Saturday, July 15, 2006

Poker Training and Pirates:
I picked up Phil Gordon's Little Green Poker Book on Sunday, just before going to see Pirates: Dead Man's Chest. I thought Pirates was a perfectly good continuation of the first movie, and I'm kind of boggled by the people who liked the first one and thought this was some kind of cinematic abortion. They have the same strengths and weaknesses, as far as I can see. Depp's fun, Keira's hot, the action sequences are imaginative, the feel is very pulp-y, and the whole thing feels like Bruckheimer Hollywood-ized style that runs about a half hour to 45 minutes too long. And I didn't see the end reveal coming, which was kind of neat.

Phil Gordon's book, on the other hand, is terrific, as good as everyone has said. In reading his tips, my game has improved quite a bit in playing the WSOP on PSP. In real life, well... I'll get to that in a minute. I've also started watching more poker on TV, from the Professional Poker Tour to World Poker Tour to the World Series of Poker. With Hellmuth Jr. taking over for Gordon, Celebrity Poker has lost some of its spark, and there's something much more fun about watching players who know how to play when they're playing the game.

This week was the first of what is meant to be a regular monthly game of Texas Hold'Em between friends. Actually, I suppose we had one last month, but it was last minute and the turn out was only three people total, which makes for a very specific and weird kind of poker. This time out, there were six people total. $5 buy-in, since it's basically just a friendly game.

As it turned out, all my poker training failed me, and I went out first, busting out on a pair of Aces against trip Sevens. I had made a big pot earlier and earned the chip lead, but I gave those chips and more back to the guy I won them from on that all-in hand.

It's still good practice, though, as it reminded me of an important lesson that I always seem to forget when I go up against people in a live game as opposed to an online one; don't start getting aggressive right away. Phil Gordon's aggressive play style, which mostly works for me, doesn't work for me right off the bat. You have to play tight early on, get a sense of the table and build up your chip stack slowly with really good hands, and then later you can loosen up and start bluffing. There's really no excuse for going all-in with a pair of Aces even if it's top pair when my opponent is raising and calling me regularly.

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