Monday, April 30, 2007

Blogger Bracelet Busto

Well, the Blogger Bracelet Race actually went about how I expected. I made it through the first hour basically losing my blinds. Saw a few flops, but never hit anything hard. As a result of all my folding, my preflop raises were respected, which was fine with me. I even raised on the cutoff and folded to a button resteal by BobRespert (who is apparently Bobby Bracelet? I'm new here). I was setting up my table image as tight, and was about to start putting that to use and mixing it up a little. The first step was when I showed down my very first blogger HAMMER with a 4xBB raise, showing people that I was willing to mix it up. Well, a combination of a cold deck and a little overzealousness by me didn't give me a chance to carry out my plan, as the very first flop I hit was hit much harder by columbo.

I was burned so many times by two pair as I learned this game, I finally learned that its by no means a monster and I need to be aggressive with them on the flop...esepecially on a 2-suit flop. We managed to limp around with myself, columbo, and the blinds in the hand. When this flop fell, I knew I was going to try my best to get all my chips in before the turn (which was certainly my biggest mistake...checking out right here) because I figured I had to have the best hand. I knew it wouldn't check around after everyone limped preflop, so I checked my option when it came to me. Sure enough, columbo bet out, the blinds fold, I min-raised him, he jams, and I quickly call. I couldn't put him on AA or 88, because I would expect a raise. I couldn't put him on 66, because c'mon...the other 2 are out there. The only hand I was really afraid of was A8, and if he had that, so be it. What I really thought was that he was just putting pressure on me because he had seen that I was a tight player and willing to fold under pressure. Regardless, I had to pick my jaw up off the floor when I saw the two sixes. No miracle ace for me, and 45th it is!

Anyway, like I said, it went about how I expected, because I couldn't buy any luck yesterday. I played two $20 SNGs and won one hand in each. I couldn't even steal the blinds because I had LAG-donks at both tables that would play about any two, so there was no value in steal attempts. I also played two $10 SNGs, bubbling one in a mediocre attempt, and managing a win in the other after an epic heads up battle that saw the chips swing 7k to 2k back and forth 4 times before I finally managed to strike the dagger.

It was over 80 degrees in my house as my wife and I had ignorantly decided to "tough it out", so my nuts were stuck to the desk chair and I wasn't even having much fun playing. So with that win under my belt and the bankroll back over $200, I decided to call it quits and hit the couch for some TV.

I should have some good opportunities to play this week as our TV shows are winding down, plus I think I'll be at home Thursday morning before we fly to Texas for the weekend, so hopefully I'll run better than I did yesterday and can make some progress.

Friday, April 27, 2007

100th Post

This is my 100th post, and the irony of it is that I have no intention of posting anything significant. Of course, some might say they wonder if my previous 99 posts contained anything significant either. To those people I would pose a great question.

I'm posting because I'm bored. Its Friday, just before 10 AM, and thanks to some due dilligence over the past couple of weeks I am CAUGHT UP on my reading, so I have nothing to do besides work...and I'm sure as hell not doing that. Seriously, though... I haven't been caught up in Google Reader since at least December. It may have been before that. But thanks to my day-to-day duties being somewhat in limbo for the past 2-3 weeks, I've managed to get through all the old posts and have ZERO items in my list left to read. I wondered if it would ever happen and if maybe I needed to cut down my subscription list if I ever hoped to be caught up. But I'm good for now, and I realized that I don't need to read every word of every post, and have the option of skipping and skimming if I want to, to stay caught up.

I played a little last night. Even though I had my little chip spewing session on Tuesday and my BR was at about $200 even, I hopped into a $20 SNG and proceeded to win it with little to no effort, and NO help from coin flips or 70% odds on the bubble. I finally got heads up and won after just a few hands when my smooth operating opponent slow played his aces and I flopped trips. I also played a $10 SNG with my buddy. We were on the bubble and my buddy had gone from shorty to chip lead, me in 2nd. The shorty raised from the button, and I raised him for all his chips w/QQ in the BB. He called w/7s, and rivered a flush on me. This sent me into a rage like I haven't experienced in months, and I proceeded to give up my chips a short time later with an open-ender. Obviously the gods had no intentions of letting my buddy and I get HU, so I just ended it and quit wasting my time. I hate to give up, but sometimes things happen that make me so enraged I just don't even care.

I got to thinking after that tourney of my luck as of late. I don't think I'm running hot. I think if I were running hot I'd at least be winning when I'm supposed to be winning, and winning at least...*gasp*...half of my coin flips. I think my ITM % would be higher. I think at this point I have a strategy that is at least 3x superior to my 5 opponents that I sit down with at every table, and even though I find myself often losing coin flips, and as a 70 and 80% favorite much too often, I am a more profitable SNG player than ever. I've preached patience over and over, and I cannot stress it enough. Most people lose 1/3-1/2 of their stack early and give up. Or on the bubble they'll keep calling and calling and calling until their stack is nothing and they can get called by almost ATC. But but if I fall below 1k early in a tournament, even though my chip stack is a 3 digit number and that can mess with you mentally, I've still got over 20xBB in a lot of cases, which is plenty of chips to shout with. And if my stack gets to about 10xBB I'm all-in or fold. And I almost always push with a hand that is >50% against a random hand. In addition, hardly any of these players have any bubble strategy. I was in one SNG the other day where we were pretty much even at 3k apiece and blinds were 120/240 and up, and I was playing for my whole stack if I was playing, meanwhile these other two were piddling around with calls and min-raises. In the end stages of a SNG you shouldn't be playing anything unless you're willing to call the shortest stack's all-in with it. It really irritates me when we're 3-4 handed and guys are limp-folding to a shorty's all-in, letting him pick up precious blinds. All of this is just basic strategy to me now. I think back about how I used to be one of those guys with a losing SNG strategy, and its the one place I can see significant growth. For christ sake, bubbling is named after me at our home game because I'd make it to the bubble and then piddle out. Now I'm the guy pushing around the short stacks, putting people to a decision (be it for all their chips or to double me up), and bouncing people on the bubble. When I lose, generally I lose knowing I made the right play, so losing isn't always a bad thing anymore. It ends up being more disappointment than tilt, at least.

Of course, yesterday's SNG w/Joe was both a good example and a bad example. X minutes in I found the blinds at 50/100, my stack at just over 1k, and the flip switched to "push or fold" mode. I had played and won 1 hand so far, and I don't think I had raised a single time because my cards were just plain ugly, and the table was loose. After finally seeing a couple push-worthy hands and picking up the blinds, I jammed, got called, and doubled up to the chip lead. After having showed down 1 hand and having the patience to get to a point where I could employ superior SNG strategy, I went from the outhouse straight to the penthouse, and if it weren't for a 20% suckout, I was headed directly to a cash. Of course, the rest is history as we found ourselves on the bubble, Joe and I holding down the top 2 spots, and all the shorty's chips in w/pair under pair. After he beat me, I went on complete tilt and gave up, eventually putting in my four figure stack w/an open-ender when I knew I was behind. This guy was a losing player and chances are with a little patience I could've gotten my money in better, but I was tired of fighting both the player and the cards and gave up. I was immediately pissed at myself...but sometimes you just get fed up. I had lost two coin flips and split as a 70% fav. on the bubble at the table I WON, now to get it in QQ vs 77 and lose, just pushed me over the edge.

But at least I won the $20 and bubbled the $10, and I'm now back to $245 and right back on my way to new heights.

Ok, so I guess I did have some poker related content.

To finish up, I think you should head over to TripJax blog and follow his 12 simple steps to signing up for the Blogger Bracelet Race. We're about 40-45 players short of getting the prize pool to the WSOP buy-in with 2 days to go, so get yourself signed up!

Everyone have a great weekend!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Bloggers Rule, I'm a Fool, Time for School

Hello and welcome to another boring edition of Windbreaker's Blog.

I have to start things off today by thanking the shit out of Hoy and Lucko, two of my favorite bloggers, who at my humble (and likely annoying) personal request, both devoted several paragraphs in their blogs to note taking. Each post on their own are an immense help, but combined they are downright profound and exactly what I was looking for. It says a whole lot about them and their devotion to blogging and the blogging community for them to take this request, take an interest, and post about it within a week. As a result, the note taking thing clicked right away for me, and I was a note taking fiend last night at the tables. You guys rule.

Also, thanks to oossuuu754 for his tidbits on turbo token SNG strategy yesterday. It wasn't a lot, but it answered some of the very sad basic questions I need answered. Plus, how cool is it to have a 2007 Main Event participant posting comments to your blog??

Thus concludes the "Bloggers Rule" portion of our post.

Moving on to "I'm a Fool", while tooling around the lobby of Full Tilt on Monday night I came to realize that the $8.80 18-person turbos are by no means the only way to win a token. I also had seen talk of the heads up matches, but I wasn't interested in investing $13 when I'm not terribly thrilled about my heads up game as of late. But when I spied the 9 player and even a 6-max non-turbo SNG, alarms started going off in my head. For the low, low price of $6.60, I could sit at one of my precious 6-max SNGs and have my shot at a token, or at the very worst, a small profit for 2nd place. Which works for me. The cost is less, the payout odds are the same, and when all is said and done they're both gonna take about the same amount of time. Its a no-brainer for this 6-max afficianado. So I ran one Monday. Grow a big stack, suckout, cold deck, rail. That'll happen. But I ran one last night, and with the typical little to no effort, I had my (virtual) grasp on my first ever token. I don't think they have a 6-max option for the $75 tokens, but I think they have a 9-max. I'll cross that bridge when I get there. But the good news is that it doesn't look like I'll have to stress over the turbos and can settle in where I find myself a little more comfortable. I still want to improve my turbo game, but its one of those things I can put on the back burner until I have a little more wiggle room in my bankroll.

So this brings us to "Time for School". With my shiny token, I bought into the Blogger Bracelet Race.

That's right, folks. Barring the end of the world before 6 PM CST on Sunday, I will be playing my first mainstream blogger event. Look at the company I'm already in in that image. Pretty daunting. It will be a schooling, but at least I'll have finally played a big blogger tournament, AND had a shot at the WSOP within my grasp. My only chance is the fact that I was the 12th player to sign up. That's a lucky number of mine. So look out, cuz I could luckbox my way to the top of the heap with the support of trusty number 12. See you on Sunday.

I did play last night, but we're not gonna talk about it. I went on a strange, unprovoked tilt and donked away 1/3 of my bankroll, but I'm not letting it bother me. Sure, I hate myself a little bit, but I'll get it back. I'd been playing so well and concentrating so hard, it was fun to gamble a little and take some chances in a short 4 table cash game session. Now its back to grinding it out at SNGs and back to new heights before long, I have no doubt.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Happy To Report a Good Weekend

By weekend, I pretty much mean Sunday. I didn't get a chance to play Friday or Saturday, but I saddled up for about 5 hours yesterday and racked up $105. IMO, that's not a horrible hourly rate for $10 and $20 SNGs. This also means quite a bit in general as it sees me breaking the $300 threshold online ($338) for the first time since January, and also bringing the overall bankroll back up above $500 for the first time since January. This is encouraging, but I'd like to find a way to get to $1k by mid-June or so.

I pretty much mixed $10s and $20s yesterday, but I did end the session playing two $20 SNGs instead of the mix, and felt comfortable. Truth be told, sometimes I wonder if the $20s are softer than the $10s. I see some absolutely horrific play in the $20s, while the $10s tends to just be your average, run of the mill bad play. You'll see 1 or 2 guys stack-off early w/TP and some junk kicker in the $20s, while in the $10s people will just make a lot of average -EV play and find themselves on the outside looking in when the cash is dealt. I'm not sure why that is, but I'm more than OK with it. I may continue to mix the $10s and $20s for the time being until I can start to see what kind of results I'm getting in the $20s and really feel comfortable putting that much on the line at a time, but I can't be messing around for too long and hopefully will be solidly in the $20s and maximizing my profit potential sooner rather than later.

I was pretty happy with how I played throughout the course of the session. Aggression is starting to come more naturally to me, and I find that my feel for when I can take down a pot with the right bet vs. when it I've been pushing too much and someone might look me up is getting stronger. I also saw myself getting all my chips in the middle earlier than usual when a big bet would reek of "please don't call me" and I'd shove in with a decent sized pocket pair as a 70% favorite. Finally, I took notice of a lot more of the marginal situations like the one I blogged about Friday and tended to err on the side of aggression and generally was rewarded for it. I can't really explain it beyond that, but I do know for a fact that its all the hand histories, tournament recaps, and strategy posts I read on blogs that have single-handedly gotten me from experimenting with aggression to actually employing an at least semi-aggressive strategy within the span of about 8 weeks. So thanks to all of YOU for that.

One thing that is *really* plaguing me at the moment is the ability to get a token. I played 3 of the $8.70 token races yesterday, and have continued to go 0-fer. If you do the simple math here, you'll find that I spent just short of the $26 I was trying to win, which is just enough to REALLY piss a guy off. I'm now 0-fer somewhere in the neighborhood of 8 of these, plus one of the token frenzies. Meanwhile everyone else is out there talking about how soft these are, so I'm pretty much feeling like a total donkey.

Could someone point me in the direction of some good turbo satellite strategy at all? One thing that is obvious to me is that I'm playing WAY too tight. That said, I'm not sure just how loose I need to be. I find myself in situations where someone has jammed and I'm sitting here in MP, 2-4 players left to act behind me w/KJ, A7, 66, etc. These hands are COMPLETELY average and if I'm in a "real" tournament or SNG, there's no way in hell I wanna be calling an all-in with a hand like that with people left to act behind me. The next problem is even when I do manage to double up during one of these things, its nowhere near enough chips to sit on. Generally, I'm used to being able to sit on a double up for a while. Here, I've still gotta be finding spots to try and stack people to make sure I remain ITM. Its tough for me. A third major problem I have is WHEN to get my money in. Its almost as if you need to try and get all your chips in early to put together a stack that you can be aggressive with. But I've found that people aren't apt to mix it up *too* early in these things, and then by 100/200 there's an all-in every hand. I've found that I'll be sitting around waiting for a hand, when I finally get one to push with someone pushes in front of me and its not an all-in calling hand, and the blinds just keep going up. Before you know it there's at least one all-in every hand, and I don't know what I'm looking for, but I guess I'm never finding it.

These things have me more mixed up at a poker table than any other format I've played. I need help. Even just some guidelines. I need some VERY basic questions answered. Questions like what ranges can I be playing and trying to get my money in with, and what ranges can I be calling all-ins with? Do I want to get my money in ASAP, or wait and find a spot to get it in when the thing is just an all-in free for all? Is there any room for any kind of play within a hand, or do I need to just be trying to get all my chips in with the best of it? I'm doing something MAJORLY wrong, and I'm just pissing money down my leg. I truly am one of the donkeys that successful turbo satellite players prey on to get their tokens. I don't want to have to just buy in to $26 events, but right now I've pissed away at least 2-3 $26 buyins just trying to satellite, and that, my friends, makes zero fiscal sense.

Besides my...ahem...skill gap in these things, I get so cold-decked its sickening. Yesterday I ran QQ into KK, 99 into JJ, and lost as an 80% favorite twice in the span of 3 hands. And I've reported on other cold-decks in these sats in the past. So the absolutely shitty cards certainly doesn't help at all when I'm already "strategically challenged".

Anyway, I don't really know what to do at this point. I suppose after going 0-3 satelliting yesterday I'm "back to even" as far as trying to get a token for Sunday's Blogger Bracelet Race, so I'll be trying to win my token again this week. But maybe I'll hold off a couple days and see if I get any feedback before I jump back in the bull ring. Don't forget, I'm also looking for feedback on the few remaining payment processors for US players. Its likely I'll need to liquefy some of my online funds sometime this summer, so I'm hoping I can find a way to do that relatively quickly and painlessly.

So that's it for me. I'll get to play a little extra tonight as the wife won't be home until 8:30 and then we'll watch Heroes, finally back after a several week abscence, on a tape delay. Poker and I are in a really good place right now, so with my head on straighter than its ever been, hopefully I can continue to build momentum and finally find myself solidly in the black as a player. Thanks for stopping by, and I'll be back with more updates as necessary!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

A SNG End Game Big Stack Faceoff Hand

A post by Mookie and my subsequent comment (please note that I had it wrong in his comment until I came home and reviewed the hand history) made me decide to post about a hand that happened to me Wednesday night. I knew at the time that this was an intriguing hand, but as I stepped through it in my comment to Mookie, it compelled me to post about it here and see if anyone had any thoughts.

We're in the end game stages of a 6-max, blinds at 120/240. There's 4 players left, but two of them are holding on for dear life. With stacks of <2BBs and just over 6BB, their fate is at the hands of the poker gods. Push and pray, baby. We all know that anything can happen, but for all intents and purposes, the money is decided and its just a matter of busting some shorties. At least...that's what I thought.

I was a small chip lead (with 3.7k) and had JQo on the button. 3rd place folds UTG, I raise to 750, hoping to entice the SB to commit his stack (500ish) and tell the 2nd place big blind (3.4k) "I got this". But my plan backfired. Small blind folds, and the 2nd place stack calls in the big.

I'm not thrilled about the call for a couple reasons...
1) I have the kind of hand that I would like with the opportunity to bust a shorty, but not the type of hand I would like to have against a 2nd place chip stack that apparently feels compelled to butt heads.
2) Dude...c'mon...fold! In 10 hands or less we'll probably be heads up.

Flop comes J-high rainbow, which immediately, I don't hate...until he bets out 960 into the 1620 pot. IMO, its a damn decent bet. It could be a value bet or a stab at the pot on a disgustingly raggy flop. You could easily argue both ways. It also basically commits him to the pot, at this point having put more in than he has remaining in his stack. That's a scary prospect that indicates he's ready to go to battle right here, right now. Furthermore, if its a bluff, it couldn't be a worse bluff, because its hard to find a way for him to fold at this point. While I admittedly didn't take all of this into consideration in the moment, I really think for a while about if he could really be ahead here and finally, based on pre and post-flop feel/timing reads, plus my general feeling for his play at this table to this point, I just can't put him on a set (ridiculous cold deck) or JK/AJ (more likely holdings, IMO), and I push. After a little bit of thought, he calls, shows AQ, I dodge his 3-outer, and he's sent packing. After the new 2nd place stack takes out the micro stack, I take the thing down after a short heads up battle.

Now correct me if I'm wrong, but this guy had no business going broke here, right? I understand its hard to lay down AQ there, and its probably not right to lay down AQ there. He was getting about 2 to 1 on his call (I don't have PokerStove right in front of me, but AQ has to be 2 to 1 against a random hand), so you have two and see a flop, prepared to get away from it if you miss, or push (which I'm certain is the favorite choice among bloggers). At this point in the evolution of my game, I would also call and get to a flop, but this close to the money I wouldn't be dicking around betting this flop if I've missed. I'd check-fold and still be sitting solidy in 2nd place. I also wouldn't push my AQ preflop because I see no reason to get all my chips in the middle here unless I'm in a dominating position. On the off chance that I'm against AA, KK, QQ, AK, or any coin flip situation, I just can't find a reason for putting my chips at risk when I'm virtually guaranteed money. A fold would be REALLY hard, but maybe a damn decent argument as well. In fact, I really do think I could fold AQo here. But I digress...the question here is, is there any way to justify the way he played his hand, given my range of hands here, and the fact that he's all but guaranteed money? Because I certainly can't find one. The only hand he beats is A10! He's behind AK, AJ, any other J, and also any pocket pair. He certainly couldn't have been betting or calling for value. The only thing he could've done different is take a stab at the pot with a smaller bet that wouldn't commit him, and fold to my raise. But I really think, if he felt compelled to call preflop, he needed to check-fold to me. play. I still like my button raise to get all of the SB's chips all day, every day. I don't think I need to explain that. I feel like my flop play was marginal. Usually I avoid big stack bubble confrontations like this at all costs, and that was my first instinct here as well. But the more I thought about it, I just couldn't see a way he's got KJ, AJ, a set, or an overpair. While I could give reasoning against each hand, I have to admit, my decision was predominately based on a timing read. The way the hand unfolded, it just didn't *feel* like he was ahead. So I saw no reason to give him any more cheap cards, got it all in the middle, and the rest is history. I must note, however, that if I have the same hand and the flop comes down Q-high rainbow, I'm folding. Because I could much more easily see him having KQ or AQ. I think that's worth noting, and would welcome any input on that fact as well.

A couple other things to consider...First, if I put him all in there and he wakes up w/a hand that beats me, am *I* the idiot that shouldn't have been playing back at the other big stack? Did I just get lucky to not be wearing the idiot badge here? I guess I had a read and I went with it, and everything that happens after that is out of my hands, so maybe that's a question not even worth discussing. Secondly, is my attitude in general, to be keeping it pretty close to the vest against the other big stacks when we're virtually guaranteed money, the right attitude to have? I know most pros and/or bloggers are of the "wins, not cashes" attitude, but I find that trying to develop myself as a strong tight-aggressive player, I tend to default to more of a "get to the money and go from there" attitude. However, I don't know if this is a product of the player I'm trying to develop myself as, or if its the circumstance of trying to build a bankroll, and thus theoretically playing outside of my roll every day for the time being to try and get there.

Anyway, it was an interesting hand that saw me step outside of my comfort zone and manage to benefit, and will certainly stick with me. I went from hoping that everything fell into place on the bubble and getting to heads up probably close to 50/50, to getting there in less than 3 hands with a 3.5 to 1 advantage and forcing my way to a pretty easy victory. It was a HUGE swing hand, and I'm happy it went my way.

Everyone have a great weekend, and good luck on the felt!

All's Well that Ends Well

With the happenings of that last post eating away at me, after a nice dinner and walk with the lady Windbreaker, I just had to go back at it and see what kind of legs this whole variance streak had.

Well, turns out it was just little midget legs. I got back to some pretty strong play, pretty normal cards, and some really terrible players finding themselves on the rail where they belong instead of throwing down suckouts like that's how you play poker. I capped off the night with a couple of wins in a couple of $10 SNGs, and found myself a paltry $22 down and firmly back above the $200 mark, which felt like a win after that ugly 0-5 streak.

So if you wanna read about *real* variance, pay a visit to Fuel or Dragonystic, because my little run is like one bad river compared to what they're going through. Hope that gets turned around for them ASAP.

So I know in this day and age it is not easy, nor necessarily recommended, to be moving money in and out of poker sites, but lets just say I may end up with a need for some of my online bankroll to be liquefied at a certain point this summer, and incase I'm not able to turn my cash roll into something useable (although I'll be trying), I'm wondering what my best method of moving money at this point is going to be. I haven't moved any money since January, which is pre-Neteller desertion, and since then I've only heard random non-specific rumblings about the remaining processors. Could anyone give me some good advice on who they might recommend, or a place I can go to read reviews and/or experiences with who's left? Obviously I'd like it to be as painless and fee-free as possible, but it doesn't sound like there's any real standout remaining.

Also I've really been thinking a lot lately on a blog topic I would LOVE to see. I look at some of your more prominent, hardcore poker bloggers and players like Hoy or LUCKO, and whenever I see a screenshot, they've always got player notes on most of the table. From time to time when a player makes the occasional horrendous or outstanding play that I notice, I'll make note of it. Or when a player is making the same type of play over and over, its obvious that it would be good to note that. But in the end, I usually only end up with notes on 2 or maybe 3 players max in any given SNG I play, but usually not any, and even more rarely in a cash game. Just because nothing ever jumps out at me enough to note. And I haven't even begun to start using the various colors to my advantage. But I'm sure I'm either 1) not looking closely enough, or 2) looking to make too general of a note when I could be just noting individual plays and letting those add up to come together for a good read. Maybe this has been done before, and if so point me in the right direction, but I would LOVE to see a post on player notes and what some of your more prominent bloggers (ie the ones that play and post a lot) note on their opponents. I would love it if I could sit down at a $10 or $20 SNG and have a note on a player I've played with before because every time I play a SNG I get notes on all 5 or 8 of my opponents. Also, the more I'm noting, the more it means I'm paying attention to the players at the table, which also never hurts. Anyway, I know that I could probably start taking down little things here and there and form my own style of note taking, but I am also extremely interested in what others are looking for to note. I'll probably send emails to a couple of bloggers and see if they're at all interested, but if you, my 4 readers, had any particular passion to write about this and maybe we could start some sort of ripple effect on posting on noting strategy, I think it would be one of those things that could really have a strong impact on the blogging community. Its one of those things that I think a lot of people use, but they don't really think or talk about because its just inherent in their game, and for someone like me who is continually looking to improve not only my abilities as a player, but also my reading abilities, and looking for that advantage at a table before a hand is even dealt, a good post or 5 on note-taking would mean worlds to my game.

Anyway, I'm gonna chase down a couple of bloggers and see if they're interested. Hopefully they are, because while I'm thinking about this for my own benefit, I also think it would be a massive benefit to all of us.

Look at that. I did it again. Took a little blog post and turned it into a novel. I guess its just who I am.

I'm outta here. Check ya later.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Blindsided by the Variance Express

Much like Fuel and Dragonystic, I am currently getting THROTTLED at the tables.

$20 SNG #1 - First hand busto. I wasn't about to let AK go in the big blind to a PF raise, but I am *not* an AK re-raiser. I prefer to get to a flop with it. The flop was pretty dreamy and I can't put anybody on an 8, so I call off all my chips fairly quickly hoping to be in a dominating position or against a flush draw. In a dominating position I was, and proceed to get bitch-slapped on the turn. Turns out the flush draw would've gotten home, too, so I was probably destined to lose this hand.

$20 SNG #2 - Sixth hand I try and push my 2 pair hard, I'm pretty certain I flopped the best hand, but I can't find any way I'm ahead on the river, let alone the turn. After a couple orbits and some failed blind steals we find ourselves on hand 21. I check my option in the big blind, turn an ugly little 2 pair that is undoubtedly the best hand at the time, get my money in good, and his draw gets home. I didn't realize until just now that he was open-ended w/the pair, so its not *as* brutal as it originally felt, but it still stings plenty.

At this point, I realize that luck is NOT on my side and make a smart decision to drop down.

$10 SNG #1 - Here's a fun one. Admittedly, I probably played this terribly, but hey...I'm a pocket pair limper. This could've happened either way, and the fact remains that I'm an 80% favorite preflop against his hand. UTG w/10s, I limp, as do 4 others. Flop comes 9-high. SB bets out, I raise it up, player goes all-in behind me, and I make a relatively easy call, expecting to see A9. No such luck. I go home on hand number 9, when a standard coin flip turns into me getting backdoored. Turns the straight, and twists the knife with the river flush.

$10 SNG #2 - After systematically dorking away a few chips raising and missing and calling a bet w/2nd pair, we find ourselves at hand 18, where I can't get a monster draw home. At this point I tread water through bad cards and increasing blinds, until push monkey time, where after some thought, I decide to push all-in, in a spot where I really felt like I was going to be a 40% dog and/or didn't have much of a choice. I was exactly right, and my heart flip-flopped a little when I flopped my Q, but then the poker gods returned us to our regularly scheduled programming when he turned another 9 to end the suspense. Fantastic.

$10 SNG #3 - This game was actually pretty average...assuming by "average" you mean "never getting above your starting stack". I showed a little bit of promise in some spots, actually making a hand or two, but like I said, nothing is too terribly impressive if you never get above your starting stack. In the end I proved I couldn't win as a favorite, a slight dog, or dead even, and this saga is complete.

Now I know I didn't play some of these hands top notch, and others are pretty average beats, but it just goes to show that when variance hits, variance hits hard.

I'm actually not terribly disheartened with the whole matter. I'd been running pretty damn decent, and I didn't stick to the $20s like a moron. I'm at $177, down about $80 in an hour and 45 mins or so, which is just an atrocious amount of time to burn through 5 SNGs. Next time I play, be that tonight, tomorrow, or whenever, I'm gonna try 2 more $10s, and if I'm still getting b-slapped, I'll drop down to the fivers. I'm not about to let this skid break me, that much I know.

Anyway, just a rare little afternoon/quickie post for me because I felt like I just had to share. Especially the 1st hand 3-outer massacre.

Off to real life for me. Enough of this crap.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

100% + 33% = 133%

Well, while I didn't technically hit my goal of reaching $300 online on Friday, by the time my poker weekend was over, I had improved my bankroll 33% to bring it back up over $400 for the first time since the WSOP Circuit Event in January.

I don't have many specifics to report from my day off on Friday. It was just a whirlwind of SNGs. That's one thing I can be majorly proud of is that I didn't play outside my roll, I stuck to the SNGs (my bread and butter), and didn't take shots messing around in MTTs, token races, or anything like that. How many times have I harped on this in the past?? Friday was purely about strong play and strong discipline. FINALLY. Unfortunately, Friday was also about losing coin flips like it was my job. For the first part of the day I'd play my sets of 2 SNGs, blank in one, and take 2nd in the other, netting $-1. I couldn't win heads up to save my life, either losing a coin flip for all my chips, or pushing my little ace into a bigger ace. Finally later in the day I managed to put together some profitability, and when all was said and done I was a $40 winner. The hourly rate was by no means impressive, but it got me to the highest point in my online bankroll since January, and I felt like I did it with less than average luck.

The real interesting part Friday was that I was looking around in the MTTs seeing if there were any cheap 6-max to play and there happened to be a freeroll kicking off. Without even seeing what it was, I went ahead and registered, because a little freeroll action never hurt anyone. I managed to figure out it was a Main Event qualifier of some sort, but wasn't too concerned beyond that. Until after the first hand. In the BB I find A3h, and it checks around to me with 5 limpers. The flop comes down with 2 hearts. SB checks, I go ahead and bet, I get re-raised all-in, and it calls all the way around to the SB who folds. I make the obvious call, miss the turn, but spike the nuts on the river and all of the sudden I've got 7500 chips and am in 7th out of 300. I manage to continue to hit cards early and run my stack up another 1500 or so, and I'm playing probably the 2nd deepest I ever have in any MTT (I seem to recall chipping up to about 10k early in a tourney once). I'm gonna be honest, I continued to concentrate on my SNGs and don't know what the hell even happened, but I put in my best ABC poker effort on the thing and managed to hang around and hang around and hang around. I never really dropped out of the top 20 until we got in the neighborhood of 3-4 tables, then it was 27th out of 35, 13th out of 27, 8th out of 15, and then I found myself at the final table on the short stack, still waiting for my exit. Only 1st place paid a seat to the 2nd Round freeroll, so it was all or nothing. While I was waiting for a hand to push with 9th place fell, then 8th, then 7th, and even 6th. I managed to steal a couple blinds, but was still nursing a 10BB stack. But with only 5 left now I'm thinking if I find a way to double up I've got as good of a shot as anyone. I finally do manage to find A10, but someone has me dominated w/AJ, and I go home in 5th out of 315. It really was a blip on the radar, but even in a turbo freeroll 5th out of 315 is a confidence booster. That freeroll paid one seat to Level 2, which paid 9 seats to Level 3, which had a guaranteed 2 seats to the Main Event. Well, someone's gonna win those seats, so I figured why not me? Anyway, it was a fun little run, and whenever I've told any of my friends I start it off with "Man I got so close to winning a seat in the Main Event"...haha...

Friday was also my monthly home game, which saw our biggest turnout ever. First tourney had 20 runners, the 2nd had 24, and the third had 14 players and a prize pool of 17 after rebuys. I managed to work my way to 4th place and a micro cash in the first. I was a short stack before we even got to the final table and I managed to flop trip queens in the BB on an attractive board. We checked the flop and the turn brought a 9, which promped one of our LAGs to bet. It was called in a couple places, as well as by me. The river was another gorgeous 9, UTG bet again, another caller or two, I got it all in, and tripled or quadrupled up w/Qs full vs. 9s full vs junk. That got me to the final table with a decent stack, but the blinds eventually got so big it was a crap shoot and I couldn't find any cards. That paid for my buyin and my beer money to the house. So I was even. The 2nd tournament, which I *really* wanted to score in due to the 11x buyin 1st place prize, was a HUGE disappointment. Early on in the big blind I flopped a medium flush draw on a paired board. I wanted to get to the turn cheaply and it checked around. The turn brought my flush, but I still checked it since it was just a baby. A player in MP bets 100 (25/50 blinds, 1500 starting stacks, 15 minute levels, blinds double every level), so to see where I'm at I raise it to 400. He labors over it for a while and smooth calls. The river falls blank, I check to him again, he bets 500 this time, and even though it looks like an ugly situation I feel compelled to call. I flip my baby flush and he rolls two fours for flopped quads. I wanted to be sick. Shortly after that I got my last 600ish in with 22 on a 10 10 7 board. Two callers, one with a 10, and I'm done in 21st place. I was SO tilted by that quads hand, called the wife, went and ate some food, licked my wounds, and waited for the cash game. We play a little .25/.50 on the side until the tourneys are over, and finally the tourney combined to two tables and we fired up a cash game. I bought in for $10, and for a couple of orbits I didn't see any cards, while chips were all headed to one guy and I was afraid the action would dry up. I finally won like a $4 pot and got up above my buyin, but then gave it back relatively quickly trying to bluff at pots. Back down below my original buy-in, the tournament finally wraps up. I declare it will be our last hand, and I look down to find QQ in the SB. I couldn't have loved it more. At the 7-handed table, there are 3 callers around to me. I make it $2.50 to go for a couple of reasons. First, if I take down this pot right now, I'm about even and I'm just fine with that. Second, there is one major LAG at a table and I don't think he'd folded to a raise the entire time, so I do NOT want to slow play and not at least make him pay to suckout on me. It also didn't hurt that the BB was a shorty and $2.50 would definitely commit him. Well I got calls in 3 spots and down came the flop. The only thing I loved more than the two queens was the flop...a 9-high rainbow. I bet $3, the BB called off the rest of his chips, whatever they were, the LAG raised all-in, and the next seat called him. The last two callers were basically playing because it was the last hand. I may not have gotten this action any other time. Anyway, I declared all-in, and the late position player called that. We see some cards. BB has junk, LAG has A9, and I don't even remember what the other LP player had. J8 or something. I manage to hold up and scoop a big pot somewhere north of $30, more than tripling my buyin, and taking me from the megaist of tilt to the highest of highs. We played one more tourney with rebuys and I just dicked around for at least the first 30 mins with rebuys in effect. After my brother-in-law snapped me off when I was betting a hand blind and forced me to fold on the turn forfeiting about 600 chips, I found myself on a short stack with less than 15 mins to the end of the rebuy period. Needing a rebuy, I didn't raise with AJ and got it all-in against a flopped pair of Qs, and with about 5 mins left until rebuys were over I had mine and it was time to get down to business. I managed to make the final table as the short stack and again found that while I maybe should have gone out these other stacks kept dropping. On the bubble, I managed to double up off another short stack when I flopped top pair in the BB and he flopped 2nd in the small. Then after that I eventually found a real hand, and before I knew it, I was a contender. I managed to work my way to heads up against my brother-in-law at a massive disadvantage, and after trying to fight for a few hands I finally gave up and pushed w/J9 when I knew I was beat as it was late and people were looking to get home. I'd be more than happy with $30 profit on the night considering some good luck I had in the 1st and 3rd tourneys and the cash game, and the bad luck I had in the 2nd tourney. So that makes me a pretty decent winner for several months in a row now, and capped off another fun as hell poker night.

Its getting out of hand here, so I'll try and be quick with my Saturday update. My wife was crazy hungover, so while she rested I hit the tables. With $237 in the account and feeling pretty strong, I went ahead and played a $22 SNG. This thing was a major roller coaster and was dominated by one very strong player getting very strong cards, but I managed to back my way into 2nd and felt good about cashing for the first time ever in a $20 SNG (I'd taken some other shots back in the day while employing poor bankroll management and pretty much gotten throttled). I say I backed my way into the money because with 3 left I was the shorty, but then 2nd place went AFK and the big stack and I pretty well cleaned him out before he got back and ended up pushing into a dominated situation with the leader. But that'll happen, and I still feel like I was strong enough to outlast that player anyway...but we'll never know. I'm just happy to cash, regardless. The bad news is that while I was playing 1 $22 SNG, I also played 2 $11 SNG and went 0-fer in those. I remember them as being ridiculous and irritating the shit out of me. I think maybe in one I might have majorly screwed up and in the other I got majorly screwed, but I dunno. So at that point I was down $2. I didn't have time for any more SNGs as it was about time to go see Lewis Black, so I decided to fire up some .10/.25 NL and give it a go. I think I found my happy place with cash games. IMO, the key to being successful at cash games online is to find the perfect balance for your skills at a certain level, coupled with the number of tables that allows you to both not get bored and play good poker. While I normally suck at multitabling and hate having more than 2 tourneys open at a time, I was on cruise control with 4 tables open. It was just the right amount of action to keep hands coming so that I wasn't dicking around chasing marginal hands and trying to make plays because I'm bored, but I was also able to play strong ABC poker and maximize my profitability against these donkeys. So I think I've got it figured out...tourneys + multitabling = + multitabling = good. You just have to find the right balance of number of tables to play based on the level you're playing at. The lower the level and the greater advantage you have over the table, the more tables you can play because its pretty much ABC poker and reads don't mean a lot. But I can certainly see as you move up in levels and your advantage over the competition gets lesser and reads become more important, you don't wanna get too out of hand with multitabling. I know, I know...welcome to 2004...but hey...I've proven that the basics in profitable poker have a way of evading my grasp. Anyway, four seemed to be the magic number for me at .10/.25 as I felt like I was keeping busy, in a zone, and playing profitable poker. It got a little dicey when I'd make hands at 3 or even 4 tables at the same time, but I find it hard to complain if something like that is gonna be happening. I think I had a nice run of above average luck and hands, but winning is winning, and I won about $20 in 40 mins or so. I even let $20 slip through my fingers when I folded 99 to a raise and a re-raise and would've flopped quads and stacked a guy, but that'll happen from time to time. It was a good fold. I was gonna pay $1.10 to see a flop, but not $3. That got me to $255, and I'll be playing at least 2 more $20 SNGs without any fear of severe bankroll depletion.

So that about sums it up. Great weekend for me, and hopefully I can continue the slow and steady approach and keep this thing headed in the right direction.

Its coming up on my 100th post and a year since I started blogging, and as I become more engrained in this community, it amazes me how close-knit it is. While I've yet to play one of the regular weekly blogger tournaments, I hope to soon, but something I definitely want to get involved in is the Blogger Bracelet Races that Al has put together. There's one strictly for bloggers where you have to email for the password, and then he's put together another with a non-secret password under his Riverchasers moniker. Click on the link above to get the details on both. Plus, there's the Blogger Poker Challenge that Al, Mook, and I believe Hoy all were involved in conceiving. Plus, its sponsored by Poker On A Mac, which is run by an awesome guy and is a cause close to my Apple loving heart. Anyway, I know all of this is old news, but I feel like I should pimp because with any luck, as the TV schedule begins to wind down and I start spending more of my nights playing poker and less of them watching TV, and, (poker) god(s) willing, my bankroll continues to grow, maybe I can get my foot in the door among some of these big name bloggers. I'll never have as good of a blog as any of them, but what the community has done for my game in the last 9 months is immesurable.

Anyway, this post has gotten ridiculously long at this point, so I'm gonna let it go. I'll be back when the time is right.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

The Plan in Accordance with The Plan

Well...the plan didn't go according to plan. What's new in poker/with me?

I got off to a hot start, buying into the Token Frenzy then promptly winning back my buyin and then some at a .10/.25 table while waiting for my pizza to get done. I played a $10 6-max, got 2nd, and hit my high point of $239. Then it got ugly. The Token Frenzy was a joke. I don't know how people think turbos are easy. People jam their chips into the middle with anything, and while at first glimpse that may seem good, it generally has the opposite desired effect on me in that I'm afraid I'm gonna call off w/KJ/KQ/A9/etc (a better than average holding for a donkey all-in in a turbo) and manage to find myself dominated when some donkey that has been pushing any A or K he can find actually wakes up with a hand. As a tight player, it is very hard for me to call off my chips if I'm not certain I'm in good shape to win. So I guess I gotta work on that. Anyway, I got 72nd out of 178...30 spots from the money.

In the meantime I continued to run SNGs and was just getting throttled. Early in one, I raised in LP w/99 and the big blind pushed. Normally I fold here, but I decided to have a go at it and called off my stack against his JJ. I don't hate his play one bit, but I stepped out of my comfort zone and found myself in 5th place out of 6. No surprise. I played another SNG with a buddy and bubbled that one. And I took 2nd in two others, both of which found me getting sucked out on as no less than a 70% favorite when the money got in. Heads up in one, I flopped the nuts w/89 on a 7 10 J flop, bet, got re-raised for all my opponents chips, I instacalled, and his J8 rivered a 9 to split. He went on to eventually beat me when my A7 was no match for his Q7. In another, I got it in A8 vs A5 and would've doubled to a commanding heads up lead, but by the time the river fell, he had a straight. I also remember having my KJ get beat by 54o at some point to double a guy up. You know...the usual. In the end I played 7 SNGs and got 2nd place cash in 3 of them. Pathetic.

After that nice cash early in .10/.25, I lost a buy-in later when my KK got rivered by a garbage flush my opponent didn't have odds to chase. I also had a turned set of aces get beat by a turned flush. That was my own fault, because my raise to .65 wasn't enough to push out his K9d in the blinds. Once he flopped two diamonds, it was all up to the cards. I pretty much knew I was beat here and probably could've folded just the two aces against any other diamond on the turn, but that damn set on the turn compelled me to call incase I was against some maniac w/top pair or two pair. After getting brutalized at the cash game table some more, I finally won a buy-in when my pocket Q managed to hold up against an all-undercard board. This hand was scary as shit, too, though, and I called off my stack for all the wrong reasons.

After no less than 4 limpers, I raise my QQ in the SB to 1.25. BB folds, all the other limpers call. The flop comes 264, 2 suited. I fire $3 at the $5 pot. It folds around to MP who raises me to $7.50. I studied the board for a while and could only conclude that he had flopped a set. No two pair could have called my 5xBB raise here, nor could have 35. And if they did, I guess I'm gonna pay them off. With 5:1, I called and decided to reassess on the turn. The turn was a 9, adding a third suit to the board. I checked here, and my opponent bet $10. That would leave me $7.50 behind. If he had flopped a set, which is really what it felt like, I'm killed. He could have 78, maybe even 78 of the 2-suit on the board. But I'm at least ahead against that hand. Just as I had all but decided to fold, I realized that I hadn't even considered 88-JJ. If someone with one of those hands saw this flop and put me on AK/AQ, etc, they'd be trying to end this hand. They'd raise me to see where they were at on the flop, and an aggressive player (which this guy was) would fire hard at the turn to my weakness. So while I had done the hand analysis, in the end I pushed because I just had to know. He called and it turns out he had 88, and I picked up an unnecessary Q on the river and dragged the pot. I cashed out shortly after, and ended the night at $195.

While it was horribly disappointing to lose about $30 on the night and I still felt like I fell into that pit of overzealousness that comes when I haven't played in a while/get to dedicate 5-6 solid hours to poker, cashing out just short of $200 as opposed to about $170 felt like a win. After getting owned all night by the cards and the LAG players, I rested a little easier knowing that I managed to get a good hand home for once.

I have the day off tomorrow and will be playing all day. I swear on all that is good and holy that I am going to be careful, play well, and not get sucked into that damned pit of overzealousness. I'd like to say that I don't have goals other than to play my best, but I'm weak and goal is to hit the $300 mark. And I think that is ENTIRELY reasonable, if not aiming low. I can KILL the 6-max SNGs, and while I still feel like I have the right to be taking a shot at occasional MTTs, 90-max deep stacks, or token tourneys...I'm getting tired of having played this game for more than 2 years and never having made the least bit of a score...I should be sure to stick to what works and make that my bread and butter. And maybe if I can get in cruise control in that arena it will allow me to improve my MTT and cash games and continue to progress.

Anyway, wish me luck. Until then, I'll check you later.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Update Time

Well its been...a while...since I posted, so I'd say its high time for an update. Shouldn't be a lot to it. Pretty much...still doing well...still feeling positive.

I actually haven't played since last Monday, the 2nd, because I could tell my wife was getting a little irritated with me delaying dinners and such, and also because I had started to run a little badly and just decided a break wouldn't hurt me.

Now...tonight I should get a good 5 or so hours in, so hopefully I can hit the ground running. I've always played through variance and never tried to sit it out, so I'm hoping the 9 day abscence will see the previously lurking variance just deciding to pass me by.

At any rate, I stand at about $226 right now thanks to this morning's rakeback payment, and although I was previously excited about moving up to the $22s, I don't have any immediate plans to do so. Tonight's plan is to ease myself back in with a couple of $10 6-max SNGs, then depending on how that goes I'll also be looking for the $24 token frenzies and maybe even the $75. If anyone knows off the top of their head when those are, please leave me a comment. Otherwise I'll just try and find them. Assuming I haven't straight up lost every attempt, I will turn my focus to the 90 player deep stack SNGs and have a run there. I *really* like these tournaments (the deep stack part, mainly), and feel like I have a strong chance if I get any semblance of cards. I've played a couple and piddled out in the middle of the pack, but I was never dedicating the level of focus that I'd like to. This is where, bankroll permitting, I may invest in a $22 one just incase I can make a deep run and give myself a shot at a big(ger) score. Regardless, with the deep stacks, I will get a good bang for my 22 bucks. I can keep a 6-max or a .10/.25 table going in the background just to try and pick up a little extra dough along the way as well.

It will be important that I don't get overzealous. Not having played in a week and getting an entire night dedicated to poker could add up to bad news for me. I tend to get a little crazy trying to play and win as MUCH as I can as FAST as I can in these rare opportunities and don't play at the top of my game. Also, the superstition in me looks at the fact that I have NEVER done well when I have had a dedicated chunk of time to online poker. Its always a combination of getting wild/overzealous like I referred to above and just running like shit. So hopefully I can buck that trend tonight and make some significant forward progress as opposed to just treading water or worse.

I'm very happy with where I'm at and how things are going. I still feel confident and strong at the $10 6-max level, but I'm starting to get that itch again to take some chances and make that big score. That said, I'll stick to satellites within my bankroll and hope for the best. I'd like to get back to trying a few of the token turbos/frenzies each week and using those for MTT shots, meanwhile continuing to work my way up with the 6-max SNGs and very low stakes NL HE cash. I have vowed to myself that I will stick strictly to my bankroll, and I will not let variance beat my ass again. If I'm still running bad tonight I will promptly jump down to the $5 SNGs and play through it, or even the $2s if I need to. My goal is to not drop below $200, and I will retain that goal as I progress forward through each successive $100 increment. Maybe its a silly way to go about it, but it will also be just one more step to discipline myself for good bankroll management.

Anyway, at this point I'm just rambling about crap none of you 4 loyal readers give two strokes about.

Bottom line is that I will be on all night tonight, starting at 4:30 CST or 5-5:30 CST depending on whether or not I'm ambitious enough to work out. Hell, IM me! My AOL IM screenname is in my profile. Or if someone wants to clue me in on the legendary "girlie chat" you all talk about, I can show up there. I may even play The Mookie if I'm feeling up to it. Starting an MTT at 9 CST is pretty late for me, but I went to bed early last night so maybe I can push the envelope tonight. ;-)

I also had a live 3/6 session a couple weeks back that I'll have to report on sometime. It was f'n ridiculous. But I must be growing as a poker player because I can actually laugh about just how ridiculous it was, instead of whining about the $100 it cost me.

I'll check ya later.