Monday, February 25, 2013

Hardware Pick of February: Sunglasses

I find that the tells I read most are in the eyes. I admit that I cannot look into my opponents' souls, but I don't really have to. Their eyes betray them with nervous twitching. An opponent with out of character eye-contact—either too much or not enough, will generally lose the hand to me. It is a tell that is easily remedied, as I do, by wearing protection.

If you find me at a big-money live game, you'll find me in shades. Your eyes are a hard tell to conseal without sunglasses. Sure, I suppose if you practice your poker face enough you could minimize the tell, but for me that would require constant awareness. I want all my mental resources devoted to playing my cards and reading my opponents, not damage control.

One complaint about shades is that they interfer with your vision. I don't think they have to. Your glasses need to be either tinted or mirrored to conceal your eyes, and I agree that tinted glasses used in an already dim room will make gameplay difficult. Mirrored glasses, on the other hand, don't have to be dark barely at all. Even the infamous holographic specs of the "Fossilman" barely darken the view. If you have trouble viewing your cards, you can always try wearing your glasses upside down like TV's Marcel Lewis. He knows the importance of shades is so much that he completely sacrifics style. Nowadays you will find him wearing poker-specific glasses that open at the bottom for easy hole-card access.

Personally, I wear Oakley half-jackets. Nothing about them is specially better for poker then any other good pair, but the ability to easily switch out lenses was a draw for me. I have both a dark tinted lense and the lighter mirrored "fire" lense. If I ever made it to the WSOP main event I'd take the shades off for the camera, but there is no way I would go against the pros without them.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

My Poker Beginnings, Part V: From Live to Virtual

I was going along playing cards at home and abroad with my merry band of rounder buddies. My own personal "Tilt Boys." Time went by and some of the guys I traveled with moved away, the poker scene in Athens started to declined, and I got engaged. At this point in my story, my poker life took a back seat.

A new relationship with the girl who would become my wife obviously derailed my poker train, and I couldn't have been happier. The game was starting to feel more like work than fun and I knew I was on the verge of being burned out. I still got out to play from time to time, luckily my girl also played.

We both graduated and had little reason to stay in Athens. Upon moving closer to Atlanta, my finance and I took up jobs as dealers for a new poker night promotion at a restaurant/bar owned by my parents. The poker night grew into four poker nights a week with a full cast of regulars. At times it was hard to watch instead of play, and even harder to avoid table talk. Some of the players were fish, and I felt someone needed to educate them. Occasionally someone did.

That was then and this is now. I no longer work as a dealer, and have since turned most of my time to on-line poker rooms. I started at Party Poker where I was very successful, went to Pacific Poker where my results varied, and went back to Party Poker. Maybe I didn't give Pacific enough of a chance. Now I'm on Fulltilt exclusively.

Congratulations, you are now up to date with my gambling exploits. Thanks for reading and may the poker gods be with you.

Friday, February 15, 2013

My Poker Beginnings, Part III: The Rounder Years

In Parts I and II of my poker history, you may think I just like to brag. I don't, but it is necessary to give you an accurate account. I very rarely loss up to this point. But rest assured, I can't be quite as high and mighty from here on out.

While I was winning in my out-of-town game, I started finding new places to play. Coincidentally, they were all on the city limits of Athens. It became known to my friends that if I didn't answer the phone, I was out at a game. Not because I didn't want to interrupt play as much as I never had reception.

I played at one house that had a decommissioned fraternity feel. The field was all college students or the recently graduated. I only knew a handful of the 30 to 40 usually in attendance, in addition to guy I traveled with. I still felt I was better than the majority, but there a few that, in retrospect, could out-play me. My difficulty winning here was also due to the wide range of styles played. There were some maniacs, some conservatives, and some solid and very aggressive players.

They played a five or more table tournament once a week. I usually went out near the bubble. I only remember placing in the money on one occasion, which is why my friend had a more profitable experience by going out early in the tournament before cleaning up at the subsequent ring games. There was nearly always more cash circling the ring tables than in the tournament pool itself.
At the Tables

It was an exciting time when we knew every game it a poker-addicted town. We would get knocked out of one game at 10:30 to jet across town to win another by two in the morning. Poker was at its highest popularity then, everyone played whether they knew how to or not.
The original crew I played with were never out of the picture. They would join me from time to time when they could afford a buy-in. Once the games I attended started to die-down in attendance, or shift to a crowd I wasn't fond of, I decided to bring it back to basics. I started a home game.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

My Poker Beginnings, Part II: Out-of-Towners

Going to college in Athens, GA I found more bar games than in most cities. The place I frequented the most started out with prizes for first and second that may have been unrealistic for what they were taking in. The incentive for a bar is to get people in to buy food and drink...mostly drink. The players were buying, but the cheap prices of a college town plus the TVs and DVD player prizes equaled an unprofitable business. Most free games around town fizzled out.

I wasn't in it for the free games, but they were good places to network with other players. Most of the cash games I found in town were through this network—everyone seemed to "know a guy."

One of these guys agreed to meet with my friend and I at a local pub to approve us for his weekly game. It seemed a little cloak and dagger, but I suppose he was paranoid could be cops. After a few drinks with him, we were cleared.

The game was out of town and not with our usual opponents—meaning not college students. The one who met with us at the bar was regarded by all the others as the preimere poker player. Apparently, before we started attending, the same guy won all the time. Granted he was good, his style tight and aggressive with a minimum of bluffing and prided himself on his ability to read tells. I could tell all that after the first hour playing with him, which is probably why I usually beat him.

I didn't win that first night. I was down $30 and my buddy about matched. We did leave knowing how we lost and confident that it would last. My major loss that night was a hand were I paired against someone who was betting against me the whole way with a straight draw. After the turn, I decided to raise his bet about three-quarters of the pot. He called and caught on the river. I lost, but my read was correct.


Long story short, we kept returning every week and barely ever left down again. It became the most profitable weekly ring game I was ever a part of and he was no longer the premiere poker player. I was able to invite one other friend to play in a tournament hosted there. After my two friends and I took first, second, and third; we weren't invited back.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

My Poker Beginnings, Part I: Dorm Days

Mr. PokerIn an effort to qualify me as a somewhat knowledgeable host, I give you Part I of my three-part poker autobiography.

Growing up I played more than my share of cards. I played Gin, Rummy, Gin Rummy and the like, but it wasn't until I started drinking gin and rummy that I got into poker.

In college at the University of Georgia, my friends and I put together a poker night that evolved into a poker week. We would play cards almost every weeknight with a rotating cast of opponents from the dorm at which we played. It was easy to join into a game when you lived at the casino. The core members of our poker club were few, however, three guys and myself. As we practiced our skills improved to the point that the rest of the cast of gamblers didn't stand much of a chance. Our profits were still small, in that our stakes were the very definition of micro. It was also one of the best times I've had with poker, playing crazy dealer's-choice games mixed in with serious hold'em, omaha, stud and draw tournaments. A dollar buy-in became five, then the fish quit biting. My friends and I moved to a bigger pond.

The dorm days rarely left me without at least double my buy-in, and still my total bankroll was under $100. That is as much a testament to my skill as it is proof of the extremely low pots we were after. We migrated to the dorm across the quad and started playing $10 and $20 buy-in ring games. Occasionally, we organized into multi-table tournaments. I won two out of the three and scored my biggest payouts of the day.

The bankroll of my closest poker peer rose with mine and we had to move off campus for the bigger challenges and pots. That's what I like to call the "Rounders Years."

Dorm Days