the singapore home game return

•October 27, 2008 • 3 Comments

its been a hectic few weeks, with tests and projects jam packed. fortunately there was some time to breathe on sunday and so i made my way down to alvin’s place for some $0.50/$1 which also marked my first home game in singapore since jan this year. it was nice cos i got to catch up with some guys i havent played with in a long time like alvin mustopo, lukas, baey, andri, yoons, jiaxing, shi siong. poker-wise it was pretty uneventful. made a big mistake and was down $250 but managed to come back and win $100. its not much but thats the story of my poker life.

The Good:

honestly poker-wise the only good i can think of from last night is the fact that i seem to be able to take swings much better. if this was last year, i think i would have been on mad tilt if i had been $250 down. just ask alvin, sim or jiaxing they’ve seen me in that stage before. nowadays i just get back to business and grind it out. i probably have lugner city to thank for that. i’m not saying that ive totally eliminated tilt from my game, its just that i feel it affects me less now.

having said that i must declare that when i’m playing poker everytime i’m losing i will keep very quiet and everytime i’m winning i will be making alot of noise, cracking jokes etc. but yeah if i’m down you wont here a sound out of me.

The Bad:

i made a HUGE mistake last night. basically i had 67 suited and i raised it up preflop in late position, lukas and andri called. flop came 345 rainbow and we all checked. turn came 7 and lukas went all in, andri called, and i went all in for like $100+ more. andri had 68 and took down the pot. when the 7 fell and when i went all in, i should have considered that in the best case scenario i might be playing for the chop, and in the worst case i’m against the nuts. i would have still paid off a river bet, but if i had just called instead of shoving i would have saved alot.

The Lucky:

had a slightly below average run of cards yesterday, a few lucky hands made my day though. the first was when i flopped a set and baey made top 2 pair on the turn and yoons had pocket aces. i had the short stack though, so i tripled up.

for the second hand baey raised it up to 6 preflop under the gun and got 5 callers including myself. i was one before the cut off with 2c6c. flop came 224 with 2 spades on the board and baey went all in for $80+. the first thing i thought was baey has AsKs so i called and the others folded. turn and river came blanks so i took it down. that was real lucky cos baey made a mistake, and when you call $6 with 2c6c a flop of 224 is about as good as it gets. baey had a tough day yesterday, getting sucked out on alot but i do have to admit that he is a better player than before i went for exchange.

outside koufu:

tim: when you loves somebody, i think you should be willing to change in some aspects for the other person. like for example i love geri, therefore i try to change some things for her and vice versa

hongxi: no, the guy should change for the girl

tim: so isnt that unfair?

hongxi: life’s unfair

tim: ok so isnt that a double standard

hongxi: no there’s no double standard

tim: nono so if the guy is willing to change, shouldnt the girl be willing too?

hongxi: no only guy should change

tim: so dont you find that unfair?

hongxi: life’s unfair

tim: thats damn double standard what

hongxi: there’s no double standard

tim: ok never mind


sick laydown

•October 17, 2008 • 4 Comments

was doing my work when my friend just sent me this clip, my god it is so sick how do you lay that hand down seriously.

on an entirely different note,

somewhere in school:

steve kong – if you say that again i’m gonna… i’m gonna… ah i’m gonna bite off your cock

tim – um.. nobody says stuff like that it’s damn gay

tale of 2 hands at the grand lisboa

•October 16, 2008 • Leave a Comment
the man himself

the man himself

this is teo jiahao aka jaul. he’s one of the people i used to play with when i first started playing poker. he started out as a cash game player, but has since been successful in a number of big online tournaments, winning and cashing in several this year. he’s gonna take the next year to decide if he’s gonna turn pro or not but boy he is earning some serious cash man. also, jaul promised that i can go watch him at his first appt final table, which would be really shiok! i’m gonna put that here so that it can be on record.

anyways, these hands take place at the grand lisboa, which is one of the casinos owned by stanley ho. jaul and sacha were playing at the 10hkd/20hkd tables and jaul got into a hand with a guy from hongkong (call him H). H was under the gun and jaul was in the cutoff (one to the right of the dealer). jaul had 8J hearts and it was a limp pot. the flop came 998, H bet 3/4 pot and jaul called. turn came Qh bringing jaul a gutshot straight flush draw. H bet 3/4 pot and jaul called again. the river came a blank, and H bet half of his turn bet. jaul called and H flipped over A8. jaul mucked and the guy went “what? no straight? no 9? no flush?”. he was probably thinking that jaul was some fish to call on a board like that without a straight, 9 or flush.

about 1 orbit later, those 2 played another hand in the same position. H raised under the gun and jaul flat called with AKs. Flop came A 4 6 and H bet 3/4 pot. jaul called and turn came 4. H checked and jaul bet half pot. strangely H then min raised. jaul didnt put him on a 4 or pocket 6 (H raised under the gun remember) so he shoved all in. H folds his AK face up and goes “i put you on A6”. jaul flipped up his hand and the guy started swearing in canto, following which he said “the only thing you had over me was position”.

i think its interesting the way the hands played out cos if jaul didnt make the call on the first hand, H might not have put jaul on A6 for the second hand (it would be so much easier to put jaul on a more solid hand like AK, AQ, AJ if not for the first hand). also strange that H checked the turn in the second hand.

the vegas of the east?

•October 14, 2008 • 3 Comments

i’m back from macau, and to be brutally honest, it wasnt as good as i thought it’d be in terms of atmosphere. the good thing was that i got to go with a whole bunch of people from school, so that was fun. we stayed at the venetian macau, really sweet, the rooms were huge. the venetian is located on the cotai strip, which is currently under development. as such its about 15 minutes away from most of the action located in macau’s old town.

perhaps its too soon to compare macau with other casino strips seeing as the cotai strip will only be up in a few years time. but seriously once you step out of each IR, there’s pretty much no life around until you step into the next IR. here’s a photo from geri‘s camera (she doesnt have many photos of macau, most are in hongxi‘s or sacha’s camera):

hongxi, sacha, yoons, geri, me

hongxi, sacha, yoons, geri, me

my project group, i seldom do projects with girls, but i guess if i had to i’d most enjoy doing it with these four (yes yoons is quite a girl sometimes).

yeap so i guess its time to get down to the poker talk. hongxi joined me for some holdem the first night we reached. we went to galaxy starworld, which is walking distance from wynn and mgm grand. its one of the 3 places that currently offer texas holdem (mgm grand is opening holdem tables soon), the other 2 being grand lisboa and grand waldo. i played at the 10hkd/20hkd (about 2sgd/4sgd) tables, which are the lowest limit tables around in macau.

anyways, hongxi got involved in the action early on. dont remember the exact details, but well i’m sure she will correct me. so hongxi limped in for $20, big blind (this guy named eugene, more on him later he’s an interesting guy) raises to $100. all fold except hx so we’re heads up to the flop. flop comes 27Q rainbow. eugene bets $150, hx raises to $450 and eugene reraises to $950. hx thinks for a while then mucks. eugene flips over JQ offsuit, which really surprised me given how snug he’d been playing. hx then said “oh i put you on a higher set that’s why i folded”. i was thinking ya right there’s no way she’d throw away a set of deuces or 7s on a board like that. hx probably threw away a weak Q like QT, Q9 or even QK, at least thats what i thought.

there’s no way i would have thrown that hand away, there’s just too many hands i can beat that he might have in that spot. i can put him on AA, KK, AQ, QK. of course, he might have pocket 7s or queens, but i’m gonna just have to pay him off if he has those hands. jaul said (in his own words) that he would “cut off his cock” if hongxi threw away a set. well after the game she said she threw aways a set of deuces so i guess so much for jaul’s cock.

for me personally, there wasn’t much action. i lost 500hkd on the first night (made a bad mistake) and won 1000hkd the next day so won abit overall. seems to be the story of my poker life, win abit win abit win abit lose alot. oh well.

anyways this eugene guy i played with is an interesting fellow indeed. he looks about 28 or 29, wears specs and has a shaved head. he got his degree from nus, went on to nie and ended up teaching PE at acjc. the funny thing is he is an ex raffles boy so you can imagine what a terrible posting that was. anyways he has since quit and gone to play poker in macau. what a career change!

texas holdem in genting

•October 4, 2008 • 5 Comments

saw this ad on genting’s website, check it out. its for a texas holdem tournament in genting taking place on the 10th of october, i think registration closes on 5th oct though.

now although i found it pretty interesting that genting had holdem tournaments, the thing that caught my eye was actually the asterix beside the prize money amount. it directs your attention to a note near the bottom of the ad which says “prizes are payable in ringgit malaysia non-negotiable chips warrant”. apparently what this means is that instead of you getting your prize money in cash, you get it in the form of non-redeemable casino chips which can be used at the table games. so you cant cash these chips out, but you got to win at the table games to actually redeem cash. there’s a discussion here if you wanna read more about it.

now correct me if i’m wrong but doesnt that just seriously take away from the attractiveness of the tournament?

poker pet peeves

•October 2, 2008 • 3 Comments

esfandiari, gus hansen, devilfish, matusow, dont know who, phil laak

just happened to chance across this poker painting. its called “bad boys of poker”, pretty nice but dont know who the second guy from the right is.

anyways over the past week, i’ve been hearing more complaints about bad poker etiquette than i have heard in a long time. really a weird coincidence, seeing as alot of these complaints have come from people who i dont usually talk poker with. since i’m in a list making mood of late, here’s my top 3 (in no particular order) poker pet peeves.

3) slowing down the game/ not paying attention when its your turn

ok i have to admit this doesnt irritate me that much, EXCEPT when i’m losing alot. its one of the great double standards of poker, when you’re winning everyone can take as long as they want, tell as many stories or jokes as they want. but when you’re losing, its like FOR GODS SAKE CAN YOU JUST HURRY UP!

2) asking for donations when you win

this is actually a home game pet peeve. but anyways, visualise this situation: you’re up $124 and its time to go. you could A) cash out exactly $124, B) give the $4 to your friend and cash out $120, or C) play one last hand to get rid of the $4. personally i’d do either A or B. but do you notice how when its time to cash out, some people always ask for chips to round off their chip stacks whether they’re winning? i mean if you’re losing i can understand, but if you’re winning? the most ridiculous scenario is when you’re winning a few buy-ins, and you ask for a donation from a guy who’s lost a few buy-ins.

1) slow rolling

for those of you that dont know what slow rolling is, its when all the action in the hand is over (when the remaining players have to show their hands), and you deliberately give the other players the impression that they have the best hand. and finally when they show their hand, you show a better hand. notice it is verydifferent from slow playing (which is part and parcel of poker), where you can give other players the impression that they have the best hand and there are still opportunities for betting in the hand.

now i know this may sound ironic cos i have been guilty slow rolled before. ONCE. i got into a pot with baey at mark cheng’s house, and when we had to showdown our hands i told baey i had king high, although i had second pair, king was my kicker. when he showed his ace high, i said oh i have second pair. i dont really know what i was thinking, i usually dont do that, but i actually thought king high was good enough in this situation. anyways it was totally out of line, both baey and yoon gave it to me afterwards, and i apologized after.

the rule in most casinos is that the aggressor (the player who makes the last bet) has to show his hand first. in singapore home games, or in crown or atlantic city, if you think you have the best hand, you’ll just declare your hand (like for example if i have top pair i’ll just say “top pair” or “i got a pair”) and if the other guy has me beat he’ll tell me, after which i’ll just muck my hand. the funny thing is in austria, ALMOST EVERYBODY slow rolls. seriously its karma i tell you.

here’s an example: all the action is over, i show mid pair with ace kicker. the german guy in the hand with me frowns, curses and swears then looks at his cards. he shakes his head and shows his hand to his friend behind him. he places his cards face down on the felt, and goes on to complain some more in german. finally, he flips up his cards, showing a straight. GOD DAMN IRRITATING!!!!!

there are actually some other poker pet peeves people have brought up, but i’ll talk about them another time cos i think they’re debatable:

– players acting out of turn (like betting out of turn to get a free card, cos its likely players will check to him)

– splashing the pot

– teaching the guy who just lost a pot how to play better when he didnt ask for any advice

guest article: jon tang

•September 23, 2008 • 3 Comments

a few posts into this blog, and i realise that i may have left those new to poker behind. as such, i think its only appropriate that the man who got me started on the game should write the entry for poker beginners. his name is jon tang, a former internet and live game player who plays a good mix of tourneys and cash games. here’s his article, please enjoy

Poker in a Vacuum – Part I

So, hello. This has taken a while to pen, and for that, I apologize. Surprising, really, considering the number of times I have re-written this in my head. The problem with poker is that no article ever adequately captures it – it seems to be a game where logic and guidelines sometimes fly through the window. Anyway, here goes. This piece begins a several-part series dealing with the various aspects of Hold’em poker play. Although it is arguably more suited to no-limit games, those being the games of choice among our generation, I have striven to attempt as general an ambit as literally possible. Advice given with regard to mentality, discipline and playing styles, therefore, are applicable across the board of competitive poker games, be they H.O.R.S.E, limit Hold’em, or Omaha Hi-Lo, to cite several examples.

As the title of this article implies, thus, I propose to examine poker in an emotional vacuum. Although the element of emotion can never truly be cut out from any competitive game, I have always found the best mindset in playing any stake is to be emotionally detached from the table. That leads to table control, because you never let the table mood control you. It is a myth that tight focus is required to achieve this mindset, because, well, anyone can achieve this detachment through sheer practice. Throughout this series I propose to touch on such issues as table control, shifting gears, odds calculation, mental awareness, and other psychologically related issues. Any idiot can learn the rules of a card game, but good players never let the rules control their actions. By setting up plays, mixing up styles, et cetera, the rules can always be shifted towards your advantage by taking advantage of others’ mental weaknesses.

On this note, this first instalment deals with what I consider to be several rules that every semi-serious player should follow. You should never break these rules, because this leads to illogical playing, and illogical playing leads to unsustainable losses. Experienced players, or God forbid, pros, do bear with me. Or perhaps do read on – refreshers are always helpful in this field.

Rule 1: Never be afraid to lose

This is perhaps the most important rule of all. One can NOT play poker if one is not prepared to lose all the money he has put into the pot. It sounds simple, and is something that many people scoff at, but it is true that a whole lot of casual players drop hands they should have comfortably won if they had only been prepared to commit themselves to a full bluff on the flop. You will not bluff convincingly if you regard the $200 you throw into the pot as money you are afraid of losing. Your hand will start shaking, you will look nervous, be unable to meet peoples’ eyes, feign disinterest. Worse still, you may not commit the proper amount, say a large overbet in an attempt to scare, if you are afraid to lose that extra $50 in case the guy actually calls. Unless you are seriously mind-fucking the guy, and he drops his hand because you’ve pulled a fake bluff before, he’s going to call and your scare bet has come to absolutely nothing. There are so many people who pride themselves on their reading, there’s no point making it any easier for them to actualise your hand.

Rule 2: Never play beyond your means

This follows from the first point. Online players will be familiar with this concept – if you’re starting out small, you never raise the table stakes until you have the bankroll to jump tables. I have hardly played any higher-stakes games online, mostly because I build a nice fat bankroll playing poker and lose it all on online blackjack or roulette. But hey, I love table games, and that is my sin. Anyway, back to the issue. It is true that regardless of the stakes, your play should not vary wildly. Odds are, after all, relative to the pot and nothing else. However, if you’re patently uncomfortable at playing a $200 buy-in, then for fuck’s sake go back to your comfort zone until you have the wherewithal to raise your table stakes. Uncomfortable players make silly, silly mistakes. They are more liable to go on tilt, after being outdrawn; more likely to commit basic pot errors because they are flustered; get pushed into folding good hands more often because they are afraid to commit. Slowly, they see their blinds being eaten and wonder, well, ‘what the hell am I doing wrong?’, and then they get reckless trying to win it all back. Been there, done that (and lost quite abit along the way. Mind, I play in pounds.)

Rule 3: Always count pot odds

Probably the issue that most players do not understand, and possibly the greyest issue in casual play by far. I accept that in several situations, playing the player is more important than playing the correct odds. We’ve all been outdrawn before by retards who call a $40 bet in a $10 pot on the flop, and go all-in on the turn, just to hit their inside straight draw on the river. It happens. Then they give you some fucking smug face and you just want to throw a drink at them. Well, it happens. You can console yourself all you want about how that particular person, say, B, will lose money in the long run, but the truth is you’ll probably be sent on tilt. Honestly, though, before you even sit down at any table game, know the rough percentages of hands hitting, e.g. percentage of hitting a flush on the river, and call or bet accordingly. Being able to calculate your outs reduces your variance immeasurably. I would always rather be known as the player who loses, at most, one buy-in, and wins a steady amount most of the time, than a player whose variance is huge and wins big but loses big too. The former is a disciplined player who has severely cut down his odds of variance; the latter merely a gambler who does not fully appreciate that there are only 52 cards in a deck. Who would you rather be?

Rule 4: Forget your hands

Some people, including the author of this blog, think that this is quite an unacceptable habit of mine. Well, I stand by it. If you’ve folded a hand, really, just forget about it. Ignore the board in which you would’ve made a full house, or quads. Ignore the fact that you would’ve fleeced the two straights that split the pot. Push the cards into the middle of the table, and mess them up for good measure so you can never find them again. Think about something else, like a pretty girl (or boy) or something. I think of going home to level my Hunter, or how they nerfed the staff of preservation in WC3 (Blizzard, if you’re reading this, fuck you). I don’t even remember what I folded most of the time. Look at it this way. Poker requires enough concentration in the hands that you are in. Why put that extra burden on yourself by playing hands that you’ve already folded? The worst thing is when people start saying that they’ve folded winning hands pre-flop for the last, say, seven hands, and blind-call raises after that and get burnt. There is absolutely no logic in that. Like I’ve emphasised, detach emotion, and your poker game will improve.

Rule 5: Never show your hands

I think this should be the last insert into this particular article, and would lead nicely to part II of this series which should (in all probability) deal with reading the table, styles and tells. There is a strong argument for never showing hands when you have gone all the way. If you are required by the rules to show the hand, then, well, you don’t really have a choice. But if they have folded to you, resist the temptation to show off your full house or nut straight; resist the temptation to gloat. Just take the damn chips and be done with it. If it’s a casual game, well, tell the guy you’ll reveal your hand after the game or something. Everything you give away is information about your playstyle. The last live game I played, I won roughly ten hands in five hours, and they only got to see my cards in four of those hands that I won. I still made several times the buy-in, and I’m not exactly the most serious player ever. Every little bit of information given away by a careless reveal is information about your style of playing, what kind of player you are, how much you bet on certain hands, what you consider a value bet, etc. Unless you are deliberately misleading the table to set up for a monster bluff later (more on that to come later in this series), there is absolutely no reason to give people free information about you. Make them pay to see it.

It is half-nine in the morning and I haven’t slept, so that concludes my first foray into writing for Personally, I hope this has been of use. I am probably not the most qualified person to give advice – heck, I’ve quit playing online over a year ago, and nowadays play poker for the company, really. However, I have been around long enough to know the rudiments of how this game’s mental aspect works. I appreciate that this is a game where disagreements are rife because it is simply so opinionated and there is no truly proper way to play the game. I merely hope to have been of the slightest help. Feedback is always welcome. And from me, then, good luck and have fun at the tables.

Jonathan Tang Yuan

King’s College London