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Movie Reviews: Hustlers, The Addams Family, Aladdin, and more

October 22, 2019

Hustlers (2019) – I don’t get it. This movie is at 88% on Rotten Tomatoes and has a 79 score on MetaCritic, with one critic even calling it “era-defining”, but I could barely stomach the whole film. It’s not an atrocious movie, but the characters are so hollow and the story so boring, I thought about leaving at multiple points to do something else with my day. Yes… a movie starring Jennifer Lopez as a stripper is somehow nearly unwatchable.
4/10 (Forgettable)

The Addams Family (2019) – Sometimes I go to the movies just to go and this would be one of those times. I’m not necessarily a fan of the old show or the movies from the ’90s, but I appreciate the dark humor and horror themes of the franchise. This movie was mostly forgettable, with Wednesday played by Chloe Grace Moretz providing almost all the highlights. It’s a decent first installment, but I can see eventual sequels being a lot better.
5/10 (Decent)

Aladdin (2019) – I suppose it works. The 1992 original is a top 3 traditionally animated Disney movie for me and I think this remake works largely as a function of the source material being so good. However, much like every other Disney live action remake so far save The Jungle Book it lacks the magic that made the original so special. Yes, the songs are all here and they are still great – even with some slight changes – but they just don’t feel the same. Asking Will Smith to live up to the vocal performance of Robin Williams as The Genie is an impossible task, but he actually does a fine job and certainly isn’t a negative in the movie. Something that absolutely doesn’t work for me in this movie is the casting of Jafar. It’s astonishing that a big budget company like Disney and a capable director like Guy Ritchie could actually think this version of Jafar is even remotely acceptable.
5/10 (Decent)

Ready or Not (2019) – This is a lot of fun, with a star-making performance from Samara Weaving. I wish they didn’t spoil some of the best scenes in the trailer, but I still found the movie plenty enjoyable. Weaving is hilarious and this movie is certainly worth checking out.
6/10 (Recommended)

The Peanut Butter Falcon (2019) – One of the surprise films of the year and arguably Shia LaBeouf’s best performance of his career, The Peanut Butter Falcon is a heartwarming story of a man with Down syndrome that runs away from his nursing home to pursue a professional wrestling career and finds himself making some unlikely friendships along the way.
7/10 (Highly Enjoyable)

Booksmart (2019) – I was expecting more… like one of the better movies of the year more. Instead, I found the far less mature Good Boys to be the more enjoyable Superbadesque raunchy coming-of-age comedy this year. This is still worth watching though and I think Beanie Feldstein has a bright future.
6/10 (Recommended)

The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part (2019) – A fine, somewhat worthy sequel, but everything about the first one was waaaaay better.
5/10 (Decent)

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October 2019 Week 2: Poker is Hard… Really, Really Hard.

October 16, 2019

Spoiler alert in the post title. This has not been a good week. Maybe it’s a bit dramatic to say that it has been devastating, but I’m reaching a point in my year where I’ve realized I’ve had to fight tooth and nail for all my profit in 2019. Maybe I’ve been spoiled in the past. Maybe I’ve run way above expectation historically. I don’t know. But what I do know is that I’ve never struggled like this before. Not for this long. Not this consistently. It seems like every single month I’m digging myself a hole and spending the last week or two trying to get out of it. My overall results aren’t horrendous, but they have been quite middling. If I keep up the same pace for the rest of the year, my final result will be about half as good as any of my year end results for any of the past three years. I’m sure fluctuations in this business are super normal (especially when you don’t bink a tournament), but that’s still a pretty steep drop.

Well, let’s get to the sessions.

I showed up early to Palace on Wednesday to watch MLB playoffs and started my day off with an 8/16 Hold’em session. I folded to my big blind and got a free flop with the 63o for a potential Coast session. It looked really promising when the board fell Q637K and I bet all the way and just got called down by one of the limpers… but after I showed my hand he turned over the Q3 suited for a better two pair. The other people that saw the hand started razzing him about why he just called me all the way and he just said, “I’m scared of him.”

That guy obviously doesn’t read my blog.

It looked like I was going to have a pretty sizable loss for a short session, but I raised a bunch of limpers from the small blind with AQdd, got a free card on a flop of T9x with one diamond, check-called a jack turn and then got two callers when I drilled the king on the end.

That pot somewhat salvaged things and I moved to PLO only stuck -$108 for the day.

I’ve been having a lot of mixed feelings about PLO lately. I thought I was running above expectation the first two years of the game and it seems pretty clear now that I definitely was… plus the game has seen a dramatic shift. The complexion of the game is a lot worse than it used to be. It’s the same people in the starting lineup every week and instead of a bunch of loose players that have no idea what they are doing punting stacks left and right, it is mostly experienced regulars sitting down. I mean… how often is a situation going to come up where I’m going to stack a Lee Markholt?

Especially if I’m playing bad?

I call $15 on the button in a multiway pot with AK42 double suited. The flop is A84 with two clubs, giving me two pair and the nut flush draw. The PFR (who raised from UTG) leads out for a full pot-sized bet of $90, Part-Time (yeah, I’m going back to that… Mr. Freeze is a dumb name for him) calls, and action is to me. The PFR has like $400 behind to start the flop action and I have a little over $500 myself. I raised the pot, she jammed all in, and Part-Time got out of the way. We agreed to run it twice and her set of aces held up on both boards. I was pretty mad at myself for getting it in here, but I think that’s a bit results oriented because the turn card on the first board paired the 8 and I felt like I would have had to fold at that point and could have saved my stack. But I think an 8 is the only card that would make me want to fold, so the money is probably almost always going in on the turn.

I call $15 with AQQ3 single suited from the big blind and decide to lead out on the 532 two club board when I flop the nut flush draw. Part-Time is my only caller from the small blind. I bet $135 when the turn bricks off with a 9 and he calls again. And because I hate money and my game is super sharp in this session, I bet $200 on the jack river and he reluctantly calls me with his set of deuces. Boom. Another $400 punted.

Part-Time raises under the gun to $15 without looking at his hand and I’m next to act with TT22 double suited. Since the table is short-handed at this point, I decide to 3-bet it and hope to get it heads up. Mission accomplished. Part-Time calls $50 and we see a flop of Q87 with two spades. This gives me a ten high flush draw and four outs to a set – not much of a hand to speak of. I have some key blockers to the best straight draws though, so that’s something to keep in mind. I decide to check back and take a free turn card. It’s an offsuit 9 and when Part-Time makes it $80, I decide to use my blockers to represent the nuts and make a pot-sized raise to $305. It works out well, as he responds by stuffing it in my face. Now there’s over $900 in the pot and I only have about $200 behind and my flush draw is probably live. I’m getting 4.6 to 1 on a call here, so I need around 18% equity to call and a flush draw with one card to go is right around that number, so calling off seems pretty neutral… but it feels like a massive punt. Another massive punt. I make the call and Part-Time only wants to run it once. I bink a ten on the river, which gives me a brief glimpse of hope, but my set gives him a straight with the KJ in his hand and he had a set of queens before that anyway.

I took a break after basically felting for the third time in the session and I really had to wonder what was going on. It’s not like I was playing any hands. I was super card dead, but I still managed to punt off three buy-ins with three different flush draws. I decided to go play some Ultimate Hold’em in the pit because my boy Mexi Nugget was dealing at that table and the Nationals and Dodgers were tied in the 9th inning of Game 5 of the NLDS and Mexi Nugget is a die hard Dodgers fan and I had my Nats hat on because I bet them to win the World Series when they were 32-1. I don’t ever play in the pit unless I’m using a Match Play, but this was a social play so we could watch the end of the game together and I managed to win a little money while laughing at his misfortune as the Nats took a four run lead and eventually advanced to the NLCS.

I decided to sit back down in PLO after that and put myself at risk of having an all-time worst session. It seems like this should have happened already, but somehow a -$2300 I posted all the way back in June of 2016 is still the most money I’ve ever lost in a single play. That probably has more to do with my pain threshold than anything else though. It seems like when I’m down around $1500 or so in a live game, I start to unravel emotionally and find myself wanting to disappear instead of accepting the challenge before me and grind my way out of it. That’s something to work on, for sure.

Anyways, I sat back down and the game was really short-handed – five of us, I think. I made a little bit of a comeback, but only one hand during this span really sticks out in my mind. I decided to open with the 6532 single suited and Scarecrow was my only caller. Scarecrow was running insanely good in this session; I think he ended up winning over $5000, which is totally absurd. Anyways, he defends his blind here and then donks $35 on a Q42 rainbow flop. This board smacked me obviously, but it really shouldn’t be that good for my range, so I decide to just call. The turn is an offsuit 3, giving me the nuts, and Scarecrow bets $100. Again, I decide to just call because I want him to keep betting on the river and the hands he can have that can stand a raise aren’t numerous. I would be surprised if he called a pot-sized raise with two pair. Naturally, the river pairs the queen and when he bets $215, I make the call because I fucking hate money and he shows me the Q4 full house.

Unreal. The game broke shortly after that and I booked a cool -$1256 in the PLO streets and felt like I played some of my worst possible poker.

Here are my PLO win rates at Palace the last three years:
2017: $103.74/hr
2018: $85.98/hr
2019: $7.86/hr

Uhm yeah. I’ve reached a point where I’m wondering if I should even be targeting that game anymore. In addition to running quite salty this year, I’ve come to find myself feeling really bored when I play PLO. The pace of the game can be brutally slow and sometimes you go weeks in between hands where you find yourself in an amazing spot to stack someone. I’ve played entire sessions where I felt like I maybe shouldn’t have played even a single hand. Or maybe I just need to study and practice more. I didn’t put my name up for this week’s game and I think I’m going to take at least a few weeks off from PLO to get my mind right.

My plan on Thursday was to play the $400 NL event in the Muckleshoot Classic series, but then the Tampa Bay Rays went and shocked the world by forcing a Game 5 with the Houston Astros and I wasn’t about to miss that. MLB Playoffs > No Limit Hold’em tournaments. I feel like if I’m playing an NL tourney, I should be focusing on the action at the table as much as I can and I knew I wouldn’t be doing that during the baseball game, so skipping the tourney and playing 8/16 at Palace seemed like the right call. I could enjoy the game and give it my full attention while possibly auto-piloting my way to some income.

Alas, I was extremely card dead and managed to lose the few pots I did play and sometime around the 8th inning, my wife messaged me saying how much she missed me, so I went home after the Astros knocked off the Rays and booked a -$343 in less than three hours of play.

Friday night’s 15/30 session started with a lineup of Taz, FanBoy, Animal, Radio Mike, Mighty Mouse, Scrappy Doo and a new name I’m adding to the nickname section: Dreamcrusher. Head on over to Blog Nicknames to read the write up I did for this player today.

This session started off innocently enough. I made it to my first break with $20 of sugar after around 90 minutes of play. The most interesting spot during this stretch was finding myself with red aces on QJTccTc in a heads up pot versus the small blind. It feels super gross to bet the turn and fold here when I can check back and show down for the same price, but a) I don’t think my opponent in this hand will fold a queen or a jack in this spot and b) I don’t think he is capable of turning whatever he has into a bluff. Even check-raising a hand like AcQ is a pretty ambitious play on this board texture against an under the gun raiser. As such, I’m confident I can bet the turn and river for value and fold if he raises me with little concern that I’m laying down the best hand, so that’s what I did when he check-raised the turn. I’m not folding aces in heads up limit Hold’em pots… like ever… but this felt like an early moment of clarity for me and I still feel good about the fold.

Two hours later, I’d be taking my second break of the session and it’s safe to say things had unraveled. I was now stuck just over $1000. I mean… what in the FUCK? This 15/30 game is unbeatable for me all the sudden? Every Friday it’s the same shit.

There were a couple of brutal ones during this stretch.

In one pot, I had AJo in a 3-bet multiway pot and the flop was A53 rainbow. Scrappy Doo called 3-bets from the big blind and then donked into two raisers on the flop, but I felt compelled to raise because I don’t want anyone else to call for a single bet. That cleared the field out but then Scrappy 3-bet it and I called down without improving even though this is a line I never expect to be winning against. The 5 did pair on the river, so there was at least some chance I sucked out on A3. But I paid it off and Scrappy Doo turns over the 42 offsuit. In a 3-bet pot. I’m pretty sure that’s not a hand he’s defending with 100% of the time, but I’m sure glad he decided to gamble with it here.

In another hand, Dreamcrusher raises under the gun, I 3-bet TT next to act, and Taz calls 3 cold in the next spot. The three of us see a flop of 642 rainbow and I lead and 3-bet when Taz raises me. All three of us are still in for the turn. Perhaps I should be concerned when a 3 falls on 4th street after Dreamcrusher calls two bets cold on the flop, but I was very sure I had the best hand on the flop, and I didn’t think the turn should help her under the gun opening range (at a full table)… but I know Dreamcrusher is capable of playing almost any two cards from any position in almost any situation… so whether or not the turn should help an under the gun opening range is pretty fucking irrelevant here. In the moment, I bet the turn like a dummy and then paid her off after she check-raised and bet the river. She showed me the 75 offsuit.

I made it to one more break. I suppose I was already crumbling under the weight of another poor session on top of weeks of run bad in this particular game, but I was about to snap. I probably played another hour or two and during that span I ran super hot preflop and ultra bad after the flop. I lost with QQ to AK when my opponent called down and rivered a pair with no other draw in sight. I had JJ vs KQ on a QT973 run out in a massive pot. I had AK on a KT8cc79c runout and didn’t even bother calling a river bet. I had QTcc vs J9 on JT9cKQ in a massive pot I ended up having to chop. I had QQ again against a single big blind defender and got a disconnected king high board and of course he had K2 offsuit. And then I had TT vs 77 on K7447 in one of my final hands of the night. That last one was against FanBoy and I’m pretty sure he’s cognizant of the fact that I’m tilted out of my mind and making sharp folds is no longer on my agenda, but I decided to give him three streets of value anyway. That last one upset me so much that I decided to call it a night. Not because I lost another hand, but because I was clearly making very bad decisions and my emotions were out of control.

I ended up finishing -$1875 and I only played 6.5 hours. That ranks as my third worse session I’ve ever had in the 15/30 game at Palace and my performance in this game in 2019 has become alarming. Again, let’s take a look at my 15/30 win rates the last three years at Palace:
2017: $31.19/hr
2018: $58.05/hr
2019: $9.12/hr

Yes. This year has been depressing.

Even though I left the game early and my plan was always to play the Main Event of the Muckleshoot Classic on Saturday, I went home Friday night on the fence about it. I was really stewing and a good part of me knew that it would be a dumb idea to try to play a major tournament the next day. I decided to sleep on it and set my alarm for 8 AM to see how I felt in the morning. Well, my alarm went off at 8 and I gave getting up zero thought before turning it off and going back to sleep. I woke up a few hours later and didn’t even bother to look up how long late registration was open. I just took the day off and that means I missed an entire Muckleshoot Classic for the first time in 5.5 years. That means I’m going to have to grind my way to my annual standards of income the old fashioned way.

I played in the 10/20 Omaha 8 game at Palace on Sunday. After getting huge lists for the Sunday O8 game the first two weeks, this past week saw a massive dip in attendance. I can hardly blame the customers. The first two weeks we had a full game and a list that was 10+ deep all day of people that specifically came to play in the 10/20 game. However, both weeks the staff didn’t start a second red chip game because they didn’t want to break the 4/8 O8 game. Well, there’s a 4/8 O8 game every other day of the week… I don’t see why that needs to be a priority on the day they are trying to spread a bigger game and attract a different player pool. What happens when you lock out a full table worth of people that want to play 10/20 and force them to play 4/8? Not once, but two weeks in a row? They stop coming in. So there wasn’t much of a list to speak of in week 3 and the game started to fizzle around 7:30pm and was completely dead by 8pm (after going past midnight the first two weeks) and honestly, it makes me wonder about the future strength of the game. The players have already been conditioned to think that if they don’t have a seat to start the game, they might as well not even show up. Good job, Palace.

I got off to a terrible start in O8, reaching a low point of -$700 or so, but I rallied back before the game crumbled and ended up booking a $356 profit.

And then I was somewhat surprised when The Leak decided she wanted to play 8/16 and we ended up playing for another 6+ hours. I had some miserable moments in this session, taking the $611 I brought to the table and nearly turning it into $0. In fact, there was a hand where I would have been all in if I had bet the turn and river, but I checked back second pair and ended up winning the pot. I don’t ever get all in in a limit game, so that would have been a first. Like… the players at Palace have never seen in happen… in 5+ years. I just didn’t feel like reloading because I didn’t even really feel like playing. Fortunately, I rebounded and ended up booking a rather small loss, thanks to this pot:

The hijack opens, Radio Mike 3-bets from the cutoff and I cap with AK of spades on the button and it’s just the three of us. The flop is AJ9 with two spades and it checks to me. I bet, the HJ calls, and Mike check-raises. I think Radio Mike is overly passive after the flop, so AK is not in great shape against his check-raising range on this board texture, but since I have the nut flush draw as well and there’s a third player in the pot, I go ahead and 3-bet it anyway. They both call. I’m planning to check back a blank turn, but it’s a king and I feel like that gives me the best hand most of the time, so I bet and they both call again. The river is another ace and I’m a little surprised to see Radio Mike lead out. It’s a bit of a weird play. I actually thought he might have AJ on the flop or maybe a set, but the sets seemed highly unlikely when he just calls on the turn. Anyways, I have the nuts here, so I raise and he asks, “do you have quads,” and I respond, “you know I don’t have quads” (because it seems like he has to have AJ or A9 here). But then it is clear that he doesn’t have an ace and he asks if I have AK and I say, “yes,” but that doesn’t stop him from putting in the call and I’m somewhat shocked to see that he had pocket jacks.

That hand somewhat salvaged my session and I finished 8/16 -$78.

All in all, it was a -$3360 week of live poker for me – a devastating blow after finally getting off to a good start and, once again, I find myself stuck in the middle of a month. So what’s that, nine months in a row I’ve been stuck at the midway point? I’ve only had two losing months this year, so the final results aren’t terrible, but it’s not much fun fighting an uphill battle. Every. Single. Month. On the bright side, I had a rare very good week in online mix games to somewhat soften the blow.

On another bright side, this month marks three years since I last clocked in for a day job. That seems like an accomplishment worth celebrating. When I look at my bankroll when I quit working and compare it to now, it doesn’t feel like I’ve made much progress, but then I remember that we’ve bought two houses, I paid off my student loans, started an IRA, and cleared all our unnecessary debt and that seems pretty damn cool. That’s something to keep in mind during what has certainly been a down year for me. Poker has been good to us and I’ve made considerably more money playing poker than I ever did working a day job.

Stay the course.

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September/August 2019 Music

October 11, 2019

I always hear people complaining about how bad music is nowadays and they couldn’t be more wrong. In fact, there is more quality music flooding the industry than ever before. It’s impossible to listen to it all, but… I try to. I give everything a chance and at the end of every month I’ll post everything I listened to and how much, what my favorite album was, what the other must have albums are, and what songs I added to my 2019 Bangers Playlist.

Stop complaining and take some guidance!

Because some albums come out later in the month and I don’t get much of a chance to listen to them before making my post, I’ve decided to make my new music posts containing all albums I’ve listened to over the last two months. New albums for the most recent month will be in bold.

Also, check out my 2019 Albums page to see where I have rated any albums I’ve formed a solid opinion on.

September Note: I didn’t get to listen to much music this past month and nothing new really got much attention (and not a lot of interesting new music came out anyway) and none of last month’s albums got extra spins either. As such, there isn’t much movement in my rotations below.

HEAVY ROTATION (heard whole album many times)

EARTHGANG – Mirrorland
Little Brother – May the Lord Watch
Rapsody – Eve
SiR – Chasing Summer

SOLID ROTATION (heard whole album at least twice)

Rick Ross – Port of Miami 2

COURTESY ROTATION (heard whole album)

38 Spesh – A Bullet for Every Heathen
Black Milk – DiVE
BROCKHAMPTON – GINGER
Jidenna – 85 to Africa
Joell Ortiz – Monday
Missy Elliott – ICONOLOGY EP
Ras Kass – Soul on Ice 2
Snoop Dogg – I Wanna Thank Me

SKIM ROTATION (haven’t heard whole album)

Alchemist – Yacht Rock 2
Bon Iver – i,i
Bun B – Bun B Day – EP
Common – Let Love
Dame D.O.L.L.A. – Big D.O.L.L.A.
Ghostface Killah – Ghostface Killahs
Justine Skye – BARE WITH ME – EP
KXNG Crooked – The Weeklys, Vol. 3
Post Malone – Hollywood’s Bleeding
Raphael Saadiq – Jimmy Lee
Snoh Aalegra – Ugh, those feels again

Out of Rotation (removed from my current playlist)

A$AP Ferg – Floor Seats
Curren$y – Hot August Nights
Obie Trice – The Fifth
Slum Village – The Source
Taylor Swift – Lover
Tool – Fear Inoculum
Young Thug – So Much Fun

TOO NEW (zero listens)

Kemba – Gilda
Kevin Gates – I’m Him
Skyzoo & Pete Rock – Retropolitan

ALBUM OF THE MONTH

EARTHGANGMirrorland – This is really the only new album I gave more than a courtesy listen to in the past month, but it’s a good one. EARTHGANG is part of J.Cole’s Dreamville imprint, a hip-hop label that now rivals Kendrick Lamar’s T.D.E. as the best collective in rap music. I can see old school listeners wanting to dismiss EARTHGANG and loop them in with the influx of trap crap that is invading the airwaves these days, but that would be a huge mistake. I’ve seen more than a few people compare EARTHGANG to Outkast and while the comparison has some merit – mostly because both groups hail from Atlanta and the influence is obvious – comparing anyone to Andre 3000 probably isn’t fair. No one in EARTHGANG strikes me as an elite rapper. With that said, you don’t need to be an elite rapper to make really good music and EARTHGANG has a vibe to them that makes their entire album sound cohesive and highly enjoyable, maybe even addictive. As you can see below, I’ve already added five songs from their 14-track album to my Best of 2019 playlist and I don’t think they have a weak song on it. I’ve probably listened to Mirrorland 5-6 times through already and I feel pretty confident saying its firmly in my top 10 albums of 2019 already. J.Cole and co. stay winning.

2019 Bangerz Playlist Additions

Common ft. Daniel Caesar, “HER Love”
Dave, “Black”
EARTHGANG. “Top Down”
EARTHGANG ft. Young Thug, “Proud of U”
EARTHGANG, “This Side”
EARTHGANG, “Avenue”
EARTHGANG ft. Malik, “Fields”
Joell Ortiz, “Captain”
Raphael Saadiq, “Kings Fall”
Scarlet Parke, “What We’ve Become”

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September 2019 Poker Results (and Felix Hernandez’s last game as a Mariner)

October 7, 2019

I’m going to keep this one pretty short and sweet because my last couple posts took so long for me to publish and it would be nice to get on a schedule that’s more current.

I got back from Lincoln City Sunday night and I knew I wasn’t going to be playing poker on Monday or Tuesday because we had this poor little guy scheduled for his neuter appointment early Monday and we wanted someone to be home with him for at least the first three days after his surgery to make sure he wasn’t too swollen or having a hard time recovering.

Hammy was a completely different dog after we had him neutered, much calmer and way more respectful of our house and possessions, and we thought the procedure would have a similar effect on Albus, who we affectionately refer to as The Monster because he’s such a wild animal, but… he was ready to run around and play the day after his surgery and seems to be the same crazy dog we’ve had this past year and that’s fine by me.

I signed up for PLO on Wednesday, but I was such a late sign up and the list was real enough that I didn’t start the game and by the time I would have had a seat, I didn’t really want to play anymore. I had a doctor appointment early in the AM on Thursday in Bremerton, so I wasn’t planning on putting in a power session anyway. I started out in the 4/8 Omaha 8 game and just stayed in 8/16 LHE when my PLO seat came open. I finished -$180 on the day and Scarecrow won over $3k in the PLO game, so I can’t say I feel too great about my decision-making here.

Thursday we played a home game at Scarecrow Station. Yep, that’s what I’m calling the game at Scarecrow’s house from now on. We started out playing 12/24 Mix with 15/30 Overs but bumped the game up to straight 15/30 when Radio Mike left after realizing that the learning curve in mix games you’ve never even heard of is actually quite steep and too expensive for his taste. I wouldn’t mind playing as low as 4/8 if there were more inexperienced players that wanted to learn, but when the majority of us want to play 15/30 or higher, that’s a pretty hard sell.

It’s really tough to find affordable stakes to learn mix games at. I just went over my all-time records and my first six times playing in what I labeled as “mix games” were in a home game at Wildcat Lake in Kitsap County at 2/4 stakes from 2016 to 2017. That’s a nice way to ease into things. The next time I played was in January 2018 and this time it was at 10/20 stakes and I remember thinking it was pretty massive at the time and after I lost $1100+, I was pretty pissed about it. I mean… I had about 50 hours of mix experience total before making the leap to red chip games. However, five months (and three more house/mix sessions) later, I was at the Rio during the WSOP playing my first live mix game session ever and it was at the 20/40 level. My fourth live session ever was at the 40/80 level. Not necessarily because I wanted to play that big, but because there weren’t any other options if I wanted to play mix. Basically what I’m saying is, unless you can gather a group of friends together that don’t mind playing small, you better be willing to lose some money (or hope you run good) if you want to learn how to play all these different games.

Anyways, it was a ho-hum session at Scarecrow Station for me and I finished -$50 in 7.5 hours of play. In fact, Scarecrow was the only person that really won, following up his huge PLO session with another $1000+ win in our home game.

On Friday, we did something different. Billy Dubz was getting sick of seeing us struggle to arrange our home games in the group chat I started (even though we’ve now played 12 sessions in just over three months since I’ve been back from Vegas) and told us the week prior that he was going to host a game on this Friday night, complete with valet parking, crab and lobster dinner, cocktail waitresses, a personal masseuse, and hottub access. Turns out, only some of that was true, but it was still pretty impressive as he got two full games (one mix and one O8) and had a nice food spread laid out. This is my only session of the week that I kept any notes for, so I’ll share a few hands (so much for short and sweet).

2-7 no limit Single Draw, Scarecrow opens to $30, I 3-bet a smooth one card draw to an 8 and Scarecrow caps it for $400. I snap call and we agree to run it twice after declaring that we are both drawing one. I have 8432 and he has 9832. My J8 wins the first draw and his A9 wins the second one when I pair the 2, so we split the pot.

Stud 8, I defend with KK-2 in a multi-way pot vs three low up-cards. The 3rd street opener bricks and so does Scarecrow, but Logan has 75 showing on 4th. Meanwhile, I caught a king, giving me hidden trips and the lead in the hand. My initial plan is to check-raise Logan and force the other two to call two bets cold if they want to continue, but before I can do anything, Logan checks out of turn, so I bet fourth street myself and everyone calls. I lead with 2K3 on 5th and I’m pretty shocked when the 3rd street opener raises me with her board showing 29T. Very nice. Scarecrow folds here (or on 4th) and Logan reluctantly folds his low draw after bricking on 5th, leaving me heads up with someone that almost certainly has three tens in her hand. I 3-bet and she calls. 6th street goes one bet and so does 7th when I river a fourth king and have the pleasure of announcing, “quads” without having a pair showing on my board.

Stud 8, I call a raise with 24-6 with two hearts and two sixes dead. I feel compelled to continue when I catch the queen of hearts on 4th and on 5th I catch a 5 vs boards of 6KK and 289. Scarecrow leads with the kings, Logan calls, and I decide raise it, even though I have seen one of the threes. They both call. I’m not too sure about that raise, but I’ll take a look at that in a bit. On 6th street, Logan catches an ace, giving him a possible low, so even though I pick up a flush draw with the 9 of hearts, betting seems bad when they both check to me and I know neither of them are folding, so I check back and take the free card. 7th street is a 3 for me, giving me a straight and a 65 low, and I’m pretty happy to see Logan lead after Scarecrow checks. I don’t expect Scarecrow to fold two pair and I’m not even sure he would fold naked kings here, suspecting I might be trying to steal half the pot, so I raise it anyway and both of them do call and my hand is good for the scoop.

Here’s a look at that 5th street spot, with some of the hole cards they could possibly have, but painting the situation in my favor a little by not putting any threes in their hands:

In a pretty favorable spot, I have an equity edge, even though I’m not an equity favorite, so raising looks like it is probably right most of the time. I have to give Scarecrow two pair and kill a three (or kill two more threes) to find a spot where raising looks suspect, and even then my equity is around 32%, which makes it a nearly neutral play.

2-7 no limit Single Draw, Billy Dubz opens to $30, Scarecrow calls, Logan calls from the small blind, and I defend with 753xx. The draw goes 1, 2, 1, and 1. I make a 97653, so after Logan checks, I bet $100, Billy Dubz folds, and Scarecrow makes it something like $300 and I snap call and he pretty much immediately turbos his hand into the muck.

I finished that session at +$900.

I started this post like two weeks ago and now it’s October 7th and I’m so far behind that I’m just going to post my results for the rest of the month.

9/21: -$30 in 3 hours of 1/1 NLHE @ Chor’s Chamber (home game)
9/25: +$882 in 7.5 hours of 1/3/5 PLO @ Palace
9/27: -$215 in 10.5 hours of 15/30 LHE @ Palace
9/28: -$300 in 9.5 hours of 15/30 Mix @ Billy Dubz Battlefield (home game)
9/29: +$1305 in 10 hours of 10/20 Limit Omaha 8/B @ Palace (new game on Sundays at 3 PM)

That was quite the final session, accounting for almost all my profit for the entire month, as I finished September with just over $1500 in winnings. It’s been a pretty rough year so far. I’m sitting at 40% of what I won in my worst year as a pro and I only have three full months to close the gap. I guess that’s what happens when you don’t win at least $26,000 in a single tournament like I’ve done in each of the past three years. There’s still a chance to do that though because the Muckleshoot Fall Classic starts in a couple days. I’m only planning to play the $400 event on Thursday and the $750 Main on Saturday/Sunday, so I’m going to have to make it count.

Since the first week of October has already passed and I don’t feel much like writing a separate post for that at this point, I’ll just post those results real quick also. My poor performance so far this year has kind of lit a fire under me and I went ahead in put in 55 hours of volume in the first week of October, but I am doing so knowing that poker won’t be a priority in November, so I have to get busy this month.

10/1: +$670 in 6.5 hours of 8/16 LHE @ Palace (also a Coast-to-Coast session, my fourth overall)
10/2: +$17 in 3 hours of 8/16 LHE @ Palace
10/2: +$276 in 3 hours of 1/3/5 PLO @ Palace
10/3: +$956 in 8 hours of 8/16 LHE @ Palace
10/4: +$800 in 8.25 hours of 15/30 LHE @ Palace
10/5: -$340 in 1.5 hours of 1/3/5 PLO @ Red Dragon
10/5: +$275 in 9 hours of 20/40 Mix @ Red Dragon
10/6: +$305 in 9 hours of 10/20 LO8 @ Palace

That’s a +$2948 start over 49.5 hours in the first six days of October. Here’s to hoping for a huge month!

September Poker Highlights:
*deep run in Chinook Winds Main Event
*month-saving 10/20 O8 session in brand new game at Palace

September Poker Lowlights:
*serious burnout in Lincoln City
*lost in mix games for the month, both online and live

On Deck in October:
*Logic with JID and YBN Cordae @ WaMu Theater on 10/8
*Muckleshoot Fall Classic Series 10/9 to 10/13
*Bunko! at my parents’ house… haven’t played since I was a kid… can’t wait!

Some highlights from Felix Hernandez’s last game as a Mariner:

These videos might be terrible and I certainly didn’t bother to edit them, so watch if you want, but don’t expect a professional cut here.

Felix coming out of the bullpen before the game:

Felix in a bases loaded jam and looking like he could be facing his last batter as a Mariner… but then something cool happens:

Felix comes back out for the top of the inning and the rest of the team stays in the dugout:

Felix’s last batter as a Mariner:

Me trying to give Seth Brown (a strikeout victim) a Felix K balloon in between innings:

Attempt #2:

Felix showing some love to the King’s Court section after the game:

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Joker (2019)

October 5, 2019

Joker (2019)

Director: Todd Phillips (The Hangover movies, Old School, Road Trip)

Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Robert De Niro, Zazie Beetz, Frances Conroy

Anticipation Level: Epic

How Was It? Honestly, I thought a one-off Joker movie that had nothing to do with the current DC movie universe being directed by the guy responsible for The Hangover movies was a pretty terrible idea. But then Joaquin Phoenix was cast in the lead role and suddenly you had to wonder what this movie might be because Phoenix is a generational talent. And then the first trailer dropped and I was completely sold. By the time Joker won Best Picture at the Venice Film Festival and the first critical reactions started rolling in, Joker was my my most anticipated film of 2019.

And it totally lived up to the hype. It’s my favorite film of the year with just under three months left in 2019. It almost feels cliche to make that claim since everyone knows I’m a diehard Batman fan (my nickname is Dark Knight, for crying out loud), but it’s just phenomenal. All the praise being lauded on Joaquin Phoenix is well deserved. He’s incredible. It’s hard to imagine anyone giving a performance that can even hold a candle to what Heath Ledger did in The Dark Knight, but Phoenix does just that in this movie. I think Ledger’s Joker is more in line with what comic book fans have come to expect of the character (i.e. genius psychopath/criminal mastermind), but the Joker in this movie is perhaps even scarier because he’s born out of mental illness and neglect and, well, there’s nothing supernatural about that. In fact, it’s easy enough to imagine that some people in the real world are actually out there boycotting this film right now because they are worried about its potential influence. You know… because it’s so different than all the other violent movies and video games out there that it deserves its own special spotlight. *eyeroll*

Joker is a very unsettling film. I mean… I loved it. I absolutely loved it, but I would not say it is an easy watch. It is a difficult and disturbing film. Joaquin Phoenix dives so deep into this role that I saw one reviewer say, “I’m worried about him” and that person wasn’t trying to be funny. He’s so good I can’t imagine anyone else winning the Best Actor Oscar this year. The only way he loses is if this role is too dark for the Academy or if they have some sort of recency bias against handing over a statue for the same role twice in just over a decade. Taron Egerton was great as Elton John in Rocketman but Joaquin Phoenix is simply better.

The cinematography and score are also Oscar-worthy in this movie. The film is beautifully and intimately shot, keeping the viewer highly invested in what’s happening on screen and the score ratchets up the tension and never lets up. You will be on edge the entire time and if you are concerned about what might happen, you probably should be.

My problems with this movie are pretty minor. Obviously, Joker takes place in Batman’s world, but this film never really feels like a comic book movie. The story occurs long before Bruce Wayne donns and the cape and the cowl and while the Waynes are a presence, Bruce is just a young kid and his influence on the story is pretty minimal. That’s fine. This movie is about Joker, not Batman. Still, it’s hard for me to imagine this Joker being Batman’s biggest foe 15 years in the future. Joaquin Phoenix is almost 45 and there’s no indication that Arthur Fleck is much younger, so… this Joker is going to be 60 when Batman starts showing up? Uh, okay. But that doesn’t really matter as this movie is a standalone film and Todd Phillips has indicated that Phoenix’s Joker will not be appearing in any upcoming Batman films and setting up that future rivalry is not the point of this movie anyway.

Joker might not be the most enjoyable film experience due to its dark and disturbing nature, but it’s my favorite movie of 2019 so far and Joaquin Phoenix gives another remarkable performance that just might earn him his first Oscar.

Replay Value: It’s a tough watch, but I’m ready for Round 2 and it’s a must own film for me.

Sequel Potential: A Joker movie that happens before Batman becomes Batman? How could there not be a sequel? Because Joaquin Phoenix doesn’t do sequels and I don’t expect him to appear as Joker again.

Oscar Potential: Phoenix is a lock nominee and my favorite to win Best Actor right now. I think the cinematography and score also have a chance to get nominated. I’d put it in the Best Picture race myself, but the fact that 30% of critics have given it negative reviews isn’t very promising in that regard.

8/10 (Must See)

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September 2019 Week 2: Fall Coast Classic @ Chinook Winds Casino

September 25, 2019

I headed for the Oregon Coast around 11 AM on Tuesday and arrived at my hotel in Lincoln City around 4:30 PM and sat down in the $240 H.O.R.S.E. tournament that started at 5 PM around 5:35.

My first hour was okay and I had chipped up from the 14k starting stack to around 18k by the first break, but I basically only won two decent sized pots the whole tournament and I was out by 8:30. Whoopee.

I’m not a big fan of the cash game options at Chinook Winds during this series. It is basically all big bet poker – Big O and no limit Hold’em only really. Those of you that read my blog regularly know that I almost never play either of those games. I probably have less than 200 hours of live NL cash experience and less than 10 hours of Big O cash under my belt. I saw 4/8 Omaha 8 on the board, but I don’t know if they actually had a game going or not because I had no interest in playing something that small. Not that I had any interest in playing 1/3 NL or 1/2 Big O either. I decided to sit down in a 1/3 game though and played for about 90 minutes before realizing I was bored out of my mind and couldn’t take it anymore. The pace of big bet cash games just drives me nuts and really tests my patience. I can’t stand watching people take forever to make what should be trivial decisions. Limit poker just moves along so much faster. I realize the decisions are much easier in limit games, but it’s the time being wasted in obvious spots that gets to me. Bro, you don’t need to balance your timing tells for every decision you make and you don’t have a difficult spot every time it’s your turn to act. Not everyone is guilty of being a primadonna, but there always seem to be a couple in any NL game I sit in. Can we just play, please?

I called it a night around 10 PM and booked a +$284 win; good enough to get me a little sugar on my first day of the trip. I spent the rest of my night playing online and watching Fleabag on Amazon Prime.

Wednesday was the $160 Omaha 8 or Better tournament. I got off to a rough start, doing cool stuff like getting scooped with AJhhQ9 on QQ4hh and AA42dd on T33d7dT in a heads up pot, plus AAJT on AJ6K5 because my opponent decided to limp along on the button with the mighty QT96. That left me with about half the starting stack after six levels of play.

On the hand that crippled me, I’m in the small blind with KQJJ on J976x against one limper and the big blind and both players have 85 somehow. The guy that limped in had 885 actually… and no ace obv… because who needs an ace when you have an 8 and a 5?

I busted shortly after that, sometime around 7:30 PM, and again found myself not wanting to play in any of the cash games. Here I was, out of the two tournaments I really wanted to play without making any sort of run in either of them and the Main Event wasn’t until Saturday. I didn’t want to play in any of the cash games, I didn’t want to play in the High Roller, and I wasn’t super excited about the Big Bounty NL tourney the next day either. I had two full days to kill and next to zero motivation to play poker on any of them. I really just wanted to go home. I’m not going to lie, I was feeling pretty depressed about the whole situation. Nothing like suffering from burnout when you’re 200+ miles away from home.

But I had paid for five nights at the hotel and it was non-refundable. Still, I didn’t play live that night. I just went back to my hotel and played online and watched more Fleabag.

The next day, I showed up for the $660 Big Bounty tournament right at the start of level 2 around 11:30 AM.

Early on, I was involved in a strange hand where middle position opens to 600 at 100/200, someone I know from Palace calls in position, I call with KQ from the small blind and the big blind defends. The flop is QJT and it checks to the PFR and he fires 1100 (we started with 27k in this one), the Lakewood player calls, I call, and then the big blind check-raises to 3500. The PFR gets out of the way, but the local guy makes the call, and the action is back to me. This is a pretty good flop for my hand, but this spot is looking dicey. It’s hard to imagine either of these guys having AK here, but K9 is certainly possible, and if either of them have a king in their hand, my draw is basically worthless. I decide to let it go. The turn card is a 2 and they both check. What? The river is a 4 and it goes bet 6000 and call. The big blind shows a set of queens and the local guy shows a set of jacks. Wow. Turns out AK is squarely in both of their ranges.

I chipped down when I opened with AK and checked back the T76 flop, before calling bets on an ace turn and jack river when the big blind had A7. He sized small on the river, giving me a very easy call, but that hand left me with a 17k stack.

I dwindled from about 30bb to 10bb before getting that stack in with AK only to get snap-called by A6o and watched in horror as that player collected my bounty.

The Big O tourney was about two hours deep, so I coughed up $160 and jumped in that. I had only played one Big O tournament in my life before, during the 2018 version of this same tournament, and, uh, that went okay.

I collected a mass of chips pretty early in this one, as multiple players were willing to punt entire stacks in horrible spots. On one hand, I saw a free flop from the big with Q7542 and potted into four players on Q22. The under the gun limper calls and calls another pot-sized bet on a ten turn. She has been playing super loose, so I’m not too concerned that she’s walking the dog here, but when the river is an ace, I expect that card to beat me almost all the time. It seems pretty obvious that she has a 2 and she almost certainly has an ace in her hand. But she has less that 25% pot let, so I put her all in, she calls, and… my hand scoops? Because she has 233Jx? Well, okay then.

After taking the add-on for $80 and an additional 10k in chips, I think I had around 48K when registration closed.

I call a raise in a multiway pot with AKJ52 double suited from the blinds and the board comes KQ3 with two spades (one of my suits). It checks around on the flop and when the king pairs on the turn, I pot it for 12k. A player that limped and called from early position is my only caller. I’m a little concerned, so when the river is a 2, I check it over to him even though I filled up. He fires 11k into 36k and I make the call. He shows KQxxx and scoops the pot.

I dwindled to 6bb from there and got that in with AQQ22 vs A6532 and got the QT8 flop, but still had to settle for a chop because two low cards – one of them an ace – hit the board. I didn’t chip up from there and busted a short while later, about 30 spots shy of cashing, sometime around 7:30 PM.

Again, I was in no mood to play cash games I didn’t really want to play. I’d already been playing poker for around 8 hours and while I had nothing planned on Friday, I decided to call it a night anyway. Online poker and Fleabag again!

I took my sweet time getting to the casino on Friday and I initially played in a 1/3 NL game for about 90 minutes and booked a small win before getting a seat in a 1/2 Big O game.

As I’ve mentioned, I have almost no experience playing this game, but it didn’t take me long to realize that almost the entire table was playing absurdly loose and that I should have an edge just by playing reasonably tight.

Naturally, I lost almost two full buy-ins getting my money in good and failing to realize my equity. I was willing to dust one more buy-in and I tried to do just that when I got involved in a massive 3-way pot with a pair and the nut low draw. I was pretty happy to call one player’s all in, but then a reasonable player check-raised the pot. There were two diamonds on the flop and I didn’t have a flush draw, so I was pretty sure this was probably a fold, but the longer I thought about it, the more I thought I wanted to go with it. I ended up going all in for slightly more and he called. I didn’t take a note on this hand and I wish I would have because I can’t remember what the cards were, but I’m pretty sure my opponent had the nut flush draw and the second nut low draw. What I do remember about this hand is that I somehow ended up scooping it and I think I was supposed to fold on the flop. I stuck around for a little while longer, but the game wasn’t as juicy as it was before and I had made all my money back and then some, so I booked the win and finished +$125 for the day.

My entire table taking a break at the same time

This is a 5-way Big O pot because, you know, no one actually needs aces in their hands

The Main Event was on Saturday and it’s one of the best tournaments in the Pacific Northwest all year. The initial buy-in is $600 for 40k starting stacks and 45 minute levels. I sat down about halfway through the second level and by the end of the third level I had a stack of 47k.

Someone makes it 1300 after a limper at 200/400 and the cutoff and button both call. I call with JT of hearts from the small blind and the big blind defends also. Six of us see a flop of T88 rainbow and it checks to the button and he fires 3000 into 7k+. I call. The big blind, limper and original raiser fold, but the cutoff also calls. The turn is a 3 and it checks around. The river pairs the 3 and I check, planning to call if someone bets and expecting to win most of the time. The cutoff fires 6000 and the button calls.

Well, that’s not what I was expecting. The cutoff is an aggressive younger guy that I had played NL cash with the night before. I think if he had an 8 or anything good, he would have bet the flop when the PFR checked, so I think he’s bluffing almost all of the time here. My dilemma is the button. He bet the flop and checked back the turn when a blank hit, so it’s hard to give him much of a hand here. I can see him stabbing the flop with pocket pairs and picking off river bluffs with those hands, so even though I don’t really beat any tens here, I think I have to make this call. I toss out the 6k, the cutoff snap folds and the button shows T9 and my hand is good.

It’s worth noting that I took my time on the river on this one, really thinking it over, and while I was doing so, the cutoff eventually expressed frustration and annoyance. Of course, this could be a reverse tell, but when he snap folds after I call, you really have to question his sense of decency.

This tournament has a $200 add-on for another 30k in chips that is pretty mandatory for just about anyone still in. For 33% of the original buy-in, you can get 75% of the starting stack. So even though I was sitting on just over 80k at the dinner break and close of registration, I did the add-on and went to dinner with a stack of 113k.

I was sitting on 132k after 8 levels when I doubled the same player up twice when he jammed on the button in consecutive orbits and I called from the small blind. The first time my KQ lost to his KJ and the second time my AT lost to another KJ. Those two pots left me with 93k after nine levels, the first time all tournament that I had chipped down during a level of play.

I then went the entire next two levels without winning a single pot, or really playing any hand of significance, and I dwindled down to 73k and was coming back to blinds of 1500/3000 with 500 antes (24 bigs).

And here’s my most insane hand of the entire series:

A good, solid player opens to 10k from early position at 4000bb and I defend in the big with KQ of spades and effective stacks of around 50 bigs.

The flop is KQ4 with two clubs and I check it over to him and he bets 14k. I decided to check-call here because I didn’t think he was going to have a ton of continues against a check-raise, although with the two clubs on board, I think there’s some merit to thinking I could get floats from clubs, Qx, AJ, AT type hands, so maybe that’s faulty logic.

Anyways, the turn is an ace and now my plan to check-raise has transformed into a plan of getting to showdown as cheaply as possible. An ace is literally the worst card in the deck for my hand, as I’m now losing to a bunch of hands I wanted him to have on the flop (AA, AK, AQ, JT). I check-call 18k.

The river pairs the queen and I now have a full house. Honestly, this doesn’t change many of the concerns I had on the turn other than I now beat AK and JT. It is worth noting that I don’t think this player would bet hands that had a pair and straight draw on the turn, so I don’t think he’s ever showing up with AJ, AT, QJ, or QT here. I think it is reasonable to lead out with a bet, but while I feel I have a pretty solid read on his range, I’m not sure I’m good enough to fold if he jams on me. Also, since I don’t think he double barrels the pair plus draw hands on the turn, I also don’t think he has a lot of hands to call with. So I check it over to him to see what he does. He thinks for a while and bets 18k again.

That’s actually a pretty small bet and my first instinct was to raise. The thing about raising is that it only makes sense if you think you are going to get called and I didn’t think this particular player would call, even with a hand as good as AK and, as previously mentioned, I didn’t think he could have a queen in his hand unless he now had a full house. So if I remove AK from his calling range, the next best hands he can call with are JT and KQ. Everything else has me beat. This didn’t seem like a range I wanted to target, so I said, “this is an insanely nitty call” and put out the 18k. He turned over 44 and I won the pot.

Obviously, I didn’t expect him to have 44 in his range here. I thought he was too tight to open small pairs from such an early position and didn’t even give it a thought. Still, I stand by my line here. My image was really nitty and solid at this point, so if I wake up with a raise on the river, I’m not even sure he calls with this hand. He might be good enough to lay it down. He’s better than I am. The only way I get called here is if he thinks I’m reckless enough to raise with naked trips in this spot (and obviously I am not). Interestingly, if I had check-raised the flop, I would have doubled up on this hand by getting it in bad.

That was a pretty key pot for me late in Day 1 and I ended up bagging 218.5k with around 120 players left and 45 of us cashing. Average stack at this point was around 175k, so I was in pretty good shape.

Actual tryouts for Wheel of Fortune taking place in the Bingo Hall of the casino

I was 3rd in chips at my Day 2 table and saw that I had the second most tournament success after researching my fellow players and I had direct position on the most seasoned vet.

I lost a big flip early on when I opened with JJ and a stack of 107k shoved from the small blind on me. This player was playing at the table behind me on Friday night in a cash game and was being super loud and obnoxious all night. I also noted that when he left his table, his entire table quit playing immediately. My takeaway? He’s a maniac. Which means I’m not folding here. I call and he shows AQ and makes a pair.

The very next hand I open with TT utg+1 and a 131k stack jams on me. The big blind is 6k so this is a 22bb shove and if I lose this one, I will have less than 10bb. I’m kind of reeling from the last hand and I can just picture how pissed I’ll be at myself if I call it off here and he shows JJ+. My read on this guy is that he’s pretty solid, so it’s not a snap call spot. Even if I give him a range of 88+, AJs+, AJo+, KQs, and KQo, my equity is barely 50%. I think that’s a pretty loose range for him though and when we start trimming the bottom of it off, the equity shifts in his favor. Just removing AJo and KQo, brings his equity up to 52%. Adding in the fact that I love my table draw, I think this is a fine spot to make a fold and move on. I muck it, but I don’t like it.

I made it to the 10k big blind level with around 223k and I had just over 20 bigs when I looked down at AK in late position and felt like this was going to be a tournament-defining spot. Sure enough, Ryan Stoker, a notable tourney grinder from the Spokane area opened to 25k and the dude that doubled through me with AQ jammed on him for more than I had. We were about 30-40 spots off the money at this point and I didn’t see much merit in folding here. I didn’t even really think about it. Let’s go. I called it off and Stoker folded. This time he had the JJ and this time I won the race and doubled up to an above average stack.

Of course, my opponent couldn’t take his loss in stride and had to try and ridicule me for making what I think is a pretty standard call.

Him: What, you just wanted to go home?

Me: Uh, yeah, since Wednesday night.

As we started to approach the bubble, I lost another flip, this time my AK < 99 for -100k, leaving me with 275k with the big blind at 12k, 8 spots off the money. 23 bigs is far from the danger zone, but it’s a stack size that could very well get in preflop in a coin flip situation.

I admittedly played extremely snug during this phase of the tournament, even finding myself doing embarrassing stuff like this:

It folds to the small blind and he makes it 32k at 12k big blind and I have A6o in the big. I had like 15 bigs at this point and I believe my opponent’s opening range is 100% here because of how tight I’ve been playing. So this is a slam dunk jam spot, but being a couple spots off the money, I just praised the Gods that I was not on a live stream so I could fold in peace (and blog about it publicly later). It feels gross, but with zero cashes on my ledger for the trip so far, I really didn’t want to go home without one when I was so close.

It’s worth noting that the small blind in the previous hand was playing extremely well this whole tournament and I was shocked at how adept he was considering my earlier research. Later on I discovered that Taylor Bleak with $0 in career cashes was actually Taylor Black with over $2.4 million in cashes. That made a lot more sense. Eh, just a little $2 million typo on the end of day reports!

Fortunately, I eeked into the money with about 12 bigs and doubled up in my first orbit by reshoving with A5 suited on the button against a cutoff open and had my opponent’s KQ dead by the turn.

I was peaking around 420k when I started getting moved around. I got moved into the big blind at my new table and after folding preflop on that hand, that table broke and I moved into another big blind at my third table in three hands. On that last hand, it folds to the cutoff who opens, gets called by the button, and I look down at 77 in the big blind. I have a great reshove stack here and should have some fold equity, so I jam it in and the cutoff folds but the button says he doesn’t think he can lay it down. He eventually calls with AJ and I hold for a huge double that puts me around 890k with 27 players left.

I open to 55k with blinds at 10k/20k from early position with TT and Tam Nguyen is next to act and makes it 300k, leaving himself with ~400k behind. It folds back to me. Tam is kind of an Oregon legend. He has over $1 million in lifetime cashes, ranks 9th on the all-time money list in Oregon and I believe he’s still #1 all-time in earnings at the Wildhorse Round Ups in Pendleton, Oregon. He’s basically a mid-stakes tourney crusher. My read on him is that he’s pretty nitty and straight-forward and this is a massive raise. It’s not a spot where I can call and see a flop and if I jam on him here, he’s never folding and much like the TT scenario earlier where I folded, I’m not in very good shape against what I perceive to be his range. Once again, I muck TT before the flop.

Action folds to the cutoff, the guy that stacked off with the AJ earlier, and he min-raises to 40k. Now that I have chips, I can do cool things like 3-bet the A9o on the button to 105k and punish these wide opens. What I don’t expect to happen is for my opponent to call, but he does.

The flop is QQT and he check-calls 65k quite fast and I’m not about to punt my newly acquired chips off, so I am going to give up here.

The turn is a blank and we both check.

The river pairs the ten and he leads out for 180k. Well, I don’t really see how I can fold here. All the draws missed and his medium and small pairs have all been counterfeit, although check-calling with those hands on the flop is pretty sick. He’s repping such a narrow range here and my hand doesn’t look like much, so I make the call. He shows T6 of hearts.

I don’t get it. I’ve played like two orbits at this table and this dude is calling my 3-bet with junk because… he thinks he can outplay me out of position? Perhaps I sized too small preflop? I need to be making it like 130k? I dunno. Maybe he’s just a maniac punter? Either way, it’s super gross and I can’t say I felt great about losing almost half my stack with ace high. I think my river call is fine on this runout, so maybe I’m just being results oriented here, but it sucks to lose these chips back right after I finally gave myself some breathing room.

I got moved yet again and was back in that 12-15bb region when I reshoved the button with KJdd over a hijack open and my opponent called with QQ to bust me in 21st place for $2320.

All in all, I was pretty bummed about my trip to Lincoln City. It was nice to cash in the Main, but it was also really disheartening to peak with three tables left only to be out a short while later, all because some dude couldn’t lay down the T6 suited before the flop. I think I may have made a bet-sizing mistake with my 3-bet before the flop, but still. That hurt. Also, I put in almost no volume in the cash games and was absolutely miserable for most of the week. It makes me wonder how eager I am to go back.

I’m not saying it’s a bad series… it’s actually quite good. I think the staff is top notch and I like that they do some different, non-Hold’em events, but cash games are my bread and butter and when I’m out of tournaments that’s what I want to be doing and they just don’t have games I want to play in. So when I’m out of a tournament, it’s like “now what?” I’ve been saying forever that I need to play more no limit Hold’em cash, so maybe I just need to embrace it and grind it out when I’m at Chinook Winds.

I ended up making about $630 for the trip overall, but my hotel room alone cost me $500+, so I can’t really say it was a good trip.

What I can say though… is that Fleabag is an amazing show. Holy shit. It’s definitely not going to be for everyone, but it blew my damn mind. Check it out on Amazon Prime.

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September 2019: Week One Results

September 17, 2019

Sorry about the extended break. That wasn’t my plan, but I didn’t get a chance to post a wrap up of the first week of September before I left for Lincoln City and then I decided I was just going to post a whole trip report when I got back instead of doing live updates and now it’s September 17th and I haven’t made a poker post for this month yet.

I got off to a bad start in September by posting my only losing cash game session of my L.A. trip when I went -$848 in that 40/80 Mix session with James Woods.

My first day back in Lakewood, I won $124 in about 40 minutes of 8/16 before playing an absurdly boring PLO session that saw the return of Lee Markholt to the game. I really enjoy his company, but his presence certainly doesn’t increase the quality of that game. I was insanely card dead and only played a few pots of note.

On the first one, I was in a raised multi-way pot with QJJ9 and got it all in on KJ7 vs Mr. Freeze’s KKxx and lost over $500.

Then Sandman made a rare guest appearance and bought in for $200 and got all of it in against my AAJ9 with AAT3 and got the T8346 runout for a quick double.

My only notable winning pot I made it $20 with AAKQ single suited after one limper, bet $15 on KK4 with two of my suit, and then my opponent led out for $75 when the 8 of spades brought the flush in. Against this player type, I probably should make a small raise, because he’s super loose and a bit wacky, but in the moment I decided to just flat. The river brought a 9 and he fired $200 and I stuck with my conservative line with a call and he showed a nine high flush and I won the hand. He has a pretty easy fold to a turn raise, so I think I might like my line, but this is also the kind of player that might actually call down, so I don’t know.

That hand somewhat salvaged my night and I finished -$261 in PLO.

On Thursday, I went and saw It: Chapter Two (2019) with my buddy and he likes to play poker at smaller stakes, so we headed to Fortune after the movie and I lost $141 playing 4/8 until 2:30 in the morning and woke up the next day after noon wondering what I’m doing with my life. I text my friend and told him we can’t do that anymore. I can’t justify sleeping in and feeling unproductive because I was up super late playing 4/8. That’s just dumb. I don’t mind playing lower stakes poker with him, but we need to find a more reasonable time of day for it.

On Friday, I was in the 15/30 game at Palace with a lineup that featured Taz, Ducky, Flea, Huey, Mr. Freeze, Splinter, and a couple others. I tried to coast by defending with 97o against Ducky’s under the gun raise and called down on a 9886x runout, but he had AA and he was coasting instead. That early cushion was enough to keep Ducky above the breakeven line for the entire session and he joined the The Coast Club for the second time with a Silver Level entry and the smallest win (+$379) anyone has ever coasted to. Good job, lil buddy, and you’re welcome.

I’ve been struggling in the 15/30 game for a while now, with two big losses (-$1350+) and only two small wins (less than +$300) over my last six sessions, so I was feeling kind of on edge during the early parts of this session. It didn’t help when I 3-bet Mr. Freeze with AJ and inexplicably folded when he check-raised me on KK2 and bet again when the 2 paired on the turn only for him to show me QJ high. Obviously, it’s pricey to make two $50 calls (Overs are 25/50) and be wrong, but if I’m not folding on the flop, I definitely shouldn’t be folding on the turn, plus I know he’s plenty capable of doing shit like this. Then I was in a 4-bet pot with 77 on 962s8s. I had the betting lead on the flop but decided to check the turn because Master Splinter had raised under the gun and I know he can be tricky. I called a bet on the 9s river and I was pretty happy to be able to show this hand down for one big bet, but he ended up showing me AQ of spades for a rivered flush.

So there I was, stuck a rack super early in another 15/30 session and I was honestly thinking about quitting and I really had to center myself with some breathing and mindfulness to try and remind myself that I actually love what I do, I’m lucky to do it, and sometimes I go on bad stretches, but I always come out of them.

And I made a comeback. I got Master Splinter back in a 3-bet pot with aces when he donk-called the flop and then called down on 83273 and then I defended 55 after Taz raised from the small blind with a limper already in. The flop was 653 with two spades and I got two bets in 3-ways. The turn was an ace and Taz donked that card and I got two bets in 3-ways again. Very nice. The river paired the board with a spade and they both paid me off, with the limper showing 87 of spades, a monster draw that got there with the wrong card.

Master Splinter opened from the button and I defend in the big blind with T7 of clubs. The flop was 853 with two diamonds and one club. This is not the kind of board I want to be folding on, but I don’t have a ton of immediate equity either, so I decide to check-raise and take the lead, knowing he has a wide range and will be folding a good amount of it before showdown. There are lots of good turn cards for me and the 9 of clubs is one of the best ones, so I continue my story and he punishes me with a raise. I say to Ducky, “he’s not going to like this one” and make the call. The river is a ten and I check-call saying, “that’s not the one, but it’s a payoff card,” and that river is good enough versus Master Splinter’s A8 of clubs. Yikes. Yep, he’s not going to like that one.

Then I have JJ in a capped 4-way pot and check back the K64 flop because Huey was the other preflop aggressor and he’s in early position with a strong range. The turn pairs the king and Huey leads out and gets called. I don’t love this spot, but I also don’t have enough information to fold, so I make the call also and whaddya know, the river is a jack. Huey leads again, the other player folds, I raise and Huey tanks for a while and eventually folds QQ face up.

Bang bang. Suddenly, I’m up $1100 and we are only 90 minutes into the session. Ah, I remember this feeling!

But… it wasn’t meant to be. I lost a series of dumb ones before I stopped taking notes altogether.

I opened on the button with T9 of clubs and Huey defended in the big blind. He donked the T43ssc flop and called my raise. He donked again on the 8 of spades turn and I called. The river was the 2 of diamonds and I paid his river bet off only for him to show me A5 of diamonds for a rivered straight. I actually like his bluff on the turn, especially considering how much of a nit I think he typically is, and if he had checked the turn, I assume he would have folded to a bet, so taking this line allowed him to realize his equity and, uh, that’s pretty annoying.

I had the AQ of spades on a AT9 two spade flop, but the board ran out J7 and I lost the pot to Master Splinter because he randomly decided to limp in from early position with J9 offsuit.

Then I had 88 vs J9 on K65K9 and no clue how my opponent reached showdown with it.

As I mentioned, I stopped keeping notes because I was beyond frustrated. It looked like I might finally have a nice session, but I lost it all back and when I called it a night, I was -$265 after 10+ hours. Ugh. The streak continues.

Saturday, we did a home game with a 15/30 Mix and I posted another small loss of -$148 in 9.5 hours.

Not a good first week of the month. I lost every session I played and I was headed to the Fall Coast Classic at Chinook Winds with a $1500 deficit – the 8th month in a row I’ve gotten off to a rough start.

Chinook Winds series results in the next post.