Sunday, March 06, 2011

Goodbye for now

I have decided that I am no longer gaining any knowledge from writing out my poker exploits online. It seems more of a burden than a learning exercise. So for my handful of followers, I will be posting much less frequently.

If I come up with an interesting idea or theory I may hash it out again, but for now I will concentrate on my game in the silence of my home.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

50 Seat Guarantee to PCA Live Blog

I qualified for the $700 satellite into the Pokerstars Carribean Adventure last week for only $21. Today they are running the 50 seat guarantee. Right now as we just started there is a huge overlay as there are only 769 entries. They would have to hit 1186 runners to break even. It may not be so bad when it's all said and done as you can register late for the first 90 minutes and the structue looks very deep.

We are starting with 3000 in chips and the blind levels are 15 minutes each.

Hand #1 I call a raise from the BB with 98o. 3 players to the flop of Q-7-2 rainbow. I check fold.

Hand #2 I call a raise from early position with AQo on the button. Heads up to the flop and it's K-9-K. The raiser makes a c-bet and I fold.

Hand #3 I raise from early positon with AcTc. The small blind calls. I miss the flop but bluff at it. I get called. I miss the turn and check behind. The river comes and I still have Ace high. The sb bets 2x the pot and I let him have it. I'm down to 2,725 in chips. Blinds are still 10-20.

Hand #4 I pick up 99 in middle position. The player to my right open limps and I raise to 80. Everyone folds except the limper. The flop is Ah-6d-2h. He checks, I bet 120 and he folds. My first winning hand! 2,835 in chips and blinds are up to 15-30.

Hand #5 I have Qc9c in BB. Button open raises to 90 and I call. Flop is 6c-8s-Jh. I check and he bets 120. I decided to check raise my gut shot straight draw with one over card. I make it 360 and he calls instantly. Ok I guess I'm done with this hand. The turn pairs my 9. It goes check check. The river is a 5. Should I bluff? I can't pull the trigger and it goes check check and my opponent shows JsTc for top pair. I'm down to 2370.

Hand #6 I have pocket 8's utg plus one. I raise 3x the blind and everyone folds.

Hand #7 I peek at Kd8d on the button. It's folded to me and I try to steal by raising to 90. The tight BB calls. The flop is 6d-Qh-3d. Nice one. It's checked to me and I bet 120. Tight BB folds.

Hand #8 Very next hand I pick up 7s6s and I call an early position raise. Heads up to a flop. I miss again. He bets and takes it down.

Hand #9 KdQd in BB. One early raiser to 80 and the button calls. I call and flop is Ks-7c-5c. I think about leading out but I check to see what the other guys do. They both check as well. Turn card sucks as it is the 8c. Now I bet 200 in case they have a single club. The button calls. The river is the As. I decide to bet 300 because I don't want to give the button a chance to bluff at it. He folds. I am up to 2,745.

I found Liv Boree playing in the satellite as well. I looked up her table and she's stuck at the same table as Shaun Deeb. Ouch!

Hand #10 I'm in the big blind with 3h7d. Two limpers and I check my option. Flop is Qh-Ks-7s. I figure the limpers have small pairs or small suited connectors so I fire out with 3rd pair. It works and I win a small one.

Hand #11 Wheelie111 the chip leader at our table open limps in middle position. I limp in the cutoff with 66. The small blind folds and the BB checks. Flop is 4c-Ks-Qd. BB checks and Wheelie bets 88 into a 140 pot. I float and call. BB folds. Turn is 9s and Wheelie checks. I bet 200 and steal it. I'm back above 3000.

Hand #12 Qs3s in the BB. paushtero in middle position min raises to 100. I call in BB. The flop is Qh-Jd-Js. I check and he bets 150 into a 225 pot. I call. We check down the turn and river. He shows Ah8h and I win.

Hand #13 I pick up pocket Queens on the button. I open raise and win the blinds.

Hand #14 I pick up pocket Kings on the BB. paushtero raises to 150 in middle position. It's folded to me and I reraise to 450. He calls. Flop is Jh-8h-5h. I have the King of Hearts. I bet 500 into the 925 pot. He raises all in and has me covered. I call and he rolls over AhAc. Fuck! The turn is another heart and I'm drawing dead. Busto after 1 hour.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Why Aren't The Games Always This Easy?

The big anniversary trip to Vegas started with a delayed flight. This threw a slight crimp in my plans to meet my friend, Teresa for lunch. Instead of a nice leisurely lunch at a nice restaurant, we were forced to grab a quick bite at a restaurant near the airport. Still it was nice to catch up and it saved me a $20 cab ride to my hotel.

After checking in at Caesars Palace, I decided to see if I could book a massage for Friday. I made a mental note that I was not going to pay more than $200. I asked for the price of a 75 minute massage at the Qua spa and it was $220. Wow! That's more than $3 a minute if you include tip. I said no to the massage and counted myself up $200 already.

I jumped into a $1-$3 No Limit Hold'em game at the poker room and I could tell right away that it was a good game. There was an old married couple in the game and the husband was legally blind with macular degeneration. The dealer had to read the board to him more than a few times. Now just because you're blind doesn't mean you are a bad player, but this guy also loved to call big bets with any pair. Naturally I managed to flop two sets against him when he flopped a pair and took his stack both times.

His wife was not much better, but I never got the chance to pick on her.

After a few hours of profitable poker, I joined my wife and some of her compatriots at the Palm restaurant in the Forum Shops. Dinner was fantastic! We had crab cakes and shrimp for appetizers. I had a filet mignon for dinner that was incredibly tender and cooked perfectly. I also enjoyed some shoe string potatoes and creamed spinach for side dishes and some great chardonnay.

I was so full of wine and food after dinner that I couldn't keep my eyes open and went to bed by 10:00 PM.

I woke up early the next morning and was itching to get back to the poker table. I love to play early and catch the drunks and tired players who have been there all night. Sure enough I sat down and there were two players that had over $1500 in front of them. I quickly figured out they had that money because they were a little crazy. I managed to win a few pots and decided I wanted to play the 9:00 AM tournament.

I was told that they usually get 3 tables for this tournament on weekdays, but there were only 10 players for this one. I won the draw for the button and picked up Queens on my very first hand. I won a small pot and was off to a good start.

I quickly deduced that there were some bad players in this tournament and I could win some big pots if I hit my hands. Unfortunately I had some bad luck and got crippled early. I picked up AQ and raised in late position. The early position limper called my raise and we were heads up to the flop. The flop had an Ace, my opponent checked and I made a 3/4 pot sized bet. He called and we see the turn of a Jack. My memory is a little fuzzy, but I think that put a straight or a flush out there. My opponent checked and I decided to keep the pot small by checking behind. The river was another Jack and this time he led into me with a bet. I figure that I have to call since he could be bluffing after I showed weakness on the turn. He rolls over Ace-Jack for a full house. So he 3 outed me for a big pot and I was down to 15 BB.

A couple of players busted out and I played shove monkey poker for a while and never got called. Most of my hands were weak Aces or middle suited connecters. I knew that the players were getting irritated with me and they were going to spite call me soon. Luckily I picked up two Queens. There was a raise from early position and I pushed all in for 10 BB. He called with Ace-King and we were off to the races. Luckily the Hilton Sisters held up and now I had a stack to work with.

We got down to 5 players and the blinds went up, so I was getting short again. The player who beat me with Ace-Jack earlier had been playing back at me on a couple of my blind steals. This time, he raised in early position. I had the big blind and I pushed all in with As-2s. I like my play here because I definitely had enough to make him fold most hands. Plus having an Ace in my hand made it less likely that he had one as well. And if he wakes up with KK or something nearly as good, at least I have an Ace I can hit.

Shockingly he called and turned up Ad-3d. What a horrible call! Most likely we would have a chop since as long as all 5 cards are higher than a 3, we will have the same hand. Unfortunately I hit my 2 on the turn which ended up giving my opponent a straight.

The $70 I lost in the tournament was my only losing session of poker for the weekend.

After a brief break, I decided to check out the new poker room at the Aria casino. As far as poker rooms go, it's pretty nice but nothing better than the Venetian or Caesars. They do have the Phil Ivey high stakes room, which seems to be inhabited by Jean-Robert Bellande most of the time. He was there when I got there and playing with Jason Mercier, Barry Greenstein, and Todd Brunson.

They opened a new game of $1-$3 No Limit and I sat down to see if my streak would continue. I am starting to hate starting new games. They always play so tight for the first hour.

The Aria was the sight of my "what if" moment of the trip. I picked up AsKd under the gun. I raised to $15 and got 5 callers. The flop was Qs-9s-3s. The small blind led out for $50. He had been playing pretty solid so he probably had a pretty good hand. I called to see what would happen behind me. The player on my direct left, then raised to $150. This cleared out two players and it came back to the small blind. He only had $80 left and he called pretty quickly. The raiser had about $150 left in his stack.

I sat back and did some math in my head. The pot was $405 and it was $100 for me to call. The question was, did one of the other players already have a flush? The under the gun player might, but that would still leave me with 7 outs and a 28% chance at winning the pot by the river. If he had a set, then I have 9 outs and a 36% chance. Instead of calling, I could raise all in for $250. This would make the pot odds $250 to win $555. A little better than 2-1 odds. I knew the player on my left was capable of raising with as little as top pair, so I may have even more outs against him.

I said, "Let's gamble, I'm all in" and pushed my stacks towards the middle. Now the player on my left hesitated. He actually wondered if he was drawing dead. This made me feel better. Even though it was only $150 to win $650, I would think that he would call with almost anything. He finally called and showed Ace-Queen with no spades. The small blind had pocket 3's for a set of 3's.

The dealer flipped over the turn card and it was the 8 of spades! Awesome, this may be the biggest pot I ever win. "Don't pair the board" I commanded the dealer. He didn't listen and paired the 8. Now the dealer tries to make sense of the side pot. He chops it up and sends three 20 chip stacks of $5 chips to me. Wait, what? After 5 minutes of math in my head, I realize that by winning the side pot against the player with Ace-Queen, I only lost $20 in the hand. Hey I'll take that as the consolation prize any day.

Eventually I chopped out a small $50 profit and went back to meet my wife for dinner. We stayed at Caesars and went to the Teppan-yaki restaurant in the hotel. It was a pleasant and quiet dinner. The sushi was excellent and once again, the steak was fantastic.

After dinner we headed to the Bellagio to look at the Christmas display and reminisce about our wedding 5 years ago. After snapping a few pictures and stopping by the bakery back at Caesars for a little dessert, we had run out of things to do. Michele was feeling tired and it was only 8:00 PM. I tried to reach one of my friends who was in town, but he left his phone in the room. Michele graciously offered to let me go play poker while she went to bed.

This had the makings of a disaster, since in most people's eyes I was doing the "wrong thing". But trust me, Michele was going to be asleep within five minutes of getting to the room and I would have been in bed staring at the ceiling for two hours.

I went back to the poker room at Caesars and this time it was hopping. Luckily I got in a game right away. Soon after, a young man in his 30's sat down and whipped out a thick wad of 100's. He bought in for the $500 max and immediately announced that he would raise his first hand without looking at his cards.

He followed through on that promise and kept doing it for the entire time I was there. $25 preflop and at least $25 on the flop almost every hand without looking at his cards. He kept trying to get the guy next to him to join him in the escapades but he wasn't buying it. For whatever reason, this guy was on life tilt and was just looking to gamble. I just tightened up and waited for my opportunity. Finally I got it when I called his raise with Kd 4d in the small blind. There were two other players in the pot and the flop was K-T-6. I checked with the intention of check raising all in. The crazy guy bet $50 and the other two players folded. I raised all in for about $250 and he called. He claimed he had Ten-six but when he rolled over his hand, it was Ten-Eight. My top pair held up and I raked in a nice pot.

One of the dealers was starting to get irritated with the crazy guy because he was betting out of turn and trying to blind raise preflop before the cards were even dealt. A floor man was called and I could feel the situation was going to get tense. I don't have any fun at these types of tables where everyone is on pins and needles. Plus I didn't need the crazy guy to get mad and start playing solid poker. It was 10 PM and I decided to call it another profitable night.

Overall I came out $760 ahead for the trip in one of my most successful trips of all time.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

What's New?

A few quick updates and thoughts:

1. Bill and I started our annual golf bet. $200 for the winner of the best of 10 rounds. We both played awful in the first match and we tied with 92. Our next match should be in a week.

2. My online poker has been stale for the last few weeks. I finished the month of November just barely above $5,000 in the bankroll. That was better than I thought, as it felt like I did nothing but lose in the last week of November. My apathetic play has continued in December, but there may be a cure.

I am heading to Las Vegas tomorrow to celebrate my 5 year wedding anniversary. I should have plenty of time to play poker and hopefully come back with some great stories.

3. The Harry Reid Online Poker Bill. Right now it seems to be dead. Harry had been working for weeks on drafting a bill that he could attach to must pass legislation in the lame duck session of the Senate. It doesn't look like he is gooing to accomplish his goal because Congress can't agree on anything and putting any additional controversy on a bill, is a sure way to get the whole thing shot down.

The basics are that he wants a 15 month ban on all online poker and then the land based casinos can come in and start licensed websites. The last I heard is that it would take an additional 2 years for Full Tilt and Pokerstars to come back since they had accepted U.S. customers during the UIGEA. Plus they were looking to restrict it to U.S. players only.

I would hate to have 15 months without online poker and more than 3 years without Rush Poker. So in a way, I hope we look back 2 years from now and say, "Aren't we glad that first crappy bill failed?"

I understand that some people are desperate for legalized poker, but frankly that is not a world I want to play in. My little money transfers have worked just fine in spite of the Department of Justice cracking down on a few providers. I hope the PPA can negotiate a better deal a few years down the road.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Thoughts on My Play

I have not been very motivated to play lately. It probably has something to do with not having a monetary goal to shoot for. My big profit in October went to help pay the bills instead of something fun. November will probably be a small loss.

I am also suffering from a case of fancy play syndrome. I played in the 3-250 spread limit game at Casino Arizona a couple weeks ago and ran a ridiculously stupid bluff. I had been up around $50 for most of the session and had about 15 minutes left before I had to leave. A younger fellow raised in early position and I called pocket 5's on the button. We were the only two in the pot and the flop was Q-9-3. He made the continuation bet and I decided that I was going to float him and try to take it away when he checked on the turn. The turn was a King. He made another bet. Instead of being smart and giving up, I decided to raise. I put in about 1/2 of my remaining stack. My opponent kind of jumped back in his chair a little bit, so I thought he might actually fold. Then he asked me how much I had left. After I told him, he pushed the rest of his stack into the middle. I folded quickly.

I have noticed that I tend to force the action sometimes at the end of a session. Especially if I had been up early but am down late. I start thinking that I can get back to even with just one good hand. It doesn't hurt me much in limit poker but in these spread limit or No Limit games, it can really kill me. I need to remember that it's just one long session over my lifetime.

Today I decided to play the 11:15 AM tournament at Casino Arizona. There was a pretty big turnout as the board said there was 208 players. I started out pretty well and had doubled my stack by the first break. Inevitably, the blinds were going up faster than my stack and buy the time of the second break I was down to 11 big blinds.

My demise came when I was in the Small Blind. There was one limper and the button raised to 4x the blind. I looked down to find Ad-Kd. I had about 14 BB by this time because earlier I had pushed all in with pocket 6's over the top of a raise by the player on my right. So I knew if I pushed in again, he was likely to call. Plus he started the hand with about 9 BB so he was pretty much priced in with any two.

He did make the call with pocket 10's and I lost the race. I was left with 5 BB and the blinds were going up in 5 minutes.

This is where I am constantly amazed at how tight everyone playes with a short stack live compared to online. My favorite was when I pushed all in for the second time in the round with 10-4 of spades. I was UTG+1 and had 5 BB. It was folded to the BB who was an older gentleman. I did not think much of his game as he tended to overbet when he had a good hand, "to prevent people from sucking out on him". He hemmed and hawed for a few seconds and folded Ace-Ten face up. Looking back on it now, I should have flipped up my cards just for the tilt factor.

A couple of hands later, it folded to me in the small blind and I found QJ. I pushed again but got called by K-9 of clubs. My opponent turned a King and I was drawing dead. I finished in 70th place.

One of my original goals for the year was to qualify for the Pokerstars Carribean Adventure. I would still love to give it a shot, but so far their qualifiers have sucked. I like satellites that have multiple seats to give a way and a cheap way to qualify. It seems like most of the satellites I see only have one or two seats available. I hate to play for a few hours and end up with $100. Maybe the frequency will pick up here in the last month.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Biggest Tournament Score To Date!

Sunday was supposed to start off with a White Label $15k free roll due to my rakeback agreement with Full Tilt. While I played that one, I figured I would have another tournament going at the same time to ease the boredom. So I fired up a $26 Rush Poker tournament on Full Tilt.

In the free roll I went bust in the second hand with my QQ vs. J2s. He called my reraise preflop and then flopped the flush draw with an open ended straight draw. He got there on the turn and I was done before I started my sandwich.

Luckily the Rush tournament was in full swing and I did not have an excuse to turn off the computer.

I ran incredibly hot in this tournament. As an excercise, let's look at all the hands I came from behind in, or had a slightly best hand hold up.

1. My A8o vs 77 I hit 8 on the river
2. My AA vs K4, my opponent hits K on flop, but has no idea and loses his stack
3. My JJ vs ATs, my opponent flops an Ace but checks the flop. The turn gives me a flush draw, so I call his bet. The river gives me a Jack and I squeeze a raise in on the river.
4. My AQo vs AKs, I raise preflop, and opponent reraises all in for 10x the blind. I hit King on the flop, Jack on the turn, and Ten on the river.
5. My KQs vs TT, I open raise from sb and opponent comes over the top to put me all in. I call and flop a Queen.
6. My K9o vs AQo, I raise all in preflop and get called by shorter stack with AQo. I hit the 9 on the flop.
7. My AJo vs A2o, I raise utg and a short stack reraises all in from BB with A2o
8. My A9o vs Q8o, My opponent tries to steal from button and I call all my chips with Ace high and it holds up.
9. My 75o vs A5o, He steals from SB and I call. Flop is 6s 4s 7h. He shoves for 30k when the pot is 10k. I call and win.
10. Final table now: my 99 vs AJ holds up and gives me chip lead
11. Short stack goes all in utg with J8s, SB tries to isolate and reraises all in with A6o. I wake up with AA in BB and knock them both out.
12. 3 handed. I have KTo in BB. Button raises and I call. The third player who is out of the hand is chatting about a deal. I have already checked the box to say I am open to discussing the chop 3 handed. My opponent is the lone hold out. Flop is Th 8s 7d. I check, he bets, I raise all in, he snap calls with AA. Turn is a third Ten for me and I knock him out.

That my friends is called running very good.

The play stopped and I was surprised that Full Tilt has a decent screen to discuss deals. We said ok on an ICM split which is a mathematical formula based on our current chip counts. I walked away with $1450 and first place.

Except for my WSOP satellite win, I believe that is my biggest score ever.

And I wasn't done. While this Rush craziness was going on, I was also in a $26 knockout tournament. We started with 3,387 players. You get $4 for every player you knock out, plus the normal prize distribution.

I ran pretty good in the tournament as well and with 215 players left, I was 4th in chips.

Unfortunately I did not adjust to the ramped up aggression as we got into the later stages. I kept trying to raise small and fire small continuation bets. Instead of taking down pots, I was constantly raised off of my hands.

I finally got short and pushed all in and ran into a good hand. I finished in 100th place for a small win of $100.

Overall, one of my best weekends of tournament poker ever!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

FBI Cracks Down on Pokerstars in Arizona

I saw this interesting blurb in this mornings business section.


For Immediate Release
September 15, 2010      United States Attorney's Office
Southern District of New York
Contact: (212) 637-2600
Arizona Bank That Received TARP Funds Agrees to Forfeit Profits from Processing Online Gambling Payments
Bank Also Agrees to Implement Internal Money Laundering Controls to Comply with Federal Bank Secrecy Act

PREET BHARARA, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, NEIL M. BAROFSKY, the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program ("SIGTARP"), and JANICE K. FEDARCYK, the Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation ("FBI"), announced that the GOLDWATER BANK, N.A. ("GOLDWATER BANK"), located in Scottsdale, Arizona, entered into a settlement agreement requiring it to forfeit $733,804.92 to resolve civil forfeiture claims alleging that the funds are traceable to property involved in money laundering, to proceeds of an illegal online gambling business, and to property used to operate an illegal online gambling business. GOLDWATER BANK previously received funds through the Capital Purchase Program of the Troubled Asset Relief Program ("TARP"). As part of the settlement, GOLDWATER BANK agreed to implement anti-money laundering and Bank Secrecy Act controls to safeguard the investment made by U.S. taxpayers in the bank against future risks.

According to the Complaint and Stipulation and Order of Settlement filed in Manhattan federal court:

Between January and May 2009, more than $13,335,248.91 in funds traceable to Pokerstars, an online gambling company based in the Isle of Man, and other offshore online gambling companies were deposited in a bank account at GOLDWATER BANK held by ALLIED WALLET, INC. These funds were traceable to several sources, including wire transfers from outside the United States by individuals and entities who knew that (a) the funds involved represented the proceeds of the illegal transmission of gambling information and the operation of an illegal gambling business, (b) the transfers were made in order to promote the carrying on of an illegal gambling business, and (c) the transfers were designed in part to conceal or disguise the nature, location, source, ownership, and control of the proceeds of the illegal transmission of gambling information and operation of an illegal gambling business.

During this same time period, ALLIED WALLET, INC., paid GOLDWATER BANK for processing automated clearing house ("ACH") transactions, including payments in the form of ACH transactions to and from the bank accounts of online gamblers located in the United States who were using and other gambling websites to engage in online gambling. These ACS transactions typically involved payments from players to the gambling websites for credits used in online gambling and payments to the players for their online gambling winnings.

On August 16, 2010, ALLIED WALLET, INC., ALLIED SYSTEMS, INC., and their owner AHMAD KHAWAJA entered into a settlement agreement requiring them to forfeit the $13,335,248.91 traceable to Pokerstars and other offshore online gambling companies.

GOLDWATER BANK asserts that it did not know that the ACH transactions requested by ALLIED WALLET, INC., were being made to promote an illegal online gambling business. However, GOLDWATER BANK has agreed to forfeit $733,804.92, an amount equal to the net income that it received to process these ACH transactions. In addition, in order to safeguard the United States’ investment in the bank through TARP, GOLDWATER BANK has agreed to develop and implement internal anti-money laundering procedures, to comply with the Bank Secrecy Act, and to create internal training programs and an independent audit function to ensure that its compliance is effective.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney PREET BHARARA said: "Today's forfeiture underscores that banks, particularly TARP recipients like Goldwater Bank, should not profit from the fruits of criminal conduct. The internal controls that Goldwater Bank must implement will help to ensure that such conduct will not be repeated. We will continue to work with our partners at SIGTARP and the FBI to ensure that financial institutions remain ever vigilant regarding the provenance of the funds that they process."

TARP Special Inspector General NEIL M. BAROFSKY said: "Today's charges and settlement should send a powerful message to TARP recipients that they will be held strictly accountable for any misdeeds while they stand as custodians of taxpayer dollars. SIGTARP commends the leadership of the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York for his continued use of both civil and criminal remedies to protect taxpayer interests."

FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge JANICE K. FEDARCYK said: "Although Goldwater Bank denies guilty knowledge of its role in facilitating an illegal online gambling business, it was paid to execute transactions that were essential to the operation of this criminal enterprise. The forfeiture settlement means the bank won’t profit by providing this service. The FBI remains committed to vigorous enforcement of the laws against illegal online gambling."

Mr. BHARARA praised the investigative work of SIGTARP and the FBI in the case.

This forfeiture action is being handled by the Office’s Asset Forfeiture Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorneys JEFFREY ALBERTS and ARLO DEVLIN-BROWN are in charge of the prosecution.

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