Saturday, September 25, 2004


Friday Night at the Local Poker Club

After losing almost every game of poker I played in for a week on the internet, I finally managed to get down to the local poker club and play live for a while. I learned last night that you can be on tilt and not even realize you're on tilt, which was quite an ah-ha moment for me. I thought I was playing really aggressively and making some masterful bets and raises, but in retrospect ($200 later), what I was really doing was betting on bad hands that should have been thrown away and overplaying hands that were only marginal.

So today, after staying up until 4:30am and getting only 3 hours of sleep, I'm licking my wounds, taking care of kids, and getting ready to go to my son's football game. And tonight I play in the Saturday Night $200K Guaranteed at Party Poker. I only pray that I can get a nap in before then.

Ultimate Bet

Thursday, September 23, 2004


My Bluffing Strategy

I don't bluff often. My bluffing strategy involves semi-bluffing a lot more often than it involves straight up bluffing. Semi-bluffing just makes more sense to me. I've read that it's impossible to do well at poker if you never bluff, and maybe I'm just conservative, but I just don't know if that's true. I think if you're aggressive enough when you have good cards, and you semi-bluff occasionally, you don't need to pull too many bluffs to be profitable.

Most people's bluffing strategy has a lot to do with position. If you're acting in late position, you have the opportunity to see what the other players are doing before you act. So if you see a raise, a re-raise, and another re-raise, then you probably know that it's not a very good time to try to bluff your way into a pot. You also consider who's stayed in the hand up until that point--it's hard to bluff down a calling station, but it's easy to bluff a rock sometimes.

Ultimate Bet

On the other hand, if no one behind you has a really strong hand, you can come out with a really strong bet in early position and look even more believable with your bluff, especially if you're playing online and make a quick large bet. Problem is, someone behind you might have AA or KK. But if you catch a scare card or two on the flop, your bluff still might work. A check-raise is often a really good bluffing strategy too.

Semi-bluffing is when you bet a hand really hard when it's not the strongest hand on the board, but has a good chance at making a draw. I like to semi bluff when I have four to a flush in Texas Holdem. Especially if there are scare cards on the flop. Even if my opponent doesn't fold, I still have a reasonable chance of picking up the flop in that situation. Especially if I have other outs.

Something else to consider when bluffing or semi-bluffing is the odds that the situation offers. Your bluffs must work a certain percentage of the time for them to be profitable, but they don't have to work all the time, or even most of the time. Also--if you get caught bluffing, you might think it's embarassing, but it's probably good advertising for later in the game, because you'll get more action after you've tightened up. Most players will remember that you played 10-2 really hard earlier in the evening, but won't have noticed that you've folded the last 20 hands in a row.

My bluffing strategy usually works like this: I bluff early in the evening when I start playing. It gives everyone reason to believe that I play loose or that I might be bluffing. I might bluff a couple or three times in the first hour or so. Then I tighten up significantly for the rest of the evening, and count on my earlier bluffs to get me the action I need with my really monster hands.

Sunday, September 19, 2004


Playing Poker and Winning (For a Change)

Here's my poker report from yesterday. It's nice to be playing and winning for a change.

I've fallen completely in love with Ultimate Bet. It is now officially the preferred poker room for Poker Chip's Poker Blog. I'm going to post a full review of why I LOVE this site so much a little later today--probably after I take Mrs. Poker Chip to lunch.

Ultimate Bet

As you may have already gathered, I played poker online at Ultimate Bet yesterday. First I played a $20 + $2 SnG with 10 players, no limit holdem. Placed third place, which put me in the money and made me profitable for the day. A little later, while my twins were napping, I tried another $20 + $2 SnG there, but this one only had 6 players, and 1st and 2nd were the only places that paid. I doubled up twice in the 1st level and wound up in 2nd place for the tournament.

So I'm doing allright. Then I decided I'll play in the $50 + $5 multitable tournament last night. Was doing very well--busted three people in the first hour and had a big stack. There were 109 players and I was between 7th place and 17th place for the next hour or so. Top 20 places payed, and first prize was $1600 or so.

Then came my poker devastation for the evening. I get dealt pocket AA's. I'm in early position, so I check it around. A couple of folks call, and then another guy puts in a pretty decent sized raise--maybe 300 or so chips. It gets folded back around to me and I reraise to 700 chips. My opponent goes all-in, and I call.

He has pocket kings. Of course he gets dealt a third king on the flop and I'm busted out of the tournament in 41st place. Ever since the one big 5th place win I had earlier this year, I haven't been able to do very well in any of the multtable tournaments I've played online.

So I'd just about hung up and decided not to play anymore when my friend calls me wanting to know if I can go out. I told him sure, I'll meet you at the club in 30 minutes. Then I called my other friend, and he said he was already on his way. So I stopped at 7-11 and picked up some Vivarin and about $300 in cash from the ATM, and I was on my way.

Down at the local poker club, there was some crazy action going on. Everyone had HUGE stacks of chips. I bought in for $200, and I was short-stacked compared to just about everyone else at the table. Most of the had $400 or $500. And they were all playing really loose and aggressive. So I sat down and decided to play my best game and take a little bit of money home with me.

I had no idea how quickly a pot could get huge playing pot limit. I lost quite a bit the first couple of hours, maybe $100 or so, but I reloaded for $100 in chips.

Then things started going my way. I started making flop after flop and pulling in huge pots. By the time I left at 6am, I was up over $850. It's the most profitable winning session I've ever had. Made me feel pretty good, like I'm starting to learn how to play poker or something.

As Fast Eddie points out in The Color of Money, "Money won is twice as sweet as money earned."

Ultimate Bet

Friday, September 17, 2004


Poker Bankroll Considerations

I've been thinking about bankroll and what limits I should be playing lately. I've also been thinking about keeping better records of my win rate, etc. So I've looked in a couple of my poker books, and I've done some searching on some poker forums, and read some articles on some websites I like, and this is more or less what I've determined about my poker bankroll.

As far as ring play goes, for my poker bankroll to be large enough to avoid what they call "risk of ruin", I need between 300 and 500 BB's, depending on who you ask. A standard win rate for ring games in holdem is 1 or 2 BB's. I really would prefer to not have to make any more deposits in any more poker rooms, so adding up my bankrolls at the different rooms gives me the following total:

Party Poker $236.02
Pokerstars $ 4.20
Ultimate Bet $ 86.00
Interpoker $173.25
Grand Bay $ 40.00
Total $539.47
Ultimate Bet

So for ring play, I have enough bankroll to cover a $0.50/$1.00 holdem game, and if I play well and get fairly lucky, maybe even a $1.00/$2.00 game. If I stick with the lower of those two limits, I should be able to generate an earn rate of $2/hour. In theory, if I earn that win rate, in 230 hours of play I should be able to move up to $1/$2 games and double my earn rate.

I've also done some studying on SnG bankroll requirements. Again, depending on who you ask, you need between 25 and 100 buy-in's to avoid risk of ruin. So I'm sufficiently bankrolled for the $20 + $2 SnG level, if I play really well and am really aggressive with the bankroll requirements. From what I've read online, win rate for these SnG's should be about 30% to 50% of the buy-in, and most SnG's take a little over an hour. So my earn rate for SnG's should be between $6 and $12 per hour.

Those numbers are based on an ITM % of between 30% and 40%. My ITM percentage for SnG's has fluctuated between 30% and 40% for a while now, so I feel pretty confident I can maintain this. My guess is that after about 23 hours or so of play I can move up to $30 + $3 level at the SnG's.

So my plan is to stay focused on the SnG's for now, because my earn rate for that is definitely higher. Interesting thing that I've been reading about SnG's too. Some folks think that the skill level at the $10/$20/$30 level is approximately the same, and then goes up significantly at $50/$100/$200. Other folks are of the opinion that the people playing at the $200 level are generally playing a lot worse than the people at the lower levels, with the exception of a professional or two at the table who is usually pretty easy to spot.

My bankroll's at such a level that I can't play a higher buy-in tournament right now realistically, but I have played in one or two in the past, and there was some pretty bad play going on.

The best observation I've ever seen about bankroll reqirements by the way was from Steve Badger on a discussion board somewhere. He said that if you're a losing player, your bankroll requirements are infinite.

Ultimate Bet

Thursday, September 16, 2004


Poker Report from Party Poker Last Night

I played $1/$2 limit holdem at Party Poker with some webmaster friends of mine last night. I drank entirely too much Crown Royal while I was playing, but I got lucky and played okay. Interestingly enough, I got dealt pocket AA's five times in an hour, and won with them every single time. That's a new one for me. Won about $75 total and played for almost four hours. Like I said, drinking Crown Royal the entire time.

Boy does my head hurt this morning.

Got an email yesterday from another webmaster who I traded links with who turns out to live just ten miles from me. The poker world is a small one. He told me that he wasn't sure what linking to or from a blog would do to his SERP's, but I sure did look like I was having fun with my blog. And I guess I am.

Should probably put more personal poker logs and stuff up here, and I will, but I'm enjoying researching and doing some writing about some real topics too. Researching Stu Ungar for the profile I posted today was really fun.

That's about all I have to report this morning.

Absolute Poker whenever where ever


Stu Ungar - Poker Savant

I never met Stu Ungar, but boy I wish I had. Here’s what I know about him though: he was a phenomenally successful cardplayer and a real poker tragedy. Stu Ungar won the World Championship three times and had a total of five WSOP bracelets. He was also the winner of ten major NL Holdem tournaments with buy-ins of over $5000 each. Since he only played in 30 of these championship events in his life, this make his ten wins that much more amazing.

Ultimate Bet

Stu Ungar was not only a brilliant no limit hold'em player, he was a world class gin rummy player. He’s famously know for the following quote: "Some day, I suppose it's possible for someone to be a better no kimit hold'em player than me. I doubt it, but it could happen. But, I swear to you, I don't see how anyone could ever play gin better than me."

Stu Ungar was well-known as a genius with a photographic memory. He was barred from playing blackjack nearly everywhere in Las Vegas because he was so good at counting cards. He won $83,000 playing blackjack at Caesars before the manager there barred him. Stu’s response was to correctly predict the next 18 cards that were coming out of the shoe.

He never had any other job in his life than gambling, and he became a professional gambler at the age of 14. His specialty as a teenager was gin rummy, and he consistently beat the best players in New York City over and over again. He made and lost over a million dollars at least four times during his short life, and he gambled on everything, not just cards, but also horses and golf.

Like most tragic figures, Stu Ungar had tragic flaws. Besides being infamous for being hateful to poker dealers, he was also a drug addict. Stu Ungar died broke at the age of 42 on November 22, 1998, in a room at the Oasis Motel in Las Vegas.

You can read more about Stu Ungar:

Poker Pages: Poker Greats: Stu Ungar

Stu Ungar - Poker Great

Know Your Poker Legends: Stu Ungar

Ultimate Bet

Tuesday, September 14, 2004


How Sales is Like Poker (and vice versa)

I'm a sales manager during the day, and a webmaster and poker player when I'm not being a husband and a father. One of the things I do as a sales manager is figure out how to make my sales team more productive. As I learn more about poker, I've started using it as a metaphor for the sales process.

Sales leads are like starting hands in poker. If a sales lead is qualified, it's like a good solid starting hand. The more qualified a lead is, the better the starting hand. A really qualified sales lead, someone who calls you, knows exactly what she wants, and even demonstrates that she knows how she wants to pay for it, is very much like pocket kings or pocket aces.

Good poker strategy says you should get away from poor starting hands as quickly as possible. The longer you stay in with a hand that's going to get beat, the more money you're going to lose on the hand. Same thing with a lead that isn't qualified. If a sales lead wants to buy something you don't offer, you can spend a lot of time trying to get them to buy something they don't want, but at the end of the sales process, you're going to likely have spent a lot of time (chips) on a losing hand.

Good poker strategy says you should play tight but aggressive poker. Tight means you don't play many hands. In sales, that equates to not spending a lot of time on poorly qualified leads. Aggressive means that you raise more often than you call. In sales, that equates to going for the close, soon and often.

Good salespeople should make good poker players, and vice versa.


Phil Hellmuth Jr Seminar

Phil Hellmuth Jr will be the guest speaker at an online seminar sponsored by Ultimate Bet on Tuesday September 14 at 9pm ET. I guess Ultimate Bet offers these online poker seminars every Tuesday, which gives me one more reason to consider Ultimate Bet my favorite online poker room. And any chance to get to interact with Phil Hellmuth Jr is okay in my book!

The online poker seminars from Ultimate Bet are free and easy to enter, but they do require a real money player's account. You need to be on the website 30 minutes prior to the event to be able to actually register for the event. I'll be there, because I can't wait to see what Phil Hellmuth Jr is like in a seminar. (I love his book Play Poker Like the Pros, even though I know that some of the other poker experts online are less than impressed with it.)

If you don't already have an account with Ultimate Bet, you can sign up using the link below:

Ultimate Bet

Monday, September 13, 2004


3 Poker Tournaments Tonight

Played in three poker tournaments tonight. Place 1st in one tournament, and 9th and 10th in the other two. Been playing very tight on the bubble and loose when I'm in the money. Seems to be working okay for me. Didn't have much luck in the first two games, but that third tournament where I hit 1st place sure was a treat!

I'll be in Vegas later this month, so I might try to play a little live poker while I'm there.

Friday, September 10, 2004


Phil Hellmuth's Top Ten Starting Hands

Phil Hellmuth's top ten starting hands are listed in his book Play Poker Like the Pros. The top ten starting hands are for hold em games, and Phil's recommendation for beginning players is to play these hands and only these hands when you're a beginner.

The top ten starting hands are any pair of 77's or better, plus AK and AQ, regardless of whether or not they're suited. Phil also recommends playing some additional hands when you get more skilled in holdem. The additional hands he recommends playing are suited connectors, 66's or smaller, and Ax suited.

The starting hand recommendations that Phil Hellmuth makes in this book were the easiest way for me to learn pre-flop play. I know a lot of folks are big believers in Sklansky's starting hand groups, and they certainly further break down what's playable and what's not, but Hellmuth's guidelines made it a lot easier for me to get my arms around what good hole cards were compared to what bad hole cards were.

Ultimate Bet


Clonie Gowen - Wow!

I have a huge crush on Clonie Gowen. Was looking at Full Tilt Poker today and saw Clonie Gowen was part of the team there, and holy smokes is she pretty. Apparently Ms. Gowen lives here in Dallas, much like myself. She's married with kids, so she's off limits to me (not that she'd be interested in my 400 pound lousy-poker-playing self anyway), but since I'm married too, it would have never worked out.

From what I've read on the internet, Clonie Gowen has done very well in several poker tournaments in Costa Rica, and she won a World Poker Tour Ladies Night Invitational Tournament.

Here are a some sites about Clonie Gowen if you'd like to learn more about her:

Clonie Gowen's Official Site

Clonie Gowen in the World Poker Tour Ladies Night

Incredibly Gorgeous Photo of Clonie Gowen

Clonie Gowen's Biography at Full Tilt Poker

Poker Face - Clonie Gowen Featured in the Dallas Observer

Real People, Real Poker, Real Time...Crazy Vegas Poker


Anaconda Poker

Anaconda is one of my favorite poker games to play at Christmas-time with my in-laws. It's a variation of seven card stud, and it's a heckuva lot of fun. Anaconda has basically the same rules as seven card stud poker, but with the following variations:

All cards are dealt face down before there is any betting.

Everyone bets.

Then everyone passes three cards to the player on his or her left.

Everyone bets again.

Then everyone passes two cards to the player on his or her left.

Everyone bets again.

Then everyone passes one card to the player on his or left.

Then there's a final round of betting.

Anaconda is also called "Pass the Trash".

As far as a legitimate strategy goes for Anaconda, I don't really know of one right offhand. It's definitely a kitchen table game.

You can read more about Anaconda Poker:

Rules of Anaconda Poker

You can read more about 7 card stud variants, including Anaconda, at:

Mike's Rules to 7 Card Stud Poker Variants

Ultimate Bet

Wednesday, September 08, 2004


High School Senior on Poker

The Changing Face of Poker
Well written article by a high school senior about poker and its popularity. Very nice piece of work, and I thought folks might be interested in it.

As far as teen poker goes for me, I played penny ante poker with some buddies in high school. One of my friends swore up and down that his uncle was a card shark and had taught him to play. Naturally he lost every hand he was dealt and received no end of derision from me and my friends. His uncle apparently was also a pool shark. My friend fared little better playing pool, and he received an equal amount of derision about that too.

I listened to Eric Clapton for the first time during a poker game with my buddies. The album was Timepieces. I also listened to Robert Cray for the first time when we were playing poker. We were 17 or 18 years old at the time.

In college I had some friends who played poker in the dorms, and they played for real money, not the penny ante stuff we were used to playing for. It was controversial and the subject of much gossip in the dorm. One of those guys now occasionally joins me at some of the local poker clubs in Dallas.

After college, when I was in my early and mid twenties, we still got together for nickel ante games at my apartment, but I never seemed to improve as a player at all. These games were all excuses to drink whiskey and beer, socialize with friends, and eat junkfood. One guy we used to play with regularly was a pretty well off salesguy, or so he let on, who had once dated Playboy playmate Stacy Sanchez, or so he said. He was an awfully good poker player to be sure whether or not he was telling the truth.

Now I play online most of the time, for real money, and occasionally play in a cardroom. I've witnessed firsthand the changing face of poker in my own life and experience. The changes I like the most involve more profit from my play. The changes I like the least involve less interaction with my friends. And of course I seldome drink when I play anymore.

Ultimate Bet

Monday, September 06, 2004


Poker News

Been reading the news online about poker--here are a few links to what I thought were interesting articles.

Poker proves a hot hand for the gaming industry
Online and off, card game draws players with money, competition.

Local businesses are cashing in on television poker craze
Metro-east retailers are cashing in their chips as poker's popularity has reached beyond Las Vegas and into American homes via televised poker tournaments.

‘Scotty Warbucks’ Wins
Article from Phil Hellmuth at Cardplayer

Ultimate Bet

Saturday, September 04, 2004


Thursday Night Poker in Dallas

Thursday night I played poker in Dallas. The poker scene in Dallas is a lively one, and I understand that there are over 30 cardrooms here. (I think that might be an understatement.) I've also read that if you can beat the poker games in Dallas, you can beat the poker games anywhere, because the players in Dallas are good. I don't know if that's true or not, but I took my $400 bankroll down to the club and sat down.

I met my friend Todd at Wizard's before going over to the poker club. Wizards has free poker tournaments on Tuesday and Thursday nights at 7pm and 10pm. Looked like they had about 100 or so players this last Thursday night, so it's obviously doing well for them. Had two shots of Crown Royal before heading over to the poker room.

I played in a single table tournament first, and busted out on my very second hand. I had pocket Q's and played them aggressively before the flop. I was heads up with a very attractive Asian girl who had suited connectors (hearts I think). She flopped her flush, and I flopped a set of Q's. She went all in and like a fool I called her. I keep forgetting that it takes a stronger hand to call a raise than it does to make a raise.

The cash game after the tournament went pretty well though. I won about $230 and seemed to make every draw that I attempted. This was a good thing too, because it made up for the $40 entry fee to the tournament, and it also made up for the $200 I lost there a couple of weeks beforehand.

Not much else to report, other than that I've been checking out some more poker rooms online, and I'll be writing some reviews of the different place soon. The online poker room I like best now is Ultimate Bet. Check it out--great software, and I won 2nd in my first SnG there too.

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