Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Its Not For a Lack of Effort...

How's this for a depressing way to go out of a tournament you REALLY want to win?

After I'm liking the way things are looking pre and post flop, this guy manages to find the 4th queen on the river to one-outer me? Thanks for that, pokah.

I went out in 6Xth out of 170. Worse than last night, although much more fufilling. I played damn good and spent most of the tourney in the top 10-30%, but then went card dead as the blinds started to creep. Not yet in panic mode, I found this AQ with around 8xBB left, and instantly checked the "All In" box.

Can we save these kind of beats for meaningless SNGs, where its not a marathon that you're pouring everything you've got into??

Thanks, that'd be great.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

The Plan is Going According to...Plan

Well, I have much good to report from my big two days of play on Friday and Saturday. Buckle in. Here's where you find out if you really like to read my blog or not. And if you make it to the end, there is potentially a prize. So get reading.

Friday - Online - 5 hours
Friday was more about moral victory than monetary victory. The first thing I did was play a $3.30 MTT. If I had this to do over again, I'd have passed on the MTT. Because after about 2 1/2 hours, I busted in 14th for a profit of $.01. I thought it was going to be another average card-dead MTT, but about the time I got to 7-8x the BB, I pushed and doubled up, then hit a rush of cards, and before I know it I'm in a pretty commanding lead over the whole field. Problem is, after the first break I knew my big stack wouldn't be big for long, so I kept trying to stay in and pick up what I could, but ended up running into some big hands by the smaller stacks. So my luck had run out, and I busted. Good MTT experience that I'm proud of, but my time probably would've been better spent in SNGs. First, because I had a better shot at real cash, and second, because after busting out of the MTT, I didn't have enough time to open a SNG before I went to meet the wife for lunch, so I jumped into some micro limit cash games and proceeded to donk away about $10.

After lunch I came back and had a pretty good afternoon. I didn't want to multitable SNGs because I feel like I'm not great at that, so I played $5.50 SNGs while playing some $.10/$.20 Limit. In my first SNG, I got super stupid and got involved in a 4-way all-in early w/TP, terrible kicker, and I was immediately pissed at myself because I promised myself that this is exactly the way I *wouldn't* play. So after that I buckled down. I won the next SNG I played, busted on the bubble of the one after that, and then took 2nd in the last one I played. The cash game was pretty break even, and the end result was a bankroll of $100 even.

Saturday - Live - 2 1/2 Hours
Saturday was what I was really looking forward to/most nervous about. I headed out to the local casino and got there at about 9:30 AM. Its not ideal because I'd be playing basically locals, and didn't have a giant win potential. But at the same time, it would be a great test of my skills. I headed out there w/$165, and my plan was to buy in to 3/6 Limit w/$65, and then if/when I completed that 2nd hundred dollars, I'd venture into 1/2 NL with one buy-in behind. Well, when I showed up, there was a full 1/2 table going, and a list for 3/6. I got myself on both lists and waited. By 10:00, seat 5 opened up in the NL game, so I figured I'd just take it and play crazy tight until I could get my 3/6 seat.

I didn't see a whole lot early, and probably was blinded down about $20-$30 by the time I picked up my first pot. In the small blind, I look down and look at a black AJ, with the nut ace. I made it $12 to go, and got a call from the BB only. He was a "play any two" type player who liked to run his mouth and yuck it up, and was pretty much overall a bad player who hit real lucky to win his pots. The flop comes J89 of spades, so I'm looking at TPTK, with the nut flush draw. The thought of slow playing crossed my mind, but I felt like I could get a value bet out of this guy. So I threw out 10. He called pretty quickly, and I immediately suspected he was holding Q 10. Don't ask me why, but I felt like that was his most likely holding. So when the turn came down a J, I went ahead and checked, on the feeling that it wasn't good. He put out $15, and I called with my full house and nut flush draws. Well I'll be damned if the river wasn't the case J, giving me quads. Now here's the thing about this hand. I can't possibly lose. "He could be holding the straight flush" you say, but as most any of you know, there's a little something in card rooms called the "Bad Beat Jackpot". If I lose to a straight flush with quads and an ace kicking, I'm actually much better off, bringing home a handfull of thousands. I'm actually HOPING I'm beat here. But knowing you can't possibly get away from this hand without turning a profit is a DAMN good feeling. Anyway, I went ahead and checked the river, as I don't think he was putting me on the J. He, of course, fired $15 at it, and at that point I pushed all-in. He went into the tank for a while, and eventually mucked, convincing himself I had the J. He said he had Q 10, with the Q of spades. After the hand was over, I was extremely upset with myself for the push. I feel like there was a 50/50 shot he'd call the push just based on the kind of player he was. But I *know* I could've raised him x amount and he'd have paid to see it. Please let me know what you think about the push there. I've really gone back and forth about it, and am having a hard time deciding what the best play there is. I feel like the bottom line is that I didn't get the most possible value out of my hand as I could, but at the same time, with a 50% or better chance this guy calls my push, I feel like I have to do it, just on the possibility.

So anyway, after that I was up around $40. My 3/6 seat opened up not too long after this hand, and I promptly turned it down, having already hit my profit milestone in the NL game, and would've been looking for a seat there at this point anyway.

The next hand I played was not too long after the quads hand, and it involved the guy in the 7 seat. He had just taken a pretty bad beat, and after several limpers, made it $15 to go in the big blind. It folded around to me, and I decided that I wanted to see a flop with my 89c. The flop came 89J, and he threw out another $15 bet. I raised him to $30, fully willing to take it down right here, and he disgustedly folded. Not an earth shattering pot, but $30 + blinds in profit is reasonably significant.

After this hand there was another long period of inactivity and I was approaching even again. But then I look down and find KK in late position. I made it $20 to go, and the same loose/bad player in seat 6 that I was in the quads pot with re-raised me. Easily planning on re-raising here, things got further complicated when the new guy in seat 1 limp-pushed his $100 buy-in in. I'm not gonna pretend there was a whole lot of thought involved here, but not having a read on this guy, and not willing to put all my chips on the line, I figured $20 was a pretty cheap price to get away from my kings. So I mucked them. Thankfully, the other player called, and when all was said and done, seat 1 showed down his aces, picking up trips on the turn. The only unfortunate thing was that seat 6 didn't show down his preflop re-raise hand. At this point I'm thinking to myself that I may be pretty decent at this game. Like I said, in the moment, it was a pretty simple laydown, and any decent player should understand that, but how many players can *really* make it?? So I really felt like I was clicking at this point.

The biggest hand of the day came about 20-30 minutes later when I picked up QQ in late position. There were 7 limpers so far, and I made it $20 to go here, too. But here's where it got interesting. Everyone called. So that was quite intriguing to me, and I'm thinking a whole lot of the aces and kings are already out, and that I just need to tread lightly depending on the board, really looking out for possible pocket pairs, straights, and flushes. But a whole different scenario appeared when the flop came Q-high, all hearts. It checked around to me, and I really only had one move. The good news was that all my chips was more than the amount of the pot, so I gave nobody odds to draw to their flushes. I just hoped they knew that. They all mucked, and all the sudden I'm up over $200 total, and thinking I'd really have to screw up for this to be a losing session. It started to settle in that I was going to be a winner today.

So even though I had about an hour and a half until my designated quitting time, I instead started thinking about a monetary high mark for quitting. I've run well, and I need to quit before things get ugly. So I got to thinking if I can get to $235, I will have completed the "stray" hundred plus another hundred, (aka walking out w/$300) and if I can't walk away happy with that, there's something wrong with me. I was sitting somewhere in the $220s at this point, so I didn't have far to go.

One more major pot occured before I called it quits. A bunch of people had limped into a pot, and I did the same in late position with a red QJ. So things were stacking up pretty hunky dory until the button made it $8 to go. He was new to the table, but had played just a couple hands pretty meakly, and I wasn't terribly scared of him. A few of the limpers stayed, as did I, and we saw a flop of x 9 10 rainbow. Works for me. It checked around to me, I also checked to see what the button was up to, and he threw out a $15 bet. It folded around to me, I called the bet, and then came the turn. A king of the 4th suit, completing my nut straight. I checked again, and the button bet another $25. Perfect. Looking to sink my teeth in on the river, I "went into the tank" for 10-15 seconds or so and then called. The river was a meaningless card, and I checked again, drooling at the prospect of the endless riches headed my way. Well, the damned button checked behind me, and I took down what was there.

Now I *know* I played this hand wrong, but the question is did I play it wrong well before I had made my hand, or was just my lack of a river bet the worst of all transgressions?

Anyway, at this point I was up over $270 total, which doubled what I walked into the casino with. I stuck around for the last of my free hands. After I limped UTG w/33 and folded to a late position raise that left me with $270 exactly. Enough to have doubled what I walked in with and an extra $5 for lunch. It felt like fate to me, so I walked away about 45 minutes before my designated quitting time.

This session really made me feel good about my game. The recent small limit wins were all well and good, but I was still afraid I was just having some decent luck, and it was due to come crashing down any moment. I was very much prepared to lose on Saturday. It felt like it was time. Also, the beast I really wanted to conquer was NL cash games. Every time I've played NL cash, I tend to really hemmhorage due to a strong lack of discipline. I had too many holes and my game was much too volatile. On Saturday I sat down at that table, played the best way I know how, and walked away with twice what I walked in with. I'm not one to brag, but I felt like Neo the first time he could see The Matrix. Every move the table made spelled out to me exactly where they were at and how to beat them, and beat them I did. I have got to play live more. It just comes so naturally to me. I may not be good at putting people on hands, and I can't tell you any reason or reasons specifically why on a hand by hand basis, but I know when I'm beat, and I know when I have the advantage, and that's all that really matters. I can continue to work on refining that. All that matters right now, is with a clear milestones in place, less than a month ago my bankroll was $15. Now its $400. I think that speaks for itself.

The New Plan
So...since I came out way ahead of what I could've ever imagined, my plan has changed again. Thanks to my spike in bankroll, I withdrew and redeposited my $100 at Poker.com, and will be playing the $500 New Depositor Freerolls for 5 of the next 7 days I'm eligible. TV isn't new this week, so it was a perfect week to do it. I'm also moving up to the $11 SNGs. Word on the street is that you're never to risk more than 5% of your bankroll at any given time, and while $11 may be 10% of my online bankroll, I've got some cash reserves behind to back me up if need be. But I'm confident in my abilities to beat that level, and need to be trying to make some more serious money online if I'm going to build to play in the Circuit Event. I'm not worried about the $50 to Full Tilt any more, because I'll have to work my ass off to clear my bonus at Poker.com with only 30 days to do so, so I'm just gonna wait and see if maybe they pick up my blog submission and maybe I can get $50 free.

ALL THAT SAID...I swear I'm winding up here...I started "The New Plan" last night with the $500 freeroll and a couple of $11 SNGs. The tournament was a straight line, followed by a huge spike up, a plateau, and then a line straight down. With 189 runners, I was getting dick for cards at first, and was sitting as low as 118 out of 124 left with over 1k left (1500 starting stack) and blinds only at 25/50. I couldn't believe how short of a stack that was. The average was only $1900. Not that it mattered, because I knew I had a lot of play left, but it was just surprising. Anyway, I went on a mad rush of cards that I had been waiting for, and before I know it I'm in 8th, with over 6000 chips. I maintained top 10 through the first break, and then I slipped mentally shortly into the 2nd hour. I was in 15th-18th, and for some reason I started getting anxious. I had limped with a suited 6-high in the small blind, and when the flop came 6-high, needing a 5 for the straight, I bet 2/3 of the pot. A bigger stack pushed all-in, and my immediate instinct was to fold, because I'd be in much better shape some other time. Eventually convincing myself that he was on a bluff and I'd love to double up off him, I called and couldn't outrun his 10s. Out in 60th, and loathing myself. The two SNGs basically made up the losses that I feel like I'm owed. The first one was no cards all the way down to 7xBB, where I pushed with 2s and ran into the chip lead's 7s. In the 2nd I was more than doubled up into a solid 2nd early, then went as card dead as I can ever remember from there down to 5 left. Literally nothing higher than a Q6 for almost 4 levels. I finally found KJo in 5th out of 5, ran up against KQ, and although I flopped a J, a Q on the river made things right.

So it wasn't a great start to the new plan, but I'll be the first to admit that I wasn't really into it last night. Like I've said, live takes a lot out of me, and usually tides me over for a few days, so when I sat into that MTT, I just didn't really feel like I had my A game with me. It didn't help that I was running downstairs to greet trick-or-treaters, too. And I also was owed a little variance, which I feel like I saw some of last night. Hopefully that's plenty for a while. I'm much more pumped about playing tonight. I really wanna take one of these down, put another $150 in the roll, and get a little trophy by my name at Poker.com. The tourney was impressively soft, so I just have to keep my wits about me and avoid some bad beats, and I'd love to be talking about cashes in the remaining 4 shots I have at this.

Second to last, I've been stupid busy and I'm WAY behind on my blog reading, which SUCKS.

And finally, as part of my deposit bonus, I got a ticket to an Aussie Millions Freeroll coming up on Saturday. I can't play in it because I have an ISU game, so I was wondering if anybody was interested in playing in it for me. We could work out some sort of deal in the event that you take it down, but I'd hate for the ticket to just go to waste. The field isn't gonna be huge, and you know it isn't good, so I really think the entry needs to be used. Let me know if you're interested.

If you made it this far, I commend you, and appreciate you sticking with me more than words can explain. Hope everyone is doing well, and the poker gods are smiling. I'll be back much sooner than you hope.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Tunnel Vision

The schedule has been posted for the WSOP Circuit Event at The Horseshoe in Council Bluffs. A co-worker of mine was out there this weekend and did a little asking about it and heard the schedule was posted, and that the only big name they've got a committment from so far is Phil Gordon, which is good enough for me, because he's one of my favorites. So even if I don't get the roll to play, I'll plan on heading the couple hours down the road to rail the Main Event. But I'd still like to be able to play.

The good news is that I've got a total of 10 1/2 days off before the end of the year, not including weekends, so I've got good opportunity to work on my bankroll, both live and online. The bad news, as you know, is that whenever I have a chance to really sit down and make some progress, I tend to lose, lose, lose, and then pull even at the end of the session (at least online). Anyway, I just have to keep focused, play my best game every time I sit down, and I should be able to have some bank to give the Circuit Event a shot.

In the near future, I'm planning on taking Friday off and will put in some decent hours online, hopefully getting to that illustrious $150 mark, when I can start making my money and play work for me with bonuses, then on Saturday the wifey will be gone most of the day, so I'm thinking I'll probably go play live at the local card room. I'd like to try 1/2 NL because I think I have the ability and discipline to be profitable at it now, but maybe I'll start playing some 3/6, set a profit milestone, and if I hit that, switch to 1/2 NL. Either way, its getting down to crunch time, and if I seriously want to be able to try this Circuit Event thing, I have to be absolutely focused and hope variance stays away until mid-February.

If anyone has any information or knows where I can find any information on what the Mega Satellites and Second Chance tourneys are, I'd greatly appreciate it.

I had a chance to play a little last night, and feel like I survived another fairly brutal run. In two of the 4 tournaments I played in, I lost with high trips to flopped broadway straights, and ended up down only about $4 after all was said and done.

I played the $500 guaranteed shorthanded tourney at 4:00, and things were going along quite well, as I was building steadily. I then called an EP min-raise from the SB w/A7o. The flop came AK10, and it checked around. The turn was lower than my 7, and still wary of his holding, I checked. The raiser bet here. I called his bet, not loving my kicker. The river was an A, which of course changed my whole outlook on the hand. I kinda felt like I had just sucked out on the raisers KK, would be splitting w/the raiser's Ax, or will get punished by AK. I bet here, the raiser raised, and I pushed all in, ready to chop. He called and showed JQ, for flopped broadway. This hand irritates me, because I find it hard to put him on that hand. First of all, who raises w/JQ in EP? Second, if you're gonna raise w/JQ, how do you min-raise? And third, it seems the cool thing to do these days is min-raise w/HUGE hands (I have a T-Shirt idea for this new phenominon that I should post about sometime), so you really have to beware of the min-raise. In the end, it worked out perfectly for him, because I had no clue of his holding, and even if I put him on it in theory, probably never could've convinced myself to fold.

The other time was early in just a $2.20 SNG. I had pocket kings and called a raise from another EP raiser. Why did I call? Because I'm a little gun shy right now having my re-raiseable hands going up against hands that have them dominated. Here, I just wanted to see if the flop brought an A, and if it did, I'd get away fairly easily. Well the flop did not bring an A, and instead brought a K, along with a Q and a 10. We checked it around on the flop, and the turn was meaningless. At this point the raiser bet out, I raised him, he re-raised me, and I pushed all my chips back at him, which of course he quickly called, much to my delight. Until I saw his AJ and another flopped broadway. That dropped me to 40 chips, which I'm proud to say I worked back up to as much as 850, before I got unlucky and lost on a preflop jam w/A9 against KJ.

Looking back, I probably could've played these hands a lot better, but I really don't know if I could have or even should have gotten away from either. That's just stone cold unlucky.

My sole cash of the night was in an $11 SNG, where I took 3rd. I feel like I should have at least gotten 2nd, as the 2nd place guy was a pretty unimaginative player, but I got it in racing w/him and his 3s held up against my K5.

So overall a positive night, "surviving" some rough times with only a $4 loss. Of course, I really need to be headed in the opposite direction, but if I just stay focused and keep working on improving, it'll come. I feel like Friday will be a breakthrough day.

Monday, October 23, 2006


Things continue to go badly, and on top of it I "relapsed" and attempted to get cute and make a big score outside my bankroll.

Today I came home and settled into an $11 SNG. The first one was going along pretty average until I picked up AKh. I had had a couple of my raised hands thus far miss or be 2nd best, so I smooth called the initial EP raise. I just wanted to see a flop. The flop came a fairly nice looking A-high with a couple of hearts. The raiser bet, and I decided to call and take one off. It was not a heart. At this point the raiser pushes all-in, and I know he's got aces. I thought about it briefly, and thought if I'm playing outside my bankroll, I might as well gamble, and I did. And he had aces. And I missed. 9th place.

So, continuing in my disfunction, I popped open another $11. I *really* like the way it was playing. I *know* I'm better than these players, so I just had to get another taste and see if I could reverse my fate. This one went along really well, and the table didn't know what to think of me. I didn't even have to show down a hand until blinds were 50/100. And at this point I had pushed at least 4 times. Finally I push again w/A6, and the first time they see my cards I'm doubling up against 4s. This propeled me from 6th out of 6 to 2nd. That's how close this tourney was. I then bounced around between 1st and 2nd for a while, but my stack was so small compared to the chips in play, I knew I was just a couple downed players from last. So I pick up A8o UTG with blinds at 150/300. I feel like I'd commit myself anyway if I raised here, and if nobody called an all-in, I'd have free blinds. I got called by a shorter stack w/KJ, and the flop came xJK. There goes half of it. In the big blind I then doubled up another short stack with A2s against a pocket pair. No go. Now I'm in the small blind for less than the small blind and my 78 can't outrun A 10. 6th place it is!

I was simultaneously in a $5.50 SNG, where I picked up the first real hand I'd seen, KK. I raise it up to 300 in EP, get re-raised to 600 in LP, and I just got that feeling. Anyway, there's no way I'm getting away from this here, so I push, and get called by the pocket aces. Had to be, right?

So I'm now in "cool down" mode, playing for a little pride since that's 5 straight non-cashes, and running a $5.50 and a $2.20. Wouldn't you know it, in the $2.20 I'm a MASSIVE chip lead when I'm holding 77, and on a Q73 flop, get it all in against QJ and 33. A lady on the turn gave them both quad draws, but I amazingly managed to hold up. Thanks for that out of this world double takeout hand in the cheapest possible tournament.

What the hell am I doing going up a level when I've been on my high horse about bankroll management and can barely be excused playing even the $5.50s? Well, I just kinda felt like I wanted to take a chance and make something happen. It sucks, because as I said I love the way the $11 level plays, but I can't say that I played my best. Nor did I get the least bit lucky. Now I'm down in the dumper with an even bigger hill to climb. But this isn't a tilt-induced tailspin. I just took a shot and missed. Back to the grind I guess. I'll get there eventually.

--tick tock tick tock tick--

So I ended up winning the $2.20...

...and I ended up winning the $5.50 in a seriously confidence building performance (even getting aces cracked by Q7o)...

...which puts me down just 20 cents for the evening.

The poker gods are smiling on me for some reason. And as I like to say when I get bailed out, I'll take it.

Bye Bye Already?

As I mentioned the other day, thanks to a recommendation from the great and powerful Pauly, I signed up my blog on sitemeter.com, because I wanted to see if I did, in fact, have the two readers I expected, or if maybe it was just a pity party.

Well, I was checking my traffic today, and I have a couple different hits from someone in the Army Information Systems Command department in the Pentagon. I immediately have gone all ScurvyDog and am afraid they're after me. Now, if the government was looking into me for my potentially illegal online poker playing, first of all, I don't know if I've done anything wrong (although supposedly just the links and/or talk about any site is supposedly illegal under the UIGEA), second of all, you'd think they'd be a little more conspicuous, and third of all, I don't know why it would be someone the Army's IS department. Regardless, I'm easily scared, I don't want to go to jail for playing seven $5.50 SNGs a week, and this is plenty enough to scare me.

So if you read my blog and you work in the Pentagon, or are more well connected and know of someone who might be reading my blog and work in the Pentagon, please leave a comment or email me. I'm sufficiently freaked out.

EDIT: Crisis averted. I've found my culprit, and he's merely a harmless blogger. Thanks for clearing that up so quickly, friend.

Along those same lines, it blows my mind to see the hits I'm getting from all over the US and the world. I hoped to start picking up some hits here and there, but I flat out can't even figure out how some of these people found me, or had enough interest to click a link I left somewhere. And I don't figure SiteMeter probably tracks hits from feed readers, so if that's the case there may be more "hits" I don't even know about. Pretty damn cool. Not to mention the people taking a couple minutes to leave a comment, which is even better.

So thanks to everyone for stopping by. I can't believe it. Now hopefully I don't have to shut the joint down.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Punch in the Crotch

Well, I'm off to a rousing start this morning!

In the first SNG I played in, I was pretty card dead and doing a decent job at maintaining. I was ready to turn things around when I finally picked up AA in middle position. With blinds at $50/100, and only 3 left to act behind me, I considered the slow play again (see last post), but didn't wanna be greedy, and really felt like I'd get a call. I figured if I'd get a call, I might as well put all of my last 900-some, screaming overbet steal as loud as I could. The SB, who was a massive chip leader and call station supreme, deliberated for a while and finally called w/9 10 off. By the time the J fell on the river, he had filled in his gutshot, and IGH in 5th. Aces cracked, first tourney of the day.

So, undaunted, I pop open another one. Things are going well early, and I pick up QQ in middle position. I raised it up 5xBB, and I got 2 short stack callers. Perfect. Now just a low flop, please. The flop comes 235, rainbow. Even more perfect. First to act pushes the rest of his short stack, and I come over the top. I probably should've smooth called, but that's neither here nor there. The third player bows out, and the pusher shows A4 off, for the flopped straight. He called my 5xBB raise w/A4o. Shortly after that, I do manage to double up and reclaim my 3rd place standing. Then I pick up 9 10o in the cutoff seat. With only 1 caller thus far and the blinds yet to act, I decide that I'd like to see a flop with the hand. The flop comes 9 A 10, and I'm pretty happy that I saw a flop at this point. First to act fires a bet of $120 into a $150 pot. Big blind falls, and I double his bet. He re-raises, and I push all-in, putting him on Ax with a perfect opportunity to cash in on 2 pair. And he did have Ax, where x=10. To add insult to injury, the turn comes 10, and the river comes A, for double trips. F off. So I'm short again. The blinds then proceed to go up to 50/100 and I find myself on a 600 chip stack. I pick up A2o UTG, and normally I hate to push this hand because ANY ace can call and beat me, but this time I did it. Probably tilted...whatever. The bain of my existance (my buddy who called my 5xBB raise w/A4o) calls me in the BB w/A8, and I figured that was about right. Only this time the flop brings a little bit of help with low cards and a deuce. But an 8 on the river made things "right". As I type this, this guy just took down the tournament. Easily the worst player at the table, lucky all the way to the bank.

So...I'm gonna go ahead and take a little break, because things are a might bit ridiculous right now. Maybe even call it a day if this is the way things are gonna go.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Back Over the Century Mark

Since I can't *view* my blog at the moment (I heart Blogger Beta), I guess I'll try and post to it.

I was able to play one SNG last night, and once again I came back from the brink of elimination to put up a pretty good performance. Early on I was disgustingly card dead, but I killed some time by chatting. I eventually picked up AJd on the button with about 800 chips left and blinds at 50/100. UTG goes all-in for about 350, and I called. I immediately had a feeling I should have gone over the top and isolated myself with the all-in, cuz the big blind had decent odds to call with a lot of hands. Right now I just needed chips, and didn't need to take any chances. Naturally, the big blind called, and naturally the big blind won with his 10 8, when an 8 hit the flop. Its not a terrible call there for the big blind, but I can't see him justifying a call of my all-in, and I had the UTG player dominated, as it were. Lesson learned.

Anyway, after that I pushed and scooped a couple of times. I then made what I felt like was a pretty solid play with a hand I usually avoid like the plague. I picked up JJ in EP 6-handed. I thought about raising it, but then realized there were 2 smaller stacks yet to act behind me, and thought this would be a good calling hand for a short stack push, so I limped. Sure enough, the SB pushed all-in, the big blind folded, I called, and the SB rolled 10s. I held up, and emerged with my stack officially off life support. So it was nice to get a little creative with a hand I generally despise, and come out with things going according to plan. A short time later, I slow played aces down once and probably should have paid for it with a straight and flush draw on the board by the turn, but my turn push took the pot down. I think this was a fairly creative play for me at the time, because lately when I've been raising about 5-handed with KK and AA, I haven't been getting action. I *really* needed a few more chips than just the blinds to be back solidly in the hunt, so I decided to give the slow-play a chance one time, because I just didn't feel like I was going to get action on the raise.

I eventually found myself in that scary and familiar 4th out of 4 position, but at this point, my earlier chatting benefitted me when the guy I was chatting with was in the chip lead and openly folded some small blinds to me when I really needed them. Collusion, or good use of my good guy charm?? You be the judge. Then, ironically, when this guy lost lost most of his chips to the guy in 3rd and then went out on the next hand, it secured my cash. After that, I was fortunate to pick up some KILLER small blind cards, and pushed on the big blind 4 times in a row. When he finally put his foot down, I had kings down, and he was history. I think I was a better heads up player than my opponent, but a GIANT swing hand occured when I called a raise w/A9, the flop came K9K, we got it all-in, and I doubled him up with his AK. I *almost* pulled even, but then he called my bluffish all-in from the small blind w/J7 with his 77, and I couldn't improve.

So that's two SNGs in a row where I have rebounded from where most people probably would have given up, and I'm feeling pretty good about that. After I played that SNG last night, I got to thinking about how different of a player I am than what I used to be, and I felt pretty proud.
- I used to be the guy cowering and folding to all-ins, wondering to myself how people can put all their chips on the line so often. Now I'm the guy pushing and calling all-ins, knowing that a lot of the time, you're not gonna get called, or A-high is good enough to double up or beat a short stack all-in, and sometimes you've just gotta race.
- I used to be the guy blinding myself to death, afraid that if I go all-in it won't be good enough, and then settling for Q9 and wondering why I always bubble. Now I'm the guy chuckling at that player blinding themselves to death and calling their little baby all-in with my A or K and finding I'm in good shape. And I'm also the guy that gets disgusted with myself if I fall below 7xBB, because it may not be enough clout to claw myself back into things.
- I used to play only *my* cards, overvaluing them, refusing to accept the fact that they're beat, and not giving a thought to why my opponent might be playing the hand the way they are. Now its just second nature to try and figure out why my opponents are still in the hand, what I need to do to get them out, or laying down strong hands because it makes perfect sense that I'm beat.
- I used to get down early and give up, and now getting down early just means if I hang that much tougher, I can be that much more proud when I'm there in the end.
- I used to admire the plays and consistency of my opponents and try to steer clear of any action against certain ones that seemed strongest, now I kind of feel like people are steering clear of me because I show down winners and make strong plays.

I'm not proclaiming myself to be anywhere near a premier poker player or anything like that, but I'd venture to guess that my game has improved almost 100% from a year ago. And that gives me a lot of pride, and a lot of confidence that I can continue to move forward according to my plan.

Thanks to a tip from Pauly, I signed up for SiteMeter yesterday and came to realize that I've got readers! I'm gonna keep working on that, but its good to see the seeds I'm planting have a few people coming and checking me out. Also, a huge thanks to Hoy for stopping by yesterday and giving me some hand analysis on that real burner from the MTT the other night. And I can only assume my visit from AnguilA was due to my request at Hoy's blog for a little help, so that's awesome. I couldn't have made this improvement in my game with out Jorgen's help, and without him introducing me to the wide world of poker blogging, and all of the great wisdom from the 50+ poker blogs I now subscribe to. It just sucks I missed this boat by who knows how many years, but with any luck maybe I can work myself into the mix.

Ok, time to hit Google Reader and see what went down in last night's Mookie, among other things.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006


Wow. So I just went out in 17th in the Poker.com $5.50 MTT.

I was sitting in 9th place, and there were 18 left. But I knew my current stack wouldn't do for the cash. We were in hand for hand, and everything was ridiculously tight. In addition, the clock was still running while we were playing hand for hand, and my 5k, although around average, was already only 12xBB. The big problem for everything in this hand was that I had the giant stack to my left. I picked up A6d in the small blind, and raise the $400 BB to $1200 total. I knew this would be percieved as a steal, but I figured I had a pretty good chance of being the best, and was willing to put it all in if I was re-raised. But he smooth called. The flop comes 4JK, and I figured the only way I'm gonna win the pot is by coming at it strongly. Otherwise I eventually fold and have 9.5xBB for the time being. If I got the worst of the flop and he's got J or K, I was OK with it, otherwise I get him out, get a piece of him, and am probably good to go to the final table, which was the idea.

I pushed it all in, and after thinking for a long time, the guy calls and shows A4o. I couldn't find a 6, and that was it for me.

For him, the preflop call was probably OK. But maybe my SB raise and instant flop push screamed steal, and if not he was willing to double me up? The problem is, I wasn't stealing preflop, I was betting for value, and there's no way for him to know that. Sitting on the big stack, all he sees is people wanting a cheap piece of him.

I'm pretty sure I played it wrong somehow. Probably horribly wrong, reading over it. The preflop raise might have been wrong. With him next to me moreso than any of the other pretty average to below average stacks. Most other people would probably fold or push with his hand, at which point I lose to the 4 no matter what, but at least I got in with the best of it, and have that peace of mind. My flop push was probably the biggest mistake, but I think the only way he calls me there is again because of his stack. If he does have a J or K he's gonna call me no matter what, simply because he can. I should have put the brakes on when I missed the flop. I think in trying to represent the king or jack, I made things look like a desperate steal. Would he have maybe folded to a *smaller* bet, or a slower push, or was he even anywhere near smart enough to be trying to get a read like that on me?

I considered everything before I did it, and just chose the wrong time to do it to the person with the wrong stack. I did get unlucky, but I could've gotten away from it and gotten myself in in much better position a little later down the line. I did what I needed to try and do to cash, but I got anxious and rushed it. Its a great lesson learned.

Now I just lost with a flush to quads in a SNG. Things are just not going so hot.

Final Update: I managed to recover from that beatdown to make it to the bubble and have it burst in my face. I looked to be in pretty good position, but then we started trading blinds, people started getting lucky and I got the short end of the stick when all was said and done. To come back from the quads over flush for 2/3 of my stack beat and finish fourth is a decent takeaway, though.

Monotony and a Milestone

Another 5 days and no posts. I spent time catching up on the 100+ posts of the 46 blogs I subscribe to that I hadn't had a chance to really keep kept up on since the middle of last week.

Things had been kinda tumultuous for the past couple weeks, but I'm hoping now I can keep up on blogs, and get back to posting regularly.

I won't go too into depth about poker for the past few days, because most of my stories end up about the same.

Friday - I was home for the afternoon with a good opportunity to play, so what happened? I played like crap and ran badly. Of course, playing bad tends to lend to running badly, because I wasn't making good decisions. In the end I nabbed a 1st and a 2nd and ended up down about $3. Poker Night on Friday was a write-off. The first tourney wasn't much of anything and then my Ax couldn't outrun QQ. In the 2nd tournament my brother in law disrespected my big bet again when I pushed about 5xBB w/A9 suited and he made a tough call with...10Jo?? Of course he hit and I was busted. The third tourney was equally as nothing and I got my money back. But, I made all 3 final tables and cashed once, so overall I was pretty happy.

Saturday - More of the same, maybe worse. While watching ISU tank yet again on the FB field, I lost my way down to as low as $50, I won the last tourney I played (my only cash), and ended up at $75, and $13 from Friday's starting point. But I really was just happy to survive the onslaught of a terrible day semi-intact.

Sunday - After a double puker party on Saturday night, I recovered from my hangover with some afternoon poker. Yeah...I couldn't really sit up straight w/o wanting to die until about 1:00. It figures they show the two most uninteresting football games they could've when I actually have a chance to watch. Anyway, in poker I started out with a couple more terrible decisions, bad play, and some terrible luck. I lost my way down to $53 on Sunday, and just on the verge of killing myself, things turned around. The two tourneys I was in were going pretty well. I got heads up in the first one and should've won that one, but took some gnarly beats and 2nd place. I then proceeded to get heads up in the 2nd one and sucked out on my opponent 4...count 'em...FOUR times to win that one. So all was about right in the world, and I ended up <$1 down from where I started on Friday. I'll take it, because I probably deserved worse.

Yesterday was where things kind of caught me by surprise. After killing some time after work and then working out, I decided I had time to squeek a SNG in. And the SNG probably took the cake as far as the biggest "trained monkey could play these cards" experience of my life. I was picking up good down cards, and they couldn't help but turn into good hands about every flop. I hit trips on my first 2 pocket pairs, had all 6 top pocket pairs, was hitting straights, flushes, 2 pair...just hitting flops about as hard as you could. It would've gone even better if my QQ would have held up against JJ and 77 to take them out, but 7s took that pot. I was waiting for it to end, but it went all the way *to the* end, and I locked the thing up. And there stood my bankroll at $107.51. The promised land.

So now I'm figuring out what to do next. If you've been reading me, you knew that my plan was to cash out this $100 and promptly redeposit it at Poker.com and work on a bonus, but upon reading up about the bonus, I see its going to take a while to clear, and I forfeit it if I withdraw. So I have an inkling to win my way up to $150, cash out, deposit $100 at Poker.com to work on that bonus, and deposit $50 at Full Tilt to keep working on that bonus, and be able to play some of the blogger events if I feel like it. Besides, I think the best time to deposit at Poker.com is when the MLB World Series is on so that TV isn't new. Poker.com has a $500 freeroll for new depositors for 7 days at 7 PM that I REALLY want to play in, and if I miss out on nightly TV I'll lose a few wife points. So we'll see what I decide. I like my new plan because it incorporates the ability to speed up my old plan a little bit, so I'll probably go that way.

Right now I'm in 10th out of 66 (99 starters) in a Poker.com $5.50 MTT, so if I can hold it together, maybe I can just win the $150 first prize and pick whatever damn plan I want.

PS - Everyone should try out Poker.com in these times of sites shutting down. They've got super fast, GREAT software, loaded with features (rabbit hunt, show one card, play blind, player accolades, chat icons), and they have a 100% deposit bonus up to $100 with entry into an Aussie Millions if you use coupon code AUSSIEFREEROLL. They pride themselves on a great player experience, the cards are true, and the play is soft. Just give it a shot and see if you like it.

*post-proofread update* - I'm now 17th out of 39. Haven't seen a lot since early, so I'm just trying to hang on.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

I'm Not Quite Dead Yet.

Man, its been a while. I know I don't have interesting stories, but I still love posting to this blog, so its sucked not being able to.

I haven't played a whole lot in the past 6 days. Twice, actually.

Friday evening I was partaking in a few adult beverages with some co-workers, when one of them planted the poker bug in my ear. A phone call home later, we were on our way to Prairie Meadows. The wifey was home with a friend baking for tailgating and watching Sex and the City with a friend, so the timing couldn't have been better.

Joe is used to playing 1/2 NL, but was kind enough to play 3/6 with me for the sake of playing together. I'm eager to give 1/2 NL another try, but I think my cash game is still a little too volatile to be profitable in a NL arena. So 3/6 it was, and we sat next to each other in the 1 and 2 seats, for an added good time.

I had an interesting hand early. Well, the hand itself wasn't interesting. It was atrocious, in fact. But the end result was interesting. Picking up pocket Js in early position, I decided to raise them. I HATE to get in trouble with this hand, but wondered if this is the way to play them in limit. Someone let me know. Anyway, I decided to stay the course through the hand despite an xAK flop and a Q turn, but by the river had made broadway. At this point, ashamed of the way I played my Js, I flipped one on top of the other (hoping to represent AJ or anything less pathetic than JJ), and pushed my cards to the middle. The other guy in the pot tossed in his K 10. One of the corners of his card caught, and he had one face up, one face down in the muck. The dealer proceeds to roll his eyes and call over the floor. "I've never seen this before. Both players put their cards in and have one face up and one face down." I'm obviously showing a winner, but apparently you have to show both cards in a showdown. The floor says to split up the pot (which I think is ridiculous because despite the rule, my 1 card is the obvious winner), and in the end, my opponent graciously pushes all the chips my way (which raises another moral question...would *I* have been able to do the same thing?). Is it just me, or is this rule ridiculous? Is that pretty standard practice at cardrooms, or am I just an idiot? I swear all you have to show is a winning card to get the chips. I found out that this is even the rule in the tournaments they run out there. Anyway, I really dodged a bullet, because had his cards landed face up, the sizeable pot would have gone his way.

Things went pretty average for me as the night went on, taking donkeys money on hands in which they should never have seen a river card. Then I got a little too big for my britches and things took a turn for the worse. I raised in EP with KQo, and when the flop missed me, decided I was going all the way. I bet out every street with not one, but two callers, and folded to a raise of my bet on the river. Why I apparently suck at bluffing can be a whole other post sometime. But at this point, previously thinking about getting out of there, I was down $30 and wondering how long I'd have to grind things out to get it back. Well, luckily I didn't have to wait long, as I took a bunch of money from arguably the worst player at the table a few hands later. My AJd hit a diamond draw on the flop, TPTK on the turn, and I kept the 2nd nut flush draw around until the river. If only the flush had hit! Then, a few hands after that I was firing w/QQ, the board came all low, and I got everyone out after the river bet.

So, after a couple hours I walked out of there up $28. It was a little bit of a roller coaster, but man I've gotta get out there more, because the play was just BAD.

Playing at the casino always takes a little bit more out of me/quenches my poker thirst better, so a combination of that and being crazy busy the first part of this week kept me away from the blog and the tables until last night.

I played the $500 guaranteed at 4, and a handfull of SNGs. Variance decided to make an appearance, so things got pretty twisted, and in the end I lost under $4. I actually was ahead like .80 and walked away patting myself on the back for thwarting the variance, but then found out my wife wouldn't be home for another hour, so played a couple more non-cashing $2.20s. I bubbled one on a suckout, and in the other I lost as a huge favorite to the same guy with the same A3h TWICE. Sick. Those two tourneys pretty much epitomized the variance I saw last night. I did a lot of losing as a favorite and winning as a dog, but when I tend to get in as a favorite, that does not bode well for the results. The good news is that I had accidentally gotten into a $2.20 Turbo SNG, so I played mostly $2.20s because my OCD kicked in and I wanted to get my bankroll back to .50 and .00. So I can thank my Rainman tendencies for minimizing my losses last night, when I was getting whipped w/the variance stick.

Our monthly game is tomorrow, so I'm really looking forward to that. It's been treating me pretty well for the past 2-3 months, so I wouldn't be surprised if the poker didn't go well. But rarely do I lose when it comes to the drinking.

I have noticed a lot of you bloggers are losing quite a bit lately. I just wanna send out some good karma. That's plenty of this losing crap. Things need to right themselves.

Ok, on to the next thing. I've gotta get through the rest of the past couple of days of blogs, and catch up on some emailing. Thanks for stopping by.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Why, brain...WHY?!

So I'm an idiot. And maybe you guys have noticed, but if you haven't, I'm outing myself.

That FTP Tip From the Pros that I've been ranting and raving about and crediting with for the 180 my poker game has done as of late? Yeah...not Rafe Furst. Its Mark Vos. Where I got Rafe Furst, I don't know.

So all that about Rafe and the irony of watching his bracelet event when I won a SNG yesterday, etc, etc. Toss it out the window. I'm just a moron.

Luckily I figured this out before as I was about to message Rafe on MySpace thanking him for a tip that wasn't his. Now *that* would have been embarassing.

I also wanted to blog a little bit about quads. And how I've hit them 3 times in the past week. I had quad Qs and 3s last Friday with pocket pairs of each and got them both to a showdown but didn't get a *whole* lot out of them as I was making smallish bets to make sure I got calls. Yesterday I got all-in during bubble play w/Ax and the flop came AAA. Um...thanks!

So yeah...yay quads or something. They're great and everything, but only further evidence of what has to be an impending dry spell. I'm beyond due.

Check ya later.

Thursday, October 05, 2006


Thought I'd go ahead and take a couple minutes to post about my one $5 SNG I got to play tonight. Once again, I came from beyond the bubble to cash. This one was REAL tricky, because we were just trading blinds for a while and they got as big as I've seen at that site with 5-6 left. Anyway, saying I cashed was kind of a tease, because I won the thing and banked $25. So now I'm *really* off the $5 SNG schneid.

Its funny, I see these people on the bubble, limping with less than 3xBB and fading away with no all-in vigorish, and I sit there and think "that used to be me". Ironically enough, I was watching Rafe Furst win his bracelet on my DVR while I was playing this tournament, and I tracked him down on MySpace, and I'm gonna send a message to that m-f'er and thank him for that tip that has made my game do a complete 180. I am indebted to him, and he needs to know that he's made a difference. And I'm just kinda gay like that.

$92.50, and the promised land is on the horizon.

Now We're Getting Somewhere

Well, last night I set a new milestone in the online bankroll. At least since July, when its really mattered. Nevermind the fact that $50 of it came from a referral bonus. Shhhhhh...

Starting at $59.70, I took 2nd in a $2 SNG and 2nd in a $5 SNG, and ended the night at $73. The $2 SNG was a real squeaker. I was 4th out of 5 and lost as a favorite to the only stack smaller than mine. I then doubled up twice in a row, made it to the bubble, and then the chip leader took out 3rd and 4th. Score. I think I might have even lost w/AK to K5 to lose heads up. The $5 went my way, to say the least. I cruised along for a while just keeping myself in the hunt, and then proceeded to take out two with KK, and the very next hand I picked up AA and took out the next shortest stack. This, after I had picked up AA earlier in the big blind when only the SB had called, and I raised him out. Do I raise my AA there, or take my chances with a flop and proceed with caution?? Anyway, the consecutive KK and AA put me in the lead with 4 left. The shorthanded play here actually took forever, and I ended up going out in 2nd when I knew my opponent had hit his flush on the turn, but put it all out there for the taking anyway.

So...bankroll wise, live and online, I am currently up about $270 since I started keeping track again in July/August. I'm not quite back to even for the year, but I've pretty much disregarded my weak attempts from the spring. In fact, I've chalked all my losing up until July 2006 to learning and experimentation. You'd better believe that when I do get it all back, however, I'll know...and I'll have a little celebration with myself. I actually may want to start writing stuff down and keeping *real* track of it to make sure I'm keeping things straight and keeping a close eye on things. I have also officially set some of my poker money aside from regular money, as when I have won live thus far I have pretty much just contributed it back to my regular money.

All of this leads to my next point. I've recently decided that my next poker milestone will be a trip to The Horseshoe in Council Bluffs for the WSOP Circuit's inagural stop there. I would love to fund this trip entirely (room, board, & poker) on poker winnings, but at the very least I'd like to plan on going out there for 2-3 days, playing some cash games, satellites, and seeing about getting into one or more of the circuit events. Naturally weasling into the $5000 main event would be the ultimate goal. I'd like to have a bankroll of at least $300...ideally $500 or more. The circuit events start at $300+$XX I believe, so if I even want to think about buying into an event I'll need either a bigger initial bankroll with something to fall back on, or to be successful in cash games or satellite in. So I've got my work cut out for me, but I'm technically already pretty close to my initial goal, even though I've only got about $150 in tangible winnings currently stashed away of the $270 I'm currently up. If I really want to, I can fudge the rest of it back to my poker stash, but hell, it'd be nice if I didn't need to.

If I get there, this trip would likely be a huge chunk of my bankroll, but obviously the ideal situation is that things keep going well for me and I'll be up a couple of levels and maybe $500 won't be a whole lot by then. Of course, I've yet to hit a really really bad run in the past couple months, so I'm due. Worst case scenario, I cash out most of my bankroll and find myself right smack dab back at square one, but with a great story to tell. Best case scenario, maybe I actually am decent at this damn game and I get the opportunity to prove that to myself and others.

Anyway, I just kinda crapped all that out from my brain to my fingertips, but that is my dream scenario at the moment. That's what I'm working towards. That's the next big shot. It was kind of a pipe dream until I made a little money at the casino Sunday...now it's actually looking a little feasible.

God willing I'll keep things going at the $5.50 level or higher, start doing a little bonus whoring once I get my online roll to $100, take a couple shots at low limit MTTs, and maybe make a couple more stops at B&M. Hell, even $25-30 wins at poker nights w/friends get me there. I just can't look past this month, week, tournament, or hand, and keep the focus that I've established over the past couple months, and maybe I can have a go at it.

Last night I took a few minutes loading up Google Reader with all the blogs linked on the right, and then some, so I can now hopefully start keeping up with everybody who's anybody, and maybe stick my neck into this bloggersphere. I guess we'll see.

I probably won't comment much on the legislature that passed on Friday because 1) I don't think any of us knows what it *really* means yet, 2) I'm not a good writer, 3) everyone else has has already dissected it to pieces, so there's nothing left to be said. All I know is that Poker.com is going to continue taking US business, and I'm going to continue playing there. Although the number of players there doesn't seem to have gone up yet, I'm hoping maybe they get a piece of the departed from the sites that will be refusing US business. I really think the software is some of the best (fast, with TREMENDOUS features), but they just don't market like the rest of them, claiming to spend that money on a better experience for their players. Which rings true, because I think the player experience there is great. Try it.

Yes, I am without shame.

Which brings me to my final point. I'd like to lodge an open apology to Matt Maroon for my moment of weakness in a comment that he seems to have justifiably refused. I shamelessly put a referral link for Poker.com in there, and I'm not "that guy", so I don't know what I was doing. Sorry Matt. All 3 of my readers should now email Matt if they want rakeback at FT, or check out The Stars Exchange and deal some W$ or T$ with him.

Look at that. My post got all long again. Shoot.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Weekend Exploits

Buckle in, my 3 readers, cuz this one is gonna be a doozie. I put in some poker hours over the weekend, and I have much to report.

First, I played a couple different sittings on Friday. Typically, this would've been enough for an oddysey of its own, but now its just a blip on the radar of my poker weekend.

I played some in the morning. With my referral bonus graciously cleared by Jorgen with perfect timing, I was ready to do some serious bankroll building. I played three $5.50 MTTs, two of which weren't worth talking about, and the other that I found myself in the top 20 in. I did take my ugliest beat of the day in one of these. I was up early thanks to taking out a couple of players when my pocket 9s held up, and feeling pretty good about how things were going early in this tourney. I made an admittedly marginal limp with a suited Q in late position, but was thrilled to see the flop come QQJ. There was a bet, I called, got raised, third player folded, and I re-raised all-in. The original raiser insta-called and showed pocket J. Ouch. I needed the board to pair. And it did. With a J on the turn. I proceeded to take a couple more bad beats, wave buh bye, and that was the end of the whole "feeling good" thing.

I was also mixing in some $5.50 and $2.20 SNGs w/my MTTs, and things were just about as mediocre there. I was losing races, losing when I was ahead preflop, and even when I'd flop something, I'd get drawn out on, so the morning didn't go well. I also don't think I was playing as well as I'm capable, which, of course, is frustrating. I did manage to get off the $5.50 schneid with a cash or two, but by the end of my morning session, I was down almost $30. So I took a break, ate lunch, washed my truck, worked out, and got back at it.

I only had a couple hours before my Friday night would kick off, so I played in a $5.50 and a $2.20 in each hour. Things improved drastically, both in the way I was playing and the way I was running, and at the end of my afternoon session I had made back just over half of what I lost that morning. It was a good way to end Friday.

Saturday morning I had a chance to play in a $2.20 SNG in the midst of getting ready to tailgate for the ISU game, and a satisfying win there got me back to just over $59 from the $65 I started at Friday morning. Now the question becomes, does this whole experience stop here in the wake of the gambling legislation passing, or will I get a chance to continue to make progress??

I guess only time will tell. But I've still got some serious headway to make, so I'd like to be able to continue.


Fast forward to Sunday, where I think I mentioned I'd be heading out to Prairie Meadows to play in their $60 buy-in tourney, and maybe get in a little 3/6 action if I had the chance. Well, I got out there just before 10, with tournament signup at 11 and the tourney at 12, so I sat right into a 3/6 table with $100.

Not too many hands in I pick up AA in middle position and raise it up. I get some callers, and we see a flop. A bunch of blank junk. I bet, and everyone stays with me. The turn brings paired black suits on the board. Don't do this to me. I bet, everyone calls. Red card, please? No such luck. Ace of spades. We check it down, and I'll be damned if I didn't take a $50+ pot.

After that, I didn't see a whole lot and was getting back to my original buy-in when I picked up 67 of spades and limped. The flop brought a 5 and an 8 and not much else, and I check. A guy who won't let a flop go w/o betting it bets, another guy calls, I raise, and get two calls. The turn brings a 4 and I'm in business. I bet and get two calls. The river is meaningless, and I bet again. The first guy folds, and the other one thinks about it for a long time before calling and showing down pocket 5s. Another big pot comes my way.

I won one other little pot in the whole hour and a half I played, and that was it. But that was enough. After definitely seeing a few too many flops in the last 1/2 hour, I walked away toward the brunch buffet $23 richer and/or 1/3 of the way to my tourney buy-in.

So a half hour later the tournament started. Now, I'm gonna try not to get all lame here, but I had a lot riding on this, psychologically. I came to play, and I would be disappointed with anything other than a top 20 finish. The ideal ending was a top 3 finish, which would proptly be turned into plane tickets to a weekend in Vegas. I wanted it to happen, and I was DETERMINED that it would. It wasn't just fun for me. You guys know I'm on a mission as of late, and not pissing this tournament down my leg was a main objective ever since I decided I was playing in it.

I won a couple of smallish pots early and was off and running in the right direction. Then came a hand I really liked. I picked up 10s in late position and limped. The flop came A-high, and it checked all the way around. The turn wasn't exciting, and it checked around to the small blind who put in about a 2/3 pot bet. It folded around to me, but something smelled fishy to me, and I called. The river was equally as junky, but it didn't stop her from firing again. I called her down, and she didn't have a thing. My read was right on, and I knew right then that I was firing on all cylinders. You could say that I played the hand weakly, but I think I got the best value out of it possible. The one mistake is giving her a free river card, but she might have folded to a raise on the turn and I wouldn't have gotten her river bet. And besides, even if an over card comes it doesn't mean she beats me. The only thing she's got going for her is that she called in the small which might give her credit for at least a face card or two suited cards, but I didn't believe for a second she had anything. She didn't sell it at all.

So I was off and running after that. I continued to play good hands and scoop up some chips, and then the pivotal hand of the first hour came up. In the big blind, I look down and find AQ. The blinds were 75/150 at this point, and I make it 600 to go, after having around half the table limp. It folded around to a guy in late position, who pushed all-in for around 2500 or so. When it got back to me, I had a few different thoughts in my head. First, this guy hadn't impressed me to this point, second, his buddy had busted not long ago, and third and most importantly, he limped and then pushed. This means he was either slow playing a monster or had decided to make his stand with an ace or small pocket pair. I just didn't really think he had the slow play in him, so I went ahead and made the call, and he showed me his A 10. I held up, and that was pretty much the story of my first hour. Starting with 2k, I now had 7k, with the average stack just under 3500.

When we went to the first break, for some reason I knew the 2nd hour was going to be a struggle, so I had to stay mentally tough and not give away everything I had worked for. I hoped that wasn't to be the case, but boy was it...

For the first 20-30 minutes I didn't see a thing. Then came the hand that could've been. I believe I was in the small blind. It folded around to a guy who pushed all-in for $2500 or so. I look down and saw 66, thought about it and made the call, and then to complicate things, the guy on my left pushed all-in over the top. He had me covered. I had the first guy on ace-face, but at this point, I hope you'll agree, I had to put at least one of them on a better pocket pair. Obviously the guy's all-in over the top was to isolate himself with the all-in, which is meant to indicate a LOT of strength. But even if they're both ace-face, I'm still drawing against the remaining two aces, and now 6 other over cards. I'm really not a fan of small pocket pairs at this point, so I folded...and the flop came 3-6-6. I threw up in my mouth a little bit. The original pusher had AK, and the guy on my left had AJ, and the AK survived and tripled up.

So that hand left me with under 5k, and things were starting to look grim. Another 20-30 minutes of folding, and all my 2nd hour action came in the last 10 minutes. I believe I'm in the small blind again, or possibly late position, but anyway, the guy on my right makes a smallish raise, and I look down and find QQ, and push the rest of what I have. After it comes back around, he can't call fast enough, and shows me KK. Well...at least I had a good first hour. I can build on that for next time.

The flop comes x 10 9. Turn's a K. And the river? Why not be a J?? Ok, then!

Next hand, I pick up AQ, push again, and scoop a couple limpers and blinds. And the hand after that I pick up 55, limp in late position, check a flop, turn checks to me, I bet, and take it down. I think there was one more hand, and that was the end of the 2nd hour. My chipstack? 7k.

Granted, 7k is not what it was at the end of the first hour, but after that 2nd hour, I'm just happy to have 7 times the BB to push with. Things were still looking pretty grim, though, with 16 or more players to go until the FT.

Between the beginning of the third hour and the bubble I don't remember a whole lot. I remember pushing a couple times and scooping, but I don't think I ever limped, and I don't think I ever doubled up, and apparently at this point I had established enough of a table image of showing down strong hands, that people really respected my raises, which was nice. But, next thing I know we're down to two tables, then we're on the bubble, and then the bubble bursts when an A 10 couldn't beat JJ at my table. I wasn't even the shortest stack, but I had managed to nurse my 10k to the f'n final table. How about that??

At the final table it was more of the same. My goal was to get to 5th, and then get busy, because that's when the money started getting pretty real. So I sat back and let others get busy, and my only move was all-in with nothing worse than K-high. I was folding JQ, most of my low aces, and even KQ once to an all-in and call. I was surprised at how many people were willing to be active. I understand that you have to accumulate chips, but as long as you've got a couple big blinds, that's two trips around the table that other short stacks can't survive.

Anyway, here's my feelings on the final table. The hardest part was getting there, once I was there, I felt like I was one of the top 3 players. Maybe top 2. There was an old codger that had been at my tables for quite a while and he had some game, and there was another kid who seemed like he knew what he was doing. We got going, and I actually pushed with a couple of ace hands, but never got called, so I was scooping and my blinds were free for several orbits, and I was even making a little money! Meanwhile, people just continued to call the blinds, get themselves pot-committed, and lose. The young decent player became a non-factor after his open-ended straight flush draw lost to the nut flush draw, and the two worst players at the table on the shortest stacks remained with 6 left. One guy had been all-in in the blind so much since we combined to two tables he should've been LONG gone, but kept getting lucky, and the other guy kept getting himself in as a dog and sucking out. So I was feeling pretty good about a top 4 finish at this point. The dagger in the heart came with me UTG, and these two were in the blinds. Blindey McCantlose was in the small, and Captain Suckout was in the big with only about 3k behind. Blinds had recently gone up to 5k and 10k, and I had strategically kept enough to get through the blinds and still be alive for an orbit, giving these guys more hands to bust. I look down and find A5o. I had folded hands like this at the FT thus far, but with my apparent table image that I had established, and figuring the bigger stacks wouldn't be interested in tangoing, I pushed my 22k with my eyes on dumb and dumber. The serial luckbox folded in the small, but the suckout king muttered something about pot committment and put his last 3k in. Like suckout artists do, he said "Nice hand. You've got me beat", and rolled 6 8. And like suckout artists do, he proceeded to river a pair and cripple me. I was all-in in the big blind next hand w/Q3 vs his Ace, and the flop came AAQ. Rad.

So I busted in 6th, one spot short of my final table goal, but right in the neighborhood of my ultimate goal. The payout for 6th wasn't fantastic, but I made $140 plus the $20 I made in the cash game, and walked out of the casino $160 richer.

I found it was typical of what you hear of final table performances. I had one great hour, one disgusting hour, and had to make one giant suckout to get there. Otherwise I got my money in with the best of it every single time, and like I said, without trying, I established a table image of a player that you need something strong to call with, which I think helped a lot when we were inside of 30 players. I also couldn't have had the success I have as of late without this article. I used to be the guy that would call the big blind all the way to the bubble, but have found that when you get inside of 7 big blinds, you have much more success and a much better opportunity at turning things around by just picking your all-in hand and going. Meanwhile, I'm watching people with short stacks calling the big blind and pot committing themselves leaving, while I'm scooping blinds. When you've got 5-7 times the BB, bigger stacks have to make a committment to call you, and they generally won't do that without a great hand. This move seemed to be baffling to several people as we were inside of 30 and especially at the final table, who felt forced to fold, disgusted with themselves. I either never had to show down, or showed down and won, which makes it even harder for anyone to call me. And finally, I was amazed at how easy the FT was to navigate. Getting there was definitely the hard part, but once I was there I felt completely in control of the situation. Once we got going, I couldn't understand how some of these people had gotten there, given their willingness to put themselves at a disadvantage and give away chips. I came into that table in no better than 9th place, and were it not for things not going my way, I cruise to a top 4 finish with little or no effort. My ONLY question on the day is whether or not it was a good idea to abandon my FT plan. If I fold my A5 there, maybe one of the bigger stacks calls and takes the BB out. Maybe nobody calls and my plan goes forward, hoping for the best. I know that leaving others enough rope to hang themselves but not leaving myself much of a nest egg is pretty weak, but right there I'd rather jump up another couple of pay levels and leave the rest to luck. Weak is what I know, and so far at the final table it had been serving me just fine. I'd be happy to hear opinions.

So I came to play, and I played my heart out. I can't imagine playing any better, but I'm not gonna go and say luck wasn't involved. The first hour my cards were on fire, but I'd like to take credit for being prepared and getting myself through the 2nd hour by keeping a level head and making good decisions (of course the giant suckout didn't hurt, but regardless, its the right play for me there). After that, it was a combination of solid play and well-timed hands that got me to the money.

Needless to say, I'm extremely happy with my progress over the course of the last 3 months, and my success at the tables on Sunday was a great milestone in what I hope is a still in-progress journey.