Archive for July, 2019

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All The Pot Limit Omaha Hands

July 19, 2019

I have to admit, I’ve had a hard time getting back on track. The poker has been good. Last week was a pretty amazing week of poker and immediately made up for the annoyance of busting the Main Event without cashing for the second year in a row. Everything else has been a little suspect though. I know what I want my routine to be, but it has been difficult to execute on some days.

I wrote about last Friday’s session, but what I didn’t write about was the fact that I played until 3 in the morning and then didn’t wake up until 2 PM on Saturday. That’s not a good way to start a “Miracle Morning.” Also, I don’t think I’ve ever felt fresh and ready to tackle the day after going to bed super late and waking up super late. Usually, that’s a recipe for being completely useless for an entire day.

My plan was to play some 20/40 Omaha 8 or Better at Muckleshoot, but the list never really seemed to develop and I didn’t help things by not showing up. I think that game is supposed to start at 4 PM most Saturdays and when I dropped Dina off at Palace around 5 PM, the list was only showing 5 players including me and I didn’t feel like waiting around for a game to start.

Playing 20/40 at Fortune could be another option, but that game seems to have either massively dried up or been taken over by no limit Hold’em cash games. I almost never see two 20 games going anymore and there have been times when I’ve looked during peak business hours and they didn’t have a game going at all.

Yikes.

I’m not sure if the big limit games at Muck and Fortune are struggling because it’s summer and players were gone for WSOP or if they are legitimately dying off, but I’m hoping it’s not the latter. Speaking of which, I haven’t seen a single person on the list for the 20/40 Mix at Red Dragon since I’ve been back either. Goodness! What the hell am I going to play when it’s not Wednesday or Friday?

So with no real options on a Saturday night, I decided to stay at Palace and play 8/16. Ho hum. I don’t have much interesting to say about that session except that I ended up getting my ass handed to me for most of it. I was nearly felted from my initial $600 buy in towards the end of the night, playing 3-handed, before I reluctantly reloaded for another $200 because no one has ever seen me felt in a limit game at Palace (except when I’ve sat down with the minimum buy in for fun) and I want to keep it that way.

There were two hands from playing short-handed that kind of blew my mind. I was playing with two Palace dealers, one of them being BlackJack. On the first hand, BlackJack opened on the button, the other dealer called in the small blind and I defended with 53o. Yes, pretty loose, but hey, it’s a straighter!

The flop came down J64 with two spades. We both check-call BlackJack’s continuation bet. In this type of short-handed, or button vs. blinds situation, I usually like to take the lead with my draws – especially if the flop favors my defending range – since everyone’s ranges are much wider than normal, but BlackJack has proven to be incredibly sticky – even calling me down with king high in a spot where I was like, “woah, if he’s not folding there, he’s not folding anything with any showdown value ever.” So I adjust, and after he reads this, I probably adjust again.

The turn is an offsuit 9 and we both check-call again.

The river is an offsuit 2 and I have made the nuts. I definitely like to lead when I make my hands some of the time, but random deuces on the river are not scary and of all the draws I can have on the flop, 53 is probably one of the least likely ones. I elect to check, BlackJack bets, I think the other player folded to the river bet, I check-raised, and then BlackJack 3-bet and put me into a brief moment of shock and elation. I had to double-check the board and make sure that I didn’t overlook some other bigger straight, but nope, my hand is indeed the nuts, so I put the cap on it and he calls. I announce that I have the nuts and he says, “me too” and snap rolls the 53 of spades and I must have sat there looking at his hand in disbelief for a good 20 seconds before finally turning mine over and collecting one of the most disappointing half-pots I’ve ever had the displeasure of sharing.

The other hand that blew my mind was when it folded to the other dealer in the small blind and he raised it up. I defended with the Q3o and we went off to a flop of A93 rainbow. He checked to me and recent history had told me that his check was probably weakness and not a trap, so I bet and he called.

The turn card was the queen of spades and he decided to donk lead into me. Interesting. Obviously, my hand improved and given his check-call on the flop, it’s pretty clear that I’m still good here, so I raise it up and he calls.

The river is an offsuit jack and once again, I’m quite shocked when he decides to check-raise me. This is never a bluff and if he’s not bluffing, my hand is never good. He’s not playing his hand this way and showing up with one pair on the river. Still, this is one of those spots where his line is so weird that I’m happy to pay the $16 to see what the hell he played this way. Really, only two hands make sense to me and I say out loud, “you can only have king ten of spades or queen jack here” before putting in the call. He responds with something like, “you know it’s funny… I have neither of those hands and I played this terribly, but…” and then rolls over the T8 offsuit.

Ho
Lee
Shit

I would love to hear what his mind was thinking when he was playing the flop and turn on that one.

I was stuck all session and usually short-handed play is my time to shine and I’ve rallied back from the dead many a time when the game gets short, but not this instance. BlackJack had my number. I can’t say I lost every pot we played together, but he showed down the winner waaaaaaaay more than I did.

I think I was stuck over $600 at some point and I finished at -$436 after 10.5 hours.

Dina and I played even later this time, quitting just after 3:30 AM and again, we didn’t wake up until past 2 PM the next day. So much for hiking in the morning!

Sunday ended up being a complete waste of a day. I spent it playing online poker and watching the WSOP Main Event final table. I played about 16.75 hours total (multi-tabling, so one hour of 3-tabling = 3 hours) and it was basically a wash. I did decent in cash games ($14.68/hour) playing mostly PLO on Global Poker, but I went 1 for 6 in tournaments and my cash was for +$2.60 and my average buy in was $23.50, so I ended a measly +$15.31 for the day.

Needless to say, on both days last weekend I did absolutely nothing productive, aside from play poker and watch poker, and it’s not like I won any money doing that.

Monday was a step in the right direction, as I got back in the gym and did some other productive stuff. We met our friends at a Japanese Steakhouse for lunch and it’s always fun to go into Uncle Batman mode.

I’ve been dabbling in America’s Cardroom over the past month and Monday night I won my first tournament on the site. The structures on ACR are insane. It’s the anti-Global Poker. The blinds are absurdly stair-stepped and players are allowed to late register and re-enter for an insane amount of levels – like 15! A $5 tournament on Global with 200 players could be over in 2-3 hours, but the $5 tournament I played on Monday night on ACR had almost 500 entrants and took me over eight hours to win!

The lesson learned here is that if I want to play tournaments on ACR, it has to be a dedicated session. I can’t just pop in a tournament while I’m making dinner and hope it will be over in a couple hours.

I started with $200 on ACR, so a nearly $500 score was a massive boost to my bankroll.

On Tuesday, I played some online PLO on Global after Dina went to sleep and had what might be my best cash game day ever on that site as I finished the day +$639.87. I usually only play $0.50 blind games and don’t play super long sessions on Global, so winning 13+ buy ins is not a common occurrence.

I’ve talked about playing online PLO on the blog before and how much I’ve struggled to show a profit at it. In 2017, I got absolutely murdered in the $50 PLO 6-max games, but last year I turned myself into a roughly breakeven player. This year, I’ve been running at about 11bb/hr in online PLO. The sample size is still pretty small, but it does seem like things could finally be turning around.

PLO on Wednesday featured an interesting starting lineup. Most of the decent/good regulars were MIA and there were a couple of really juicy spots in the game.

My session started off well enough when one of the spots limped, I made it $20 with AKQ8 double suited, Riddler made it $60 on the button, and we both called.

I flopped the nut flush on the K92 board and since this isn’t the kind of board I expect Riddler to c-bet on, I decided to lead out for $100. Riddler folded but the other player called.

The turn brought an offsuit 7 and my opponent check-called $150.

The river paired the king, so I’m now losing to full houses, but I have a king in my hand and I’m pretty sure he has a flush anyway. I would normally go for the max of $300 here, but with the board pairing, I size down to $200 to increase my chances of getting called. He calls pretty quickly, my flush is good, and I’m immediately up about $600 to start the night.

One player limps in, I make it $20 with KQJ9 double suited and 4 or 5 of us see the Q64 rainbow flop. I have top pair and all sorts of back door draws. I’m not sure this is a flop I necessarily want to bet. I just have a naked top pair at this point, but I have a hand that absolutely needs to see the turn. If I bet and someone bombs it on me, I’m going to have to fold and that is just disgusting. In the moment, I didn’t really think this through and c-bet to $60 and got called by the button only.

The turn card was basically gin for me: the ten of spades. In addition to top pair, I now have a 17-card straight draw (with 11 nut outs) plus a flush draw. After getting called on the flop, if my opponent is drawing, his draws will be around the 6 and the 4, so all my straight outs are usually good if they hit. My hand is big enough now that I definitely want to put money in the pot, so I bet $150 and he raises me to $350. Gross. I can’t recall how much he had behind, but I remember resisting the urge to put him all in because I didn’t think it made much sense to pile while I was still drawing when I can check-fold the river and save x amount on those times I miss. I figured he would probably call on the river most of the time when I improved, so I wasn’t too worried about missing value by just calling.

Unfortunately, the river bricked me and he decided to check back with Q44x.

I can’t remember what his fourth card was, but I checked out the turn equities for this hand, assuming his fourth card wasn’t a blocker to my draw (i.e. 3 of clubs) and I was actually a slight favorite on the turn. I wondered how much having the queen in his hand affected things, so I replaced it with a suited ace and that changed my equity from 52.5% to 50%.

Shortly after that, I limped along with the KQT5 double suited, some others limp, and the button made it $25 and we all called. The flop was AQ6 with two clubs, giving me the nut flush draw and a gut shot. I check-called $105 and we were heads up.

The turn was the 7 of diamonds, giving me a second flush draw and I check-called $300. I figure my opponent has AA here most of the time, so I found myself in another spot where I have a massive draw on the turn and decided not to pile when I know I don’t have the best hand and I don’t have any fold equity. I’m just going to fold when I miss and bet when I get there. If the board pairs, I’m going to check and if he bombs it, I’m going to fold.

The river bricks me again and for the second time in a very short period I miss a huge draw in a sizable pot. Those hands cost me a combined $860 and my good start has quickly turned into a deficit.

There are some limpers, I make it 20 from the small blind with AATT and they all call. The flop is T77 with two diamonds and I size down to 30 and only Mr. Freeze calls.

I think he’s likely to have a 7 here or maybe a draw, so when the turn is an offsuit 8, I size down again to $50, trying to induce a raise. He doesn’t oblige and just calls again.

The river is the 8 of diamonds and suddenly my flopped nut full house is somehow the FIFTH nuts – even though no overcard has come – as there are now four combos of straight flushes and quads possible. Pretty weird. In Omaha, these hands are far more likely than in Hold’em so I have to admit it is slightly concerning. I did give some consideration to check-calling here, letting Mr. Freeze take himself to value town, bluff, or limit the damage when one of the better hands is out there, but I ultimately decided his most likely holding was a 7 and this time I sized up to $200 and he snap called and my hand was good.

Hit&Run opens to $15 and for some reason I call with AQ72 with three clubs in my hand on the button. I’m not sure what I’m thinking here. I know I want to get involved with a loose, sticky player when I’m in position, but my hand is extremely disconnected and I’m blocking my own flush draw when I flop one. This is just spewy, I think.

I think four of us see the A96 rainbow flop and they all check to me. I think it’s pretty reasonable to bet here. I should have the best hand a lot, plus I have a backdoor flush draw, and there aren’t many draws to speak of on this flop. I bet $60 and only the big blind calls.

The turn pairs the 9 and I decide to check back.

The river is an offsuit 2 and he checks to me again. This player has been getting creamed and I’m pretty sure he’s steaming pretty bad right now, so I decide to get tricky because he’s a thinking player. I down bet to $40 hoping he will see opportunity and try to take the pot away by raising. He starts thinking and does line up a raise and as soon as he puts it in the pot I immediately toss a chip in to call.

And then he shows me quad nines. I owe him $150.

Excellent execution, Dark Knight. I played a hand I should have folded preflop and cost myself $225 while having the worst read of all-time.

I limp in with JT87 single suited and call a raise to $20 from the big blind. It’s 4 or 5 of us to a flop of TT3 rainbow and the big blind leads $25. This player has been passive, so I figure he probably has AA here. There’s a chance he has AATx, but I’ll cross that bridge when I need to. I make it $60, building the pot for value, but also to gauge whether another ten might be out there. One of the spots calls $60 cold from the small blind and the big blind also calls pretty quickly. If you think I’m happy about this development, you would be wrong.

The turn is the 2d and they both check to me. I think the small blind probably has a ten and if he doesn’t have a ten, he probably has threes full. If no one has a full house yet, I still don’t think my jack kicker is super likely to win a showdown, so I check back hoping to fill up on the river and re-evaluate if I don’t.

The river is the 6d and the small blind leads out for $200 and the big blind folds. In addition to my prior concerns, a running flush also got there, so I don’t see any reason to give this much thought and I fold immediately.

Our game went from full to 5-handed in about 15 minutes, with roughly $8000 being picked up off the table. The two presumably weakest players at the table cashed out for over $5500 between them. One of those guys also spanked the 15/30 game for over $2000 profit last week, so for someone I’ve never seen play in the big games before, he must be feeling some kind of adrenaline rush right now.

I played a couple key pots when the game got short and the first one happened when we were 5-handed. I open to $15 with A885 single suited and get two callers. The flop is 882 rainbow and I start by check-calling a bet of $50. I have all the cards worth having here, so raising doesn’t make sense. He either has pocket twos or he’s bluffing and he’s probably not going to stop betting in either scenario. He could be taking a stab with some sort of overpair, but he’s making a pot-sized bet on the flop, so I don’t really think that’s the case.

The turn is a 6 and I check-call 100.

The river is a king and he has about $350 behind. Sure, I could lead out here, but I think if he’s bluffing, he’s still going to fire and if he somehow made a full house along the way, I don’t think he’s going to check back with it. I check, he bombs for $300 and I put him all in. I guess he wasn’t on a total bluff because he put his last $50 or so in and I won a nice pot.

My last key hand of the night came up when we were 4-handed and I’m really conflicted with how I feel about it. I did something pretty dumb. Out of kindness.

I’m playing 4-handed with a dealer from Little Creek, a splashy security guard from Palace, and a really nice regular that normally doesn’t play a long time in PLO. She will stab at it for an hour or two and risk a couple hundred dollars, but today she has built herself up a sizable stack and is hanging around when the game has gotten super short. Last week she invited Dina and me to come by her house (she lives on an island) and use her paddle boards and kayaks around the lake sometime this summer. That extremely friendly gesture is fresh in my mind as this next pot comes up.

She limps in, I make it $20 on the button with 7655 double suited and all three opponents call.

The flop is 985 rainbow, giving me the nut straight, bottom set, and two backdoor flush draws. Uhm. Yum yum. Action checks to the nice regular and she donks out for $80. I make it $300 to go and that clears out the blinds, but she quickly calls. I’m pretty sure she also flopped the nut straight here and with almost no thought before calling after getting raised, I don’t think she has a redraw with it.

The turn card is the 3 of diamonds, so now I have the nuts with flush and full house redraws. She leads out for $300. She probably has about $500-$600 behind. I guess she could have picked up a flush draw also, but I suspect she is mostly donking again because she still has the nuts and thinks she should bet it since the board texture didn’t really change. I’m pretty sure I’m freerolling her face off. So obviously… I call?

The river pairs the 3, giving me a full house and she checks it over to me. I’m pretty sure this is already the biggest pot she’s ever played in this game and I know she just went from having half of it to having none of it, so… I check back?

I felt like I was being nice in the moment – and I was – but it didn’t take me long to regret doing so. I’m sure she would have been really upset to get raised $300 more on the turn and then call off her stack on the river, but she would have gotten over it, and she’s sitting in the game, so there’s always a risk that you are going to lose all the chips in front of you. It’s part of the game. Not only that, but this is my job. I don’t have any other way of making money. It seems pretty dumb to limit my own income being nice when the person I’m being nice to has a job they can go to to replenish whatever they lose. She will be fine. But me leaving that $500 on the table is a car payment I could have covered. It’s inexcusable. If my wife is like wtf when she reads this, I can’t blame her. I’m sorry, honey! It won’t happen again!

Edit: Reading through this post to edit, it also dawned on me that checking the river is bad because when I check back she should believe that she is never losing the whole pot – and rightfully so. So when I checked back – at least for a few brief seconds – she certainly didn’t think she was getting scooped in the biggest pot she’s ever played in this game.

In addition, she still has $500 in front of her. $500 she can still use to take my chips! How dumb am I going to feel when I could have felted her and sent her home, but instead she doubles through me? Or if she loses those chips to the other players at the table? Or how should those players feel if she ends up stacking them when they know I should have stacked her already? These guys probably wouldn’t think that way, but I’ve created a branch of reality that shouldn’t exist. I’m positive if I felted her in that hand she would have left for the night.

It’s a nice reminder that you can be nice in demeanor, but it’s important to always play ruthless poker for many reasons, some of which are purely ethical.

It ended up being a pretty rocky PLO session, but those last few pots helped boost me to +$819 for the day. Prior to the WSOP, I had lost in 6 of my last 7 live PLO sessions for a total of -$5068 and I’ve pretty much erased that entire downswing in my last two sessions and my interest level in PLO has been reinvigorated.

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Welcome Back, Dark Knight!

July 13, 2019

Alright… time to assimilate back to real life! On my immediate to do list was to get back in a productive routine that includes waking up early, meditation, going to the gym, and eating better. Someone recommended the Miracle Morning book series to me, so I ordered the book pictured below and it has already paid huge dividends in the short time I’ve been using it.

In addition to recommending meditation, Miracle Morning also asks that I read and write every morning, so if I’m going to write, I might as well share whatever is on my mind. I guess that means I’ll be blogging more regularly again.

Here’s the book I’m choosing to read for my morning routine:

I’m starting off with 5 minutes of meditation and 10 pages of reading, but I’ll be looking to ramp up the meditation with each week that passes. I think 10 pages is a good number – even for the long term. Over the course of a year, that’s 9+ 400-page books. That’s pretty intense. Right now I’m choosing to focus on mindfulness because that’s something I really need to improve on, but eventually I imagine that time could be devoted to poker reading – although my actual study sessions are much longer. But I actually think reading 10 pages of a poker book, taking notes, and trying to apply whatever I learn in that day’s session could be a good way to rapidly improve.

My return to the gym has been interesting. Since I took off for Vegas in early June, I went to the gym twice in about five weeks and I am kind of shocked at how much my strength and stamina have fallen off. I have been to the gym three times this week and I haven’t made it through one of my routines in entirety yet. Oh well, I’ll get there. On May 30th, I was benching 8 reps of 150 lbs and 5 reps of 160 lbs, but my first chest day back I was at 8 reps of 125 lbs and 6 reps of 135 lbs. Yikes! I think it will come back pretty fast though.

I actually arrived home on Saturday and Dina dropped the bomb on me that we were going hiking on Sunday and I reluctantly agreed. However, when I woke up early Sunday morning, I begged and pleaded with her to let me stay home and sleep, but she would not relent and assured me that I would be happy I went later on. Of course she was right. I mean… even when she’s wrong, she’s obviously still right… but in this case, she was right right.

We did the Packwood Lake Trail and while it was quite long, it was relatively easy and smooth. Here are some pics:

I can’t say hiking nine miles on my first full day back in Washington was my ideal plan, but I’m happy we did it. It was a nice way to hop right back into getting in shape.

I played my first session back home on Tuesday at Palace and stayed in the feeder game the entire night until it broke. I was having a pretty good session most of the night, sitting on about +$600 when my game got kicked up a notch when a bunch of loose players sat down and drinks started flowing. This type of thing can change a session in a hurry and I was fortunate to have things go my way as the action was ramped way up and finished the night as a +$1392 winner – good for my second best 8/16 session since the start of 2018.

Uh, welcome home?

I had been avoiding PLO before Vegas, but yesterday I spent some time studying and felt geared up to play some big bet four card poker. In fact, I was feeling pretty optimistic about my chances:

The thing about PLO is that if you’re playing right, big spots don’t come up very often. I did a good job of picking up pots when it seemed like no one had much, but these are the three pots that defined my session:

I open to $15 with KsTsT9 and get multiple callers. It’s not a great hand, but AsTx6s is a pretty amazing flop for it. I start by leading $40, Charlie Hustle calls, and before I can starting dreaming of stacking this nit when spades come or the board pairs, Big Baby check-raises me to $100. Well, that changes things. It’s tempting to call here and string Charlie Hustle along, but even though I smashed the flop, it’s not like my hand is invulnerable. I don’t want to see any face cards that aren’t a spade, for instance. Also, even though Big Baby has made a small raise here, I expect him to fold approximately 0% of the time if I raise the maximum. Might as well start building the pot while I have a massive equity edge. I make it $400, Hustle folds, and Big Baby snap-calls obv. The turn is the 3 of spades and I bet $300 (in case anyone forgot, $300 is the max bet in Washington state) and somehow Big Baby finds a fold with like $450 left behind. He said he had A6. I guess a spade was unlucky because I think he calls again on any other card.

I open to $15 under the gun with AAT9 single suited and pretty much the whole table calls before Big Baby does me the favor of making it $30 on the button. Both blinds also call and, in a game where pretty much no one ever folds preflop, this allows me to pot it to $200 and maybe get this thing heads up? The riff raff clears and Big Baby unsurprisingly calls, but Mr. Freeze gets stubborn from the big blind and puts in $200 as well. So with $600+ in the middle, the three of us see a flop of 732 with two diamonds. The diamonds give me the nut flush draw with my overpair and this board figures to whiff their ranges pretty hard. If either of these yahoos somehow have a set here, I guess they get to stack me if my draw misses. I bet $300, Big Baby folds, but Mr. Freeze calls. I know he doesn’t have a set here because he would raise the flop, so it seems like he has a flush draw. It makes me feel like I’m probably never losing this pot. The turn is an off suit 9 and he check-calls $300 again. The river is an off suit queen and we both check. I announce “aces” and he turns over JJ54 with diamonds. Imagine the river coming an ace and that somehow costing me this pot. I’m actually kind of surprised it didn’t, considering how pure Mr. Freeze has been running against me this year.

Big Baby opens to $15 and there are a couple of callers and I have the K763 double suited on the button. This is not a hand I would normally play – it is MUCH more reasonable if I had an ace instead of a king – but I’m going out of my way to play pots in position against Big Baby, so I speculate and both of the blinds come along as well. In PLO, you want to play hands that can flop huge and win big pots and one of the books I’ve read talks about imagining the best possible flop for your hand and if you can’t think of one, then you should probably just fold. Well, for the K763 double suited, is there a better possible flop than the 542 that gives me the nut straight, redraws to bigger straights, and a king high flush draw? No there is not. Somehow I have found my “Eureka!” board and even better, one of the blinds leads out for $40 and there are a couple of callers when it gets to me. I’m getting action! I make it $280 and the player that led from the blinds tells me “I’m not folding,” as he puts out a call. Big Baby does find a fold, but the second player that called $40 now back-jams to $560. I make it $860 and the player in the blinds says something about me not being able to raise because the action should be capped and I’m just sitting there like “uh, no” and he asks the dealer to call the floor over and the dealer is about to do so and I say to the dealer, “do you really need the floor to come over here and tell you that there is a bet and three raises allowed on every street in this casino you’ve been dealing in for a decade?” So he doesn’t call the floor over and the player is like “I don’t know why you’re raising. I’m not folding.” He must’ve said “I’m not folding” five different times on this flop. Does he think I’m bluffing here and that I want him to fold? I don’t get it.

The turn card is a wonderful offsuit 3. I mean… do I even want to hit a spade? Not really. I want my hand to remain the nuts. It seems like the big blind could have 63 as well, but I don’t have him marked for a flush draw. However, the other player could definitely have an ace high flush draw in addition to some other form of equity. The 3 is a gin card though and it’s incredibly unlikely either of them has the same straight as me now. I bet $300 and the other player calls.

The river is an offsuit ace. Ding ding! I bet $300 and the other player calls and… my hand is good for EVERYTHING. I never got to see the big blind’s hand, but the other player had 6655 – pretty sick considering the turn tied him with any naked 63 hand that flopped the nuts. His hand also makes it much less likely that the big blind flopped the nut straight and that makes that nearly $1500 call down postflop all the more LOL.

The three of us that saw the river put in almost $3500 total in this pot, so if you include the preflop action and the dead money on the flop, this pot was probably somewhere around $3700, making it the second biggest PLO pot I’ve ever won. Insane!

The big blind went from having a big stack to basically dust on this hand and, I’m not gonna lie, I really enjoyed doing it to him. I’ve never seen this dude before, but he was totally insufferable to play with. Every time it was his turn to act, he went into “TV Time” mode and probably took 15-20 seconds with every decision and even longer when he actually had one to make. It really made it seem like this game was all about him and we were all just there to watch his greatness. In addition to being a massive CLOCKsucker, he had a lot of opinions after each hand and really wanted everyone to know how smart he was (even though he sucked). He also bragged about being in Vegas the last six weeks playing no limit tournaments and I couldn’t help but look up his results on HendonMob and of course they are basically nonexistent – almost no cashes to his name and none this summer. Also, after he built his stack up to around $1500, he got the attention of one of the dealers about to tap into the table, smiled, and said to her, “they don’t know who I am.”

Needless to say, I couldn’t stand the dude. So yes, I enjoyed snatching up his ego and tossing it in the garbage where it belongs. But honestly, I shouldn’t even care if someone thinks they are a hot shot – it doesn’t affect my bottom line any. And while I can observe that he is full of himself, I don’t think finding joy in his misfortune is a great personality trait on my end.

Something to think about.

Those pots helped propel me to a +$3795 session – my second best win in PLO ever.

On Friday, I played 15/30 at Palace and I started off by taking a couple notes, but gave up on that pretty quickly.

I did note the first pot of the day though, as I was in the small blind and the Coast was on the line. Ducky opened from mid, there were some callers and the 87o had enough potential to defend the Coast with, so I called. It’s loose, but come on. It’s the Coast! I would fold truly garbage hands here, but marginal hands that can flop well, I’m calling.

The flop comes J65 with two hearts. The first limper donks and Ducky just calls. I call and so does the big blind.

The turn pairs the 5 and the same action occurs.

The river is the 4h, completing my straight but also making a possible flush. Still, I’m not going to draw to my hand and check when I get there and with only one bet going in on the flop, I’m not overly concerned about a flush being out there. I bet, the aggressor calls, and so does Ducky? That was unexpected, but it makes more sense when he turns over the 98 of hearts.

No Coast today. But at least this nice win didn’t propel Ducky to a Coast either.

I had another early hand where I 3-bet Taz with A4dd on the button and he donked $25 into me on 944hh which allowed me to punish him for $100 on the turn. Needless to say, I was pretty surprised when he check-raised me on the 2h river and showed up with a naked flush draw after taking this line.

So that got me off to a rough start, but I rebounded somewhat and spent the first four hours floating around even before finding some turbulence and bottoming out around -$500 six hours into my session.

Fortunately, I found some momentum after that. Unfortunately, it was all downward and I was -$1300 at 11:30 PM.

It seemed like a limit the damage kind of session, but by 1:30 AM I was +$1200! What?

Things started going my way when the button straddled, I just called from the small blind with 44 because the game has gotten loose and I want to play a multi-way pot, and after a bunch of random different people raising and back-raising six or seven of us have put in five bets each.

The flop is 532 rainbow. Not bad when you don’t hit a set. Someone on my left leads, FanBoy raises, I call, the player on my left 3-bets, and FanBoy caps. I think five of us put the cap in on the flop.

FanBoy is pretty tight and called 3-bets cold before the flop, so I have him squarely on a set here or maaaaybe A4 suited. I’m actually planning to fold on the turn when the board pairs the 2 – that’s how confident I am FanBoy flopped a set – but it inexplicably checks around. Shows how much I know.

The river is a jack and it checks around again and I sheepishly show my fours ready to turn them back over when someone shows me a better hand… but no one does. The pot is mine. FanBoy had the 43 suited which is wildly out of character for him. That’s why you call on the turn when the board pairs and you’re getting 24-1 even though you think a full house is probably out there.

The Happy Hour Hand was KhKs and not only did I get dealt that hand but I won a sizable pot with it, plus the $500 jackpot.

First time for everything!

Then I hit another small jackpot with quad 8s.

And somehow, a session in which I was -$1300 7.5 hours in ended up being a +$1536 day.

Not a bad first week back. +$6700? I’ll take it.

Also, shoutout to Austin Hortaleza for making an insanely deep run in the WSOP Little One for One Drop tournament. He ended up outlasting 6200+ runners – a near Main Event-sized field – and finished in 12th place for just north of $47k.

What an achievement!

Lastly, Austin Lewis was one of the players at my starting table in the Main. He ended up busting in 16th place for $400,000 yesterday. Wth.

I’m not positive but I think the dude that knocked me out finished even higher. Viktor Rau sure looks like the dude that busted me with those aces. Same hairstyle, same profile, identical neck-hugging grey sweater. The only reason I’m not 100% positive is because when he was on T.V. he was wearing sunglasses and I can’t really make out his face. So I’m not sure.

Still, it’s nice to think the guy that stacked me ended up making a super deep run with those chips I used to have. Rau finished 13th for $600k.

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WSOP 2019: Recap

July 9, 2019

It’s official. I will not be returning to Vegas to play the $3k H.O.R.S.E. event this coming Sunday. Even with a $600 H.O.R.S.E. the day before at Venetian, I’m having a hard time justifying the trip to myself.

First off, I’m going to be adding somewhere around $500-$800 in expenses to play one (maybe two) tournaments? That’s some serious rake. Secondly, how soft is that field really going to be? By this weekend, the Main Event will be down to the last day or two and I imagine Vegas will largely be cleared out and when the dust settles, only the most serious of WSOP grinders will be left behind. It would be a fun challenge to battle with that crowd, but I’m happy to be home and I’m eager to start gearing up for next year already.

So that means my 2019 WSOP is a wrap.

How was it?

I’ll grade it as okay. I’m sure some people would be ecstatic with the results I had. I did well in cash games, almost made another WSOP final table, and I got to play in the Main Event! But the goals I have for myself are a lot higher than what I achieved this summer. I’m not mad about it… but I would say I’m slightly disappointed. It does rank as my third best WSOP ever, but that’s not really saying much. I only played 1 or 2 tournaments in 2014 and 2015, had really good summers in 2016 and 2017, and got my ass kicked last year.

This year I played 72+ hours of cash games and won a total of $9400. I won basically all of that in 25 hours of 40/80 limit Hold’em at Bellagio and broke even in ~50 hours of everything else, mostly mix games. Makes you wonder why I didn’t play more 40/80, especially when mix games move at a snail’s pace compared to limit Hold’em. All I can really say is… I’m a wimp. I played my last 40/80 session on June 28th and with my Main Event starting on July 3rd, I wanted to make sure I locked up a solid profit for my trip rather than see if I could really run it up or have variance bring me back to ground zero.

As far as tournaments, I went 3 for 10 for -$6680 over 91+ hours, but I didn’t cash the Main, so that accounted for a $10,000 loss and I only had 20% of myself in that one. Removing the Main, I cashed 3 of 9 for +$3320 with my 12th place finish in the $2500 Stud 8/Omaha 8 accounting for basically all my tournament success this year.

Since I only had 20% of myself in the Main, I personally finished with a small loss in tournaments during the Series and my personal poker profit was somewhere north of $8000.

Here’s a look at some expenses for the trip:

Airfare/Luggage: $780 (two round trips)
Lodging: $1300 (22 nights at ~$59/night)
Ubers: $530 (~$23/day)

Not including food, my Vegas stay cost me around $2600 and my net profit was somewhere around +$5500 which is a pretty decent but slightly disappointing overall result. With games in the SeaTac area as dry as they get at any point in the year, it is highly unlikely I could have done better by staying home, so there’s that at least.

I went 1 for 6 in WSOP events this year, so I now have 1 cash in my last 16, which feels super gross to even type out. However, lifetime, I now have 8 cashes in 30 tournaments with two final tables and a top 12 finish, so even with two bricks in the Main Event my career ROI is still way above average at the Series. I guess I can’t complain, but the last two years have left me feeling extremely unsatisfied, especially since I’m a way better player now than I was in 2016 or 2017.

I have found balance difficult to achieve when I’m in Vegas for long periods of time. I went to the gym once while I was there; I ate like shit and I slept like shit, going to bed past 4 AM most nights and waking up past 1 PM most days. I didn’t meditate. Basically, the only productive thing I did besides play poker was study poker. I’ll give myself credit for at least doing a decent amount of studying. Also, even with getting a late start and coming back home for a week, I still found myself homesick by the end.

Ideally, at this stage of my poker career, I feel like I should at least be playing every $1500 buy in with a limit structure. This year that would have been nine tournaments. Plus I think the $2500 Mixed Triple Draw and Stud 8/Omaha 8 tournaments should be a focus and some day the $3000 limit Hold’em 6-max and H.O.R.S.E. tourneys should be must plays as well. And I should be playing at least some no limit Hold’em events. That means I want to be playing something like 12-15 events at the WSOP every year and this year I only played six?

So the question is, how do I reach that goal while keeping myself sane and productive in Las Vegas and my wife happy at home while I’m gone for weeks at a time? That is a mystery I’m going to try to solve by this time next year. My ultimate goal is to win a bracelet and that’s pretty hard to do if I’m not playing as much as I possibly can during June and July.

I never posted goals for 2019, so I’ll be thinking about that over the next few days as I assimilate to being back home and getting myself on the path for maximum success come this time next year.

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2019 WSOP: Main Event Day 2 Sweat Post

July 6, 2019

Here’s what my Day 2 table is looking like:

This looks way more favorable than my Day 1 table where it seemed like everyone could play pretty well. Of course, past results don’t indicate everything. I know some NLHE players that are better than me that have very few recorded live cashes.

Still, it looks promising. There are only three players with more in career cashes than me, but I actually rank second in the GPI at this table. Even 2016 Main Event champ Qui Nguyen is less seasoned and accomplished than I am since his big win.

The only bad news is that the likely best current player at this table is on my immediate left with twice as many chips as me.

Playing with Qui Nguyen should be interesting. I imagine there will be cameras on him today and maybe even a long shot chance that he gets us on a feature table. Qui is a loose cannon so I will be looking to play pots in position against him and let him bluff chips off to me. He is capable of pulling the trigger in insane spots that don’t even make sense, so I’m not planning to get into any leveling or raising wars with him. I doubt I will be attempting to squeeze light against him and I’m curious how the player behind me will react when he opens and gets callers. I expect everyone else at this table to be playing pretty straight forward.

I have the second smallest stack at my table, but it hardly matters – I’ll be starting the day with exactly 70 bigs. Plenty of stack to work with when we have two hour levels.

I think I made two avoidable mistakes on Day 1 and I would guess they cost me about 35k total in chips, so I’ll be looking to find clarity in similar murky spots today. I think I’m at a good table to chip up and put myself in position to contend for a cash on Day 3.

Let’s get it. Stack updates after every level here.

Dinner break is at 8 PM! That’s nine long hours from now. Gross.

Qui Nguyen doing the “shuffle up and deal” right now.

He sits down and I say, “that speech cost you a small blind.”

Seat one literally just punted his entire to stack to the champ.

Qui opens, he makes a small 3-bet from out of position, Qui calls.

Flop 543. He bets, Qui raises, he snap-calls.

Turn 10. He donks 25k, Qui makes it 60k, he snap-calls.

River 5. He donks all in, Qui snaps. s1 has AA, Qui has A2.

They each started that hand 140 bigs deep.

Unreal.

Two people already busted from this table.

Under the gun makes it 1800 at 400/800, one player flats, and I call with QJdd from the small blind and the big blind also calls.

Flop is A64 with two diamonds. It checks to the original flatter and he bets 3200, I call, the big folds and the PFR check-raises it to 9000. The flop bettor folds and I have no fold equity here, so I’m not jamming, but I want to see a turn card. I call, planning to fold if I miss the turn.

It’s the king of diamonds. This is a very good card. Not only do I make my hand, but his most likely ace high flushes are severely blocked. He can’t have AK, AQ, or AJ of diamonds. He can have ATdd or any small suited aces, but if that’s the case, I guess I’m just flying home today.

There’s around 29k in the pot already, my hand looks a lot like a flush draw, and I only have around 36k behind, so I’m not gonna give him a chance to check behind here, nor do I want to make any tough decisions if the board pairs on the river or another diamond comes.

I think when he check-raises the flop he probably has a set or an ace high flush draw. If he has the latter, there’s nothing I can do about it now.

I go all in.

He doesn’t snap, so that’s nice, but he also doesn’t think very long.

He turns over two red aces.

And now I’m packing my bags to fly back to Seattle.

GG, Vegas.

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2019 WSOP: THE MAIN EVENT – Day 1 Sweat Post

July 3, 2019

It’s pretty amazing that this is something I’m able to do. Play the World Series of Poker Main Event? It’s my second year playing it and I feel like I’m already taking the opportunity for granted. Today feels just like another day, but maybe that will change when I actually sit down at the table.

I’m playing Day 1A. I’m not sure what to make of that. I imagine that Day 1C is the best day to play. For one, July 4th is tomorrow and for two, Day 1C is a Friday. I imagine that people that have day jobs are far more likely to plan their trip around a Day 1 starting on a Friday than a Day 1 starting on a Wednesday. I think Day 1A is historically the smallest of the fields.

Oh well. My strategy with playing today is that if things go horribly I can book a flight home and be back in Washington instead of prolonging my trip for no good reason. If I make it to Day 2, I will be playing again on Saturday and will have the next two days off to do whatever I want.

Since busting the $1500 LHE event, I’ve played two cash game sessions with relatively breakeven results. Most notably, I finally got the Orleans out of the lifetime red, but I played my first ever session at Wynn and booked a $1k loser, which is amusingly big enough to put it in my bottom five locations of all-time!

Info on today’s structure:

We start with 60,000 in chips, or 300 big blinds, which is 10k more in chips than last year but actually smaller effective stacks. Not that it matters much. If you can maintain a starting stack all day, you’d start Day 2 with 75 big blinds.

I’ll be taking it super easy and abc for the first level or so, as I build profiles on my opponents and see what I’m dealing with, before moving on to a more exploitative approach as the day progresses.

I had really favorable table draws my first two days last year so hopefully I can continue that streak today.

Cards in the air at noon. I’ll post stack updates here on breaks and, as usual, maybe a key pot or two, but my focus is going to be on paying attention when I’m not in hands.

Jack Effel and John Cynn about to kick things off.

Names at my starting table I’ve sniped: Sergei Kislinskii, Dustin An (from Seattle!), Samuel Gagnon (I think), Austin Lewis, and Steve Gee (9th in the 2012 Main and 24th in the 2013 Main!), Jakub Wojtas

First Break

I don’t think I have a great table. Everyone seems competent and the two most active players are on my direct left.

Fortunately, I already put a dent in Steve Gee’s stack when I played a 3-bet pot in position with QJo and got the KT639 runout and he paid off a sizable river bet.

95,000

Dinner Break

75,400

Restart at 5 pm, or whenever I wake back up.

Three More Hours

Couple of dumb hands have prevented me from chipping up.

I had 33 vs 54 on 543 and he escaped with a 2-6 runout for a chop.

Then I had 86ss on 995hhs77 vs A7o. Obv he check-raised me on the flop with total air, I hit my gin card vs someone that had nothing and still can’t win at showdown.

Pretty cool.

75,000

One Hour Left

Other than the hands I noted earlier – and one I botched before that – I’ve been running pretty good today. I’ve had AA four times and I haven’t lost with them and I’ve gotten some form of action every time.

One hour left in the day before we bag for Day 2.

97,300

End of Day

Bagged up 56k. Lost a dumb one with two hands left. Probably leveled myself in a button vs blind with bags looming situation and overvalued my hand to lose the max.

Welp, I could have registered on Saturday and started with 60k. Oh well. Let’s hope my table draw on Day 2 is better because it sure sucked today.

Day 2 is not until Saturday at 11 AM.