Archive for January, 2018

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A Reprieve & PLO Pressure (Live Blog)

January 31, 2018

Anyone following my blog knows that my second trip to California for the LAPC did not go well. In fact, it was the worst poker trip I’ve ever had – from a money lost standpoint. Maybe I’ve had worse trips. Back in 2009 – in the middle of a relapse – I basically punted my entire bankroll to Cherish Andrews in a no limit hold’em cash game at the Fall Round Up in Pendleton, Oregon. For some reason, she was incapable of folding top pair against a drunk dude putting max pressure on her. Stubborn! She has gone on to be a known quantity in the poker world – she has over $570K in lifetime scores, including two big WSOP final table cashes ($210k, $142k) – and I went on to call my parents to tell them that I was drinking again, I was officially broke, and I was in another state and needed gas money to get home. That was one of my many rock bottoms, so maybe it was a worse trip, but I did lose less money than I did last week.

When I got home from Los Angeles on Sunday, I was down $4700 for the month, with three days to go and in serious jeopardy of having my worst month ever (last August I lost a little over $4200). As someone that makes their living playing poker and understands the big picture and the various swings that can happen in the short term, I’m not really sweating losing sessions, weeks, or even months. These things happen – it’s part of the gig. But it’s obviously preferential to win, regardless of whatever your arbitrary stopping point is.

When I arrived home Sunday, my wife wanted to go play live poker, so I decided to stay home and check out what Global Poker had going that night for their Grizzly Games series. I played all three pot limit Omaha events scheduled and took 2nd of 174 in the $11 rebuy for +$638.20. Global gives out trophies, hats and shirts to winners of their series events, so I was pretty disappointed to not take it down, especially since I had five times as many chips as anyone else at the final table. But one player knocked the whole final table out and pulled even with me and then basically won every critical pot heads up. Oh well. I was pretty happy to have some tournament success after my terrible week and getting a little less stuck for the month.

The next day I returned to my home court at Palace and booked a decent +$386 win in the $15/$30 game, but the game broke super early (at 3:15 PM) and I had to play $8/$16 the rest of the day. I guess that’s a good thing because now that I was playing in the smallest limit I play regularly, my run good switch was officially activated and I had a very good session, to the tune of +$1339.

I did whiff on all three limit hold’em events in the Grizzly Games on Global Monday night, which was extremely disappointing because I was looking forward to those events so much I had them written down on my personal calendar. I have to say it was pretty difficult to 3-table on an iPad while playing live poker, but I gave it a shot. Unfortunately, the wifi at the casino went down when I was short in one of the tournaments and by the time I got a connection back, I was out! I had to resort to playing on my iPhone 5 using my Verizon connection for my last event and it was pretty brutal. I couldn’t figure out how to size the table properly and I accidentally folded KK preflop in a hand I would have quadrupled on against JJ, KQ, and some other random hand. I picked up KK again a few hands later and ended up busting after losing to a full house on a queen high board against a hand I never even saw because my opponent’s hand was off the screen. So yeah, a pretty shitty experience of something I was really looking forward to. My own fault for trying to multi-table while playing live poker.

Regardless, it was a good Monday and I could actually see potential for a complete redemption. I’m playing some small stakes PLO on Global Poker right now as I get ready for my day, but I am now down about $2300 for the month with one live PLO session at Palace to go. And winning $2300+ in that game is a real possibility. I’ve played 19 sessions of PLO at Palace with an average win of +$592 and two sessions where I have won more than $2300. Pressure’s on!

I’m heading to yoga in a few hours and then I’ll be live blogging my PLO session at 6 PM. Check back then!

6:06 PM: Just got to Palace and this game is struggling to get off the ground. I won about $110 in my online PLO session so my magic number tonight is +$2300.

Anyone that thinks yoga is not much of a workout take this into consideration: I left my house with a blood sugar over 200 and by the time yoga was over, I was below 80 with a down arrow – or on the verge of passing out, even after drinking a full Gatorade. So yeah, pretty intense stuff, especially after taking a couple weeks off.

Starting lineup for PLO: The Riddler, His Royal Airness, Megaton (reconsidering that nickname), Action Bronson (still MIA), and a PLO-only regular. Blackjack is standing on the sideline watching the game and my guess is he’s gonna fire some bullets at it some time tonight.

I’m sitting down with $500 ($1000 max buy) while I see who sits with what and feel the game out. I’ve already picked off a river bluff from His Airness and then called a river check-raise in a stupid spot against the PLO reg.

6:26 PM: I have $1500 in big chips in my pocket but no one sat with more than $500 so they remain there for now.

I just “sucked out” in a decent-sized limp pot from the SB with AJ83dd vs A874 on A93d4dJ.

6:30 PM: The Riddler has felted already and Blackjack sat down just like I thought he would.

6:38 PM: Thanks to the overlay from The Riddler, I have now topped off to nearly $1K to cover the players he donated his stack to.

6:57 PM: The Riddler has felted again and he’s all but defeated. Action Bronson is trying to be encouraging: “If [Megaton] and I can play in this game, you can play in this game too.” I can’t help but chime in: “Yeah man. If [Action Bronson] can hold on to his chips for 20 minutes you should be able to also.”

7:04 PM: The Riddler doubled up and got max action on the river in a spot where he should never be getting called. He is back over $1K.

7:08 PM: It’s so tempting to want to play every hand in this game because half the table has no fold button. It is painful to watch from the sidelines as people pay off massive river bets with hands that are bluff-catchers at best.

7:42 PM: Unfortunate spot: Pot is pretty decent-sized already and I called $50 with QdJdKc3c on KQ9dTd and Blackjack check-raises to $150, which is over half his remaining stack, and His Airness makes it $300. I have top two with an open-ended straight flush draw. My current straight is clearly no good, but I think all my redraws are. I reluctantly call and the river pairs the board… with a ten. Blackjack is all in and His Airness makes a wimpy $50 bet that I just can’t fold to against him… just in case, by some miracle, I am getting half of the side pot. Raising here is a consideration but I’m almost certainly losing the main pot and Hia Airness isn’t exactly a candidate to fold AJ here. I call and they split the pot with AJ. Ugh. Blackjack did have AJ with the nut flush draw so maybe this is closer to a fold than I think.

8:23 PM: Megaton booked a solid win and immediately bounced. As I mentioned earlier I don’t love my name for him and I’m not sure why it took so long for this to click, but he’s the hit and run king… so he will be Hit-Run from now on.

An $8/$16 reg is trying PLO out for the first time. And the poker room manager, aka The Man, is also in the game now, in full suit and tie.

8:57 PM: Clashing with His Royal Airness like I’m aiming to do. I put in $10 from the small blind in a 7-way pot with Kh3hTd3d, which is an absolutely terrible hand. I should be folding here but I’m seeing a flop for some reason. It comes down 642 two hearts and one diamond. Since I have the second nut flush draw and two nut straight blockers I lead out for $40 and only His Airness calls. The turn is Qd and I decide to check-call. I don’t expect to shake him and I have two flush draws and neither of them are to the nuts. I’m going to try and make a hand and go from there. So I call $75 or whatever he bet. River is beautiful: ace of hearts. I have the nuts! His Airness is reckless so I go for a check-raise here. He bets $175 and doesn’t take long to call my max raise to $475 with QJhh.

9:22 PM: I just folded the second nuts in a really weird spot. I’ll come back to that hand later tonight.

9:33 PM: His Airness is felted. Action Bronson cashed out. The $8/$16 player felted a bunch and then won a monster pot when I was gone and now has around $1800 in front of him. I can’t call what his next move will be: booking the win now that he has sugar in a game he’s never played or play out the current adrenaline rush he’s feeling right now.

10:19 PM: I defend a raise with KT88 with spades and the flop is AQ2 with two spades, giving me the nut flush draw and a gut shot. I check-call a 60% pot bet and three of us see the turn. It’s the 5c and the overcaller bombs it for $290. I’m planning to fold if Blackjack folds, but he calls and I now have twelve outs but three of them are dirty (Qs, 5s, Jc), and I think it’s pretty close here. With implied odds, against two players new to PLO, I lean call, but against experienced players I would probably fold here. I call and brick and they both had 43 but one of them rivers a club flush.

11:16 PM: Just punted $400+ with AQ95 spades and diamonds on J86sd4s2 against a player brand new to PLO that probably wouldn’t even consider folding two pair here. Probably should have just saved the $250 on the river bluff though.

11:28 PM: Just 3-bet The Man to $40 with AQQ6 double suited and he immediately makes it $120. I call and the flop is K54 and we both check. Turn pairs the king and we both check again. River is a jack and he bets $100, less than half the pot and I think if he has me beat here, he’s earned a call with this super passive line. I call and he has the hand he repped pre with AAxx.

11:44 PM: A fun $8/$16 player with no PLO experience opens to $15, I call with KK53 one suit, another player calls. Flop is KT4 and it checks to me. I bet $25 and only the fun player calls. Turn pairs the 4, I bet $60 and he check-raises me to $200. Yum yum. I flat because if he is bluffing then I want him to fire the river when he misses or when he gets there and if he’s not bluffing, I’m going to get $600 on the river anyway. If he has 44, bless his soul. River is a blank. He bets $300, I make it $600 and he calls with TT.

He lost another pot after that and left and we are now 5-handed. I’m playing with the PLO reg, The Riddler, The Man, and a fun, new player. The reg is racked up and looks like he’s ready to go, but it’s unlikely this game will break if the fun player wants to play 4-handed. Also, The Riddler still has chips in front of him. He’s no longer losing at the impressive $1500/hour clip he started the session out with, but it’s been a steady $50/hour drip since his double up.

12:03 AM: The Man just filleted the fun player and he left for $8/$16 and the reg said he doesn’t want to play with the remaining three of us. And I made sure he saw that The Riddler still has chips and he still wanted to quit for some reason.

Game over.

Didn’t meet my goal. I’m starting off 2018 with a loss. Final update when I get home.

Thursday, 1:50 P.M.: So I ended up doing something unexpected last night. The PLO game ended around midnight, but I wanted to eat before I left, so I ordered pho and then found myself sitting in a $4/$8 game. I was just going to eat and go home, but the Happy Hour High Hand from 12:00 AM to 2:00 AM was $600 and two black queens and then Captain America, The Riddler, and Blackjack all gravitated to my table and I felt compelled to play a mini-session and found myself leaving a little after 3 AM. I ended up making $51 for my troubles but when I woke up after noon today, I have to wonder what the heck I was thinking.

I finished my PLO session at +$645 which was okay, but far below my goal and thus I have started out 2018 in the red with my first losing January since at least 2010. But a -$1700 tally is far better than the -$4700 I was at a few days ago, so… bright side?

Back to the hand I mentioned earlier but didn’t type out – where I folded a king high flush in a tough spot. Here’s what happened:

Someone opens for $10, there’s a call, another player makes it $35, there’s another call, and I call with KK double suited (I can’t remember my side cards anymore). At least five of us see the flop for $35. The flop is QJx with two clubs and it checks around. The turn is the 8 of clubs, which gives me the third nut flush (T9 of clubs is a straight flush). It checks to His Airness and he makes a rather puny bet of $50. I call next to act. I expect to have His Airness beat and drawing dead most of the time, but raising doesn’t make a ton of sense. I’m willing to take my chances and let some players overcall with worse hands. One player does call and then the preflop 3-bettor – after checking both the flop and the turn – now bombs it for like $300. His Airness quickly folds and action is on me. Calling two max bets (he has at least another $300 behind) with the third nuts in PLO is generally not a good idea, but I’m sitting there asking myself if this guy would really 3-bet preflop and then check the flop in a 5-way pot with a good draw to the nuts and then check it again on the turn after making his hand when no one showed any interest on the previous street. That’s a really hard sell. But then I have to ask myself if this player is capable of bluffing in this spot. Meaning, if he has the naked ace of clubs, is he capable of bombing the pot here knowing how reckless the player that bet the turn is? I don’t think so. His Airness is not folding many flushes here and I think this player has to realize that. I sized him up and he looked uncomfortable. But he looked like he wanted to look that way. I folded and I felt good about it, but I was curious. I decided to ask that player when he was leaving about that hand to see what he would say and he said he had it. I believed his story.

I decided to go to the University of Washington vs Arizona State basketball game tonight and I’m excited but kind of sad about it because Palace has some sick promotions going on the next three days. Starting today at noon, they are giving away $1500 an hour in high hands until midnight (and doing it again Friday and Saturday) and added $10,000 to their highest Royal Flush which was already over $10,000. Not a great day to have other plans, but I will be putting in the marathon sessions on Friday and Saturday!

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The Biggest Disaster of my Poker Career

January 29, 2018

But first, a poker tournament! It’s my favorite event: H.O.R.S.E.! Another $350 buy in so 10K stacks, 30 minute levels, and similar blind levels as everything else I’ve played so far. These are 8-handed tables again but my table starts with five of us. I recognize one of four opponents. He’s an older, respected local reg named Cyrus. I don’t know his last name so I couldn’t look up his stats but I’ve mostly seen him play tight-solid. Another player accidentally registers this tournament thinking it was no limit hold’em. The players try to give him an out but he’s ready to play even though he claims to have never played any of the Stud games (a claim we will soon discover has to be true).

Rather than list the blinds or betting limits, I’m just going to list the level when typing out hands to avoid confusion.

Notable Hands L1-L4

L1, first hand of tournament, LHE. One player limps, I have QTss in the small blind and decide to just call, an atypical line for me. Three of us see the 9s8s2 flop, I bet and get raised on the 6 turn and then check-fold when I miss everything on the river. A wonderful start to my event. It’s almost like yesterday never ended!

Punctual Pete sits down at the tail end of level one and we swap 10%, hoping one of us can find the magic touch sometime this trip.

So yeah, that guy wasn’t lying. He’s clueless in Razz. He calls raises with queens and jacks up and makes some really bizarre plays on later streets.

L2 Stud, a couple limps in front of me and I come along with KT-J looking to play pots against the noob. There is a queen dead but all my other useful cards are live. Cyrus pairs his bring in card on 4th, I catch a 3, and one of the limpers catches a second heart, but everybody checks. On 5th I pair my king, Cyrus catches a blank, and the player on my right catches a third open heart and bets. I find it hard to believe this player wouldn’t bet a four flush on 4th so I raise and get it heads up when he calls. He bricks 6th, I catch an ace and bet. He calls. I river aces up, value bet it and win showdown.

L3, Stud 8, I scoop with 2Qs-As4s4A-8, a pretty marginal starter but as I said I’m looking to play anything reasonable when the noob comes into the pot. Pretty good run out for me and no one made a low.

L3, Stud 8, crazy hand. I defend with 32-3 and immediately make two pair, but the opener pairs his queen. The noob is in with xx-5J and I decide to call on 4th even though it’s pretty suspect. The other two players brick on 5th and I catch a king (all live) and I think kings up will be good if I make it so I continue. The noob makes open fives on 6th and the other two of us catch total bricks. In fact, the other guy catches a 3 and the noob caught a 2 on 6th so I’m prepared to fold to a bet here but it checks around and… I catch the case 2! The noob leads on 7th and since my board looks like this xx-32K8-x I can’t imagine the other player will fold queens up if I raise, so I raise and only the noob calls and I scoop.

L3, LHE. Cyrus makes me rethink my image of him. I open UTG with TT and he calls on the button. Flop is 653 and he raises me. I’m not exactly sure what his range is here but I think it’s very pocket pair heavy. I don’t expect him to play hands like QJs or KQ this way and I don’t expect him to have hands like 87s here. I think I’m doing okay against his range but since I think I’m crushed or crushing most of the time, I decide to just call down and sell a hand like ace high. The board runs out 65369 and I check-call turn and river and let him own himself with 22.

L4, LHE. The noob opens UTG, I 3-bet with 88 from MP, and the small blind caps. Oh oh. We both call and my run good continues when the flop comes K86 rainbow. SB leads, noob raises, and I 3-bet, hoping SB has an AK or AA he can’t fold. But it’s QQ and he tosses it and the noob pays me off all the way.

After that hand I’m near my peak for the whole series around 27k or so.

L4, Omaha 8. Noob limps, I call 7664 from SB and three of us see the Q54 one club flop. I make a suspect lead and only the noob calls. Turn is pretty good: 3 of clubs. So I have the nut straight, a straight flush draw, and a bad low against a player that certainly might not have a low. I bet and he raises me. Well, I guess I call down now. River pairs the queen and I check-call and he shows… *are you ready for this*… T722 with no clubs. Try to digest that one. I’ve had 24 hours to think about it and I still can’t process it. And the sickest part? His ridiculous 72 low is exactly one notch better than my 76 and I’m forced to split the pot with this maniac. Yes, he’s been upgraded from mixed games noob to certified maniac.

L4, Omaha 8. My first real hiccup and it’s no surprise who my opponent is. One player limps and I limp along with Ac2cQ9. It’s three of us to the 995 two heart flop and the first limper bets. Since I have the backdoor nut low draw I just flat, hoping to keep the maniac in. He does call. Turn is an 8 and they both check-call. River is a jack and they both check-call me again. I have a bad feeling about it because I expect the loose player to show up with 87xx hands a lot and he does table J876, a hand I wouldn’t expect this guy to lay down on the flop for a raise. Oh well.

First Break: Dark Knight 23.4K, Peter 13.5K

Notable Hands L5-L7

2017 8-Game WSOP bracelet winner Ron Ware joins my table on his second bullet.

L5, Razz. Maniac opens with a 6 up and it folds to me. I defend with 53-Q. He catches a K, I catch a T and bet. He calls. He catches another K, I pair my 5, bet and he folds.

L5, Stud. I complete with J9-K. The highest up card behind me is an 8 and there are three of them! This is an obvious steal spot… with one problem: the maniac is the bring in. I’m in the spot I’ve wanted to avoid and find myself barreling with J9-K876 while he catches nothing but rags and keeps calling. Fortunately he finally finds a fold on 6th and I don’t have to torch a bet on 7th without looking.

Another superstar on his second bullet: three time WSOP bracelet winner and 2004 WSOP Player of the Year Jeff Madsen. Jeff has $5.27 million in career earnings, good enough for 117th on the all-time money list and he’s younger than me!

L6, Stud 8. A king up completes, I 3-bet A5-4, the bring in has a 3 up and caps it, and the king folds. On 4th he catches a jack and I catch an 8 and he check-calls. On 5th he catches a 2 and I catch a 7 and he check-calls again. On 6th, he makes open jacks and I pair my 4 and he bets into me. I’m tempted to raise here because I have a made low and a pair and it appears that he has either two pair or jacks with a low draw. I decide on call and he bets 7th dark. I catch a 3 to improve my low to 7543A but I can only win half so I just call and he catches perfect on 7th and makes A5-3J2J-6 to scoop me.

Unreal. Just bets dark and gets there, like nothing bad can happen on 7th street for him. I’m standing in line at Disneyland typing this but I’d be curious running an odds calculator and seeing how often we each scoop on river.

Some relatively funny Jeff Madsen notes. Bring in is 200 and level is 500/1000 and he tosses two 500s out as the bring in, making it obvious he is completing to 500, but no one – dealer included – is getting it. Dealer is trying to make it a 200 bet and it takes way too long for the situation to get corrected. A few hands later, he’s the bring in again and puts out a 500 chip without saying anything – a clear bet of 200 – and now the dealer is trying to make it 500! Finally he makes it to showdown in a Stud 8 hand and announces “aces and a 6” and his opponent thinks he is announcing “aces and sixes” and that his low is good for half and receives a mini-slow roll. At this point I feel it’s fair to ask this man, with over $5 million in lifetime cashes, if this is his first tournament.

Jeff wasn’t a very gracious loser but he definitely had an A+ sense of humor.

L7, LHE. Maniac opens, I 3-bet AQ and one of the blinds caps it, almost all in. We both call and then call his remaining chips and check down on the J9897 run out. The blind has KQ and the maniac has 33. This is a pretty critical pot and the end result makes me wonder if I played it optimally. I don’t necessarily care about eliminating players at this point, but I don’t really see how I can justify raising or betting my hand on this board texture in a dry side pot. Plus, I don’t know that this player is capable of folding 33 here anyway.

Second Break: Dark Knight 16.3K, Peter 7K

I thought that Stud 8 hand where dude bet dark and scooped me was pretty bad but Peeved Pete has a much better story to tell me on break.

Last hand of O8 Peter has A2TT with a suited ace in diamonds. Peter opens, button calls, small blind goes all in. The board runs out JT3d4dJd and Peter bets the whole way. He’s made tens full of jacks (and the nut flush) and scoops the side pot. The small blind flashes two fours and mucks his hand but since he was all in the dealer makes him show his whole hand and… he has a dangling jack for… jacks full of fours and scoops the main pot. Unreal!

Notable Hands L8-L11

L8, a Razz hand where we kind of lose our minds. Jeff Madsen completes with a queen up and I’m next with 65-J. There’s a 5 and 9 up left to act. I go into the tank and eventually call but I think I should have raised. I was getting a fold tell from the 5 and obvious disinterest from the 9, so I figured it would be heads up anyway. Wrong. The 5 up 3-bets, the 9 folds, and the bring in calls three bets with a king! Jeff apologizes to me for costing us both an extra 800. Then we both catch paint on 4th street and exit stage right.

I get two more playable Razz hands and continue to catch paint while my opponents improve. Then I get the bring in twice in a row and just like that I’m below starting stack.

L8, Stud. I open 6h2h-Jh and I get two customers, including the maniac. I brick hard on 4th, catching a black 4 and one of my opponents catches a suited card with his Qs. We all check to 7th street and my board runs out 6h2h-Jh456-2. I never catch any additional hearts and on 7th one of my opponents bets. His board was scary enough to bet and win the pot as early as 4th street and even though he’s caught some good scare cards, all he’s done is check. I decide to pay him off and he shows me queens and sevens with a board that probably developed like this: 77-Qs9sXTs-Q. How he didn’t bet this board earlier, I don’t know.

Third Break: Dark Knight 6700, Peter 7k

I start L9 with 6 bigs.

Stud 8, I go with AQ-5 two spades. The maniac is in and one other opponent:

Me: AQ-5KAx-9

Maniac: xx-3KTx-dead

V2: has four low cards and four diamonds on 6th and catches an offsuit ace for the low.

I’m up to 8400.

I see Peter walking around shaking his head in disbelief. He’s out.

L10, LHE. UTG is all in for 1800 @ 600/1200, four players call, I call with KTcc in the small blind and the big comes along. The flop is 886 with one club and I check-call the maniac and three live players see the turn. These are precious chips but this pot is massive. Good news: I spike a ten, lead out, both live players fold and I hold against the all in’s A3 and find myself with over 20k again.

I split an O8 pot with Jeff Madsen where we both limped along from late position. I have 6532dd on A63d9d6 for a full house and the second nut low but Jeff has the 8542 for half.

L10, brutal O8 hand. UTG limps and I raise in LP with AQ52, suited ace. Flop comes 665 rainbow and UTG check-raises me. I call. Turn is a queen and I resist the urge to raise. River is a 7 and again I resist the urge. I felt like this player had a 6 and I didn’t see much profit in raising. He did have a 6 – an A642 to be exact and I got quartered.

L11, Razz. I start this hand with enough to raise third and bet every street until I was all in on 7th. Here’s how the boards developed:

Me: J3-6928-3

Villain: xx-7992-x

I thought this hand was over on 5th. It looked like I probably had a 96 made and he was still drawing… to a 97! I guess once he makes the 97 on 6th he’s never folding but I only pretended to look at my card on 7th and I had over 90% of my stack in already. There were about 35 left at this point and I was super frustrated with myself for torching my stack starting a Razz hand with a jack. I think it’s fine and I should have gotten it through on 5th, but I also could just have easily folded and not even play the pot. Instead, I was busted and too annoyed to play cash games, so I called it a night.

The next day my plan was to play $400 max buy PLO with $1/$2 blinds until the T.O.E. tournament at 5 PM. That got off to a great start. I 3-bet AKK3 double suited to $65 and two players called. Flop was Q42 rainbow and that was good enough for me to commit. I got it all in against KQJJ and found a way to get stacked when he turned a queen.

I did get some back when I got all in three ways on 763 rainbow vs 54xx and a wrap and rivered a boat, but I still finished the session at -$272.

I did a $100 last longer bet for the T.O.E. with Peter, Jesus, and Mr. Sandman. I didn’t take notes for this, but I busted far from the money. Jesus won the last longer and the entire tournament for over $7K and a Remington trophy. Congrats man!

I was already having a miserable trip, but it was about to get worse. These guys were telling me that I absolutely need to be playing in the $40/$80. The argument is that it makes no sense to play $30/$60 against mostly competent players and not play $40/$80 against idiots. I don’t disagree with that logic and I really want to play but I’m also a bankroll nit and I can’t pretend like I’m properly rolled for $40/$80 as a full time player.

But I can take a shot! I decided to sit down with $4k and gave myself a stop-loss of $2000 – and then I hit that mark (and then some) in less than two hours. I was pretty devastated. I don’t do stop-losses but I also never take shots. It just seems terrible to lose a couple racks and give up. It happens all the time at my normal stakes. But I stuck to my plan and quit after I was down $2000, a decision made easier because I was steaming out of my mind. I won the first pot I played and that was the last significant pot I won. And then when I was already down about $1500 the dealer said one of my cards was exposed (and not one person was looking at anything besides their phones) and made me turn in an ace. I got KJ of clubs instead and lost a decent pot I would have won with the ace that nobody saw. Super annoying. I didn’t even know what my “exposed” card was when I was protesting, it just seemed stupid to replace a card that only the dealer saw and, of course, it cost me a pot when I needed one badly.

Instead, I ended up cashing out with my third biggest single session loss of all-time, a solid exclamation point to an already ugly trip. I didn’t feel like playing the next day and went to Disneyland instead.

Final LAPC trip stats:

Tournaments: -$2200 (0-6)

Cash Games: -$1834

Overall: -$4034

And this is what my January graph looks like now:

Note: I’m down $4700 for January, which would be my all-time worst month if it ended after my trip. Not sure why the graph tails off well past -$6k. It’s bad, but not quite that bad! (Edit: I just realized why it looks that way. I was in a pending $15/$30 session for $2000).

I took 2nd in the PLO-Medium tournament in the Grizzly Games on Global Poker last night for +$634 and that’s not included in the above graph. And perhaps I had worse months when I was still drinking, but as far as I’m concerned my poker career didn’t start until I quit drinking.

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LAPC Day 6: $350 Limit Hold’em @ Commerce

January 26, 2018

This tournament had the same structure as the events I played last week: 10k starting stacks, 30 minute levels. Blinds started at 50/100. Speaking of which, whenever I play flop games I always list the current level as what the small and big blinds are. In Stud formats, I list the level as the betting limits. This is worth noting since I will be playing a H.O.R.S.E. tournament next. Anyways, a nice feature of this LHE event is that all tables were 8-handed. Anyone that thinks 9-handed poker is better than 8-handed really doesn’t have a clue. Please stop griping about that open seat – it’s going to be okay!

My table started 5-handed with three unknown opponents and one guy I have played with here and at the WSOP. Through a little research I finally got a name: Adam Kipnis. He has $126k in lifetime cashes, almost all of which have come in the annual SoCal series. His biggest cash is $18k for a second place finish in a Deep Stack Extravaganza PLO8 at Venetian last June. Kudos to him. He seems to be doing well and is definitely someone I have recognized over the last few years. The rest of my table seemed pretty soft, including a middle-aged lady in a visor that open-limped 86 suited on the first hand of 5-handed play.

Notable Hands L1-L4

Blinds 100/200, I open with KK and the button 3-bets. I call to disguise my hand and trap later but when the flop comes ace high, I just check-call flop and turn before inexplicably getting a free showdown against AA on the river (one card wheel and backdoor flushes got there, but come on).

Blinds 100/200, I 3-bet a cutoff open from Adam with 66 from the small blind, he calls. Flop is 543 with two clubs (I have one) and I bet and 3-bet. It’s hard to imagine I’m doing poorly against many hands here. I barrel the 8c turn and check the 7c river, not really looking to value bet a six high one card flush. Adam checks back and shows me how “lucky” I got to outdraw his A2.

Blinds 150/300, I bust a player after we cap pre and get it in on the flop when my AK outflops his JJ.

I forgot to mention that Pheels-Bad Pete followed me out to LA and is playing this event as well. I will track his progress also.

First Break: Dark Knight 12.4K, Peter 1.8K

Notable Hands L5-L8

Peter busts his first bullet pretty quickly after the break and fires a second one.

Blinds 200/400, UTG opens, I 3-bet AA next to act, the field clears out and he calls. Flop 632 and he check-calls. Turn 8 and he check-raises now. In retrospect, this is probably a clear 3-bet. I’m really only losing to 88 and a bunch of hands that are typically not raising UTG at an 8-handed table. But I took the cautious route and called him down and he showed… AA! Wow.

Blinds 200/400, a middle position player opens and I defend J9dd. Flop is Q95 and I feel my hand plays a bit better as a check-raise than a check-call, so that’s the line I take. He calls and then calls again on K turn. River bricks and I think if I bet again I might as well be bluffing. This board is better for his range than mine so I just give up, but he checks back and… beats me with A9.

Blinds 200/400, hi-jack opens and I 3-bet QThh from the cutoff. I’ve seen this player open T7s from an earlier position so not 3-betting this hand would be criminal. The small blind and hi-jack both call. I bet flop and turn on T997 and the small blind is calling. Final board reads T9977 and he checks again. At first glance it might look like I should be betting, but what hands can he call with that I beat? All his small pairs have been counterfeit. Maybe he calls A8s? Maybe he hung around with AK or AQ? He would probably call those hands. I think he might play JJ this way and probably ATs and KTs. I can’t imagine him calling a 3-bet with too many other Tx combos. I think most of the time he calls I probably lose, so I check back and beat his JTs. And then he says “you 3-bet with queen ten suited?” The guy that calls three bets with JT suited, from the small blind, says that. I love poker players. They never cease to amaze me with their weird and faulty logic.

Blinds 300/500, I open A8ss UTG (a little frisky, but table is mostly playing tight and straightforward) and only the big blind defends. Flop is 754 one spade and it’s not surprising when I get check-raised on this board texture. My hand actually has disguised equity so I’m happy to continue here. The turn pairs the 4 and I call again. The river is a king and creates an interesting dynamic. If he checks here, I expect to never win. If he bets, I like my hand a lot more. Reason being, if he had a pair, it’s unlikely he would value bet it on this river. He would typically check-call and hope he’s good. But if he’s been bluffing, he has to bet to win, so a river bet is way less scary than a river check ironically. Of course, he could have really strong hands like trips and straights, but a river bet has a lot of bluffs too. I’m pretty happy when he bets and I snap-call and win the pot vs queen high.

Blinds 300/600, button opens, I 3-bet QJo and the big blind caps it. We both call. The big blind is all in for another 300 on AKx and we both call, check the A turn, and button folds when I bet my straight on the T river. Big blind reveals JJ and I bust that player for the second time – both times when he had JJ, something he’s telling anyone listening as he’s exiting the tournament area.

Blinds 300/600, I defend an open with K8. Flop is KT4 and I decide to encourage future betting by taking a passive check-call line. The turn pairs the T and it checks through. River is a 6 and I don’t see how I can’t bet here. I bet, he calls, and I lose to KJ.

Shirley Rosario, a 50+ white lady, joins my table wearing a Wu-Tang Clan “C.R.E.A.M. (Cash Rules Everything Around Me)” jacket and it kind of blows my mind.

Blinds 400/800, a disaster hand. I think my line and thinking here is fine, but the result is miserable. I defend a hi-jack open with KQo and then check-raise the 962 flop. This is a spot where the board hits my range better than it hits his and I will have some disguised outs if I make a real hand. He calls though and then calls again on the 8 turn. I catch a perfect river to continue my bluff when the final board reads 96285 and instead of a fold, I get raised. I’m so perplexed by this turn of events that part of me wants to call just to see and part of me is wondering if I should 3-bet. It’s not impossible for him to have hands like 77 or A7s though, so I eventually toss it in the muck.

Blinds 400/800, I open button with Q6o and a new player in the small blind 3-bets. I call. Flop is QT5 two clubs (I don’t have one), he bets, I raise, and he calls. Turn is Ac and we both check. River is 4c and we both check again. He rolls his hand and says “that’s it” and I see two red fives, so I table my hand and after a few seconds I realize he said “SET.” Awesome.

Ten minutes before registration closes, Rip Van Winkle strolls in with a fresh stack looking like he just got out of a game he sat in the evening before – standard Rip. But I don’t love that name. I thought of a better one. From now on the character formerly known as a Rip Van Winkle will be known as The Sandman. Yes, that’s better.

Second Break: Dark Knight 11.4K, Peter busted (twice)

Notable Hands L9-L10 (spoiler alert)

I go all of level 9 with a VPIP of 0%, meaning I didn’t voluntarily put money in the pot a single time for the entire 30 minute level.

My table breaks and I’m down to 5.5 bigs when I get moved to Sandman’s table. I had been playing for 5+ hours and Sandman had been playing less than 40 minutes and I joke that I’m probably going to bust before he does. Sure enough, first hand at his table I get KJ and the action folds to me, I raise and one of the blinds 3-bets and we eventually get all in. He has AJ and my sweat is over pretty quick after an AJx flop and no equity on the turn.

I busted with about 40 left. 16 ended up cashing. Another brutal tournament. I peaked around 29K and almost immediately lost half of it back.

After the tournament it as was early enough and the games looked good enough that I decided to play some $20/$40 LHE and I just got murdered. None of my premium hands were capable of winning and I found myself stuck $1300 in less than two hours. I made a couple of comebacks where I got up to -$500 and it looked like I might be able to salvage the session, but the shit storm returned and I couldn’t stomach any more brutal negative variance and called it a night at -$1135 after 5.5 hours.

That makes me 0 for 4 in LAPC events, -$2942 over my last four cash game sessions, and officially in the red for the month of January.

Who wants to be a professional poker player?

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Marathon Monday: $15/$30 @ Palace (1/22/18)

January 22, 2018

11:13 PM: I was thinking about not blogging today, but why not! I was debating playing some of the Grizzly Games tournaments on Global Poker while I played live today, but they are running 4-max NL tourneys and that is definitely NOT what I want to do while I’m playing live poker.

A little late start for $15/$30 today even though there were 14 names on the list, but we are full now and cards are in the air.

Starting lineup today (s1 to s9): Radio Mike, Elmer (a palace reg long overdue for a name… he’s rather sticky, not quite Super Glue but definitely a regular Elmers), Chief Wiggum, me, older reg, Muffin, Game Genie, and two splashy $8/$16 regs.

This game is actually pretty good, but it’s gotten off to a slow start over the first few orbits. A decent amount of chops, a couple turns, and I don’t think there’s been a showdown yet.

11:27 AM: A little donation on my part in the interest of spicing up the game a little: I open JTss (normal), s5 3-bets and I call heads up. Flop is 854 with two clubs and one spade. I check-call and I’m planning to bluff any 6 or 7. If he has big cards he probably folds, but if he has an overpair I don’t really expect this player to lay it down. Turn is 7c, so I bet, as is my plan, and he calls. I would probably give up on river if the turn wasn’t a club, but the three clubs on board might give him a flush draw with unpaired overcards. So when the river comes an ace, I punt another $30 and lose to AA.

More punting: Elmer opens button, I defend K9. I check-raise the JT7 two heart flop and barrel the 3h turn (I have 9h). River is a King and I bet even though I think I’m losing a decent amount of the time here and he calls with AQdd, the nut straight.

Solid -$300 start already.

11:36 AM: I’m not planning the full marathon today. I fly to L.A. at 2 PM tomorrow and I haven’t even unpacked from my last trip – let alone washed any clothes. I can probably still play until 10 PM or so though and get what I need to get done.

12:04 PM: Standard terrible start in these Palace red chip games. I open A9hh, someone three bets, both blinds defend. Flop is QJ8 with two spades and one heart. Elmer donks, Wiggum calls; it’s a bad spot but I can’t fold here. The PFR raises and we all call. Turn is a blank and it checks to PFR, he bets, two calls, and I’m still priced in. River Ts and Wiggum leads. Bleh. I call and lose to his 95ss. -$600 already. Beautiful.

12:26 PM: QQ holds from SB in 4-way 3-bet pot and I get value on all streets on J6325 runout, my first sexy pot of the day.

1:00 PM: Limp fest in front of me. I come along from cutoff with 85ss, button calls, and blinds call and check. Flop 853 with two diamonds. UTG bets, folds to me, I raise, button calls, BB calls, UTG 3-bets, I cap, all call. Turn queen and UTG is still betting. Against a reasonable player I might think I’m beat here – and I still could be – but this player is splashy and could be overplaying something I’m beating, so I raise. Button and BB both call $60 cold and UTG calls also. I’ve seen the button play sets like this, where he waits until the river to play aggressively, so I’m not 100% confident I’m good here. River is a 9, but not a diamond. It checks to me on river and I think it’s pretty close here. The flush draw missed but 76, the most likely straight draw, got there, and JT (unlikely) got there, plus a number of possible two pair hands have improved. I have no interest in bet-folding the river or calling a raise, so I just check and hope I’m good. BB has J9dd and UTG has J8hh (total overplay) and my hand is good.

1:12 PM: Radio Mike opens from MP and I 3-bet black kings and get it heads up. He calls. Flop is QJx all clubs and he check-calls me on flop and turn, before donking the river when the board texture hasn’t changed at all: QJ264. It’s very tempting to raise here because his line is so weird and it’s hard to imagine what hand he plays this way that I’m losing to, but I decide on call and he shows me A8cc for the flopped nut flush. A mini-victory for me as I lost the absolute minimum I could have on that connection.

1:47 PM: Sigh.

Five hand sequence:

AQss capped pot under the gun. Flop is TT3 and I don’t even make it to the turn (KK, JJ, Tx)

JJ small blind, peel ace high flop and check-fold turn vs AQ, A9.

JJ cutoff, I 3-bet and a non-aggressive player caps button. Flop is AJx. I check-raise because how do I not? Button flats and Wiggum is hanging around. Turn king. I should probably check-call this card knowing what I know about the button, but my hand says I must bet. He could have QQ. I don’t think he has AK. He raises and I just call down and lose to AA.

Poker is fun.

My success rate with big pairs in Palace red chip games has been laughable. On the bright side I’ve shown a win rate both in the $15/$30 and $30/$60 here so far despite running far below average (in my estimation).

2:15 PM: Wiggum opens and I 3-bet AA from MP, Radio Mike is stubborn in the big and three of us see the QTx flop. Wiggum donks, I raise, Mike is out, Wiggum calls. Turn K, Wiggum donks again. The ole double donk, eh? I probably should be raising this bet. This line smells more like KJ than KQ, but this board is not ideal for aces facing a decent amount of action. I just call. River is a T and now he checks. I doubt he’s getting tricky here so I have an easy value bet and my aces win showdown.

2:49 PM: Pretty cool to win a pot with aces above, but we’re back to normal: TT vs QQ; AQ whiff. KQ vs AQ and 99 on QJ9 when I’m the only preflop raiser. ATdd whiff QQJd6d. AQdd whiff J97d4d. AQcc 3-bet SB and whiff.

My image is amazing right now. Raise a ton of hands, whiff or lose every pot, and never show anything. Just looking like a total spewtard.

-$1000

3:19 PM: Elmer limps, I raise TT from MP, button calls, Radio Mike defends big. Flop 854. Mike donks, Elmer calls, I raise, both those guys call. Turn 9 and they both check-call. River jack, Elmer donks and I cry call and cry fold after losing to QJo. I told you he’s sticky!

I’m not running as bad as Peter is running good in these games but it’s a claim I’m really wanting to make!

3:37 PM: Woah. I got lucky. Two limps in front of me, I limp along with A4dd which elicits some razzing from my table mates that are shocked that I’m not raising. I tell them they’ve beaten me into submission. 7-way action to Q54 two hearts. I believe Elmer bets, Wiggum calls, I call, Muffin raises, and four of us see the turn for two bets. By gosh, it’s a 4 and I think I’m going to be able to check-raise the field. Elmer and Muffin call. River double pairs the board with a 5 and I feel like I should always still be good here so I bet and only Muffin calls and my pending reload goes on hold for the time being.

4:18 PM: A few noteworthy items:

Four players limp, I raise QTcc from the big and five opponents call. Flop is A84 with two clubs. I c-bet and everybody folds. Holy crap. Talk about the unexpected.

Muffin is racking up and it just dawned on us. No one that started this game has left yet. All original nine are still here. Almost five hours straight with no movement. Incredible!

Unfortunately, I have a feeling because the list has been locked out for five hours Pain-In-My-Ass Pete is about to go from 7th on the list to in the game.

And, oh my God, that is what just happened.

4:53 PM: New developments as there has been some movement.

Peter is in, The Human Torch is in, and another very live player is in. This game is still very good.

First clash with Peter goes my way. He opens, I 3-bet 88, one hitchhiker. Peter donks Q54 two club flop. Doesn’t need to have a queen here, I raise and he goes into Passive Pete mode. Turn 8. Hey now! Peter check-calls turn and can’t find a fold when clubs get there on river either. It’s a new day!

5:48: One limper, Radio Mike raises, PayBack Pete calls, I defend 76o. Flop is Q77. I check, Mike bets, Peter raises, I 3-bet because the jig is up if I call, Mike caps, Peter folds. Mike calls me down with KK. A little big pair bad luck reversal!

Typical Dark Knight MO: I am somehow down less than $200 now. At my worst I was my -$1200.

6:06 PM: New additions to the game:

Humpty Dumpty: the action player I mentioned earlier. It’s too good. I can’t help it.

Grumpy: Not many players I genuinely dislike at Palace but this is one of them. Big time whiner, criticizes other players… just an all around dick. Never seen him in $15/$30 but I’m glad he’s here because he’s my absolute favorite kind of person to beat.

Taz

Punish-Me Pete: Same guy, different day. Peter is getting smashed.

6:26 PM: Game Genie can’t fold the K4cc in a raised pot from the small blind, I 3-bet QQ from the big, and he gets the KK67A runout. On the bright side, he check-called flop and turn and let me check back river.

6:38 PM: In case my description of Grumpy wasn’t sufficient enough… Peter and I have never talked about Grumpy and I just got a text from Peter saying I’m tempted to 3bet any opens from s2 with atc. Atc means ‘any two cards’ and this message means Peter thinks he’s a dick too and wants to inflict punishment.

6:59 PM: Everyone is taking turns treating Grumpy like a punching bag. Humpty Dumpty had 88 vs Grumpy’s KT on T84K and got max action on the turn. Radio Mike had AQ vs AJ on 722Ax and took this line postflop: check-call, check-call, check-RAISE! Wow.

Peter is openly congratulating anyone that beats Grumpy on how well they played their hand.

7:06 PM: Grumpy has been bludgeoned to death. Everyone breathes a sigh of relief – except me. I can listen to that whining all night.

7:22 PM: Limper, Taz raises, Game Genie cold calls, I 3-bet KT suited on the button, Peter calls, Taz caps and five us see 664 flop. Everyone hates it and it checks around. Ten on turn, Peter leads, two calls, I raise, three calls. River Ace. Taz donks. I pay off his AQ.

Back to -$700.

7:39 PM: Prolix Pete (look it up) has left us – he’s going to Commerce for LAPC tomorrow also – and I might be able to listen to some music now.

8:17 PM: Five limpers, I have KK in the small blind. Obviously I didn’t win this pot.

9:43 PM: I’m still playing. I made a set of tens against Radio Mike where he thought it would be a good idea to donk an ace river. Also had JJ on A75AJ run out. I never got raised so I have to assume I was good all the way – although he did tank-call turn and snap-call river. Down about $700 still.

9:58 PM: Today Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall and watched videos on his phone all day. And that was enough to keep his attention on something other than playing every hand, falling over and cracking open.

He’s racked up now, but his phone is put away and he’s suddenly played three hands in a row. Could be trouble for Humpty soon.

10:08 PM: Capped pre with QQ and three different players raise on the T96dd flop. Humpty is still coming out guns blazing against two people that look like they have overpairs, so I’m calling down and I’m pretty relieved to be the only caller at showdown and I’m good against his ATdd.

Humpty Dumpty has remembered there’s a poker game going on around him and all that pain that goes with it. The wall is shaking!

10:41 PM: High variance poker alert. Mega-Maniac on my direct right. He’s raising at least 50% of hands (I’ve seen J9o and Q5s from MP), so when he raises here I try to iso with 55 but I get two hitchhikers, maniac caps. Flop 632dd. We cap it three ways. Turn 5d. It checks to me. I just can’t see any good reason to check this card against these players, so I bet, shake the caller, but the maniac raises again, I call. River is 4d and he leads out. I obviously can’t call and win so I turn my hand into a bluff and I definitely have fold equity against this guy. Unfortunately he has the least maniacal hand of all: AJ of diamonds. He tries to raise me but only puts out $60 so I feel like I have to roll my hand first and table it. Ugh.

11:12 PM: Maniac goes 4-4 against me and cashes out. Solid.

I open JTss, Radio Mike 3-bets, another player calls and three of us see JT6cc flop. I check-raise flop and both players call. I consider check-raising turn but I’m glad I don’t. I bet, Mike raises and I get to three bet. He calls me down with AA.

Radio Mike is flustered now. Right after those aces lose, he loses to 85dd after a KT7 two club one diamond flop to a running flush.

He can’t even contain himself: “Every time I get even I lose a bunch of stupid hands.”

I say, “What does even feel like?”

11:48 PM: Free play with K4o. Flop KQ3. It checks around. Turn 5. I check, someone bets, someone calls, I raise… and lose to A5 on the river. YAWN. I really love this line for this reason exactly. You induce someone to bet third pair and they can’t lay it down in a micro pot, even when they are getting check-raised.

12:27 AM: Cashed out -$618. Another ho-hum red chip session where not much goes right for me.

I land back in L.A. around 5 PM tomorrow but probably won’t be playing any poker.

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$30/$60 @ Palace (1/21/2018 – LIVE BLOG)

January 21, 2018

9:10 AM: Backpacks and meditation are back! The $30/$60 game @ Palace is supposed to start at 11 AM, but who knows if that will actually happen. What did happen was this game went until 5 AM last Sunday when I was in California. That’s impressive!

I played a very short and unhappy $8/$16 session last night. It was 9 PM before we headed to the casino and I needed to be up early today, so my head and heart weren’t in it. What I really wanted to do was play some $6/$12 Omaha 8/Better for a few hours until my wife was ready to go home, but somehow I went from 2nd on the list when I put my name up to 4th on the list and then I got slaughtered for -$300 in less than an hour in a short-handed game. Playing short sessions is one of my pet peeves and when I know it’s going to happen (like when I’m waiting for a seat in a game I want or we are on a time restriction like last night) I typically drop down in limits ($4-$8) or play a lower variance game (like Omaha 8). So after donating $300 and watching the game disintegrate before my eyes (like my chip stack), I was still third up for O8 and I didn’t want to play full ring LHE, so I just went home.

When I left there were 7 names on the list for $30/$60 today. The question is, will those seven names be there at 11 AM when the game is supposed to start, or am I waking up early for no reason? Probably the latter. I’ve suggested a later start time for this game, but so far it hasn’t happened. I think a 2 PM start would get off the ground much more successfully. We’ll see though.

I think this is a good time to thank everyone for their support. My decision to start blogging my poker exploits has been a pretty huge one. I have long felt like reviewing movies is somewhat of a chore to me, but I find that I thoroughly enjoy writing about poker and the people that follow me certainly seem to prefer poker content. January 2018 is already the busiest month my blog has ever seen – and before that, December 2017 and November 2017 were my best months ever. In fact, January 2018 has been such a huge month that it has already surpassed the total amount of views my blog got in all of 2016 and will pass my total for 2015 by the end of the month. The increase in traffic has been insane and I’m happy that so many people seem to be enjoying what I’m doing. It’s pretty cool. I believe there is a way to follow the blog and be notified each time I make a new post if you wish to have updates sent to you. Thanks again!

I’m going to spend the next 90 minutes meditating, doing a little exercising, drinking coffee and getting ready and then I’ll go see what’s happening at Palace.

11:02 AM: Batman can always count on The Riddler for genuine assistance. He said he’s playing at Palace, so I text him and ask him to tell the floor I’m on my way but might be a few minutes late because I don’t want to lose my seat and he replies: “I will make an announcement to the room.”

No shock here. 10 names on the list to start the game and so far three of us have showed up. Of the seven current no shows, I feel like only one of them is guaranteed to walk in the door in the next thirty minutes, so it could be a while before this thing takes off.

Trying to assimilate my wife to this new limit for us, as I’m about to leave the house I say, “Welp. Time for me to go win or lose thousands of dollars!”

11:27 PM: Only five us here and no one is excited about the lineup. One of them doesn’t want to start 5-handed and another doesn’t want to start 4-handed. I’m not sure a sixth player is going to trickle in within the next thirty minutes and one of these guys is already talking about taking off.

This game might not happen today.

11:49 AM: Cards are in the air. Playing 4-handed. Nothing like some high stakes short-handed variance to wake you up in the morning!

Hopefully the game going will be noticed on Bravo and bring some players in.

As usual, playing short-handed isn’t very conducive to live blogging, so probably won’t post many hands until we start to fill up.

11:57 AM: The game just got a little less sharky. A Palace reg that has only recently stepped up to $8/$16 just sat down with $1000. Rooting for him against these Fortune regs!

12:31 PM: We are 6-handed now. A rundown of my opponents: there are three regulars from the Fortune $20/$40 game – one of which I think is one of the strongest players there – and two Palace regs, both of which I suspect are playing above their comfort level.

Notable hands so far:

-I open SB with QJ and the big defends. Flop is KTx and I bet-call. I don’t suspect this player to raise this flop and fold at some point so I’m just check-calling and trying to make something now. I turn a jack, which makes me showdown bound and check-call again. The river gives me a straight and I lead and do not get called.

-Button opens, I 3-bet KJ from SB, big calls, button calls. Flop QT9 with two clubs. I bet, big raises, button calls, I call. I reraise here a lot – especially since the board is wet – but I suspect I will get a check-raise in on the turn the majority of time, so I take that line. The turn is the deuce of clubs (and I don’t have one) and I don’t love the situation but I execute anyway and both players fold when I raise.

-I open AK from cutoff, button and small blind call, big folds. Flop is KQ5 rainbow. I bet and both players raise. The small blind is a very good player, so I expect him to have KQ a lot here. Maybe 55. He definitely could have hands like KJs and KTs though, so I’m never folding. The turn card solves most of my problems though as I make top two pair and the good Fortune reg check-calls me down.

12:50 PM: The most recent player already quit. He sat down and played one orbit and then moved to $3/$6! LOL. You don’t see someone move from a $30/$60 game to a $3/$6 game every day.

1:00 PM: Super Dave is here to save the day! He just sat down with $2000 and these guys have no idea how much this game just changed.

1:08 PM: We are 8-handed! Rooting for Super Dave vs The World!

1:22 PM: Super Dave button straddles, I 3-bet TT from the big, a non-reg is not phased by the $90 cold from MP, and three of us see the 864 flop. I bet, MP raises, and Super Dave calls. 3-betting here is fine, but I just call, planning to bet safe turns and possibly fold to a raise from MP. The jack is pretty safe, so I bet and they both call. River pairs the jack, I bet, MP calls, and Super Dave makes a miraculous fold with K8. I win the pot.

Just lost a big one: Super Dave opens, there’s a call, I 3-bet AQdd and it gets capped. I get it capped on the 865dd flop, with all three of us still in. I check back the 6 and fold on the river when Super Dave bets and the other player calls. Dave shows Q7o and the caller wins with A8.

1:41 PM: Super Dave straddles, SB folds, I have QT in the big. I’m always defending this hand but this table isn’t super active and I think I’m better off 3-betting and trying to get heads up with the maniac. Mission failed. UTG 4-bets and Super Dave 5-bets. Flop is AQx with two diamonds. It checks around. Turn is the Qd. I think UTG probably has an ace, so I opt for a check-raise here and it works spectacularly. Both players put in two big bets on the turn. The river is the 8d and I check-call to induce bluffs. UTG bets and shows KQ with no diamond. Oh, so that’s why my turn check-raise worked? Whoops!

Edit: I forgot to mention I had the Td. I won this pot.

2:48 PM: Sorry, I was focusing on eating for a bit there. It’s been a pretty solid start for me. I’ve made the nuts twice with AK in showdown pots and I’ve been getting premium hands in my big blind when Super Dave button straddles (and sucking out with QTo when I’m not!) and I’ve only lost one of these scenarios.

As is, I’m up about $1500 after taking my first break.

Pesky Pete is first up on the list and he’s already been waiting an hour and if there’s any justice in this world, any justice at all, he will wait two more hours and take Super Dave’s empty seat.

3:10 PM: Super Dave is torturing two of the Fortune regs. I haven’t lost any meaningful pots to him yet and he appears to be up about $1500 playing about 85% of hands dealt.

3:12 PM: The $8/$16 shot-taker got a nice little bink and Pesky Pete gets to gamble with Super Dave. Boooooooo!

3:37 PM: UTG+1 opens, I 3-bet 77 on the button, he calls. I bet flop and turn before checking behind river on 9868Q and my hand is good vs KT. Where’s a 7 when you need one? Nothing too exciting but I just felt like I should post a hand.

3:53 PM: This game is in trouble. Two players have left and a very key player passed on his open seat – even though he was unimpressed with Pesky Pete’s +$9000 win from a few weeks ago because, you know, he’s “won $10,000 in $30/$60 many times.” But as easy as winning $10k in this game is, he’s decided to play $8/$16 instead today.

If Super Dave cashes out, this game is dust.

4:22 PM: I’m getting Super Dave’d now. He button straddles, Peter 3-bets SB, I 4-bet BB with AQcc, both call. Flop J76cc and I wind up lose to Dave’s 33.

I open KJo and only Super Dave defends and I can’t beat his A3o after flopping KQT.

4:46 PM: Super Dave cashed out a little less than $3k. That leaves us 4-handed. I thought the game was over but these guys still want to play. Eh. I think I’m a very good short-handed player, but that doesn’t mean I’m invincible from variance and none of these guys are slouches.

5:04 PM: Battling with Pesky Pete.

I can’t lay down the JT on J77ccTK after we cap flop and I call down. His A7 is good.

I can’t lay down the JT on 862T after getting check-raised on the flop and getting 3-bet on the turn. Fortunately, the river comes a 6, counterfeiting his 82. Obviously, I check back, perplexed, and on a mission to put in $0 with the best hand this pot.

We picked up two players. Game on!

5:12 PM: MP opens, I 3-bet QQ, big blind and opener call. Flop T73 with two diamonds, I bet, big raises, MP calls, I 3-bet, and they both call. Turn is 9d and I don’t have one. I lead, big calls, MP raises, I snap fold, big calls. River 4d, big donks, MP raises, and the big goes deep into the tank before calling with… red aces! Wth.

5:27 PM: Peter is so annoying. He opens cutoff, I 3-bet K9cc, big blind is all in for $35, Peter calls. Flop is QJ3, two diamonds, one club and Peter check-calls. Turn is Kd and he check-raises me. My first instinct is to pay this off in frustration but he’s just never bluffing here and I’m probably drawing dead and I find my zen moment and toss it in the muck. Peter shows T9o and the big blind has 87dd but loses to Peter when the river comes a fourth diamond.

5:40 PM: Peter opens button, I 3-bet with Q8hh, the big blind comes along, and Peter calls. Flop is J32 rainbow with one heart. I bet and both call. Turn pairs the 2 and we check to Peter and he bets. He’s never flatting with a jack on the flop and I would check-raise big pairs here a decent amount, especially since I’ve been missing a lot lately, and I pull the trigger on the total airball check-raise… and they both fold.

6:22 PM: We’re playing a fun game called everyone gets to get there against me. Open 84cc? River a flush. Nice hand. Open 97hh and flop middle pair when I have top pair? Turn trips. Easy game. Open A6o, flop trips 6s, let me turn top pair with KJ and get a check-raise in? Pretty unreal.

6:33 PM: Peter has almost beaten me into submission. And now there’s another player in the game that I seem to be incapable of making a winning hand against. As much fun as it is to lose basically every pot I play in a game that isn’t particularly good anyways, I think I might head home soon.

6:50 PM: KK holds up against Peter. He’s not totally immune to losing pots to me!

The other player I can’t beat is pretty new to me but he’s been playing in the bigger games at Palace since we started spreading them and seems to be a new regular. Since I think I’m yet to win a showdown against him over multiple sessions, this player – who I have previously referred to as Cubs hat – will now be known as Game Genie.

Flopped a set of 7s in a 3-bet pot, so, you know, it’s not all bad.

I’m not going to go out of my way to do this, but we are playing 5-handed and it seems like beating Game Genie in ONE showdown is something that could happen.

8:15 PM: My bad. My good friend (and former roommate) just walked into Palace and I spent the last half hour talking to him on a break.

8:24 PM: First hand back I can’t shake Pesky Pete off ace high on the QQ7Jx run out. I defended the big with K8 and raised the flop and barreled turn which seems optimistic against a probable ace high, but Peter has seen me take this line with a Queen so many times I think he folds a decent amount here. When he tank-calls turn though I know he’s calling river, so I check back that street.

I did the impossible. Pesky opens cutoff, I 3-bet JJ, and four of us see the flop. The board runs out 76297 and I bet all streets and win a showdown against… GAME GENIE!

I deed it!

Game Genie is almost felted and our 5th player just left.

8:43 PM: I quit the $30/$60 game when it got 3-handed. I have to admire the tenacity of one of the remaining players. He’s taking on Peter heads up – even though Peter is basically incapable of losing any pots.

His run in the $30/$60 here has been unreal. Palace has spread the game four times now and he’s had two sessions so good they typically only happen once or twice a year. He won $9k once and I’ll report what tonight’s final total is when he’s done. It’s truly disgusting. One player commented “even he’s irritated by it” referring to me, which he said “is a compliment about your emotional stability” and is definitely a testament to how absurd Peter is running.

Peter plays really well though, so I don’t want to take anything away from his ability. He’s a good player -my toughest regular opponent in the greater Tacoma area – but, my God, the deck is slapping him across the face in these big games.

As for me, I finished $30/$60 at -$685.

I am now playing $4/$8 with my good friend and I’ll be going home as soon as he’s done playing.

UPDATE: Pot-After-Pot Pete won $5780, which he says brings his $30/$60 hourly win rate to $500/hour after four sessions. Incredible!

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LAPC Day 4 & Day 5: $350 Stud 8 or Better, $20-$40 LHE Live At The Bike

January 19, 2018

The $350 Stud 8 or Better tournament had the exact same structure as the previous events I’ve played. 10K starting stacks and 30 minute levels. My starting table were all unknowns to me although I did recognize one player as a dealer from Hollywood Park Casino. I also found out later that the older gentleman in seat one was the defending champion of this event.

Notable Hands Levels 1-3

100/200 level, I call a complete from a Jack up from late position with 77-6, with two clubs. I think this hand plays very good heads up against a likely big pair. I can make a better high hand and I have 40% of a low. I think it goes without saying that cards I need are very live. With all that in mind, maybe I should be 3-betting to increase my chances of getting the bring in out. I call though and so does the bring in. I catch a wonderful 3 of clubs on 4th and take the betting lead. They both call. I continue leading on 5th with 77c-6c-3c-2 and I’m perplexed when the player going high check-raises without any obvious improvement. He has two hearts and two big cards showing and I could easily be freerolling him at this point. Again, I think this might be a spot to 3-bet, but I just call and the hitchhiker stays in. I catch the 8 of clubs on 6th and it’s checked to me again, I have a bad made low, a pair, and a four flush and both opponents caught bricks, so I bet and they both call. I pair my 8 on 7th and decide to check and hope I have some of this hand. The third player checks back and I wind up losing to a rivered flush (this player checked dark on 7th) and a rivered 7 low and get scooped.

100/200 level, I call with 52-8 vs a 6 up, a jack up 3-bets, a king calls, and it’s four of us to 4th street. I check-call on 4th and 5th with 52-83A (two fours are now dead) and on 6th I make open aces. There are still four of us in the pot and I’m not convinced I have the best hand in either direction, so I check. The two players going high check and the player going low bets and now I see an opportunity: I raise and both high hands fold. The low board calls me and I make aces up on 7th. This is probably a mandatory bet but I assume my opponent has a better low and I feel pretty stupid when he checks behind and I scoop everything, but I am definitely pleased with the overall result.

First break: 8700

Notable Hands Levels 4-6

300/600, I’m involved in a 3-way pot on 7th street and I’m facing a bet holding A7-357K-Q. My opponent’s board is xx-525J-x and the player behind me doesn’t look like he has much. I thought the player betting 7th was going low and it doesn’t make a ton of sense for him to bet a high hand, unless he started with AA-5 or Ax-5 and rivered aces up. I have a 5 and an ace in my hand, so I’m blocking his best high holdings and decide my pair could be good here. I call, the other player folds and not only is a pair of 7s good, but he has no low and I scoop it all.

400/800, I defend the bring in with 9s5s-3s in a 3-way pot. My board runs out 9s5s-3s58s6s-K and I take the betting lead on 5th, 6th, and 7th. Both players call on 7th and I find another improbable scoop (no lows) with my flush.

400/800, I scoop with 72-6A3A-J and find myself peaking at 19.5K.

Second break: 15,275

Notable Hands Levels 7-9

I dwindle down to 7700 after a number of good starting hands turn into trash by 5th street while my opponents catch improvers.

1000/1500, I bring in with 26-2 and defend vs a jack up. My board runs out 26-24TQ while he keeps the pressure on. He has a 2 and ten on his board now. I’m down to 3900 and if I call and brick I’ll be down to 2400 and if I improve and call twice and lose, I’ll be down to 900. With two of my outs on his board I decide to fold.

1000/1500, I start with A2-5 and there’s a complete in front of me. I 3-bet and eventually get all in for 3500. My board runs out A2-5KQ6… and my opponent has two pair and a 7 low at showdown and my only outs for survival are 3s, 4s, and 7s for half. I catch a 9 and the first leg of my LAPC ends 0-3.

With my earliest bust out of the series and plans to play a long session anyways, I was happy to put my name up for some $20/$40 LHE and eventually found myself in the worst game ever. We were playing 7-handed and something like 40-50% of hands were being chopped. I started raising about 60% of hands and refused to chop when we got down to six-handed and I could feel that basically the whole table hated me. I don’t know what they were there for but they sure didn’t want to play poker. In fact, when we dropped to five players they didn’t even let the dealer deal the cards – they just quit playing.

I could feel they were all gunning for me and I kept that in mind when this hand came up: under the gun limps, another limp, and I complete with 98o. Four of us see the QJT flop and it checks around. I don’t mind trapping in really small pots so I think checking here is whatever. If it checks around and an ace or king rolls off, oh well. I’ll just check-fold. It does check around and the ten pairs on the turn. I still feel like my hand is the nuts and I again elect to check because I think someone usually stabs in spots like this. I’m not really worried about being beat because it’s hard to imagine any hand I’m losing to now checking the flop. The big blind bets, UTG calls, and I check-raise. The big blind calls but now the UTG player 3-bets. Folding may seem ridiculous here but I can’t stress enough how little these guys wanted to play the game. I didn’t think he was spazzing out here and the way he 3-bet I could practically hear him cackling with glee that his trap worked out so well. I folded and the big blind called down and lost to UTG’s QQ and then looked at me like it was my fault he paid off four big bets.

I was so displeased with this game that I was considering playing $40/$80 for the first time. There was a seat open and Barry Greenstein was in the game. I’ve played with Barry before but not in a cash game and I thought that could be kind of cool. I also thought it curious that this former high stakes superstar was not only playing $40/$80, but doing so with two $60/$120 games going – and he wasn’t on the list. I didn’t really know what to make of that.

I was also checking out Poker Atlas and that’s when I saw that The Bicycle Casino had $20/$40 LHE running on their live stream show Live At The Bike and there was no list. Well, that made my decision easy. I called and put my name up and I could feel the jitters of excitement and nerves as I was driving over there. I have a little stage fright anxiety and I was debating if I even wanted to tell anybody I was going to be on the show. However, after being in the spotlight at two WSOP final tables, this is a fear that I simply just have to get over. I know I play LHE at a very high level and as long as I played my standard game I would be fine. Plus it would be fun to watch it later and see what everyone had and read all the shit all the viewers were talking in the chat.

Alas, it wasn’t meant to be. Apparently the list on Poker Atlas is not the actual list. That list is on a piece of paper in the LatB room. I was 6th up and the program was only running two more hours. I wasn’t getting in.

Still, I was blown away by The Bike. The property was beautiful, clean and spacious. The game selection was good and the $20/$40 LHE games I played in were substantially better than the one I left at Commerce. Plus, the staff was super friendly and accommodating. The poker room promotions host asked for my info and said he would give me a heads up next time Live At The Bike had a LHE show and told me to contact him if I ever wanted a deal on a hotel room and even said he would hook me up during The Bike’s upcoming WSOP circuit series in March if I came down to play. I don’t know if he will follow through on any of those promises but it sure sounded good. Also, I had the best steak I’ve ever had in a poker room. It was all enough to make me reconsider Commerce as my preferred place to play poker in L.A.

I played until 4:45 AM, setting myself up to sleep in and play Thursday night until my flight at 8 AM Friday. I didn’t write any notes for the session but it went pretty well. I had QQ vs Q8 on Q833T and then QJ vs AA on QJ834 – against the same player, and that was enough for her to say negative things about me the rest of the night. I also had the AJ on T83QK in a 3-bet kill pot. Unfortunately, my last few hours I went very card dead playing 6-handed and lost most of the pots I did contest and a potentially great session ended up merely decent at +$600.

I’ve been writing this post Thursday afternoon and I’m going to hang out for a few more hours before I head back to The Bike. I’ll probably play there until 5 AM and move to Hollywood Park Casino until I have to drop my car off at 6:30 AM and catch my flight.

Thursday Night

I ended up watching Call Me By Your Name (review soon) with my cousin before heading back to The Bike where I hopped in a $20/$40 game at 10:15 PM.

There were two games with one open seat when I got there and by 3:15 AM I was one of the last two players left. I didn’t ever have any real momentum in this session and one of the last hands I played 3-handed I opened button with AQ and both blinds called. The big blind check-raised me on 442ss and I three bet and barreled the 5 turn. He donked the river when it came a 3 and this player was such a nit I knew I was chopping, at best. He had A6 and that hand was pretty much the difference between winning and losing. I finished -$284.

That didn’t quite get me to 5 AM like I was hoping so I ate breakfast and headed to Hollywood Park Casino near the airport.

I sat down in a $3/$5 no limit game and bought in for the $300 maximum. I made the game 6-handed and saw that everyone was limping in. I was in a good spot to destroy.

My biggest pot I opened to $15 with TT, the cutoff called, and the button raised to $50, the small blind called, and it was back on me. I think we were like $350 effective at this point and this was already the second time the button had 3-bet me. The first time he ended up showing AK. I didn’t really want to flip for 70 bigs, so I called and so did the other player. The flop was Q99 with two hearts (I had none). It checks around. The turn is Jh and it checks to the button. He bets $80 and I’m the only caller. The river is the 4h and I bluff for $140 and get a pretty quick fold.

Lots of table talk about that one – without my involvement – about what I had and finally the button just asked me if I had the ace of hearts and I said “yup.”

Some of these guys were buying in short or limp-calling their stacks to ashes, so I found myself playing some pretty straight forward all in pre spots and I won AJ over TT and 88 over A3.

There was a hand where someone opened $15 and I called K9cc and it went 5-ways. The flop was JJ3 with two clubs and one of the blinds jammed $88. It was a bit more than pot-sized and probably a fold, but I wanted to gamble and I ended up making a pair of nines to beat his 88.

I played for 96 minutes and finished +$505.

I am now at the airport gate waiting to board my flight.

Here are my final results:

Tournaments: -$1050 (0-3)

Cash Games: +$1826

Overall: +$776

Not a great outing, but considering I whiffed in tournaments finishing with a profit is a happy result. I have a flight back to L.A. on Tuesday.

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LAPC Day 3: $350 Triple Stud @ Commerce

January 17, 2018

So I ended up showing up for this tournament about five minutes late. I was about to hop on I-5 and my blood sugar was showing a reading of 50 and going down so I decided to pull over and drink Gatorade (which I always travel with now) until I was back over 100. So I registered late and my table only had two players sitting at it and we had to wait for a fourth before they would start dealing to us and I wound up missing half of the first round.

For those that don’t know, Triple Stud is 7-Card Stud, Stud 8 or Better, and Razz – rotating games every eight hands. I realize some of my readers might not know the rules or objects of these games, but I assume most people that read my poker posts probably have a general idea how these games are played. I’m laying in bed typing on an iPad so I really don’t feel like typing out explanations on game variations.

My starting table was not great. I had two WSOP bracelet winners sitting with me: “Miami” John Cernuto (3 bracelets, $5.7 million in cashes) and Ron Ware (1 bracelet, $625,000 in cashes). One of my opponents was at my O8 table yesterday. He played pretty aggressive and had an arrogant and cocky vibe about him, but I saw his name on his receipt and he has less than $7000 in lifetime cashes, so I can only assume he’s not very good. The rest of my table was unknown to me but nobody seemed clueless like the O8 players I started with yesterday.

Also, I’ve never really taken notes on hands for any Stud-type games so this could be somewhat challenging. It’s hard enough writing down what I had, let alone what my opponents’ boards were and what cards were dead – all factors in my decision-making. But I’m going to try my best.

Notable Hands Levels 1-3

150/300 limit, Stud Hi: Ron Ware brings it in with the 2c, four players limp in front of me, and I have AT-T. There is a king up, but I imagine that player would raise a KKx hand and all my tens and aces are live, so I complete to 150 and Ron plus all four limpers call. I bet again on 4th street and and it checks around on 5th street when I still have five opponents and my board hasn’t improved and some of my outs are dead now, but on 6th street I have AT-T8JJ and after thinking about it for a while I decide to bet even though two of my opponents look like they could have flushes on 6th. Everybody calls again. I brick on 7th and check, Ron checks, and one of the possible flushes bets into three remaining opponents against an obvious two pair (my hand), the next player snap calls and I fold when it comes back to me and that player wins with a flush he made on 6th (he has six spades in his hand but only three visible).

That was the only significant hand I played in the first 90 minutes and I had 9675 from a 10k starting stack on the first break.

Notable Hands Levels 4-6

300/600 limit, Stud 8: I complete with Q9-Q with only Ron and the bring in left. Ron calls with the 5d. On 4th I catch an 8 and he catches high, so I bet. On 5th I get a ten and he catches low, but I still bet. I make two pair on 6th, but he catches low again, so I check and he checks back. I brick on 7th and check-call and get scooped after he rivers three fours.

500/1000 limit, Stud Hi: Miami John completes with a ten up, I call with J9-T, and Ron Ware calls from the bring in. I catch a beautiful queen on 4th, giving me an open-ended straight draw, but I do have one king and one eight dead. Miami John bets and myself and two others are still in. I catch an ace on 5th and this time it checks around. I pick up a jack on 6th so now my board looks like this: xx-TQAJ and I feel I have a mandatory bet with only one king accounted for, even though all I have is a pair of jacks. Only Miami John calls and he says something about “I hope you only have two pair.” I make aces up on 7th and that’s a two pair I think is good, so I value bet it, he calls, and I scoop a good pot.

500/1000 limit, Stud Hi: a jack up raises and I call with AA-6 (I should have raised – especially with an ace and six dead) and the bring in defends. I wind up getting heads up on 5th street against an all in. My hand is unimproved and he already has KQJT9 and I’m basically dead.

500/1000 limit, Stud 8: I scoop a big 3-way pot with 54-2A7T-3 when I got some unwarranted action. An ace completed on 3rd and lead out on 4th with xx-AJ when I had 54-2A and the middle player was obviously going high. So I got a double bet in from both of them on 4th. I led on 5th, but on 6th he bet out again with xx-AJ76 when I had 54-A27T and I got two bets from both of them again since I had the best possible low and some scoop potential. The wheel on 7th was pretty amazing, but unfortunately this would be my peak of the tournament.

I headed to the second break with 18.6k.

Notable Hands Levels 7-9

600/1200 limit, Razz: I didn’t play this hand but I found it amusing. Someone completes and a player with either a jack up or a nine up (I can’t remember which one came first) calls (with a pretty short stack) and Miami John 3-bets with an ace up. On 4th, John catches a 5, the opener catches bad and folds and the short stack has xx-9J and is looking at xx-A5 and starts to tank. Miami John says, you know this is Razz, right?” So the other player does the only sensible thing and calls with roughly half of his remaining stack. John pairs his ace on 5th and the short stack calls it off with xx-J98 and Miami John reveals a 53-A5A that bricks out and the short stack doubles up with a J98 low. Beautiful.

Miami John is cussing and staring at the dealer. On a scale of gentleman to asshole, John doesn’t seem like a bad dude, but it’s pretty strange watching such an accomplished veteran with almost $6 million in lifetime cashes get even remotely butthurt about variance in a $350 tournament.

600/1200 limit, Razz: we are seven levels into this tournament and I’m playing my first Razz pot. I complete with 72-6 and find myself in the unenviable position of check-folding on 5th against a board of xx-5TK because I have 72-6KJ.

600/1200 limit, Razz: rematch! The player that doubled through John opens with an 8 up, Miami John calls with a 2 and snap pairs it on 4th when his opponent catches a Q. I can’t remember how all the action went but at showdown Miami John has 73-228K-3 and gets scooped by a T98 low! And between the nasty run outs, same player dynamic, and Miami John’s reaction to it all, I’m sitting in my seat trying my hardest (and failing) to stifle a giggle fit.

There’s been a lady sitting on my right that has been nudging her cards a few inches forward when folding so that the dealers have to somewhat stand out of their seats to grab her cards and I’ve probably mucked her up cards more than she has. This has been her MO since hand #1 and we are over four hours deep into this thing before a dealer finally gives her the FUCK YOU look. I have to say… the dealers at Commerce have some incredibly thick skin.

800/1600, Stud Hi: I find myself in the dream scenario of seeing an ace up complete, a queen go into the muck, a king up call, another king go into the muck before I have to act on my hand: QQ-Q. We are rolled up, folks! This is kind of a weird spot actually. Do you know how strong it looks to raise a queen against an ace and a king? I figure the dead queen is providing me ample cover though so I go ahead and try to get extra bets in now. The ace calls, but the king folds. I brick out all the way and he check-calls every street with xx-A757-x. I probably would have won more by simply calling on 3rd street, but who knows. I was pretty happy with this pot. And I lied before, I was peaking after this hand with like 25k.

800/1600 limit, Stud 8: I complete with 52-A and bet through 6th street with 52-A9A6 against xx-7Q35, before check-calling the river when I miss a low and make trip aces. She shows me a straight and scoops me. Ugh.

That hand brought me all the way down to 11.4k.

Blinds 1000/2000, Stud 8: this was an insane hand. By the time third street action was over I had 3800 in with 7d5-3d with all sixes, fours, and diamonds live. Three of us put in 3800 and a fourth player was all in. I ended up having to call bets on every street as my board developed like this: 7d5s-3d-6d-6h-9d. Both live opponents had a pair on board by 6th and the all in had xx-K888 showing. I had to call 2000 of 4200 remaining to see 7th and I bet when I got the Kd. That was good for the high half of the side pot. Miami John made a low and the all in had 8s full for the main. When it was all said and done I had about as many chips as I started with.

On the third break I have 15.5k. There were 117 entrants for the tournament, 61 remain, and my stack is just below the 18.2k average. 15 players make the money and first place is over $9000.

My table finally broke and I am now playing with Shirley Rosario – once known as “The Poker Babe” – and her $475,000 in lifetime cashes.

Notable Hands Levels 10-12

1500/3000 limits, Stud Hi: I don’t know. Maybe this hand is a blunder. Maybe it’s a catastrophe. Maybe it’s just unlucky. I’m not a stud expert. A queen limps, another queen raises, I have AT-T and my cards are all live. I decide to 3-bet. A player with the 7c calls behind me, and both queens call. I made it 3000 and one player is all in for 2400. I barrel AT-TQK8 when my two live opponents brick out. I lose the player with the 7, but the second queen isn’t going anywhere. Notice I caught a queen on my board. I catch a 9 on 7th and decide to save the bet and that player did in fact start with xQ-Q. He wins the side pot, but loses the main pot to the all in who caught all the live aces I needed. I’m not sure I played this hand well. Maybe I could save bets somewhere, especially since my opponent was checking out of turn every street.

Anyways, after that debacle I’m crippled and down to 4k.

I get all in for 3200 in Stud 8 with As3s-6s, but wind up just making a low for half.

I get all in for 3200 in Stud 8 and scoop when my 74-5 develops into a full house instead.

I’m up to 9500 after that and then comes the torture. I get nothing even remotely playable and have to bring it in five times. I consider punting a couple times just to try and get it in, but I just have zero playable hands. It would feel like I’m giving up and it’s not like I have more fold equity with 6.5k than I would with 2.5k. Well, not much anyway.

So, I disgustingly dwindle all the way down to 1800 before I get it in with T7-A in Stud Hi. I get isolated by K4-7 for some reason and he immediately pairs his 7 on 4th and I catch bricks through 6th, but somehow catch a pair of 8s on 7th and it’s good for a double.

Finally I get it all in with 4K-4 in Stud Hi and never improve against 89-8, busting in roughly 38th place.

I considered playing some lower stakes cash, but it was already 8 PM and I’d been staying at my cousin’s house for 48 hours now and I hadn’t even seen her once yet, so I decided to pass on a short session and call it a day.

My plan is to play the $350 Stud 8 or Better tournament today and play a long session of $20/$40 LHE if I don’t make a super deep run. I fly out of LAX at 8 AM Friday so I’m skipping the Thursday tournament. I’m going to play cash deep into the night Wednesday, sleep in Thursday, hang out with my cousin and her husband Thursday evening and then head back to Hollywood Park Casino for an all night cash game session so I can play poker next to the airport and not have to wake up super early and fight through rush hour traffic to catch my flight.

Update: Miami John survived those comical Razz run outs and went on to chop this tournament heads up.