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New Series: The First Turkey Nerd HORSE Competition

Inspired by some of the video series I saw on Deuces Cracked, I proposed that Hulk and I play a series of 5 SNG tournaments in HORSE format. Winner takes the first annual Turkey Nerd HORSE Title Lots of pride on the line!!!!

We will start next Monday, March 16 around 9:30 PM EST. All games will be heads up SNG’s on Full Tilt Poker. We will post the Tournament ID on the blog, so if you want to log in and railbird, you are welcome. The week (or so) following each tournament, we will post hand histories and analysis from both sides of our perspective for your viewing pleasure.

For those of you who don’t habla poker, HORSE is an acronym for Hold ‘em, Omaha Hi/Lo, Razz (also called Stud Lo), Stud Hi, and Stud Eight or Better (Stud Hi/Lo). In tournament play, all of these games are limit games, but we have agreed to play NLHE and Pot Limit Omaha. The Stud games will still be played at limit.

Looking forward to this!

TurkeyNerd Heads Up Challenge I Heads Up Challenge I

Opportunity: Free Week of Deuces Cracked

Sorry that I haven’t been more active lately.  Between my day job and some personal travel, I haven’t had any time or energy to even play poker, let alone post anything to the site.  Humblest apologies to our demanding readership!

Anyway, Guido alerted me that you can sign up for a free week of videos, reading, and forums on Deuces Cracked.  For those of you unfamiliar, Deuces Cracked is a poker education site, with videos, forums, and articles from professionals.  You can also search for an engage coaches to improve your online game.  I have been watching a few of these series, and I certainly enjoyed what I’ve picked up here.  The video pros are incredible, and it’s certainly worth your time.

After the 1 week free trial, you will be automatically charged $29.00 a month, but if you’re grinding it out online, you can quickly learn and improve and make the investment well worth it!  Happy poker-ing!

A Long Time Ago, at a Table Not So Far Away …

Another development from El Pinata’s last game at Fat Tony’s house was EMG’s idea that all the people at the game may or may not resemble characters from Star Wars (all praise George Lucas, lest we be sued for uttering the name without permission). I thought I’d try my hand at it, but kept coming up short trying to make things fit into an image. Instead, I’ve come up with this:

Email hulk for the full sized (~7MB) movie.

Go Get ‘Em Pinata.

I received a text from El Pinata yesterday announcing his safe arrival on the West Coast. It made me remeber that while we didn’t have any really interesting limit hands from his last game at Fat Tony’s we do have video of the celebration. It’s taken me a while to honor El Pinata’s anonymity request, but here’s a taste of some El Pinata on Pinata violence. Pay close attention and you can see the blood lust spill Kid Nate and EMG’s chips on the floor near the end.

3-Betting in NLHE, An Introduction

Since my online cash experience prior was not terribly profitable, even when I’d play TAG, I realized I needed to evaluate my play and really push outside of my own comfort zone to make myself a profitable player. While I am more of a natural nit than a gambler, I realized that I am successful for the most part when I establish an image and I play off it. Since online play usually involves gambling with new players, I found that I can drive action and build pots by 3-betting preflop.

For those of you unfamiliar with the concept, 3-betting is a preflop reraise, generally from later position or the blinds. This is a strong tournament play, but it also has its place in cash games. If timed properly, 3-betting can be used to bet for value, as a semibluff, or as a flat out bluff. Here are several benefits to 3-betting:

1. Isolation. By making a reraise in later position, you chase away drawing hands and stronger players (who can play post-flop). Often times, you will end up heads up against a scared open raiser. Most standard players are not calling a raise and a reraise. Not only are they worried about your holdings, but they have to worry about the initial raiser as well. These players are squeezed out of the pot. Since it’s easier to read and outplay 1 player, this is advantageous to skilled post flop players.

2. Value. If you have a big hand, you want to play a big pot, so you’re going to reraise preflop. However, if opponents realize that you only reraise when you have AA/KK/QQ/AKs, you’re not going to get called very much when you make these plays. You have to vary your play to maximize value long term. That means reraising with a wider range of hands… maybe even absolute junk once or twice every other session.

3. Table Image. Aggression wins pots, so being on the attack when you think (or know) you’re ahead builds up your potential and actual profit. I’m capable of raising preflop with any 2 cards, depending on my position and opponents. However, if I know that a player to my left is capable of reraising me more often than not, I am less likely to push the action. I have found recently that my willingness to 3-bet has tamed some aggressive opponents and has also allowed me to earn some cheap flops with value hands.

4. Overall equity. Many times, a 3-bet will take the blinds + the initial raise (total take of 3-5 total BB’s without seeing a flop), which is a nice win. However, you want to play big pots with your big hands. You want a player to go all in with a Q-4 against your AA. By choosing your spots and playing with discipline, you can add to your overall win rate. Sure, you might get reraised again (a 4-bet) and will have to fold, but long term, I believe that the play is a profitable one for building pot equity. Your end goal is to win all the money. You win all the money by playing big pots. Since many novice players are looser and more aggressive pre-flop than post-flop, you can take advantage of this tendency to build pots, then outplay them. Finally, as I have mentioned, when you have your monster hands, you’re more likely to get action because your opponents have more trouble putting you on a big one.

This is an outline and guide about why 3-betting can be a good play. I obviously don’t condone making it a usual play, but it should be a move in your poker toolbox. In just a few sessions, I have found that it works best if you are capable of changing gears to keep your opponents guessing. This is a risky play in micro and low games because your opponents are more erratic and also cannot get away from hands. You put yourself at risk to win or lose some big pots, but that’s the name of the game… If you time the move properly and mix up your hand ranges, you can confuse these lesser opponents and really drive a lot of value. My advice for new players is to play your game and quickly identify 3-bet candidates, then deploy this technique at the correct juncture. This tool is not always the best play, but if you master it, it can be profitable at these low stakes. I am still learning when and who to 3-bet, so as I figure it out, I’ll share it with all of you.

Next: Ideal 3-bet Circumstances

EMHD 4: An Interesting Hand / Aggression in Position

This weekend’s EMHD probably had more than it’s fair share of interesting hands, but by the time I saw the full field the blinds were high and the short stacks were shoving, so a good bit of the play was pre-flop and while dramatic, not so interesting. I did however find a hand on the first table

that I enjoyed watching. It was a large pot for this stage in the tournament, and while the hand didn’t make it to showdown proper, all three participants revealed at the end.

At the midway point(15 minutes) of the second blind level (50/100), Texas Crint held the button, NCBoomer posted the small blind, and Alan Sooted posted the big blind. Jim1 called the 100, The Dog Wagger-er folded, Jim3 limped, El Pinata folded, MH62 limped, Hulk(me) folded, and Dan raised it to 300. Texas Crint folded, but all the original limpers added their extra 200 to the pot.


It’s a fun flop, but it’s checked around to Dan who promptly bets out 600 into the 1050 pot. NCBoomer called, the three Jims folded (Dog Wagger-er is another James) and MH62 calls as well, we’re gonna have 3 to a turn. At this point I’m thinking that Dan’s holding Ace Queen, and the Drawing Duo of MH62 and NCBoomer have straight draws, at least one of them open ended.


A pretty card for Dan as I see it. I’d expect the betting to go check, check, Bet, Fold, Fold. But as so often is the case I’m wrong. I get the check, check, Bet. 1500 into 2850 pot, however what follows is Call from NCBoomer, and a labored call from MH62. I’m still pretty sure that NCBoomer’s got the straight draw, and his quick call means he’s open ended. MH62 consternifies (if I may borrow some of his lexicon) me. I still think he’s got a straight draw … don’t think he’d play an over pair this way, but maybe he’s trying to milk the pot with Kings or Aces for a big win, and it’s just blown up on him. He wrestles with the decision for a bit, but makes the call.

I guess it’s these calls that make this hand interesting to me. Let’s say for argument’s sake that somebody’s holding K J. There’s a decent chance your Ace outs are gone, as there’s a good chance they give Dan a Full House. The 9 might not be good either, I don’t think it’s beyond Dan to raise in position with a suited Q 9 less likely, but possible. And if you’ve ever played with NCBoomer, he could easily be holding J 9, as he could 9 10 and be waiting to bluff on the river.

The River:

This should do it. The action I expected on the Turn came here: check check, bet 1500, fold, fold.
Dan pulls the pot of 9350 towards him. MH62 is frustrated, and shows:

MH62 Shows:

Now the tough decision makes sense to me. Open ended and the flush redraw.

Dan Shows:

Well I’ll be a monkey’s uncle ! (Who’s gotta scar?) All that aggression with a pair of tens. I’d have laid cash money that he had a Queen and made his boat on the river. I gotta guess he put the other two on draws and bet it well.

NCBoomer Shows:

And drops his jaw … but picks it back up to make sure the Coors Light finds it’s way home.


I guess I shouldn’t be shocked to see those cards from NCBoomer or MH62. Dan played aggressively in position and knew that MH62’s call on the turn meant that NCBoomer couldn’t call if a scare card hit the river, even if he believed that he had Dan beat … he said so when all the cards got shown. I guess it’s my over thinking the turn call that made this hand interesting to me, but I’m sure you’ll let me know in the comments.

EMHD 4: The Unofficial Results

With Fat Tony the Super Proxy playing in place of EMG at yesterday’s EMHD event, you’re gonna get my take on the 4th event in the series. Since I’ve left my notes closer to another computer, I can only tell my story, some general observations, and give some unofficial results. Let’s start with the prize winners and how some of your favorite players finished:

1. Klinker B.
2. James the Dog Wagger-er
3. Jock-O
4. Stevie Sunglasses

6. Fat Tony as EMG
7. El Pinata
10. Hulk
14.(?) Texas Crint
16.(?) MH62

Fortunately for me, I didn’t get a chance to move around a lot and survey the field. I got stuck in a corner seat (again) at table 2 with the with MH62, El Pinata, Texas Crint, 3 Jims and a Dan, with Alan rounding out the field. I started the tournament card dead and even when I thought a re-raise might win a pot, I saw 8 2 off suit and didn’t have the intestinal fortitude to pull that move. I won a pot with AQ off suit when I limped into a near family pot at the 25/50 level. A passive play, but I was trying to set a baseline with the players I don’t see regularly, get them to assume it was better than AQ if I raised in later levels. I stayed right around even, but mostly paying my blinds and folding until a series of hands starting in the 100/200 level.

An Under the Gun raise to 575 at 100/200 with AK off was met with button shove from James the Dog Wagger-er. It would have cost me half of my remaining stack, about 2500 to call. I tanked for some time, trying to figure out how big a pair I was up against. There was something about his body language that said he was strong, but was worried. I couldn’t decide if it meant Pocket Kings and he didn’t want to be called with an Ace, or if it were Queens or Jacks. Hindsight says it was too tight a fold, but fold I did, thinking a better spot would be right around the corner with the button coming my way. I was shown pocket Jacks when my cards went dead. The next few hands were a sequence of me getting beaten up. I flopped a Queen with a King kicker on a [Q | 4 | 6] board after paying my blinds, bet out 500 and was raised to 2000 by Dan. I know I’m beat, he either limped with 4s or had A Q. The hand that hurt the most was the better spot I was hoping for a little while earlier.

Under the gun or close too it, I wake up with Pocket Kings. I raise to 575 still at 100/200 leaving me with about 3000 chips behind. The Dog-Wagger-er flat calls me, and we’re heads up to the flop. With all the lay downs I’ve made so far, I’ve got to believe he called me with a big ace, maybe if I’m lucky Queens. I check the flop of [Ace of clubs | RAG | RAG], assuming he’ll bet about pot and I can get away from it. He’s smart, keeps me on the hook for 500 more, and when the Jack of clubs falls on the turn, I get the feeling he’s got Ace Jack, or maybe even pocket jacks, and is afraid of what he might think is a club draw. Either way I was done with that pot … I was done with it when the Ace hit.

Some blinds pass and with about 2500 in my stack at 300/600 I limp with 8s 8c in early position, hoping for a raise somewhere, so I can shove and flip for it. I don’t get the raise, but I do see a magic flop of [8d | K | 4s]. MH62 Shoved for 1925, and my last 1900 went in right behind it. He showed 8h 4c. The turn or river put another 4 on board and as much as I had been feeling like a punching bag earlier I can imagine MH62 had it worse … I just don’t know what he was seein’.

And that’s it. My tournament didn’t end there, but technically it did. But some shoves, and folds, and I stayed between 3000 and 3900 until we moved to the final table. I drew a seat in the blinds for the last few minutes of 300/600 and didn’t pull he trigger by the time the blinds got back to me when they were 500/1000. End Game. I’ll be back tonight with some final table talk.

Making the Right Moves Doesn’t Always Pay, Online Hand 2/20/09

Here is an example of playing a hand well and still losing. I played aggressively, but I think I missed a chance to reraise the turn, resulting in a lost opportunity and a small loss by most anyone’s standards.

Preflop: I joined this table specifically to play against the big stack. I had been playing aggressively with a lot of preflop raising and some 3-betting in key spots. I had been attacking the big stack specifically to get involved in a big pot. I got my wish, albeit without a huge hand. Any K in the SB against a random hand is likely to be favored, so I pumped it up to 15 cents (pot bet). He is a tighter player and calls. I put him on bigger cards, perhaps a KJ.

Flop: Bingo! This flop hit me and likely did not hit him. What’s more, with my aggressive table image, he’s not likely to believe that I’ve hit this hand. I lead out for about half the pot (15 cents) and he flat calls, almost certainly with overs. My read of KJ range is probably intact.

Turn: The 8 isn’t likely to have helped him, so I lead out again for 25 cents (40% of the pot). He reraises me to 75 cents, probably thinking I’m on the steal. This is not a bad assumption, given that I’m raising preflop a good bit of the time. The pot is large enough for him to take a stab. I think about reraising again, but I only have a pair of 5’s with a good kicker. He could have called with A-8. I play small ball and flat call, thinking there’s a good chance I’m still good, but wanting to keep him on the hook for a value bet on the river.

River: A 10 is not really a good card at all here. Many players will call with x-10 because it looks nice, and the 10 connects to a lot of hands, like A-10, K-10 (hand of death), Q-10, J-10, 10-9, 10-8. I decide to block bet my 5’s with an 80 center into a pot of $2 or so. I think it’s enough to win on its own much of the time, but I also have fold equity. He flat calls, and I know I’m beat. He flips over Q-10 for the win.

Analysis: With the exception of maybe reraising on the turn for information, I think I played the hand pretty well. I was worried about my opponents TAG style, plus I assumed he accumulated a $20+ stack by outplaying people. I thought he was a capable opponent, so I played it a bit less risky. Overall, I think I made the moves necessary to win a nice pot. I just happened to get unlucky on the river. I give my opponent a great deal of credit for the creative turn bet, which allowed him to see a river and get another bet out of me. He probably got max value (unless he called a hypothetical reraise on the turn, which was unlikely).

Go West, Young Pinata… Go West…

There comes a time in every little piñata’s life where he is confronted with a choice: continue to slave away as a cog in the airplane industry trade association machine or go to Los Angeles to pursue your dreams of being a male model/comedic writer. Fortunately for Piñata and unfortunately for the rest of us, our little baby is movin’ on up to the East side… of Compton. He will surely be missed, from his trying to destroy Mark’s television during a fantasy baseball auction to his always appropriate sense of humor to his “tight-aggressive” table image. Piñata has been a stalwart at the poker table. He is a good man, and we all wish him well.

In his honor, we will congregate tonight for a round of mixed games (Omaha Hi, Omaha Hi/Low, Stud Hi, and Stud Hi/Low). We will play $60 stacks with $1/$2 limit stakes. Stud hands will have a $.25 ante per hand. Expected to be in attendance: Piñata (the guest of honor), MH62, Fat Tony, Hulk, Guido, NJM, Shrek, and I. I’m sure we’ll have plenty of interesting hands to analyze. More later or tomorrow…