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08/27/2005: "it's a long way to the top"

i first started playing poker for 'real' money about a year ago. like many in the Mad Lemming Rush of Online Poker©, i saw the 2003 WSOP on ESPN and was intrigued. about this time i also read a review of James McManus' books Positively Fifth Street. my wife and i watch a lot of Forensic Files, Cold Case Files, American Justice etc - so i was already pretty much aware of the Binion murder case. to me, i figured murder and poker, hey, let's get it! also around this time i befriended a local NFL player. he is a gambler, but specifically he was playing a lot of online poker at Empire Poker. he, along with the two previously mentioned catalysts, spured me to buy Phil Hellmuth's Play Poker Like the Pros and open an account at Party Poker.


it should be mentioned that prior to this, i was not a gambler, as in, other than a few bucks a month on the lottery, i really didn't ever put money in play. i knew that casinos had a house edge and that most games were sucker bets (roulette, slots, etc). since i don't watch football, i usually passed on office football pools, etc. i guess my biggest leak at this point was drinking!

anyway after reading about half the book, i figured i could go ahead and deposit some money and gamboool it up. i liked the idea that poker is more of a skill-based game than a luck-based game. like all things academic, it interested me in a sense that those who studied and worked hard should be able to be profitable. my first deposit was for $100 and i bought into the $1/$2 NLHE tables. in less than 48 hours i was out $200.

besides obviously being the biggest guppy in the sea, i was clueless. dropping $200 was a slap in the face. i reconsidered my play, decided to get some more books, and began an earnest courtship with poker knowledge.

it is somewhere in this time frame that i became infatuated with tournament poker. since my only true gambling previous to this had been the lottery, i felt a kinship with the idea that you could risk a little with the chance to win a lot. i stopped playing all ring games and focused on tournament play.

some months and many books later i 'discovered' my local card room. i was drawn to it like a moth to flame b/c each weekend they ran live tournaments. after the tournaments were live ring games. at first i only played the tourneys, but one week after placing 2nd and pulling in around $1500, i decided, what the heck, it's free money and i bought into the $1/$2 NLHE. i don't recall how i fared, but i know i neither won nor lost a scary sum of money. hmmmm, maybe there is something to this gambling thing.

cut to the present day: i play $2/$4 online, $6/$6 live and a various assortment of tournaments. i have been fortunate and been able to stay on the positive side for about the last 9 months. my winnings even funded my attempts at the WSOP Circuit event in New Orleans.

all that said, recently i have begun to analyze my play pretty seriously; i have found a lot of mistakes and problems in my play. for instance, let's look at this hand below:

FullTiltPoker Game #197366656: Table Brooks - $2/$4 - No Limit Hold'em - 17:03:08 ET - 2005/08/26
Seat 1: Ozy ($368.30)
Seat 2: Swingline ($685.50)
Seat 3: richiebjj ($291.40)
Seat 4: dahlh79 ($598.80)
Seat 5: martin3d2000 ($146)
Seat 6: sellthekids ($410.10)
Seat 7: Pick Location ($379.45)
Seat 8: edious ($696)
Seat 9: peacefulwarrior ($472.40)
richiebjj posts the small blind of $2
dahlh79 posts the big blind of $4
The button is in seat #2
Dealt to sellthekids [Ad 2d]
martin3d2000 folds
sellthekids calls $4
Pick Location folds
edious folds
peacefulwarrior calls $4
Ozy calls $4
Swingline folds
richiebjj calls $2
dahlh79 checks
* FLOP * [5c 3c 8d]
richiebjj checks
dahlh79 checks
sellthekids checks
peacefulwarrior checks
Ozy bets $8
richiebjj calls $8
dahlh79 folds
sellthekids calls $8
peacefulwarrior calls $8
* TURN * [5c 3c 8d] [3d]
richiebjj checks
sellthekids checks
peacefulwarrior checks
Ozy bets $20
richiebjj raises to $56
sellthekids calls $56
peacefulwarrior folds
Ozy calls $36
* RIVER * [5c 3c 8d 3d] [Qd]
richiebjj checks
sellthekids bets $220
Ozy folds
richiebjj has 15 seconds left to act
richiebjj folds
Uncalled bet of $220 returned to sellthekids
Ozy is sitting out
sellthekids mucks
sellthekids wins the pot ($217)
Total pot $220 | Rake $3
Board: [5c 3c 8d 3d Qd]
Seat 1: Ozy folded on the River
Seat 2: Swingline (button) didn't bet (folded)
Seat 3: richiebjj (small blind) folded on the River
Seat 4: dahlh79 (big blind) folded on the Flop
Seat 5: martin3d2000 didn't bet (folded)
Seat 6: sellthekids collected ($217), mucked
Seat 7: Pick Location didn't bet (folded)
Seat 8: edious didn't bet (folded)
Seat 9: peacefulwarrior folded on the Turn

A-2 suited is not a good MP hand, but i was hoping to see the flop for cheap (which i did) and maybe hit something. the flop was good but not great, giving me a draw to the wheel and the backdoor nut flush draw. scary cards would be any club.

the turn put another diamond on the board and all i could think about was that now i was four-to-the-flush and still drawing to the wheel - i had picked up outs! what i should have been thinking about was the fact that it paired the board; by the turn the nut was a full house, not a flush. because i am a newbie, i disregarded didn't even think about this.

when the river gave me my nut flush, i decided to bet the pot, which i was hoping would be interpreted as a steal attempt. the problem? i would posit that i will only get called if i am beat; in other words, only a poor player with the 2nd nuts will call this - but a good player who had 8-8, 5-5, 8-3, or 5-3 will call 100% of the time. to add insult to ignorance, had i made a value bet, say 25-30% of the pot, i would have probably gotten paid off.

i've definitely got a lot of learning still to do.

in related poker news: about a month ago i was lamenting the fact that i hadn't had four-of-a-kind in a long while. well, in this post i showed where i caught quad three twice in one sitting. this week i caught quad aces. i guess i am all caught up!

and speaking up catching up - how about a straight flush?!

that's all for now!

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