Wednesday, January 30, 2008


So, looking back on last night's debacle, I have allowed myself some forgiveness.

Don't get me wrong, I'm still disgusted and realize I played some of the worst poker the world's ever seen.

BUT...uncharted territory breeds mistakes.

I'd NEVER had a 119 big blind tournament stack since I started this game, and instead of playing like that wasn't true, I played just like I'd never had a 119 big blind tournament stack since I started this game. Last I knew I was on a rush, so of course I'm going to put someone all-in w/AK for 6k. Cuz I had that luxury. Next time I may think a little longer about it. By no means should I stop playing on a big stack, but in that spot *I'm* not the one who needs to make a move, so I need to think about if I want to potentially flip coins to the benefit of my opponent, or look at a flop and get it in the middle when I know I've got 'em.

My single biggest mistake was the resteal w/A5o. Some would argue that that's a perfect spot for the resteal, with a big stack and a VERY stealy looking situation, but for starters, the resteal is not a move I have spent a lot of time on, so in that spot I should let him have my 100 chips and pick a better time. Plus, all I was thinking about was picking off this guy's steal and how awesome I'd be and had NO plan for if he called or raised and how I'd be in deep shit.

I've never been in that kind of a dominating position, so of course I didn't know how to react. Every hand in this game provides an opportunity to learn, and sometimes its gonna be learning the hard way. Now next time I find myself fortunate enough to amass a big stack, I'll think about this disaster, and hopefully won't make the same mistakes.

Busting on the bubble was also a pretty bone-headed move that really irritates me. Not so much because after all that I could've gotten a refund and an opportunity to move past this and try again, but moreso because I could've made it 6 straight MTT cashes, which is a bonafide accomplishment. But at that point I'd already screwed up so bad, 1) who's surprised, and 2) what's one more huge mistake? To my credit, though, here I found myself in the SB again with the pot folded around to the button, who made a 3x raise, and I'm holding KJ. If I wanted to cash, its a relatively easy fold, but if I wanted to win, that's too good a situation not to get it all in the middle. He could have any 2 there. I miss my cashing streak, though.

So I still can't stop thinking about this, and won't be able to until I've avenged it, but I am allowing myself some forgiveness, because nobody can be expected to do something right the first time, and looking back I found myself in stunned disbelief when I saw the size of my stack and the fact that I was in 10th place out of 1k. In my mind, I'd already reached the pinnacle, and all I saw was the final table and a three to four figure payday. I checked out. Because I'd never been there, and even this point was an accomplishishment unlike any other I'd ever had. In reality, I still had about three hours of hard work left and over 900 people gunning for my chips, and my rush was over. I was really just getting started.

So this time I can forgive myself and learn a lesson. Next time, though...there are expectations that I intend to meet.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

I am a Big, Fat, Stinkin' Donkey

The title pretty much sums it up. Tonight was my chance, and I flat out blew in about as donkeriffic fashion as you can blow it.

So I got into the 20k at 6 Central like I had hoped. Things were going along decently...just picking up a few little pots and looking for a real hand. And then it came. I limped UTG with KQo, and then called a late position raise. I flopped open-ended and the third nut flush draw, and bet at it. I was raised, and took one off. I then turned broadway. Here I jammed, and villian used almost all of his time bank before he finally called w/QQ, drawing to 2 outs for a split. The K on the river made his gutshot, but made my flush, and here I found myself more than healthy with over 9k. From that point I catapulted unlike I've ever catapulted before, hitting probably the biggest rush of my life, and before I knew it, I was sitting on a 24k stack w/blinds at 100/200. Yes, 119 big blinds! And I was sitting in 10th out of 1k players left. My best position that early in an MTT ever, by far. And I thought, an opportunity nearly impossible for me to give away, given my tight tendencies.

Then just as quickly as I got there, the bottom dropped out.

There was a hand where UTG min-raised, and I had AK in the big blind, so I re-raised him all-in and his pocket pair held up. Down to 18k. But I'll make that play pretty much every time there. A short time later I was in the small blind and it folded around to the button, who made a stealy looking raise, like he had appared to be doing in position quite often. With A5o, I decided to put him to the test, and popped it 3x his raise on a pure resteal. He then jammed, and I was facing a call of 4k into a 12k pot. I didn't see how I could fold, but I'm pretty sure this is a 3:1 call you have to get away from. He showed 9s, flopped a set, and now I'm down to 10k. A while after that I was sitting on QQ in the small blind. Someone min-raises to 800 from EP. Queens have been brutal to me lately, so proceeding cautiously, I just call in the small blind. Big blind then jams his 2500, EP calls, then I don't see any options other than to rejam in my spot and try to get heads up. I know that I'm usually behind someone here, but with QQ on a pathetic stack with about 6k already in the pot, I don't see myself folding there a lot. Maybe I need to. Thankfully, EP folded, but BB has KK, and now I am at just over 10x BBs. From 119. To 10.

So a bit after this we go into the 2nd break and are approaching the bubble. I make a couple of post-break jams that aren't called, and as we rapidly approach the bubble I am actually finding myself in comfortable position to cash. Who would have thought...after all this, I'm gonna make $4 and keep my cashing streak in tact. Oh, but wait. I had more horrible poker to play. With blinds having just changed to 400/800/75, I find myself in the small blind w/KJo. And yet again, I'm faced with a folded pot to the button, who raises. Instead of just folding to the money, I still have dillusional thoughts of winning, and I jam my KJo. Button calls with A5o (Ironically, the hand I donked off half my stack to him earlier with) and proceeds to end up with queens full of aces.

I go home in 527th out of 3k, a mere 14 spots short of the money. And to further illustrate just how deplorable my fall from grace was, the average stack was still not yet at 24k. If I'd have just locked it down, I'd have still been living large.

Tell me that is not THE MOST pathetic display of poker you have ever had the gut wrenching torture of hearing about. I've been sick to my stomach ever since I called an all-in w/A5o and knew that something in my poker playing psyche had short-circuted.

In the end I broke even on the night with a couple of SNG cashes so I may be able to get to sleep tonight, but to think of the missed opportunity and what might have been is going to haunt me for some time to come. This was the chance I've been playing 3+ years for, and I gave it all away.

This is my attempt to cleanse, though. Its all out here in the open, nothing about it can be changed now, and I just have to get back in the tourney and try again and do better next time. Because there is a next time. I just may have to persevere a while to get back there.


(Poker)Stars Aligning??

Greetings, fellow degenerates. I am back yet again to test the blogging waters and tempt fate by reporting on just how the virtual felt is treating me.

But first, I have to welcome my very first official sponsor. The unbelievably kind folks at have put their faith in my little blog to help grow their business, and I'm gonna do whatever I can to see to it that that happens. The site has a RIDICULOUS amount of poker content that is valuable whether you've been playing for 10 years or 10 minutes. They've got poker news, forums, strategy, blogs, reviews, bonus codes, a chat room, and info on tools, supplies, books, and a billion other things. Literally I have got to believe anything, or at the very least links to anything you could ever need as a poker player. Yeah, maybe I'm a sellout shill now, but for a blogger who needs a kick in the pants in multiple ways, its nice to get an email from a reputable site such as FlopTurnRiver who wants to make an investment in you as a blogger, and inherently as a player. Thanks to Tyson and the whole crew over there. I'll do my best.

Now, how about some poker?

I feel like I've gotten a fresh start at PokerStars, and I feel like I've gotten a fresh start with my blog, which means I'm going to step out on the edge, throw caution to the wind, and just...f*

Things continue to go well for me at Stars. I was a little scared for a while because yet again I had a whole day off to play poker on 1/21, and yet again, I played break even/losing poker. I think I go into poker overload when I have those kinds of opportunities, though. I get this mentality like "well you've got all day to win, lets mix things up and play some all or nothing poker", then all of the sudden its into the afternoon and you're chasing the losses you've accumulated. And I realize, when it comes to SNGs, there's absolutely no reason to play any differently at any time. All you can do is win or lose a little faster, but there's really no good argument for playing faster if you have a strategy that works. So I swear, next time I have this opportunity, I'm gonna stick to what works and hope for the best.

It was kinda funny, though. My plan for the day was to get up with my wife, who didn't have the day off, and make and eat a good breakfast, get a roast in the crock pot for supper, work out, and then poker it up. Well, the french toast wasn't really sitting right, so I decided I'd work out later. And then by the time the 5k started up @ noon and I had intentions of running deep, I was of the mindset "well, I can get away with not working out today". Turns out PokerStars is an advocate of my health, because at about 3:00 I got a 5 minute cold-decking that busted my 13 or so big blind stack out of the 5k in 2 hands holding KJ vs KQ and K9 vs KJ, and busted me on the bubble of the SNG I was playing w/AK vs A4. He hit trip 4s. So that was PokerStars way of telling me to get my ass on the ellyptical machine. And I did.

So after that day, I had to refocus, and have had some outstanding results. I played three SNGs last Thursday. The first was a 5.50 single table where I saw my QQ get beat by AJ early, and then as I was about to double into good shape approaching the bubble my AA fell to QQ when he rivered his set. Not a good start. But I saddled up to another 5.50 single table and won it, and as I played those two I played a 1.20 two table SNG and took 2nd there. So overall very positive results for that night and I was back in business.

Only other opportunity I've had to play since then was on Sunday morning, where I came from a 450 stack @ 50/100 blinds to win a 5.50 single table SNG. This was probably my proudest poker accomplisment in recent history, although it kinda took care of itself. I actually got to the short stack by making a pretty marginal play losing to AJ w/KJ on a J-high board. Villian raised on the short stack UTG, and I was in the SB. I didn't have him on a high pocket pair and wanted to give him enough credit to expect a raise from AK/AQ/KQs and mid-high pocket pairs. Obviously at this level AJ is a possibility, but I feel like it was more of a cold deck than anything. Anyway, that put me on the short stack and within a few minutes/orbits I'd be looking for a spot to jam. I eventually did jam with a 70/30 advantage, but lost to a guy who had gotten shorter than me, thus I found myself on the 450 stack. I promptly picked up KK and doubled, then I got my suckout revenge when A4 outran AJ, and all of the sudden I was relatively healthy. I bullied the bubble as best I could, and before long we found ourselves in the money @ about 5k to 5k to 3.5k. Not too long into the money battle, with blinds at 200/400/25, I called a 3x raise in the big blind from the short stack/SB w/KQc. Flop came all clubs and he jammed into my 2nd nuts w/TP, 2nd kicker. That won't cut it. So with more than 30 big blinds still in play I was ready for a relatively extensive heads up match. Except that <10 hands in I flopped 7s full holding 76o and he bet 1200, 1600, and all-in on each of the streets. So twice I flop the 2nd nuts, and twice they're betting into me. I haven't had luck like that in MONTHS. Its nice to be having fun playing poker again.

One final note, I've cashed in the last 5 MTTs I've played! I played the 5k guarantee on 1/13 and 1/21 and doubled my money in both (hey, a cash is a cash), and of course I wouldn't even have a bankroll on Stars if it weren't for cashing in those two Negreanu freerolls back in December. This, although the actual winnings is nothing to write home about, is a REMARKABLE accomplishment for me. My biggest hurdle is that I still struggle through the middle stages of MTTs. I've been fortunate to be able to amass some chips early in most cases which generally is enough to have me limping through the bubble, but then once the bubble bursts I'm pretty much always in push or fold mode. I need to work through figuring out spots in the middle stages of tourneys to pick up chips without having hands. I seem to run into a lot of big stacks that will risk a lot of chips to float and try to grow their stacks even more. I don't know if I need to find 2nd and 3rd bullets when I have a hand and miss or am in position or just be more focused on sniffing out spots to steal and maintain or grow my stack that way. Regardless, I've had a real MTT itch lately, so its been nice to get into MTTs and have some success. I'm thinking about playing my first $11k Guarantee tonight @ 6 Central, but that's technically still just outside my bankroll, so we'll see what I decide.

So, overall, Stars is treating me well. I am adequately bankrolled for $5.50 SNGs, and just shy of breaking back through to the $11 level. I feel like I'm playing really well. I'm distinctly noticing spots where in a past poker playing life I would've gone broke but now I'm getting away, or in the past I'd have left chips in the middle where now I get them in my stack, and in my opinion these are the two fundamental mountains to climb to move from weak/tight to tight/aggressive. Its about giving up a good hand when its not the best hand and not getting married to it, and firing at pots when you don't always have the best hand and picking up orphaned chips. So I'm feeling good. I'll continue to work hard on fine tuning these two skills, and I'm also going to look to play more deep stack MTTs and go after that big score that I'm missing, continue to work on cash (I'm a pretty decent winner over the past few weeks at .01/.02 NL :-) ), and figure out a way to get some money back on Full Tilt. Would anybody be willing to accept a PayPal transfer in exchange for a transfer on Full Tilt? I know I *can* get money on the site, but I'd prefer to not actually break the law if I don't have to.

I think that's plenty for today. Again, welcome and thank you to, and hope the cards are treating everyone reading this well!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Here's the Scoop

Heyo. I apologize to my (three) loyal blog readers for lack of posts.

In this post I come clean. I have a dirty little secret. Ok, that sounds kinda perverted. I have a little bit of a shameful secret.

I am superstitious. Or however you spell it.

At any rate, my lack of posting isn't due to lack of hands, lack of time, or even necessarily lack of success. It has to do with the fact that it seems like every time I post about running good, some sort of funked up poker karma whoops my ass at the tables. If you'll notice, I tread very lightly when I talk about success because I don't want to sound like I'm bragging. I try and be humble as I can be, as if to hide from this blogwatching gremlin who works for the RNGs at the poker sites that will skew them out of my favor at the very hint of good fortune, confidence, or pride. And yet any time I speak even a little about success, things turn upside down for me. And I guess I am just superstitious (crazy) enough to think that somehow this has an impact on my results, and therefore I'm in this blogging vicious circle where I don't feel like posting when I'm running bad, and I don't wanna post when I'm running good for fear of ruining it. Its fun living in my head, folks.

So for the time being, I wanted to notify you all that I am officially on hiatus until this little poker hobby of mine decides to get off the rollercoaster and go one way or the other. I guess one thing's for sure, I won't be getting off the blogger Z-list for quite some time. Oh, well...

Here's the short answer. I'm all but broke at Full Tilt. I have no useable amount of cash (like .92 or something), and I have like 300-some Full Tilt points that I will probably try and parlay into something at some point, but I mean come likely is it that I'll do anything with them? So, simply because I would like to play at Full Tilt and be earning rakeback if I can, I have a deal with my brother-in-law to transfer me the difference between what I have and a $2.25 SNG out of his measly bankroll, and in exchange, I'll send him enough on PokerStars, where *he* doesn't have any money, for a $1.20 SNG or two. But he plays about once a month, so who knows when this little deal will actually come to fruition. At any rate, I'm not horribly optimistic about success at Full Tilt anytime soon, because as you know I haven't been able to do one thing right at that site since May.

As far as PokerStars, I love playing at PokerStars on my Mac, and that is where I'm doing my playing these days. Turns out I love the site. I always liked Full Tilt because it was more visually appealing to me from the interface to the logo to the gear worn on TV, and all the big name pros they had in their stable. So from a marketing standpoint, they had me hook, line, and sinker. Damn you, marketing gurus!! Turns out PokerStars seems to be more focused on game quality and is much more of a poker player's poker site. Their SNG structure absolutely thumps that of Full Tilt (and of course you know I'd like to think SNGs are where I'm known to be cutting my teeth), and even the .01/.02 NL cash games seem to play astoundingly straight up, and doesn't consist of 7 all-ins every hand like you'd expect. Turns out the game choice, structure, and opponent quality at PokerStars suit me way better. Lets just not think about how if I were *really* a good player I'd be able to adjust my strategy to win at Full Tilt. We'll save that for when I have a bankroll with some wiggle room in it.

At any rate, about the only thing I think Full Tilt has on PokerStars is their top notch tourney satelliting setup. In the little research I'm done, Stars only seems to have satellites to the Sunday Million and their other big tournaments, whereas Full Tilt has a killer thing going with basing a lot of what they do around the ability to earn and use the $26 and $75 token to do almost anything you could ever want. Of course, the ideal setup would be to have money on both, but I'll worry about crossing that bridge when...well...when I have the materials to build it.

So, for now I am playing on my $3.50 in freeroll winnings at PokerStars and working on my own little Chris Ferguson challenge, and I'll just say this...I have more than $3.50, and less than Chris Ferguson. And I feel like I'm playing really, really well.

Now there goes the little gremlin off to report me to the PokerStars RNG. *sigh*

So thank you to those of you that have checked in on me to make sure I was still alive. I am. I'm still playing, I'm still working hard, and I'm still enjoying the turn of every card. Its just that whether I'm winning or losing, I'm currently not posting. I'll do my best to keep checking in, but until I feel like I can't pop open PokerStars and lose my bankroll in a day or less, expect my posting to be sparse. Because I'm just that looney.

Best of luck to all of you, and thanks again for your thoughts and patronage!