Well I think I'm well overdue for an update at this point. 2011 has been a kind poker year to me thus far. Save a couple of facets, I have sat down, and I have won.
It all started right away on Jan. 1, where I booked a $450 win at the local casino. Overall, it was a pretty routine session. You know, if routine is losing with aces and winning w/53s. Things started relatively slow, but I did get a pretty easy double a ways into the session when I flopped a set of deuces and doubled through. A little later I flopped another set and won another decent pot. So you know it's an above average session when you not only flop two sets, but get paid on both. I then went into a fairly long dry spell, not playing a lot of hands and kind of bleeding, but I rode it out. At one point I picked up rockets and had the opportunity to cash in on a poker "bucket list" item, if you will. The "stacking someone before their chips get to the table". A guy who looked & talked a whole lot like Seth Rogan had just gone broke, and as he was waiting on his chips, he raised in EP. Next player called that raise, and I re-raised. The details are cloudy as to whether I re-raise jammed right there or if he 3-bet & I 4-bet shoved, but regardless, I put him to a decision before his chips got to the table, he thought for a long time & eventually called with queens. And the asian between us came along the whole way, too, for his $70 stack and ended up having something ridiculous like 85 or J8 or something. Anyway, the queen spiked on the turn and I was out $170 profit in that hand and the illustrious stacking of no stack. The weirdest part was that I didn't let it bother me, kept my head in the game, and kept fighting.
At one point a pretty laggy, strong, obvious regular came and sat to my left. At this point this table was a bonafide action table, and part of that included this guy consistently straddling my big blind, and to make matters worse usually raising the straddle if it hadn't been done already. So with my nitty play, I was losing a lot of dead money. It was getting pretty irritating, but I knew I'd get my opportunity eventually. I kept an eye on his play, and noticed he was all about getting chips in the middle, but rarely had a truly big hand. Pretty typical LAG player. Well, my opportunity came, and it came with a most unlikely hand, the 53...but it was suited. Granted, I'm not trying to say I made a good play here, but I just happened to pick this hand to take a shot with, and things ended up working out. I limped the straddle from my big blind, knowing full well he'd pop it. He popped it, and I called. The flop was decent, with a 4 and a 6 of my suit, giving me an open-ended straight-flush right away. I checked, he bet, and I called after a little hollywooding. The turn brought my flush, but being a baby flush, I still wanted to tread carefully. He bet, and I called again. If I recall correctly, the board actually paired on the river, which scared me a little, but I decided that I had the best hand, so this time when he bet, I jammed, and after a lot of thinking, he called and I doubled through. This was one of the bigger pots of my poker life from a self-confidence perspective because I set him up & knocked him down just like I wanted to, and I really got into his head and earned his respect. He completely changed the way he played against me, and grilled me on the hand 3 or 4 times before all was said & done. Granted, it was a marginal situation to get involved in in the first place, but sometimes that's how these things have to start, and the up front risk was worth the reward in the end. One for the good guys, if you will. :-)
So I think that doubled me up to a very healthy stack, and I think I managed to make a little more money, and eventually call it quits around the 5 or 6 hour mark with my 2nd biggest win ever.
I actually had a "higher stakes" home game the next day where we did a $20 buyin (compared to our usual $5) with a smoother structure, and my rungood continued. I was in a really bad spot, all but broke and past the reasonable point of rebuying, but then stuck it in w/A3, doubled, and made my way to 2nd and an $80 profit that day.
I booked a couple of decent home game wins in March with our regular monthly game and a couples game we hosted, but gave a little back at the April game, and at this point I'm to the good close to $600, so not a bad quarter.
As far as online, I was also running good in SNGs on PokerStars before Black Friday and had my PokerStars roll up to a very comfortable level (for me, anyway...) around $250. As for Tilt, where I stick...excuse me...stuck...to cash games because of the rakeback, after having run my bankroll up to a few hundred bucks, I tanked it again trying to clear a bonus a few weeks ago. The Rush Poker gods were NOT kind to me. I made a little recovery when all was said and done, and after transferring $20 to a friend, I think I ended up somewhere around $120.
So...Black Friday. That news hit me, like most online poker players, and likely most a LOT more than even me, hit me like a ton of bricks. Based on others' expert analysis of the UIGEA in '06, my understanding of things was that it wasn't actually illegal to *play* real money poker online, but it was illegal to move money in and out of sites. I built my Stars bankroll from freerolling, which I'm still proud of, and did make a small deposit on Tilt years ago, but otherwise have never moved money on or off sites and had always considered that money "not real" because I didn't want to break the law. I always figured that if I was fortunate enough to run it up I would either transfer to someone who could make the money real for me, or I would cash out once online poker was regulated. Well, now the sky has fallen, so I'm going to have to decide whether that money is real or not. As of right now the DoJ has said that they never intended to freeze player funds and they have agreements with Stars & Tilt to allow the transferring of funds, but what's confusing to me is they came down on the sites for their bank fraud, money laundering, and all these heinous financial crimes, so why/how all the sudden is it OK for players to withdraw and these sites to facilitate that? The conspiracy theorist and weak/tight poker player in me wonders if it is all just a ploy to take things a step further and go after players, and the amount of money I'd be cashing out isn't really worth criminal charges or scrutiny from the IRS. So for now I'm standing pat. If that money can someday be real to me, that's just gravy, but since I've never let myself consider it real money, there isn't a huge mental hurdle to conquer.
As for my general feelings on the matter, it's just really sad. There's plenty to be said about those who played for a living, or who's livings rely on online poker in the US, but for me it was a nice hobby/safety net/means to mentally stimulate myself/way to blow off some steam. I played a few hours a month, but they were a very fulfilling few hours a month, and it's definitely proven to be a lifestyle change for me just to know that's not there anymore. I'll try to get to the casino more, but with a wife and a 20 month old, that's just a pretty disrupting undertaking. I like to play and the best time to play is 8 PM - ?? AM, and that means not only consuming a weekend night, but also needing to sleep in that morning to recover from it. My wife is a saint, and will embrace me, but I still just won't get to play as much as I did when I could sit down during nap and play some cash or sit down after my little one goes to bed and multitable some SNGs, or take a shot at 4 figures in a MTT. So...like I said...it's just sad. I'm confident that eventually online poker will be fully legal & regulated in the US, but by my estimation we're looking at *at least* 3 years, and based on the latest speculation as of this moment, there's a plenty good chance it could be more.
Anyway...I've gotta split. Been nice to get out here on the interwebs and provide an update and do a little spitballing. Ironically, I'm wondering if I'll actually blog a little bit more as an outlet where before I would sit down and play, now maybe I'll sit down & blog. I guess we'll see. I'm hoping to get out to Prairie Meadows as early as this Friday, as it's been 3+ months since getting in some of that real, meaningful poker, and having been watching a lot of Poker After Dark & High Stakes Poker lately, I really need to get my fix.
All the best to everyone on the physical felt, and I'll be in touch.