Monday, August 27, 2007

Monday Recap, Math Pimp, and New Poker Books

Another Monday, and another Mondays at the Hoy tonight on full tilt:



Come one and come all tonight at 10pm ET on full tilt (password is "hammer" as always) to the par-tay known as Mondays at the Hoy, where we suddenly have a 3-way virtual tie for first place between Bayne, Columbo and myself for domination atop the 2007 Hoy moneyboard, with the three of us separated by just $13 total won during all of 2007 from my weekly Monday night tournament. At this point, the first one of the three of us to cash at all in the MATH will take the new moneyboard lead, and a tournament win at this point will be deadly to the competition as we head out of summer and into fall in much of the country for this year. So come out tonight and beat down on Bayne and Columbo, my closest competitors in the MATH this year. Good times.

So what else? Well I did fail to mention this on Thursday, but the Hammer family was away on a mini-vacation this weekend, first to Sesame Place on Friday, and then to my parents' place for the weekend for our annual trip to celebrate their anniversary (and really to swim in the pool in the backyard as the last days of summer are upon us). In our case that included a beautiful, 96-degree day on Saturday that ended with anniversary dinner and then I even got to show my two girls the stars for the first time in their short life. Living in Manhattan there is not much to see in the way of celestial objects other than the sun and moon, and even what few stars you can see are pretty much out of reach of my kids, who generally go to sleep long before it is dark in the summertime. That said, on Saturday we got back from a late dinner, well past the Hammer Girls' normal bedtime, and when we got back to my parents' home it was brilliantly clear out and I laid down in the grass is the side yard and just had the girls look up at the night sky for a bit. And let me tell you, there is nothing to compare to hearing the wonder and awe in my older daughter M's voice when I informed her that that bright "star" up over my parents' neighbors' tree was actually not a star at all, but was actually Jupiter. "You mean the real life planet Jupiter, Daddy?" "That's right, M. The real Jupiter." "Wooooooooooowwww". It was pretty awesome, and if M ends up having a lifelong interest in astronomy like her old man, I will probably never forget that night as when it all started for her. We've done tons of puzzles and read tons of stories about the planets, the stars, etc., but Saturday night out on my parents' lawn was the first time that it really clicked for M, the whole thing that those planets in the puzzles are real life things that you could actually see or even fly to if given enough time, and it was a thrill to be there just to see that epiphany in a bright young girl's mind for the first time.

In the poker world, I did wake up on Monday morning to a text message from Don that he, Chad (note new blog link there) and LJ played the $340 mtt at the Venetian this weekend, and that our favorite female blogger busted out with a 3rd place finish for $3200 and change. Wow is all I can say. Following up on her recent 3rd place finish in the 32k on full tilt a couple of weeks back, this is another huge score for LJ, so go stop by and congratulate her at her blog when you get the chance.

Otherwise, I realize I have been truly remiss in talking about some of the latest poker literature that has grabbed my fancy over the past couple of months. I recently completed the Full Tilt Poker Tournament Strategy Guide, which overall I would say was very good poker reading, even if I was familiar already with the majority of the concepts discussed in the book. Some articles, such as the no-limit section by Howard Lederer, annoyed the crap out of me as they clearly indicate Howard's unwillingness to actually give away any of his secrets regarding poker's most complex game. Other sections seemed just too esoteric to me to be truly helpful, and in this area I would include Andy Bloch's numbers-oriented focus on preflop nlh play as well as Richard "I cheated Bally's video poker machines but won't admit it" Brody's over-generalized freeflow conversation about online poker tournaments. But many of the sections, however, were really informative and detailed and complete, with some of the better ones including Chris Ferguson's preflop and postflop nlh chapters (top notch stuff from a top notch player IMO), Howard Lederer's limit holdem topic which was basically just a rehash of his previously-released lhe DVDs, and a surprisingly good chapter on O8 tournaments by Mike "The Mouth" Matusow, whom I never figured to have much good to say but who consistently surprised me with good, specific and smart strategy offerings in O8, the donkiest of the major poker variants.

I also recently completed a book I mentioned here a week or two ago, Winning in Tough Hold'em Games by Geoff Herzog and Nick Grudzien. This is a book that I recommend reading for all serious holdem players -- even though the text is geared specifically towards limit holdem, the concepts, and the general aggressive strategy advocated throughout the book are extremely valuable for anyone who takes their poker play seriously, especially if you play a lot in shorthanded or high-limit games, or if you make a lot of final tables and constantly find yourself in situations where everyone has to be aggressive if you expect to hang on to the end. This book was technical in places, but it never gets too technical and I never glazed over entire mathy sections as I have in some other texts on occasion. Just the last 50 pages or so of this book alone, where author Grudizen takes you through a number of actual lhe hands he has played, and describes his thought process and analysis in each, is worth the price of the book, as just reading and absorbing the author's thought process on these hands is IMO invaluable again to anyone who thinks seriously of poker and poker concepts. I heartily recommend this book if you are such a person or such a poker player, and I find it highly unlikely that anyone would not see the value in such book once you have read through it all, and I commend the two authors for a very strong first effort in the world of poker texts.

Lastly, I have just started a brand new poker book that, despite some initial trepidation, I am already quite positive I will enjoy after reading just the first 20 or 30 pages. That book is The Mathematics of Poker by Bill Chen and Jerrod Ankenman. Although the book looks as you glance through it like a way-too-mathy text, just reading the foreword and the introduction has me excited to delve more into this text, and specifically for the discussion of game theory included in the book.

In the Introduction to The Mathematics of Poker, the authors suggest that their book is different from other poker texts because, rather than breaking down the game into sections like "preflop play", "flop play" and "turn and river play", it will instead take a more wholistic view to each individual hand, and to a generalized strategy that represents the intimate connection between preflop, flop, turn and river strategy in each specific hand. I am a big, big fan of this approach, and the general thought got me thinking about something, which I would love to get some people's thoughts on. When I play, say, one of the regular blonkaments, most of the hands I go in to, I do not have an entire plan formulated for how I'm going to play the hand right from the getgo. This does happen on occasion, but most of the time, I may make a really loose call from the button preflop just based on my position, and I don't know yet whether I'm going to fold to action on the flop, call to float and try to steal the pot on the turn, or whether I intend to bet/raise the flop and lead the turn to try to take the pot down by brute force. I tend to make a lot of moves, in particular earlier in the hands when the betting is generally cheaper, as just initial steps, to which I plan to react based on my opponents' reactions, their bets or checks, and of course the cards that hit the board, and without some larger generalized plan for how I can win the hand right from before the flop is even out. Is that how the rest of you play most of the time, just running blindly into a lot of cheap flops without a plan for how to win or maximize my profit or minimize my loss with the hand? Sometimes I wonder if others play the game the same way that I do, and I am usually surprised and my poker game is usually enriched by the answers I receive.

That's it for today, other than to say that the Phillies are the worst team to be a fan of of all time. Now come by tonight to Mondays at the Hoy, and knock out Columbo and Bayne to help give me a chance to take back what is rightfully mine -- the top spot on the Hoy moneyboard for the year. See you then!

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6 Comments:

Blogger Blinders said...

Gald your reading the Math of Poker book. It is one of my favorites, though it is some very tough reading if you want to actually follow what they are trying to present. The approach to holdem is as good as it gets though NL Holdem is much to complicated to put the math around any semi complicated situation. I used their approach to do the Expectation Value of a Blind Steal post, which is probably something they may try to tackle in a second book. I think you will get a good feeling for Game Theory even if you can't follow all of the math, and thats worth the read alone.

11:46 PM  
Blogger Alan aka RecessRampage said...

I'm in perfect agreement to the "big picture" approach. I'm still learning to apply that in tournaments but in a cash game, that's literally what I am all about. It's not so much about playing certain hands in certain positions but rather, just changing it around. I don't have a set formula for raising or reraising from whatever position. I've raised from UTG with 5-7 or some garbage, realising that that's $14 that I'm "throwing away" in that particular hand unless I hit it hard. But it's just to maintain a relative high VP$IP so that I also get actions with my big hands. And that has a lot more to do with actually raising with certain cards as it is just occasionally making random raises at times from random locations. It's like planting the seeds for the future, I guess.

At least that's how I look at it and I think it's working out for me nicely.

12:17 AM  
Blogger Pseudo_Doctor said...

As to viewing the game as a whole set of events instead of specific events I completely agree. I do however have a specific plan on how I'm going to play hands with regards to opponents that are either 1) loose with a big stack and 2) My MARK at the table. If I'm in a hand where either of those two criteria aren't met then I pretty much just rely on my experience to play the hand out. Unless your playing in a regular game with the same type of people it would be impossible to have a specific game plan for every time you entered a pot because you wouldn't have a great grasp on the playing styles right away.

1:56 AM  
Blogger 4dbirds said...

Wow, I'd love to have a memory of staring at the stars with my father. He was always busy or exhausted from working. My memories are mostly of him yelling "sit down, shut up, don't turn the channel", you get the picture. Your daughters are lucky girls.

2:53 AM  
Blogger Dillo said...

Nice to read your mention of the night sky and how your daughter enjoyed it. You should bring her down to Australia sometime. As long as you're not in the 'big smoke' it's amazing, and not to be taken for granted.

10:39 AM  
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12:55 AM  

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