Monday, July 23, 2007

Latest Update

For my latest update, please click here, and skip to the bottom where I spoke in general terms about how my game is going. Only take out the parts about any glimmer of hope.

This weekend saw me go from $73 to as low as $.80. I spent about $30 trying to win tokens so I could play in a $26 tourney Saturday night, and after bombing on my 1st two $8.70 or whatever turbos and getting severely tilted, not only did I score a toke on my next SNG, but I also picked one up in a Token Frenzy, so after a rough start, that was a real bright spot for $52 on my $30 investment.

The rest was piss poor. I got into like a $24k Guarantee on Saturday night and when it started and I realized it wasn't a deep stack I was upset (push monkeys love to spew chips in deep stack tourneys and I've always had pretty good luck in steadily building a stack), but was still prepared to go deep. And by go deep, I obviously mean bust on the 3rd hand when I flopped 2 pair w/A3 (in the BB), got all my chips in the middle by the turn against what I absolutely knew was a big ace, but what I was not expecting was the flush draw. With one card to come, of course, he got home.

That may be one of those situations where maybe I shouldn't be 100% eager to get all my chips in with 2 pair that early in a tournament, and possibly could've avoided busting. But I was absolutely certain he had a strong ace, I just did not anticipate a flush draw. So who knows, maybe thats a spot where I can get away from it in an effort to minimize my exposure to variance. But at the same time, I got in as at least a 70% favorite, and if I'm chucking a hand as a 70% favorite, something's gotta be wrong with me, right?? Any input would be welcome.

Aside from that, after what was a non-cashing streak of at least 10 SNGs, yesterday afternoon I bought into a $2.25 SNG that left me a worthless $.80 behind, so needless to say, I was nervous. I managed to win that SNG, fortunately, and then took 2nd in two more after that. After a couple more suckouts and cold decks, currently my bankroll stands somewhere north of $9, which leaves me with four more shots. I also have that other $26 token, which I kinda wish right now was actually $26, because although a deep stack token tourney will be fun, lets face it, I've never had a performance in one that makes me a sure fire bet to cash. And the way I'm running just makes it worse.

Some noteworthy beats yesterday were AA vs JJ all-in preflop and QQ vs 1010 all-in preflop. Other than that I saw several 70/30 suckouts, an inability to win 60/40s and 50/50s, big hands not being able to get paid off, and cold-decks that just make you wanna cry.

And its all that much worse in $2.25 SNGs where any two cards bigger than 9 are worthy of calling off a stack with.

In the interest of not sounding like the ultimate whiner (although that ship has probably sailed at this point), I also find myself playing really weakly from time-to-time (but also made a handfull of really strong plays), and sometimes I wonder if I'm getting big money into 60/40s and 50/50s at inappropriate times. All I know is it feels like I'm getting my money in flipping coins in big spots (and losing), but that makes me wonder if they're almost *too* big. It feels right when I jam w/99 on a shorty who obviously wants to take a pot down uncontested preflop, but then when my pair doesn't hold up and I'm 1/3 of a stack lighter I wonder if it was the right play.

So the battle continues...

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The Only Thing I Can Say at a Poker Table

In reference to the title, the only thing it seems I can say at a poker table these days is "UNREAL". Generally the syllables are split with one world famous "f word", but the idea is the same.

Here are four occurances where all I could think was "unreal" in one single 90 player SNG.

After nearly doubling up early when my QQ held against AK when we got all-in after a 545 flop, I played some big stack poker, made a few hands, and had worked my stack up to 7-8k. Then these hands happen.

1. Small Potatoes. I might have played this hand a little passively on the flop, but with his raise I like the potential of getting paid off at the end of this hand if the river is anything else. Of course the river *isn't* anything else, and I can't see any way my kings full are any good there.

2. Come on Now. This hand was pretty early on, but I thought I played it about as well as I could. What a ridiculous suckout. After the flop he needs one of the two kings left or a runner runner pair to win, or a runner runner straight to split. Of course that's *way* too many outs for me to dodge. The donkey proceeds to go damn near broke on the next hand and then donk off the rest of his chips the hand after. Way to use that double-up.

After these hands I was still sitting in good shape, but I got involved in a 3-way pot where I was committed to the end w/2nd pair 10s, top kicker with 2 Jacks on the board. One player had a J and I was back down to 4k.

I didn't have to wait too long before I doubled through a total LAG when I actually won ANOTHER coin flip w/my JJ vs. his AK. I don't think I'd have doubled me up there for over 1/3 of my stack, but I'm certainly happy he did.

3. And Then There Was This. I actually thought I was getting my money in relatively far behind here but had some very live draws to big hands and felt like it was a good spot to go big or go home. I was open-ended with the 2nd nut flush draw and possibly a live king, and this guy was flinging chips like he was protecting a 9 or an overpair. I was getting a little less than 2:1 and had to be a coin flip if not a favorite, so I called his all-in, and it turns out he was bluffing out his ass and I had him crushed and for once there were some outs I *didn't* want to hit because we shared them. Of course that's when the open-ender comes right on home for both and we split the pot... This is a spot where you could make an argument that I should've never been in the hand w/K10o to a preflop raise, but it was a pretty paltry price to pay in the big blind with a big stack and in the end I found myself in good shape and got hideously unlucky...again.

Then not too long after this I managed to find myself on an even bigger stack when I flopped the nut flush and stacked someone who liked his QQ.

I sat on this 14-15k stack as it bounced between 4th place and 9th place as we played down from 27 to 21. I think I was in about 7th when this hand went down.

4. The Ultimate Dagger. Preflop, this hand couldn't have gone more perfectly. I smooth called the initial short stack raise in hopes of other calls or a re-raise to isolate, and I got everything I could've ever hoped for. Of course, given our holdings its only natural. Of course the shorty is gonna get all his chips in w/QQ, and of course the donkey w/KK can't see my obvious aces and let it go. I really think right there I could have laid my KK down to the third re-raise. We were on the bubble and he had *plenty* of chips to get to the money. But instead he puts his tourney life on the line with 2 outs, hits his way to the chip lead, and I'm sent packing one off the bubble in 20th less than an orbit after this hand. Incidentally, I got it in against Mr. KK w/my 3s vs his AK and he turned an Ace. Of course he did. Even if the QQ guy flops a set there I still net 10k on the hand. But no, its gotta be the kings.

So. FCKING. Sick. I really felt good about finally winning one of these 10 table SNGs. I actually won in a couple of big spots, only to lose when I *really* shouldn't have to worry about losing.

And just to note, this isn't the first time this has happened to me. Way back when I got involved in a cash game hand w/AA vs. KK vs. QQ vs. JJ and the jacks come out ahead w/a set on the flop. I know that the more pocket pairs you have in a hand, the more likely it is that someone flops a set, but come on...where's the donks w/AK or AQ here every now and then??

Despite all this, I can't really complain. I probably had my best monthly homegame ever on Friday, taking 2nd, 1st, and 1st and profiting $60 on these $5 tourneys. I have to admit I had a couple of crucial 70/30 or worse suckouts in crucial spots, but you know what? I'm OK with that. And despite the utter fcking heartbreak in this 90 player SNG I did win a regular old 9 player SNG so tonights session will show a profit. Otherwise, the only online playing I've been doing is at trying to put together a bankroll from their play money step SNGs where if you win a 6, 6, and 10 player SNG, you get $1. It was some nice, no pressure poker over the past 3-4 days. I've collected some step 2 tickets and will continue down that path over the next few days.

I did play in a $500 freeroll over there that I got a ticket to for my shilling in my last post, and it went about as I could expect from the last 2 months results. AK no good against QJ w/TPTK vs 2 pair, AK no good against A8 w/a 4-flush to the 8, and JJ no good against 99 flopping a set. A good opportunity to make some money with only 45 players and a nice 2500 chip starting stack, but I went out in 42nd I believe. C'est la vie.

So signs of turning this around are persisting, and while I actually won a couple of coin flips tonight in big spots, little could I expect to lose w/AA all-in preflop in the biggest possible spot. Guess I've still got a little ways to go...

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Coming out of my Hole to Shill and B*tch

I just got a welcome email from (aka CarbonPoker), probably still my favorite poker room on the web even though I'm broke there, talking about their Summer Champs series. They politely asked me to post on my blog about the series to spread the word, and since I love the site so much I'm happy to oblige.

If you've never played at this site, I suggest you do. Their software is fast and absolutely loaded with cool features like fold & show, rabbit hunting, all-in percentages, player accolades (to show off your poker prowess), great graphical player notes features, hide your cards (if you like an added challenge), chat bubbles from each player, smilies the ability to have multiple windows or your games tiled in a single window, and I know there's more that I just can't remember. Their software is absolutely top notch.

So anyway, to oblige the good people at, I just wanted to get that in there.

Now...what can I say about the last month and change since I've posted? More of the same...

Playing the local casino's live tourney on 6/10 actually went pretty well. I never had an above average stack, but managed to make it down to the final 2 tables just picking up big hands to double up with when I needed to. I was seeing visions of an under the radar miraculous win/cash when I went against my gut and pushed my 4xBB in EP with K10 (which had been the bain of my existance over this run I've been experiencing), only to run into the BBs AK. I'd already used my 70/30 suckout earlier in the tourney w/A5 vs AJ, so this hand sealed the deal and I bust in 14th out of 116 or so, w/the top 10 paying. It was a HUGE disappointment, but I think I've gotta make that push there every time and hope for the best. I won $50 at the 3/6 table after busting out of the tourney, so the final tally for the day was a mere -$10.

That day would be the exception, however, and NOT the norm. Some bloggers can bring themselves to post when they're running bad, but I am not one of them. The bad beats just kept coming, including at the homegame I last talked about where I had to rebuy after the very first hand after flopping the nuts (I held KJ on a flop of 9 Q 10) against my buddy's set of Qs and him filling up on the river. I took another >70% beat a few levels later but was left with chips, and then finally got something going when disaster struck again. We were on the bubble with 5 left, and I was 3rd in chips, but only with about 4-5xBB due to the structure, I open pushed UTG w/QQ and the SB who had me covered by <10% hemmed and hawed and eventually called w/A10s. The BB thought about it briefly before folding an Ace face up. So I've only got 2 aces to dodge at least. Not only did he flop his flush draw, but the turn was an Ace, and I was sent packing. So sick.

But when I say packing, I mean I was literally packing my bags, to head to Las Vegas on 6/22. I couldn't mention it in the blog because I'm not sure if my brother in law reads this consistently or not, but it was a secret to him. He thought we were going to Florida, and *he* was getting surprised with a trip to Vegas on 6/23, and then we were going to surprise him by being out there when he arrived on 6/25. All that went off without a hitch, and it was a blast. I spent only about 6 hours at 3/6 tables at Caesars while in town, but that was about enough. The first night my buddy and I were seated at the fishiest 3/6 table I've ever had the pleasure of being seated at. And I shot straight out of the gate running my stack up +$80 within the first hour. When I exchanged some texts with my wife seeing what her and our friends were up to, and she asked me how I was doing, instead of writing back "killing this table of donkeys", I modestly replied "playing successful poker". But that still must have angered the gods and I went on a 2 hour drought not winning a hand and having my AA, KK, QQ, and a host of other solid hands not hold up. The AA was the most noteable as this total donk local went with me the whole way w/KK, and caught a K on the river to scoop the huge pot. Just sick. I mean, I guess in limit poker when you have an overpair to the board you've gotta plan on dedicating $45 to the hand, but like an a-hole donk at the end of the hand he goes "I know you have aces de whole time." Well if that's really true, then save yourself some money! But no...he spikes the 2-outer instead. I saw my stack down to as low as $20 from my $100 starting stack, so over the course of the next 2 hours I just struggled to get back to even. Eventually the donkey table broke and I was moved to another table that was a little more solid, so I just tried to bide my time and look for good hands. It was basically torture. This drunk moron to my left didn't fold for about an hour and couldn't lose and eventually cashed out for over $400. He got me once with 2 pair w/his Q2 against my TPTK w/AK, but I kept that pot small and didn't lose much. I kept folding to stay out of his way, and I think I eventually did take a decent pot or two off him just before he left. Finally it got to be about 3 AM on Monday morning, my new table was 6-handed and a new card rack had sat down to my left. After playing as many hands as I could short-handed, I finally won a couple of pots, my stack was at $97, and I got outta there. What a nightmare.

I played one more time before leaving town. 6/26 was my brother-in-law's actual 30th bithday, so we got together with our friend who lives out there again and hit the Caesar's poker room one more time. In the end I might have actually waited longer for my seat than I actually sat in it. It was really just a blip on the radar for me. There was nothing to the session. Plain and simple, I wasn't winning. I saw a lot of average hands...middle pairs, KQ, suited connectors. The kind of hands you just like to try and limp with or raise in position. But it seems like every time I got one of those hands there would be a raise and/or a re-raise in front of me, so maybe I should've been chucking them, but instead I was playing them for too much money. And whiffing flops like it was my job. I got involved in one hand where I flopped an open-ender with a K-high flush draw, and couldn't get it home. Lost a lot of chips on that hand. But mostly I just bled paying $6 to see flops with hands that needed help and never got it. My bustout hand came at the hands of my brother-in-law who was a total card rack the whole session. With only like $15 in front of me I limped w/J10s on the button. BIL completed in the small and my other buddy checked the big. I can't recall if anyone else was in the hand or not. Anyway, the flop came 8 J Q, BIL bet, and it folded around to me. I threw in a raise hoping to just scoop at this point, but BIL called. So I've confirmed he's got the queen, and I'm pretty much done with this hand. The turn was a pleasantly unexpected 9. BIL bet, I threw in the last of my chips, and made the mistake of feeling very comfortable w/my straight against his Q9. The thought of living to see another day quickly vanished when another 9 hit the river and the pot was shipped one seat to my left. When my brother-in-law busted me by spiking his 4-outer on the river a calm came over me and I knew that was my sign to go sleep for 3 hours before we got up to leave town. The last of my chips went to a worthy enough cause, and any more money on the table would be a waste. If anyone else had busted me I probably would've reloaded and played until it was time to go to the airport, but getting busted by BIL with a pretty major suckout kinda put me at peace, so that was...interesting. As a side note, BIL continued to be a card rack after I left for a while longer, and walked away with about $140 profit. I was really really happy for him. It was his birthday, and he was playing live poker in a casino for the first time Vegas. Its a dream scenario to walk away a big winner, and I'm glad the dream unfolded for him.

Vegas saw the drying up of my measly cash roll and then some, so I'm officially cash broke and have to start the cash roll over. I'm still running pretty piss poor in general (7/5 marked 2 months of this garbage...easily the longest streak of negative variance since I started playing in 2004), and could wear the keyboard out with bad beat stories just from the past 4 sessions online. Friday offered a glimmer of hope with the bankroll approaching $70, but then Sunday I was ready to chuck my computer against the wall as I saw my roll depleated to as low as $12. Signs of stabilization are showing as intermixed with some of the sick, sick beats are me crushing every 3rd or 4th SNG, and my FT balance currently stands at $61. *knocks furiously on wood* So I'm seeing signs of things turning around, but just when I start to feel like I'm standing on solid ground, the floor drops out from under me again. While I feel like in general I'm playing strong, but careful, I have realized myself playing weak/scared a couple times and have done my best to keep the aggression high even though it seems like whenever I get my money in way good preflop or on the flop, it all falls apart when the rest of the cards come. I simply cannot outlast remaining cards to come.

But I'm having fun. Its very challenging to fight negative variance, but since your running so badly it helps you focus on getting your money in as good as possible, and I'm getting a LOT of practice doing that. So assuming I can start getting my big hands to hold up, hitting a consistent number of draws, and winning my fair share of coin flips, that will start paying off and then bigger chip stacks will allow me to take more chances. For now I've switched back to the 9-max SNGs, sticking in some 18s, 45s, and 90s here and there because I get more hands for my money and it gives me a little more wiggle room to get to the cash. While the percentage of players that cash is the same, I feel like the 9 and up SNGs have more pure dead money in them than a 6-max, where generally players are playing the 6-max for a reason. But maybe I'm just making that up...

If and when I ever can get any sort of consistency back in my game, I really would like to start honing in my online MTT game. I've been dabbling in some of the $26 token deep stack tourneys and the 90-max deep stack SNGs and have really been having fun and some success trying to go deep. Inevitably I always end up running KK into QQ flopping a set, KK running into 33 flopping a set, JJ running into 88 making a straight, or 10s vs 9s that make a straight (all of these are real hands from my last 4 sessions) and busting, but I feel like after 3 years of toiling my big score is out there somewhere. So we'll see. First I have to put together a bankroll that gives me a little wiggle room...

So that's about that. There's some real sick beats and serious cold decks to talk about, but they all kind of run together at this point. I'm trying to focus on looking ahead, and taking solice in the facts that I'm getting my money in WAY good more often than not, and that bankroll management has prevented me from going broke.

Sorry for the huge post, but if you made it this far you're a champ. Maybe the next post will be sooner and bring some better news.

Oh and PS, while I was in Vegas I visited Day 2 and Day 4 of the 50k HORSE event. I'm a total celebrity dork, so seeing all the pros I've watched for hours on end on TV (not to mention Dr. Pauly) was an unbelievable experience. I have some pretty good pictures from Day 2 where you can just go around the tables and play "Name the Pros", so if anyone is interested in seeing them, shoot me an email. I was around for the 2004 Final Table when they played the last full WSOP at Binion's and saw the ushering out of that legacy, but this was my first visit to The Rio for the WSOP. Man, what a spectacle.