Archive for the ‘poker’ Category

My friend Jerry

I first met Jerry at a poker tournament. He had checked in with a mini-trampoline. For Jerry, exercise means to keep fit. In addition Jerry rides a bike. Jerry likes to think about poker, running over past hands or studying his past opponents.

What is the highlight of Jerry’s seven year poker career? There is no hesitation in his answer at all: “My breakthrough weekend at a Casino Regina Poker Classic in which in four tournaments I took a first, second, and third and won best overall.” Indeed, Jerry is the number one money winner in the seven year history of Casino Regina Poker Classics with slightly over $100,000 in prize money. In fact, in statistics compiled by Edmonton pro Dave Klassen, Jerry is the number one money winner in Canadian poker tournament history with a total of $112,432 in prize money (won at Casino Regina, Cash Casino Calgary, and Casino Yellowhead Edmonton).

It is easy to understand why Jerry says that tournaments generally, and no-limit hold’em tournaments specifically, are his favorite form of poker. In ring games he prefers pot-limit Omaha in which he has frequently won or lost $5,000 to $10,000 in a single evening. But as Jerry says, “Nothing beats the feeling of making the final table of a big poker tournament and playing for twenty or thirty thousand.”

If there is a poker highlight there must also be a lowlight. At the 2003 World Series of Poker Jerry was the chip leader to start the final table in consecutive super satellites. Seven times he held Big Slick and failed to convert even one of them into a winner. He was very disappointed. In one of the two super-satellites he had over thirty percent of the chips in play but Big Slick did him in.

Is poker all that Jerry does? No. He professes a love of the outdoors. In keeping with a healthy lifestyle and plenty of exercise, hiking is a favorite and relaxing pursuit. His other passion is harness racing. While most poker players will place the occasional sports or horse racing wager, Jerry has gone beyond that. Not too long ago he used to own harness racing horses. He likes challenges and owning harness racing horses was a challenge.

In fact, that is precisely what Jerry loves about poker, It is a very complex game that no one can completely master. He cannot imagine what he could replace poker with. He intend to die playing poker. For him, it is the fountain of youth. He rides his exercise bike to keep his body young. He play poker to keep his mind young.

Certainly Jerry is known for his youthful demeanor and sense of fun. He is not hard to pick out of a poker crowd with his distinctive hat and gentlemanly countenance. In Casino Regina Poker Classics his side bets with Edmonton some poker players are something of legend. They frequently have more riding on their last-longer bet than they have invested in the tournament and their mutual teasing and kibitzing adds to the fun.

It should also be noted that Jerry is known for his aggressive style. It is no fun to find your seat in a tournament and discover that you have him sitting on your immediate left. There will be two things you can be sure of: Jerry is going to put you to a lot of tough decisions; and you are going to have a lot of trouble putting him on a hand. Good luck. You will need it.

Getting full value for my hand

Here is a hand I played recently. I was playing $1/$2 no limit holdem and had AQ next to the button. A middle position player opened raised. He had been playing many hands and had been raising regularly. I wanted to slow-play him because he was an aggressive player, so I called. The blinds folded.

The flop was a king, a jack and a six. The opener pot bet $30 and I called, hoping I would either pair a pocket card or hit the ten. The turn was a ten and I had a Broadway straight. The opener bet $75. I raised to $200 and he folded. I was wondering if I got the full value from my hand. In other words, should I have gambled on a river card, which could have resulted in another, much larger, bet?

Many hold’em players will try to calculate the odds of the opponent improving his hand against the value of the pot. This is tough as we do not know what he has or how much he will bet at the river. Here it was hard to put my opponent on a hand as he was so loose-aggressive. Hard charging preflop raisers who play a wide range of hands do not give away much information when they make a standard raise.

On the turn I hit a longshot in getting the ten. The opponent bet $75 hoping that I did not have a straight and he was also representing a possible straight for himself. But when I raised to $200, even such an aggressive player could no longer afford to stay in the hand. One interesting fact to recognize in hindsight is that raising would have been a good play even if I did not have the straight.

Two more interesting observations. If I had raise after the flop, I could have won with the worst hand. If I had called after the turn, I could have lost with the best hand. I guess I got full value for the hand. I played it safe and strong and I sent a message to the table. I could have chosen to play for a bigger river pot. Of course, some of the future value would have been at risk with a choice to gamble.

Maniacs in no limit tournaments

Maniacs in NL Tournaments

His name was George. He was just a kid in his teens, raised by an alcoholic father and got his butt wailed and whipped for the slightest infraction on many occasions.

In his early teens he shot a man for insulting his mother, this was the first of many. When he was 19 years old, it is said he’d killed as many men as his years, he was what today’s shrinks would call a psychopathic serial killer. He was wild, unpredictable and deadly.

A stranger showed up at a NL hold’em tournament. On the very first hand, being on the button, he’d seen UTG raise it up 3x BB with 2 callers before it got to the Kid, who went all in. UTG thought for several seconds, then probably wisely laid down his AQs, next guy folded his pair of 8’s, and the cutoff seat quickly folded his A8o…the Kid raked in a nice little pot with his 67s.

George had a short fuse and a big chip on his shoulder, dangerous traits in the late 1800’s in the Old West. It was almost like he had a death wish, finding out who he was, quickly backed off and gave him plenty of room. Noone wanted to be the 20th notch on his gun.

Several times in the tournament, the Kid looked for good situations to “get it all in”, especially on the button, SB or BB. Once he got called by someone who had QQ and his stack was cut in half, but quickly it’d be replaced and kept growing. Every now and then, the Kid would get AK or AA, and someone would call with his AJ or TT and lose it all to the Kid. Someone even called with a J8s and exited the tournament. Everyone was licking their chops, but gave the Kid wide berth.

Then it happened. A fellow by the name of Johnson, who was the town’s marshal, befriended George. Actually he was no friend, he was just looking to take the kid down and gain a reputation. Beware those who overly pretend to be your friend.

Johnson came in a motel of sorts one day, and blindsided the youngster, pretty much shot him in cold blood. But noone protested. A cagey NL player, we’re all cagey in our own minds, limped in w/AA UTG. Beware of a really good player limping here, one other player limped also, and the Kid once again went all in from the SB. He had A4o UTG went all in also, the other guy folded, and the Kid got blindsided and lost 80% of his chips. A few hands later, he went over the top of a 3x BB raise w/his QJs, and lost to the A2o, probably best not to go all in over a 3x raise with only QJ, maybe go all in if no one else has come in yet, and you’re getting short-stacked, say 6-10 BB’s.

George never even reached the age of 22.

Wild maniacs may build fast stacks, and become big chip leaders early in a tournament, but very seldom go all the way. Be satisfied to grow steadily, and if you do find yourself big chip leader early on, perhaps switch gears and only play top premium hands.