me, I’ll post some pics of that trip as well.

Hallelujah, at Long Last!

This night, I played what was probably the best poker of my life. Up against 7 other players, I had never had a tournament win before in my life. Lots of home games, a couple of casino tournaments, never a top finish.

The most players I’ve ever beat out was about 25, but came in fourth for that game — in the money at least.

Beyond that, I’ve had a slew of second place finishes. So this time, I knew I had to take home the title. I played with everything I had, and fought hard to keep my mind clear after more than four hours of play (though that was far from my longest game. I had a 7 hour stint once in which I finished — what else? — Second).

BUT AT LONG LAST!!!

It came down to myself and two others, who are two of the better players I’ve ever had to go up against. All that practice working on my head’s up game has paid off.

STUART WINS! STUART WINS! STUART WINS!

And boy, I cannot even begin to tell you how badly I needed that win. Second place is cool the first time, but gets awful old after the fifth or sixth time.

So… HALLELUJAH!

Thank you, that is all.

Omaha Players Strike Again – Practice or Play?

I hit the Omaha tables again on PartyPoker. Omaha is a really great game to help you understand the game of poker better. In particular, it forces you to think and consider all possible hands that other players can make to beat you.

This is because at a full table, you have to calculate what cards you need to have “the nuts” (poker terminology for the best possible hand). If you don’t have the nuts, you can be pretty sure that someone else does.

And while Omaha is great for honing your Texas skills, it’s for this same reason that the Omaha tables are often “easy money”.

Take a look at the table below, which is a $5/$10 limit Omaha game.

If it’s hard to see what’s going on, basically players maxed out the betting and every single player (save for the one smart player, which happened to be me) called. And that’s preflop!

Now I’m no pro, but in my opinion there’s not a single hand that you could hold preflop in Omaha that warrants gambling the maximum bet. Something that amateur gamblers (and poker is gambling, don’t fool yourself into thinking it’s not) fail to realize is that gambling is all about probability.

With the entire table calling to see the flop, your odds of winning shrink to 10% at a full table, regardless of the hand you’re holding. Seriously now, what sane person is going to gamble on a 1 in 10 chance?

Now, this game wasn’t for real money. But for me, every poker game played online or at home is simply practice for the real thing… and I practice to win.

The “Bandit” Strikes

I play online poker every once in a while. Mostly just to keep my skill in playing against stupid people, since online poker is packed with ‘em (stupid people that is).

One thing I can always count on is that the stupidest people are playing in the Omaha rooms. Whenever I have a bad string of luck, I just pop into an Omaha room for awhile until I’ve won enough to make me feel better. Never fails!

As it turns out, last time I went online for some poker, I went straight into an Omaha room because I was down a couple hundred.

So I picked a room which, unfortunately, had two or three other players that actually knew what they were doing. Well, most of the time at least.

After a bit, I manage to win back my losses, and then some. I’m thinking to myself, “Okay, I’m back on top, time to quit now.”

Winning or losing, a good gambler knows when it’s time to quit. Well, I talked myself into waiting until I won another hand. That’s when it happened… SHAZAM! Like a brick to the head…

If you’re having a hard time seeing what’s going on there, click the image to see a bigger picture.

And here’s the best part. In the image above, the pot is around $300. I managed to get three other fools to push the pot up to over $900

Not one, not two, but THREE fools just kept on calling my raises until the betting was maxed out.

A little pointer for the poker-o’-philes out there. If you’re ever down on your chips, hit the Omaha tables… unless you’re one of the idiots. Otherwise You’ll just end up giving your money to smart people like me.