Monday, November 19, 2007

Winning Week: The Third

Yep, you read that right. I posted my third straight winning week, and although it wasn't huge, when your bankroll is as small as mine, even a small win is a huge percentage bankroll improvement.

Not a whole lot to report details-wise. I think I mostly just played on Wednesday and Thursday, and by the time I was done w/my SNGs I found my bankroll having improved $5 to $29.

I also cashed in that Negreanu Bahamas PokerStars freeroll for the third straight week, coming in 942nd/10k for another $1. I actually had aspirations in this one of going deep and earning the bid to round 2 by making the top 200, spending most of the tourney in 200-400th range after some early good fortune. I was sitting just outside of the top 200 and was settling in to really make a push when I got my money in with a flopped bottom 2 pair against top pair, only to have the board pair on the river and send me packing a lot earlier than I expected. But I had cashed, and I was tired, so this was probably the best I've taken a bad beat in months. I find my PokerStars bankroll at $3.50 now and have 2 more weeks of this freeroll to continue to try and improve upon that and maybe even make round 2 one of these times.

As a sidenote, I'm not sure when freerolls got easy. I mean I used to dread the minefield that is a freeroll, but now its very systematic to me. I know the kind of player I'm up against, I know what kind of cards they're looking to play, and I can generally figure out where I'm at based on the basics like board texture and betting patterns. Really all there is to a freeroll is dictating the action and not doing a lot of calling, getting in cheap and looking to hit big, or getting a lot of chips in with a good holding and hoping you hold up. The major difference from a (decent) buyin tournament being that there isn't going to be a lot of play after the flop, so you pretty much need to decide if you're going the distance by the flop. I presume in my previous freeroll experience I was one of those players that I now have a good feel for, and I think generally I would find myself in too many pots with too many chips, and not dictating the action like I try and do now. So I guess it speaks to my study and practice, which its great to be able to reflect on the improvements I've made. If someone ever would've asked me if I thought I could get in the top 10% three massive freerolls in a row, I surely would've chuckled at the prospect. But it looks like I've done just that!

I know my usual weekly report has been Thursday to Thursday, but since its Monday, I have lots more poker to talk about since Thursday. Friday, with $29 in my account and officially above my 10x buyin range for SNGs (I know, I know, I should really wait until I actually get to $55 to move up), I hopped into a $5 SNG for the first time in a long time. But despite making it to $27 and $29 a handfull of times since my May/June bankroll collapse, I hadn't ever cashed at the next level. Yeah, we're talking 6 months here. But I'm happy to report that I took 2nd and suddenly my bankroll had cracked the $30 mark! I believe after another SNG loss and a 3rd place, I ended up Friday afternoon at $34. Holy sh*t!

Friday night was poker night at my buddy's place, and it was a blast as usual. In the first tourney I got out to a quick start, but was in a bit of a mood and played way too many hands, finding myself on the outside looking in when all was said and done. I also had to take a little bathroom break, and with our blind structure at this particular game, you can't afford to be missing hands. Turns out they kept track of my hands in my absence, and I would've doubled up with a flush against top 2 or something like that. Oh, well. When you gotta go, you gotta go. In the 2nd tourney I took 3rd/11 and won 3 buyins, so assuming I didn't rebuy in the third tourney I had officially broken even. Our third and final tourney of the night we do rebuys for the first 3 blind levels, and I found myself back in a feisty mood, as do most people in a rebuy. Anyway, I had chipped up pretty well early with a couple of big hands, but then lost probably 1/3 of my stack dicking around in a hand I didn't belong. So I was a little tilted because I would've been set to go with the stack I had, but I was still above the original starting stack. I found myself in the big blind with blinds at 100/200 and about 2500 chips. UTG+1, who is kind of a weak/tight, but smart, solid player makes it 600 to go. It folds around to me, and I look down and find 72o. Now I'm not big into the whole hammer thing, but I just got an inkling that getting this particular hand at this particular time was a bit of a sign. If I doubled up here, I could likely cruise to the money, and if I went broke, I could rebuy and grind it out. Long story short, I thought about it for a couple of minutes, really felt like I could get him to fold, or worst case scenario I had 2 live cards, and I pushed all-in. My opponent insta-called, which scared the crap outta me, but I showed him my holding, he showed me a King, I asked if he had another, he said no, and indeed I had 2 live cards. The door card was a 7, he didn't improve, and I had stacked him. You know, I pride myself on playing a strong TAG game, doing all the right things, and being rewarded for it. But I have to admit, it felt kinda good to let my hair down, make an idiotic play, and be rewarded for it in the end. I NEVER would do it if the stakes were higher or if it was legitimately for my tournament life, but in a $5 rebuy, why the hell not take a shot when you think you've got 2 live cards and the chance to show down 72o for stacks?? But if you're reading this, I'm really sorry Josh. It was nothing personal (except for the awesome read I got on you), and you have all right to come after me and get me back. ;-) Anyway, I went on to cash in the last money spot, turned a $10 profit on the night, and had a blast, so there ain't nothing wrong with that. Oh, and I hit quads (3 on the board), and a straight flush! So that was cool...

I played a handfull of SNGs yesterday, and sparing the drama, I shut down Full Tilt with a bankroll over $54. That's about a 133% bankroll improvement since my starting point on Wednesday. Hands are holding up, draws are getting there, plays are working, and I'll be damned if I'm not even running a little hot. Life is...much better. But I'm not gonna claim to be out of the woods yet.

In an interesting occurence yesterday, it was getting to be a little after 6:30 and I needed to leave by 7:40 or so go to play basketball, so I needed to play a SNG that I could finish in under and hour and wouldn't kill me if I had to bow out. Most would think turbo, but I'm still not that huge of a fan. So $2.25 6-max, here I come. Seven minutes and 10 hands after we started this SNG, I was in the money/heads up. It was remarkable. I had taken someone out with a set of 10s vs K10 on a 10-high flop, and the rest of the table had been cleaned up by my opponent. I don't know how all of them played out, but I saw him flop a set vs 2 pair, and get it all in w/AK vs KQ on a K-high flop. I'll have to look up the other one and post it. Anyway, we were heads up with 20/40 blinds, and proceeded to grind it out. Honestly I got bored pretty quickly and was just happy to cash, so after being worn down to $1800 or so, I was looking for a spot to get my money in decent. Then I made a flush and doubled. Then I picked up KK and limped on the button. Dude JAMS the big stack, and I insta-call. He shows KxQd and I am 5 cards from doubling to the chip lead. Flop comes Q-high, all diamonds. I dodge his 1.2 million outs on the turn, but the river wasn't as kind, bringing him a third Q. I suppose I deserved it for being indifferent about the outcome. If I was really into the poker I would've loved to have grinded it out from 20/40 on, but honestly I just wanted to see some more hands and see if I could grind out another little cash, and wasn't interested in playing in a $2.25 SNG with 225 big blinds in play. Regardless, to have the first 4 go out in 10 hands and 7 minutes was certainly unlike anything I'd seen before, nor will likely ever see again.

Ok, well that's more than enough for today. Hopefully I didn't bore you too badly. Everyone have a great week and Happy Thanksgiving if I don't make it back here.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Slow & Steady

Well I'm back again for my weekly update. Still didn't get too many chances to play this week, but I had positive results when I did, so that's of course ridiculously encouraging.

I played a handfull of SNGs on Sunday and started out in true nose dive form, but by the end of my session had turned things around and finished ahead a buck or two from where I started. I then got to play a couple of SNGs on Tuesday and took 2nd in both. The interesting phenominon that I faced in these two sessions was my ability to get to heads up, outplay my opponent, but just get destroyed by the deck. Some of the stuff I saw was pretty gut wrenching, but I'm not about to complain. Second place = profit, and profit = good. By the end of Tuesday I saw my Full Tilt account claw its way above $20. With a little rakeback deposit today, I'm sitting on what feels like a fortune at over $24. Now I just need to keep things headed in that direction.

Then tonight I decided to take this week's shot at that PokerStars Play in the Bahamas with Daniel Negreanu freeroll like I talked about in my last post. Having finished 730th out of 10,000 last week, my expectations for dodging this freeroll mine field two weeks in a row were not high. But amazingly, like clockwork, after a little over an hour and a half of some decent poker, the bubble burst, and my PokerStars account was on its way toward being another dollar richer. Incidentally, I busted from the tourney just now as I was working on this post. I was on a short stack (6k w/blinds at 750/1500/150) and jammed w/44 UTG, got called in two spots, and lost. And while I thought I made a major mistake busting when on the next hand I could've found myself in the next payout level (wasn't being vigilant enough of tourney situation), turns out the gods smiled down on me and I was just one of at least 13 bubble hand busters, managed to sneak in under the bubble, and earned myself an additional $.50 in 598th/10,000 (603 was the cutoff). So geez...two profitable weeks in a row, *and* something goes my way despite a major mistake? Pretty humbling.

So...the ol' PokerStars account has gone from $0 to $2.50 thanks to a couple of deep freeroll runs, and whether I continue to have this success in the next 3 weeks or not, its been fun to go deep and plant the seed for my own personal Ferguson-esque accomplishment. Even if I had made the top 200 and advanced to the next level these past couple of weeks, I wouldn't have been able to play the 2nd level tourney on Saturday, but in the coming three weeks I should have the Saturdays available, so while I'll certainly be focusing on continuing to cash, I'll be putting a little extra effort toward gearing for that top 200 and trying to do something *really* remarkable. Regardless, despite having a little more wiggle room in the PS bankroll now, I'm gonna leave it alone until these freerolls are over at the end of November, then figure out my best chance to try and build on it.

Anyway, its past my bedtime, so I'm gonna get outta here. Thanks for stopping by, and I hope everything is going well for everyone on the felt!

Friday, November 02, 2007

The Coach's Game, A SNG Win, and a Bankroll on Stars?!

Hey all. I'm back again for what has become a weekly update. I swear at some point things will slow down, but as of right now I'm *maybe* getting any poker in 3 days a week. Ideally I'd get a few SNGs each night, but right now the ol' lady and I are living life to the fullest before the weather shuts us down.

Anyway...on to the poker. I mentioned in my last post that I got an invite to a 1/2 NL ($50 max buyin) homegame and I was planning on playing it. Well, me and two other buddies got there shortly after 2 and needed to leave by 5:30 to get back home to get ready for my Halloween party. I also mentioned last time that this game is SOFT. I lost a little money last time we played, but that may have actually been the first time I played cash, and I really didn't know how to take money out of a loose game. My buddy, though, won upwards of $300. So needless to say, we were expecting big things. And I'd have to say, the way things have been going for me, I was thrilled to walk out of there $35 richer.

Things started off about normal for me. Just craptastic cards. Nothing I could play. And I was *nervous*. Fact is, I didn't really have $100 to lose at the moment, so I didn't wanna blow my first $50 and sit nervously on money I couldn't afford to lose. I know this goes against several rules of playing good poker, but I wanted to play, damn it, so don't kill me over it. Anyway, I literally folded for the first hour. Nothing playable to the point where I could even complete the SB. Now, I know I should be in pots mixing it up with a loose game (and the game picked up right where it left off 2 years ago when we played), but I was playing scared. I needed something good to happen before I could really settle in. I even folded QJ a couple of times, which is a good fold in a tough game, but a marginal one in a loose game. One time I'd have made two pair and lost to higher two pair, and the other turned into a *huge* pot where I could've lost plenty of money drawing to at least the turn. So I was content with my folds and keeping my chips in my tray. Because even though they were playing loose, they were showing down big hands in the end. So after an hour we filled up to 9 and split into 2 tables. I had been blinded down to $38. If you do the math, that's literally 4 Big Blinds, and 4 small. I had played NOTHING. Weak/tight at its finest. Hell, the whole session can be summed up in 3 hands, so here goes nothing.

With $38 in my stack, I find AK in the big blind. It folds around to the button, he makes a raise to $6, SB folds, I pop it to $18, he looks at me and goes "I haven't seen you play a hand yet", and folds. SCOOP, and I'm back to $45. Not too long later I'm sitting in MP and a new guy next to me raises to $15. I look ace...and another. I raise all-in to $45, it folds around to the original raiser, and he insta-calls. I show my aces and he shows a Q. Board comes Q-high, scaring the bejesus out of me, but then he peels up his other card, which is an Ace. Regardless, I've got 2 outs to dodge, and I have NOT been surviving 2-outers, so I was by no means feeling relieved. This time I hold up and the $90 pot is mine. Halfway through the session I'm up, and I finally settle down a little. I play a few pots here and there when I can get in cheap, and really just hover around the $90-100 mark. With $97 in my stack and 5:24 on the clock, the BB is coming my way, and I decide its my last hand. It folds around to the button (a different player than the button before), and he sticks in his last $11. So I'm not seeing a free flop. SB folds, and I look down at AK and call. He shows J10, flops a J, and the suckout strikes again. So with $86 and in the SB, I have another last hand, its garbage, I chuck it, and cash out for $85. But perhaps more meaningful than the money this time is some confidence. I sat down at that game scared out of my mind, but after doubling up I got to play a little poker, and while I didn't do anything remarkable, I actually got to have fun.

One of my buddies ended up down over $50 and the other ended up cashing out up around $170. They need to have this game more often.

Moving on, I got to play a little bit on Monday online. I played 2 SNGs, and I actually won one of them. I'll be damned if the deck wasn't hitting me in the face a little bit! It was pretty fun. I don't really recall the other one, but I think it was a fairly routine card-dead loss. Anyway, I've got $12.XX in my FT account at the moment, so I will live to see at least 5 more SNGs!

Then last night I decided to play in one of the "Join Daniel Negreanu in the Bahamas" freerolls at PokerStars. Of course its a satellite to a satellite to play in a SNG where the winner gets a trip to the PCA, but what's cool about the first and second levels is that they actually pay cash to the top 12.5 and 15%, too. For a guy with some free time and never having had a bankroll on PokerStars, its worth signing up for. I played one of these a couple weeks ago and got off to a good start, more than doubling early, only to get smacked by a 6-outer when all the money went in with me as a favorite on the flop. Cest la vie. Anyway, after starting with 10,000 players, we were down almost 6900 after the first hour, paying 1250. Insane. I built up some chips early, and then lost a few away, then doubled up when I had a 70% preflop all-in hold up. By the first break I was sitting just outside of the cashing window, but a double-up away from easy money. And when I quadrupled up when my KK held against 22, 66, and a couple of unders about halfway through the 2nd hour, I was as good as gold to cash. I *almost* gave it away when I thought about pushing my 66 in the BB against an MP raise, but I stopped myself and said "This is one of those times where you get your money in dominated and go broke and hate yourself afterwards" and just called the min-raise and check-folded the flop. PF min-raiser had QQ, which held, and I felt good about avoiding that disaster. A short time later we made it into the $1 cash level, and now we needed to play down to 603 to get me another buck. I couldn't find a spot to get my money in for the next 20 mins or so, and I finally pushed w/KJo UTG with barely 3xBB, was called in two spots, and lost to AJ when an A fell on the river (not that he needed it). I was out in 730th, outlasting 9270 players before the 2nd break. That's nucking futs. I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that I was sitting at a table with 4-5 dead stacks for the first hour and a half, so that went a long way toward making this 730th out of 10,000 finish seem "easy". We were playing 4-5 handed with blinds up for grabs 50% of the time, so it was pretty simple poker. Nonetheless, a deepish run is a deepish run!

So I have one whopping dollar on PokerStars, my first real money ever on the site, and it seems I'm well on my way to pulling a Chris Ferguson. ;-) I'm not gonna dip into my real cash until these freerolls are over at the end of November (I can take my one shot a week), and I'm going to see if I can build up a little more and expand my options. The cool thing is that at sites where I've had cash (PokerRoom,, Mansion, Full Tilt), $1 isn't worth jack, but PokerStars has .02/.04 limit tables and .01/.02 NL tables, and $1.20 9 player SNGs. So if a few things go my way, building my PokerStars bankroll from $1 isn't the most daunting task by any means.

So by no means do I have enough results to say I'm out of the woods on what is approaching a 6th full month of running bad, but the last three times I've played poker I've had positive results, but almost more importantly, some opportunity to have a little fun. If nothing else, I can be thankful for that!

Oh, and one more thing, being 20ish days and 850 posts behind in my reading, I just saw today that Fuel55 was kind enough to toss me a link documenting my bustout from the WBCOOP or whatever that big blogger tourney on PokerStars was that I sucked ass in. He's one of my top 3 favorite bloggers, so I was quite humbled that he even knows who I am. If you don't read his blog religiously, start now. I'm looking at you, patrons. Fuel is a genius poker player at all levels of NL cash games, and he knows his way around a tourney, too. He's equally as good of a teacher, teaching unbelievably valuable, complex lessons in simple, conscise methods. And he fills in the gaps with his amusing "series" (ie "Presto is Gold", "Flopped Straights Always Lose"). We won't even fault him for being Canadian.

Happy Weekend, everybody. Have a good one.