Friday, July 25, 2008

Slow and Steady Wins the Race?

Well, I'm back for another quick update, even though I don't have a whole lot to report.

I'll start w/MTTs. Played 3 since my last post and didn't cash. I made a run *to* the bubble in one, but instead of limping through the bubble like I very well could have done yet again, I was playing this one to win, and fizzled about 75 spots short of the money. This tourney was a blast, where I was mixing it up and keeping my stack above the average stack and playing table captain and all of that, right up until I got my money in 70/30 and got crushed. Then I ended up jamming my short stack A8o into an already raised AQ and that was that. This tourney seriously tilted me because I was playing the exact kind of poker I wanted to be playing and I envision solid online MTT players to be playing, and just like that it was all out the window. In the second tourney I played I was out before the end of the first hour. Had a really active table and was trying to get mixed in and make the best of it before I got moved, and ended up getting in with a draw and not getting there. Had it gone the other way, who knows what happens, but again, I am trying to play the kind of MTT style that will get me deep, and word on the street is that sometimes that involves getting your money in in somewhat uncomfortable spots and leaving the rest up to the cards. I think any good MTT player would tell you that. And admittedly, the last tourney I played was a tilty $3.30 RB that I played after I busted the 2nd tourney. See, it was the first 2008 WSOP broadcast, and I envisioned going deep in an MTT that night, so after I busted the first before the broadcast even started, I had to find another to play in. Honestly, I wasn't in too bad of shape after the rebuy/addon period, but then I had my JJ (preflop raised, naturally) busted by 54 SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOTED when he flopped 2 pair and obviously called my flop jam. Fantestical. So I will mount up again this week and give it another go.

I did discover I don't hate rebuys *quite* as much as I thought I did, because a $3.30 rebuy not only has a higher guarantee than an $11 $20k Guarantee, but after the rebuy/addon period, there is a LOT of play. I had 4000 in chips after my addon, and sure, the average was like 8600, but I still had 26 big blinds as a "short stack". Hell, you could go broke in the last hand of the hour and for another $9, rebuy for 30 big blinds. The tourney doesn't even really start until the 2nd hour (yes...I'm aware that that is a "duh" statement). Whereas in a regular 3k starting stack tourney your average is gonna be at about 4600 at the first break, and a 4k stack means that you made relatively significant progress during the first hour. I just still don't love rebuys, though, in that they're 1500 starting stacks (sort of), the playing field doesn't start level (What's the deal w/the double rebuy? I'd be much more ok w/the concept if there was no double rebuy.), and the first hour is a freaking mine field. I know its not the right way to approach a rebuy, but personally I buyin for the minimum, play my normal game (albeit 25-30% looser) and see what happens. I know others go into a rebuy guns a'blazin' and will get their money in the middle of huge pots as often as possible and double rebuy at will if things don't go their way. I look to fly under the radar and pick those guys off. Its just my style. But, when all is said and done, I see myself giving that $3.30 rebuy at 7 Central a few more shots. For less than the $11 buyin of the $20k guarantee at 6, I can buyin, rebuy once if needed, and get an add-on, have a $30k guarantee, and if I make it through the hour in good shape, have a lot of play.

SNGs were basically break even, although adventureous. Also on Tuesday night after I'd busted both MTTs I sat down in a $5.50 18 player SNG and busted a few minutes in when my turned nut boat lost to flopped quads. We both slow played each other to the river when he put out a feeler bet, I jammed (overbet for value?), and that was that. There was a couple of other SNGs I played on Tuesday night where I started strong and then didn't play as well as I'd have liked to late. One 9 player where I had a decent chiplead and was pushing the table around, but then didn't back off when people started pushing back and my cards were no longer there (bubbled in 4th), and one 18 player where I came into the FT in 2nd with almost 3x the average stack, and managed to go out in 6th. Again, I had a big stack and was catching cards and splashing pots, and then the well dried up but I failed to tighten up in time. So I'm not terribly proud of this week's SNG results, but I'm livin'.

And as for online cash...drumroll please...I broke about even. I played for about 4 hours on 5 tables of .05/.10 NL, and I believe my balance lay within the same dollar it started at when I finished. This was another case of poor discipline, as I was running well early and up about $20-25, but then as the cards dried up instead of quitting or tightening up, I actually started to play more hands, and before I know it I was chasing a loss. So I was happy to end up even, and with my rakeback hitting my account today, up $3 or so. :-)

So I think we see where I have an obvious leak. It lies in a combination of boredom and denial. When my cards dry up, I don't want to quit playing a lot of pots and catching a lot of cards, and I don't want to believe that my run is over and its time to tighten up and play it safe (SNG/MTT) or quit (cash). I realize I have this flaw, and I think this week's events will really hammer it home for me. I want to be a profitable player, but I never will if I continue to perpetuate this behavior. See, the problem is that I only get to play so often, so when I play, I want to PLAY. I want to play a lot of hands, and I want to play until my time to play is over. Because who knows when I'll get to play again. So I don't like the idea of my cards going dry in a tourney and not getting to splash around in pots at will, and I don't like the idea of being up 250 BBs in a cash game and seeing the tide turn but with 2 hours more to play. That means the fun is over. And when the fun is over is when you become a profitable player (great post, and SO TRUE!). So I need to get out of that frame of mind and get into the *winning* frame of mind. I have the instinct to know when the jig is up and its really a simple adjustment...I just need to make it.

So, folks, for me, the fun is over. Its time to play profitable poker.

And it starts tonight. Heading out to the local casino with the brother-in-law tonight to get a 1/2 NL practice/hopefully bankroll building session in as we count down the days to Vegas. I'm not concerned about playing profitable poker live, though. Live poker really gets the blood flowing for me and I'd like to think I'm exponentially better live than online. If only I had the time to grind it out more often.

Anyway, that's the latest from this neck of the tubes. Poker tonight, probably a little tomorrow, and then of course on Tuesday, and otherwise who knows when. But I'm gonna try my best to make every hand count, and form my session based on results and not a schedule.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Latest

In the interest of being a good blogger, I wanted to check in and report on how things have been going lately. To sum it up, not too shabby!

Since my last post reporting a little bankroll stimulation, I've ventured back to the $5.50 SNGs and made $13.50 cashing in 4 out of 8. Not a whole lot to report, as I only felt motivated enough to leave comments in 2 of those. I'm cool with the profit.

I've also played in 4 MTTs, turning a hum-drum $2 or so profit. But profit's profit. I feel like I played really quite well in all of them, but I still just can't get things to break my way and send me on a deep run in an MTT. But lemme tell you...I've got the market cornered on limping through the bubble and microcashing. Ain't nobody better. Last night I felt like I played a REALLY strong tournament and felt like it might be the one. I came out firing, making a well disguised nut flush right out of the gate, and keeping with the aggression as best I could. Then, as usual, I got mixed up in a hand I didn't belong and found myself in push or fold mode. After doubling up, I had a legitimately healthy, above average stack again, and vowed not to fall victim to my own pitfalls. I then proceed to pick up QQ and am ready to take down another big pot. I raised 3-4x UTG and got a call from a completely reckless LAG who played the role pretty well, but also benefitted from some obscene lucksackery. But it was the right person to call with my strong holding. Flop comes down extremely raggy with two hearts, and I bet about 85% of the pot, and after a brief hesitation, get min-raised. I wasn't worried about a set here at all and probably should have just jammed right here, but I just called. The turn was an offsuit Jack and like a pansy, I check and give up control...and he checks behind. The river is another low heart, and I thought about checking, but then decided that there was about a 95% chance he'd put me all-in if I did that, so I put 2k into about a 5k pot to bet my queens for value, but also tell the story of a value bet on a flush, and like clockwork I got raised to 5700. I couldn't see any way not to let it go, and did so. He very easily told the story of a flush himself, so I made the decision to keep my 14 big blinds or so and live to see another day. He claims to have had the other two queens, but the way the convo played out, I don't buy it. So once again I'm on a short stack thanks to another pretty poorly played hand. I feel like I should have jammed the flop or the turn for maximum value, but even if he has the QQ, all I end up doing is splitting. And if he has the flush, I'm out unless he finds a fold. Opinions?? After that I doubled up once to skate through the bubble, and then fizzled in 388th out of 3100 or so when my AJ couldn't outlast KJ. BUT, I can't be mad about that one because I had AQ hold up against AK and Q7 (4-flushed it) and AQ hold up against AK to get to where I was. So hell...maybe I just played the whole tourney badly with my money in bad twice. Although, I'll play the AK/AQ/Q7 hand the same every time. Shortstack jammed his Q7, I rejammed my AQ, and just got unlucky to have AK behind me. I would have had the shorty crushed. But I got lucky and more than doubled myself. Perhaps some reward for a strong play?? :-) Anyway, its nice to be cashing in MTTs again, and hopefully someday soon my time will come.

Also played a little cash on Full Tilt on Saturday night while left at home alone with my NASCAR in HD. I won $16.50 playing .05/.10 for a little over 2.5 hours. Mainly just one table as I played a SNG on Stars at first, then mixed in another cash game for the last hour. I was just completely card dead for the first hour and a half or so, getting $20 deep into that first cash game table when I got giddy over an overpair and ran it into a set, but then caught fire about the time I opened the second table, and could finally put my reads to use on the table captain and used him as my personal ATM, eventually cashing out with a $29 stack for $9 profit. At the second table I made a nice, steady $7 profit, and called it good when the wife got home. So my FT balance is back up above my original deposit from last month and I'm not quite so mad at myself for how I played like a moron trying to clear that bonus.

Live poker has also treated me well, as we had our monthly game last Friday, and I posted what either ties or sets a personal record $60 profit. Not bad for $5 tourneys and .25/.50 cash on the side. You'd never guess things would go that way after I busted on the first hand of the first tourney when I flopped broadway holding J10. I was in the cutoff and when it folded to me I raised 3x to 150 chips. SB and BB both called. Flop comes AQK and both blinds check, and I fire 300 at it and SB calls and BB folds. I'm saying to myself "please don't pair the board, please don't pair the board...", and what comes off but a King. The SB bets 500, I min-raise to 1k, and he jams. I put him on AK even before the turn came, and I could read into his jam that he had the goods, so even though I know I'm beat, I decided I'm not gonna find a fold w/broadway in a $5 tourney and call. I considered it $5 to the prize pool for the bad beat story value. As it turns out, it was the best worst call I could make, because once the cash game fired up I won a huge pot on the second best hand I'd ever had unfold for me. The first being when I had three all-ins in front of me and I look down at aces and held up. In this case I had pocket 9s in late position and raised to $2. The big blind, a notorious donator, called. The flop came 8-high, 2 hearts, and I fired $4 into the $4 pot, and got the call. The turn paired 4s on the board and I bet $4 again this time and got min-raised. For the first time I considered the thought of being beat, but I had to call with almost 5:1 and the possibility of him holding a 4 or a full house. The turn was a glorious 9h, filling me up and completing the flush. My opponent bets $5, and I play it up real good and raise my last $6 or so and eventually get the call. He showed a J-high flush. While if any non-heart comes I win the hand, I got the single perfect card in the deck to get doubled up, which is always fun. After that I donated a little back to the group and then cashed out up $20 for 45 mins to an hour of "work". I then went on to come from my last 900 chips to flop two sets in a row and double both times on my way to chopping first place in the second tourney for $30 profit, then hung around in the rebuy tourney and took 4th for $20 and a $10 profit. Nice to have things turn around for me after the first tourney, and fun to sling around real chips with buddies as usual.

So there you have it. Read that to your kids and they'll be asleep in no time. If you don't fall asleep first. Thanks for checking in, and hopefully I'll be back sooner rather than later to report more!

Monday, July 07, 2008

Among the Best in the World...

...between 6/30 & 7/5...among those who played at least 20 $1-2.99 SNGs...on PokerStars. But still, for this one shining moment, I'm among the best in the world at something poker.

Hello Windbreak247,

Congratulations on your performance in last week's Sit & Go Leader Boards. A cash prize of $20.00 has been credited to your account.

So I've reached another goal...another milestone in this poker journey I'm on, and at the moment I'm pretty proud. I started with a bankroll of just under $20, and in the span of 20 SNGs, plus the bonus, ran it up just shy of $65. That's not bad for SNGs that payout at a profit of 3.30, 2.50, and .60. I cashed in 15 out of 20, which is pretty remarkable. This run also got me back in the black in 2008 SNG play, which is always nice as well. I just wish I would've had a little more time and I could've played in some 18 or 27 player SNGs and really made a run at the top spot. Sadly, its difficult enough for me to play 20 SNGs in a week, so once I realized I had 9 under my belt and had cashed in 8 and this could be the week for me to make the leaderboard, I really only had the option of finishing it off w/9 player SNGs. I did it right under the gun, too, having to play 5 SNGs at once on Saturday afternoon to get it squeezed in. That is something I'd never done before, and I even managed to cash in 4 out of 5. Its nice to really accomplish something with SNGs after I've really specialized in them for the 3 1/2 years I've been playing online. was fun, and hopefully I can do it again and make the top 10 and the monthly Battle of the Planets triple shootout sometime.

This week with PokerStars 2x promotion its 2x the guarantees in the daily guaranteed tourneys, so I'm gonna look to play at least one of the nightly 6 PM Central 20k guarantees, and then maybe on Saturday I can play the Noon Central 10k guarantee. Both of those being their pre-2x guarantee amounts. I haven't checked yet, but I'm guessing pretty much all of these double guarantees are going off with overlays, because even with the guarantees being doubled, I just don't see these daily tourneys doubling their entries...but who knows.

The other obvious fact at this point is that I managed to run well for 20 straight SNGs, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed that that will continue. Sadly, it felt very, VERY strange to run normal/well, but at least I took full advantage of it, and just have to hope that maybe...just can last at least through the end of August, during which I have a couple of "practice" live sessions planned for the local poker room, then a trip to Vegas next month, with plenty of online play mixed in inbetween. But its all in the hands of the cards at this point. I've given up all superstitious tactics to try and make it better, because not once has anything ever worked. I'll just be getting my money in the middle and hoping for the best.

That's about all I have to report. I'll check back in when I have more.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Shame On Me

Well here we are again and I've gone over a month...almost two...without a post. I've had quite a bit of playing, a lot of working of course, a vacation to Dominican Republic, but mostly a lot of reading up on the WSOP that I've been doing. Its been fascinating reading the really compelling 2008 WSOP stories from Pauly, Pokerati, WCP, and all the other numerous blogs and outlets who, as usual, have done an outstanding job covering the WSOP and all that goes along with it. Sadly, I predicted last year to be the year the pros took back the WSOP to any friends that would listen, but turns out I was a year premature on that prediction.

Anyway, personally speaking, things are about the same as usual. Break even at best. I finally received another bonus offer from Full Tilt, so I put $60 in there, and after working off like $27 of my $30 bonus (which is a pretty big accomplishment for me), in addition to some rakeback, I'm sitting at something like $43-45. In 3 significant sessions I ran pretty decent in the first and ran it up a little over $90, but then played tiltier than I'd have liked and couldn't buy cards in the 2nd two sessions and subtracting bonuses and rakeback, ended up down a good $50 overall at the .05/.10 NL tables. I also worked in one brief session of .25/.50 Limit that was basically break even. Anyway, thank goodness for the bonus and rakeback or I would've damn near gone broke. I ran pretty bad in those last couple of sessions, but I also played equally as badly, so I'm not gonna whine about my results. Looking back, I was more focused on clearing the bonus than I was actually making money playing poker, which is pretty f'n sick, but I'll live to see another day. It would've been nice to show some winnings in addition to the free money, but if I had to use the free money to not go broke, so be it. In the end, I end up with a fair amount of money on Tilt to play with, and with my rakeback there and their Happy Hour promotion, I think I'm gonna focus on it as my cash game site to try and not only try to play more cash games, but get optimum value for my play.

That said, I kind of burned myself out on cash games working to clear that bonus, so for the time being I've gone back to PokerStars and the SNGs I know and love. I'm not comfortable with what had happened to my bankroll on that site, and I'm determined to build a respectable bankroll, and I think I want it to be at Stars. It also doesn't hurt that they're running this 2x promotion during the month of July, and even though my FPP "bankroll" is piss poor at the moment, I would someday like to move up in their VIP program and have some FPPs to mess around with for satellites and whatnot. Also, given that I am a self-proclaimed "SNG Specialist", I would like to at some point get some sort of value out of their Battle of the Planets promo. This may be the week as I have currently gone 3, 1, 7, 2, 1, 2, 7 in my 7 SNGs. Its hard enough for me to play 20 SNGs in a week (I've yet to ever even do it), so I have to focus and make sure my first 20 SNGs are my best 20. So for now, I'm content at the 1.20s and trying to get ITM, but more preferrably 1st and 2nd place finishes for the Battle of the Planets points. With any luck, everything will unfold naturally and maybe next week I can move back to the 5.50s and try the same thing.

I also broke a disgusting run of non-cashes in MTTs on Sunday. As of that point it had been almost 4 months and 18 MTTs (7 of which were the WSOP turbo freerolls which only sorta count) since my last cash. I had forgotten what its like to get past the first 90 mins of a tourney. In the end it was a microcash where I basically doubled my $5.50 buyin, but for me its always more of a pride thing and I feel like I made a good run. Recently, MTTs have been too big of a hit to the bankroll to play too many, so again, I'm hoping to get back to the point where I can play more MTTs, specifically the $20k Guarantee a couple of nights a week, and maybe finally make a real run at some money after playing this game for 4 years. But for now, I'm pretty damn thrilled to cash after 4 months and 11 MTTs.

Incidentally, I did manage to work in a 1/2 NL live session back at the end of May, but there really isn't much to say about it. I posted a $5 loss that felt like a $195 win, considering there was a point where I was $200 deep and had the last of it in the middle. I then made a steady run to recover and walked out of there with what I came in with minus $5 and experience.

I also need to plan in a couple more 1/2 NL sessions between now and August 21st, because we have booked our annual patronage to Vegas, and it is 8/21-8/25. While my good buddy who lives out there unfortunately will be gone for most of it, we are going w/my bro-in-law, so he and I plan on working in plenty of poker, and then it sounds like Jorgen will be back in town on the 24th for one good session before we leave bright and early Monday. So once again I'll be doing my best to work to put together a bankroll and counting down the days to that nice little midday flight out of Des Moines and 4 nights in my favorite place on the planet.

So I guess I am capable of blogging in a positive, or at least even keel manner. Right now, things are looking up. Of course with me, that could all change tonight. But I'm trying to just persevere, focus, and take it one hand at a time. If I could run decent between now and the end of August, I'd be the happiest poker player on the planet. But I'm not gonna get greedy, and I'm not gonna count my chickens before they're hatched. I'm just gonna play 4-5 more SNGs tonight and hope for the best each time the cards are dealt, then do the same thing tomorrow.

Thanks for tuning in, and I'll do my best to keep you posted.