Archive for November, 2018

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Marathon Monday – The Santa Claus Game: $10/$20 with automatic button straddles!

November 12, 2018

12:14 PM: Rough game start here: we are 5-handed with Frankenstein propping the game like a true sicko. When I was flooring here I didn’t even prop 8/16 games because it was too volatile and expensive for such short sessions. So… good on you, Big Frank! I hope he doesn’t get barbecued… not saying he’s at a disadvantage, but these things happen and I know from experience that is substantially more irritating when you are on the clock and have to give up your seat when the game fills.

Starting lineup: Frankenstein, a Kitsap County regular, dude that has been coming in recently, and Part-Time.

There were three other players that were signed up for the game but are still playing 8/16 because they “don’t want to play short-handed.” Uh, okay. If you idiots sat down we’d be 8-handed and the game would be even likelier to fill up and create a list.

12:32 PM: So… I had AA three times in the first 15 minutes of this 5-handed game. Here is how each hand played out:

#1 – I 3-bet AA, Kitsap guy 4-bets the straddle and I call. I check-call 975 flop and check-raise 9 turn and bet blank river to cooler his TT.

#2 – I 3-bet AA and all four opponents call. Flop is TT6 rainbow and they all call again. Turn is a queen and I’m very concerned about being beat here, but I want to show my hand down, so I check to see what happens and the button straddler bets. I’m the only call, so I check-call 8 river and lose to T4o.

#3 – I 3-bet AA and there are a couple callers, including Part-Time. Flop is A32 with two clubs, I bet and PT calls. Turn is an 8 and I expect Part-Time to bet way more often here than is reasonable, especially since I have the deck crippled. So I check-raise and we end up capping the turn. I swear if this dude shows me 54… River is the king of clubs, so the flush gets there, but my hand is worth at least one more bet and I still get raised. Fuck. Really? Considering the events of last week’s PLO game, I just might blow a gasket if I lose this pot to fucking Part-Time.

So I call and he rolls his hand super confidently and the first card I see is the 8 of clubs and I assume that I lost to a flush and I actually have to get out of my seat and look at his hand to see that he has a set of 8s. I win! And, even though I was super irritated with Part-Time’s invincibility against me last week, I still apologized for the mini-slow roll.

1:02 PM: We are now 7-handed and The Joker is in the game. And after all the credit I gave Frankenstein in my initial write up, I have now learned that he is actually off the clock. So I’m less impressed, but it’s still cool that he’s playing.

I’ve mentioned my friend Daniel O in my blog before. We traveled to Chinook Winds together last year and I see him at various local tournaments. He has started his own poker blog. He’s a part-time player that focuses on no limit hold’em, both tournaments and cash games.

He has a background as a professional writer and used to cover the World Series of Poker (and other series) for PokerNews, so his writing style is extremely articulate and insightful.

For someone that plays recreational hours and works a full-time job, his understanding of no limit concepts is impressive and I feel like reading his thought process has improved my own game.

I highly recommend checking his blog out:

Daniel’s Poker Shenanigans

1:24 PM: One more hand from earlier in the day:

I defend 63 suited and three of us see a flop of T63 rainbow. I lead out, Kitsap dude calls, button raises, I 3-bet, and the button calls, with Kitsap guy coming along.

Turn is a king and I’m planning to check-raise the button here, but it inexplicably checks through.

I’m planning to bet for value on most rivers, but I’m wary of the 54 straight draw, so I’ll probably check-call 7s and 2s here. However, the river crushes my hand anyway and pairs the king. So I check, the Kitsap player bets and gets called by the button (weird), I fold face up to show how unlucky I got and then TT gets tabled!

Wow! What an escape!

1:50 PM: Forgot to mention how my sessions over the weekend went.

I ended up +$609 in the 20/40 O8 game at Muckleshoot on Saturday in 9 hours of play. It was bittersweet. On one hand, I booked a win and that was cool. On the other hand I was up at least $1800 at one point so the final result was super disappointing.

It’s funny how one hand can stick out as a turning point, but I was running pretty pure until this one came up and steadily dripped from that point on… a total momentum killer.

I had AQ43 double suited in a kill pot that I raised and got multi-way action on.

The flop was AQ2 rainbow… and I only got one caller, but he found a way to scoop me with 9765.

What?

The flop call is pretty mind-boggling. I usually refer to this player as a nit, so… I don’t know what’s going on here. He has zero scoop potential and his low draw is very suspect. He’s basically praying for half the pot.

He actually has a surprising amount of equity against my specific hand:

But when you consider the object of the game is to scoop the whole pot and you see that I scoop 605 times compared to his 28, or 95.5% of the total scoops, maybe it is as disgusting as I thought it was.

I wasn’t planning to play poker last night, but one of my best long-time friends messaged me and inquired if I wanted to play. He never plays poker, so even though I really wanted to take the night off, I agreed to meet up.

That led to me playing the longest 4/8 session that I’ve played in almost 18 months… back when I took a “day off” with my wife during the 2017 WSOP and we played a super casual 12+ hour marathon session with white chips.

So how did my 6.5 hours of of 4/8 action go? I finished +$897! A perfect time to run hot. I played a shit ton of hours of 4/8 before early 2015. I mean thousands and thousands of hours. Maybe 15,000 hours. It’s gross, I know. So a $900 win is far from the best I’ve ever done, but it’s big enough that I did some research to see when the last time I posted a 4/8 win like that was.

I couldn’t find it. I lost my phone in the Yakima River in July of 2014 and lost all the poker data I had logged from summer of 2011 to that point because I didn’t have it saved in any sort of cloud.

I do have spreadsheets with my cash game results dating back to January 2013 and I had to go all the way back to May 31st, 2013 to find a likely $900+ win in what was probably a 4/8 game. It’s just listed in my “cash games” section, but since it was a Friday night in 2013, there’s about a 97% chance I was playing 4/8 LHE.

So maybe my biggest white chip win in 5.5+ years.

Sick!

3:01 PM: We picked up Radio Mike to make us 6-handed but we’ve had no traffic and this game has almost no chance to survive the typical lull that occurs from 3pm to 6pm.

I have an invite to a 5/10 mix game at 7pm and I was on the fence about it, but now it’s looking like I’m at about 95%.

4:12 PM: Hard to post hands while we are short-handed, but here’s one:

I get 5-bets in 6-ways with two red kings. Flop is 753 with two spades. I bet, Joker raises – as the PFR 4-bettor so he has all the big pairs in his range – and Radio Mike calls two cold. I 3-bet and they both call. I’m quite happy to reduce the field by 50% and I know I have Joker beat, so I’m quite happy about the situation.

The turn is the 8 of spades, which is a really good card for Radio Mike’s range. I very reluctantly check when it’s my action and Joker checks behind.

The river pairs the 8 and Radio Mike leads out. I would be shocked if he’s ever bluffing here but I didn’t check back the turn to fold the river, so I call, Joker folds, and Mike tables A2 of spades.

I know I won with aces a couple times earlier and I just flopped a set of kings and got max flop action and two more big bets from Frankenstein on K32AT, but my big hands in straddle games have been killing me. I’ve booked two small losses and one huge loss in three tries – and I’m stuck about $350 right now – and it’s largely because I can’t string together these key pots with my big hands. It feels like a lot of win one and then lose three going on.

It’s pretty frustrating.

4:53 PM: Building back up so I get the standard, momentum-killing 4-bet pot with QQ and the T64A2 runout vs AJ.

Interesting development: Twinkie just made us 6-handed, sitting down with $900. Since he’s the host of the mix game I’m invited to tonight, I’m not sure what to make of it. Granted, he’s not actually sitting down. His chips are just sitting there and he’s MIA, but… I wonder. πŸ€”

5:43 PM: Twinkie is officially in the game, but I do think he’s still planning on hosting. This game has never been full and isn’t particularly great right now so I’m not committed to staying here. Playing some different variants sounds a lot more fun.

Interesting hand: I defend with 98o, Joker 3-bets and five of us see the QJ3 two club flop. Joker checks to the button and he bets, so I’m getting around 16 to 1 to call with my gutshot… but my gutshot also makes AK and K9 a straight, so it’s pretty sketch. I also have the 9 of clubs in my hand for some backdoor flush possibilities. It’s a clear call but I am wary of the dangers. Joker also calls.

Turn does give me the straight with a ten and I opt to check-raise the button and am very happy to see Joker fold. Button calls.

River is an ace giving any king a better straight. I think I’m okay bet-folding this spot. I’m already repping a straight on the turn and it’s highly likely my straight has a king in it, so it would be a really sick spot for him to bluff-raise the river. I think he has to always have it if that happens. So I fire a value bet and he calls and shows the set of 3s I sucked out on and I win the pot.

6:11 PM: Fun/annoying spot vs Radio Mike. I 3-bet with TT and pick up two callers, including Mike on the button in the straddle.

Flop is K94 with two diamonds and I bet and call when Mike raises me and we go heads up to an ace turn.

This time we both check.

River is a blank and I’m pretty sure he has a king and I’m pretty sure he will call one bet with it, so I check it over and now he bets. Here comes some fancy play syndrome: I think if I check-raise here he might fold a king, thinking that I whiffed my turn raise and now I’m unleashing the trap. It’s not an unheard of line from me and Radio Mike is more prone to trying to make good folds than some people so I go ahead and pull the trigger. He starts tanking and nodding is head while looking at me, so I flash a big smile back that says, “yep, that just happened.”

And he folds… then asks to see the bluff and I go ahead and oblige him.

6:23 PM: Twinkie just left but we picked up four players and now have a full game for the first time all day. And… His Royal Airness is on the list as a call in. Nope. We aren’t going anywhere.

6:41 PM – JOKER TAKES A WALK

I’m pretty sure I have the preflop details right but it is bewildering if I do. Joker 3-bets from SB, there are three callers, and I 4-bet with KT of spades from the cutoff and Joker 5-bet caps it, so six of us have put in $50 preflop.

The flop is AQQ with one spade. Joker leads, seat 8 raises, Radio Mike and seat 2 cold call and it’s on me. I could be drawing dead here, but the pot is so massive that I’m just going to take my chances… plus I do have a backdoor Royal Draw that I’m going to hit once every ten years or so. I call and five us head to the turn.

It’s the king of clubs. A pretty damn good card for me. This time it checks to s2 and he bets and we all call.

The river is a blank and now s8 bets when Joker checks.

So… Joker 3-bet and 5-bet pre and then bet the flop and called a raise. Seat 8 called 3-bets pre, raised the flop, check-called the turn, and now he’s donking on a total blank on the river.

But wait! Radio Mike calls and now seat two jacks it up, prompting folds from me and Joker (who flashes Q8 – lol what?). Seat 8 calls, Mike folds, and seat tables… AJ! Then seat 8 tables QJ to win the pot.

The very next hand I have J9 of clubs and check-call Joker on flop and turn before check-raising river on QTxx8 – the second time I’ve check-raised him on the river and shown him J9 suited in a very short amount of time…

That prompted him to fire his cards into the muck like a 53 mph fastball and sprint out the front doors.

We didn’t see him again for 20 minutes.

It was during that time that I realized the mega punty raise from the AJ on the river of the previous hand actually cost him half of that massive pot. At the time, I saw QJ and assumed he folded a loser, but then I remembered the kickers didn’t play.

Yikes. No wonder he’s pissed.

But seriously… what’s up with that Q8 5-bet?

7:09 PM: Sick hand. Bloated pot pre. I’m out of position against four players that all look like they are punting in a 5-bet pot. So I check-call with AK on 943 and there are three of us to the king turn. I bet out at the exact same time as the player behind me but it ends up staying at one bet and it is still 3-handed. River pairs the king and I bet and the aggressor starts complaining like I just sucked out. I assume he was punting with 43 or something (he just showed me 73ss in a 5-bet pot) but turns out… he had aces!

Eek!

7:29 PM: His Airness is in the game and the Bravo app has attracted Snowflake to the building.

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Poker Pity Party: Licking my Wounds

November 10, 2018

I am going through one of the toughest stretches of poker I’ve experienced in some time. It has me on poker and life tilt. I am in a funk that can only be described as at least a mild case of depression. I’ve been going to bed earlier and waking up later, plus my overall energy level has been extremely low. I went to the gym twice last month and the last time I lifted weights was on the 18th of October. We stopped hiking – mostly because of the weather, but still.

My motivation to play poker has been low also. Going back to the second week of October, I’ve played one day that wasn’t a massive struggle or a complete collapse. Maybe ‘collapse’ isn’t the right word. But when I spend all day around even on Marathon Monday and lose $1700 in the last 90 minutes, it feels somewhat appropriate.

I had a day-saving PLO session last week and a huge day last Friday, but every other day I’ve played live poker in the past month has been a losing effort. My graph over that time is a straight downward spiral.

I have to admit, it wears on me. Accumulated tilt is when the results of previous sessions seep into your current session. As much as I’d like to think I’ve reduced tilt in my overall game, I know I’ve been carrying a good amount of accumulated tilt around with me lately.

I feel like I’ve been saying the phrase “all-time worst” a lot lately. As in, “one of my all-time worst cash game stretches,” or “one of my all-time worst 8/16 sessions,” or “the worst 90 minutes of poker I’ve ever had.”

So last week I started off losing $360 on Sunday playing when I didn’t want to. Then I lost $1700+ in The Santa Claus Game on Monday.

That brings me to Wednesday’s PLO session. Things were pretty standard until this hand came up:

There was a $15 open and a call in front of me. I 3-bet AAKQ single-suited to $40 (too small), Part-Time calls in position and the two others also call.

With roughly $160 in the pot I bet out $100 on the AJ5dd. I had top set but no diamonds, so I was vulnerable to flush draws, but I had good blockers against gut shot straight draws. Part-Time and the original PFR both call.

Turn is an offsuit 9. Now I bet the $300 max, Part-Time jams for like $450, and the third player stacks off. I call for about $400 of it, pretty thrilled about the situation. I just need to dodge non-board pairing diamonds and kings and queens.

No one is turning their hands up so when the river pairs the 9, the pot seems as good as mine, but Part-Time blurts out: “I have the nuts” and turns over J993.

Jack Nine Nine Three.

What the FUCK?

Okay, he had two diamonds in his hand. So he flopped a shitty flush draw and turned a set.

But Jesus.

J993 single-suited? I wouldn’t complete my small blind with that piece of shit in a limped pot, let alone call an 8x raise in a 3-bet pot with it. It’s an amazing spew. The flop call is spew. The turn jam is basically just a punt. He probably doesn’t have the best made hand and it would be shocking if he had the best draw in this situation. Somehow he had the only diamond draw here (third player had a Broadway inside wrap, another massive spew on the turn with diamonds and possible duplicate draws drastically reducing his winning chances), but that is some serious wishful thinking to gamble for stacks with it.

So I started off my PLO session immediately stuck $600 because I lost to a massive punt attempt. At the time, I handled it well. I quietly reloaded and took my loss in stride.

But then I kept losing in gross fashion, particularly to Part-Time, and I was absolutely simmering. Not only was I losing in dumb spots to the same person, but twice I folded on the turn in marginal spots and rivered the nuts.

The first time that happened I had some T9xx hand on a board of Q862 rainbow and folded after a bet and call of $155, which was about pot-size. Since both my outs make the nuts, I pondered calling, but opted to fold. The river was a 7 and Part-Time led out $300, the other guy folded, and PT flashed 754. It was the most annoying result possible. Watching him win that pot with an inferior straight draw and then donking out for the max made me sick. My fold is probably correct, but still.

The second time this happened I folded top two pair with a likely bad flush draw on a super coordinated board (AK is the nuts) with four players invested on the turn already. Basically pairing my top card was the only way I was going to like my hand on the river, so of course I mucked and rivered the absolute nuts. I was already simmering near the boiling point when that happened and watching that river card fall was enough to make me rage quit.

Poker had broken me. I took my $997 loss and headed out the door, wondering what was wrong with me (woah, look at that alliteration!). For crying out loud, I shipped $5k in a tournament in late October and booked a $2k winner less than a week ago. How bad can it really be?

Bad enough that I knew I needed some extra time off… so of course I returned to Palace on Thursday and lost ferociously while playing 8/16, completely tuned out as I watched instructional PLO videos on my phone. I could have stayed home and done that. What’s the point of playing live poker if I’m going to be on total autopilot mode?

I passed on PLO on Thursday with plans to hop in later, when the game got better, but after losing $504 in 3 hours of 8/16, I once again realized, for the third time in five days, that I didn’t really want to play.

I went home early again. And then I took Friday off. Friday!

One good thing has happened this week: I have taken a serious liking to studying pot limit omaha. While I’ve been sulking at home, I’ve been watching training videos and practicing online at the PLO 100 level mostly. I can feel my game drastically improving.

I’m up almost seven buy-ins at the PLO 100 level this month and my online PLO volume is at an all-time high.

I averaged about 32 hours a month from February to April at my peak volume, but played only 12 hours combined over the last two months.

In November, I’ve already played 52 hours of online PLO, by far my most in any month this year, and it has only been nine days!

So at least something good has come from this horrible slide. When things go badly, I tend to hit the lab more often and I always come out a better and stronger player.

I just felt like sharing my misery and giving an explanation for the lack of blogs this week. It’s been rough. I’m playing 20/40 Omaha 8 at Muckleshoot right now but I’m not going to blog the session. I will be back to live blogging for The Santa Claus Game on Marathon Monday.

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Marathon Monday: The Santa Claus Game – $10/$20 Limit Hold’em with Mississippi Straddles!

November 5, 2018

I mentioned The Santa Claus Game in my last blog and I said “more on that later” so now I will go ahead and explain what I was referencing. If you follow my blog, you should be aware of the player I call Santa Claus. I started calling him that because it feels like Christmas whenever he’s at the table, as he loves nothing more than putting in as many chips as possible with whatever he happens to have and he really seems to find joy in spreading his chips around… as long as people are gambling with him. Santa doesn’t like to play by himself. He wants everyone at the table to play like he’s playing. In fact, lately, Santa Claus has been more of a Krampus, lashing out at players that don’t want to straddle at every opportunity.

I think that’s how this game started at Palace. Somehow Santa talked The Man into hosting a weekly game that requires an automatic straddle from the button – the Mississippi straddle. This game starts at noon on Mondays. For the first two weeks it was an 8/16 game, but today it will be a 10/20 game because last week the normal 8/16 died pretty early on Monday and it really isn’t fair to the regular 8/16 players (that don’t want to straddle every button) if they suddenly don’t have a game to play in on Monday nights. So now The Santa Claus Game is ever so slightly bigger in an effort to have two distinct limits that attract different player groups.

I don’t think the general playing public really understands how much bigger a straddle game plays compared to a non-straddle game. Nothing illustrates this point quite like my first session in The Santa Claus Game. I bought in for $800 – an amount most people would probably find excessive – and after 40 minutes in that first straddle session I had $100 in front of me. I was stuck $700 in 40 minutes! That’s an extreme case, but fluctuating $400 an hour in a game this volatile will be common. I would imagine the average 8/16 player finds it alarming (and they shouldn’t) if they lose $200 in a single hour.

My point is that straddle games play substantially bigger than a non-straddle game at the same limit. An 8/16 straddle game shouldn’t be cannibalizing the regular 8/16 game… in theory. But I can see how people that normally wouldn’t play bigger than 8/16 would think a straddle game wouldn’t be a big leap. But it really is. Anyways, it will be 10/20 today in the hopes that it creates a more distinct group of players and both limits can run congruently.

I last blogged about my play on Wednesday, so I will give a brief update on what’s happened since then. It is worth mentioning that the overall quality of the pot limit Omaha game at Palace has taken a massive hit. The start of that game used to be populated by The Crypt Keeper, myself, and a rotating cast of recreational Hold’em players. It was a beautiful thing. Now the same players are starting every session and there are six regulars that are nitty, tight-solid, or tough, and that doesn’t even include Lee Markholt, a seasoned pro that has been coming in the past several weeks on a regular basis. That’s six players starting the game most days that I don’t even really want to play with. Not that I feel outclassed, it just ruins the quality of the game and I’m sure will have a huge affect on my bottom line. PLO started at the Palace sometime last spring and over the past 18 months or so, I have produced a $100/hour win rate in this game. It’s insane. I thought it was totally unsustainable, but here we are, a year and a half later. But if the same seven above average players are going to be starting every game, that win rate will obvious take a hit because the loose players will only have two seats to occupy.

With that said, I showed up to Palace early on Thursday with plans on putting in a marathon session. With PLO starting at 6 PM and fizzling out early on Wednesday night, I wanted to make sure I was getting my hours in. So I started playing 8/16 around noon and I’d make a decision later if I was going to play PLO or not, depending on the lineup.

The 8/16 session was one of my all-time worst. It was going so poorly, I started scrolling through my records to see where it might place historically. As far as 8/16 is concerned, I have one -$1849 session that is a total anomaly. It is my worst performance ever, by a long shot. To put that massive number in perspective, prior to last Thursday I had played 440 sessions of 8/16 lifetime and I had only lost $1000 or more five times total. I was down over five racks when I started looking up these stats and I discovered that I hadn’t lost $1000 in an 8/16 game in almost two years.

Well, I finished at -$1250, which ranks 439th out of the 441 sessions of 8/16 I have played in my life. It was my third worst performance ever!

The PLO lineup was as bad as I thought it was going to be, so I didn’t hop in that game immediately. I continued playing 8/16 and getting punished well past 6 PM. Then His Airness walked in the building and put his name up for PLO and so did I.

I got in the game a little after 9 PM, at the exact same time as His Airness. So I sat down in a big bet game already down $1250 for the day.

With just under $1000 in front of me, early in the session, this hand came up:

Someone raised to $15 and there were two calls in front of me. I made a pot-sweetening raise to $40 with a single-suited AAQ5. I think this play has merit as max-raising telegraphs my hand and doesn’t get enough money in the pot preflop. It’s tough to play postflop when your opponents know half your hand and there is significant money behind. But by making a smaller raise, I can potentially clear some players behind me, put more money in the pot with a suited aces hand, and not give away my hand, as this play makes sense with a much wider range than just aces. It folds to The Crypt Keeper and he makes it $150, which caps the preflop betting. The first three players fold, but I obviously call.

The flop is T33 rainbow, about as good a board as possible that doesn’t improve my hand. TCK checks to me and I decide to bet the $300 max. He ends up tanking for what felt like two minutes and eventually shrugs like he’s going to go with his KK or QQ hand here and play for stacks by making it $600. I immediately put the rest of my chips in and he visibly flinches in pain, confirming my beliefs about his hand strength. After discussing these situations on Twitter with noted PLO author Jeff Hwang, I’ve determined to always let my opponent decide how many times to run it after we get all in, so that I’m not seen as someone that makes that decision based on my own hand strength. So when the dealer asks, I say, “whatever he wants to do, once?” because The Crypt Keeper almost always runs it once, but he decides he wants to run this one twice. Okay, fine by me.

The dealer starts running out the first board and I let him know I have aces and he says, “aces no good” and tables AA3x, for flopped trips. So I’m basically drawing dead in this $2000+ pot, already stuck $1250 for the day. The first board is a whiff and I’ve already mentally lost the pot when I noticed that the jack and king runout on the second board gives me a straight.

It’s good for half. What an escape. Holy shit.

I suppose I have to give The Crypt Keeper some credit here, even though it comes with an asterisk. His acting job on the flop totally sold me on his hand strength. Realistically, once we each get $150 in pre, there’s no way he’s ever folding after flopping trips. So when he tanked for literally two minutes, he had nothing to think about. Not really. Maybe to think about the best way to get all the chips in, but his two minute tank was nothing short of excessive. While it convinced me that I had the best hand, I probably would have been just as convinced after 30 seconds. Set a timer for two minutes and imagine you’re waiting for your opponent to act on his hand. It’s an eternity. For him to turn over the best hand in that spot is kind of bad form.

Anyways, I’m convinced that he only ran it twice because I jammed over his flop raise so fast he was convinced I had TT or T3 in my hand and wanted to run the board an extra time to give himself a better chance of getting half the pot back. So maybe that second board was karma for the excessive tank and trying to exploit the situation by running it twice because he actually thought he was behind in the hand? If he had TT here, he would never run it twice, so I can’t help but chuckle at the irony. Good decision, bud!

So instead of punting another $700 (my initial buy in) and being stuck almost $2000 for the day, I still had life. That life turned into a +$1422 session and an overall profitable day, an amazing achievement considering my historically bad 8/16 session and one of my best comebacks ever.

I’ll also note that one of the nitty PLO players was clearly stuck when I got in the game. He sure played different after having his nose busted open. He was in almost every pot and was raising and 3-betting with the frequency of someone that was clearly desperate. This is a dude that is so tight and predictable that someone correctly folded quad nines against him on a TT299 board the night previous. I don’t know how much he was down before I got in the game, but he lost around $3000 that I saw. It was a performance that certainly makes me feel differently about his presence in the game. Anyone that can come off the hinges like that and blast off $4000 or so is a welcome sight.

I was still playing 4-handed with His Airness, Twinkie, and a LAG regular at 2:15 AM, 14 hours deep into my workday, when the men’s bathroom at Palace started flooding so badly water was literally rushing into the lobby and out the front doors. So management had to kick everyone out of the building, which is a damn shame because His Airness still had over $1500 in front of him and he wasn’t planning on leaving with it.

Friday was a signature Dark Knight performance: I went +$1069 in 4.5 hours of 8/16 and then +$871 in 5+ hours of 15/30 with 25/50 Overs. That session broke a horrible losing streak in limit Hold’em. For simplicity’s sake, when I play LHE, I consider the entire day one single session. Prior to Friday, I had ten straight losing sessions of LHE, which is likely my longest stretch of all-time. I went -$4447 over that period (LHE only – I had winning PLO sessions and won a Big O tournament), so it was nice to get almost half of that back in a single day. I had forgotten what it was like to show down a winner or hit a draw in limit Hold’em.

Saturday we spent at my parents’ house watching the Breeder’s Cup with my dad and celebrating his birthday. I played some PLO online when I got home while marathoning “Making A Murderer season 2 on Netflix with The Leak. I ended up +$574.43 playing $0.50-$1 PLO for 8.5 hours.

Last night I made the poor decision of heading to Palace to play poker when I didn’t really want to play poker. I did need to pick up one of our cars we had left there over the weekend, so I had to go there anyway, but after being -$360 in 5+ hours and realizing I wasn’t going to be playing much longer anyway, I decided not to reload and call it an early night so I could be fresh for today’s marathon session.

I will be heading to the gym now and ready to play at noon!

11:54 AM: Waiting for the game to start now. I will have a starting lineup shortly but the game will be full! Leggo!

12:05 PM: Starting lineup: 8/16 reg, Fortune floor that has the name NoHair in some circles, Chief Wiggum, Radio Mike, SUPER DAVE, 8/16 reg, 8/16 reg, and Part-Time.

Rosanne is second on the list, so there’s potential for two of the biggest maniacs in Palace history to both be in this game at the same time. Super Dave doesn’t get in super deep and usually plays short sessions so it probably won’t happen, but we can dream!

12:24 PM: Super Dave is tilting the table – especially Radio Mike – showing down monsters like T6o that flop trips after he 4-bets preflop. The good news is he has over $1k now. The bad news is I have put money in the pot outside the straddle only twice and I am still searching for Pot A.

12:41 PM: Pot A! Radio Mike and, more importantly, Super Dave are both away from the table. I straddle on the button and everyone folds!

Okay. Now that I got that out of the way, I’m looking for a real Pot A.

Radio Mike just called Super Dave’s river bet on an ace high board with second pair and won showdown against king high. I’ve never seen someone look so pleased with themselves.

12:44 PM: SB and Super Dave call the straddle and I 3-bet with KJcc. Part-Time defends and so do the other two.

Flop is T94 with two clubs and they all call my cbet.

Turn is a blank and we all check.

River pairs the board with one of the small cards and I call Super Dave’s bet with king high, even though there are still two players behind me. Part-Time basically never has a pair here, so I’m not worried about that. If he has ace high, he will probably think I have a better one. The small blind can have a 4 here, but that’s about her max strength. You can argue a raise here, but I don’t expect an overcall very often and Super Dave will never fold a better hand.

I call, the others fold, and I’m good against queen high for a real Pot A!

Just got a flurry of bets in with TT until my opponent was all in on the 433ss flop and he rivered a flush with 95ss, taking 3-bets to the face from under the gun.

Well done, sir.

1:12 PM: I’ve had a flurry of good hands and have been in action a lot.

Most notably:

3-bet KK and four of us see the 942 two heart one club flop. I bet and get called twice.

Turn pairs the 2 with a club and now the lady that called 3-bets cold from middle position raises me and everyone else folds. I think she’s capable of having a 2 here and 99 and 44 are concerns, but this feels like a spot where I’m still ahead most of the time. I guess I’m just not buying it. I 3-bet and I’m happy to see that she just calls.

River is a blank and she folds to my bet and angrily flashes KJ of hearts.

1:40 PM: The list has Rosanne, John Stockton, Big Baby, and Joker on it.

There will be no shortage of action this afternoon.

2:05 PM: I 3-bet QQ from SB and Radio Mike 4-bets it. Two other players call, including Super Dave, and I’m very tempted to cap with his loose money in there, but Mike’s range is super narrow and I don’t want to narrow my range by capping, so I call.

Flop is KK5 and my plan is to check-call down here unimproved, so that’s my action on the flop.

The turn double pairs the board and I’m a bit bewildered to see Radio Mike check and then Super Dave shows some restraint and also checks.

The river is an 8 and this is probably a bet but I guess it’s one of those things where I sense danger. I check, Mike bets, Super Dave raises and unfortunately I have to call this off. Mike can have TT or JJ and Super Dave could have any two cards.

I call and say to Mike: “I hope you don’t have aces.” But he does. He does, gosh dammit. Super Dave has T8 which is good for exactly 0% of the pot.

Super Dave is out and is replaced by an 8/16 regular I am shocked to see actually take a seat. Rosanne passed. 😒

2:47 PM: Part-Time is out. The 8/16 reg I was surprised to see sit down played one orbit and is gone. πŸ˜‚

Nice showing, pal. I’m sorry you couldn’t hit and run us for $500 or whatever you were hoping for.

John Stockton and Big Baby are in.

Joker is now first up which is annoying. I was hoping to lock him out until at least 6 PM. BUT Santa Claus himself is second up as a call in.

3:30 PM: As the betting is getting capped at $50 preflop multiple ways, Radio Mike says to the dealer: “I need a good flop.” I do something rare and ask for a root and he shows me the AT of hearts.

Flop is 877 with two hearts. John Stockton leads out, someone calls, and Radio Mike flats also. There might be another caller.

Turn is the jack of hearts. Bink! John Stockton bets and Radio Mike ends up raising. John Stockton reraises and Mike calls.

I’m sitting there thinking about how much more I would have made on this hand, but the river goes bet and call after a fourth heart and Stockton shows down JJ.

Sometimes when you’re running ultra bad, as Radio Mike has been, you just know you are losing every hand.

3:39 PM: Joker’s first hand he takes $30 cold to the fucking dome from the cutoff and as he’s getting trapped for 3-bets on the flop, I note, with a splash of glee, “Joker is getting violated on his first hand.”

The board on the turn is 887T and after a bet and a call or two Joker raises and says to me: “welcome to the game, buddy” as a boast about the massive pot he’s about to win.

I say, “don’t do it” to the dealer, trying to will him to bring someone else a winner on the river and Joker responds, “It’s going to be an 8. I guarantee it.”

Turn action completes and the river is a third 8! Amazing. The player in seat one leads out and both Big Baby and Joker flash their J9s in disgust and fold. Seat one wins with AA.

Almost too good to be true and yet it was.

4:09 PM: Since I haven’t posted a hand in a while, I’ll give NoHair some play.

I 3-bet with 99 from early position and he 4-bets.

I call down on KK5Q7 and he shows 77.

Hey, that’s how Josh Beckley crippled me late in the $1500 Limit Hold’em tournament at the 2016 WSOP! Except I had TT.

Great memories.

4:23 PM: Eek. The Santa Claus Game is in the danger zone. We are currently 7-handed with Radio Mike threatening to leave at 4:45 like a true asshole.

It would be a tragedy if this game were to break before the post-dinner rush, but… its sketchy right now.

Santa Claus has been up as a call in for almost two hours now and even called to say he was close… but that was actually quite some time ago.

4:30 PM: Ho ho ho! It’s Christmas time! Santa Claus is here!

But first: I’m the straddle on the button and only the big blind calls. I 3-bet with red kings and she calls.

Flop is 752 all diamonds and she check-calls.

Turn is a black king, giving me top set and the second nut flush draw. I’m prepared to 3-bet if I get check-raised here, but she just calls again.

River is a black ace and now she donks out. I’m obviously raising here, but my decision after getting 3-bet is much less standard. I am ruling out flushes… for the most part.

Then I start thinking about the ole 43 and it brings a grimace to my face because I feel like I should be capping here most of the time, but her line is pretty consistent with a straight. Maybe she has aces up sometimes, but the 43 and remote possibility she has a flush have me thinking I may be actually be beat here. I call and she shows 43 of hearts.

Sheesh.

5:06 PM: I’m not having a terrible session, but I can’t get any real traction because shit like this keeps happening:

I’m the straddle with QJo, there are some calls and Stockton makes it 3-bets and we al call.

Flop is J53 and I raise when Stockton bets and that gets us heads up, but he 3-bets and I’m in call down mode until…

…the turn is a queen and now I jack him up again and cap it when he 3-bets because I really think he plays KK and AA like this.

River is a king and I bet after he checks even though it improves KK and random spazz hands like KJ and KQ. I think it’s pretty close but I lean towards bet after getting checked to again. He calls and I lose to 55.

5:22 PM: And this:

Joker is on the straddle, I 3-bet small blind with JJ, s1 calls, Big Baby 4-bets, and Joker 5-bets. We all call.

Flop is J52 with two diamonds and I elect to lead out, Big Baby is all in for $15 and Joker makes it $25, I just call and we are heads up on the side.

Turn is a 4 and I check-raise Joker. He folds TT face up and I have to fade Big Baby’s 73dd.

River ace of diamonds.

Sigh.

And this:

I 3-bet KT from MP, button and Big Baby in the big blind call.

Flop is 975 and I’m waiting for Big Baby to act and he looks likes he’s checking, so I check, but he’s actually power folding which makes me sad as it checks around and he gets to see the turn for free.

It’s a jack and now I bet and the button raises me. This is the same lady that raised me on the turn with a flush draw, so after she checks back flop, I think she’s draw heavy here. I’m planning to call down on brick rivers.

However, I have a straight draw myself and the 8 on the river fills it in. I bet and then call her raise and she shows QT.

More sigh.

5:59 PM: Getting close to even so obviously I get five bets in pre with TT and lose to 72o.

6:11 PM: The game has survived the late afternoon lull. We were 6-handed at one point and Santa was legitimately concerned that there weren’t enough kids around to hand out presents to.

We are now full with two on the list and steady traffic on the horizon.

I somehow have the slightest bit of sugar. It seems like I’m getting clobbered because I keep losing in shocking fashion with the top of my range, but I’ve had some key suckouts, particularly from the straddle.

One time I got stair-stepped into 5-bets with A9cc and called down on Q7658 and got to raise the river.

Then Joker tried to blow me out on a flop of A72 when I had 87o on the button, but it was 3-bets pre 5-ways and I was getting almost 10 to 1 with a pair so I stuck in the $20 and smacked the 7, getting paid off in two spots on turn and river.

6:44 PM: Santa Claus Game Special: there are multiple calls in front of me, so I just call with AJo in middle position and it winds up getting 5-bet… nine ways. There is $450 in the pot of this 10/20 game before the flop.

Flop is Q43 with two diamonds and I have no intentions of folding the Ad in this monster pot, so I wind calling three bets with my nothing and like seven of us see the turn.

The turn is an ace. Yes! I have life at this behemoth. Bet and calls in front of me. There is no real value or protection to be had here, so I just call, praying to show down a winner. Six of us see the river.

It’s even better: a jack! I love my hand now and I will bet if it checks to me, but the flop and turn aggressor checks and John Stockton bets on my immediate right. It is clearly better to call here and let everyone behind me call than it is to raise so that’s what I do and the lady that has been crushing me all day raises it. Stockton calls and so do I. She shows the nut straight.

Just a $900 pot. No big deal. I didn’t really want it anyway.

7:01 PM: $40 in 6-ways with the ole ace and king. Flop is beautiful: K72. I get called in all five spots and again on the turn and decide to showdown on the river with five opponents. I lose to Santa Claus’ 95dd, which makes a running two pair.

πŸ‘πŸ»

7:37 PM: Big Baby raises my straddle from the small blind, lady calls and I 4-bet with AQss. They both call.

Flop is KQT one spade and they both check-call.

Turn is the jack of spades, giving me the the nuts with a Royal Flush draw. I bet and the lady check-raises me, I 3-bet and I’m muttering, “please 4-bet me” and she doesn’t disappoint. What can go wrong here with your naked ace that I obviously have too?

Unfortunately the river is the 4d and I have to chop with A6dd.

Goodness! Let her punish herself one time!

7:46 PM: First off, Frankenstein is in the game. Good to see I’m not wasting another good nickname.

Second off, I 3-bet KQo from the big, Bingo Man and the straddle both call.

Flop is Q65 rainbow and they both call my bet.

Turn is the jack of hearts, making a flush draw possible. I decide to balance my checking range by checking here and I raise when the button bets. Bingo Man calls $40 cold and the button also calls.

The river is the 9 of hearts so the only draws that get there are the best straight draw on the flop (87), the best straight draw on the turn (KT), and the backdoor flush draw. Or in other words, all the draws get there. I check and it checks around. Somehow I’m good here.

8:54 PM: A classic Dark Knight vs Joker battle:

Joker is the straddle and I’m in the small blind with K3 of spades and decide to call because the table has been playing loose-passive and I think I can see the flop for two bets here a lot. Only the big blind calls and the three of us see the flop.

It is AJ5 with one spade. We both check and it checks to Joker and he bets, which is laughable. I make a mistake and just call because I think a check-raise won’t be believable from me but I would check-raise a jack here, plus I can have small suited aces and sets of 5s in my range, so raising actually has merit. But I call and we go heads up to a turn.

It is the jack of spades and now I’m torn because I have a hand I can showdown unimproved and I certainly have a hand that can check-raise. If Joker is airballing he has four outs and I don’t think he has broadway hands very often after checking when only the two blinds call. That’s not really much equity to be concerned about, so I think calling down is fine here.

River is a ten and I stick with my check-calling plan and he shows T8o.

SIGH.

Back to basically even after getting up to around +$400 again.

Also, I edited the update at 5:22 PM after being told I didn’t include the flop cards in one of the hands I posted.

9:18 PM: Frankenstein drove from Gig Harbor, won $500, and left after one hour of play. He is literally going to spend more time driving to and from the casino than he did playing in the game.

9:56 PM: As the game starts crumbling, so am I. I’ve had a bunch of suited broadway hands over the last hour that has amounted to zero winners and a downward spiral. Mostly I’m just whiffing, but I did hit the flop once.

Dude 3-bets and I 4-bet with KJhh. We are at least 3-handed to the flop and the preflop 3-bettor donks out on J76 and I raise. We are heads up and he donks again on the 9 turn. I just call now. River is an 8 and now he checks. I’m perplexed but it seems like I have the best hand. However, I’m not convinced enough to bet so I check back and he shows J8.

I am now stuck $300 and we are 6-handed.

10:13 PM: Oh my God, I’m getting demolished and I’m holding back tears of pain after this last hand.

I 3-bet TT from the big, there’s a call and Big Baby 4-bets the button. I 5-bet.

I bet every street on Q95hhd6h6d and Big Baby suddenly raises me on the river. It seems like I’m beat and I should never be good here, but I have to see it. I just have to. I was so certain I had the best hand before the river so how am I losing now? I pay it off and he shows me K6 of clubs.

What in the FUCK is going on? It’s a fucking bloodbath. I am now working on -$800 and we are 5-handed.

10:23 PM: I’m at max pain but I took a walk around outside and did some deep breathing to collect myself and have gone full reload for another $1k. Big Baby is in super punt mode (obv) and has over $1600, so I can’t throw in the towel. I have to fight.

If he leaves I’m fucking out though. And I’m probably running something over with my car.

We are playing 5-handed so I’m mostly going to stop updating unless something happens I absolutely have to mention.

10:39 PM: Joker finally says, “I’m tilting right now” and I snap back: “Oh, you’re on tilt?” because I obviously have a monopoly on that right now.

And then: “I wonder if they can even see us through all the steam coming off us right now. Can you guys see us? I think they think they are playing 3-handed.”

10:45 PM: KK dusted by Joker’s K8 of clubs. He found someone he can beat. I still haven’t.

10:51 PM: Joker 3-bets cutoff. I defend straddle with ATo with Big Baby already putting in two bets.

Flop is AQQ and I check back after Big Baby power folds and Joker checks.

Then I call down on AQQ39 runout and he shows me Q3 of spades because I’M NOT ALLOWED TO FUCKING WIN RIGHT NOW.

11:08 PM: They somehow let me win a 4-bet multi-way pot with QQ on a final board of 98376. What a relief. It is the first hand I have won in over an hour of super high variance 5-handed poker. And it’s not like I haven’t had hands. It has been BRUTAL.

I checked the time stamps and I lost $1200 in an hour there.

11:27 PM: Uhm. The game is over. I’m still sitting here in disbelief. I can’t even believe what just happened. At 9:56 I had a stretch that took me from about even to -$300 and by 11:15 when the game broke I was at -$1714 for the day.

I can’t fathom it. I was running so good before the flop. I probably had medium or big pair, suited broadways, or big aces around 20 times during this rough 100 minute stretch and I showed down one winner.

I’m pretty sure the last hour we played is the worst hour of poker I’ve ever had. I basically lost $1500 over the last 60 minutes.

It reminds me of my worst 4/8 session of all-time. I’ve probably mentioned it long ago, but what happened was I was in Pendleton, Oregon for their round up series (which happens to be going on right now) and I was playing in a 4/8 automatic straddle game with a full kill. I had a stretch where I went three hours under these conditions without winning a pot… while playing 5-handed. I lost just over $900. I have TONS of 4/8 sessions under my belt – probably more than any other limit – and my next worst session was -$530. That’s quite the anomaly.

Well, this felt a lot like that did. It was very similar. 5-handed, auto straddle and no winning. The big difference is tonight I had tons of good hands in that last hour, so I wasn’t just ice cold, I was losing big pot after big pot.

Ugh. It feels so damn gross. I was off to a good start this month and immediately post an unbelievably brutal result.

I was fluctuating between +$400 and -$200 basically all day and my wife kept checking in periodically. I was about the same when she went to sleep for the night. She is not going to believe it when I tell her I lost $1700+ tonight.

Jesus, I don’t believe it. I’m still sitting here 30 minutes after the game broke with $286 in chips in front of me.

Uh, I guess that’s it for tonight. I’ll be very happy to not play poker tomorrow after this bludgeoning. I’m going to watch Bohemian Rhapsody in the AM before heading to Seattle for the University of Washington Huskies home opener against Western Kentucky.

What a catastrophe.