Trip Reports — the poker how to

May 20th, 2009 — Surfing, Trip Reports

I just got back from Nicaragua.  Sunny weather, warm water, big clean waves – everything a surfer could ask for.

Flying out of Miami, my Dad and I arrived in Managua, and took a bumpy, dusty ride to the Surf Sanctuary about 3 hrs to the south.

The friendly American owners greeted us on our arrival.

We ate a delicious fresh-cooked meal and enjoyed the brand-new accomodations with pool table, AC, and internet.

I hoped to play poker during my stay, but the central american internet was good for email and chat but not stable enuogh for poker.

After dinner we took the short ride to the beach to check out the waves.


Dad, while playing pool, befriended a group of cheerful brazilian surfers.  The next morning we all drove north to Popoyo.

Popoyo is a fun, rippable wave, both lefts and rights.  Bigger sets would roll through periodically.


The tide rose and softened up the smaller waves.  We had a blast!


After lunch, the brazilians took us to an un-named surf spot they dubbed “little popoyo.”  The wave broke off a large outcropping of lava rock!  I kept my distance from the rock, but the brazilians would charge waves mere meters from the cliff.


Little popoyo breaks slowly, yielding big open faces for carves and cutbacks.   Lots of fun.


Surfed out, we ate a delicious dinner of locally grown chicken, vegetables, rice and beans at Surf Sanctuary, and crashed for the night.  Stay tuned for part 2!

Traveling the World Surfing and Playing Poker

May 1st, 2009 — General, Hand Analysis, Poker Tips, Surfing, Trip Reports

So after a long hiatus I’m back!


I’ve spent the last 6 months playing poker and traveling the world surfing, most recently to Hawaii.

Poker gives me the perfect combination of flexible schedule and portability – I can play free poker from anywhere that has an internet connection, and when the waves are up I can drop what I’m doing and go!

Hawaii was incredible!   I went with my fianceé Maria, we stayed in Waikiki for 3 days, and then we stayed on the North Shore for 5 days.  We were lucky to get some late-season swell on the north shore, and Maria snapped some awesome photos.


I’ll be recounting both poker adventures and surfing adventures in my posts from now on.

Poker, too!

Poker-wise I’m continuing to play $5/10 NL, and while game conditions have changed they are still quite beatable.

I’ve seen an increase in aggression in recent months, with many players becoming more tenacious about fighting for pots, and more paranoid about being bluffed.

Here’s an example that illustrates the change in the games, and also a counter-strategy.

$5/10 w/ $1400 stacks.
I raise Q♦K♥ on the CO to $35, and an aggressive, tenacious player in the blinds 3bets to $125.  I call.

A few years ago this would be a turbofold, nowadays a call is totally standard, and some argue for reraising!

Flop: K♦ 3♣ 4♥  (Pot: $260)

Villain bets $165 into $260.  This is a standard-sized cbet especially on a dry board.

A year ago I might have called for pot control, and to see what develops on the turn and river.  I wouldn’t want to build a big pot, because if I got the full 140bbs in my opponent would usually have AK, KK, or AA.

Today, however, I make a glorified min-raise to $400.  My opponent has been aggressive with 3bets, and is paranoid about being bluffed.

He also likely assumes(here his suspicions set in) that I would 4bet him preflop if I had a hand like A-K, and that I might be inclined to slowplay 444 or 333 on such a dry flop.

He quickly reraises all-in for  $1275 total, I call.  He shows 77.

While this player is more aggressive than normal, it illustrates an important point – by making my hand look like I’m getting frustrated and fighting back my opponent’s over-aggression and suspicion works to my advantage.

The hardest part about this hand is hitting top pair, haha!

Good luck at the tables!

California Trip Report – High Stakes Poker Adventure – Part III

October 31st, 2007 — Hand Analysis, Trip Reports

When we left off I had just doubled up and was getting back into the action with a stack of ~$4k, playing 20/40 NL in a fast-paced live game running 6-handed.

The Waiting Game

The game was playing very aggressive, and very “actiony” – players willing to call raises preflop, reraise preflop, and get involved with less-than-premium holdings after the flop. I’m willing to play relatively tight and wait for high equity hands because of the action at the table.

I tread water for a few hours, losing and winning some small pots. I’m forced to fold postflop a number of times after raising and missing my hand – 88 doesn’t look so hot on a K9T flop when 3 people call your preflop raise.

I didn’t get many hands for a few hours, fortunately I was able to exploit my image a bit. I stole a couple pots on pure bluffs – I could donk the flop into the preflop raiser with backdoors and overcards and get a quick fold because of my nitty image. I also 3-barrelled(bet the flop, turn, and river strongly) a particularly dangerous board (AKxxx, 3 spades) against a good player who was capable of laying down an Ace.

I start to splash around a bit, but raising light is counterproductive when it is hard to take down a pot postflop and multiple players call raises – so I get a snack and settle in.

The Pots Keep Getting Bigger

I’m sitting with $3800 having lost a bit while splashing around. Everyone folds to an aggressive player in the small blind who covers me.

He open-raises to $140, I call with Tspade-27795328heart-5225351. I’m happy seeing a flop in position with different types of hands.

Flop: Jclub-9609425 9heart-5225351 7club-9609425 (Pot: $280)

Jackpot! I flop the nuts on a drawy board against an aggressive player. I’ve been splashing around a little, hopefully I look a bit more “action” than I did a few hours earlier.

He leads for $200, I raise to $700.

I need to build this pot early before an unfavorable turn or river card could kill my action – and raising the flop is the best way to give myself a chance to get my money in. Hopefully he will think I’m semi-bluffing, or trying to take a stand against the big stack. If I can encourage a “pissing contest” type confrontation, so much the better.

He calls in tempo.

Turn: (Jclub-9609425 9heart-5225351 7club-9609425) 7spade-2779532 (Pot: $1680)

The turn isn’t a great card since it could potentially make him a better hand, and gives worse hands like AA a four-out redraw. It doesn’t change my plan, though.

He checks, I bet $900. This will leave about $2000 left to bet in a $3500 pot if he calls the turn, a good sized river shove.

He starts reaching for chips, and asks the dealer for time. He asks me “Do you want the money to go in now, or on the river?”
I reply with my standard response to any question: “Whatever.”

He says “this is for the turn” and puts out a call of my $900, and then says “and this is for the river” and puts about $5k down, betting the river dark, and putting me all-in.

I call instantly, before the dealer gets a chance to burn + turn. My opponent seems a bit taken aback, I guess he put me on a draw and expected me to fold the river if I missed…

The River

The river, unfortunately, is the 9spade-2779532, leaving the board:

River: (Jclub-9609425 9heart-5225351 7club-9609425 7spade-2779532) 9spade-2779532 (Pot: $7600)

My opponent looks dismayed, so in my haste I turn over my cards before waiting to see his, and he mucks facedown! His likely holdings were an overpair, a draw, or a pure bluff – nothing else makes sense.

It’s incredible to have the dealer slide such an enormous pot in my direction, especially after such bad card for my hand hit on the river and it seemed like all might be lost. I was so stoked – it took me three hands to stack all my chips!

I played for awhile until I stopped for dinner, though no eventful hands followed.

Fortunately, I’d made quite a stack, turning a rough start into an awesome day!
The last day I played limit – I may do an Epilogue discussing some of the interesting LHE situations that came up, if there is interest.

I can’t wait to go back, live poker is a great change of pace, and it is exhilarating playing higher stakes than ever before. I hope you enjoyed the recount of my NL adventure!

California Trip Report – High Stakes Poker Adventure – Part II

October 27th, 2007 — Trip Reports

After a shower and some lunch I hopped back into a 20/40 game, this one was running 6handed and was more aggressive than the last table. I lost a couple pots and was down to $2500 but feeling good about my play. It was similar to an online 6max game, there were soft spots but there were also some tough opponents too.

My Biggest Pot Ever

My stack had dwindled to about $2500 after getting KK cracked and folding JJ in a reraised pot on a bad board, when I was dealt 8spade-27795328heart-5225351 2 off the button.

I made it $140 to go, the button and the SB both called, both have me covered.

Flop: 9spade-2779532 8diamond-16936252diamond-1693625 ($440 pot)

I lead for $300, button folds, and the SB checkraises to $700.
I “think” for a moment, and then go all-in for about $2360 total – he calls quickly with Kdiamond-16936259diamond-1693625.

Turn: (9spade-2779532 8diamond-16936252diamond-1693625) 4diamond-1693625 ($5160 pot)
River: 3heart-5225351

Ouch.  I got my money in as a significant favorite, and that’s all I can ask for – but boy did I want to win that one.  I wasn’t about to let frustration or tilt creep in, so I got back to work.

I decided to rebuy for $2k, since the players were calling preflop reraises very loosely, playing “deepstack” poker.   I felt I had a decent chance to double up if I picked up JJ+ or AK, since I would get a near-guaranteed call if I reraised preflop, building a pot big enough to commit with one pair on the flop.

Getting Back In The Action

After a couple orbits I get lucky and pick up Qdiamond-1693625Qheart-5225351 in the SB.  An aggressive player opens for $200 one off the button(CO), and the button, a somewhat fishy player, coldcalls. I make it $500 to go – a small reraise, but effective since my opponents will put money in with dominated hands. They both call, which is great for me – now I just need a decent flop.

Flop:4club-9609425 7spade-2779532 9 spade-2779532 (Pot: $1540)

This flop is safe enough that I can commit happily. I go allin for my remaining $1200 (I had just lost a pot and was a bit shorter), the CO folds, and the button calls with Qspade-2779532Jspade-2779532.

Turn: (4club-9609425 7spade-2779532 9 spade-2779532) 3club-9609425 (Pot: $3940)
River:( 4club-9609425 7spade-2779532 9 spade-2779532 3club-9609425) Tdiamond-1693625

My Queens hold up! I’m close to where I was before I lost the set hand, but still down a bit. I’m determined to succeed, and while the game is profitable there are some tough opponents. I hunker down, excitedly awaiting my next hand. I’m back in the action! It’s all going to come down to the next few hours…

California Trip Report – High Stakes Poker Adventure – Part I

October 24th, 2007 — Trip Reports

I arrived in California midday Thursday, a friend picked me up at the airport and we drove up to the casino for a weekend of poker.

Day 1:

I jumped into a juicy 10/20NL game with a $2000 stack – the games were very good, hopefully it would be a profitable weekend.

There were only 2 notable hands from day 1:

  • I raised AK under the gun(UTG) and got reraised by a tight player who was next to act (UTG+1). Live plays very differently than online, it is generally more passive, so I folded – he flashed KK.
  • I raised 7spade-27795325spade-2779532 and 3barreled a K63 2 club board against what turned out to be a fish, who called me down with a king.

This was mostly tilt, I was frustrated from folding for 4 hours and this particular player had not folded to my cbet yet on the flop in 6 different hands.

After some thought I realized that 4 hours = ~150 hands, which is less than I play in one hour online. I redoubled my efforts to play a patient game after my moment of weakness.

After a 6hr session I was down a bit, about $1200. I called it a night early because I was tired from my flight, determined to play my A game for the rest of the weekend.

Day 2:

I woke up early on Friday, and went downstairs to play some cards. The waiting list for the 10/20nl was very long, but there was a 20/40 game running 3handed so I bought in for $2000 there to minimize my risk until I could determine if the game was good.

The game was very good. I added on for $2k more and ordered some food, planning to play a long session. The table filled up and soon pots were 6way unraised – a juicy table to be sure!

Things started out rough. I got AA and KK cracked in the first couple hours, but I managed to get away from my hand both times and only lost medium-sized pots.

Making Use of My Image

I turned things around in two hands that complement each other.

Hand 1:

I raise AK to $140, unknown player calls in the big blind(BB).

Flop: Kdiamond-1693625 4spade-2779532 2heart-5225351 ($300)

I have a tight image at the table. With almost $4000 behind, I’m not happy getting my stack into this $300 pot on such a dry board. Furthermore, the only legitimate calling hands are Kx, so I opt to take a somewhat unorthodox line.

BB checks, I check.

Turn: (Kdiamond-1693625 4spade-2779532 2heart-5225351 ) Tclub-9609425 ($300)
BB checks, I bet $200, BB calls.

River: (Kdiamond-1693625 4spade-2779532 2heart-5225351 Tclub-9609425) 2club-9609425 ($700)
BB checks, I bet $450, BB calls.

I show my hand and BB mucks, I scoop the $1600 pot.

I gave my opponent a chance to bluff, and when he didn’t I value-bet. It’s possible I missed some value from KQ/KJ, but I don’t know his hand so it is possible he called down with just a T that could not have called the flop.

Such an unorthodox line later protects me.

Hand 2:

A somewhat aggressive player raises in middle position(MP) to $120, I reraise KK in the BB to $400, he calls.

The flop is: Aclub-9609425 Tdiamond-1693625 4spade-2779532 (pot: $820)
I check, MP bets $500, I call.

Turn: (Aclub-9609425 Tdiamond-1693625 4spade-2779532) 8spade-2779532
I check, MP checks.

River: (Aclub-9609425 Tdiamond-1693625 4spade-2779532 8spade-2779532) Qheart-5225351
I check, MP checks.

I flip my KK and villain mucks, ship the $1820 pot.

I was fortunate that my opponent did not have the guts to fire a second barrel, but he had seen me take unorthodox lines and check the flop to trap with strong hands before, so he could not be certain whether I was giving up or trapping him, which likely bought me my free showdown.

One aggressive player at the table commented on the hand, saying “i’m going to have to 2-barrel you!”
I would not be able to take such a vulnerable line again at this table today, but could potentially set some traps with my now-weakish image.

After a few more hours of play I was ready for a shower and some lunch, so I took my leave of the table.
Stay tuned for part 2, where I run into some real tough spots in an aggressive, shorthanded 20/40 NL game during my afternoon session! I manage to lose my biggest pot, ever!