Tuesday, September 25, 2007

A $50 lesson learned

For my 30th birthday, my friend Speck bought me the first volume of Harrington on Hold 'Em and I devoured a few chapters in the week before my trip out to Las Vegas. I didn't do any of the workbook problems, and maybe I should have before I hit the casinos on Friday night.

It was fairly late in the evening--or early in the morning--when I stumbled upon the poker room at PH (aka Planet Hollywood). My friend Marc had just arrived from Los Angeles, and we were about to start a heavy night of drinking. Because this was my 30th birthday party weekend, the other people who were with me that night graciously let me set the tone of the evening's drinking and followed me through and around the various winding pathways that can get you lost and alternately dump you as close to as many slot machines to catch your eye as possible. The room itself was small, maybe only 10 tables, half of which were full. I'd had a Jack and ginger at the Heart Bar mere minutes before I went to the desk to ask about the availability of a $1/$2 NL Hold 'Em table, just to check. When I was told that yes, there was a seat free, did I want to take it, I choked. Before I knew it, I had borrowed $30 from my best friend Lewis to make up the $50 minimum buy-in, and sat down at a full table.

To my left was an Asian lady, but I didn't stay long enough at the table to see if she was what Dr. Pauly calls a "Crazy Asian lady." I do remember that she had a big stack and was likely bullying the table all night because the frat boy to my right celebrated pretty noisily when he beat her with a flush draw on the river, and the rest of the table was pretty appreciative as well. I didn't catch any cards at all until I hit J-J on the button. The initial bet was $5, which I called. I knew I was playing short-stacked, but I figured that I should at least see the flop, y'know?

On the next round of betting, I pushed a few people out with a $15 raise, which frat boy called behind me. The turn paired aces, and my next move was to bet $20, which FB called again and even more people got out of the way. Honestly, things were moving so quickly that I wasn't watching the table carefully enough to notice that there was a flush possibility. I think we all know where this is going because when it came time to flip 'em over, he made his flush draw, and I exited the room with grace and dignity.

Hannah told me later that since she subscribes to the A2C (any two cards) newsletter and I was short-stacked, I probably made the right call. My poker mentor Aaron concurs, and he said he'd teach me more when we go to Atlantic City in November. I'm not too upset because I did fully go into that room expecting to lose whatever money I was going to bet because I'm still learning how to play this game. The rounds went faster than I was ready for. Hell, my money went faster than I was ready for. But I think that's something that I'll have to adjust for and get used to if I really want to make a serious stab at this.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Annette Obrestad: Youngest. Female. WSOP. Bracelet Winner. EVAR

Most of the coverage is here, and believe me, I'm going to be devouring it while crunching data today. I want to read more about this 19-year old who has taken her online game offline and proven herself to be a champion. According to Pauly's bio of her, she took $9 against her parents' wishes and built it into her gaming bankroll, starting when she was 15. I can't wait till she turns 21 and can smoke 'em all in Vegas.

This post is such a contrast to my last one. I'm proud to be a female poker enthusiast, and hope that I can one day become good enough to face her and the likes of her at a table.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

LIttle landmarks

Pauly's helping cover the WSOPE (which I'm pronouncing in my head as "wuh-soppy") and this is what he wrote about a Brit who pulled down a monster hand (quad 6s):

On the third hand of the tournament, Thomas Bihl busted out after donking off his chips and made some random British hot chick, Sarah Taylor, the chipleader. Taylor limped from UTG. William Thorson called. Thomas Bihl raised to 1,200 from the big blind. Taylor called as did Thorson. I put Bihl on a big pair. The flop was 9d-6s-4d. Taylor bet out of turn and was told by the dealer to take her bet back. Bihl checked. Taylor then bet 1,000. Thorson called. Bihl check-raised to 6,000. Taylor and Thorson called. The turn was the 6h. Bihl checked. Taylor bet 8,000 and sat back in her chair... a signal of strength. She was also shaking uncontrollably. My gut told me that she had 6-6 and turn quads. The chick was shaking for fucks sake. The ever cool Thorson folded and Bihl went into the tank for a minute before he check-raised all in. What the fuck? Taylor quickly called. I expected Bihl to have A-A or at least 9-9 or 4-4 for the full house. Nope. He flipped over Qh-Qd. Taylor tabled 6d-6c for quads. Bihl was drawing dead as the dealer put out a meaningless 5h on the river. Bihl headed to the rail as Taylor dragged the pot and jumped out to an early chiplead. Two days earlier Bihl won a bracelet after he came from behind and beat Jen Harman in the HORSE event as he made history and became the first ever player to win a bracelet in Europe. Then he donked off his chips to an amateur who obviously held a monster hand. I can only assume that Bihl is primarily an online player who doesn't study the physical reactions of players as much as he should. I mean, Taylor was shaking. How could he not know she had a hand?

I don't think I do that anymore. When I held my Ace-high straight against Dash, I was as cool as a cucumber. I kept thinking over and over again what Wil Wheaton said once about being an actor and committing your face and your body into believing that you don't have an Ace-high straight. I wanted to look confident enough that he'd think I had game, but not too confident because I wanted his chips.

I still think back to the second time I played at Doc's house and he said that it was getting harder to read me. That's a skill I definitely need to keep working on.

What interests me is that I'm more upset that Taylor's a woman who isn't covering her tells rather than Taylor being a person who isn't covering their tells. It's like I want to yell at her to shape up because every time she plays in a big game like the WSOPE, she reps us other female players who want to be known for their good game.

All of this is just prelude to me spending $100 at the tables on my 30th birthday party in Las Vegas next week so I can find out how good I've really gotten, if at all. My friend Steve bought me the first volume of Harrington on Hold 'Em and I'm going to be devouring that thing on the plane, along with Positively Fifth Street because I like a good essay.

Wish me luck.