Saturday, March 28, 2015

Don't rest on your laurels

Above: The laurel shrub has given rise to the idiom "Don't rest on your laurels." It means to feel comfortable because you've been successful in the past. (See here.)

I haven't been blogging much, but I have been busy. Last summer I went to the WSOP, entered two events, played seven days and won a lot of money. At my age, I could be excused for (as they say) resting on my laurels, but I haven't done that.

Shortly after returning, I explored online training videos again, something I had talked to PokerBug about in private e-mails. This was something I tried before, and became discouraged. Most of them are so poorly produced, that I can't stand to watch them, even if under all the crap there is some worthwhile content. Here's an example: A guy opened up six or seven windows and played a MTT in each. Folks, this is confusing. He kept opening and closing windows, and I couldn't follow what was happening. In one, he had pocket 6s and folded early on. I'm not sure why because stacks were deep enough that set mining would be profitable. If you think it's right to fold, then please say why, ok? I just gave up -- too much work to follow it for too little benefit.

On another, the guy who was conducting the video kept sniffing and making funny sounds with his throat. He also kept raising his voice to a loud volume, then talking low as he ran out of breath. Why make me work to hear what you are saying? And I'm paying you money? The guy was doing this as part of his profession, but perhaps he needed a voice coach himself in how to not be so obnoxious distracting.

Finally, I found Jonathan Little's web site. He is not only a good poker player, but has good teaching skills. After digesting the free stuff, I signed up for his paid site, It costs $10 per month, cheap enough, but he teases more content that he charges extra for. I'm okay with that. If I like it (he usually gives you a free hour, then charges for the whole package), I'm okay with paying more. If I don't think it's worth it, I don't pay. Easy peasy. In the meantime, there are webinars and other content more than worth the 10 bucks.

There is a ton of free content online, too. Have any or you watched Jason Somerville on Twitch TV? Jonathan Little is also on Twitch. Really valuable stuff for free if you are willing to go there and use the search function!

Podcasts by Andrew Brokos and Nate Meyvis also are free and have strategy sections as well as interviews with interesting poker players. The price is right, so why not?

I've also bought more poker books. I've read enough of them, that I've gotten fairly good at guessing which will be worthwhile. Here's one by Zachary Elwood: Verbal Poker Tells. If you don't want to buy it, why not go to his web site where he gives you free content (See here.) He has posted 10 or so videos on You Tube and you can link directly to them from here.

Changing gears, sort of. Thirteen months ago, I damaged a disc, the L5 lumbar vertebrae. Sitting and playing poker (or bridge) for hours can be painful because of that. I've been going to a fitness center to try and strengthen the muscles that support that disk.

When I go to a tournament, I try and eat right and make sure I get plenty of sleep. At the WSOP, I dropped by the Poker Kitchen one day during the dinner break to pick up a salad to take to my room. I saw players loading up with huge meals. Don't try and tell me they can play their best doing that. Notice I said go to my room? Getting rest, avoiding distractions and NOT talking about poker during the break are important. Energy is like a glass of water -- you only have so much of it (certainly true at my age). Yet, I can hang with the young guys because I pace myself.

I have lots of time now that I'm retired. No reason not to work on my game. Going to a casino and playing isn't enough. If you have bad habits, playing more just reinforces those.

Another thing: When I go to Las Vegas, I buy my entry ahead of time. Why wait to the last minute and stand in line? When the tournament starts, I'm fresh and ready to go. Another advantage of buying early is this: I have trouble seeing the board cards from Seats two, three, seven, and eight. I usually ask to have a seat in one of the others, and they've always accommodated me. I suppose it helps being accommodated when they see this little old man. I suppose it helps I come early, such as the day before when there's no line.

I know my limitations as a poker player, but I'm trying to maximize the skills I have. What about you?

* * *

Where did the expression "Rest on your laurels" come from? If you are wondering, click here.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Two bridge deals from NOLA

Playing with Buddy Hanby in the final session of the Silodor Open Pairs, I picked up:

J 5 2 A K J 5 Q 5 J 10 9 6.

With the opponents silent, Buddy opened 1, I responded 1 and Buddy rebid 3.

We were playing a weak 1NT (12 to 14 high-card points), so 2 would have been 15 to 17 HCP. Therefore, his jump rebid showed 16 to 18 points with a distributional hand or 18 HCP and a balanced hand. If he has the balanced hand, we have 30 HCP and hands like this often make the same in notrump as in a trump suit -- you are off the same tricks in either.

I rebid 3NT knowing he would pass with the 18 balanced and correct with the distributional hand. Buddy passed, and here are all four hands (I was North):

East led the K and I ducked. He shifted to the 10 which I won to play the ace of clubs and another. When East didn't rise with his K, I was able to set up a second club trick to make four for a score of 630 and 72.5 matchpoints on a 90 top. Most players were in 4 going set one with the horrible split.

Here's another deal with the same principle. My partner Sandy opened 1NT (15 to 17 HCP) in the Mixed Pairs, and I held:

9 6 A K J 5 3 K 7 Q J 7 3.

I again knew we had 29 to 31 HCP, so bid 3NT. Here is the layout:

The opening lead was the 10, but it didn't matter. The opponents won their two aces, the same two tricks they would win in 4. This one was even more spectacular scoring 62.5 on a 64 top. Sometimes when you bid like this, they lead your five-card suit. Notice this South picked her doubleton spade, but she could have just as easily led a heart.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Another Saturday in NOLA

The bridge has been just okay. I placed in the low overalls in the Silver Ribbon and Silodor Open Pairs. Sandy and I qualified for the finals of the Mixed and had one nice game and one nightmare. You can find all the results here.

I've taken today off. Went sightseeing (see photos below), watched some NCAA basketball, and might go play poker tonight (Harah's Casino is two blocks away).

I wrote that I went sightseeing. Actually I went walking and people watching and took these photos.

Above: Bourbon Street was my first stop. I've seen it before, but had forgotten that it smells bad and doesn't offer much if one doesn't drink. Still, there are interesting sights and people.

Above: Instead of a cab, you can sit in a contraption like this and let the guy pedal away. He's checking his phone while between customers.

Above: There are lots of guys like this character who work for tips. He would stick his tongue out like Kiss, so I guess that's what he thinks he looks like.

Above: On Canal Street, you can take a tram to just about anywhere for $1.25, but 40 cents if you're a old codger senior like moi.

Above: I revisited Jackson Square on Decatur Street. This brass band was working for tips.

Above: This senior citizen played oldies but goodies.

Above: The Marriott Hotel has been my home for 10 days. (I'm leaving Monday morning.)

Photos taken with my point-and-shoot.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

A Saturday in NOLA

The bridge didn't go well Friday, and we didn't qualify for the finals of the IMP Pairs. Instead of playing bridge in some event we weren't interested in, my partner and I took the day off and went sightseeing. We took a Grey Line Tour called Super City. It was only slightly longer than two hours, so we then went to Jackson Square, always a photo op.

Above: There was art for sale on all four sides of Jackson Square -- some of it nice, most of it cheap stuff for tourists.

Above: Silver Man performed for tips. This lady was dressed for St. Patrick's Day, wasn't she?

Above: The St. Louis Cathedral is supposed to be famous. I believe the Pope gave a talk there when he toured the U.S. in 1987 (or maybe he preached - I'm not exactly sure what Popes do).

Above: There was a long line of tarot card readers. I'm not familiar with what they do, but they looked interesting. Would you want this guy to predict your future?

Above: This tarot card reader presented another photo op.

Above: The White Lady (my name for her) was still, but sprang to life when a sucker person like me dropped some cashola in her bucket.