The Art of the Cards

Philosophical musings on poker and life

  1. 2008-03-18 20:58:44

    Supplements to elevate your play

    I found this one on a weightlifting site, but it was originally published in Poker Player magazine in the UK. From poker to weights and back to its rightful home. Mostly stuff you already knew, but definitely some shit that could pick you up a step. Here it is.

    Posted by Graham at 2008-03-18 20:58:44 | permalink | Discuss (7 comments)

  2. 2008-03-05 00:13:16


    I've been out of the cards for a while now, so I've been looking for a way to ease myself back into them slowly. The perfect opportunity arose when my girlfriend's coworkers got together for a $5 NL Hold 'Em tournament and invited me. This turned out to be standard poker night fare: drinking, bullshitting and general amiability. Some players needed cheat sheets, you know, the kind that tell you trips beat two pair. Several had never played poker before. The action was light and the calling stations were heavy. Somewhere in between a layup and a free throw, really. Just what I was looking for.

    The tournament started with T500, the blinds at 1/2. The field was six players, but ended up at 11 on two tables by the time everyone was there.

    I did some observing right off and initially raises were small indeed. Min raises were the norm, followed in a distant second by comically large raises. The kind you get when people just want to see what that 25 chip does. The first hand I pick up is AK offsuit on the big blind. Something like 4 people limped, so I made it eight to go. All but one call. Flop comes: AK4, two hearts (no hearts for me). I think about it and decide to see what the 25 chip does. It gets me one caller. The turn is a random blank and he calls my 50. The river brings another blank, so I bring another 50 that gets called. Turns out he has a weak K with no flush draw. I have a premonition of getting sucked out of the tournament against something like that as I drag the pot.

    Things are quiet for a bit as I settle into a tight-aggro mode for a bit. I observe people overbetting underpairs and limping in with AA and KK with astonishing frequency. I practice my reads. The fish who stares you down has nothing. I call for the win. The fish who can't take his eyes off the pot after min betting probably has it. I call with third pair just to make sure =). I like to look toward the pot, but see my opponent in the periphery. Sort of like the pot is one of those magic eye pictures. Relax the eyes, focus on nothing, but see everything. I steal some blinds and make some small moves.

    My next eventful hand is several blind increases later. The table is five-handed and when two more get taken out we merge. Blinds are 5/10. I have the chip lead, but no one is that far behind and only two are in real danger of elimination. I pick up QQ under the gun and make it $30 and get two callers. Flop comes T94 two hearts (again, no hearts for me). I think a bit and make it 100. At this point, I figure my opponents for hopeless chasers on all straights and flushes, so this bet represents the maximum I think they'd call, though they probably shouldn't. I get one caller. The turn comes Jh. Hooray for the straight and the flush that I have no part of. I check. So does he. I realize my mistake and hope it doesn't cost me on the river, which is a black 5. My opponent reacts in a way that makes me check to him. He bets out 100. I am perplexed. He says something about the five not helping me I figure him for T5, but why would he call 100 on the flop. Because that's what this table has been doing. I call and he shows pocket fives! Damn. That loss took a lot of my chips, but luckily the blinds are still reasonable for me to not go into all in mode. I kick myself for missing that turn bet and move on, tighter and more aggressive.

    I run hot for a bit on the knowledge that most flops are seen without a raise. This leads to some small pocket pairs and AQ/AJ/AT of mine taking down small to mid-sized pots. I've almost gotten my chip lead back when I look down to see AA staring back at me under the gun. Blinds were at 25/50, so I make it 150 and get a caller. What do you know, the flop comes KK5. Damn. I figure my opponent for a king, probably with a 4 or so at this point. He bets the minimum, so I know he's got it, but I call because it's the minimum and it seems like behavior I want to reinforce. The turn and river are blanks to me and I call his min bets again, forcing him to show down his K4, which may have been a full house at that point, but I don't much care. I managed to not lose much while hopefully gaining something for the future. No rest for me, though, I bend the corners on my next hand only to see the SAME TWO ACES! They must have felt bad. I'm on the BB, so I get to watch everyone limp in before I raise. That's one of those things that never gets old for me. I love watching everyone limp in, then looking down at my big blind hand and putting in a raise. All those suckers think they get to see a cheap flop to a decent pot and I get to slap the hand reaching for the cookies. Anyhow, some fool min raised me and another put in some small part of that which represented the rest of her chips. I proceeded with another raise that caused the fool to muck his cards. Our all in friend had Q rag and when a Q fell on the flop, I thought my aces were cracked. The flop and river held blanks, though, and we merged tables with me in a comfortable position.

    I play the waiting game a bit to feel out the new players, but it turns out to be more of the same. I win some smallish pots but nothing remarkable until we're four-handed. I pick up a plain K4d and decide to limp in. Three ways to the flop and it comes A57d, precisely what I was looking for. This is the sort of situation where I slowplay. I check. The smaller of the two remaining stacks puts out a bet, which I call and the other player folds. The turn is a black face card, not sure which, but I continue to check and she puts in the rest of her small stack. I call immediately and we find out that she's drawing dead. So we're down to the money positions and the game doesn't last long from here. I should mention that of the last four players, two had never played poker before and one had never played Hold 'Em. Yes, I liked my chances...

    A couple hands into our three way action, I picked up QJd and made a 3x raise. The man with approximately my stack called (the other man had about half as much). Flop said 24J rainbow. Visions of gold dance in my head and I make a sizable bet. He calls without much hesitation. I put him on J rag with one pair. Turn comes K. I hem and haw before shoving and he slowly counts out his chips before calling. He is left with 75 chips, but shows down AJ! Big frown, but he quickly deals the river card...

    Looks like I got that earlier premonition backwards.

    He gives me his remaining chips on the next hand making me the prohibitive favorite going into heads up against a poker rookie. I decided it's getting late enough that suited face cards would be good enough for me to go all in with and a few hands in I did just that with Q4. Oh wait, that 4 is a diamond. Damn. He shows A5, but of course I four flush him out in anticlimactic fashion for the title.

    All in all, it was a fun night. I got some poker practice for my upcoming trip to Las Vegas, I had a good time and I turned $5 in to $30. Not a bad way to spend a Saturday...

    Posted by Graham at 2008-03-05 00:13:16 | permalink | Discuss (5 comments)