Posts Tagged ‘Texas holdem’

General notes on East Coast road trips, or: More morning motivation

June 17, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
June 17, 2017

I recently made one of a number of hometown pilgrimages that I undertake each year. On Wednesday, the eve before my return to North Carolina, my Parental Unit and I were discussing what time on Thursday I planned to depart. (I’d asked to be awoken by 9 if I wasn’t already up and about.)

P.U. then asked if I was trying to get back to the Old North State for any particular event. “Nope,” I responded flippantly.

Actually, this answer was in the nebulous realm between truth and untruth. I typically play free bar-league poker in Raleigh on Thursday evenings, and I prefer to arrive in time to participate in the early game, which begins at 7 p.m. (There’s a 20-minute grace period for late arrivals.) So there was that incentive for returning to Carolina by a particular time.

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Robert does me dirty: In which a terrible man beats me terribly at free poker

June 13, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
June 13, 2017

Time for more tales of free poker!

Last night, shortly after the late tournament consolidated from two tables to one, blinds were 10,000–20,000; as it happened, 20,000 was all that the fellow in the big blind had. I was sitting in first position with suited ace-10, both hearts. Naturally, I called. So did Robert, the player on my left. A third player did as well.

The flop, it seemed, could hardly have been better for me. The first card out was an ace; then came a four, followed by a second ace. That gave me three of a kind. I checked.

Not so Robert, who went all in for 65,000. The other live player folded; I counted Robert’s chips, sorted through mine and announced that I would call.

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Regional championships, Aug. 27, 2016: Finale

September 6, 2016

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Sept. 6, 2016

We pick up the action late in the afternoon of World Tavern Poker’s North Carolina Central East Regional Championships on Aug. 27, 2016. You can also read my accounts of the first part and the second part of this event. 

After I raked in my big pot, there were at least five tables left in the tournament, meaning that 45 or so players remained. That was good — we’d started with 26 overall, I believe — but there was plenty of work to be done before I could claim to have accomplished anything…

Most poker tournaments have an ebb and flow: You win a hand, or maybe a few hands, and then you go through a dead period in which either you lose a few chips or nothing much happens. I went through a dry spell, watching other people win and lose massive amounts of chips, while I waited for a hand worth playing. I entered a few pots, but nothing big, and none of them worked out in my favor.

Finally, not long after blinds went up to something intimidating — either 4,000–8,000 or 5,000–10,000 — I found myself sitting in the small blind with king-two off-suit, which is a lousy hand. (The website Holdem Tight ranks it 135th out of 169 possible starting hands.) Because blinds were so big, I considered sitting out. Instead, I decided to call.

One of the reasons I did was that my participation would make the hand three-handed; that is, there would be three players — myself, the big blind and a gentleman three or so seats to my right who had called.

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Regional championships, Aug. 27, 2016: Part 2

September 3, 2016

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Sept. 3, 2016

We pick up the action late in the afternoon of World Tavern Poker’s North Carolina Central East Regional Championships on Aug. 27, 2016. Click here for an account of the first part of the tournament

Finally, there was a (figurative) knock at the (metaphorical) door. I found myself on the button — that is, the dealer — with pocket fives. Few if any people had called the hand, and I don’t think that anyone had raised, suggesting that I had a superior hand relative to the other players. I raised and got a call from the woman immediately to my left, who had what seemed to be an immense stack.

The flop excited me, because it contained a five. That gave me three of a kind.

However, I was faced with a classic poker dilemma. In many hands, there is a tension between maximizing the amount of chips in the pot and actually winning the hand. If you pretend to have weak cards by betting small amounts, your opponent or opponents are likely to call your bets, thereby increasing the amount of chips in the pot. The flaw with this tack, alas, is that as more players see more community cards, their chances of having their hand improve rise. This means, of course, that your chances of maintaining the best hand decrease.

One can minimize the risk of losing a hand by betting big on it. This has two potential flaws, however. One is that you scare off opponents who are on a draw. That is, people who are hoping that the flop or the turn or the river will improve their hand will fold rather than calling your bet. You can win this way, but you won’t win as many chips as you would if opponents had called your smaller bets and you wound up with the strongest hand.

The other problem with betting big is that your opponent can call you and win, either because she or he started off ahead or because the community cards helped her or him. This can be true when you bet small, too, but at least in that case you can abandon the pot with relatively minimal losses.

At any rate, just by betting small enough that my opponent could see first the flop and then the turn, I was taking a risk. So when the turn came out— a three, I believe, which I didn’t perceive as causing me any potential trouble — I declared all in.

My foe called me right away, which surprised me. I showed my pocket fives. “I have three of a kind,” I said, somewhat tentatively.

“I have a straight,” she said gleefully, revealing the two and four of hearts. “And I need one card for a straight flush.”

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Regional championships, Aug. 27, 2016: Part 1

September 2, 2016

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Sept. 2, 2016

About two years ago, I wrote about my victory in a satellite tournament at a regional championship. I finished 34th out of 285 players in the actual main event, which was the best I’d finished in the regionals…

Until last weekend.

After yet another unremarkable performance in the satellite games (I placed in the top 20 once, at 13th, which yielded a thoroughly pedestrian 9,000 points), I arrived at the second-floor hotel ballroom a little after 2 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 27. They organizers opened up a new table, No. 25, in what they call “the Pit” — the final three tables that would be used as the event approached its conclusion. I ended up sitting among several players I didn’t recognize and three I did. One of these familiar faces belonged to a fairly wild player, and I started salivating over the prospect of engaging this person in a one-on-one hand.

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More tales of free poker: The hungry and disgruntled player

July 13, 2016

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
July 13, 2016

The evening started off well enough. In an early hand against a man named Aziz, whom I know sometimes plays junk, I started off with the ace and jack of diamonds and hit a jack on the flop, which gave me top pair and top kicker. He went all in following either the turn or the river, and after thinking, I decided to commit. He had nothing better than a low pair, and I raked in a nice pot.

The game progressed, shrinking from four tables to two. (I was seated at the same table throughout the tournament.) About once an orbit, I would be dealt a pair, and I continued to bet aggressively on them — I usually went all in, because my stack was respectable but modest compared to what other folks had. Everyone kept on folding, leaving me to collect only the blinds, which isn’t great but is better than losing.

A boisterous player named Jon arrived, the very same man who had gotten me involved in World Tavern Poker in the first place, albeit indirectly — although that’s a story for another time. (It isn’t all that interesting, frankly…) Around the same time, we hit the 5,000–10,000 blind level. The tournament director, a.k.a. the TD, removed the black chips from the table, leaving us with only white chips, which have a nominal value of 5K.

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Cheeps and Chirps for July 2, 2016

July 2, 2016

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
July 2, 2016

Please enjoy some more recent odds and ends from my Twitter feed.

• Comedy!

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Anatomy of a hand gone wrong

June 23, 2016

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
June 23, 2016

This happened earlier this week, but already a few of the details are vague.

In the big blind, I find myself holding the queen and jack of hearts. I raise to 1,800 chips. A few people come along, including Aziz, the dealer.

The flop includes two hearts, one of which is either the 10 or nine of hearts. (The non-heart is something lowish — a three or a six, say.) I make a modest bet.

The turn is a heart — either the nine or the 10, whichever one wasn’t part of the flop. Now I have a flush. Moreover, this card gives me the nine through the queen of hearts, leaving me open-ended for the rarest and best hand in poker: The straight flush, five cards in consecutive order that all belong to the same suit.

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June 2016 pokerpalooza: The rest of the mess

June 13, 2016

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
June 13, 2016

Tournament of champions semifinals, Tuesday afternoon, June 7, 2016. When I busted out of the national championship event, I wasn’t quite done with my pursuit of glory. By virtue of a second-place finish in a tavern tournament of champions event a few months earlier, I had qualified for the semifinals of the national TOC.

The previous year, I’d had a deep and entertaining run in the finals of the national TOC (or half of the finals, anyway — but I digress) at the very same venue. This time, however, I had to make my way through the semifinals just in order to get to the finals.

The format of the semifinals is a shootout, something I dislike. To advance to the finals, you have to be one of the final two players at your table. (Players don’t move from table to table, as normally happens when competitors are eliminated.)

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June 2016 pokerpalooza: Day 3, tournament 5

June 12, 2016

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
June 12, 2016

National championship finals, Tuesday morning, June 7, 2016. When I got back to the motel early Tuesday after that night’s epic near-miss, I asked the front desk clerk for some paper, a pen and some tape. wrote a note to my roommates: “Please wake me up at 8:30 but not before.” I attended to some matters in the lobby bathroom before retiring for the night in room 173.

All three of my roommates were asleep. I taped the note on the wall above my cot. I blacked out just after 4 a.m. and awoke about five hours later. (As it turned out, nobody saw the note that I’d taped to the wall above my cot.)

The motel served a complimentary breakfast until 9:30, so I put on pants and shoes and a baseball hat and dashed over to the dining room to grab some yogurt, some muffins and a small glass of water. When I finished this extremely modest feast, I went back to my room and closed my eyes for a little longer. About an hour after I’d first awoken, I got up and prepared to shower, only to find that there were no longer any dry bath towels. I asked two of my roommates to get some more from the front desk as they headed over to the casino for the ultimate national championship session, which would get under way at 11 a.m.

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