Thursday, February 22, 2007

Yeah, so...

As is usually the case when I have a nice chunk of time dedicated to poker, I got overzealous and basically wasted it. However, as an exception to the norm, at least this time I actually came away with a tiny win.

I started out with the precious $8.70 Tier 1. It was going along decent enough, as with 11 players left I was bouncing from 4th to 6th depending on where the button was. But the blinds were just too big and there were too many players left, so by no means could I just sit and wait. I managed to get myself busted by pushing my A 10 on the button into the big blind's Qs, and found myself on the outside looking in yet again. I think based on the blinds and the way the game was being played, I'd make that move every time. But c'mon, could I have a little bit of decent luck??

I then proceeded to play a couple where I got 17th and 14th. In the 17th one I decided to take a little different approach, trying to play it fast and loose. Very early, to an MP raise, I pushed my KJo, and didn't hate it when I saw his A9d, but I couldn't improve. In the 14th one I pushed my LP or button KQo right into big blind Aces. Are you kidding?? And then I played one more where we were again down to 10-11 players left. Since I'd gotten Q10 in these tourneys a million frickin' times I decided to go with it once. Again, I made a position play and came up against KJ, which I didn't hate again. I flopped two pair, but the turn didn't hesitate to fill up his straight. I had a few chips left and promptly pushed my A9 into A10.

My luck in these Tier 1s has been ATROCIOUS. I've played 6 of 'em and here's a compilation of the luck, which is mostly bust hands, 44 vs. AJ doesn't hold, 10s vs AK doesn't hold (river 10 completes his straight), push A10 on button into QQ don't improve, KJ vs. A9 doesn't improve, position push KQ into BB AA, and Q 10 flops 2 pair vs KJ, which turns a straight, and finally with chicken feed I push A9 into A10.

So the Tier 1s are kind of a sore subject right now. If I could just find a *little* luck, it'd be a whole different story.

So since I didn't win my $26 ticket, like a moron I just went ahead and bought into the $26 tourney anyway. 760-some runners and I busted in 74xth. I had two early hands where I made marginal calls where if I hit I get paid off BIG TIME. In the first one I flopped a straight flush draw holding 86h and didn't hit the straight or flush, and in the 2nd I flopped a flush draw and didn't complete it either. So I was down to 1k very early on. I find JJ in EP and limp with it, and it folds around to the blinds who both limp. The board comes something like 998, and we check it around. The turn is another low card, and it checks around to me. I make a small probe bet, and the SB folds and BB calls. The river is another low card. BB checks, I make a 2/3 pot bet, BB raises me, and with 1/3 of my chips in already and an overpair, I push. He shows A9 and IGHN.

Another interesting story had to do with a .05/.10 table. There came a point where I was looking to play one in tandem with one of the Tier 1s so I could concentrate on the Tier 1 with no real objective on the cash game table other than look for good hands and play them. There was a particularly juicy table with an average pot of over $7 and a PPF rate of 52%. With only a couple on the waiting list, I went ahead and added myself, and eventually took my seat. The table seemed full of guys who knew each other for whatever reason or another, had to have been playing well below their bankroll, and not a hand would go by when someone didn't get all-in, and with ANYTHING. A majority of the time, preflop. They would just keep passing it around the table and rebuying and rebuying. So I was basically folding looking for good hands or an opportunity to get in cheap. Most pots would be raised, but I'd generally bail if I couldn't get in for a buck or less. I managed to double my $10 buyin twice, once when I made a straight and called an all-in of a guy drawing completely dead with top pair, and another time when I had an overpair to the board (9s), and someone w/57o had pushed with just a gutshot. Easy money. So I'm sitting there with $38 on a .05/.10 table. Next hand I took a shot at was a limp in EP w/AJo. I hate to do this, but this is a premium hand at this table. I ended up getting to see a flop for about .30, and it was a decent looking 33J flop. I was pretty sure I was crushing my 4 opponents, but I honestly had to be scared of the 3. The middle of the story doesn't matter because no matter what was held, all the chips were going in. The last two cards came lower than a J, all the money went in on the river, and the SB won the hand with 73o. At that point, I thought to myself "I took my shot and came up blank" and gave up my seat. Say 20-30 mins later I got to thinking about how juicy the table was and how if I just stayed patient it could be a GOLD MINE for me. The beauty of it is that I can get in a hand for as little as 10 to 50 cents, but end up winning $30 pots or more. The cost was at the .05/.10 level, but the payout was at the .25/.50 level or higher! I was a moron to give up my seat! Well, by the time I got back there the average pot was about $30, the PPF rate was 42%, and the waiting list was 24 deep. I went back to the table a couple hours later at 9:00, and while I thought it was pretty remarkable that someone was there with as much as $68 while I had my seat at the table, at 9:00, there was a stack over $300! THREE THOUSAND times the big blind. Incidentally, it was the guy that busted me w/his 73o. The biggest mistake I made all last night was giving up my seat at that table, and I'm gonna be looking for those guys again going forward.

So that's, what? $70 of my $120 bankroll gone with nothing to show for it?

Luckily I had some good showings in the other SNGs I played and ended up cranking out a $10 profit for the night. I won another $11 SNG for a profit of $34, I went 2-for-2 in $6.50 turbos to the tune of $41, and took 3rd in another $11 SNG for a profit of $9.

One of the $6.50 turbos was the best SNG of my life, by far. I took out all 8 of the other players, which is a first for me, and I know a pretty remarkable accomplishment. I couldn't have done it without a little luck, but I also couldn't have done it without a little LUCKO. Thanks for all the great SNG posts as of late, man! It all started on the first hand when I took out 2 players when I flopped TPTK on a 10-high board. I was in the BB, and the small blind bet, I raised all-in (pretty sure I have the best hand here, and want to get it in accordingly, especially in a turbo), UTG called, a MP limper folded, and SB called. SB had a flush draw and didn't get there and UTG had 2nd pair. MP said he folded AA! From then on I just put pressure on every chance I got with my big stack. I had another hand where I took out 2 players when I flopped middle set and beat an overpair and top pair, and the rest of the time it was just me pushing almost any 2 and them picking hands. I had a PP of 4s hold and a PP of 2s hold, and I had a big suckout when I pushed 86 preflop on the button and beat the BBs KQ when the flop came JJ8. Heads up it was 12.5k to 1k and he was a stubborn little guy, but I eventually took care of business fairly routinely, never letting him even get to 2k. What a blast!

So overall it was a positive, but I wasted SO MUCH money in the Tier 1 SNGs and in that $26 MTT. If I would've just played some SNGs and kept my seat at that .05/.10 table, the sky's the limit, but I'm not gonna complain about a profit, especially when my bankroll dipped as low as $76.

Next time I have an opportunity to put in a decent session I need to form a plan going in and not stray from it, because whenever this happens its like I haven't eaten for a week and you drop me into a chinese buffet. I know what my objective is, but I just grab whatever I can think of next, and when the dust settles I'm satisfied, but I'm also a little sick and could've gone about it in a much better way.

Maybe no poker for me until the weekend, so good luck to everyone else, and I'll see you next time.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Super Mega Tilt

Well, the rule applied once again. The rule being, of course, that I post positive results on my blog, and go home and shit the bed on the virtual felt.

My one major mistake was completely my fault, but it doesn't make me any less pissed off about the call my opponent made and got rewarded for. But the following disgusting beat was all at the hands of the poker gods.

This particular beat happened in one of the $8.80 satellites for a $26 token, where I am officially 2 for 2 on bubbling. Last night I actually built a stack to up over 2800 (which would've been more than sufficient to cash in my previous attempt), but when we got down to 7 and my stack was still around 2800, I was the shorty. After getting Q 10 about 42 times in 3 orbits, I ended up getting it all-in in the BB w/about 1900 with a pair of 10s, and got a caller w/AK. Good enough. Flop xxJ. So far, so good. Turn Q. NICE. Just 8 outs to dodge. And could the river really be a 10?? That'd be sick. Oh, hey, look at that. IT CAN BE. Ohhhhhh the poker gods had it out for me, boys and girls!

Hi. My name is Chad, and I am addicted to bubbling.

Hiiii, Chaaaad...

The first step is admitting you have a problem.

Moving on, my only other go at this beautiful game last night was a $5.50 SNG w/my buddy. Everything was moving along swimmingly with my >2k stack being good enough for bouncing between 2nd and 3rd with 5 left. In short, I'd have to *really* screw up to not cash. (That is what we call foreshadowing.) There was this jackass who happened to be on the button on my BB. He was running over the table hitting anything and everything, and waking up w/AK and an all-in raise and show at least once a rotation. He couldn't play worth a damn, but his "luckbox" switch was set to "On" for the span of this SNG. At one point I find AQo in my BB, and with the button and SB having limped, I pump it up to 6xBB. When the button called, I lost it. I just snapped. From here on out, all logical poker thought poured out of my brain and into a mushy substance on my shoulders. The flop came 987 rainbow. Absolutely positive I had the better hand preflop and eager to prove it, I pushed what I had left, which was more than the pot by a few hundred. I nailed my read of preflop strength, but his A9o had outflopped the shit out of my hand. I don't improve, I'm sent to the rail, and I proceed to talk shit in the chat box like a donkeyfish.

I broke all the rules starting with my overbet push on a coordinated flop that I couldn't have missed worse but gave a million hands a million outs, and ending with not only talking shit in the chat box, but sticking around to watch the remainder of the tournament, cheering for the remaining players to bust the villian in the chat box, and talking more shit when he went out 3rd. It was nothing short of pathetic, and I'm not proud. But hopefully its out of my system for another few months, right? Sometimes you just lose it.

My buddy ended up coming from 5th out of 5 to finish 2nd, so good for him.

Pokerly speaking, my postflop play was just as pathetic, if not moreso, than his 6xBB call w/A9o, but that call just still annoys the piss out of me.

Oh, also its worth mentioning that I lost a handfull of dollars pushing too hard w/2nd pair playing about an orbit of .05/.10 NL before my buddy got on looking for a game, so I was a big, fat 0-fer on the night.

But that's fine, because my wife came home last night to inform me that she's getting together with a friend after work for this, that, and the other thing, and won't be home until about 9. That means about 4-5 hours of pokery goodness for this addict. My hope is to get home, win a $26 token, and play in some MTT with it whenever I can find one. Of course on the side I'll have SNGs or a .05/.10 game going and hopefully recover from the shot across the bow I received last night.

I was gonna play The Mookie for my first time ever, but I realized the damn thing doesn't start until 9 PM CST! The wife will be home around 9, so I'll have to quit at a reasonable time after that if I wanna have any shot at gettin'...well, anyway, I can't play The Mookie.

Check ya later.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Non-Hammer Hammer Day?

So things continue to just go steadily well for me, which is honestly sorta weird. My poker equilibrium is much too balanced right now, and I'm not quite sure what to think of it. I'm getting sucked out on, but I'm sucking out. I'll bust early and not cash, but then I'll win. I'll lose a couple of tourney and SNG buy-ins, and make 'em back in .05/.10 NL.

Its just...freaky. And very very nice.

Not a whole lot of specifics to report, but I did make yet another deep non-cashing run in an MTT on Sunday. I played the same 7:00 $5.50 tourney and got 76th out of 403. I'm content with that for now. As is usually the case with such a finish, I was just a card or two away from making a serious run, and one of these times they're gonna fall my way. Until then I can be content with spending a majority of the tourney over the chip average and outlasting over 80% of the field with little to no effort. But my middle stages game definitely needs some work, so any general middle stages advice would be greatly appreciated. I'm able to mix it up and get chips early, but I have a tough time doing much more than maintaining while the big stacks are getting bigger and the small stacks are busting out. My over average stack all of the sudden turns into a below average stack, and just as quickly a all-in or fold stack, and I end up pushing some average ace into a bigger ace or a big pair and that's all she wrote. I feel like it really comes down to the cards (at least in the low levels), as about anything you limp with you have to be willing to call a push with in these middle stages because there's someone all-in almost every hand, but if there's something I'm missing, by all means let me know.

My hope for this weekend is to satellite into a $26 or possibly higher tourney. I know its still considered "low limit", but hopefully you can at least pull off a decent bluff here and there. You can't get anybody of of anything at $5 and $10.

After turning a small profit Sunday thanks to a super suckout w/KJ vs AA in a .05/.10 game and a couple of $2.25 SNG cashes, I decided I needed a little more of a fix and skipped my workout in favor of poker yesterday afternoon.

One thing I did was decided to see what all the hub-hub was about with the $8.80(?) 18 person token turbos. You people are right. These things are RIPE. With little to no effort I found myself at the final table in 6th with a stack of about $1875 having won one pot. Of course, a short time later I found myself on the bubble when my 44 didn't hold against AJ when I sat 7th out of 7. I dunno if its standard procedure, but we went from 18 down to 7 in just short of 30 mins. Then when I busted it was still probably just under 30 mins. That is an average of a player busting every 2 1/2 minutes! People were getting their chips in the middle with anything and everything, just to get them in. All you gotta do it pick an appropriate spot or two and you're cruising to the prize pool. I liked it a LOT, and will probably try at least one a day for the $26 token and a shot at a nice MTT instead of the $5 & $10s or, if I can snag more than one, the $26 token satellites of the same structure for a $75 token. GCox and everyone else aren't lying about getting a piece of these. There's really no reason not to!

In the interest of seeing if all turbos played like this, I entered a single table $6.60, which played a whole lot tighter and I think I went out like 6th. So I presume my token satellite was at least somewhat of an exception to the norm, but I'll stick in a turbo every now and then just to see if its something I feel like I can beat.

At this point, thanks to a couple of other $5.50 SNGs I played and didn't cash in, I was down a relatively ugly $30, and had one table remaining that I had started just after the $6.60 turbo to bail me out of being stuck. A $10 SNG. But it wasn't looking too promising either, as I was just hovering around my starting stack and 5th/6th place with 6-7 left. I managed to last to 5 players left, where I was a pretty significant dog, but I kept sticking in my chips and picking up blinds and before I knew it I was up in 3rd with 4 left, then when I took out 4th place I was 2nd with 3 left. Then when I took out 3rd place I was about dead even with my heads up opponenet. We stayed that way for quite a while passing blinds back and forth until I lost a few chips semi-bluffing/overbetting my 2nd pair. But a few blinds later we were back to even. This is when my big blind special 10 4 flopped two pair and filled up on the river. I feel like this is one of my most well played hands in a LONG time. I feel like I played it in such a way that he couldn't even put me on the 10, let alone the boat. I checked my 2 pair on the two-suited flop and called a 400 bet. The turn was an offsuit K, which I decided to bet to make it look like I had the K, in hopes that he had a better K. So I bet 400 here, and he called. So far, so good. The river was another 10, and I checked trying to look like I had a weak K and hoping like hell that he'd bet again. He fired out 400 again, and I raised him to 1200, giving him an attractive 4 to 1 price and he called. He says "I should have checked" and "I had a K" in the chat box. So now I have a chip advantage that gives me some comfort in getting a little aggressive. I haven't mastered the art of dropping the hammer as my blogger tourney experience is slim and none, but a short time later I had the blogosphere in mind when I called a min-raise in the BB w/72o. My dream flop of 877 fell, which I promptly checked, and he fired $400 at and I called. The turn was something like a Q. I checked again, he bet $400, and I raised to $1200 just to see where we were at. He called. The river was something like a 9, which filled up a straight possibility but I wasn't the least bit worried. I didn't wanna miss a bet here, so I went into the tank for a little bit to figure out how to get the best value. He had about 3k left, but I didn't know if he had a hand worthy of all of it. I knew he was at least good enough for $1200 on the turn, so I stayed with $1200 and he called. That was pretty much it as I called his push on the next hand w/something like J6o and 3 to 1, and sucked out on his QK to take it down.

This guy was no champion, but I was EXTREMELY proud of my heads up play, as with blinds starting at 150/300 and each of us w/6500ish stacks I was prepared to grind it out with this guy for as long as it took, and it turned out I made a couple hands and got damn good value out of them, so it didn't take a whole lot. I was also extremely proud of my play overall, as I came from about t850 w/5 players left to win the damn thing. I feel like my SNG bubble play has improved about 1000% in the past 3-6 months and that's *really* where the difference is in SNGs. Anybody can play *to* the bubble in a SNG. Hell, I lost a LOT of money in 2005 playing *to* the bubble. Bubbling is even named after me at our monthly game. Its working yourself from 4th or 5th to the money that I think makes a successful SNG player.

Anyway, just like that I went from $30 down to $15 up for the session, which really changes your outlook when you walk away.

In other news my brother-in-law has deposited his $25 FT gift certificate that we gave him for Christmas, and I've been playing some $2.25s with him and trying to help him fine tune his SNG game. Its strange how I see a lot of the same tendencies in him that lost me a lot of money pre-4/06. But hopefully I can break him of those habits and he can be profitable a little quicker than me. And in these UIGEA bankroll moving challenged days, I also transferred a buddy $11 on Friday for him to turn into a bankroll so we can play some together as well. He's already cranked it up over $50, so we're well on our way to $5.50 and beyond. No collusion, of course, but its fun to be at a table with someone you know.

So when I'm not playing $2.25s and $5.50s with them, I'm still plugging away at the $10s and .05/.10 NL tables and having pretty good success, and as I talked about before, taking shots w/the token races and an MTT or two a week. No more than 2 tables open at a time for now. Slow and steady is winning the race so far, and hopefully will produce big results before all is said and done.

That is all for now. Happy 2/20/07. The semi-sorta hammer day.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Somewhere in Middle America

So I finally played a little Omaha last night. And by a little, I mean, seriously, like 10 minutes.

I was playing .05/.10 NL Omaha Hi/Lo at 2 tables. Since I had a very limited amount of time, I was seeing a lot of cards just to see if I could hit and see how it plays, etc. I lost like $2.50, which is quite the hemmhoraging for 10 minutes at that level, but I didn't much care.

I really really want to learn to play the Hi/Lo version because I love the idea of having to figure out what hands to play and how good you still are on every street while you're trying to make a high AND a low. I *love* the amount of thought it requires. But I must admit I was struggling, and was almost timed out several times trying to cover everything.

My question is, before I jump with two feet into Omaha Hi/Lo, should I get some experience in Omaha Hi and get a feel for that first, or should I just dig in and go for Hi/Lo? I could see advantages and disadvantages of both routes.

Anyway, I figured while I'm having so much fun with poker right now there's no better time to finally get into some Omaha like I've been wanting to for so long. However, I may have to have one Hold 'Em table open for every Omaha table I have open, because I think there may be some losing going on at least for a little bit while I am figuring out what starting hands I can play and how far to go with a hand until I know if its a winner or not.

Great game, though. I'd really love to become proficient in it. All in good time...

Thursday, February 15, 2007

BloggerPods Freeroll

I ran across this information at TripJax's blog and just had to throw my hat in the ring.

1. I love Apple
2. I love Poker
3. I love Freerolls for free iPods

I first heard about Poker on a Mac when I started blogging back in July or August or whatever it was. I loved the fact that there was someone fighting for the Macintosh cause out there, and I immediately linked the site on my blog.

I'm not sure when the first BloggerPods freeroll was, but all that matters now is that they're having another one coming up on March 4th. It seems all I needed to do to participate was sell out a little bit, so I was all for that. My wife blew my f'n mind and got me a video iPod for Christmas, and I told her one of my top poker playing goals for this year would be to reciprocate. Since I'll be retired by the time I earn 61k points at Full Tilt playing $10 SNGs, I figured I'd jump at the chance at this BloggerPods freeroll. Plus...hell...anything for Poker on a Mac.

See you all on March 4th!

Monday, February 12, 2007

Weekend Review

I got quite a bit of poker in this weekend, and I'd like to talk a little bit about it.

Friday was our Monthly game, which I always look forward to, and was just coming off HUGE success from with my 2nd, 1st, 1st finishes last month. In the first tourney I was in trouble until my A4o sucked out on A10 with a river 4. The very next hand I took the rest of the same guy's chips when my A4o this time had his A2 dominated. That got me enough chips to last to the money, where I got my money back for 4th. In the 2nd tourney I made another FT appearance, only to get all-in w/an A vs. 99. The flop brought an Ace, but the turn was a disgusting 9 so no money for that go around. I then sat down at the cash game table where my luck remained pretty poor, but I managed to work my 80% decimated buy-in back to a buy-in and cashed out even. The third tourney was interesting as I didn't feel like a contender most of the way. I stayed about even, which, with blinds doubling every 15 mins, is NOT adequate. I managed to find myself in the last 8 again, where I found myself with odds to call a couple of baby all-ins with 82o and 74o, one which doubled me up and the other that I took someone out. All the sudden I was a contender, hit a rush of cards, and went into heads up with a huge advantage, taking about 5 hands to end it. Incidentally, it was the biggest prize pool of the night, as we allowed a rebuy period since we didn't expect to play again, so I took down a nice 8x buyin 1st prize. So I got a decent score to add to the cash bankroll, which is nice after what I did to it in Council Bluffs.

On Saturday I decided to play a little .05/.10 NL while my wife was getting ready and found that I really don't mind this game. Obviously I'm not gonna make money hand over fist, but in terms of buyins, I was up damn near a whole one in about 20 minutes. So I played more .05/.10 intermittently yesterday and actually never left a table down. If you're getting sucked out on by the crap people play its easy to hate the level, but if your hands are holding out its a nice way to make up buyins to tournaments, as I did yesterday.

Since my results had been encouraging lately in SNGs, live and online, I decided I needed to venture into the MTT arena again and see how those skills were stacking up with my SNG success. So I decided to run a couple of MTTs at Full Tilt yesterday evening. I first played a $10 tourney, where I won a little pot early, then was pretty much even about 45 mins into the tourney. At this point I pick up JJ in MP, limped with it behind another EP limper, and then we both called a raise from the button. The flop came something like 9JQ, 2 clubs, EP bet about 1/3 or 1/4 the pot, I pushed all-in with my set, and both players called. At this point I knew I wasn't winning the hand. EP had Q10c and was open-ended w/the flush draw. The button was on AQ and was drawing pretty slim. Right on time, a club on the turn sealed my fate. So that was a disappointing outing, but I feel like there's nothing more I could've done.

Since it wasn't even the end of the first hour, I looked for another MTT and found a $5 starting on the hour. This one went significantly better, as I doubled up within the first 5 hands w/QQ vs JJ. It was a tough call on a preflop all-in re-raise to my 4-5x raise, but it was so early I could be content either way, plus if the guy has AA or KK and makes that play, he's an idiot, so I was hoping for the AK or under pair, and he didn't disappoint. A ways down the road I pick up AA and make a standard 3x BB raise. I get one caller, who, on a previous hand had gotten it all-in on the turn with a gutshot and hit to even still BE in the tournament, so I was wary but not scared. The flop came KQ-high, 2 suited. I bet a little over 1/2 the pot and this guy calls again. The turn is a 10, and we check it down. I'm ready to let this guy hang himself or get away from my rockets. The river is possibly the single worst card in the deck. Its a K that pairs the high card on the board and fills the flush. I check, he bets about what I bet on the flop, and I muck. He claims he flopped 2 pair, so I'm pretty content with the fact that I lost about as little as possible. I ended up taking a nice pot from this guy later which made me feel better. Then a little bit further I take out another guy w/AA vs 88, and all of the sudden I've got about 2x average stack. I ride my big stack through bad cards until about 35 minutes after the break where its now just under an average stack and about 10xBB. I made a mistake and pushed my AJs into AQo and don't improve, but I've still got over 2500. The next hand or two I pick up 22 and push with it and hold against something like KQ to double up to over 5k. Then very few hands later I pick up 10 10, push with it and hold again against overs. Now I've got over 11k and am in 14th out of the remaining 67. I'm feeling GOOD now about making the final table. I didn't wanna micro cash this time. I want to WIN an MTT. So imagine the thrill I get when I find AA in MP. It folds around to me, and with blinds at 200/400/50, I make it 1500 to go. The big blind hesitates for a while and calls. The flop comes down Q-high, all clubs. I do not have a club. BB checks it to me, and I put the rest of it in, wanting to take this down now. Except he calls and shows K 10c, and I'm dead to runner-runner A if I'm not mistaken. That cripples me, and I eventually get it all-in in the BB w/5 10 vs AQ. 58th place out of 362. All-in-all I'm extremely happy with the result. I had a great first 45 minutes, taking advantage of my good hands and even laying down AA. Then I rode out the bad stretch, hit another run, and was ready to cruise to the FT, only to have my AA cracked for the 2nd time IN THE SAME TOURNAMENT. The worst part is that I think its my fault. With him being in the big blind, plus the antes, I gave him basically 2 to 1 (1100 to win 2500) to call, and from the big blind he can call there just to see if he picks up a 2nd nut flush draw. I probably would've made the same call for 1/10 of my stack. My raise was OK, but if I had it to do over again, I'd raise to 2k and just be happy with the blinds if that's what I got. No matter what, though, that's a sick, sick flop.

Anyway, in the midst of all that I was playing a couple of $2 SNGs and/or had a .05/.10 table open, and when all was said and done I made about $10 for the session, plus I was earning rakeback. So I'm more than happy about that.

Its really too bad that online poker is in the state it is right now, cuz I'm more comfortable with poker than I ever have been. I feel like I'm playing well, I'm falling into a rythm, and although it may not be fancy, its a winning rythm. If I can perfect a system of basic winning poker, then I can work on tweaking it to maximize wins and minimize losses. I'm playing for fun, at my pace, and with no pressure, and everything is coming together really well. But at the same time I am *completely* paranoid about the crack down on online gambling, and even though I am about as low a limit player as you can find, I'm afraid the feds are gonna come knocking any minute and destroy my nice little life I've carved out, or something with taxes will happen (I didn't report my 2k5 losses, but I will report my small 2k6 wins), I won't ever be able to get my money if I *do* manage to make some, or any other number of subjects of paranoia I can come up with. Sometimes its not great living in my head.

After a horrible year and a small winning year with some major milestones met, I feel like this is the "breakthrough year" where I can find some consistency and maybe even do a couple of extraordinary things. I have the time/opportunity, bankroll, and game selection fully adequate enough to do it online, but not so much live, so if I lose the opportunity online, things could grind to a complete halt. So who knows what will happen.

Anyway, for now I'll keep plugging away. But as soon as people actually start getting busted for playing poker online, and not just the sites themselves or the third party money sites or people affiliated with them, I'll pretty much be gone without any hesitation. I'm 26 with a beautiful wife, a great job making enough money to have a nice life and nice things, and I will not jeopardize any of that for $5.50 SNGs and "the dream".

You wonder just how many of the 15 million online poker players the feds can *really* come after, but if it gets to the point where that becomes a valid question, I'll be cutting bait and waiting for smoother waters.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

I told you...

So after I posted about my recent encouraging results and how I hate to post about them because I always take a turn for the worst immediately after, I went home last night, played a SNG, and finished 6th.

I don't necessarily hate the way I played it. I just got more money invested in draws than I usually like. And then I found myself in EP w/8xBB and pocket 9s, moved in, got two callers, had the board come AJ high, only to lose to pocket 10s one seat to my left.

F this blog, and F reporting on good results.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

The WSOP Experience: Chapter 1

Well I have to get this "on paper" before I forget the whole thing. I've already regrettably forgotten some crucial hands, chip counts, etc. But I've been reluctant to blog because my results have been so positive.

When all was said and done, even though I'd depleted the height of my bankroll by about 66% and was down to $500, I managed to score a co-worker's hide-a-bed to sleep on for zero cost, so I went out to Council Bluffs and gave the WSOP Circuit Event a run.

It was a decision I didn't make until probably about 2 days before I planned to be out there, but I went on the website and reviewed the satellite structure and decided I could spend up to $150 and call it a valiant effort.

I left town Sunday at about 1:30, which put me in Council Bluffs at about 3. First thing I wanted to do was get to the hotel room and get settled and change into some comfy poker clothes. Well, I couldn't get a hold of or find my roommate, so I figured I'd better not waste time. I was extremely nervous and in a strange place, and I decided I'd better hit the cash table to work out some nerves and maybe even pad the bankroll a little. Well I eventually got a call from Tim who had been in a super satellite to the main event, and he came to the poker room and brought me a key. I hadn't been sitting for long and was down about $25 or so (mostly blinds), so decided to stick it out at the table for a little longer. I was about to cut bait down about $50, but managed to have my QQ hold up against JJ on a board with a couple overs, and cashed out up $2 after 2 1/2 hours or so.

At this point I called Tim and we met at the room, I changed, then we went to snag some dinner. The buffet was amazing. They have Italian, Chinese, Barbecue, Home Cooking, a Salad Bar, and Mexican all around the outside of the room, with a dessert island in the middle. Mine was on the house as you got a freebie for signing up for the player's club and playing for 1/2 hour. I even made $5 at the 3 Card Poker table! But I paid for Tim's for letting me shack up. But no matter what, it was f'n tasty. I paced myself and took small portions, and I think I got the most bang for my buck.

At this point it was 9:30 or so, and I figured I'd better get to work. The plan was to play the $35+10 single table satellites to try to get into Monday's $300 event. These sats paid $350 to just the winner, but most of you probably already know that.

Things were looking up as I made it to 2nd with very little effort in my first try. I won a pretty big pot w/KK about 1/3 of the way in, but despite the fact that the blinds did work me back to the short stack, I hit a run of cards late and found myself with about a 3 to 2 chip lead going into heads up. And I loved my opponent. This guy was hitting mad cards early and took out about 3 people. With 4 of us left he was on the shortie looking for the door, but then managed to find some more cards and made it to heads up. He immediately wanted to talk chop, but I liked my chances. I politely told him "I really need to play my way into tomorrow's tourney", and off we went. First hand of heads up found me in the big blind, and he completed the small and I checked my 97o in the big. The flop comes down x 7 10, where x is smaller than a 7. I think it was a 5. I can't remember if I checked or bet here, but when it got to his action, he declared all-in. I can't remember the blinds at this point either, but we had skipped a level, so they were high. With my big blind in the pot and 2nd pair against this guy who could really be holding any two, I decided a call was the way to go, and he showed me pocket K and doubled up easy. I was destroyed. I was embarassed. And I sure as hell wasn't gonna talk about chopping now after I had this mud all over my face and a 4 to 1 chip disadvantage. But the dealer bailed me out. "You guys wanna chop?" he says. And surprisingly my opponent goes "What's your offer now?". "I'll take $100 if you'll give it to me" I say, and he agrees with very little thought. So I lucked out BIG TIME here and came away up $45 after a much earned $10 dealer tip.

I got into the next available $45 sat and abided by much the same strategy. I basically sat there and limped and folded while action junkies took themselves out. The interesting thing was that the structure for these $45 actually wasn't bad. Blinds were 15 mins, a 300 chip starting stack, and went 5/15, 10/25, 25/50, 50/100, 75/150, 100/200, 150/300, 200/400, etc. Most people didn't understand that you really could fold for at least 2 1/2 levels and be in pretty good shape. So while everyone else was getting in with any ace or pocket pair they could find, I was biding my time, and by the time it was time to double up, I usually would because I'd have a damn decent hand and people were calling with a WIDE range. In this case I had no business being in the top 3, but I got there. I was the shortie, with a stack a little bigger than mine on my right, and the big stack on my left. For a while we just dicked around stealing each other's blinds. I was pushing with as little as Q-high, and don't really even remember picking up a great hand. But I never had to show. Of course I never doubled up, but I was hanging in there and waiting. Anyway, at a point I find K6o in the small blind and push with it. After some hemming and hawing, the chip lead/big blind decided to look me up. I figured the jig was up, and as I said "am I even live?" he rolled Q7o! My previous constant pushing had paid off, which was nice, but after some positive luck thus far, I didn't really like it. And I was right, as a 7 came off on the turn and I was done. But hey...I can say I was sucked out on, right? I would've been in great shape to get to heads up if I double up there, as the big stack had nabbed a few chips from the 2nd place stack, who was not an impressive player at all.

It was getting a little late and the players were dwindling, but there was a few guys hanging around that wanted to play a $65. I didn't really want to play that high, but that was the action to be had, and since I was basically even and this would probably be my last shot of the night, I took a seat. Again in this one I just hung around while others just couldn't help but play, got callers when I decided to play my good hands, and I found myself in a pretty positive 3-handed situation. I had managed my way into 2nd out of 4 for a while, but the blinds had managed to nip that situation with a couple of revolutions. When it culminated, I was in the big blind with $500, UTG had $575, and the SB held the other $3925. This kid couldn't miss. But I was OK with it, cuz that means if I can just get to heads up with him, first of all I've got a shot at chopping a $550 prize pool instead of $350, and other than that, what's the worst that can happen? I go into heads up with 5x BB and a 4 to 1 disadvantage and lose. At any rate, it wasn't meant to be. I had $200 of my $500 on the line in the big blind. UTG pushes his last $575, the SB forfeits his $100, and I look down and am *thrilled* to see A6d. I honestly thought I would be a dominate position here, but UTG rolled A9o, and I didn't improve. Real bummer. The interesting thing about these $65 satellites was that the structure was actually worse, and I feel like I barely played. With a 500 chip starting stack, blinds started at 25/50, and we skipped the 75/150 level. It was insane. In the blink of an eye I had $300 and was looking to double up. Of course, 6 other players were already out so I was really in decent shape. But its ironic how you pay more and get less play.

Anyway, at this point I called it a night down $65, and with satellites starting at 9 in the morning. I was willing to play in at least 2 more to try and get into the tourney that started at noon. I was on top of the world and felt like not only was I playing extremely well, but I had a better insight than most other players on the strategies you need to employ to win one of these. Now I just needed things to go my way a little and I was there.

I rolled in about 9:20, and they were seating a $45 table. Perfect. This tourney turned out to really exemplify all of them. After finally trying and missing on a few hands I found myself on a short stack with 6 left. I look down and find A10 in early position. UTG raises, and I push what I've got left, which isn't a whole lot more than his raise. I get a caller either on the button or in the SB, and the original raiser also calls. When the flop comes down x 10 A, I'm pretty exstatic, but of course a Q comes on the turn to make it interesting. It felt like someone was gonna show me KJ and I'd be the victim of a 4-outer. Turns out I had been called by two different pocket pairs that didn't improve, and I had more than tripled up. This was way more than I could've hoped for, and plenty to sit on until I could think about the money. Sit on it I did, and before long I found myself in 3rd out of 3, with about 500 chips to their combined 2500. Blinds are at 25/50 I believe, at least for a short while. Here again, ideal strategy for the structure comes into play, and instead of coming after me, these two numb nuts are playing with each other. I manage to double up off one of them w/KQ vs JQ, and a few hands after that he gets taken out. When we ventured into heads up territory it was about 700 to 2300 and I had some work to do. This guy was even worse than the other guy I got heads up with, so I knew if I was just patient I could do this. As an added bonus, the dealer forgot to make us raise the blinds when the timer went off at one point, so we got a half hour at 50/100. This gave me some extra 50/100 and 75/150 to try and small ball this guy's chips away without him really realizing. I got lucky a couple times when my pocket pairs held up to his overs, and combining that with chipping away and stealing, and taking every little chip I could, I finally pulled to about 1300 to 1700. I know it doesn't seem like that big of a swing, especially with two double-ups, but I'd have to risk 30/40% of my stack a lot of the time to try and take down the blinds, and in the few cases that I missed, it just meant that much more work to get it back. At any rate, I was executing my plan perfectly and I had him right where I wanted him and had a stack that could finally do some damage...then I screwed up. In the big blind I find 78o. He calls the blind, and I check my option. The flop comes 5 7 9 rainbow. There's no reason to believe my 7 isn't good here and I've got a few redraws, so I push all-in. He calls quickly and shows the K9o. I don't improve and that's that. I know I had 2nd pair plus the redraws, but I really didn't want a call there at all. I didn't even fathom that he could possibly have a 9. I was pretty devistated, but the way I was playing, the guy was bound to catch me one of these times. I just hoped it wasn't until I had weasled away the chip lead. You may be asking why I wasn't thinking chop in this tourney, well by the time my stack was worth anything, it was about 10:40, and registration for the tournament closed at 11:30, so I couldn't be thinking "just make money" anymore, I had to win.

So that was my WSOP experience. So far, overwhelmingly positive. I was playing on point, I felt like I had a significant advantage over almost everyone at my tables, and I just needed a couple cards to fall differently. I felt like I was cashing for sure if I make it into the tournament, because my tournament game was on point.

Aside from that, almost everyone I played with was extremely pleasant. I met a guy named Jimmy who traveled the Circuit, and at first I was wary that he was talking to me to get information and was an angle shooter, but as time went on, we really bonded and I knew he wasn't just being friendly to get my chips. Incidentally, I outlasted him, and he kept looking over from his next SNG to see how I was doing, and also kept checking in on me in the last one I played Monday morning. We shared a few conversations away from the tables, too. Great guy. And I had conversations with the other guys that I played with 3-handed and less, and everyone was just playing friendly, being friendly, pulling for each other, and enjoying themselves. It really added to the experience.

The rest of the day is a different story, as I hit the cash games expecting to play shark, and was the fish. Most of the people at the cash game tables seemed to be locals, and were much better than the locals in DM. It was probably the most humbling experience I've had thus far. It didn't help that I couldn't make a hand, but aside from that I was playing like a wet noodle and had a bullseye right on my forehead. People were shooting for my blinds and betting me out of any pot where I got a piece of a flop. It wasn't pretty.

From the "hindsight is 20/20" department, I realize now what I should've been doing is just playing more SNGs and trying to get to 2nd or 1st and chopping and/or selling any chips I won. I had a much more significant advantage in the SNG arena, but just didn't wanna put $45 on the line at a time. When I end up losing $300 on the cash game tables, though, in hindsight, I like my chances at positive outcome with my money invested in 6 SNGs.

Anyway, the WSOP part was exciting and I really could've only expected slightly better (obviously actually MAKING the tournament). I've never had that consistent of SNG results. In a regular SNG, I'm making about 4x my money with finishes like that. It just so happens I was in a situation where I had to get to 1st. I'm still thrilled about the positivity and consistency of my results.

And now I've got a year to build a real bankroll to try it again. I'm basically back to zero, but I'm not worried. There's no pressure now. I was pushing myself so hard to scrape together money to get out there that the best of me wasn't shining through. I had a ton of fun putting in real hours and I had some success, but inevitably I didn't reach my full potential because I was pushing myself too hard and taking -EV risks. Do I understand that? Yes. Did I at the time? Not really, but I wasn't thinking about it. Do I regret it? No. Everything in poker is a learning experience, and in the end I *did* get to go and had a positive outcome, so the whole thing ends on a positive note. And to top it all off, now I can just play at a steady pace and give my best every single hand with no pressure and no deadlines.

And you know what that's produced?

3rd, 1st, 1st, 3rd, 3rd in the 5 SNGs I've played since I got back from Council Bluffs. Add those to the results from CB and do the math.

That's all I'm gonna say, because inevitably whenever I report good results on this blog, I am sent reeling into a pit of variance. I'm very superstitious, and I believe this fact wholeheartedly. And it is EXTREMELY annoying. Hence why I've been reluctant to post.

My one regret is that I only left myself $100 behind in cash for live play, but I'm hoping I can grind it out at 3/6 limit and get that to a playable NL bankroll. I'm actually really looking forward to playing limit, because I think my advantage at a limit table is greater than NL, but I felt like I *had* to be playing NL to maximize my win possibilities. Hell, right now I have no plans to even go to a casino anytime soon, so maybe I can pad the cash roll with a couple months worth of homegame winnings and have a little to fall back on. But that all depends on how easy the beer is going down and to what extent that affects my play.

But I'm gonna need some cash eventually because I hope to put in some real hours in Vegas when we go out to visit Jorgen and his lovely lady.

Otherwise, I'll just be playing at my pace online hoping to work my roll in a positive direction for either an eventual cashout or maybe someday free and legal right to play.

Geez, I'm just rambling now.

I'm gonna end by saying I drove out with my brother-in-law back to Council Bluffs on Monday for the beginning of the main event, and it was pretty cool to see Cloutier, Gordon, and Ferguson. Cloutier actually busted out in the first level and was gone by the time we had left and come back for lunch (I got a couple pictures of him in action before we went to lunch), but I got a great picture taken with Gordon and Ferguson that will be displayed prominetly in the basement at the ol' homestead. We were on the rail for about 4 hours watching Gordon but mostly saw him fold. It seems like every time we left and came back he had more chips, but when we were there he was just folding. So no great expertise was acquired, but I got a great picture and had a great time.

The plan is to be sitting to Gordon's right next year, stealing his blinds.

If you made it through this post, you're a champ.

Until next time...