Wednesday, August 31, 2005


31 AUG 05

In the pursuit of truth, I finally got around to making my Excel spreadsheet so I can track my wins and losses. It’s quite the eye opener. Talk about finding your holes!!

I always suspected that my internet play was –EV, but this really hit the point home. Specifically, playing ½ 6-handed is –EV. I’ve lost more playing that game then most. It’s also the source of some of my biggest wins (%-wise), but it’s more gambling than anything else. Poker should NOT be about gambling (at least limit-poker shouldn’t). It’s about odds, and about maximizing gains and minimizing losses. If I stick to the 2-table $15 SNG or the 5/10 ring game, I usually am a winning player.

Unfortunately, I lost another buy-in on PokerStars. I never really had a chance, I suppose. I didn’t buy in with enough to sustain the variance – made worse by a succession of bad-beats that in the normal course of the game are expected (not like the quad rush I mentioned yesterday).

So I got back to basics and went back to the Muckleshoot last night for a little 10/20. I played very tight for the first two hours and had nearly blinded away my entire stake when I got Q 10o in the big blind. There were three callers, so I thought I was going to see a cheap flop when the small blind raised it to 20. I called and so did everyone else.

With $100 in the pot, the flop came 10-high with 2 diamonds. The small blind bet (of course). I just called to see what the rest of the table would do. There was only one additional caller.

The turn was a blank, and the small blind checked. I checked too, because the third guy was very aggressive (LAG – loose aggressive guy), so I was hoping for a check raise. He bet, but unfortunately, the small blind called. Now I was stuck, but I paid to see the river card just in case I got two pair. The river was a blank.

Small blind checks (I put him on AK). I bet and hold my breath (figuratively, I hope. Mike Caro says that bluffers will often tighten up. If you see this, bet out). The LAG just calls, so I think I’m beat. Small blind calls (thank goodness for morons) with his AK. I show my top pair Q-kicker, and I think I’m going to get slow-rolled because the LAG is taking a long time to show. He flips over his ten, then mucks. Later I heard he had J 10.


Then I went on a medium rush and walked away up $60 for the night. Mary is my new favorite dealer.

In the interest of honesty, here is one hand I played horribly. I had QJo with the J of hearts. I flop top pair with 4 players in an unraised pot. Two hearts come and I pair the Q. I bet and all call. A heart on the turn and everyone checks. The river brings the 4th heart, but pairs the board. The early position calling station (CS) bets out. Now, I have the J high-flush. There is one person left, but he acts behind me. I figure, if early CS doesn’t have me beat, late position guy does.

I mucked. So does the last-to-act guy.

I’m not sure what the first guy had, but I think I heard him say he had 10 10 with the 10 of hearts. That would suck. If I’m forced to calculate implied odds, I think I’m supposed to make that call. If I was thinking critically, I could have discounted the full house (someone would have bet the two pair or the trips on the turn). That means that only three cards could have beaten me (AKQ of hearts).

I NOW know that the correct move was to raise. If I get reraised, I can fold. This is the definition of tight-aggressive play. Perhaps I was still smarting from earlier losses. Perhaps it was too late in the evening and I wasn’t thinking critically. Hopefully, I wont make the same mistake again.

You should be reading: Stephen R. Donaldson. He wrote one of the great Sci-Fan trilogies 20-odd years ago: Thomas Covenant, White Gold Wielder. His second trilogy wasn’t as good, and he just came out with the first book in the third trilogy. It’s getting mediocre reviews, so I might not get it. Most anything would pale by comparison to George R. R. Martin anyway.

Final thought: Experience suggests it doesn't matter so much how you got here, as what you do after you arrive. - Lois McMaster Bujold, "Barrayar", 1991

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

More Bad Beats (that I’m NOT talking about)

30 AUG 05

Ok. Explain this to me. How long can a bad run of cards sustain itself?

When I’m talking about a bad run, I’m not talking about going card-dead. I’m talking about flopping a solid hand, only to have it beat. Statistically, this is a good thing. It means I’m going in with the best hand, and they have to hold up a certain percentage of the time, right? Then, it’s just a matter of maximizing your wins and minimizing your losses.

Got it. Thanks.

So what do you do when you flop three full houses, only to have them beaten BY THE SAME GUY.

With Quads. All three times.

Within 45 minutes.

I’m reminded of the movie The World According to Garp. Robin Williams (playing Garp) is about to buy a house when a airplane crashes into it while he is standing in the yard. As the pilot is walking out of the wreckage, Garp says to the real estate agent, “we’ll take it.” What?! He replies that the house is now airplane proof. What are the odds of it ever getting hit by another airplane?

That’s how I’m approaching this. What are the odds that three of my full houses will get beat by quads ever again in my lifetime, let alone in the same night?

I think I can beat those odds. Like the gate guard said to me this morning as I arrived with my top down, “Ooh. An optimist?”

Yup. That’s me. Perhaps is delusion…

You should be reading: Drudge

Final thought: Reputation is what other people know about you. Honor is what you know about yourself. - Lois McMaster Bujold, "A Civil Campaign", 1999

Friday, August 26, 2005

Way cool

26 AUG 05

I just got back from a surprisingly relaxing vacation / family reunion in farm-country, Wisconsin. We threw a 35th anniversary party for the in-laws and it was well received. Not much in the way of poker stories other than a short 3-handed NL tournament with me, my brother-in-law and the wife. The wife won, or course. She called my all-in bet on the flop with a 4-flush and caught the flush on the turn. That’s one dollar out of the poker can. Damn.

The “way cool” reference is due to the following e-mail:

Wow, I remember you. Your buddy almost beat Mark Seif, right?

Good luck with your blog. I just added you to the blogroll!

From none other than Dr. Pauly!! I sort of feel famous by association. For anyone referred here from his web site, let me say thanks for the traffic. If you are looking for excellent writing, stick with Dr. Pauly. Glance here occasionally to check on the struggles of an aspiring poker player who happens to also be a physician. If you want to know more, see my very first post for a sort of FAQ page.

Many thanks to Dr. Pauly. Look for me tonight at the Muckleshoot.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005


16 AUG 05

I’m sure someone has already made a tee-shirt with this logo (VARIANCE) on it. It’s a great thing to remember when someone sucks out on you. If the morons want to keep calling my made hands with 93o, let ‘em. I’ll win the vast majority of those battles, as evidenced by the last two days where I fluctuated significantly, but finished well into the positive range. I’m pleased that I had enough sense to walk away two days ago when I was only down $250 at 10/20.

Heading to Wisconsin tomorrow for the in-laws 35th anniversary. Hopefully, a poker game will break out. I think my wife has been telling the family that I’ve been playing high stakes poker, so I’m expecting no takers for higher limit family games, but that’s okay. Family poker should be about fun – not beating each others brains out. I get just as much pleasure out of winning a $5+1 SNG as I do winning $300 in higher stakes limit games.

You should be reading: Damn, is George RR Martin good!!

Final thought: “Variance!” (Best said after a string of bad beats, but only if you are SURE you’ve played your very best. If you’re forced to keep saying it over weeks or months, consider taking up bowling or golf.)

Friday, August 12, 2005

Short Post

I need a break.

I can’t say that I’m working too hard. Heck, my hours are pretty reasonable. I just hate dealing with stupid stuff. If all I did was care for patients, life would be grand. Maybe I should hire someone to handle all my administrative BS.

Nah. Life would be too good, and I’d have nothing to complain about. Golfers and poker players are only as good as their excuses.

You should be reading: Books. I’m re-reading George R. R. Martin in anticipation of the 4th book in the Song of Ice and Fire series. I love science-fantasy, and Martin is among the best of the genre. Perhaps THE best. You should also read this. You’ll become a better NLHE tournament player if you do.

Final thought: Sometimes good enough isn’t.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Looking Within

11 AUG 05

A successful poker player must be introspective (or so say the pundits), so in the interest of seeking the truth, I am forced to admit that I went on TILT yesterday.

Online poker is an interesting world. Sitting in my kitchen with the wireless hook-up to the laptop, I am amazed at how often I get my heart pumping with simple clicks of the mouse. I play tight aggressive, and lately my table image has not gotten me a lot of action. That’s okay. If I just steal the blinds or win a few hands on the flop, I’m fine with that. I know when to fold (in fact, I folded pocket AA on the turn and a Q-high flush on the turn yesterday. Both hands went to the river and both folds saved me a BUNCH of money). I’m usually not fazed with the occasional suckout on the river. Variance. But yesterday there were 4 consecutive hands that, while technically not the worst of bad beats, their cumulative effect took its toll.

Can you say, “re-buy?” I knew you could.

Then I proceeded to lose most of the re-buy in about a half hour. It was only time limitations that forced me to stop. Thank goodness for that. I’m now convinced that I wasn’t playing my best and would have lost the rest of that buy-in had I stayed. If only I would have figured that out sooner. I need to be better about setting personal limits (besides those forced on me by time constraints).

Anyway, in order to get right with the world, I went back for some live action at the Muckleshoot. The same regulars were there at the $10/$20 table and we chatted briefly about the good time we had the previous night. It was truly a fun table. Unfortunately, there was only one table of $10/$20, but plenty of open seats at $4/$8. I really hate low limit (as I’ve said before), but what the heck. Here was my night:

Start with $60 (unusual move, since I usually start with a full rack ($100) and I intended to buy in to the higher limit with a lot more than that. My thought was that it would force me to play more conservatively).

Quickly got up to $120 with some good cards and a couple of LOL (little old lady) calling stations.

Back to $60 with too-aggressive play. I guess I got greedy.

Nearly busted to nothing an hour later.

Got to all in with top pair and the nut-flush draw post-flop and caught the nuts on the turn. Back to $60.

Crazy rush at the end included a full-house, Ace-high flush and flopped set to finish at $160.

Now if I can just get that online stuff figured out.

You should be reading: Up For Poker

Final thought: One can always be kind to people about whom one cares nothing. - Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray, 1891

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Poker is fun?

10 AUG 05

Last night was the most fun I’ve had playing poker when I didn’t win. I actually broke even, although I didn’t play many hands.

The game was $10/$20 at the Muckleshoot, and the table was a bunch of regulars. I am still a relative newcomer, but we had great conversation and a lot of laughs. Yes, I know we were trying to beat each others brains out, but I was still able to enjoy myself.

Mike Caro said that people enjoy losing to him because he makes everyone have fun at the table. In Doyle Brunson’s Super/System 2, he said that talkative tables are often loose, and therefore will give you a lot of action. There was plenty of action to be had last night, I just got cold-decked. I went 30 consecutive hands without a face card!!

The best part was one jovial woman at my end of the table calling me a wimp for leaving at 11:30 pm. I told her it was because I had to get up at 4 am, and she said she had to get up at three. What I didn’t tell her was that I needed to be rested so that nobody died today.

I never tell people what I do, although maybe I should. After all, this blog is called Never Play Poker with a Man Called Doc. How will they know I’m a doc if I don’t tell them?

You should be reading:

Final thought: We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars. - Oscar Wilde, Lady Windermere's Fan, 1892, Act III (I promise quotes from someone other than Wilde in the near future. These are just some of my favorites)

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Snake Bit

9 AUG 05

No bad beat stories, but I managed to lose the casino winnings (from yesterday) on PokerStars last night. Some LAG to my left was raising stupid stuff and catching cards. I know I’ll beat those guys in the long run, but after my decimation in Vegas, I need to replenish my poker funds without begging the wife for another influx of cash. Why the hell does a doctor need to beg his wife for poker money?!

You don’t know my wife.

More about the Poker Can and Vegas in upcoming blogs.

You should be reading: Drudge

Final thought: The basis of optimism is sheer terror. - Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray, 1891 (Oscar Wilde was clearly a poker player)

Monday, August 08, 2005

Weekend with Dad

8 AUG 05

What a great weekend!!

My dad and his girlfriend stayed with us and we taught them Texas Hold ‘em. We played low or no stakes and had a terrific time listening to Dad, who was a steady poker winner “back in the day” tell us that Hold ‘em is all about luck. He maintained that people only play it because it’s an action game. When confronted (by me) with the fact that the same group of about 30 players are winning consistently on the WSOP and WPT, he dismissed it as a fluke.

Then I took his money. Again.

It’s strange beating your Dad. He’s a great sport, but he and my wife both gave me grief when I sucked out with my 72o against my wife's AQs when I flopped a 7 and went all in against her short stack.

So of course we had to try a “real” game. I thought we were going to play stud or draw, but we switched to 31 for a dollar a point. This is an insanely mindless game of chance where you each start with three chips and then you each get three cards. You take turns drawing and the one closest to 31 (Ace and two face cards) “knocks,” then every other player gets to draw one card. The lowest pays one of their three chips into the pot. All four of us exactly broke even, but we actually had an entertaining 3 hours in the meantime.

I dropped them off at the SeaTac airport last night and stopped into the Silver Dollar Casino by the Airport for a quick round of 4/8 (a game I am coming to hate).

First hand: JJ. I bet and get 8 callers (I friggin’ HATE low limit!)

Flop: A J 5 (I LOVE this game!!)

I check. MP bets. I call and 7 stay for the turn.

Turn is a 5 (FH baby!!)

Can you say Check-Raise? I knew you could.

Three stay to see the river which was a blank. There were two diamonds on the flop. One was staying for the flush (too bad it didn’t hit) and the other flopped 2 pair that he couldn’t get away from.

First hand of the night – about $120.

I didn’t play another hand and went home after one loop (with much scowling from the various characters at the table). It was a great hit, but 10/20 is a MUCH better game.

You should be reading: The Onion and The Onion AV Club

Final thought: I can resist anything but temptation. - Oscar Wilde, Lady Windermere's Fan, 1892, Act I

Friday, August 05, 2005

An Up and Down Day

5 AUG 05

I LOVE these emails:

PokerStars Tournament #10921559, No Limit Hold'emBuy-In: $10.00/$0.50
4 playersTotal Prize Pool: $40.00 Tournament started - 2005/08/05 - 02:17:30 (ET)
Dear DrChako, You finished the tournament in 1st place. A $40.00 award has been credited to your Real Money account. Congratulations! Thank you for participating.

Online players (those that play tournaments, anyway) know what I’m talking about. Actually, it’s rare that I play heads up, but I was in a mood after winning (and subsequently losing) $150 in the course of 3 hours. It started innocently enough. I played a little $5/$10 on PS and did rather well. I was about to turn off the computer when I had “the voice” tell me to play another SNG. The $15+1 Turbo 2-table is my specialty.

PokerStars Tournament #10877704, No Limit Hold'emBuy-In: $15.00/$1.00
18 playersTotal Prize Pool: $270.00 Tournament started - 2005/08/04 - 00:28:15 (ET)
Dear DrChako, You finished the tournament in 1st place. A $108.00 award has been credited to your Real Money account. Congratulations!Thank you for participating.

It was a good night and I caught some great cards toward the end. My only suckout was on the final hand. I had over $20,000 and there were two players left. Both had under $1000. They were both all in with me on the button. I called with 10 7o and got my 7 on the river.

I couldn’t go to bed right then, could I? You know the rest. There will be no bad beat stories on this blog. Suffice it to say that I don’t play well tired.

You should be reading Wil Wheaton.

Final thought: Consistency is the last refuge of the unimaginative. - Oscar Wilde

Thursday, August 04, 2005

And So it Begins...

4 AUG 05

Just what we need - another poker blogger. Well, I’m not your typical poker player and I’m not your typical blogger. I suppose I’ll develop a FAQ eventually (if anyone really cares), but here is the answer to a couple of questions:

Are you really a doctor?
Yep. Board certified.

Do you play live or online?
Mostly online, but I play live in the Puget Sound region as often as possible. I’m just waiting for the day when the casinos go smoke-free. I’ll probably have to move to California before that happens.

Are you consistently winning or losing?
I’ve been on a horrible losing streak lately. Look me up on PokerStars if you want to take some of my money.

Can I marry you?
It’s strange how often I get asked this question. It usually follows the Are you really a Doctor? question. Sorry, but I’m happily married with two wonderful kids. And dammit, where were you when I was single? Hell, where were you when I was a geeky high school kid humping my desk and dreaming of Linda Carter?

Can you get me Viagra (Vioxx, Fentanyl, Ritalin, etc)?

Why did you feel compelled to write a blog?
Same reason as millions of others – because I have something to say, and who knows, someone may actually read it. You are!

I hope to contribute regularly, but my schedule can be erratic and quite full. Feel free to ask all things related to Poker, medicine and life. I’ll do my best.

Weird confession: In my job as a physician, I’m often required to do fine and detailed work with my hands. This includes biopsies. If I do say so myself, I’m quite good at it. Yet, as a bonus to my readers, I’ll let you in on a little secret. When I’ve got the nuts (or close to it), my hands shake. If you see this – fold. I’m not sure why I’m giving away my biggest tell, but it seems the right thing to do in a blog. Besides, I read several bloggers, and the one quality I admire most is honesty.

Speaking of, you should be reading:

Dr. Pauly

Final thought:
Start every day off with a smile and get it over with. W. C. Fields