Delik James' Chronicles

Getting Quads is like a wink from the poker gods, but when the river comes and you're the bearer of Quad Sevens - you can be damn sure you're just sopping in luck. Quad Seven Poker provides a unique glimpse into the poker world - take the gamble and come on in!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Bubble Trouble

Ah, the dreaded bubble; my arch nemesis.

I had a good relationship with bubbles for the majority of my life - blowing and popping them off pets and younger siblings was always a joy. Then there's bubble-wrap, a great way to fill useless minutes of the day, who could resist? Presently, however - I hate bubbles. This is primarily due to the anxiety and regret they fill me with after a sub-par showing at a tourney. What could be more painful than working hard, making great reads, solid lay downs and pulling a little luck out of your ass just when you need it - only to bust out as the first place loser. Ouch.

Sometimes it's necessary to focus my late tournament play primarily on missing the bubble - and rightfully so! Poker is all about decision-making, and when the bubble is lerking, those decisions must be even more thought out.

I've folded pocked Aces just one time in my life and it was because of bad positioning and a mean bubble threat. Here's how it went down...

Late into a tourney, with 10 people left (only the final table of nine getting paid), I was dealt pocket Aces in early position. I opened with a raise (3 times the blind) that I hoped would isolate one or two players so I could build my stack with their chips just before the final table. Well, I isolated two players alright...most folded, but one player (let's call Player A) re-raised and the button (let's call Player B) pushed all in.

Not good news for me; Player B had me covered and from where I was sitting Player A looked like he did too - by atleast a few chips. Now, normally I would call without too much concern, after all - I am sure I have the best hand currently. But with only my initial raise committed - I had to bet my life on these two tiny aces. Not only could I suffer a bad beat, but I would be the bubble boy if they didn't hold out.

"Pick your battles," I thought to myself.

After much thought and brain cramping consideration - I threw my cards to the muck.

Player A turned over AK suited; Player B (Or should I say Mr. Gretzky) turned over pocket nines. At first I wanted to physically harm myself - every second thought that could go through my mind - did! Obviously, with pocket A's, I would be a huge favorite!

The flop were rags for the most part, except for the fact that a couple of deuces had paired the board immediately...I felt my stomach flip. The turn - oh glorious turn... a nine. I'll never forget that it was the nine of hearts because I felt the love emanating from the felt. Mr. Gretzky hit a full boat! (The river was another rag.) Player B busted out with his AK...on the bubble.

As I said, there wasn't too much of a difference in chips between him and I. The real difference was in our awareness of the dreaded bubble and how willing and confident we were to put everything on the line in the face of it.

Kudos to Mr. Gretzky, with a much higher chip count and great positioning, he could risk the large re-raise to buy the pot, or in this particular case, bust his opponents bubble.


Saturday, March 22, 2008

Dealer Distress

Why is it, I wonder, that players come to the felt with a fight to pick?
Try convincing yourself that it's your 'image' or that you're somehow psyching someone out or putting someone on tilt...truth is - you're a giant asshole.

Pick a fight with me around at felt and you'll get nothing but frustrated. Scream, yell, call names or splash the pot and the only reaction I'll give you is a light chuckle and maybe a bad beat story. Being a bully, especially an obnoxious one, takes a great deal of effort and energy; energy I'd rather spend focusing on the hand - which is exactly what I'll do.

Much like anything though, there is an exception - don't mess with my dealer!
I have a few friends that deal for a living, one such friend I've known since high school and keep still keep contact with regularly. Sometimes the stories I hear are pretty disturbing. I'm glad I chose to be a player, although I thought about becoming a dealer briefly in my past, (before I found out how much they make), and have always had the ultimate respect for the people that make the game I love go so much smoother as well as lending an air of class to it. This is exactly why I will not tolerate anyone berating a dealer at my table.

Let's remember that these people are at work, so they can't even fight back. It's like picking a fist-fight with a guy that has no arms - pathetic. Start laying into my dealer and you've just made an enemy; one that will fight back. Perhaps its not the dealer that is at fault because you chased a flush to the river or another player hit trips that you didn't think to consider on the turn. Blaming others for your own inadequacies - real nice; grow up. I just hope I can bust you before their cycle is up so they can see you squirm.

Now let's face it - some dealers are terrible. Calling the wrong winners, counting chips incorrectly and so on, but for the most part - they're just doing there job and don't need YOU to tell them how to do it better or differently. If something they are doing bothers you, move tables.

I'm not too religious, but I have a good feeling towards Karma. That's why I always tip my waitresses well in restaurants, leave my towels in one pile for the housekeepers in hotels and treat my dealers with respect.

The Poker Gods are always watching after all.


Friday, March 21, 2008

Still Kicking

Yep, still kicking; thanks for your e-mails.

So, I've been a little under the weather the last few days. Let's chalk it up to too much spicy asian food, long hours and no sleep...a deadly mix. But, I am happy to report my recovery period has ended and I'm back at full force. Just in time too - I hate playing while I'm sick, I don't even drink at the table, so mind-altering medications are completely out of the question and have cost me a handful of days and more than a handful of chips. Needless to say, I can foresee alot of 'making up for lost time' in my immediate future.

So how did I spend the last week? Well, I watched about every poker re-run on televison, followed a never ending stream of news from CNN regarding 'Election 2008' and spent so much time with my pillow, I think we are legally married in five states.

Wishing you big flops and bigger pots,

Friday, March 14, 2008

A Rare Sighting

When I woke up yesterday, I could count how many times I have held a straight flush on just two fingers - today I'll need three.

Much like car accidents and phone calls from long distance relatives, straight flushes occur when they are least expected. Although I have no children, I imagine discovering a straight flush in your hand is much like the miracle of birth. Sheer joy. Not just the knowing that you unequivocally have THE NUTS in the hand, but that you've got the 'odds' right by the balls! No matter who you are or how many hands you've seen, there is truly nothing like it - like a Bigfoot sighting of sorts.
(No worries - I've run out of analogies!)

But the joy is fleeting - I still have a hand to play after all! My goal hasn't changed much: extract as much money from my opponents as possible - this was particularly interesting given the circumstances...

I went into the hand on the Button, unpaired - Js/8c; the flop came 5c/6c/Jd.

I was pleased to hit top pair and honestly hoped to take the pot down right then, because my kicker was terrible and there were two clubs out. This didn't work; I still had two players to the turn, which was 7c. I still might be ahead with top pair, but after they both call another raise - I am sure I'm dead to a flush and can envision folding on the river.

Just before the river was dealt I heard that nutty little voice in my head, "Hey, four of clubs gets you a straight flush - one outer! one outer!" I can hardly believe it myself, but instead of being the bearer of salt for my wounds - this little voice was Nastra-freaking-domis. River: 4c.

I managed to get one of the two players left to donate more chips. It turns out I rolled over a pocket pair of Kings that had evolved into a King high flush.

With a smile still firmly attached to my face, I marked my calendar - next one is due August, 2010.


(Snap shot of this hand available below, in my "Grease the Rail" section. )

Monday, March 10, 2008

Look out Ukraine, here I come!

What comes to mind when you hear or read the word 'Ukraine'?

For me, I am reminded of a very significant country in the game of Risk. "The gateway to Asia" we'd call it growing up. Truth be told, I've never given the country too much more thought and don't know much more about it than its capital (Kiev). Then something happened that made me give Ukraine another look...

I've made quite a few friends through my recent (and very late) introduction to MySpace. One such friend is a woman named Olga from Ukraine. We met primarily due to our mutual love of poker and struck up a few conversations right from the start. My interest was peeked when I found out she was the editor-in-chief of Hroniky Azarta, a gambling magazine in Ukraine - 'the first and best' she says dutifully.

A few random chats later came a surprise for the ages, she's working on having a 'dynamic and bright dialog' with pro players that have some character and will share their experiences and opinions with her readers ...I guess Mike Matusow was busy? Apparently poker is getting big in Ukraine, but they are far behind in the world of poker magazine availability and lack ways of exposing more readers to the game. So there you have it, I'm being profiled in a Ukraine gambling mag - wow.

So I'm not really sure how I will be perceived by my friends to the East, or if they'll care much - but hell - the chance to enlighten and interest people about poker on the other side of the globe is pretty exciting. After reading...strike that, translating - then reading a few of her past articles of a similar nature, I was relieved to find a smart author with well composed articles; so I agreed.

We had our first 'interview' a few days ago and plan to wrap up in the coming days. So far it's been really fun and the questions are like none I would have expected - truely interesting. I'll next need to decide which pictures I'd like to have displayed for print next to my thoughts and sarcasm. Nothing too dramatic - maybe a red teddy on a bed of roses... really get those issues off the shelves!

Big Pots and Bigger Flops,

Check out Hroniky Azarta online.

And if your in Eastern Europe anytime after July - check out their bilingual version: Hazard Chronicles.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Healthy Competition

A couple of days ago I made my weekly visit to the bookstore.

I've always been a sucker for bookstores and libraries. Maybe it’s the smell, the sounds (often the lack there of), or even the memories of my childhood self, checking out nudie pictures in the art or photography sections without fear of being caught. "What, it's educational!" I would say if it ever came up...

Well, as I was reminiscing to myself about this and making my way to the magazine rack, I saw an image that startled me. A kid, not much older than I was during my ‘nudie art picture phase,’ was looking at the March issue of Bluff Magazine.

I've always hear ‘seasoned’ poker players, not 'old' - let's just say seasoned... talk about young players, wishing that they had the amount of poker material at their fingertips when they were at their age, that 20 year olds have today. "Imagine how good I would be by now," they quip.

The poker saying “...a lifetime to master" is true - the longer you play - the better you get. Seeing thousands of hands played out is much different than seeing millions of them. You can learn something about the game and yourself to apply to future hands every single time. We all know that the 20-something poker player population is getting so much larger - this can pose a major threat to the 40 to 60 year olds that have been playing since long before you could just go online or buy a poker mag in any bookstore!

So, when I saw this kid - flipping through this poker magazine, I had a terrible thought...I didn't get the poker bug until I was 19...when he is my age, he'll have a full seven years more exposure! We could say for sake of argument, that sometime in the future - this kid will be all grown up - sitting across a table from me...taking my money! That bastard! Then I thought about how much harder I would have to much I would have to do just to keep up with him. Ha, I had to laugh - this thought made me want to go play poker right then. The mere hypothetical challenge injected me with excitement - damn I love this game!

Besides, I figured as I grabbed a copy for myself… I won this battle little dude- he’s just flipping through it, but I’m old enough to buy one!


Tuesday, March 4, 2008

The 411

So you may have noticed a few new things around here lately - not so much redecorating, but additions of features and tools. This blog has been a great outlet for me to share my poker experiences and admiration for the game, so I've made a commitment to my visitors to make things as easy-to-use and as entertaining as possible.

I'm not exactly a pro when it comes to HTML, but I really liked the idea that if someone popped in, to check out a particular section of the blog - they could do so without too much scrolling or searching - so I hope you enjoy this feature! I'm also pleased to share news/entertainment related poker headlines in The Leak, with an easy to use scroll box - incase you missed a day or two. I tend to carry a lot of fun little stories like these around with me to spew on fellow players during passing conversation - drop some knowledge on 'em!

Also, it was hard to let my weekly poll go, but I've got nothing but good mail about the Poker Quizzes - they're really a lot of fun and range in difficulty - It's one of the many things I like to do to pass the time between online games.

Lots have been going on including, a shock: I had an interesting Part 1 interview recently with a Ukrainian journalist...of which I'll delve more deeply in a future post.

Shout Out! to my recent MySpace friends I've made around the country and world all because of our love of the best games on earth: Poker!

Big flops and bigger pots,

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Poker vs. Bowling

Superstitions can be good in some types of games.

I remember when I was thirteen and on a bowling league - you run into some hardcore superstitions when you’re in a bowling alley. We've all heard of a pitcher wearing the same socks throughout a winning streak, but the pure lunacy that encompasses bowlers every second of the game is just startling. Bowlers get new superstitions after every frame because they are attempting to do the EXACT same thing twelve times in a row! Having the same exact plan and execution twelve times back to back to back is what makes champions in bowling. Now, it goes without saying that this is a complete improbability in poker, and yet, you'll run into superstitions all around the felt in every state in the nation and country in the world. What's yours? There are so many... how you look at your hole cards, how you stack your chips, or what if you get your 'favorite hand'?

Maybe the hand you 'always lose with'…
“Damn this Jack-Ten, I'm in the small blind with no raisers, but I always get screwed on the river with Jack-Ten...fold – done!”

I decided right from the get-go, that I was not going to have any superstitions in poker. It is just not good for your bankroll to make crucial decisions based on ‘how many times you tap your chips between hands.’ Of coarse, I found out almost as quickly as I decided not to have superstitions- that they are unavoidable.

Or are they?

Well, it just so happened that the answer was right in front of me...
Taking after the old adage, I decided that I would be 'superstitious to superstitions.'

You see a black cat for instance- and boom, your running to the other side of the street. Something bad might happen right? Well, if I start paying attention to lining my card protector up straight between hands - boom, I change my focus to mentally counting the chip stack of the player in seat four. After all, I would hate to accidentally develop a superstition…I always get screwed on the river when I have a superstition.