Thursday, October 26, 2006

Have I Reached Bottom Yet?

The last week has continued the downward spiral in my bankroll.

Last weekend I spent a few hours at the Gila River casino playing during their Aces and Faces Cracked promotion. If you have pocket AA, KK, QQ, or JJ and get beat, you can win $200. The catch is that you have to be the first person in the room to do it, and once it is done, that hand is off the board for the rest of the hour.

On Saturday, I sat at a table for 4 hours and we did not have one winner on the promotion at the table. We also missed every splash pot drawing as well. So it was up to me to be a winner just playing cards. I finished down $45 after having pocket KK beat along with trips running into straights and flushes twice.

I came back on Sunday and this time one person at my table won $200 when his Jacks got cracked. But that was it for the winners. I have played in this promotion for probably 12 hours and the only time I won any money was when I agreed to chop with Robert if either of us won. Robert had his pocket Aces cracked and I was happy mooch a $100.

This past Sunday might be the worst I have ever played. My cards were not that great as I lost with pocket Kings again and with trips again. However, when I did catch a good hand, I missed numerous bets. In one hand I did not even raise with the top full house on the river, because I was convinced that my opponent had the same hand and we were in the middle of the Aces and Faces promotion. I was trying to get the hand over with quickly. There were a couple of times when I was dealt AK under the gun and did not raise, because we were in the middle of the promotion. I lost those hands when someone who would have folded if I had raised, caught a good hand.

I caught myself a couple of times and gave myself a pep talk to play better. But nothing worked. I ended up leaving down $200 after I decided to push my open end straight draw in a kill pot. I broke one of my cardinal rules which is to leave when I am losing. Even if the players are bad and I am playing tight, I need to leave if I am down a buy in. My table image is shot and I need to start over again at a new table or a new day.

Last night I played in the home game freezeout. There were 6 of us, using the new table that I bought for everyone. I played my normal strategy of tight early and looking for good opportunities to double up cheaply. I took some early pots from Greg and Devin.

After about 45 minutes, I started to go card dead and watched as everyone else was really aggressive preflop. Almost every pot was raised preflop. It's the same story every week in that Greg gets hyperaggressive and makes a dumb move. This time it was putting in a 3rd raise all in preflop with Ace-6 offsuit. Craig called him with pocket Queens and busted him.

Usually Devin plays way too passively and either loses all his chips on a bad beat or gets blinded into the ground. For some reason, this week he decided to play a little crazy. He ran some big bluffs including one against me. After Devin's bluff, I was down to $26 with the blinds at $1-$2. Then things started to turn around.

I became a human card rack. I picked up Aces against Devin and doubled up. Then I picked up pocket Kings and flopped a set against Mike. I doubled up there too. I picked up some other high pocket pairs and won some pots. We finally eliminated Jason and it was down to 3 of us with Devin having around $60 and Mike and I having $100 each.

I was dealt 10-7 suited in the small blind. Devin folded on the button and I completed. Mike checked. The flop was 8-9-Q. So I had the open end straight draw. Just to mix things up, I decided to check instead of semi-bluffing. Mike bet the pot and I called. The turn was the 6 giving me the nut straight. I checked again, and this time Mike bet the pot again. I went all in and he called immediately. Mike turned over Q-6 for two pair. I had him drawing to 4 outs and I will be over a 3-1 chip leader heads up. Then the poker gods decided to kick me in the nuts again and dealt the 6 on the river for Mike's full house.

That left me with $0.50 which was all in the next hand and out 5 cards later. The positive of the night is that I felt like I played pretty well. I won most of my bluffs, I lost the minimum on a couple of others, and I got good value out of my strong hands. I just got unlucky. Hopefully the next time I play well, I will get lucky too and win a big amount.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Poker Bully: Political Operative

Anything I can do to get Jon Kyl out of office seems like a good option to save Internet Poker. Here is my latest attempt, a letter to the Poker Players Alliance.

Subject: Senate Race in Arizona

Dear PPA,
The senate race in Arizona is closer than anyone had previously thought possible between Jon Kyl and Jim Pederson. Obviously it would be in the PPA's best interest for Jim Pederson to win this election.
I have attempted to contact Pederson's office to see if I could discover his stance on internet gaming. His office was unwilling to give an opinion. I have heard from other friends, that Pederson's office does not consider this to be an important issue.
I think as the campaign comes to a close, they would be willing to pick up as many votes as possible. Obviously there are possibly thousands of online poker players in Arizona. Has the PPA contacted Jim Pederson about this legislation? Could you tell me how many members of the PPA are Arizona Residents, so I could have some additional information for the next time I try to call Pederson's office about this topic?
Keep up the good work.


Here was the PPA's response:

Hi Larry,
Thank you for your e mail. I have looked at this race between Kyl and Pederson and it is a close race. I will pass on your suggestion about working with Pederson’s camp for this election and the president of the PPA will see this e mail as well.
Thanks for your support,

Jason Chaput
Poker Players Alliance

Monday, October 16, 2006

Progress Report on Goals for 2006

I was in a reflective mood this morning so I thought I would share my list of goals that I set for myself in January 2006. I will tell you the goal and then my comments on whether I have reached the goal or am going to fall short.

Professional Goals

1. $500,000 in production credits in 2006 for my job. My father and I are on track for this goal, but we don't have a lot of slack. We need to keep it up for 3 more months.

2. $95,000,000 in assets under management. Currently we are at 91 MM. It's still possible but looking a little tough. I probably have 1.5-2MM in the pipeline, but some of it will probably not come in until 2007, and we may need a little market appreciation.

3. Qualify for Chairman's Club. This would have taken 600k in production credits so it was in conflict with goal #1. A little too optimistic.

4. One new client from Phoenix Country Club. Nobody yet, however I did get one client to join Phoenix Country Club so that should help in the long run and passing my name around.

Personal Goals

1. Show Michele I love her by doing at least one nice thing for her every week. I think I have lived up to that for the most part.

2. Get Michele pregnant. Baby Jake is due to enter this world on November 17th. This was probably the goal that was the most fun accomplishing. :-)

3. Lose 10 pounds and keep weight at 220. After I set this goal I managed to ballon up to 235. I had recently dropped to 225 and have probably slipped a little since then. It's still possible with a little discipline.

Poker Goals

1. Win over $1,000 in a poker tournament. On 5/29/06 I won over $1,500 in a World Series Main Event Qualifier.

2. 40% in the money and 20% ROI on the $50 SNG's. Not even close. I am currently refocusing on the $20 sits and hope to do well. Now that Party Poker is closed, I am not sure I can get the hand histories from Full Tilt or Doyle's Room into Poker Tracker.

3. 4 table with 2 monitors at 3-6 online with 2 BB per 100 hand win rate. Once Party Poker opened up 6 handed tables, all the fish seemed to move there. I was not as confident in my short handed game and never moved up to that high a level.

4. Win a satellite into the World Series of Poker Main Event. This is the goal that was the most fun trying to achieve, but train wrecked my other poker goals. I tried for the first few months to build up my bankroll to make a satellite run. I hit a bad patch, so my bankroll was not as high as I would have liked. I came very close in a couple of satellites to qualifying, but washed out.

Golf Goals

1. Shoot par for one round of golf. My lowest score over the last 6 months is a 77. The golf gods have conspired against me on this one. I herniated a disk in the summer of 2005 and it took me until January of this year to feel like I was back to 100%. This was just in time for our golf course at Phoenix Country Club to go into the shitter. It would have been a miracle to shoot a really low score on the dirt greens we had early in the year. Finally they hired a new greenskeeper and he shut the course down for the summer as he installed new greens. I could still play other courses in the valley, but I could not practice my short game. The course had reopened on Labor Day in great shape, but it was only for 1 month before they had to shut it down again for overseeding. In the mean time, I had another minor back episode that kept me off the course for a couple of weeks.

2. Handicap of 5 or lower. See above for most of the explanation. With a baby due in one month, this one looks impossible. I would have shoot at least 4-5 rounds in the low 70's to bring my handicap down that far.

3. First place in a golf tournament at PCC. I came really close with my friend Mike, in the Sidewinder in March. We had the lead going into the final round. We ended up losing by 1/2 a stroke.

Financial Goals

1. Save $20,000 in a taxable account.
On 12/31/2005 I had the following:
Cash $17,705
Mut Funds $25,894
Total $43,599

Currently I have:
Cash $9,393
Mutual Funds $35,239
Total $44,632

I have been putting in $1,000 a month into different mutual funds, but apparently I have just been whittling down the cash balance I started with in the beginning of the year. Although, that number is deceiving because I had to write a check in April to the IRS for about $2,400 net in taxes from selling my rental home last year. That was money I had set aside from the sale in 2005, so my cash balance at the end of the year was a little over inflated.

2. Save the maximum in my 401k including company match. I hit the max of $15,000 in my last pay period. This is the first time I have ever maxed out in the dollar category of 401k savings. My first year at Arthur Andersen out of college I maxed out at 15% of my pay, but my salary was only 30k.

3. Rent my house on Carson for $1,200 a month starting in March. I did accomplish this for 6 months. I am now trying to sell the house. I started it at $399,900 and have lowered it to $369,900. Bill seems to think it may need to go down to $350,000 before someone bites. That sucks because the comps 6 months ago would have priced it at least at 400k.

Overall, it's been a pretty good year so far. The main upheaval is the poker section, obviously. It may take until January 2007 for me to get a feel for what I can accomplish with the new online landscape.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Another Shot at a Casino AZ tournament

My friend Jeff has been bugging me for weeks to play with him at Casino Arizona in their Tuesday or Wednesday night Poker Tournaments. Jeff is the one who runs a semi annual tournament at a friends house and wanted to check out the operations of a professional tournament.

Since my weekly Wednesday night game was canceled this week and my wife was busy driving back from Parker, AZ I finally took him up on the offer.

Since you need to get there early to make sure the tournament is not sold out, I arrived around 5:00 PM. I immediately got a seat in a standard 3-6 Hold'em table where everyone was awful. This time my strategy was to try really hard to win the first pot I voluntarily enter. It's so much better for my state of mind and my table image if I start out winning.

Luckily, my 2nd hand was pocket queens. They held up against the loose aggressive player on my left who had pocket Jacks. A while later, I took down a multiple raised pot with a King high straight and I was up $80. Hey, I might get to free roll this $130 tournament if things keep up.

Finally Jeff arrived around 5:45 and I took a break. Jeff did not want to play 3-6 while he waited so we found a 4-8 table with two seats open. I racked up my $180 and sat down with Jeff.

I immediately began to lose my profits. I got a bit unlucky when a guy on my right limped into a multi way pot with pocket Aces. I of course raised on the button with Ace-King. Everyone's in and I hit my King on the flop. Opponent bets, I raise, he reraises, I call. The turn and river I call down. Another guy flops a set of 5's against me when I hit top pair again and now I am back to even.

During my observation of the table from the 10 seat, I notice the young guy in the 1 seat is a really bad player. I happened to notice that he played 2-4 offsuit in early position and drew to an inside straight. He also tended to bet his weak hands.

A few hands later, I am on the button again with pocket 7's. 5-6 people limp in and I limp as well. The one seat bad player raises and everyone calls. The flop is 9-6-2 rainbow. The bad player checks and everyone including me checks around. My guess is he has Ace-King. The next card is a 10 and he leads out. Everyone folds to me. With a little bit of tilt creeping in and the fact that I still have him on Ace-King, I call. The river is a Jack and he bets into me again and I call. He shows 2-7 offsuit and my hand is good.

One round later, I raise with A-J and the one seat calls. I flop the Jack and lead out, he calls. Turn is a low card, I bet he calls. The river puts out a possible straight, so I check. He bets and I call. My hand is good again. Now I am back up to my $80 mark. I tell Jeff that this guy might be my personal ATM.

Eventually I racked up a $65 profit and headed over to my tournament seat. Once again, I get the crappy seat to the right of the dealer. I start with 2000 in chips and 25-50 blinds. The levels are only 20 minutes and there are no ante levels. I believe the only way to win these is to win your first couple of hands, and then double up each round. Once you get to the third level, the average chip stack is about 10 blinds, so basically you have to get called on a push and win a race.

I of course do the opposite. I have Ace-little on the big blind and there are 5 people in the pot. I flop the Ace, but my position sucks, so I check to see what everyone else does. Everyone checks. The turn is another low card which puts a possible wheel out there. This time I bet 300 trying to take it down. Another guy shoves all in for about 1600, and everyone folds to me. I muck it pretty quick and the nice guy shows me his straight.

From there I managed to slowly chip up. I turned a pair of 7's into a flush in a big multiway pot and did not get called when I moved all in. I reraised all in with AK against a raiser and caller. The first raiser folded, but the second guy called. He also had AK so we split up the dead money. I raised a coupld of times preflop with good hands and everyone folded. I even noticed a tell on the guy in the one seat. He would always look at his cards right away and grab chips if he was going to play. I also realized that the guy on his left was pretty tight, so there would definitely be some opportunities to steal. I pulled it off one time with 10-3 suited.

So for a very short time, I was the chip leader at my table with about 15x the blind. After we got to the third and fourth levels, players started to bust at my table and new players arrived with more chips than me. This is when things started to get crazy for the other players at the table.

There were three hands where the two players were all in. One player would be ahead preflop. The other guy would pull ahead on the flop. Then the first player would resuck out on the turn or river. It definitely seemed like you were the underdog if you were the favorite preflop.

I was watching all of this and folding my bad hands, looking for the right opportunity to gather chips. Finally in the small blind, it's folded to me and I look down at A-4 offsuit. I now have 2800 in chips and the blinds are 150-300. I had been watching the player in the big blind in the one seat for his tell. He had not grabbed any chips and he had actually turned around to talk to a friend who was standing behind him.

This looks like an easy steal, so I move all in. "Oh!, I call" he says instantly. I jump up in my seat in shock and say, "Uh, oh" I think the table expected me to turn up complete crap. I turned over my Ace-4, but the big blind has Pocket Kings. Since the underdog had been sucking out, I thought I might have a chance, but my Ace must have been buried deep in the deck. I was left with less than one blind after the blinds went up to 200-400. A few hands later my Ace-Jack fell to King-7 and I was done in 98th place out of 180.

Jeff was very short stacked when I got up. He told me that he wanted to place in the top 80. I told him he would need to win a couple of pots. I guess he listened because he texted me when I got home that he had finished in 44th.

I really wish I could have watched Noah play in a couple of these where he did well. I still find it hard to believe that there is much skill involved in getting to the final table.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Black Sunday for Online Poker

“Bye Bye Miss American Pie, drove the Chevy to the levy but the levy was dry. Those good old boys were drinking whiskey and rye and singing this will be the day that I die”

Don MacClean

Late Saturday night, the US Government may have sounded the death knell for the poker boom. That insider trading, goat fucker, Bill Frist attached language to the Port Security Bill that outlaws financial institutions from letting their customers send money to online gaming sites. It will become a law when President Bush signs it in a week or two. The banks have 270 days from that time, to figure out how to code transactions so they can prevent the unauthorized transactions.

To quote Roman Moroni from the classic movie Johnny Dangerously, “I would like to direct this to the distinguished members of the panel. You lousy cork suckers. You have violated my farking rights. Dis somanumbatching country was founded so that the liberties of common patriotic citizens, like me, could not be taken away by a bunch of fargin iceholes…like yourselves.”

Today when the stock market opened in London, all the publicly traded poker room sites got hammered. I cashed out my 2600 shares of Partygaming at $0.85 a share after buying some at $2 and my original purchase at $3.

So far, Party Poker and 888 holdings have released statements saying when Bush signs the bill that they will freeze all US players’ accounts and they will not be allowed to play on their sites. As far as I can tell, you are still free to withdraw your funds and not face any penalties by US law. I am sure the other poker sites will follow suit.

I did see one post on 2+2 where the site True Poker said they will continue to accept US customers. Since they only have poker on their site and they believe that “poker” does not fall under this new law, that they will be exempt. I sincerely hope that’s true, but I really don’t believe it.

I don’t think True Poker has the financial resources to fight, but Full Tilt might. I sincerely hope that somebody stands up and says, “Please try to arrest us, we would love to fight this battle in court!” That might be the only way to settle the debate on whether Poker is a skill game in the eyes of the US Government.

The other slim chance is that the lobbying efforts of the Poker Player Alliance and others can get a carve out for Poker attached before the 270 days are up or during a vacation session before the Congress officially ends it’s session for the year.

So in addition to the $500 of my bankroll that I lost in September due to learning No Limit Hold’em, I have now lost over $4,800 in the stock market. I figured it was a good hedge since if I lost playing poker, that at least the stock should make money for me. Obviously the legislative piece was not considered in my sophisticated hedging formula.

Just for fun, I am going to make a few predictions and see if any of them come true one year from now. This assumes that I will still be writing in this blog or even playing much poker. That is a big assumption.

1. The World Series of Poker will have its participation cut by at least 60%.
a. The vast majority of the players in the Main Event satellite in online
b. Since no US citizens can satellite in via online poker rooms, the field will be less than 4000

2. A Foreign citizen will win since they will outnumber the US citizens

3. Online poker will still be alive in the US, but just barely

4. The largest online companies like Pokerstars, Partygaming, and 888 will survive and make money in the burgeoning international markets and possibly China.

5. The stock of these companies will not recover to their previous highs.

6. I will only be playing poker in a weekly home game or in Las Vegas
a. My son is being born soon, taking up a lot of my poker playing time
b. I won’t be able to play online and feel my money is safe.
c. The rake in low limit casino poker is so bad, that it is near impossible

to make money in the long term.

I once saw the disintegration of the Internet industry in the stock market in 2000 and 2001. There were a lot of people with rosy predictions that their company would never go away. I often heard the quote of, "The internet is not going away". That took 2 -3 years to unwind.

This past weekend is the same thing, except it is all happening overnight. I would not be surprised to hear of a suicide of a top player who loses his sponsorship, players moving out of the country, or small poker sites taking off with their client's money.