Monday, June 30, 2008

Training For The Big Day

I took a little trip to Casino Arizona to play the 5-150 Hold'em game on Friday. I wanted to put myself in some pressure situations before I get to Vegas.

Let me just say, that I hope my first table at the WSOP is as easy as this one was. The whole table was loose passive and played ABC poker after the flop. If they had a hand they bet and if they missed they checked or folded.

I won $300 in 90 minutes and I don't think I ever had to show down a hand. It helped that I picked up some good hands, but I ran an occasional bluff as well. Every move I made worked. It was definitely a nice confidence builder.

As far as the World Series, I received an email from Full Tilt regarding the free clothes they are supposed to send me. They said it usually takes 3-6 weeks for the package to arrive. That is pretty stupid as I won the tournament to get into the Main Event exactly 3 weeks before the World Series starts. They did mention that I can visit a suite at the Rio and pick up some clothes there with the Full Tilt logo, so it's not a big deal.

I did not have much luck on selling pieces of myself. My friends Mike and Allan have bought 1% each and I swapped 1% with the Blogfather himself (check out his epic blog

So I have diversified a little. I told Michele that I felt it was ok to put my $2,000 in travel funds towards the poker bankroll, since I was going to spend the money to go to the World Series, whether I qualified online or not. Surprisingly my own Father said "no" on buying 1%. More surprising was that he said he would be more inclined to buy a piece of me, if I put the whole $12,000 in play and tried to run that amount up playing online.

My next post should be from Las Vegas!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Plan of Attack at WSOP

World Series of Poker Preparations

I have been floating on air for over a week since I won my seat into the Main Event. I think about it at work and I dream about it at night. I can’t remember being this excited about going out of town since my first trip to Pebble Beach. The money from Full Tilt hit my bank account yesterday, so we are all set to go. Good job on Full Tilt's part by sending the money quickly and only charging $18 for the wire transfer.

Here is the current plan for my World Series Experience. Michele and I will drive to Las Vegas on the morning of July 4th. We should pull into the Rio by lunch time. After we get checked in, I will go downstairs and make sure I get registered for the Main Event. I am planning to play on Sunday July 6th which is the last of four day 1’s. If I make it through day 1, I will play again on Tuesday July 8th.

After I take care of business on Friday, I will have some fun with the wife and go out to a nice dinner and probably take in a movie. Saturday morning I am going to play a round of golf with my friend Jason, who lives in Las Vegas. After cooling off from the golf, I am sure I will hang out with the wife for a while and maybe take in the Poker Life Expo. In fact I would like to attend Gus Hansen’s book signing at 2:00 PM and have him sign my book.

When I find the time, I am also going to check out the satellite room and play in some one table tournaments. I have read in numerous places that the games are incredibly soft, plus it will keep me sharp for the tournament. I may also sneak over to the Venetian and play some 1-2 No Limit.

My big day will start Sunday at noon. My wife will drive back home alone and I will be left alone to concentrate on the poker. It would be comforting to know she is in town supporting me, but we can’t leave our son with my parents for that long without it feeling like a big imposition on my parents’ time.

Right now I am planning on sending emails to my blogger account with updates. That way, any of my friends that want updates, can just pull up my blog. I do not plan on answering my phone while I am playing, so don’t bother calling me and asking for an update.

The Summer of Larry

Stolen from Seinfeld when George declares it's the Summer of George when a little good luck finds him.

My good run continues. I skipped out of work early yesterday to play 3-6 limit hold’em at Casino Arizona. My goal for the session was to practice my discipline and to try and identify tells.

My definition of discipline in this game is to stick to my tight starting hand requirements and to fight the urge to bluff into players that will always call.

I was up and down in the beginning of the session, but then I caught fire and booked a $137 profit.

My first big win was with pocket Kings. There was a raise from an early position player wearing sunglasses and a baseball hat. This player was over-confident and liked to talk about how good a player he was. I had already seen him run a few bluffs and show the table, so he was definitely loose and aggressive.

I was one off the button and re-raised. We got one cold caller in the blind and the cocky player came along. The flop was T-8-3 all different suits. The blind checked and the cocky boy bet into me. I raised and the blind folded. The initial bettor called.

The turn was a beautiful King. He checked to me this time and I bet my set of Kings. He check raises me. I think he may have a set of Tens or 8’s or possibly Aces but that seems unlikely since he probably would have capped it preflop.

I raise it back and he calls. Now he is acting worried. I know it’s an act, because every time he acts worried, he bets or raises.

The river was a Jack. Cocky boy checks and I bet. He hems and haws and then raises me again! Now Ace-Queen would be the nuts, but even he would not go that crazy on the flop and turn with those cards. I am about 95% sure I have the best hand so I raise again. He calls and says show me your Kings. I oblige and rake a monster pot.

It takes a second to register because I am so excited to be stacking up my chips, but he had turned over T-3 for two pair. Cocky guy continued to talk (complain) about the hand in a manner where he claimed to get unlucky that I hit the two outer on the turn. I validated him by saying that I am running good and that I was lucky. Then I came back with this… “you know you could have saved a lot of money by not raising with Ten-Three.” He nods and shuts up for a few minutes.

I also hit another great hand when I flopped a set of 5’s, my two opponents had the straight draw and the nut flush draw respectively. The turn brought the straight, but the river paired the board and I raked in another monster.

These hands got me to thinking. Maybe in 3-6 no fold’em hold’em, I need to play a little differently. Even when I had really strong hands, like pocket Kings or the set of 5’s, I needed to get lucky to win the pot because someone had caught better.

In Ed Miller’s book on low limit hold’em, he constantly talks about protecting your hands. You would do this by betting and/or check raising and charging your opponents for their draws. I am starting to think that one pair hands are not worth much in these games and maybe are not worth protecting. Let me give an example.

Let’s say I have King-Queen in late position. There are 4 limpers and I limp along. Both of the blinds come in as well and there are 7 players to the flop. The flop is K-T-4. There are some early checks and a middle player bets and one calls. So there are 9 small bets in the pot. I could raise which gives some of the players 2 bets to win 11 to call and the initial bettor and caller even better odds. There is no draw you can get to fold here. Even a small pair drawing to 2 outs is not going to fold. They should fold because they need 22-1 and they are getting in the range of 12 to 1. Maybe they can get there with implied odds in a multiway pot, but it’s doubtful.

The turn could be any card. Odds are with this many players in the hand, it will help someone. It will give someone a pair, or straight draw, or a flush draw. My normal play would be to find a way to raise the turn. I now think there is something to be said for just calling along. It’s important to limit your losses in the big multi-way pots with medium strength hands.

If I raise, I may lose a couple of players and get a couple of calls. Let’s say I put in 2 Big Bets and we lose 4 players but two others make the call. That means that 6 Big Bets go into the pot and 2 of them are mine.

If I call, let’s assume that 4 players come along for one bet. That means there is the initial bet, my call, and three others for 5 big bets in that round. I put in one bet to win four. My ratio is better and I have invested less money.

Now there are some who would say, that I increase my odds of winning the pot if I eliminate some opponents. The problem is that by raising, I am forcing them into the correct play which is folding. If they are way behind and drawing to 4-6 outs, I am better off getting another bet from them in the pot.

As for high suited connectors and suited Aces, I think you should do what you can to build a big pot preflop. If you hit the flop with the open ended straight draw or flush draw, just figure out a way to get two bets in on as many streets as possible. You are 2-1 to hit your draw by the river and any bet you make into the pot is giving you far better odds. Then you just have to run good and hit your draws.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Main Event Satellite Sunday

There are two big Main Event satellites today. I just started the Poker Stars 200 seat give away after some finagling with their deposit system. I finally got the money to the site 20 minutes before it started.

Over 8000 players for 226 seats currently. We started with 5,000 in chips and 10-20 blinds. Lots of play and if I go far, this could take forever.

Pair of 7's on button. I call a cut off raise. Flop is all under cards. I raise the raiser's cont bet. He calls. The turn is an Ace. He checks and I figure it scares him so I bet half pot, he calls. The river gives me a straight. He checks, and I bet 1000. He folds. Now up to 6000.

I had a gutshot straight draw on turn with 4 others in the pot. I called 120 and missed. The river completed a flush draw. Everyone checked to me on button and I decided to bluff at it for 350. I was called by Ace-Queen with a rivered two pair. Stack at 5685.

Ace-5 of clubs late position. I call an early limp and the blinds come along. I flop a flush draw. The initial limper leads out for 100 and I call. The blinds fold. The turn misses and we check it through. The river is an ace. I value bet 200 and get called by Jack 9. Good bet by me on the end. Stack is 6655.

Pokcet Jacks in early position. I call a 3x raise by under the gun. Two others come along. The flop is K-4-6. The initial raiser bets 150 into a 600 pot. I read as weak and raise to 450. He calls. the turn is another baby. I bet 700 and he check raises me. I fold. Down to 5100.

There is an overlay of 9 seats in the Full Tilt 150 seat guarantee. That's surprising.

I am finished in the Poker stars at 3917th place. I picked up pocket 6's in the big blind and reraised. It was enough for him to lay it down, but he decided to call with A8o. I faded the flop, but the turn and river brought Aces and I'm out.

In both tournaments for the last hour, all my continuation bets seem to be check raised. Very frustrating.

I have 6,230 out of a 5,000 starting stack in the Full Tilt. I flopped the nut straight against a loose aggro player, but could only get 1000 chips out of him. I haven't done much since. I am still shocked they did not meet their quota. I already have a better chance of winning a seat in this tournament after an hour than I did after 3 hours in the Poker Stars tournament.

I have 8440 after an hour of absolutely no cards. I am trying to keep my patience. The US Open is almost over. I hope Rocco Mediate wins. 1728 players left and I'm a little below average in chips.

AsJs in cutoff. Call a raise to 700 from early position. REally loose aggro guy calls in blind. 2400 in pot, flop is 2h-Ts-3s. Both check to me and I bet 1200. Loose blind calls and initial raiser check raises for the rest of his chips. It's 3700 more to call. I am getting 2.5-3 to 1. I figure I have to call. Loose guy folds. Opponent turns over Ks9s. I have him dominated. Turn is Td. River is 9h and he sucks out. I am down to 3000 chips.

Just reraised a button steal with As5c. He called with JTo. By some miracle my hand holds up and I am back to 6,740.

Tiger Woods is not human. He ties Rocco Mediate with a birdie on 18 and they will have a playoff tomorrow. At least now I can concentrate on the poker full time.

I am whittled down to 4698. Blinds are 200-400 with 50 ante. I pick up Ace-Ten suited and push all in. I get called in two places. Not a good sign. My opponents turn over QQ and Ace-King. Then a miracle occurs and the flop is 2s-Ah-Tc. I am now in the lead. I pick up the flush draw on the turn with a 4s. The river is a harmless 5c and I triple up to 15,000.

I picked up AA and JJ in back to back hands. I had to see a flop with both, but won each pot. I am up to 18,394. I am 326 out of 1071.

The guy on my right takes out the loose aggro crazy guy that has been calling all my preflop raises. JJ vs AQ and the Jacks hold up. Maybe I can do a little more stealing now?

I raise an early limper from the small blind with J2s. He folds. Two hands later I steal the blinds with Q9o. The blinds are 250-500 with 50 ante. I am now closing my eyes when stealing and concentrating on the music I am listening to. I don't like the stress of watching their time whittle down before they fold. I pick up 7's and raise. Scary Tiger who has me covered reraises to 4000. I reluctantly fold.

I raise Ace-Jack offsuit in cutoff to 1500. Button raises to 4000. I think about for a bit and call. Flop is K-J-6 rainbow. I lead out for 4,000 and button folds. I felt like he may be trying to steal my preflop raise since I had been active lately and laid down to a reraise the last time. The 4000 was all I was going to put into the pot if he called or raised.

The guy who sucked out with K9 against me, just went bust with KK versus Ace-King. Poor guy. ;-)

thepokerbat who is chip leader, opens in cutoff for 2400. I reraise all in for 20,744 with Ace-King of hearts in the small blind. He hollywoods for a bit and folds. My stack is up to 24,269. I am 250 out of 801.

I don't know how these online pros sit through these huge tournaments on Sundays. I would be bored out of my friggin mind!

I try to steal with 63o against the two tightest blinds and one of them reraises me. I'm down to 20,000. Blinds are 400-300. 700 players left.

Ace-King in back to back hands. I win blinds and antes both times. Back to 24k.

We are going on break and I have 22,124 in chips. Next blind level is 500-1000 with 125 ante. There are 617 left and I am right in the middle.

I raise aJo under the gun. I am reraised by Scary Tiger who is chip leader. I fold and lose 3000. Two hand later, Scary Tiger raises when I am in small blind with Ace-Jack of clubs. I reraise all in and pray he folds. He teases me a little while and lays it down.

I raise pocket tens and Scary Tiger reraises to 7600. It's push or fold time. I push and he calls fairly quickly with pocket 6's. My tens hold up and I double up to 45,000. I am briefly the chip leader at my table.

That fucker Scary Tiger reraised me again when he was in the small blind. I called with J-To. The flop misses and he bets 12k into a 17k pot and I fold like a girl. Grrrrrr. Down to 36k

I just laid down Ace-King off to a raise and reraise all in by Squirrely1 who has a vpip of 8%. Good fold???? PokerGPScom folded to the reraise.

QQ in big blind. Late position raise to 3600, I put them all in. They call with pocket 6s and the Bitches hold up. Very next hand I get pocket Kings. Same thing, a 20k stack raises to 3600 and reraise all in. The big blind calls and the initial raiser folds. He turns over JJ. Makes a straight draw on turn, but bricks out the river. I NOW HAVE 94,607 IN CHIPS AND AM CHIP LEADER BY 30K AT MY TABLE. I am 6th out of 434.

I call a 7x all in raise with Kh9h. He has K8 and I hold up. I am over 100k briefly. I lay down pocket 7's to a raise while I am in the small blind. The short stack in the big blind goes all in with TT and the initial raiser calls with pocket Kings. Whew!

I have 61 BB in my stack. I feel like I should play snug. The average chips when the 150 seats are awarded is 112,833. Maybe I should steal from other big stacks with the same idea????

Pocket 9's in middle position. I raise an early limper to 7,000. Everyone folds. Stack is 104,404.

New table. I have Full Tilt Pro Matt Sexton at my table so there is a $200 bounty if I bust him. He has 55,964 currently and he's on my right. One other stack has me covered at 114k. I have big lead on everyone else.

I raise K7o figuring no one knows me. UncleDap with 25k reraises me all in and I fold.

A2o early and I raise to 6k. The blinds have medium stacks and I figure they won't get involved. I am right and climb back above 100k for a little bit. Ace-ten on button, first in raise and blinds fold. I am currently chip leader at my table by 26,000.

Blinds are 1200-2400 with 300 ante. I have been snug the last couple of rounds. I raise Ah2h and win blinds. 96k in stack.

I raise KhQh in middle position to 7200. Vonder87 calls on button. Flop is 5h-Js-3h. I check, he bets 12,000. I raise to 30k with the flush draw and over cards. He thinks forever then folds. I am a stress puppy. 116,854 in chips.

Pocket 7's and I call a min raise in position. Flop is J-4-5 with 2 clubs. He bets 5600 into pot which seems weak. I raise to 17,000 to see where I am at. He folds. Next hand I raise KdJd to 9,000 and get called for 8,000 by short stack in BB. His pocket 8's hold. I am at 125,280 in chips.

Pocket 8's and win the blinds. I can't believe there is 7,350 in every pot preflop. That's sick. I told myself I would wait until 9:00 PM to check the status of survivors. Here we go....237 left.

Blinds up to 1700-3400 with 400 ante. 8700 in every pot now. I am 32 out of 230 with 114,030. Can you tell from my writing that I am nervous????

Ace Queen in back to back hands. First one, nisse100 has raised 3 straight hands to the minimum of 6800. I reraise to 20k and win the pot. Next hand I just call his min raise. Miss the flop but he bets 5600 and I call. Turn he bets 17k and I fold.

Pocket 3's in bb. Matt Sexton min raises and nisse100 calls. I call getting 5 to 1. the flop is 8-8-2 and nisse100 leads out for 3400 into a 20,000 pot. I raise to 18k. Matt folds and nisse100 calls. The turn is a 2. He fires a small bet again and this time I fold.

Next hand is QsJs and it's folded to me in Small blind. I steal. My stack is down to 93,000.

AKo in middle position. I raise to 10k and everyone folds. 101,430.

I have folded away to 84,330. I had AcJc in bb and Matt Sexton pushed all in for 30k. It looked desparate and I could win a $200 bounty if I bust him. I could not pull the trigger. All I need to do is win a couple of blind steals and I'm right back where I need to be. Or pick up Kings or Aces.

Matt Sexton goes out reraising AK into Queens. AZpoker72 on my left flopped quad Queens and won the $200 bounty.

Blinds are 2500-5000 with 600 ante. I try to raise T8o first hand from the break. UncleDap with over 100k reraises me and I fold. I am down to 69,530. 114 out of 193. I need a hand.

56k left in BB. Another short stack on button raises all in and I have ace-8. I talk myself into calling half my stack. I have the best hand as he turns over Q-6 offsuit. However he hits a 6 on flop and I don't improve. Down to 23,150 and in deep shit.

I push all in with K7o on button and get a fold. Whew! 181 left and I am 171.
The short stacks are trying to stall on every hand now. I hate this as all it does make the blinds go up faster for the other shorties. Speak of the devil now they are 3000-6000 with a 750 ante. I have 35,450.

KTo 3 from button. I push and get no callers. 49,700 now. This tournament is 7 hours old now.

Due to stalling the blinds are now 4000-8000 with 1000 ante. I am down to 35,200. I keep getting raises in front of me, so no chance to be first in with raise. We are at 171 left.

Pocket 9's and nisse100 raises to 16000. I reraise all in to 35000. Everyone folds including nisse100 getting over 3 to 1. Thanks I guess. A double up would be nice, but I will gladly take survival. Now 70,200 chips.

Pocket 9's again and all in for 60,200. No callers. Up to 88,200. I am 94 out of 164. Some breathing room for a while.

Folded to me in small blind and I have Ace-2 of clubs. I push 11x the blind into a big stack on the blind. I'm counting on him to not want to get involved. He folds and I am at 93,200. Blinds up to 5000-10,000 with 1,000 ante. I am 76 of 163. Time to sit and wait.

I am 82 out of 157 and it's taking forever! Sitting on 89,200. I can't believe there were 3385 runners in this thing and I am one of 155 left. I have been blinded down to 61,200, but I think I am still ok. I am 114 out of 155. I wonder how much money I would have won if this was a regular tournament?

3 more to go and I am low, but not low enough to get involved without Aces or Kings. One player at my table has 2910 left and will be all in in the next two hands just from the 2k antes. Nisse100 is taking all of his 90 seconds of time bank now. I may have to drink another beer.

Ooooohh one more and it's hand for hand. The guy at my table will be all in on this next hand. I hope the big stacks are smart enough to limp in and gang up on him.


Saturday, June 14, 2008

3rd Annual Munds Park Golf and Poker Bash

Rob, Ryan, Adam, Curtis, Marty, and I all went up to Munds Park just outside of Flagstaff for our annual golf and poker weekend. This time we left on Thursday night and were planning on coming back Saturday morning so we can all be back for Father's Day on Sunday.

I decided to drive by myself since I didn't want to try and squeeze into Adam's Corolla. I told Rob and Adam to meet me at the Cliff Castle Casino, 30 minutes south of Munds Park. I arrived at the casino at 8:30 PM and sat immediately in a 3-6 hold'em game. Since there were only two tables running in the entire room, I didn't think I would be hard to find, even though my back was to the entrance.

The game was juicy as there was lots of raising with mediocre hands and lots of chasing straights and flushes. I wish I knew how to crack these types of games, though, because I never seem to win at them. It was tortuous raising up Ace-King or Ace-Queen and having to check the flop against 3-5 other players after I missed. Then to stick it to me even more, at least 5 times after I folded, the cards I needed came on the river. The best hand I had all night was two pair with a flush draw on the turn. I missed the flush on the river, only to find out my two pair was beat by a higher two pair of Queens and fives.

Around 9:15 PM my phone starts going crazy. It's Rob and Adam trying to call me. The reception is shitty and the voice mail I get sounds like they are calling from their car with the wind blowing through the windows. They say they looked for me in the casino and couldn't find me. I have some doubt that they even came into the casino because how friggin hard is it to find a 6'4" white guy between two tables of poker in an indian casino! And why didn't they try to call my phone while they were looking for me in the casino?

Since all they were going to do when they got to Munds Park was sit around and drink, I was in no hurry to get there. Plus I was stuck $80 and wanted to win my money back. It turned out to be another bad decision as I dropped another $50 and left down $130.

Friday was golf day. Rob is not a big fan of golf and prefers to play scrambles even though he's a decent player. We decided to split up the 6 of us into two threesomes and play for $10 a man in a scramble format. It was Marty, Curtis, and I versus Rob, Ryan, and Adam.

I broke one of the cardinal rules of betting on golf when setting up this bet. If you are going to bet, you have to trust that players you are playing against are going to respect the rules of the game. Since Rob and Ryan do not take the game seriously at all, and there were going to be many adult beverages involved on the course, I did not have a good feeling going into the day.

I told Marty and Curtis that the most important thing for us was to avoid making any bogeys. Marty is about a 24 handicap, and Curtis about a 18. I am currently about a 9. We started off well and birdied the first par 5. The second par 5 was a bit of a disaster.

I hit a great drive that gave us 200 yards to the green. Marty and Curtis did not come close to the green. I hit my hybrid and it started right at the pin. Halfway there, my slice kicked in or the wind kicked up, I'm not sure, but the ball headed towards the right hand side of the green. It curled further right and it looked like I was a little short and to the right of the bunker.

We drove up and could not find my ball. It should have been right out in the open. I even called Adam back from ahead of us to ask him if he'd seen it. He confirmed that it was short and right. We still could not find it. So we had to go back to Curtis' ball that was 100 yards short of the green and had a tree in our way. We managed to make a par after I made a 10 foot putt. Adam had come back again to find out what happened. We told him we made par, and then we found my missing ball right where it should have been. So that cost us a stroke.

My team was ahead by one or two shots most of the day. Marty and Curtis were hitting some good shots and I picked us up when it was needed. We could have been looking a lot better, but I had left 3 different putts about 4 inches short that were for birdie or eagle.

Suddenly after finishing 15 Rob tells us that they are 4 under par. We were 3 under and in shock that we were behind. I had not seen them celebrate any big putts in front of us so I was a bit skeptical. Curtis outright accused them of cheating.

Now that we are one behind, we decide to watch them like a hawk. Number 16 is a par 3 and none of them hit the green. They played their second shot from behind the green and hit a bad chip. We then watched all of them miss their par putts. Bogey and we are tied.

Marty steps up and hits a slice into the bunker. Curtis hits his standard hook way to the left. It's up to me to save the day. I hit a 6 iron and land it on the left side of the green about 40 feet from the pin. Curtis putts his ball past the hole and off the green. Marty leaves his 6 feet short. I putt my ball to 3 feet and we make the par. We are still tied.

Seventeen is a par 4 with a lake on the left of the fairway, and a drainage creek on the right. Ryan, Adam, and Rob are out in the fairway and it looks like they hit their approach shot on the green. Marty is first off the tee for us and hits his ball into the creek on the right. Curtis then hooks his drive into the lake. The pressure is on again. I hit a solid drive but it started down the left side very close to the lake. I thought I had hit a bit of a hook, but luckily it started to fade a little and took a nice hop to the right and ended up in the middle of the fairway, 100 yards from the pin.

This time I decide to hit first and stick my wedge to 5 feet away above the hole. When we get to the green, Adam tells us that they birdied the hole so we are one back. No problem as we have three trys from 5 feet to tie again. Marty misses right, Curtis misses left, and I miss left. Fuck!

Adam, Ryan, and Rob par 18 and Marty manages to hit his shot closest on the green. We have 20 feet with a 2 foot left to right break to tie. None of us hit the putt and the bad guys win. Curtis swore he wasn't going to pay. I was just going to wait until later in the night when the booze kicked in to see if I could gather any more information. Worst case, it's only $10 and it's not worth arguing over.

After golf it was time for a steak dinner and relaxing on the porch. Next was a $20 per man freezeout in poker. I was surprised they wanted to play a tournament after last year's took so long. This time I made sure it would be over quickly. $1000 in starting chips and 5-10 starting blinds.

The very first hand I pick up Ace-King in the small blind. Everyone limped to me and I raised to 100. Adam and Curtis called. The flop is 7-7-2. I fire 300 figuring no one has a piece of that and don't bother calling with your over cards. Adam folds like he's supposed to but Curtis raises to 500. The raise was for the wrong amount but why should I call more than I have to? The turn is another low card. I check and Curtis bets another 200. I have to fold. Curtis later tells me he had absolutely nothing on this hand. Pretty ballsy bluff and I have lost half my stack.

Curtis continues to rack up a big chip lead in the first level. I sit back and wait patiently for a decent hand. Meanwhile I have to play sheriff all the time to move the game along because everyone is so drunk that can't remember to shuffle, post blinds, or move the button. It's not quite as bad as last year where Robert was so blitzed that he could not even deal, but it seems to be going in that direction.

A little while later, Adam goes out and no one wants him to quit, so we decide to allow rebuys for the next level. Robert busts out next and wants to pass out on the couch so he does not fork out another $20.

The blinds are up to 50-100 and Ryan busts out. He starts begging to rebuy and I say no, since we are already past the established deadline. I said if I had known we were going to continue with the rebuys I would have pushed all in a long time ago hoping to double up or rebuy. We agree that Ryan can rebuy if I can take an Add On for another $1000 in chips. My add on was much needed since I was down to $700 and now I had some room to work.

Adam went bust again and then Marty started to win a couple of pots. Then Ryan took a couple of pots from Curtis and suddenly everything was starting to even up.

I played Jack-Nine on the button and flop came J-10-9. Curtis bet and I moved all in. Curtis called with pocket 6's. I had him drawing to two outs and he was crippled. I whispered to Ryan that Curtis was going to be the next one out. Sure enough a couple of hands later, I raised the button with Ace-2 and Curtis pushed all in from the Big Blind. I called and Curtis turned over King-Jack. My Ace high held up and Curtis was out.

Now it's 3 handed and only two make the money. Marty was down to 5-6 big blinds. Ryan and I both had comfortable stacks. Curtis was now a little bitter that I had knocked him out and was trying to help Marty, his brother, come back. He told him to move all in when he had the button but he folded. Ryan and I traded some chips for a couple of hands while Marty paid the blinds. Then he finally moved in and Ryan called to beat him.

It's heads up between me and Ryan. Second place would get $40 so we would both win our money back. We were playing for $140 for first place. Ryan was not interested in making a deal. Curtis in his quest to show me how much poker he knows, convinced Ryan to let him help him against me. I was not happy about it, but if it kept Curtis in the game helping us with the shuffling while Adam dealt, then I guess it's not all bad.

There were 9000 chips in play and the blinds were 200-400. It should have probably been an all in fest, but I wanted to play smaller pots. Once I built up to a 2-1 chip lead, I moved all in with Ace-King and he called with pocket 6's. His pair held up and now I was down 2-1 in chips. I chipped away again and took the lead. This time I push all in with Ace-Queen and he calls with pocket 9's. His nines hold up and he wins again. So I guess I can't count on being lucky here.

I start to win a couple of small pots when I pick up pocket 5's. I raise the button and he just calls. The flop Q-5-4. Ryan checks and I check behind, hoping to trap him. The turn is a 3 and he bets. I think about raising, but I want to get all my stack in the pot and I don't want to scare him off, so I just call. The river is an ugly 2, putting a 4 card straight on the board. He easily could have an Ace. He bets again. I think about just calling, but I won't have much left if I am beat. I ask him if he hit the Queen, and he smiles a little. I read his reaction as weak, so I move all in. Ryan quickly folds and I rake the pot.

It takes a few seconds before Curtis realizes that Ryan has folded. "What are you doing!, screamed Curtis. "You had a straight!" Apparently Ryan had Ace-King. Once he missed the flop, his mind went into I am bluffing mode and forgot what his cards were. After I finally raised him, he just gave up. I guess that's lucky on my part, I don't know.

Now I have a slight chip lead and I pick up King-Queen on the button. I am going to raise, but I over hear Curtis telling Ryan that he needs to raise. I don't want to give up my hand, so I just call waiting to see how much Ryan will raise. Ryan surprises me and knocks the table for a check. The flop has 3 low cards and Ryan checks. Now I figure he had big cards that missed so maybe I can take this pot down. I bet and he calls. The turn is a beautiful Queen. Ryan checks again and I bet all in. Ryan calls quickly and turns over pocket Aces. Fuck! Curtis thinks I am drawing dead, but I remind him that I can hit another Queen or another King. I pull out my shiny luckbox and Adam deals me a King and I crack Ryan's Aces with two pair!

Ryan had less than a big blind after this hand and I eliminated him on the next hand. So I almost won back all the money I lost in the casino from the previous night.

Since Curtis was so quick to defend his poker skills and degrade mine, I wanted his feedback. I told him that I was going to Las Vegas for the World Series and I asked him for an evaluation of my game.

Curtis thinks that I need to be much more aggressive. He then explained how he bluffed me out on the first hand when I had the Ace-King. He claims that if I am still in the hand on the turn or river that I always have something. That I never run big bluffs.

We talked poker for the next hour with Ryan as well and it was a good discussion. I explained to Curtis that I play differently against serious opponents versus our drunken games and that I don't think it's worth the risk of running big bluffs in our game since there are so many players who will call with anything. Curtis did admit that I think about poker more than anyone else he knows, so he might be a little off on his strategy.

I know that against my friends that they play way too loose at the beginning and way too tight when the blinds get high. When I am playing seriously, I always play tight in the beginning and aggressive with a shorter stack at the end. Usually it works as most of the time I get all my money in with the best hand. The downside is that sometimes I do not pick up enough chips in the early rounds to survive a suck out in the later rounds. I guess I would say that I agree with Curtis on his assessment of my play a little bit. He just doesn't know how much I bluff because I never show my cards.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Suddenly My Luck Takes A Turn

After my last post, I was very frustrated with my bad tournament luck. I was not sure if I could get any poker in on Sunday after the earlier debacle, but Jake went to bed and Michele decided to do some housecleaning so I was left alone.

I logged back into Full Tilt looking for any kind of satellites to the 150 seat guarantee for the Main Event. The tournament will take place on Father’s Day this Sunday and I already told Michele that my Father’s Day gift can be leaving me alone all day Sunday to watch the final round of the US Open Golf Tournament and play in the final big Main Event Satellites. The Full Tilt tournament will cost $535 to enter and I don’t like the thought of paying full price.

I signed up for the $11 rebuy satellite and the $75 satellite. I ran really well in both. Here is a summary.


There were only 4 spots available and we only started with 1500 in chips. I lost half my stack after I picked up JJ and had to fold to a raise on the flop after an Ace hit. I rebought once even though I was not broke to give myself some chips in case some other over aggressive donkey wanted to get it all in with bottom pair.

Sure enough, I went on a sick run of cards. KK double up, QQ vs AJ and double up again. I get pocket Jacks and flop a set. Better yet, my opponent flops a set of 8’s and goes broke. Then I pick up KQ and flop bottom two pair and improve to a full house by the river. Suddenly have over 12,000 in chips and I’m the chip leader.

I have been reading Gus Hansen’s new book and he mentioned how much more aggressive he plays when the antes kick in. I had never really put it together before, but it makes perfect sense. If the blinds are 500-1000 and you raise to 3000, then you are betting 3000 to win 1500. You need to win more than 67% of the time to be successful. But add in a $100 ante and now it’s 3000 to win 2400. Now you only have to win a little over half the time to break even. What is weirder is that players tend to tighten up more when the antes kick in because their stacks are shorter and they only want to play premium hands.

I took advantage of my bigger stack and tried to steal more. For the most part it worked great. I made it to the final table and had a decent stack. Unfortunatley I ran my Aces into Ace-Ten and my opponent made a straight to knock me out before I qualified for the satellite. I did win $39 so I booked a small profit for my time.

While this tournament was going on, I was also playing the $75 satellite. I was also catching good cards to build a stack. I even survived a bad beat when my Aces lost all in preflop to pocket 8’s when my opponent rivered a 4 card flush. That brought me down from 3470 to 2400.

Later I picked up Aces again and won an all in pot. I picked up AQ and flopped A-Q-Q with an Ace on the river for good measure.

It was one of those great tournaments where every time I stole or pushed all in, I was not called. I don’t know if my skill is any better on picking my spots, or I was just lucky that no one woke up with a hand.

I made it to the final table as the chip leader, although my lead was small. They were giving away 5 seats so I wasn’t interested in getting too involved in any hands without a premium holding.

To my chagrin, everyone else seemed to play pretty well as there were very few flops and a lot of stealing going on. I raised ATo under the gun and was reraised all in and had to let it go. That put me in the 10BB range which meant that I was going to have to steal occasionally to survive. I managed to win all my small blind vs. big blind steals to stay alive. With 6 left, two players went all in and I thought I was set. I don’t care who wins the hand as they had equal stacks. Then the poker gods decided to have a sense of humor and a five card flush came on the board with neither one of the players holding a card of the same suit. It’s a tie and everyone is still playing!

A little while later someone finally went bust and I won my $535 seat. Now I need to figure out how to satellite in cheap for the Poker Stars tournament on the same day and I’ll have all my bases covered.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Worst Performance In A Free Roll Ever

I was really looking forward to playing a lot of poker today. There were two big free rolls scheduled. The first one from Rake Break. com was for $10,000 prize pool. There were 270 entries and they were paying out the top 10%.

The second free roll was from the Battle of the Bloggers for a $2,000 World Series of Poker package. I don't know how many hundreds were signed up for this one, but only one winner made this a tournament lottery.

The Rakebreak tournament started with a good structure, however I had no luck at all. I'm dealt pocket Queens and an Ace flops. I am dealt pocket Kings and get no action. I attempt a steal, and I get called and check raised on my continuation bet. I was out of the tournament in less than a half hour.

The Battle of the Bloggers did not start for another 2 hours, so I went to Target and Costco with the wife. When I got back, my initial starting stack had been blinded down from 1500 to 900. The sucky software on Full Tilt does not let you know who is sitting out and who is playing so it was uncertain at best. I think at least 3-4 players at my table were not really there, because the two big stacks were raising every hand preflop.

After folding the first few hands, I pick up pocket Queens under the gun. I min raise, hoping for the big stacks to continue their bullying. I get my wish as one of them puts me all in. I call to find my opponent sitting on pocket Aces. My first one and done since my very first satellite for the World Series in 2006 when I went broke with Aces.

The only good news is that I had a plus 3.5 buy in session at .25-.50 NL earlier in the morning. At least I ran well somewhere.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Whatever Happened To....

Young MC?

I played poker with him at Jeff's latest poker tournament. This was not a charity event, just a bunch of gamblers looking to take each other's money.

The creator of "Bust A Move" and the writer of "Funky Cold Medina" is still in the music business and is playing a concert in Anaheim in a couple of weeks. He produces, writes, and sings his own music and he has an economics degree from USC.

Once I got to know him a little better, I knew this question would not offend him. "Do you ever look at Will Smith and say, "Fuck that could have been me!"?"

No, the way he looks at it, is that he just turned 41 and he has never had a boss.

Not surprisingly he is a much better musician than a poker player. Although I don't have any room to criticize since I busted out before he did.

My poker bankroll is really hurting right now. I got it up to $2,186 at the end of March and it has been all the way down to $950 after losing $250 in today's tournament. I honestly think my knowledge of the game has improved, but my luck has been bad. When I get unlucky, the tilt factor creeps in, and I don't play my best game.

I checked my online sessions of NL Hold'em on Poker Tracker and I had 40 sessions in May. I only won in 16 of them. My biggest win was $64. I had 24 losing sessions and my biggest loss was $121. I lost $312 in total online playing Hold'em. I lost around $100 learning Pot Limit Omaha and I lost the rest in the casino.

I was hoping to have a cushion for my trip to Las Vegas, but it looks like I am going to have to dip into the bank accounts if I play the big satellites. There's always hope that I hit it big in an online satellite, but time is running out.

When I last left you, I was back up to step 4 in the WSOP Steps. Unfortunately, I ran my pocket Kings into Ace-King suited and lost when the Ace flopped. That put me out in 9th and all the way out of the steps.

I recently picked up the book on Omaha by Jeff Hwang. It is a really good step by step book on Pot Limit Omaha. There are lots of practice hands and I think I have a good fundamental grasp of the game now. I am amazed at how bad some of the low limit players are! I think I can get away with just playing the nut draws and trips and make a lot of money in the long run. There is really no need to get tricky, when guys put there whole stack in on the flop with naked Aces and Kings.

I will now get back to the tables with a renewed resolve to play my best poker leading up to the World Series.