Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Busy Busy Busy

I know there is really no excuse, but I have to admit that I have been ubelievably swamped over the past several days, and it has kept me from my normal blogging schedule. This isn't usually a problem for me, but I've had some days off from work and I've been running around trying to get everything done before the inevitable end-of-year crunch that happens, at least at my company where I work it does. Add to that that the IT dorks at my place of business have been fiddling with the list of sites that websense blocks through my office firewall, so I've run into some trouble over the past several days with keeping up with things blog-wise. But as always I will find a workaround, because I have been thoroughly enjoying how 2006 has been the Year of the Blog for me, and I'm not quite ready to hang it up yet. I have to admit, for probably the first time in the year or so I've been blogging at poker every single work day, I can actually see what Pauly, Iggy and others mean when they talk about feeling burnt out and just needing some time away from the blog once in a while to recharge, get their bearings, etc. I still feel strongly about this blog and I plan to keep writing in it daily, don't get me wrong. But it's just the first time I have ever been able to even conceive of not wanting to keep up with my daily commitment to poker, to writing about poker, and to trying to provoke some of your thoughts about this game weall know and love.

All that said, I realize that I am really overdue in a general poker update on my own play. This whole thing did start out as a daily poker journal of my online play, so it doesn't hurt to actually return to my roots in a sense once in a while and let you all know what I've been up to, poker-wise. I've been playing a lot lately, including even a little live tournament play, although I continue to focus on non-holdem games at least as much as the old nlh tournament standbys. This means I've been hitting up the good ol' 25k when possible at night, although lately this tournament has not been the priority for me that it once was. Instead, I've been focusing on that nightly 10:15pm ET HORSE multi-table tournament on full tilt, where I have final tabled twice but not actually in a few weeks now. I've also been playing that $11 PLO tournament on pokerstars at 11:15pm ET almost every night lately. I know I mentioned this tournament earlier, but to recap this is an $11 rebuy pot limit Omaha (high) tournament, that features 1 rebuy and 1 addon, and that's it. It's been getting in the upper 100s of players every night, and I've been hitting that shit every chance I get.

But here's the thing. I've been fucking Bubble Boy for most of the past two or three weeks. I'm at the point where my solid knowledge and experience in all the games is enough to regularly get me past the first half or more of the eliminations almost every single night in these events. However, invariably I am bouncing out somewhere between 50 and 30 players remaining almost every single time I play one of these non-holdem tournaments just lately. I can't exactly explain why, although I am introspective enough and open-minded enough to appreciate that it is highly unlikely that bubbling with this consistency is pure randomness. Most likely, this is indicative of some kind of leak in my non-holdem game, although for the life of me I can't put my finger on anything specific. In general, if someone were regularly bubbling any kind of tournament, I would tend to think they are not being aggressive enough and getting themselves into a position to have a big stack as the money spots approach. However, take it from me if you don't already know this about me (somehow) -- lack of aggression is not my problem, even outside of the holdem world. So I'm not quite sure exactly what is going wrong with my Omaha and HORSE games of late, but there's got to be some reason that I am hitting an extraordinary amount of bubbles just late in my non-nlh tournament action, and I have got to figure out why. To be fair, I have final tabled a few events, most recently a $30 PLO tournament on pokerstars a few nights ago, but in the end the bubble eliminations have been far more common than the cashes and final tables, and a lot more common than I am satisfied with to be sure.

In general, I've been thinking a lot lately of my HORSE game, and about which games in the HORSE format are my strongest, weakest, etc. For a guy who learned to play poker against the denizens in Billy's poker room at Bally's in Atlantic City some twenty years ago, and who has then focused on holdem tournaments for the better part of the last several years, you would think that the H and the S of the HORSE format would be the most profitable games for me. Not so. In reality, looking at things objectively, my most profitable leg of most HORSE tournaments I play in is without a doubt Razz. That's right. Razz. The little phucking bitch herself. I've had more HORSE events that started off bad, but then managed to turn around on the strength of one or two huge razz hands than I could count at this point. So I've got to give razz its props, it is secretly my best of all the HORSE games, who would have ever thunk it?

Probably not surprisingly, next on the list for me is stud hilo. This is a game I've played forever and I feel very comfortable in most any hilo context in almost any hilo game. And it's a game that has also been very good to me in terms of my HORSEplay (pun intended). Stud high, as compared to its hilo cousin, is a game that I know how to play but which I always seem to lose too much coin while chasing draws I feel I "can't" lay down -- you know what I mean, the four flushes on 4th street, the open end straight draws on 5th, the two pairs on 5th that can make a big boat for a huge scoop. Stuff like that. While in hilo I seem to have a very useful grasp of the fine line between aggro and stoopid play, at stud high I seem to get caught in these -EV situations far more often than I feel I should, so that is a weakness in my stud high game that I need to continue to work on. It's hard because I almost never find myself in a mood for a stud-high game, largely because there seem to be such tighter starting hand requirements than most of the other HORSE games, but of course the only way to really improve at these games is to play them, to practice, practice, practice until the proper play comes as second nature to me.

Next on my list of HORSE games is Omaha hilo split. While I find myself to be quite proficient at Omaha high at this point, from playing both cash games and tournaments of the pot-limit variety in what has recently become my favorite poker variant to play online, I have to admit to myself that for whatever reason, the details of excellent O8 play have eluded me thus far. I think I have a very solid grasp of starting hand requirements and such in O8, and I've read and re-read all of the great
Omaha and O8 books and authors, and have really absorbed the material provided by these guys. Somehow, I need to figure out why I keep getting quartered in pots where I think I have the nuts for half, and why I keep getting counterfeited and losing to better hands I thought were going to be far worse. I know some of this is obviously just a part of the game, but my O8 performances in my HORSE play online don't lie, so I must be missing something.

And all this leads me to my big admission of the day: My Limit Holdem game sucks. I mean, it really, really sucks. So much so, that I have for this very reason started reading over the past couple of months the books that everyone typically identifies as the definitive works on LHE. It's long overdue for me to learn some of the nuances of limit holdem, in particular because many of the world's grinders make their nut from playing this game, one that I have generally associated with a part of the female anatomy most of the time. As I've been reading, I have to say that I am more and more intrigued with all the fancy moves you can make with limit that you simply couldn't even consider in no-limit, and I am beginning to be a little bit intrigued. That's about as far as I'll take it for now, but suffice it to say, I have identified the fairly embarrassing concept that my weakest poker variation, by far, is Limit Holdem, and that is something that I plan to change over the coming weeks and months. You can probably expect to see some more hand analysis involving limit holdem situations as I struggle to learn and see others' input on key limit hands.

In all, I've been having a real blast with my non-holdem poker tournament games lately since the last time we've chatted about this. In fact, the cool thing is that my nlh tournament game has actually been fairly strong as well. Not only did I recently make my first-ever live casino cash by finishing in 2nd out of 30-some players in a $100 buyin nlh tournament in AC, but I cashed in the Hoy tournament last night, my second Hoy cash in a month, to go along with my recent cashes in the Blogger Big Game and the Mookie. I've also been playing to a nice profit in some sng action on full tilt, an area I really haven't delved into since learning to play poker during that fateful few months in late 2005, the very sames ones that eventually led to the creation of this blog. Who knew?

I should be back to my regular daily postings here now, although the usual times of my posts may change a bit as I try to adjust to whatever it is I have to do during the time being. And as I mentioned earlier in the week, I've amassed a ton of cool hands to profile and for you to review and comment on. You should be seeing many of these over my next several postsregularly-scheduled poker posts. And hey -- if I don't get off this non-holdem bubble soon, I'm going to have to go on another major rant on somebody here on the blog, just like the thing that worked so well to change my luck earlier in the month and still seems at least partially with me as I write this now.


Blogger Mike Maloney said...

Funny that you bring up websense, because some time over the past week they blocked your blog at my office. Those bastards.

5:46 AM  
Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

Mine too, Mike! What category does Websense place my blog under?

10:28 AM  

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