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Tom Courtney

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stay on target [Nov. 23rd, 2015|05:16 pm]
Tom Courtney
[mood |excitedexcited]

Our solar panels are installed and ready to deliver power. All we need to become a fully operational station is an inspection by an electrician and a new meter from the electric company. Hopefully, that will happen with all convenient speed. :)

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good news/bad news (but the bad is not all that bad) [Nov. 12th, 2015|10:55 am]
Tom Courtney
[mood |goodgood]

On Friday, my oncologist, in an attempt to deal with my ongoing neck spasms, prescribed Flexeril for me.

The good news is that it seems to completely work - I haven't had a neck spasm since beginning to take it. The bad news is that about half the time, it makes me very drowsy. So currently, I take one at bedtime, where drowsiness is actually welcome, and one just before fighting or golfing, but only when Meredith is going to be driving afterwards. I'm going to have a conversation with my doctor if this is going to be a permanent addition to my meds or not.

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The achievement remains locked [Nov. 1st, 2015|12:24 pm]
Tom Courtney
[mood |accomplished]

We didn't make it to 20:00. I handed out the last candybar at 19:56. Still, it was a good run. The folks down the street actually put quite a bit of effort into being truly scary, and I'm told pulled it off with quite a bit of elan. Spooky music, screams, props on the lawn, people in costume wandering around being generally terrifying. It explains why a lot of the younger children were a bit afraid to come up to our house.

Grand total for those of you playing along at home: 1574 full sized candy bars handed out in 2 hours and 56 minutes. At it's peak the line streched down our sidewalk, past the driveway, and about 5' down the Salvation Army's front walkway. Chip and Davey, along with Rebecca and her boyfriend, were around. We missed Alex and Cat, but having gotten a new home of their own, I hope they had kids come by in numbers commensurate with their desires.

All in all, quite a decent night. I'm looking forward to next year.

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Halloween [Oct. 26th, 2015|10:54 am]
Tom Courtney
[mood |determined]

As many of you know, Halloween is a big deal on our street - and it's all my fault, BWA-HA-HA! Meredith describes the spectacle as "rampaging hordes of wildebeeste trampling across the veldt". This year it's on a Saturday, and I expect our attempt to make it to 20:00 before having to shut the doors will fail again, though not for want of trying - we've gotten our hands on an extra 300 full-sized candy bars this year. So if you'd like to watch us try, there will be gaming here starting at 13:00, and we start handing out candy around 17:00.

I'm pretty sure Meredith will want to cook something, so drop me a line if you think you might make it, but don't let that stop you if the day comes and you decide to hang with us.

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how bad are those players? [Oct. 11th, 2015|09:28 pm]
Tom Courtney
[mood |ecstaticecstatic]

Yesterday was a banner poker session - I made $1000 playing $1/$2 no-limit Texas Hold-'Em. While this is rare for me, it is by no means unique. Amazingly, it is not the most important accomplishment of the session.

That would be that yesterday's session was the 20th significant win (+$100 or more) session in a row I've had. To put that in perpective, if my odds of winning any one session is 75%, the chances of winning 20 in a row is roughly .3%. If we make that chance an astounding 90%, I'm still only a touch over 12% to have that streak.

Now to be fair, I have some control over whether I have a winning session or not, in that I get to decide when it ends, and I am very loathe to quit when I'm down and think I'm in an explotable situation. The thing is, I pretty much feel I'm in an exploitable situation with every single player in my home poker room.

As I've mentioned before, if you really want to do well, you have to be able to beat up the regulars. Now if the regulars were good players, that'd be hard. But I've watched reasonably carefully, and they all seem to have glaring weaknesses. Gene is afraid of getting stacked; Chris plays too many hands, Mary bluffs at way too many pots, Lee never bluffs, Shannon telegraphs his plays ... the list goes on and on. Almost all of them commit the cardinal sin of cold-calling too many bets. It's amazing that they make any money at all, and I suspect a good percentage make a lot less than they let on. But there are enough drunk frat boys and andrenaline junkie asian gamblers that there's enough money coming into the room to beat the rake. We also have one or two _very_ wealthy bullies who like to push around the table who are very exploitable, though the variance can be higher than some of the regulars want to take on. (Me, I'll sit down at Mac's table any time I get a chance, and stay friendly enough with the guy that he doesn't seem to mind.)

David Sklansky, more or less the senior poker theoretician out there, once opined that when you know something about a situation your opponent doesn't, you win. (Even if you lose the hand - what he means is you can induce your opponent into making a mistake, which may or may not pay out to you depending on how the cards then fall.) A case in point came up halfway through yesterday's session.

I was dealt KQs under the gun (first to act preflop.) Sometimes I'd call, sometimes I'd raise small, sometimes I'd raise large, but in this case, I didn't want to randomize my choice because the player next to me was short-stacked - he had $15 left and looked like he wanted to throw it into the pot - and so I did something that would indicate it was safe to do so - I came in for $6. More later on why that was better than limping.

As expected, he tossed in his $15, and that caused a cascade of calls - 5 more total, leaving it my action with $96 in the pot. I thought for a few moments, obviously counted money in the pot, and raised it $150. Lots of folks grumbled, but they all folded, leaving me heads up. He flipped over 33, and I won when the board ended up AKKJ6.

Lots of the players started criticizing my raise - "how could you put in $150 on K high?" etc., etc. But really, this is quite a safe move, at least with this crowd. If anyone had AA, KK, or QQ, they are raising the pot themselves. I have to worry that AK called, but (a) there has to be an AK out there and (b) they still have to call the big raise on a hand that, for all they know, is facing a premium hand that's crushing them. Oh yeah, my image at the table was very tight.

The thing is, this is a basic play. Now some of the complaining was just sour grapes, since I expect that some of the players at least realized that if they'd pulled off the move I would have had to fold. :) But really, lack of knowledge about pretty basic tactics characterizes the play of the vast majority of players at most $1/$2 tables I've been at.

And as Calvin would say - that's not a complaint, I'm gloating. :)

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banner day [Sep. 30th, 2015|01:44 pm]
Tom Courtney
[mood |ecstaticecstatic]

As of 12:30 this afternoon, I no longer have a denture, but a firmly implanted bridge.

I feel young again, as when the world was new.

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redirecting behavior [Sep. 22nd, 2015|09:31 am]
Tom Courtney
[mood |amusedamused]

I often have the urge to reach through the Internet, shake someone vigorously, and shout "Don't be an idiot" at them.

In general, I do better to redirect that thought inward.

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It's a trap! [Sep. 21st, 2015|02:59 pm]
Tom Courtney
[mood |artistic]

One of the things I find fascinating about poker in a poker room is that the vast majority of players there think they are either better or luckier than the rest of the field. Me too, of course. :) It might be extreme in my case, since I don't think any of the regulars I play with have a solid strategy in place.

But the thing is this - other than the mild usefulness that excellence dominance can give you in a game, investing any significant ego points in who is better than whom is a terrible idea - the important bit is whether I get the situations I'm faced with at the table right, and make good plays. In fact, there's a lot to be said for creating an image where your opponents think you aren't very good.

One problem with getting caught up with all the ego nonsense is that you miss things. I played a hand last night where I didn't really have second thoughts until the drive home. ETA: I get dealt KK (Sorry about not including that. :) )

There are a couple of limpers to the cutoff, who raises to 12. I'm on the button and reraise to 40, and all the limpers fold and the button calls. Flop comes A85. I bet 45, the cutoff calls. Turn comes another 8, I bet 100, the cutoof calls. River comes a J, cutoff checks, I check, and take the pot down when he shows QQ. I don't think much of it.

Well, the thing is this. When the Ace comes on the flop, I am either way ahead or way behind, and if I'm behind, I'm probably not getting my opponent to fold the better hand. In these sorts of situations, you want to keep the pot small, and yet, I made two bets at it, as it turns out, overriding my randomizer which told me "raise preflop, don't continuation bet regardless of whether you hit". While it is true that sometimes I ought to take the scary path just to keep my play balanced, there wasn't any particular reason to do it this play. I'm pretty sure my play is at least mildly skewed towards being overly aggresive, and I could put more check-calls into my repetorie in this situation. I should at least have been thinking more about this at the table, and basically, I missed it. The fact that I won the pot actually hid that until I got to think about the session afterwards.

My friend Fernando once wondered if there was very much to hold-em - it didn't seem to have a lot to it. For the straightforward base level of the game, he might be right, though even there, things like position still matter in ways that mightn't be obvious. But once you start getting into your opponent's head (which I didn't do here), and also think about what the considerations in a lot of different situations actually are, it becomes much more difficult, and to play well you need to pay attention constantly - and to get better you have to analyze as much of what you did at the table as you c
Good thing too, or else there'd be no money to be made. :)

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We have tickets [Sep. 16th, 2015|09:16 pm]
Tom Courtney
[mood |bouncybouncy]

Meredith and I are going to Hawaii in January on a trip with my mom and sister, for 11 days. This will leave Alaska as the only state I haven't visited, and I do have plans for fixing that.

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bluffing example [Sep. 6th, 2015|04:36 pm]
Tom Courtney
[mood |introspective]

So good no-limit poker players have to bluff. You can't just rely on winning your good hands and getting out on your poor ones - there are plenty of regulars at low level games who do that and they basically have to wait for really poor players to show up in order to make any money - against each other, they go even, which means they're not beating the rake.

I try to bluff in roughly the right mathematical frequency, and worry a lot because I'm not sure I do. I don't mean easy semi-automatic bluffs like continuation bets on the flop, or bluffing a draw in position, I mean hands like this one:

I had A5o in the big blind, and 4 players limp to me. My randomizer told me "raise any ace in a limped pot", and so I bet 15. Three of the limpers fold, and the button called. This is good news/bad news. The button is likely to have the widest range of hands, because of his position, so I'm quite possibly ahead on most flops. Against that, I'm going to be playing the rest of the hand out of position, having to act first each time.

Flop comes Q85o. I hit the flop, but now it's hard to know what to do. If I continuation bet, the button will call with a lot of hands, and if I check the turn, I'd expect a 1/2-3/4 pot raise from the player, and unless there was a 5 or an A on the turn, I'm just going to be guessing about who's ahead. Playing out of position is hard. :)

My options:

Check-fold. Not going to happen - I did, after all, hit the flop, so unless he started with an overpair to my 5 that he didn't check-raise pre-flop, I'm 2/3+ to be ahead.
Check-call, and then check the turn and figure out what to do if he bets. Again, guessing, which is hard.
Check-call/bet the turn - I'm not entirely sure what that sequence is supposed to represent - hitting the turn-card, maybe. Anyway, it's an unlikely enough option that I didn't put it in this list until I edited the post. :)
Continuation bet/check the turn - now I have to figure out what to do when he bets the turn, which I think this guy is going to do a fair bit.
Continuation bet/bet the turn - now I'm putting serious money into a pot that I'd like to keep small, and I still won't have a great idea of where I'm at.

Even though my position isn't easy, I ought to try to win these hands, if there's a way. Since none of those options are really attractive, and I thought this opponent was bluffable, I decided to checkraise bluff the flop. It's a bluff not because I don't think I have the best hand - I in fact don't have a clue about whose hand is best - but because I'm representing a hand that's much stronger than the one I actually hold.

I check. My opponent, as expected, bets 15, and I checkraise 50. This is what I think is the smallest amount he'll fold to. Itn terms of cost to me, i's also synonymous with option 4 in the list above, except it's likely to clarify the situation: if my opponent calls this bet, unless something amazing happens, I'm done with the hand. If he called on nothing, hoping to take it away on the river, he's going to succeed.

He insta-folds, flipping over a queen as he does so! I guess he believed me.

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