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Never Check a Bag with British Airways

10 Sep 2007

In my lifetime Iíve taken lots of flights traveling from tournament to tournament. Iíve flown with British Airways twice now and take a wild guess how many times theyíve misplaced my luggage? If you said two, youíd be closeÖ try THREE!

On top of that I get severely needled by the guy working at the airport. When I go report that my bag is missing I ask a few simple questions:

Where is my bag?
When do you expect it?
How long before I get it?
How does the company expect to stay in business?

He answered by basically telling me he doesnít know where the bag is, when Iíll get it, or what I can do to find out anything. Then when I tell him I need my bags he says, ďYouíll be fine, nothing wrong with the shirt youíve got on.Ē No joke, how is that for a response!

Anyway, I didnít get my bags all day. I went to my hotel then straight to the casino wearing the same clothes to play in the PLO. I was out in the second level when I played a hand aggressively hoping to double up since I was already annoyed and a little tired. I didnít ďscrew upĒ or anything, but in a game like PLO a set is a hand that often needs to be played carefully.

I called a raise with QQ56 in a five way action pot. The flop came Kh Qs 8h and the original raiser bet the pot. Normally I think calling is the better play, especially in a tournament, but I decided that I wanted to gamble up so I re-raised the pot. The player behind me, a tight player, called the bet so I knew he had a huge draw.

The turn came the 7h, but all of the money was basically in already so I put the rest in and he called with Ah 4h Jc 10c. No pair on the river and I was all but out.

For the rest of the day I sweated the final table of the HORSE where both Kirk Morrison and Jennifer Harman were at the final table. Romania/Canada, Kirk/Jennifer, I seem to be finding myself in this spot regularly now!

The final table had a TON of play. In fact, the final table had more play than the $5000 Stud, $2000 Stud, and $5000 HORSEÖ. Put together! Seriously, no joke, the final table took a very long time, about 15+ hours I think and I sweated the whole way.

Kirk fizzled in third place after having a pretty commanding lead and then it looked like Jennifer was nickeling and diming her opponent on her way to her third WSOP bracelet. Sheís the only woman with two so this win would separate here from the pack even further. It wasnít meant to be, though, and she was very disappointed to come second.

The next day Jenn, Marco and I all went to go see the Bourne Ultimatum. Now, I donít really even like action movies, but this series is just unbelievably good. I absolutely loved the movie and hope they make another one. A great plot, great action, and very cool cinematography.

Today I got some work done, writing a couple columns and doing some work on PokerVT, a virtual training course that Iím putting a lot of time and effort into along with several other professional players. No launch date for it yet, but Iím very excited about the way itís progressing.
After that I decided to play a little poker on PokerStars.com. I sat down in a 100-200 NL holdíem game and won in every session that I played, albeit a very small amount comparatively. I also dabbled in three tabling some 25-50 PLO, and was lucky there also despite not feeling like a favorite at all. Not because I suck at the game, but anytime I play more than one game I have no clue whatís going on. I completely suck.

While playing online I had some interesting chat with some of the high limit players at Stars about a wide variety of topics. Iíve been spending a lot more time investigating the mind of the excellent online player, what they know, how they play, how they think about the game, etc. and Iím left thinking Iíve been duped a little bit.

What I mean is that there is often so much hype surrounding the online players and how much better they are than guys like Ted Forrest or even Phil Ivey, but Iím not so sure. I canít speak intelligently about guys Iíve yet to play with, but overall I think that I was fooled into believing the hype a little too much.

Sure there are established great online players whoíve also succeeded in tournaments and in live cash games, but just because a player beats a 25-50 game online and has logged millions of hours, doesnít mean that heís going to sit with Doyle Brunson and Phil Ivey and just crush them.

I donít doubt that the game has evolved thanks to online poker and that there are so many more intelligent players playing the game today than there was even 6 years ago, but it truly is a different form of poker than playing live. I imagine that any winning 100-200 NL player online would also be a winning live cash game player, mind you, but I do think that even the correct way to play hands differs online than in a live game.

The key reason for that is that in order to be able to make good reads on later streets online, youíll often have to play a hand on the flop in such a way that it defines your hand while also defining your opponents range. This can be a slightly more costly tactic, this ďinformation betĒ if you will, than simply making reads based on other variables that you can exploit when playing in a live scenario.

Letís look at an extreme example: Suppose you called a raise with 9-9 from late position and the flop came J-7-3 rainbow. Your opponent makes a continuation bet after the flop and you are unsure if your hand is good. If you raise the flop, youíll likely find out by your opponents action on the flop whether you have the best hand in this situation.

However in a live game scenario, you may be able to gauge the situation without making the information bet. I should add, that you donít have to do it online either, but when someone fires a second barrel at you online all you have to go on is betting patterns. In a live game setting, if youíve picked up any tells on your opponent at all, you can call the flop and then look for a tell on the turn when your opponent fires a second barrel. I guess thatís also possible with clicking tells and such, but I have no clue at all how to read into that sort of thing.

The idea Iím getting at is that without the presence of physical tells you actually have to change the way you play certain hands that are highly read dependant and play them in a more fundamentally sound manner. Iíve actually made several adjustments to the way I play online poker now and I think Iím definitely on the right track. Iíve always won online at every limit Iíve played no limit holdíem. I donít think Iím very good at it compared to live, especially after about 200 hands of play when I tire easily, but I also donít think that Iíd be a losing player at those limits. I could be wrong, of course, but so far the players Iíve played are much weaker than many games Iíve been in live. I find it more challenging playing with the likes of Benyamine, Ivey, Antonius, Doyle, Chip, etc.

One last thing: I donít know that I would do well in nine or ten handed games online as the correct approach is more technical than I like to play. If a game gets past four handed my EV likely dwindles due to several factors so I definitely prefer heads up, or even three handed as apposed to ring.
Blog is getting a bit long now, but I hope you enjoyed reading some of my thoughts on online poker. Iíve been extremely happy with my poker game recently and am thoroughly looking forward to making a run in the WSOPE tomorrow. On that note, good night all, itís 3:00am here.


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