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.

This message w/attachments (message) is intended solely for the use of the intended recipient(s) and may contain information that is privileged, confidential or proprietary. If you are not an intended recipient, please notify the sender, and then please delete and destroy all copies and attachments, and be advised that any review or dissemination of, or the taking of any action in reliance on, the information contained in or attached to this message is prohibited.
Unless specifically indicated, this message is not an offer to sell or a solicitation of any investment products or other financial product or service, an official confirmation of any transaction, or an official statement of Sender. Subject to applicable law, Sender may intercept, monitor, review and retain e-communications (EC) traveling through its networks/systems and may produce any such EC to regulators, law enforcement, in litigation and as required by law.
The laws of the country of each sender/recipient may impact the handling of EC, and EC may be archived, supervised and produced in countries other than the country in which you are located. This message cannot be guaranteed to be secure or free of errors or viruses.

References to "Sender" are references to any subsidiary of Bank of America Corporation. Securities and Insurance Products: * Are Not FDIC Insured * Are Not Bank Guaranteed * May Lose Value * Are Not a Bank Deposit * Are Not a Condition to Any Banking Service or Activity * Are Not Insured by Any Federal Government Agency. Attachments that are part of this EC may have additional important disclosures and disclaimers, which you should read. This message is subject to terms available at the following link: By messaging with Sender you consent to the foregoing.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Shortstack Play in Low Buy In Tournaments

So after a horrific run of cards in the last couple of weeks which really sapped my confidence after I ran so well in July, I took a break. I took about a week off and just reviewed some poker books and tried to watch some Cardrunners videos. I don't know if I learned anything, but it at least cleared my head.

Friday was the day before a long holiday weekend. Usually that means that my office is cleared out and I can't get a hold of any of my clients on the phone. With that in mind, I decided to play the afternoon tournament at Casino Arizona. The total buy in was $85 for 3500 chips. There were 138 players.

I have gone over the structure before in this blog, and it basically is very fast. I decided to keep track this time on how many hands I get in a level. It's a grand total of 11 hands for every 20 minute level. So waiting around for a good starting hand is not a strategy that will allow you to win the whole thing.

The one twist that I had failed to consider in the past is that after you get past the second break, they do stretch out the levels to 30 minutes. That does help things a little bit.

My main dilemna is this: When you have 10-15 BB in your stack and 1/2 of your table has 8 BB or less, should I be raising all in or just 2.5X the blinds?

Reasons for Small Raises:
a. I can fold to a reraise
b. If I raise in early position and someone reraises and there's another raise (meaning AA or KK) I can get away cheap.
c. I can make a smaller continuation bet on the flop if I get called
d. The players don't get as angry and don't spite call as fast

Reasons for Large Raises:
a. You don't get called as much. This is good, because risk-free chips are always good in this tournament
b. If you are called it is usually just one person. Raising 2.5x the blind can lead to multiple callers and big pots out of position
c. The pots are bigger when you win after getting called
d. You take away the possibility of someone bluffing you out of a pot

The best reason for large raises is b. winning more money when you are called. It is easy to go from 10BB to 21 BB when you get called with a worse hand or suck out. A 20 BB stack in the late stages of these tournaments is huge. The problem is that you will have everyone else covered and the effective stacks of your opponents will still be 10BB or fewer. There is not going to be much post flop play when everyone is this short.

Yesterday I got lucky on a couple of key hands that kept me healthy. One one hand, I open raised from the button against an opponent who had 8 BB left. I raised 3x the blind with 56s. She moved all in with Ace-King. I hit a 5 on the turn and she failed to improve. Later when I was short with 10 BB I moved all in with A6s in late position and was called by Ace-King again. Once again I hit the 6.

I really advanced through most of the tournament stealing blinds and getting lucky on those two hands. I never had Aces. I had Kings once and chopped the pot with another player who also had Kings. I did win a big pot with Ace-King when a tight player decided to go crazy with 2nd pair.

The problem was once again I was between 5 and 8 BB for most of the bubble. From about 27 players down to 15, I did barely enough to survive. I just felt like I didn't have enough chips to get people to lay down the medium strength hands. Especially the other short stacks who I thought would be looking to get it in and double up. Instead it seemed like everyone played really tight, especially the short stacks. I need to get better at figuring out who is doing this and abuse the hell out of them. The goal should be to win enough chips that when I do eventually get called, I am not all in and can survive, or get lucky and win a huge pot.

There were two hands at the final table that I wish had to play over again. They were both close decisions, but if you look at the results, it could have propelled me to a win.

The previous hand, there were two players with short stacks all in and the player to my right showed me his hand of 55 before he mucked. I thought that was a mistake because I felt sure that the first raiser had over cards and the second player thought hard before he made his move which made me think the had another Ace-X type of hand. I turned out to be right and to make matters worse for this player he would have flopped 3 of a kind.

The very next hand, there is a raise and then a reraise all in. The player who reraised all in had just lost the previous hand when his AK had been drawn out by AQ. So this might be a steam raise, but he had also been playing very tight. I look down at two 8's. I only have 6x the blind left so I should be gambling. But everyone else is short too. I decide to lay it down and wait for a spot where I can be the first one in the pot or a stronger hand. Sure enough the other two players see the flop and it has an 8. I could have tripled up!

The next hand after this, a short stack moves all in and I have A-8 offsuit. I think about calling. But I muck. Someone else calls with a low pocket pair. The flop has two Aces and I could have done it again.

I eventually went out in 5th place when I open raised my K-T and got called by Ace-Queen. I missed and collected $515. Not a bad day's work. I really think I can win one of these.

Friday, July 30, 2010

I Have A Case of the Run-Goods

I started the month of July with $4,880 in the Poker Bankroll. I had made a steady climb from my low in May of $3,293. I had only taken out $136 in my plan to skim any money over $5,000 for the year of 2010 and I was getting a little discouraged. Everytime I got a little over 5k in a month, a bad session would knock me back down.

That all changed this month. As of July 30, I have $5,804 in the poker bankroll plus I have already withdrawn $800 this month. To celebrate, I bought a new set of Callaway Irons, which I am totally in love with.

The really big winnings have come from the 1-2 No Limit game at Casino Arizona. Last Friday I won an additional $420 in a session plus the $800 I won during my "Pro for 2 days" experiment after my vacation. I don't know if I am playing any differently, but I do know that I have been having good hands and the bad players keep calling my value bets without sucking out on me.

As for online play, the main highlight has been a good run at the Rush No Limit tables at Full Tilt. For the month of July, I am up $459 over 1643 hands. Obviously it takes a little luck to run good over that few hands, but I have also made an adjustment that has helped my game.

I watched a couple of videos on Cardrunners that went over strategy for Rush poker. Even though the videos were for full ring, I was surprised at how tight the instructor would play. Especially when he was out of position, he was folding hands like Ace-Queen suited. His reasoning was that Rush poker allows you to play so many hands, that why should you take the chance of putting yourself in an awkward position post flop, when you can fold and get another good hand in a matter of seconds. He would rather look at more hands per hour and play the ones with a significant edge rather than take the time to play hands where the edge is small.

Now I do not play enough volume of hands for this to make a huge difference, however I do know that one of the leaks in my game at Rush is my tendency to bluff too much and push weak hands. Using the philosophy of patience and waiting for the big edges, I have managed to avoid the bad spots and have been lucky enough to get paid off when I have made a good hand post flop. Here are a few examples:

Full Tilt, $0.50/$1 No Limit Hold'em Cash, Rush, 6 Players

Poker Tools by CardRunners - Hand Details

The Nutulas: $101.05 (101.1 bb)

Aedaa: $152.80 (152.8 bb)

omerat: $32.55 (32.6 bb)

busanmilk: $113.90 (113.9 bb)

Hero: $144.40 (144.4 bb)

sharpia1: $223.05 (223.1 bb)

Preflop: Hero is BTN with K of spades A of spades

Aedaa calls $1, omerat raises to $5.50, busanmilk folds, Hero calls $5.50, sharpia1 folds, The Nutulas raises to $23.50, 2 folds, Hero raises to $144.40 and is all-in, The Nutulas calls $77.55 and is all-in

Flop: ($209.10) K of diamonds T of spades 8 of hearts (2 players, 2 are all-in)

Turn: ($209.10) 5 of diamonds (2 players, 2 are all-in)

River: ($209.10) K of clubs (2 players, 2 are all-in)


Since the initial raiser was a little short, I didn't see the need to put him all in for now. Plus I had the button and sometimes, these tables get very squeeze happy. If one of the blinds decides to squeeze, I am pretty confident in 4 betting all in against their range.

Sure enough someone takes the bait and they are crushed.

Full Tilt, $0.50/$1 No Limit Hold'em Cash, Rush, 6 Players

Poker Tools by CardRunners - Hand Details

jpfish75: $100 (100 bb)

thedudelb: $100 (100 bb)

Im Indie: $100.50 (100.5 bb)

Hero: $104.40 (104.4 bb)

WowLucky: $597.65 (597.7 bb)

AnkoXI: $104 (104 bb)

Preflop: Hero is SB with 9 of clubs 9 of diamonds

AnkoXI folds, jpfish75 raises to $3.50, 2 folds, Hero calls $3, WowLucky folds

Flop: ($8) 7 of clubs 6 of spades 9 of hearts (2 players)

Hero checks, jpfish75 checks

Turn: ($8) 7 of diamonds (2 players)

Hero bets $4, jpfish75 raises to $16, Hero calls $12

River: ($40) 5 of clubs (2 players)

Hero checks, jpfish75 bets $80.50 and is all-in, Hero calls $80.50


I have a medium pair in the small blind. There is a school of thought that says re-raising is ok here. Sometimes I do that, but lately I have been more conservative waiting for better spots.

The flop is good in that I have top set, but obviously there are draws out there and there is a remote possibility he has 10-8 for the nuts. I check, hoping to check raise, but he checks it through. Leading out is probably better here, but it's so rare someone does not c-bet in these games.

The turn is perfect as it fills me up. I bet a little small hoping to induce a raise. I get one. Now I think he may have an over pair like TT or JJ and checked the flop to keep the pot small. The river is a 5 which puts 4 to a straight out there. Any bet I make here, probably scares off most players. I'll let him try and get value or bluff since he might think I am scared. Instead of a little bluff, he over bets the pot. I snap call and fist pump as he roll over 8's for a straight to lose to my full house.

Full Tilt, $0.50/$1 No Limit Hold'em Cash, Rush, 6 Players

Poker Tools by CardRunners - Hand Details

Hero: $99.90 (99.9 bb)

deez1233: $434.10 (434.1 bb)

Sonny88: $20.15 (20.2 bb)

Im Indie: $136.90 (136.9 bb)

craigulator19: $41 (41 bb)

dbc3131: $101.55 (101.6 bb)

Preflop: Hero is CO with K of clubs K of hearts

craigulator19 folds, dbc3131 raises to $2, Hero raises to $7, deez1233 calls $7, 2 folds, dbc3131 calls $5

Flop: ($22.50) 3 of diamonds 9 of spades 7 of clubs (3 players)

dbc3131 checks, Hero bets $14, deez1233 calls $14, dbc3131 calls $14

Turn: ($64.50) A of clubs (3 players)

dbc3131 bets $55, Hero folds, deez1233 raises to $110, dbc3131 calls $25.55 and is all-in

River: ($225.60) 3 of clubs (2 players, 1 is all-in)


Here is one where I lost the minimum. The min raise in front of me is a little fishy, but when the button calls my raise behind me, I don't feel too comfortable. The flop looks good, but again I get called behind and the initial raiser calls as well. I am putting someone on at least an Ace-King, possibly Aces, or a set. I don't think both players have me beat, but I would not be surprised if one did. My plan is to get to showdown as cheap as possible. Well an Ace rolls off on the turn and the initial raiser preflop now makes a big bet into two players on the turn. It's an easy fold for me.

Once I see what the cards were, I really like the bet my opponent made on the turn. If he is trying to put his opponents on a hand range, that Ace hits a lot of their range and it definitely makes it easier to get all the money in by the river. I might have bet a little less, to see if KK or QQ calls, but he got lucky in that the button had the best Ace possible and was not going away. I'm happy because I lost the minimum.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Pro Poker Experiment Day 2

Kory told me they were running some juicy promotions at Fort McDowell, so I decided to make the hour long drive out there on Friday afternoon. In a new promotion, every time you get pocket Aces, you either win the pot with the best hand or if it gets cracked, they count up the pot and award you that amount.

Plus they had your normal bad beat jackpot going along with some weird computerized drawing. If they called your name, the dealer would deal two cards. If the cards paired then you won some kind of progressive jackpot.

They were also running a $30 tournament at 7:00 PM in which if you played 3 hours before, you could win $60 in bounties for every elimination.

Unfortunately, I got a little bit of a late start so I only got 2 hours of cash games in before the 7:00 PM tournament. So instead of $60 bounties, I would be eligible for $40. I believe the tournament started with around 80 players.

I couldn't get much going in the cash games and cashed out down $27. I started out strong in the tournament with some good hands early. After my strong start, we had a short stack call, and then Kory, who happened to draw my table, raised him. I looked down to see pocket Kings. The normal play is to reraise and isolate Kory, however I thought if I reraise, it will just allow the short stack to fold and I can't win his bounty. Kory was deep enough that I didn't think I could get his whole stack just yet.

So I decided to call and the small stack called the raise. The flop was all clubs and low cards. They both checked to me and I made a pot sized bet since I didn't want them to draw. The small stack called, and Kory raised all in. I call. The small stack was not on a flush draw and had an underpair. Kory had QQ with no clubs as well. It looked pretty good for me to pick up two bounties and a lot of chips, but Kory spiked a Queen on the river to suck out. That left me with a little under 5k in chips.

The very next hand, I picked up AA. I raised and got one caller in the blinds. The flop was king high. He checked, I bet, and he check raised me all in. I snap call and he has a king. I fade his outs and I am back up to my starting stack.

I started to accumulate chips and even knocked off a bounty to win my buy in plus a little extra. My table was getting steamed up because I was raising a lot of hands before the flop. Probably 70% of the time, I had a raising hand since I was definitely running good. But since no one was playing back at me, I was feeling pretty confident in that most of the players at the table would fold if I made any kind of continuation bet on the flop.

Even though we started with 10,000 in chips and the first level was 25-50, the structure was very fast. First of all the levels were only 15 minutes. Secondly, once everyone got short and there was a 3 or more way all in, the side pots became very difficult to calculate and it would take 5 minutes to play out the hand with all the crazy chip counts.

Sadly after the first hour, my table broke and I had to build up a new image. I began to go card dead and with the blinds increasing, I didn't have the flexibility to play crazy.

I tried to steal where I could, but got caught once and it left me relatively short. After that, I just sat back and watched players bust on every hand.

I managed an occasional double up but I had less than 7 BB from 35 players on. Somehow I managed to make the final two tables and the bust out craziness was continuing. Every time I would even see a remotely playable hand, someone was all in before I had the chance to push. I was getting a little frustrated, but what could I do?

At the second break we were down to 11 players and 10 were going to get paid. I think the blinds were 15k-30k with a 1k ante. I had around 50k and the blinds were going to hit me in 2 hands. I was talking with Kory, who had busted out and was playing a cash game, and we discussed strategy. We decided that my best bet was to fold and hope to make the $80 min cash. The player on my left had even less chips than me, and even though I would go through the blind first, there was a good chance that someone else may bust.

Sure enough when I folded under the gun, three other players at my table were all in. We had an elimination and then we got to the redraw for the final table. Somehow I drew the button. Meanwhile I threw out the idea of a ten way chop since the blinds were so high. Most were ok with that since it would have guaranteed $180 to everyone which was a little better than 4th place money. The chip leader wanted to save some for first place so eventually we agreed on $200 in addition for first and everyone else got $160.

I busted out in 7th when my pocket 7's went down in a 3 way pot and I cashed my $160. Plus I had managed to pick up 2 bounties for $40 each. So $240 in winnings, less $40 for the tournament and less $27 in cash game losses left me with a profit of $173.

So my 2 day experiment ended up with me winning just over $1000 and paying for my new golf clubs.

What a run!

Friday, July 09, 2010

Michele's Worst Nightmare

My wife, Michele, admitted to me before I left for the casino last night that part of her hoped I would win money, but another part of her wanted me to lose so I would not get too excited about the prospects of playing poker for a living.

I am sure that I do not want to play poker for a living. I would not have the ability to affect others lives and it would not allow me to create anything tangible. However, I do like the idea of playing part-time and earning extra money.

Yesterday during my "Pro Poker Player" experiment, I won $850. Only $40 of it was from online play and the rest was from playing 1-2 No Limit at Casino Arizona.

I only squeezed in 11 sit and gos and I won 7 of them. It should have been 8, except for a mysterious hand on the bubble. There were 6 players left and 5 get paid. I picked up two aces and there was only one player who had more chips than me at the table. Everyone else was short stacked and I could probably squeak into the money if I lost the hand to them. I pushed all in and was immediately called by the chip leader. If he loses, he is crippled. The correct strategy is for him to fold every single hand, even Aces because he can comfortably fold into the money.

Since he called, I was expecting to see KK or maybe even the weird AA. Instead it was ten-eight offsuit! Before I could even process that, the flop came out with two tens! It felt really weird and like I had been scammed. Did he know what the flop was going to be? I took my tin foil hat off and came to the conclusion that it was a gigantic misclick error. My opponent was playing a lot of tables at once and could easily make that mistake. Oh well, I got pretty lucky in some other spots, so overall I can't complain.

At Casino Arizona, I ran exceptionally well. It wasn't the kind of luck where I get money in behind and then suck out. It was the kind of luck where I kept making the nuts and having idiots pay me off with hopeless hands.

I made two raises on the river against the same opponent. One time I had the King high flush for 2nd nuts, and another time I had the Broadway straight for the nuts. Each time he called me with two pair.

In my biggest hand of the night, everyone limped for $2 including me on the button with 7-9 offsuit. The small blind made it $12 and 6 players called. The flop was 5-6-8 rainbow. The raiser bet $20 and three others called! I decided to raise to $100 figuring maybe someone had a set and I want to charge them in case the board pairs. I got one caller who still had $350 left.

The turn was a 2. He checked and I bet $150. He calls again. The river is a ten. No flush and only one higher straight. He checks and I put him all in for his last $220. He is agonizing over a call. I figure he must have a set. Finally he calls and rolls over QQ. How dumb can you be? At the very least he has to put me on a set right? I raise almost every time I come into the pot, but this time I limp and call a raise behind me with a ton of people in the pot. There is no way I show up with JJ?

I kept looking for spots to get aggressively creative, but there were so many calling stations, that I just played snug and waited to get paid off. For once it worked to perfection.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

The Pro Poker Player Experiment

I just got back from a week in Wyoming visiting the inlaws. We did some camping, hiking, fly fishing and lots of hanging out in close quarters. I am ready for some "me" time. Since today is Thursday, I didn't think it made much sense to work for 2 days and then have the weekend with two more days off. So I am extending my vacation until Monday.

During my vacation, I am going to pretend that I play poker for a living. For now, I have decided that I will play online Double or Nothing Sit and Gos in the afternoon, pick up Jake from daycare around 4, have dinner with the wife and child, and then hit Casino Arizona for live poker from 8:00 to Midnight. Of course this schedule is always subject to change since I am a pro poker player and I make my own schedule.

For the live games, I plan on playing 6-12 limit hold'em or 1-2 No Limit. If I have a good run, I may jump up to the 3-5 No Limit game and try to win the big money. I decided against playing the afternoon tournaments because the rake is still way to high and if I was a pro, I would probably pass.

This may be the longest I have gone without playing a hand of poker in a few years. I am itching to get back to it.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Best Golfer and Higher Limits

On Friday after work, Kory and I decided we were going to go to Casino Arizona and move up to the 6-12 Limit Hold'em game. Kory said he had a "pro" coming to join us who would refuse to play lower than 6-12. According to my bankroll rules, I should be playing at 6-12 but I have never made the move out of laziness.

In a relatively common occurence, work interfered and I was the only one at the casino. Kory had to go to a meeting. I sat down and committed myself to studying my opponents.

Very quickly I figured out the two soft spots at the table. They made the typical mistakes you see in limit poker which were calling with incorrect odds and betting hands that have no chance of winning.

Even the other players were not all that impressive. It also made me comfortable that you play the 6-12 game with $2 chips. So in chips it looks just like a 3-6 game.

I finished up $152. I didn't make any great plays. I just played solid poker and hit a couple of draws. It's nice to know that there is not a big step up in talent at the next level.

On Saturday, Bill and I played match #9 in our golf challenge. I had won the first 5 matches and Bill had won the last 3. All I needed was a tie or better in the last two matches to win the $200 bet.

Every summer, the golf course at Phoenix Country Club gets burnt out. For some reason the bermuda rough never seems to come out of the winter grass transition very well. The greens are still pretty good and most of the time, the fairway is ok too. It's just the rough is very bare and a little annoying considering how much we pay for dues.

The good news is that the course plays much easier because the ball rolls out and the ground is still soft, so even hitting off of a bare lie is not too difficult.

I won't bore everyone with the details of the round this time, but it was nice that finally we both played well at the same time. I shot 76 and Bill shot 80. I made a lot of putts and finished the last 6 holes at even par. When you shoot even par, it's hard for someone who is an 8 handicap to make up shots.

The next day, I celebrated by testing out the latest Callaway irons at the PGA Tour Superstore. I fell in love with the Diablo Forged Irons and I phoned in my order to the Country Club. According to the readouts at the store, I was hitting the 6 iron 14 yards farther than my current set. Plus the accuracy was fantastic as well. Hopefully I will get the set soon.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Satellite Sunday for WSOP Main Event

Even though I will be in Wyoming during the Main Event, I figured I should at least give the satellites a shot and see if I can make a big payday. I won the first $80 satellite I entered on Poker Stars to get into their 200 player guarantee for $370.

Overall I am pretty disappointed in the satellite options that were available for the big 200 and 150 guarantees on Poker Stars and Full Tilt respectively. There were not very many scheduled tournaments available. They had the normal list of Sit and Gos but I don't have the time to register and wait around for them to fill up. Full Tilt seemed to encourage all the "gamblers" by offering 500 chip starting stacks and hyper turbos as the most preferred way to get in.

I tried an $109 satellite on Full Tilt and didn't come close, so I gave up there. All my eggs are in the Poker Stars basket

1:34 PM I raise 77 and everyone folds

1:38 PM I raise A3o in sb and the bb folds

1:40 PM It looks like Poker Stars hit their guarantee pretty easily. The minimum prize pool was $2.4 MM. They are already over $2.7 MM and there are still people registering. It's one package for every 34.3 players so it's definitely a long shot.

1:45 PM I raise AsQc in middle position. SB Dirty Cluber calls. Flop is 4s-Kh-9d. I make cbet of 100 and he calls. Turn is Qs. It goes check check. River is a 4c and Dirty Cluber bets 160 into 340 pot. I call and win. Opponent had TT. My stack is now 3,330.

1:48 PM I open steal on button with J5o because the BB has not played a hand in the tournament yet. I win 45 in blinds.

1:49 PM I call after one limper with JTo. One of the blinds comes along. Flop is Jd-Td-2d. It's checked to me, I bet 90 into 105 pot. They both fold.

1:52 PM I have JhJs in middle position. One limper and I raise to 120. MikRo17 who hasn't played a hand yet calls in position. Everyone else folds. Flop is Kd-3c-6s. I bet 150 into 315 pot. He calls. Turn is 5d. I bet 330 and he calls again. River is 2s. I check and he checks behind and wins pot with KhQc. I am down to 2,805. I probably did not need to fire the second bet there against tighty.

2:06 PM I have Ah5d on button. An early limmper wooshka1967 and it's folded to me. I raise to 120 and he calls. Flop is Qd-5c-9d. He checks and I bet
150 and he calls. Turn pairs the 9. He checks and I check. River is 3s. We both check and he shows me KQ. My luck on continuation bets has not been very good today. I am down to 2520 in chips. Blinds are 20-40.

2:09 PM I have 99 in middle position. I raise first in. Tight MikRo17 calls in position and Dirty Cluber makes it 520 from the Big Blind. I fold and MikRo17 folds. Chips at 2,400.

2:13 PM I have A8o in sb. It's folded to button who calls. I call and BB checks. Flop is 9h-Ts-2s. I check fold.

2:14 PM I have Kd3d on button. 3 limpers and I call on button. The small blind who has not raised yet in the tournament raises to 120. He gets 2 callers plus me. The flop is 9h-3s-7c. The raiser checks and middle player bets 80 into a pot of 560. I call and raiser calls. Turn is a Queen and everyone checks. River is a Jack and they check to me. I bet 480 figuring the raiser has AK and middle guy has a weak 9. He thinks for a while and folds.

2:17 PM I call a raise with 55. Flop is all over cards and I fold to a bet.

2:19 PM I pick up AKo. A player who has not raised in 43 hands raises and I three bet him. He folds and I pick up small pot. Chips at 2980.

2:22 PM I have JdJs utg. I min raise to 80 and scanlobj calls. Flop is 6s-3h-Ah. I check and he checks. Turn is As. Now I bet 160 into a 220 pot and he calls. Does he have a flush draw or a medium pocket pair? The river is the Ks. I check and he bets 340. I call hoping he's bluffing or betting a small pair. He rolls over AQ. Well played. I'm down to 2345.

2:26 PM. Registration is still open and prize pool is over $3 MM. Thats at least 250 seats!

2:30 PM. I raise AhJd in early position. wooshka1967 reraises the minimum to 250. I call and hate it. Flop is Ac-Qh-4c. I bet 300 into 575 pot. He calls and only has 735 left. The turn is 2d. I don't know what to do. I bet enough to put him all in and he calls quickly. I am sure he will turn up Ace-King or Ace-Queen. He shows K-T. Huh? I fade the 4 outs and chip up to 3630.

2:32 PM. I have AKo on button. Whatth3hell raises to 400 only leaving 1,165. That's 8x the blind. I am thinking about what to do and I time out. The big blind goes all in and Whatth3hell calls. The flop is K-T-8. Whatth3hell had TT and the big blind had AcQc. I lucked out that I didn't play that hand.

2:35 PM. I raise 22 and get reraised and have to let it go.

2:45 PM AsQc on button. Whatth3hell limps for 60. I raise to 180 and TheFordGuy calls in sb and Whatth3hell folds. Flop is Ad-6h-8h. Blind checks and I bet. He folds.

2:46 PM Very next hand pick up QQ. Bob&Tomshow raises utg to 180. Whatth3hell calls. I 3bet to 600. First raiser folds and Whatth3hell calls. Flop is 3d-2c-7s. He checks and I bet 960 into a 1,470 pot and he folds. I am up to 4,560.

2:47 PM I have AdQd in early position. I raise to 180 and scanlobj reraises to 360. He has not 3 bet yet in the tournament. I call with good odds. Flop is 6s-2s-Jc. I check fold. Down to 4,200.

2:52 PM Final prize pool numbers. $3,034,150 in pool. 252 entries. 253-279th pay $370 and 280th place pays $160. 8669 entries. There are 6579 players left. Wow that is a long way to go.

3:07 PM In other betting news, my last chance at winning any money in the US Open golf tournament is being flushed down the drain by the collapse of Dustin Johnson. He made Triple Bogey, then Double Bogey, and just hit his tee shot on 4 off a cliff into the ocean. I guess I'll need to win the poker tournament.

3:10 PM I pick up AKo in late position. Raise first in and win the blinds. 4,080 in chips.

3:11 PM I raise Ac6c first in to 240. MikRo17 reraises all in for 2100 and I fold.

3:16 PM. nvasaydi raises in middle position. It's folded to me in blinds and I call with 55. Flop is J-6-3. I lead out for 300 and he raises to 600. I fold. Down to 3,250.

3:20 PM I raise Q3o because both of the blinds are the tightest players at the table. It almost works but the BB iacog4 calls. Flop is 6d-Jh-Jd. I make a c-bet and he folds. 3,630 in chips.

3:23 PM I have 44 in BB. The aforementioned tight player iacog4 tries to steal my blind. I debate reraising but just call. Flop is 7s-Jd-7d. I check and he bets 1/2 the pot. I call. Turn is a Ts and goes check check. River is 6d. I decide to bluff/blocking bet 700 and he folds. Up to 4,350 now in chips.

3:29 PM Raise the tight guys again and win the blinds. Next hand I have 77 utg and min raise. Get 2 callers and flop is 8-9-T. It's checked around. The turn is another T putting two flush draws out there. Whatth3hell bets 100 into 700 pot and I fold. Why fuck around on that scary board?

3:33 PM I get KK and Whatth3hell raises in front to 360. I make it 1080 and he calls. An Ace flops and he overbets the pot of 2,475 by going all in for 4,755 (I only have 2,965 so it's not that bad of an overbet) I want to call, but I force myself to fold since I still have plenty of play left. Down to 2,965 in chips.

3:45 PM Nothing playable and have blinded down to 2620. Blinds going to 75-150 with 20 ante. Only 4600 players left to go through.

3:49 PM QdQh under the gun. I raise to 450. The big stack, nvasaydie calls and floxizz the second tightest player at the table goes all in for 2,960. I call and nvasaydie folds. I'm up against AdKh. The flop is 7d-2d-5d, the turn is 3d and I'm drawing dead. I go to the couch to watch the US Open after finishing in 4,352nd place. Meh.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Introducing Kory to 2-250 Spread Limit

Last Thursday after work, I convinced Kory to come over to the $1-$2 blind, max bet $250 table at Casino Arizona. Kory has usually played the 3-6 or 4-8 limit tables and done fairly well. He's had some bad experiences in Las Vegas at the 1-2 No Limit tables so he was apprehensive.

I felt bad when he lost his $80 stack on Thursday after check raising all in on a J-8-X board. The donkey called his raise with Q-9 for the inside straight draw and an over card. He hit the straight and Kory went home a loser.

Apparently Kory went back Friday night and had more atrocious luck. Kory has the same personality trait as me, in that if he loses, he becomes more determined to figure the game out and try and come back with a win.

So for our outing on Saturday night, he had called me earlier in the day and said he was ready to try again.

I arrived at the casino a little after 7:00 PM and was sat right away. To my left was an old war vet in a wheel chair with only one leg. To his left was another man in his 50's or 60's with a tattoo on his arm proclaiming that he was the Arizona Gold Gloves Boxing Champion 5 different times.

I was a few spots away from the Big Blind when I sat down, so I took a hand right away. I squeezed out KQ offsuit and put in a $10 raise. The Golden Gloves guy called and then a woman in the Small Blind, reraised me to $22. Now reraises in this game are rare, especially from a woman who I did not initially make out to be a regular player. Since it was so cheap, I decided to call the $12 and the player behind me called as well.

The flop was K-7-6 with two diamonds. The woman checked. So now I think maybe she has QQ and I can take the pot away. I bet $40. Golden Gloves guy raises me to $80 and the woman folds. This is why I hate getting a good hand early in a session. I have no idea how this guy plays and whether he's capable of making a move or if he has K-J and thinks it's the nuts. I decide that I don't want to put my whole $200 in the pot, so I fold. Down $80 in the first 5 minutes.

About 10 minutes later, I get the rest of my $120 in the middle with the second nut straight. There was 4 to a straight on the board and I didn't think the nut straight was out there since they would have had to call a big bet on the flop with a gut shot. Much to my chagrin, there were two other players who called my bet and they both had the same straight.

Kory finally was moved to my table just in time for the biggest cash game bluff I have pulled off in quite a while. A young man with a wool beanie and mirrored sun glasses had sat down not long after I had arrived. He looked like someone who might take the game seriously but not play too well. He was in early position and raised to $7. It was folded to me on the button and I called with the 6-7 of diamonds.

The flop was 2-3-5 with one diamond. The young guy led out for $10 and I called. I figured the flop looks pretty innocent and he could be betting with anything. Plus I have a gutshot and backdoor flush draw, so maybe I can win a big pot.

The turn was a black 6. Now I have top pair with a crappy kicker. My opponent checks. I bet $40 to try and take the pot away. The kid did not look happy when I called the flop, and he really looked like he struggled to find the call on the turn. I could have played conservative and try to get to show down if he had Ace-King but I don't know in the long run if one way is better than the other.

The river paired the 3. He checks again, and now I put the remainder of my chips in the middle which was $110. Once he struggled with the call on the turn and checked the river, I was pretty sure he had a small pocket pair like 77,88,99. The board was pretty scary since there was a possible straight, full house, or even just an over pair to his in my range. He looked pretty sick to his stomach when I made the bet. He never really tried to get a read on me, he just kept looking at the board and his hand for about 3 minutes.

Kory asked me if there was a time limit to making a decision. I said, "I could call the clock, but I think it's pretty rude". The dealer then to my dismay said, "You're on the clock" to the other player. I told the dealer that I didn't want the clock called, but she started telling the other player that he had taken 3 minutes and it was time to make a decision. I think the dealer was a little impatient because another dealer was behind her ready to push her out of her down. Anyways, he finally called with his pocket 8's and I lost my first buy in.

Kory was shocked that I didn't have a full house. The rest of the table was pretty stunned as well. I told my opponent "good call" and reached in my money clip for another $200. Surprisingly I was not too upset about losing the hand. I was happy with myself for making a good read on his cards and following my instinct. I was truly playing the man and not the cards. I definitely think my bluff was a positive Expected Value move, it just didn't work this one time.

In the mean time, I was starting to get a read on the rest of the table and realizing that if I hit a decent hand, I could probably take all of them down because they tended to over value, medium strength hands.

I went on a decent run and built my $200 back up to around $370 when I got the hand of the night. A quiet man with a baseball cap and an ipod raised to $15 in early position. I had not seen him raise a pot yet, and he seemed to be very tight. It was folded to me on the button and I looked down at QQ. Normally I would reraise, but I genuinely thought he might have AA or KK so I just called. The one legged vet called as well in the small blind.

The flop was a beautiful K-Q-8 with two diamonds. I had the Queen of diamonds. The tight player bet $30. I raised to $100 hoping to charge the guy on my left if he had some kind of draw. Plus if the first player has AA, he's probably coming along. Well the vet on my left called and the tight player folded.

The turn was a 9 of hearts. I bet $250 which only left me with about $40 left. He called again quickly. Now I'm worried that he got there with J-T or something silly. The river was a low card. I checked and he checked. He said, "I have Kings". As I rolled over my set of Queens I asked, "Do you have one in your hand or two?" He quickly flashed the K-T and I won a monster pot.

The vet was pissed. Apparently he had lost a good bit of money yesterday and was very proud of himself that he had won most of it back Saturday evening, until I took it all away from him. What a horrible call he made!

Getting back to Kory, he had been nursing his small stack for over an hour. Unfortunately I took some of his money on a couple of unlucky hands for him. The first one we both flopped a flush, but mine was higher. Another hand, I hit a third Jack on the river when he and another guy had both paired their Ace on the flop.

At one point I was up over $400. Then I lost a pot to another woman when she turned a straight against my JJ with a 6-7. I got away from it on the river when she raised. I was thinking about packing it in and that pretty much convinced me it was time to go.

As I was racking up my chips, I saw Kory finally get paid off when he flopped a set of Aces and the other player had turned a set of 6's. That got him back up over $120 in his stack.

I left a $312 winner and started driving home. About 15 minutes into my drive, Kory called to tell me that he had made a heroic comeback and had turned his little stack into $400 in 10 minutes. Then the table grumbled when he racked up and left even for the night. Congrats to Kory. He says he wants to keep playing the bigger game, so I hope he keeps running well.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

It Feels Good To Win

Since my last post I had a tremendously bad session at 5-500 Spread Limit Hold'em at the Casino Arizona followed by a fun winning streak which has won that money back and more.

The 5-500 game is a little out of my bankroll league. I am relatively comfortable with the stakes, but when the poker bankroll is between $4,000 and $5,000 I'm pretty sure that variance can raise it's ugly head and wipe me out if I played regularly. I think you need about $10,000 to play that game on a regular basis.

Occasionally I like to take a shot at it when I feel like playing "high". My bad session was marked by two hands, both against the same guy. The first one was when I ran my Ace-King into his two Kings and all the money got in preflop. My opponent had started the hand with less than $200 so I don't think I'll do too bad getting Ace-King all in for 40 BB's in most games.

The second hand, I lost my remaining $300 when we both flopped 3 of a kind but he had me out kicked by one. In a cash game, when you are all in, you are not required to turn over your cards like you are in a tournament. There are many times when players just wait for the cards to run out and then muck after they see they are a loser. However, you do need to show your cards to collect the pot if you are a winner. So it makes no sense to wait, if you have the best hand after your opponent has turned over his cards.

We got all our money in on the turn and I flipped over my hand. My opponent saw my cards and did not look happy. In fact the player next to me commented on that fact and said, "you must be good." The river card was drawn and then he slow rolled me by turning over his hand at the end. So not only was I felted but I was insulted by the slow roll.

This session really depressed me because I was still trying to recover from the $800 plus downswing from the last Las Vegas trip.

After a week or so of laying low, I decided to try the big game again. It was a Saturday night after a two day golf tournament in which I had played 54 holes and drank a decent amount of beer.

The line up in this game was much more to my liking. They were mostly loose passive preflop and tight after the flop. I was not getting many cards at the beginning, but I would steal an occasional pot to keep my stack at it's starting level of $300.

Then I picked up good old Ace-King in the small blind. There were a couple of calls and then I raised to $25. Joel, a middle aged man who looked like he could be a part of the Russian mob, was the only caller. I have seen Joel at the tables before, so I assumed he at least knew what he was doing. The flop was ragged and I fired a $35 bet hoping to take it down. Joel calls. The turn doesn't look like it helps anyone and I bet $75 this time. Joel calls again and quickly.

Now I'm pretty sure he must have at least a pair. Not many players in these games will call two bets with your standard draws. The river misses me again and I am determined not to put another chip in the pot so I check. Joel checks as well and says, "I missed". I roll over my Ace high and drag a nice pot. So not only do I win a decent pot, but I get to advertise that I will fire two bullets on a bluff if I think someone is weak.

The very next hand, Joel is under the gun and decides to straddle to $10. I am now on the button. Everyone folds to me and I look down at AJo. I raise to $30 and Joel calls. The flop is a beautiful A-J-2 rainbow.

Joel checks to me and the hand is playing out exactly like the last one. I bet $30. Joel says, "Did you hit something this time" sarcastically and calls. The turn is a 7. He checks and I bet $60 which he calls again.

The river is a 9. Joel checks for a 3rd time and I decide to try and get some value. I bet $100 leaving me $140 behind. Joel still has me covered. Joel immediately moves all in. A check raise on the river in these games is very rare and almost never a bluff. I thought about it for a while and the problem was that he could literally have any two cards because he straddled. It's probably not the best reason to call, but I rationalized that I just had too much money invested in the pot and going broke with top two pair in this situation would not weigh on my conscious. I called. Joel rolled over 9-2 for a rivered two pair which he thought was good. I quickly showed my A-J and watched his mood turn from joy to anger in a millisecond. He stormed off to go to the ATM while I raked in a huge pot.

It is very rare when you establish your image at the poker table against one opponent and the very next hand, you get to use that image against them. It is a beautiful thing when it happens.

I ended up $540 for the night which erased my earlier loss. Since then I have been on quite a roll.

I have played 3-6 limit at the casino twice and won $110 and $60. I have been playing .25-.50 PLO online and finally found a level with lots of bad players so I can now win. I played a quick session of Rush .50-$1 No Limit and won $80. Plus I have found a new fertile hunting ground, the Rush $12 multi table Sit and Gos.

These start with 150 players and it is played in the Rush format until the final table. Rush tables allow you to fold your hand before it is even your turn to act and then the computer takes you to a brand new table and a new hand almost instantaneously. Even though the structure is a turbo, you can see many more hands per level in this format, than a standard Sit and Go.

Since you can see more hands, it would make sense to be patient and wait for good hands. The great part is that most of the players have not figured this out. They see "Turbo" and think they have to make crazy plays and double up as soon as possible. So far this has allowed me to get paid off quite frequently on my good hands.

So far I have played 9 of these and cashed in 3. The last one was my best where I managed a 4th place for $150. The other two were min cashs. We'll see if my strategy pans out or if I just happen to be running good.

On the golf front, I have continued my winning ways. I beat Bill in our 4th match out at Whirlwind 77-80 to take a 4-0 lead. I was one under par after the front nine and started to think about whether I could shoot par for the first time. That is not the proper mindset, plus I had a couple of bad breaks on the back nine, but I was very happy with how I played.

Currently I am up 13 strokes on the cumulative score bet for $65 plus the $200 overall bet. I offered him a buy out of $250 bet he told me to go fuck myself so I guess I will just have to smash him when we play today.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Best Weekend of the Year?!

Saturday was the first qualifying round for the Club Championship at the Country Club. Bill managed to get a hall pass to try and qualify as well, so we arranged with the Pro shop to play together and take care of match #4. I am currently ahead 3 - 0 and feeling very confident.

Bill went through the trouble to actually take a lesson on Thursday to fix his broken swing. He called me after his session on the range very excited and told me that I should be very worried. I'll let him in on a little secret. I wasn't very worried.

Golf is a fickle game. Sometimes a new swing thought or slight adjustment can make all the difference. Most of the time a lesson tends to mess with your head. You hit it good on the range in front of the pro, but the first time on the course you tend to revert to your old ways because you have not ingrained the new move yet. Since Bill rarely practices, I was pretty sure whatever the pro was going to tell him, was not going to stick with him for very long. Especially in a pressure situation like the Club Championship Qualifying.

We both started off well with pars on the first hole. I was in great position to look at birdie as I had a wedge in my hand for the third shot, but I bladed it and had a really tough putt from the back of the green all the way to the front. I made a 12 footer for par, which was the first of many great par saves.

Bill's demise began on the second hole when what looked like a good shot on the short par 3, managed to find the water. I hit the green and two putted for par, while Bill made 5.

I don't remember too much about Bill's play on #3, #4, or #5 except that they weren't pars. I made a bogey on 3. On #4 I pushed my drive way right and had to lay up 40 yards short of the green. I hit a great wedge shot to 4 feet and made my par.

On #5, I laid up short of the left fairway bunker with a 5 wood and then hit a great pitching wedge that almost rolled in. I had 15 feet left for birdie and just missed it for an easy par.

#6 is a tough par 4 and this is where Bill really fell apart. I hit another drive way right and Bill followed me over even farther to the right. I had to lay up by hitting a wedge over the trees. Bill was under a tree where he could not make a full swing. He was near the tee box for hole #5 and there were players waiting to hit their tee shots. There was an opening for him to hit the ball to the left and get back into the fairway. Bill was frustrated and a little embarrassed to be where he was in front of these other players. He never looked left. He couldn't go at the pin, because there were trees in the way. Instead he decided to punch out to the right which was stupid because he was still going to have all kinds of tree issues.

After punching out, he took a full swing on his third shot and hit a tree. His 4th shot hit the green and two putted for another 6.

Bill was starting to think about quitting because we were getting Masters updates and his boy, Phil Mickelson was in the hunt. I hit a good drive on the long par 5. Bill yanked his drive left into the trees. We heard it hit the trees but we couldn't see where it bounced off to. Our third playing partner, Chris, said he saw a ball straight down and that's where we started our search. We found a Titliest ball right away and Bill hit a good recovery shot, between the trees that was rolling down the fairway but then in an indication of how his day was going, it just barely trickled into the fairway bunker.

As Bill was getting ready to hit his third shot, Rob came over from the 6th fairway and asked if Bill had hit his ball. Sure enough, Bill looked down at the ball in the bunker and recognized that he had made a huge blunder. Bill was a little mad at Chris for claiming he had found Bill's ball. I have always told Bill that he should make some kind of mark on his ball to identify it, but he has always refused to do it and this is probably the third time I have seen him hit the wrong ball.

Meanwhile, I had hit a good 3 wood down the fairway and had 100 yards to the hole. I hit a solid wedge but it went over the pin and landed 35 feet from the hole. I had a really tough putt that would have been easy to putt right off the front of the green. I hit a pretty good lag putt but still left myself about 5 feet for par. I made the tough putt and stood 2 over par after 7 holes. Bill carded a 9 after the two shot penalty and was 12 over par after 7 holes. He handed me his score card, wished me good luck and walked back into the club house to watch the rest of the Masters.

Part of our bet included a gross score portion where the loser would pay the winner $5 per stroke for every stroke they were behind in gross total for the series. I mentioned this to Bill before he quit and he said to come up with something fair for the round and he would pay it.

I went on to card a 3 over 39 on the front nine. I hit a great 5 iron on #10 to reach the green in two. I made a tough two putt and parred the second hardest hole on the course.

On #11 I was on the green in 2 shots but had a 30 foot putt up the hill for birdie. I gave it a pretty good rap since it was up hill. The line looked good from the beginning but the ball wasn't slowing down. It hit the back of the cup at a good speed and managed to stay in the hole for birdie!

On #12 I barely cleared the lake on the right, but I was under the big tree just beyond the hazard. I had to hit a pitching wedge under the first tree and over the second tree in front of the green. I hit a great shot that ended up 4 feet from the hole. I made that putt and suddenly I had birdied two holes in a row.

The next hole is the start of our club's Amen corner. It's a long 195 yard par 3 with a big lake on the right of the green. I over swung on my hybrid and pulled my shot to the left. It hit a small pine tree 20 yards short of the green and landed underneath the tree. The pin was so close to the front of the green that I did not want to take the chance of trying to hit a high lob shot and coming up short. Instead I hit an 8 iron chip shot that ran up the front of the green and 20 feet past the hole. Now I faced a severe downhill left to right putt for par. I was just trying to nudge it up close and two putt, but my putt rolled past the hole and on to the fringe in front of the green 10 feet past the hole. I missed the combacker for bogey and suddenly erased the two shots I had made up with the birdies.

I thought I had righted the ship when I hit a decent drive on 14 and managed to keep the ball off of Osborn and out of the equipment yard. The problem was that I had tree issues on the right hand side. I tried to hit a 3 metal punch shot low under the trees. Instead my club got under the ball and my shot went too high and into the tree. It made it through the tree but I still had another tree to hit under for my 3rd shot. This time I hit a good punch shot with my 8 iron from 110 yards. It landed in front of the green and bounded through and over the back. Now I had to hit a flop shot to try and get it close. I hit a pretty good one, but I was still 15 feet away for bogey. The cup was cut in the side of a hill so even though I hit a good putt, it rolled away from the hole and left me 4 feet for double bogey. I shakily hit that one in and now I really needed something good to happen.

#15 was the last hole of Amen corner and it was 185 yards into the wind over water. I tried to hit my hybrid again and pulled it left again. This spot is usually dead, because if you go past the green, you have to hit a high shot over a bunker to a green that slopes away from you and a lake on the other side of the green. Now I had a tree directly in my line to the pin, so I was looking for a way to advance my ball closer to the green so I could have a chance at a bogey 4. I decided my best option was to punch out to the right in the fairway short of the hole. This would leave me a 40 yard shot where I would not have to worry about putting the ball in the water and bringing a 6 into play.

I hit a good punch and hit a great wedge shot to 5 feet. I made the putt for 4 and actually felt good about it.

My game came together for a brief moment on 16 as I hit my second shot to the short right pin to 4 feet. Even though my birdie putt was short, it was very down hill and if it was to go more than a foot past the hole, there was a good chance it may roll clear off the green. Somehow I managed to leave this putt 1 inch short. So I was disappointed, but also relieved that at least I finally made a stress free par.

I bogeyed 17 and then played 18 about as flawlessly as I could play it. I had 108 yards to the green for my 3rd shot on the par 5. The pin was tucked to the right hugging the lake. I made a great swing and the ball landed hole high, 20 feet left of the pin. I made a good lag putt and tapped in for a 78. This was the first time I had broken 80 in a two or three months and it was in a pressure situation from the back tees. I was really proud of myself.

Sunday, I spent the afternoon watching the final round of the Masters. I was happy for Phil Mickelson to win. He made some amazing shots to save par and his 2nd shot on 13 from out of the woods was one of the best shots the Masters has ever seen.

Mickelson winning, cost me $75 in my bet with Bill. I had Anthony Kim and Tiger Woods on my team, but Bill had Mickelson and Lee Westwood. Bill called and offered that instead of paying him $75, that I forgive all his strokes in our golf match and call it even. Since I was going to offer him $50 as the buy out amount, I guess that means I made $25.

Then tonight, I had the pleasure of taking in a Suns game. It was a great game that went down to the wire until the Suns got hot from the 3 point line and pulled away.

I can't think of many things I would rather do on a weekend then what I did in the past 48 hours.