Archive for the ‘poker’ Category

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2022 WSOP $1500 Limit Hold’em – The Joker vs The Batman: Team Torch Runs Deep!

June 20, 2022

My next event is always a marquee WSOP tournament for me: the $1500 Limit Hold’em. Granted, I’ve been playing mostly no limit cash games the last two years, but I spent almost all of my live cash game hours in limit Hold’em games the 17 years before that. It’s surely my best game and I figure most of the elite mix game pros don’t spend much time playing it.

I started off keeping notes for this tourney, but it didn’t last long. I felt like I was the strongest player at my starting table but a solid margin so I was playing a lot of pots and by the first break I had already increased my 25k starting stack to 34.1k and soon after hit a WSOP limit event peak of 41.4k.

With roughly 45 tables in play and some 450 players left, my table either broke or I got high-carded to a new table and one of the coolest things that has ever happened to me in a WSOP event happened:

I got seated on Joker’s immediate left. For the rest of the night. I was having a good day and after nine levels of play I had built my stack up to 52.9k and Joker had his at 37.1k. We actually did a fair amount of battling too. I should have probably at least kept notes on those hands. The only one I remember distinctly was raising under the gun with JJ, the next player called two bets cold (wearing an honorary Team Torch patch!) and then Joker 3-bet his big blind like an absolute psycho. I know this range is strong as hell, so I just called and so did our third opponent. The flop was Q52 and when Joker led out, I raised it to try and get the pot heads up. Perhaps this is foolish considering the range Joker is repping. He’s probably not betting that flop with AK. But he would bet it with TT, so raising can’t be that bad. The third player called though and Joker punished me with a 3-bet. I peeled looking for a jack only on the turn, but it was a 7 so I folded and Joker got raised by the other player in the pot. He ended up calling down and getting shown a set of fives.

Both of us managed to build our stacks a little over the next three levels and going into the last break of the night I had 58k and Joker had 41k. And this is where our fortunes completely switched course. I got absolutely decimated over the last three levels and Joker crushed. I ended up bagging a measly 10k in chips and Joker bagged 135k. I barely had one big bet left and Joker was top 15 in chips.

And Patton didn’t make it through the beer level
My Day 2 starting stack

I was pretty much counting myself out as I’d need to win several hands in a row to even think about being back in contention in this tournament. In another improbable turn of events, Joker started Day 2 seated on my immediate left. I was positive he was going to be the one to knock me out because when I put chips in the pot, he usually can’t help but wake up with some sort of hand.

Spoiler alert

To make matters worse, I started under the gun on the first hand. I was going to have to put it in with anything reasonable or go all in from the big blind on the next hand. I ended up getting a piece of cheese and taking my chances in the big blind. It folded around to the small blind and I snap-called blind when he put me all in. I turned over the absolutely beautiful T4o vs his J7o and flopped a ten and turned him dead for a double up. Then I picked up JJ vs AK and won that race for another full double and found myself at 42k and halfway to an average stack! The ball really got rolling for me when I played a 3-bet pot with 88 against KK and flopped a set for another full double up. This had me at 82.5k when the average stack was 102k and feeling like I was really back in this thing. By the end of the first two levels, I had dipped down to 60k and Joker had surged to 265k, about double the average stack with 100 left and 79 of us making the money.

My rise continued after the break and I rather comfortably made the money and when the bubble burst, I found myself sitting on an average stack, in position to actually make a deep run. Plus, Joker and I were getting some coverage from PokerNews.

After four hour long levels, I was nearing 200k and Joker had a massive 325k stack with 58 players remaining. Meanwhile, our friend Lee Markholt, #2 on Washington’s all-time money list, had a massive stack that was near the chip lead. So three of us PNW boys were in the hunt with less than 60 players left. We had tried to get Lee to wear a patch but he said he needs to get paid to do so. I was like, “bro.” BROW. Come on.

Joker and I eventually switched tables and I ended up on the right of 2015 Main Event winner Joe McKeehen. I’ve actually played with Joe before and I don’t think he said a word to anyone the whole time. That’s the kind of dude I expected him to be. This time was a completely different experience. First, he said something to the dude to his left about a tweet Brock Parker made thinking that he was Brock (he wasn’t) and then said, “and that’s why I never talk to people.” I was watching a hand he played and he was wondering if he took a different line if he would have saved a bet and I commented that it would have saved him half a bet because his opponent never bets the river and he agreed. After that, Joe didn’t stop talking to me for hours. I guess he felt like I knew my limit Hold’em? It was strange, because I’ve always heard he basically doesn’t like anyone, but here he was yapping away at me to the point where I was thinking, “dude… give me a break.” Plus, he’s a mumbler so I kept having to ask him to repeat himself. One thing he did mention to me was that I needed to stop defending my big blind. It made me think… in cash games, I’m a liberal blind defender. Anything connected, most suited hands, anything remotely playable, I’m seeing a flop – especially from mid-to-late position openers. But the thing about poker tournaments is that you can’t put more chips on the table and playing marginal hands out of position can be very costly – and unlike a no limit format, the implied odds of making the best hand are limited to the fixed bet sizes. The lesson: tighten up from the big blind, avoid those marginal spots, and save your chips for when you have the range and positional advantage. It makes sense to me. Thanks, champ!

Here’s a key hand I played vs. Joe that he said I played perfectly and that he thought he could arguably fold preflop:

In a shocking turn of events, Joker busted out in 38th place and I had 240k with average stack at 350k as I headed to dinner break with 35 players left. Just goes to show how swingy tournament poker is and how important it is to have a chip and a chair. Joker started the day with a top 10% stack and I had to put my tournament life on the line the second hand of the day with two random cards. And six hours later, he was out and I still had a chance to win a bracelet. Wild stuff.

The pot that unofficially ended my run in this tournament was when I opened with the JJ under the gun and only the big blind called. The flop came KQx and I checked back. The turn was a blank and I called a bet. The river was also a blank and I called another bet and lost to K3. Maybe I can save a bet on the river – especially with two straight draw blockers – but I feel like my hand is too good to fold when I check back the flop and show weakness. The whole point of that line is to get to showdown cheaply and/or pick off bluffs.

I didn’t note any of the hands I’m talking about, but here’s what my input in the Team Torch chat looks like over the next 50 minutes:

Crippled
Doubled
Crippled
Doubled lol
Doubled
Crippled
Bust 28th

And that was that. 28th place for $3900 and probably the least annoyed I’ve ever been busting a WSOP event. Why? Because I had no chance at the start of Day 2! And I made a deep run. And I sat right next to one of my best friends (and worst enemies) for most of the tournament! It was an absolute blast and an experience I hope we get to duplicate many times over the next several years. You know, if Joker can ever escape from Arkham for more than a few weeks each summer.

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WSOP 2022 Update: Week 1

June 13, 2022

My initial plan for the 2022 World Series of Poker was to keep notes on every tournament I played so I’d have something to reference if I wanted to write, but I stopped doing that after a few events and decided to rely on my shoddy memory so I’m not even more distracted than I already usually am while I’m playing.

I did post about the Dealer’s Choice event already so my next event was the $500 Housewarming No Limit Hold’em tournament with a $5 million guaranteed prize pool the next day. I think this shit show event had four starting days and you could re-enter once for each flight. I never planned to play it, but it seemed like a bad idea to skip a small buy-in bracelet event that all the ding dongs of the poker world flew out to take a once in a lifetime opportunity shot at. So I sat down in one of the flights seven levels deep with about 40 bigs.

I had to talk myself out of punting on the very first hand I decided to play. With blinds at 600/1200/1200 it folded around to me in the small blind and I made it 3000 with AJ and an older white man in the big blind made it 11k and we had about 40k effective total. I certainly don’t have enough chips to flat and play flops here and my hand seems to good to fold in a blind vs blind situation but I looked this guy over and decided that he wasn’t the type to risk it all here unless he had something he was going with. And then I still considered jamming it because I could just re-enter if I busted out. I ultimately talked myself out of it because $500 is $500 and I didn’t want to wait in any lines.

My first big chip up happened in Level 8 with blinds at 1k/1500/1500. Someone opened in early position to 3K and I 3-bet QQ to 10k. He snap called and then donked 25k on the 765 rainbow flop. He only had like 30k behind so I put him all in and he snap called again with what I assumed was 99-JJ… but was actually 73 of clubs. Somehow that hand didn’t fuck me and I won a massive pot.

Another bizarre hand happened in Level 8 when I opened to 3500 with JTo and only the big blind defended. The flop came T83 rainbow and I bet 4500 and he check-raised to 13k. I wasn’t too surprised by this because he looked like someone that wasn’t going to let anyone push them around, so I’m not surprised to get attacked here when I’m opening so many hands. I don’t think his raise makes much sense though. Maybe he check-raises some better tens, but I feel like his value range here is mega small and folding would be insane. I call. The turn is a Jack and the draw I’m most concerned about (because I’m blocking J9) comes in. He leads out 25k and since he only has 40k behind and I don’t have any plans of folding here and I don’t want to have to make any tough choices on the river, I just stuff it in his face. He snap folds and I have 180k (almost 4x starting stack) on my first break of the day.

That break was supposed to be 20 minutes and somehow turned into a whopping 70 minute break. I guess a dealer brought it every stack at his table for the color and no one knew how many chips they had and the WSOP staff was trying to call all the players back to this one table with 3000 people standing around talking. It was total madness.

I lost a chunk of chips when I opened again with the JTo and got the Q96 flop. I whiffed and lost about 30k overall. I did a bunch of whiffing after that and found myself down to 85k when I got AK in vs KK preflop and spiked an ace. I won another all in vs a short stack with JJ shortly afterwards and got back up to 173k.

My toughest spot of the tournament happened at 2k/4k/4k when I opened under the gun with TT and the next player made it 30k. I started with like 140k effective and this feels like a rough spot to get it all in. Maybe I should just fold since set-mining seems spewy at this stack depth? Or is my hand too good? I dunno. I decided to call and then check-folded on an AKx flop. I imagine I’m busting out here almost all of the time if I decided to go with it preflop.

I got down to about 14-17 bigs and was mostly open-jamming or reshoving preflop until I picked up KK and decided to make a standard open. The big blind defended and we saw the AQT flop. I checked this one back even though it highly favors my range. It’s also a board texture where my hand doesn’t mind giving free cards since I’m already beat or very few cards will beat me. The turn paired the ace and here’s where I should have comfortably fired a bet out. It would be pretty rare for someone to check the best hand to me twice and even though my hand is hard to outdraw, I should try to get some value from it here. But I checked it back like a dope and the river paired the queen and my opponent was suddenly interested with a 30k bet. I obviously didn’t check it this far to consider a fold now, so I called and he showed me Q9o and I was down to less than ten bigs. This is a Dark Knight special: give free cards to hands that have 2-4 outs and lose critical pots to them.

I managed to ride this sub-10bb stack to a cash but got my last six bigs in with AJo and got picked off by the big blind’s 97o only to see an 877 board that basically flopped me dead.

That got me on the board with my first cash of the 2022 WSOP, albeit a very minor one.

Next up was the $1500 limit Omaha 8 or Better event. I sat down at the end of level two for this one and immediately hopped into Ari Engel’s $300 last longer bet. When I handed him the money he asked if that meant he’ll make the blog. You gotta love when one of the best poker players in the world is aware of what you’re doing and seems to be a fan of your work. My starting table had Tom Schneider – a 4x bracelet winner – but no one else that I recognized.

Except this dweeb

I floated around 20k and 26k for roughly eight levels before going on a rush of big hands in level 10 that didn’t produce any winners and cost me almost all of my chips. It was during this level that Poker Hall of Famer Eli Elezra was seated at my table and when we both were down to around 6k in chips, I asked him if he wanted to do a $20 last longer. He wasn’t interested in that, but he perked up and we started talking about diabetes and he eventually offered that if one of us won the whole tournament, we’d owe the other one $5000. Pretty unlikely that would happen, but I thought it was a cool story and then he busted out and then I busted like two minutes later.

I decided to fire another bullet at the $500 NL Housewarming the next day and I showed up just as late as I did on my previous entry, but it was the weekend now and this is the line I had to wait in for a seat card AFTER printing my registration ticket. Or not. WordPress won’t even let me upload the video clip because it’s too long…but it looked like it was going to be well over an hour just go get seated.

I wasn’t about to do all that and someone in the WSOP payout area assured me that if I never sat down, they would refund my Bravo account. I wasn’t sure about all that, but I saw WSOP big man Jack Effel walking around later that day and he took my name down and I had a $500 refund by the end of the night.

I ended up playing the $1500 Seven Card Stud tourney and I floated just above starting stack through six levels before getting absolutely trashed during the next three levels. I lost with KK-3, AA-x, and Kx-K during that stretch and found myself down to 5800 coming back to 1000/2000 betting limits and was out shortly after that when I decided to go with a QJT that ran into AA-7. My board ran out super sweaty – QT-JJQ9-9 – but he paired his 7 and his aces up ousted me from the tournament.

I played an unscheduled event at South Point the next day, a $240 ROSE tournament. I ran up a stack early and felt like I was quite easily the table captain, but the wheels fell off and I ended up busting pretty far from the money.

Look at this legend in full tourist disguise for the $240 buy-in

That left me with three $1500 bricks and one min-cash in my smallest WSOP event after my first five days in Vegas. Not the start I was looking for. That’s all I’m going to write for this post as I’m way behind now. Next up, The Joker cometh:

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2022 WSOP: $1500 Dealer’s Choice Blog

June 4, 2022

My first event of the summer was the $1500 Dealer’s Choice at the World Series of Poker – an event I’ve always wanted to play and have always skipped. There are games in the mix that I’m definitely not adept at (Pot limit 2-7 Triple Draw, 5 Card Draw) so I’ve been skeptical about this event in the past, but I decided to go for it this time.

I sat down in level 3 with betting limits of 400/800 for the limit games and a starting stack of 25k. 30 big bets. That’s playable.

My first notable hand was in Stud Hi-Lo with no qualifier – a game I never play and my table picked over and over all day. I can’t blame them. From what I saw, there were multiple players that were absolutely awful at it, including one that kept picking it – a known pro whose name I won’t put on blast because, uh, it might get back to him. Someone opens and I have 97-5 – a hand that would be unplayable in Stud 8, but has way more potential in this variant. We end up going 3-ways and my board runs out 97-5468-J. I took the betting lead on 5th street and I was so shocked when I got raised on 7th that I started to announce “9 hig-“ before realizing what happened. Both my opponents had Badugi upcards so neither of them could have a flush. There was one bigger straight available but it would be impossible for them to have and neither of them had a pair on board. I had the nut high and it seemed likely my low was probably no good, but I still had an easy 3-bet and they both called it and somehow neither of them could beat my low either and I scooped a very nice pot.

This had me up to 31.5k after three levels and on the first break.

I only had one notable hand over the next three levels. We are playing No Limit 2-7 Single Draw and with blinds of 100/200 with a 300 ante, the under the gun player tries to limp in which you can’t do in this variant and ends up being forced to min-raise to 400. I make it 1500 with A9732. He calls and we both draw one. I pair the deuce and decide to bet 2200 when he checks to me. He snap calls with a 98 and I get picked off.

I was down to 22.3k after six levels on the second break.

I played a weird Badugi hand against Rick Fuller – a pretty well known pro from the Washington area. With blinds at 300/600, I open with 842x and Rick 3-bet from the big blind. I called, he stood pat, and I drew one. I reduced my tri to a 542 and called another bet. I made a Q542 Badugi after the second draw and decided to raise it. I’m honestly not sure about this play. My thought was he might break or fold a better Badugi and I also thought it was pretty reasonable that I actually made the best hand, but patting and calling leaves me pretty clueless about my hand strength, even if he checks the river. Like, if I call and pat here, he’s probably not going to bet a ten high Badugi. So I raised it up and he ended up calling and standing pat. I tanked for quite a while thinking about if I should break or not and ultimately decided he wouldn’t call and pat with worse and I had a really good draw. I drew one, bricked, checked behind, and rolled my eyes when he turned over a QJxx Badugi. I mean… I’m obviously capable of raising as a bluff after the second draw… and the pot is large… but damn.

During the same round, I had 652x in the big blind and it was raised and 3-bet to me. I’m actually not sure about this spot either, but the 3-bettor is super loose so I decided to go with it. The opener 4-bet and we went draw one, pat, draw one. I caught a suited ten and it was one bet after the draw. The second draw was the same and I caught an off suit 3 to make a premium Badugi. I got in a check-raise and calls from both players and then paid off by one of them after the last draw.

Back to Stud Hi-Lo no qualifier and another strange spot. I have 65-7279 in a 3-way pot against xx-6TT3 and xx-8643. The 86 led out and I decided to raise it in an effort to get the tens to fold and improve my chances of winning the high. He didn’t cooperate and then the 86 made it 3-bets and we both called. I paired my 9 on the river but when the tens called two bets cold on 6th, I figured he had tens up and wasn’t folding, so when the 86 bet 7th, I mucked, the tens called and the bettor just had a low and the tens just had… tens. I got fancy trying to get the pot heads up and then I folded half of a very large pot when it didn’t work and I improved on 7th. Seems bad.

I won a nice scooper in Stud H/L no qualifier with a 7h3x-3h that ended up making an 8 low and a flush.

I ended this level with a hand of Pot Limit Omaha 8 or better by limping along on the button with QTT8 double suited. I flopped a set of tens on KT3 and ended up overcalling pot-sized bets on the flop and 5x turn from a solid player in the big blind and then checked back on a 7x river and my hand ended up scooping somehow. The big blind flashed K3. I was peaking after this pot with 38.3K after eight levels.

I came back from break with my blood sugar plummeting and played a super fuzzy Badeucy hand against Rick Fuller. I opened and he called from the big blind and then drew one, which seems like a hand he should probably be 3-betting, and then he stood pat after leading into me. This made me think he had a pretty weak hand both ways so I chased him down and made a 9 low and an 8 badugi and he showed me a 7 low with a 6 badugi and I actually had to stand up and look at his hand because I couldn’t believe it and my blood sugar was low enough that I thought I might actually be seeing things.

I was very card dead for these three rounds but did play a couple of No Limit 2-7 Single Draw pots that I wrote notes for.

The first was with blinds at 400/800 with a 1200 big blind ante and I had 97762 in the big blind. It folded to the small blind and he made it 3K. We had like 18k effective and I’m guessing I should just be shoving it here with a premium draw one and probably lots of fold equity… but I honestly don’t know what I’m doing. I called. He drew three and said I was supposed fold. Sigh. I draw one and pair my 6. He checks, I bet 4000 because wtf and he shows me a pair of 5s and folds. Disaster avoided.

The second hand I opened to 2400 with a pat 98642 and the button and a blind called. They both drew one and I think I have a hand strong enough to value bet here, but I also think I don’t have very many bluffs here when I bet so I felt like putting a good hand in my checking range made some sense. It checked to the button and he made a rather small bet and showed 987xx and I won the pot.

I had 32k after twelve levels.

In level 13, I was down to 22k and played an all in Big O pot with Jeremy Harkin a.k.a. Worm, a well-known Big O specialist and bracelet winner from Oregon. We both had aces and my AAJ94 made a better low than his AAJ5x and I got three quarters of the pot.

After two ice cold levels, someone picked Limit Omaha Hi for the first time all day. I defended 6544 with a suit against a cutoff raise from Worm and then whiffed my check-raise on T64 rainbow. The turn was a Kh opening up a back door flush draw, I bet and Jeremy called. The river was the 8h and I check-called and lost the nut flush. I think Jeremy is capable of bluffing the naked ace of hearts here, but he has all the flushes too. I think this is just a check-fold and save a big bet spot.

I was very short now and 3-bet the QJJ9 with a suit in the same game and one of the blinds woke up with AAKx and we got my five blinds in preflop and I failed to outdraw his aces and I busted with 30 minutes left in Day 1 for nearly maximum torture.

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Poker Update: Spring 2022 – Huge Life Change & 2022 WSOP Plans

May 24, 2022

Well, first things first: I am no longer married. Technically, I am, but my divorce will be final next month. That relationship has been a huge part of my life for ten years now, but I think this is a good thing for both of us and I’m ready for the next chapter in my life.

Interestingly, after separating from my wife in late February, I had my best cash game month of all-time in my first full month as a single man. Coincidence? Yeah, probably! I did play my most hours of any non-WSOP month and that certainly wasn’t an accident. In fact, it was the first time I’d played 160+ cash game hours in a single month since November 2018. I did have a rather miserable trip to Houston in March, but I was battling a never ending cold (Covid? I tested negative four times) the whole time I was there and somehow found myself feeling absolutely homesick on top of that. I ended up losing $3600 in cash games while I was there and went 1 for 5 in tourneys for another $2450 loss. But my home court was treating me like a king as I bludgeoned the 3/5 game at Palace for over $13.5k in profit in under 100 hours.

The momentum carried over into April, as I booked wins in six of my first seven sessions and found myself up over $6k in my first 50 hours of the month. One problem, those 50 hours came over two weeks. After finding a volume resurgence in March, I was already back to bad habits of not playing even close to full-time hours. It’s been even worse since then. I finished April with 108.5 hours and I’ve played 140 hours over the last six weeks, as I find myself in the midst of a rather nasty breakeven stretch. Actually, breakeven is generous. I’m on a -$3k downswing over the last month and a half and that doesn’t even count an additional $5k I’m down in a private game that I’m being staked in. Coincidence? Honestly, probably not. I was just watching Winning Time on HBO and Jerry West has a quote where he says, “Happiness is a distraction.” I feel it.

Needless to say, I find myself rather burned out and mentally drained as I head into the final stretch before the 2022 World Series of Poker. I’ve decided to take eight of my final ten days in town off before I head down to Vegas next Tuesday for a grueling five weeks of tournament poker.

I’ll talk about my WSOP plans in a second, but first let’s look at some YTD poker numbers. By the end of 2021, I had started to transition to playing mostly 3/5 NL and in 2022 that has undoubtedly become my main game, as I’ve logged almost 60% of my live cash game hours at that level. I’ve logged another 20% at the 1/3 NL level and my win rate in that game has dropped drastically compared to last year ($5.40 per hour vs $56 per hour). The good news is I have been crushing the 3/5 overall this year, running at a $72 per hour clip, even after a six week losing stretch that I still find myself in the midst of. I did book my biggest loss of all-time with a -$2400 in a 30/60 mix game during my Houston trip – something I’ve been threatening to do for quite some time now. It feels like a right of passage and I’m surprised it’s taken me so long to set a new mark considering I’ve been playing higher stakes for quite some time now. It’s not that I’m so good I never lose that much, it’s actually that I’m so wimpy that I usually find myself wanting to quit whenever I get around the -$2k mark. But this year, I’ve been powering through and I had actually passed my worst loss ever mark on multiple occasions – even inching into -$4k territory once – before fighting back and avoiding a record loss. But I finally did it, and it feels kind of good. I’m ready to do it again! But maybe a few months after I break this skid I’m on.

Here’s what my current WSOP schedule is looking like. Events highlighted in purple are must plays unless I make some Day 2 or 3s that overlap a Day 1. There’s some chance I’ll add some NL events since that’s pretty much all I’ve been playing the last 15 months or so… but I’m a sucker for good mixed events.

I bought myself a handy iPad Pro so I should be able to do a decent amount of blogging while I’m down there. I’m really liking the way this Magic Keyboard feels as I’m typing at the poker table right now. Still trying to figure out the Apple Pencil though. Game on next Wednesday. Leggo!

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2021 Year in Review – WSOP Edition – Part Two

March 23, 2022
Loyal Mariners fan

My plan after busting Day 2 of the $3k HORSE was to immediately jump in the $1500 2-7 Triple Draw tournament, but it was 1 AM when they finally sent me to the rail and I missed the tournament I was looking forward to playing more than any other event in 2021. Sometimes these things happen for a good reason though. Joker was in town to play the deuce though and I decided to not get a piece of him because I know his experience in the game is super limited and my goal during WSOP is to reduce my personal variance so I don’t really love taking action from my friends when I’m down there.

Well, a funny thing happened. Joker crushed that tournament. He made the final table with the chip lead and ended up taking 2nd place after losing to David “Bakes” Baker heads up for the bracelet and a $54k score that bested my own personal records. I was impressed to say the least. Not just with the run, but also with hearing him talk about the pots he was playing and realizing how much he was leveling up from the experience. I thought when the tournament started that he was a bit of a 2-7 TD fish and by the time it was over, I thought he was legit better than me at the game. I didn’t have faith in him and it cost me. Never again. Ride or die.

Heads up for a bracelet

My next WSOP event was a $500 NL Freezeout and I was crushing on Day 1 until I punted it away (can’t remember how now) and found myself with a stub as we neared the money bubble. I ended up making the money and finishing Day 1 with 25 bigs, sitting above average with 133 players left from a field of nearly 3000. Once again, I fizzled on a Day 2 and ended up busting in 51st place for a $3200 payout. This cash made me 3 for 3 in No Limit Hold’em events though. I definitely focus on mix game tourneys, but I had been playing NL cash all of 2021 and it felt like the experienced paid off. I played a little bit of cash after busting out on Day 2 of this one, but the results were basically breakeven.

My next event was the $1500 Razz – the first time I’ve ever played a straight up Razz live tournament. I bagged 82.5k on Day 1 (shock) which left me middle of the pack with 98 players left and 47 of us cashing. Joker bagged a huge stack in this one finishing with 175k on Day 1. The Day 2 curse stayed alive as I never got any momentum and busted far from the money. Joker also got rekt on Day 2 this time and ended up finishing two spots out of the money.

Talking myself out of punting in Razz

I late regged the $3k 6-Max Limit Hold’em event after busting the Razz and spent most of the Day 1 smacking everyone around. I got torched the last level of the night with a number of sick connections: I had AJ of clubs on AK4cc2cK vs 44; KJ vs KT on KQ5T5; and AK vs AQ on KQ9Qx – all of which were at least 3-bet pots preflop. I ended up bagging 81.5k after peaking around 132k. After a night of sleep, the doom switch was immediately activated again and I lost every key pot I played on Day 2 and finished out of the money again. I did get to play with the GOAT poker commentator Nick Schulman though. He was cool, but I’ve noticed when he’s actually playing he’s not outgoing or overly friendly. That was definitely my experience as well.

By this time, I was completely over all the Day 2 run bads and I had a getaway planned for the next five days and headed to Zion National Park in Utah for some much needed rest, relaxation, and sight-seeing.

I actually really loved the way the WSOP schedule was organized last year. All the mix game events were kind of jumbled together and when I returned from Utah, the events I was interested in were all NL Hold’em tournaments which was a nice warm up for the Main Event.

I got back to Vegas in time to play the $2500 9-Game tournament, but I talked myself out of it even though I had mostly just been going for it. That left me open to fire all the bullets in the $400 Colossus and I sure as shit did exactly that, getting in for the maximum of four bullets. I definitely punted a couple of them but I somehow managed to make the money on the last one, but it was a min cash that only got me half of my overall investment back.

I played an uneventful online NL event before hopping in the $600 NL Deep Stack the next day and making yet another deep run. I actually had some momentum on Day 2 this time, but I lost an insanely bloated pot where my opponent absolutely punted with KQ when I had AK and got there against me. It killed me late in Day 2 and I ended up finishing in 67th for a $3500 score.

I took a couple days off before playing Day 1B of the $10k Main Event. This was my third time playing the Main and so far I was two for two on making Day 2 and busting relatively early. My 2021 WSOP was full of Day 2s and I had cashed every live NL tourney I played in the series (plus two online NL events), so I was feeling like I had a really good chance to get my first Main Event cash in 2021.

Things were going pretty well for me during the first two levels and I felt like my game was on point and that I was at a good table… and then a crazy hand happened. With the blinds at 200/400, I was on the button and the dealer dealt me a ten face up and a ten face down. They replaced one of my tens with the 8 of spades and I had T8 suited when the action went raise to 1000 and a call in front of me. I decided to see a flop in position and made the call also. The big blind made a very large 3-bet to 7200 and I was folding this hand almost all the time, but then both players called in front of me and I decided to gamble. I was 60k+ effective behind with the 3-bettor and the other two players had around 40k behind. The flop came down 874 with two spades, giving me top pair and a flush draw. With around 30k in the pot everyone checked to me. I thought it was unlikely my hand was good here and if I put a bet in, I was going to have to commit my whole stack to this pot, so I checked back to see what happened on the turn. It was the ten of diamonds, giving me top two pair and a flush draw. The big blind checked again and the original opener bet 9400 and Cole Ferraro (who had just won the $600 Deep Stack I cashed a few days earlier) called. I think it’s pretty clear I always have the best hand here. The preflop 3-bettor never has a hand. Neither Cole or the turn bettor would check the flop with a set or a straight after the 3-bettor checked in front of them and with a ten exposed preflop, it was impossible for anyone to have a set of 10s. Both guys that put chips in on the turn only had like 30k behind so putting them all in made the most sense to me. I jammed. The bettor ended up tanking forever and I was hoping he would call because it was obvious I had him beat… and he did end up calling… when Cole snap-called I knew that couldn’t be good news. He immediately rolled the J9 of spades over and I was absolutely fucked. He had the nut straight AND had my flush draw covered. It’s really the only hand combo that made any sense for him to play this way and there it was. The other ding dong got it all in with pocket jacks and luck boxed the river by spiking a 9 to chop the pot with Cole. I ended up losing like 2/3 of my stack in this spot that I could have very easily folded preflop.

I had about 30 bigs when someone opened the pot from middle position and I 3-bet him with AA from the big blind. The flop came K98 and I overbet jammed the flop and he ended up tanking for a while before nit-rolling me with 98 suited. I didn’t improve and found myself stunned to be an unlikely Main Event Day 1 casualty.

And that was my 2021 World Series of Poker.

Final Stats

Live Cash: -$1499 in 30.5 hours
Online Cash: +$2150 in 25 hours
Online Tourneys: 4 cashes in 12 events for +$3786 in 35 hours
Non-WSOP Live Tourneys: 0 cashes in 2 events for -$1000 in 11 hours
WSOP: 5 cashes in 12 events for -$10,714 in 171 hours

Overall: -$7277 in 272.5 hours

It looks worse than it was. My average buy in excluding the Main Event was probably around $1500 so bricking that one event has an absolutely massive affect on my overall results. Also, I had the biggest pieces of myself in the smaller events that I did really well in and much smaller pieces in the biggest events I played, so my personal net actually ended up being pretty good while my backers definitely took the worst of it. Sorry guys! I felt really good with how I played the whole series. I played 12 WSOP events and I made Day 2 nine times. That’s pretty damn good. Things never went well for me on a Day 2, but I still managed to cash in nearly 42% of the WSOP events I played and felt like I was a contender in every single tournament except the Main Event – both of my other two non-Day 2 bust outs were at the buzzer of Day 1. It wasn’t the greatest series for me as far as profitability, but it was a phenomenal year as far as experience and networking went. I’m on people’s radar now and I plan to stay there. I’m going to play an even bigger and bolder schedule in 2022 and I’ll be GODDAMNED if I have same kind of Day 2 run bad as I did in 2021. A breakout is coming. I’m calling it.

Some Zion pics:






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Dark Knight vs Ari Engel – $600 HORSE @ Prime Social in Houston – Final Table & $600 Dealer’s Choice Day 1

March 16, 2022
DK vs Ari Engel

I didn’t blog while I was playing yesterday but I’m about to start Day 2 of this bad boy at the final table with 7 players left SO WHY NOT NOW?

It took me a while to get going yesterday. I was below starting stack after nine levels with nothing much going for me. Every time I took a step forward, I got in a pot with Ari Engel – a legit tournament superstar with over $7.5 milly in lifetime cashes – and lost the pot to him. He owned me during the first half of the day.

He opened the hijack in Hold’em and I 3! the KQ from the small. I bet twice on Q8x9 and check-called the T river to have a look at his J9 offsuit. Cool cool.

Our real big and nasty clash occurred in a Stud 8 pot (always, always fucking Stud 8). Someone completed, Ari raised with the 4 ♦︎ up and I 4-bet with 5♦︎3♦︎-A♣︎. That cleared out the opener and got us heads up. It’s worth noting here that two deuces and a 3 are dead on 3rd street. I bet every street as this is how our boards run out:

DK 5♦︎3♦︎-A♣︎K♣︎7♣︎J♣︎

Ari XX-4♦︎K♥︎6♥︎J♦︎

As you can see, my board looks pretty scary, but if Ari is drawing to a low, it’s not shocking that he’s calling on 6th, but I’m in a position where I’m gonna bluff 7th street if I miss and since I know Ari is an observant and experienced wizard, I just pretend to look at my 7th street card and then smoke it. He calls. Sigh. Guess I have to make something. I look down at my 7th street card and see that I paired my 3. He shows a pair of sixes. What a goddamn legend. With the three wheel cards dead on 3rd street it’s pretty hard for me to come up with the hands he thinks I have here that he beats, but damn… gotta give him credit.

Ari had a chance to kill me when we played a 4-bet Hold’em pot where I had AQ vs his AK and the board ran out QJ8TK for the ultimate emotional roller coaster ride.

I got high carded off his table after that and went on a heater and finally had chips in one of these tournaments. I did find myself all in against Ari again though.

This time the game was Stud Hi and a Q up completed, I 3-bet with split Kings and Ari cold 4-bet it with an ace up. Sigh. I 5-bet to get all in and never improved. Good game. But wait! Ari can only show a pair of 2s and the Queens never improved either. We triple!

Joker looking dapper trying to put the bubble hex on me

Eventually Ari opened for most of his stack in Hold’em and I put him all in from the small blind with 88. His T7 suited never improved and I sent his ass to the rail.

We got a bag!

And now I’m fighting for $8.8k up top with 7 left. I’m below average in chips but I’m feeling it. LET’S. GO.

Restarting at 1 PM Houston time (11 AM Pacific). I’ll post some updates here and continue on when I play the Dealer’s Choice later today.

Live updates here: https://primesocialtx.com/events/event-8-horse/

Short stack doubles with KJ vs AJ. Yawn.

Short stack doubles again. Meanwhile, I’ve been trending down.

Stud Hi, 9 up opens, I 3-bet TJ-T and bet through 6th street with our boards reading:

DK QT-TJQ9

Villain XX-9Q8T

I check-call 7th after catching an ace and he shows me the K9J in the hole. Pretty amazing. Blocking the ten hard. Blocking the jack. Sigh. That hand crippled me and I busted in 7th shortly after.

MEGA TILTED 🤬🤬🤬

Starting $600 Dealer’s Choice. Only 9 players signed up so far. Lol.

First Break

Finally getting off to a hot start. I have 53k after three levels – so over double starting stack already. This is like a 20 game mix and I think I’m solid/competent in all of them. I like my chances.

Second Break

Was crushing before losing a couple of PLO8 and PLO hands. Back down near where I was at the last break, sitting on around 51k after level 6.

Third Break

Shock. I’ve gone ice cold. Just below starting stack after nine levels. This is where I was at in the HORSE last night, so plenty of room to spin still. Somehow only 18 left. 6 of us will cash. This one only had 32 total entrants. It’s been fun but these turnouts have been thin.

Dark Knight BUSTED (Level 12)

I stuck around and doubled up a few times, but they got me. I’m exhausted. Joker is on the money bubble of the $1100 NL and I have 10% so I’m gonna hang out until he cashes and then actually try to get at least five solid hours of sleep. ✌🏻

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Houston Day 1: $600 Limit Omaha 8 or Better (Live Updates)

March 13, 2022

Screw it. Let’s just throw back all the way to the live blog. It’s a new day. This is my first time ever coming to Texas for poker. Shoot, when I was here in 2018, I don’t even think poker was legal here. But they are doing the Portland club thing where they charge a $10 door fee and then collect time in the cash games.

Prime Social Club
Joker getting the red carpet treatment

We sat down near the end of level one of this $600 Omaha 8 or Better tourney. Blinds were 100/200 and we get 25k to start. I immediately recognized three players at my table, including Wendy Freedman, a mix game specialist with over $1.2 milly in live cashes.

I won’t be posting here too much during active levels but I’ll post stack updates and some hands on my breaks. Stay tuned!

Batman must know where Joker is at all times

First Break

Dark Knight 15.4k

Joker 21k

Pretty cool start. I haven’t really had any super interesting spots. Just torching and value owning myself mostly. I had AA2x once and immediately had my low counterfeit on the turn and found myself in a likely scooped situation. I’ve had a lot of bad two pair hands lose to slightly better hands. Lots of cash game action going on though so when I punt my way out of this thing before the next break I’ll have something to do.

Joker BUSTED (level 4, re-entering)

Dark Knight BUSTED (level 5, re-entering)

Yeah, we suck. Just getting all the bad runouts. QQKJ on 95393 vs 6543 blasting off and then I’m all in 5-ways for 3-bets preflop with AJ32dd and the board runs out K64dT9. Shock. Next bullet.

Sitting back down with 31 bigs. Fun fact: three people have busted from this tournament and two of them are Joker and myself. I asked the floor if the player count and bust outs are correct and he confirmed that we are, indeed, the worst poker players of all-time.

TD Justin Hammer going all out for Texas

Second Break

Dark Knight 18.4k

Joker 40k

Nothing to see here. I’m just folding out of my seat and losing every hand I do play.

Finally get above starting stack with AKJ3ss by flopping second nut low in a big multi-way pot and going running spades for half.

Open KJT9ss from cutoff. Button and small blind call. Flop is QJ5 and a very very bad and clueless player leads out from the SB. I raise it with a wrap and straight flush draw and both players call. The turn is the 6s. I bet and they both call. I’m slightly concerned about the button having an ace high flush here, but it is what it is. The river pairs the 5 and the ding dong leads out again. I’ve seen enough to know he doesn’t need to have a full house here and I briefly consider raising it to maybe fold out a better flush from the button, but I just call, the button folds, and the bozo shows me Q5xx. Down to 19k.

I’m not looking like much of a threat to care about any of this, but here’s the relevant tourney info for today:

Back over starting after playing a bloated pot with Miami John and the catalyst holding AQ93 and getting the Q85hh4h9 run out to quarter Miami and scoop the third player. My man went bet/call donk turn bet river with A973 and no hearts. Bless his soul.

Someone is doing write-ups for this tourney. You can check it out here: Prime Social $600 Omaha 8. She did butcher the hand I just reported a couple spots above though. 😬

Third Break

We finally caught some momentum! First I busted the spot at the table and then I scooped the same guy in back-to-back hands. I had a sexy spot where he opens from cut and I 3-bet the AKJ4dd from the small blind. We go heads up to QT9 rainbow and I bet flop and check-raise turn. He folds river. I had a chance to bust him just before the break when I flatted his open with A543 single suited and got him all in on Q44dd but he smacked diamonds on the turn and I didn’t fill up.

Dark Knight 36k

Joker 65k

Average 38k

36 players left

Welp. We have been relatively crippled after a terrible start to level 10 and now I have switched tables as we are down to 32 left and Joker has a chance to bust (or double!) me.

Dark Knight BUSTED (Level 11)

Groan. I was a legitimate contender in this thing for about an orbit. Joker still going strong with four tables left. I’m gonna get some much needed Raising Canes and maybe come back and play some cash. I’ll post Joker stack updates when I get them

Fourth Break

Joker 74k

Meanwhile, I’m testing myself for Covid for the third time this week. Still negative. Guess I just have an old fashioned minor cold.

Fifth Break

Joker 145k

He says he’s 3rd in chips with 16 left. I decided to stay in and watched about 5 mins of episode two of Winning Time before falling asleep.

Joker is at the 9-handed final table with 7 players cashing. He was below average last update and I’m about to head back to the casino and put the DK curse on him to make sure he finishes in 8th. Might play some cash while I wait for this painful bust out.

SHOCK. I didn’t even make it back to the casino before Joker busted just outside the money. TDK curse lives on! Sorry, pal! $600 Triple Stud @ 3 PM Houston time tomorrow.

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2021 Year in Review – WSOP Edition – Part One

March 12, 2022

I never wrote about my 2021 World Series of Poker so I guess I’ll start there. I was ecstatic to be back fighting it out with the best players in the world. 2020 was a depressing one for my poker career. I had my least profitable year since 2014 (and I didn’t go full-time pro until the fourth quarter of 2016) and if I wasn’t eligible to collect unemployment I probably would have had to get a job somewhere. So being able to lock horns at the WSOP after an absence of over two years felt really good. I don’t care that everyone had to be vaccinated. I don’t care about the hypocrisy of the staff not needing to be vaxxed. I don’t care about having to wear a mask while walking around. I was just happy to be BACK and able to compete in the most prestigious tournament series in the world. 2018 was a horrible WSOP for me and 2019 was mostly uneventful outside of a 12th place run in the $2500 Stud 8/Omaha 8 that was a nice reminder that I’m capable of doing things like that. But I definitely had a chip on my shoulder for this series.

My first event of the 2021 series was the $1500 Omaha 8 or Better and I was pretty thrilled to bag a decent stack on Day 1. I don’t remember much of Day 2, but (spoiler alert!) I didn’t have any good Day 2s, so I’ll just assume I dwindled for most of the day while winning a small pot here and there – enough to hang around long enough to take 32nd and start my series off with a nice profit and a cash of $4116.

Next I played a small Triple Draw Mix event at Golden Nugget and did absolutely nothing in it. My next WSOP event was the $1500 Limit Hold’em and I once again bagged a nice Day 1 stack. If I remember correctly, I really liked my chances heading into Day 2, but nothing good happened for me and I busted far enough away from the money that I didn’t even bother inputting the relevant info in my app.

The $2500 Triple Draw Mix at the WSOP was next up on my schedule and I was really looking forward to that one even though I figured I was probably an underdog in that field. I practiced draw a ton during the pandemic lockdown and I was excited to see how much progress I had made even if the buy-in price point was a bit high. Hey, that’s what backers are for! (don’t worry, they all wanted to gamble with me). I feel like I mostly held my own in this event and I was at a pretty tough table. I didn’t get a lot of upward momentum and the wheels finally fell off for me at the very end of the night and I busted about 20 minutes before bagging on Day 1. But I was mostly happy with my play, pleased with the experience gained, and really looking forward to this same event in 2022.

I didn’t play much cash while I was in Vegas so I don’t have too much to say about that, but I did play a four hour 1/3 NL session at the Rio around this time of the Series and I was pretty shocked when Jamie Kerstetter sat down on my immediate left. I’m generally not a talkative person at the poker table and I prefer to keep to myself, but I decided to engage Jamie and she couldn’t have been more personable. She wasn’t just answering my questions but asked me questions about myself, gave me recommendations for my upcoming trip to Zion National Park and was generally hilarious. I was already a fan of her poker commentary but this interaction made me feel like she’s someone I could actually be friends with. I really wanted to play mix that night, so it pained me quite a bit to leave her table and go do that… and considering I only made $17 in that game, I probably should’ve just stayed and networked. Oh well. Jamie did end up giving me an indirect shoutout during her Main Event coverage by mentioning me on the broadcast (awesome), although not by my name (lame).

One thing I did this series that I’ve never done before was lug my personal computer to Vegas with me. I don’t have a laptop and I don’t want to play on my iPad, and since I was driving anyway, it made sense to bring it with me in case I wanted to play online. Plus, it makes tracking my finances way easier and allowed to me do some solver work on the road if I was so inclined. I had Sunday, October 10th, earmarked for a couple of online events, so that’s what I spent my day doing and it ended up being a really good decision. I played the $215 NLH WSOP online circuit ring event and ended up taking 8th of 576 entrants for a solid $3200 score. I also played the $400 NLH WSOP online bracelet event and finished 17th of 1024 entrants for $3078 in that one. I’m past the point where I can remember anything about the circuit event, but the bracelet event will be unforgettable for two reasons: 1) I finally played at the same table with Daniel Negreanu and I beat him in the only pot we played together; and 2) I had a top 5 stack with 18 people left when the small blind decided to limp in with a 30bb and trap me with AJ. I had AQ suited in the big blind, so I was happy to raise his limp and snap-call his 3-bet jam. Unfortunately, he rivered a jack and instead of being 1st in chips of a WSOP bracelet event with 17 players left, I was short stacked with 18 left and busted out shortly after – an absolutely crushing blow when my adrenaline was riding sky high from an awesome day of online poker. I had a lot of my own action in these two small buy-in events, so it was great day for me personally and it was nice to see all the practice I’ve put in for no limit Hold’em immediately pay off.

My next event was the WSOP $1500 8-Game mix tournament – one of my favorites, but also one that I haven’t been able to get past Day 1 in. I had a great starting table and I was excited about my chances of building a big stack and bagging when I got high-carded to a new table and put on Shaun Deeb’s immediate right. I was already annoyed that I got moved, but this was a brutal spot to be in and I couldn’t help but mutter, “are you fucking kidding me?” as I sat down in my new seat. Shaun was amused enough to say, “not what you were hoping to see?” and we ended up chatting a decent amount throughout the day but he lost enough pots early on that he didn’t wind up being much of a nuisance for me. It looked like I was going to finally bag this thing, but the wheels fell off for me in the last level and I found myself hitting the rail with exactly 20 minutes left in Day 1 for the second time of the series.

After busting out around 2 AM and probably not going to sleep until much later, I decided to play the 11 AM HORSE tourney at the Orleans the next day anyway. I showed up about an hour late and absolutely torched my first bullet in record time for a limit tournament. I re-entered and ended up lasting 6.5 hours overall, but busted far from the money and felt like I was dead money all day. I was playing tired and I was in no mood for running bad and just had no patience for unfavorable variance. I should have skipped this one entirely because I was in no mental shape to be playing that early after such a late night.

Next up was the WSOP $1500 HORSE – the event I earned my all-time best cash in all the way back in 2017. That doesn’t feel like that long ago, but if you told me back in 2017 that five years later that would still be my best achievement in tournament poker, I probably wouldn’t believe it. But here I am. Still searching for a $50K+ score. I think I flirted with the Day 1 overall chip lead at some points and ended up bagging a top 10 stack at the end of the day.

Unfortunately, I may have prophesized my own demise by warning my followers on Facebook that even though I was top 10 in chips, I still only had just over 21 big bets – or the equivalent of $170 in a $4/$8 limit game. I’ve dusted two racks in a few hours of limit poker many times, so while my stack size relative to the field was really good, it wasn’t all that massive compared to the limits we were going to be playing.

Sure enough, I ended up moving off a good starting table to be sat on David Williams’ immediate right. Long time readers of my blog may remember that David knocked me out of the Millionaire Maker on the very first hand of the very first $1500 tournament I ever played, so… I already had some crazy history with him. Naturally, we locked horns in a very memorable Stud Hi hand where I completed with the ace and queen of spades buried and the six of spades up and David raised me with a queen up and I called. I caught the 7 of diamonds on 4th and he caught a brick, so I check-called. On 5th street, I paired my 7 with a spade, giving me a four flush and an open pair. David caught another brick, so I decided to lead out and he ended up raising me. I thought that was a bit strange. If he just had a pair of queens, I wouldn’t expect him to raise very often here. I called again. We both caught bricky-looking cards on 6th street and I check-called again. It feels like he probably has two pair so when I caught the 7 of the clubs on 7th, giving me trips, I decided to lead out like I would if I had made a flush. Maybe he bet-folds with two pair, but I was concerned he was going to do a lot of checking back. To my utter shock and amazement, he ended up raising me! This man didn’t have a pair on his board and it was impossible for him to have a flush with his door card! I had a goddamn queen in the hole! My head exploded. But I paid it off and he showed me queens full of fives. He said he started rolled up. Unreal. That was a huge pot that derailed all my momentum and I never recovered from it, busting 20 spots out of the money.

After taking a couple days off from tournaments, it was at this point of the series that I decided I was just going to go for it this year. My backers were on board with whatever I wanted to play and I just shifted my focus to only playing WSOP events and pushing my financial comfort level. Aside from the Main Event, I’ve only played one tournament in my life that had an entry greater than $1500, but I hopped in the $3000 H.O.R.S.E. and made a pretty good run. I didn’t make a Facebook post about this tournament until I was in the money so I don’t have a thread of hand histories to report here, but this was a really fun tournament to play. The field was substantially tougher and smaller than the $1500 H.O.R.S.E. so I was playing with notable pros at my table pretty much the whole time.

I had a key hand on Day 1 against Michael Trivett, a Vegas-based pro that I’ve had a couple of run-ins with over the years where I’ve beat him in big pots and he proceeded to verbally berate me about it. It’s always made me think he’s kind of an asshat and here we were butting heads in a pot late in Day 1 of this $3K H.O.R.S.E. I can’t remember the exact dynamics of this hand, but we were playing Stud Hi and he opened with the 4 of diamonds up and I raised him with a buried pair that was smaller than his door card. I ended up catching an ace on 4th so I was able to take the betting lead and he raised me after catching the jack of diamonds on 5th street. I figured he probably had a four flush here so I wasn’t prepared to fold just yet – even though I only had a pair of deuces at this point. I ended up pairing my ace on 6th and leading out, he called. I didn’t see much point in betting unimproved on the river, so I checked it over to him and he checked back. I showed him aces and deuces and that was good for the pot. But he was not impressed at all and said, “wow, what a punt” and possibly some other not-so-nice things. I mean, it doesn’t hurt my feelings any, but it also doesn’t make me like the guy.

It’s funny. I kind of feel like Michael has become my tournament arch-enemy over the years. He’d left enough of a sour impression on me that I’ve always followed what he does and actively rooted against him. But he had really leveled up since the last time we played together. I could tell he’d hit the lab hard, put in the work, and has networked and made friends with plenty of elite players. He had a hell of a 2022 WSOP, finishing in the top 15 on five different occasions. He didn’t capture a bracelet, but he will soon and I was really impressed with how good he has gotten. But I wasn’t impressed with his inability to lose with grace, so, like, fuck that guy.

Plot twist. Fast forward to post-WSOP and I was pretty shocked when I got message from Michael apologizing for anything negative he’s ever said to me over the years. I accepted his apology and we started talking on a regular basis and quickly discovered that we actually have a ton of things in common and would probably be pretty good friends. Now, we talk daily about rap mostly, sometimes about movies, and definitely about poker (turns out he had jacks and fours on that Stud hand I beat him in) – and he’s even offered to let me stay with him any time I’m in Vegas. Crazy how life works sometimes.

Well, back to the $3K H.O.R.S.E… I had another solid Day 1 and bagged a nice chip stack, but once again, I didn’t do jack shit on Day 2. I just sat and watched Scott Bolman play like a maniac/wizard all day and never got any hands to play or found any good spots to chip up. I did win ONE pot. I made aces up versus Maria Ho and she literally stared daggers at me for the next orbit like she couldn’t believe this nitty little nobody had put a halt to her absolute steamrolling of the table. That one pot was enough to get me to the final three tables redraw and playing live with Daniel Negreanu for the first time in my career. I said hi to him and he said “cheers” and then I promptly busted on the first hand dealt when the cutoff opened in limit Hold’em and I 3-bet to get it in with A7 suited on the button and lost to whatever hand my opponent ended up showing. Yet another mega disappointing Day 2, but a pretty decent showing in one of the tougher mixed events of the schedule, finishing 24th for a $6500 score.

I was initially going to write my whole WSOP trip report in one post, but I’ve already been working on this for a few months and this is only half the series, so I’ll divide it into two parts. I’m actually flying to Houston today for the tournament series that former LAPC co-tournament director Justin Hammer put together so I might be blogging about that or at least posting updates on Facebook. I suddenly find myself with a lot of extra time on my hands, so I’ve been thinking about making the poker blog a priority again. I always enjoy sharing my adventures, but if I’m being honest, I find the process of typing them out to be a bit tedious sometimes. When I get back from Houston, I’ll finish my WSOP trip report with a second part and eventually post up my final 2021 numbers.

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Poker Update: June 2021 to September 2021

September 9, 2021

It’s been about three months since my last poker results post and something really notable has happened: I’ve completely transitioned from limit Hold’em to no limit Hold’em cash games. In my first update this year, about 39% of my live hours were in 1/3 NL games but over the past three months, almost 90% of my live cash game hours have been in no limit cash games. Technically, they are 3-300 or 5-300 spread games, but for simplicity I will always and forever refer to them as no limit games. To me, it’s only important to differentiate between the two types of limit when the spread is relatively small (i.e. 2-20) – especially when compared to the maximum buy in. Even when the effective stacks are $500, a 1/3 game will almost always play like a no limit game (except in preflop 4-bet situations).

Truth be told, I haven’t played a real limit Hold’em session in the last three months. My longest LHE session is less than 3.5 hours and I’m always playing at least 8 hours when I show up for work. I have played a couple of slightly longer 5/10 mix sessions in a home game, but overall, limit cash games have accounted for about 10% of my overall volume this past summer. It’s a stupid small sample, but I did run at 2.57 big bets per hour in these games.

I’ve played 275 hours of no limit cash games since my last blog post and as surreal as my results seemed at that time, they haven’t slowed down much over the last three months. I was at 24 big blinds per hour in 1/3 in my first three months this year and over the last three months I’ve played more than double the hours and my hourly has only dipped to 16.67 big blinds per hour over that span. I still feel like that’s really good but also much more realistic. Overall this year, I’m making $58/hour playing 1/3 NL and that is just utterly insane to me. I’m still convinced something in the $30-$40 range is an hourly I should be happy with at these stakes and I wouldn’t be surprised to regress to that mean as the games get more reg heavy and a lot of the weak players go broke, go back to limit Hold’em, or *GASP* get better at the game.

I have experienced some rather crazy winning streaks since switching to mostly big bet cash games. From June 13th to July 7th, I rattled off ten straight winning cash game days (I was in Vegas playing tournaments during that stretch also). After a single losing session, I put together another six session winning streak, giving me one losing day in a 17 session stretch. I’d be willing to bet I’ve never done that in my limit career. The sick thing about this win streak is that I started off down $300-$500 in more than half of those sessions.

After having what I was hoping was a breakthrough 3/5 session (+$1405) on July 28th, I followed that up by immediately erasing that progress with my second worst loss (-$1727) of the year on my birthday (July 30th). I didn’t take another stab at 3/5 for three weeks. In fact, I was so demoralized after rage quitting a poker session on my born day that when I got home I just sat in my car in the driveway for an hour and a half before going inside. This probably seems like an overreaction considering July was still my best month of the year, but a) it never feels good to have a huge losing session; b) my accumulated tilt at the 3/5 level is a real thing; c) how am I gonna book a massive loss on my birthday?! and d) any time I quit a session early because my emotions are so out of control that I can’t think straight I just feel like a massive failure. Granted, while it’s a good thing to have the discipline to eject myself from the casino when I have a malfunctioning mind, it’s also rather embarrassing and feels like something that should never happen to me at this stage of my career – especially at the stakes I normally.

Fortunately, I rebounded from that low point by going on a massive rush to start August. I booked seven straight winning days to start the month, including a mind-boggling streak of five consecutive wins of $1000 or more at the at the 1/3 level. As absurd as that is, it gets crazier. On August 6th, I won $1600 for my best 1/3 session of all-time. In my next session, I set a new record of +$2076. And in my next session? Another new record: +$2155. What. Prior to August 6th, I had played 84 sessions of 1/3 in my life and I’d never won $1600+ in any of them and then I did it in three straight. Crazy.

After the first two weeks of August, I was up almost $8.5k and thought I had a chance to challenge my best cash game performance in a single month, but I inexplicably played only six sessions over the final 18 days of the month and the results were pretty breakeven.

Volume has still been a bit of an issue for me. I have been playing softball on Monday nights in Bremerton, so a day that I usually spend entirely with my wife is being cut in half and, because of that, I haven’t been pushing to play poker on Saturdays or Sundays. This adjustment has resulted in me mostly playing only three days a week. I try to play 10+ hours most days though, so even though I’ve been taking four days off a week, I’m still able to get 75-80% of my desired hours in at the tables. I usually spend Thursdays studying while Dina is at work and then we have quality time together when she gets home, so when I include those study hours in my overall work hours, I can live with the somewhat lackluster volume I put in. I only have three games of softball left so when that’s over, we will have two and a half days for quality time life balance and I can go back to playing four days and 40+ hours a week, hopefully with little pushback.

After my three week hiatus from stabbing at 3/5, I have jumped back in the pool over the last few weeks, with 5 of my last 8 sessions spent mostly in 3/5 games. After going +$578, -$692, -$734, +$918 over the first four of those sessions, I finally had my coming out party at the 3/5 level with a monster +$3240 session. My volume at this level is still so small that a single massive win was enough to change me from a lifetime loser to a lifetime winner at 3/5 NL. Hopefully I will never be in the red in this game again. More importantly, with the majority of my sessions over the past few weeks coming at the 3/5 level, I miiiiiiight be establishing that as my regular game going forward. I did pass on 3/5 last time I played (and it was a juicy game) because I was already down multiple buy-ins at 1/3 and then I ended up almost setting a record 1/3 loss instead. My decisions will still be mostly lineup dependent and I’m not ashamed to drop down in limits if the 1/3 games look better.

Interestingly enough, even though I have been playing primarily no limit cash games this year, I still find myself gravitating towards mix game tournaments as I outline my schedule for the World Series of Poker next month. I just prefer playing mix games and I still do. If Palace had a regular red chip mix game, I wouldn’t even be playing no limit. The good news is, if I do decide to play some NL events (and I’m almost certainly playing the Main Event), my NL game is as good as it has ever been right now.

Some Year-To-Date numbers:
1/3 NL: 19.33 big blinds per hour
3/5 NL: 3.7 big blinds per hour
Limit Hold’em: 1.59 big bets per hour
Mixed Games: 1.57 big bets per hour

Here’s the first draft of my WSOP schedule outline:

WSOP Schedule Outline
Howard, the tomato face
Hammy super excited for hiking
First time seeing Edgar statue
So close to catching Seager’s homer
Grandma with grand dogs
Naches Loop Trail
Family Mariners game

h1

$3/$5 NL Live Chat Blog – In the Mind of Madness!

July 3, 2021

People are always asking me about when I’m going to write another poker blog and seem to miss the live blog versions in particular. I have no intentions of starting those up again, but I’m basically always chatting with a group of poker friends as I play my sessions and I thought it might be interesting to transcribe those conversations as they would basically function as a live blog for anyone that wants to read them.

Note: I cut out most of the nonsense and edited out anything that would probably be offensive to people we are talking about or in general really. It’s also worth noting that I have a penchant for massive exaggeration for the sake of being entertaining and/or funny (even in private conversation) so don’t take everything you read here at face value.

TDK: I guess I’m going to play 3/5 like a good little TAG.
Dano: Live blog. One time.
TDK: That’s what I need to help me when I’m out of my comfort zone – a nonstop distraction!
Dano: Just stop doom calling it off and you’ll be fine.
Zinky: Start a vlog already. We want to see the max pain on your face when you lose every time.

TDK: Thwomp puts me to the test for whole stack with marginal top pair first pot I play. QTcc on Q72d5d6.
Zinky: More details.
TDK: Open $20, he flats button; bet $15 he calls; bet $35 he makes it $100 I call; check-call $175 river.
Zinky: I’d fold, but I don’t know Thwomp.
TDK: Definitely capable of blasting off and raising diamonds on the turn. He’s repping sets only really. Maybe 76dd.
Zinky: Maybe check-call turn?
TDK: Honestly not too surprised by his line… when I bet small on flop I was prepared for spaz.
Zinky: lol what did he have?
TDK: He had my foot in his ass.
Zinky: You punted him?
TDK: He didn’t show. I saw an ace. It was red.
Zinky: Nice call.
TDK: But seriously. If I lost that hand I’d be so heated.
Zinky: I think with marginal queens it might be better to check turn.
TDK: Maybe not heated, but demoralized.
Zinky: Did you min buy?
TDK: $500
Zinky: Nice. Show Joker how it’s done.

TDK: Open $20 button K8cc both blinds call; KT4r check around; 6 turn ditone now checks to me $30 SB $85 call; river K check to me… ?
TDK: This is basically a live blog lol.
Zinky: 1/3 bet? Don’t see a king checking river here. He probably had like 64ss lol.
TDK: I bet $50 into $230 planning to snap call a raise.
Zinky: What happened?
TDK: He called with AK lolololol
Zinky: Yikes. Weird hand. He missed so much value. Holy smokes.
TDK: Did he though?
Zinky: Yes.
TDK: If he 3-bet like a normal person he just wins pre, but yeah.
Zinky: He could have bet 175 you call river
TDK: Not anymore.
Zinky: I mean.. if he 3-bets now it’s QQ+ lol. You must have had a stunned look on your face.
TDK: or bluffs? I mean if you’re not 3-betting a button open from an active player with AK wtf are you even doing?
Zinky: He’s a nit.
TDK: I was shocked. Never in my life did I think I was losing when he check-calls 20% pot. Now I’m even again. Goddammit. And now Thwomp is on my direct left.

TDK: Now I’m down $300. Thwomp sits on my left and immediately flops set on me.
TDK: But I took the check-call marginal top pair on turn line this time.
Zinky: That’s good. Save money.

TDK: Limp along Jx9d button. QTX all diamond flop. Thwomp bets $20, MP calls, I call. Kx on turn. $50 call call. Kx river and they both check to me???
Joker: Rip it. What could go wrong?
TDK: Be serious.
Joker: I mean… I was? Bet 175? Fold to 475?
Zinky: Half pot or 66%. Fold to raise.
Joker: So exactly what I said?
Zinky: No one has a flush
Joker: Seems very unlikely. Also we block it. A really good blocker for a limped pot too.
TDK: I bet 33% and both players check-call with flopped flushes lol.
Joker: lol amazing. You saved more money than Zinky and I did. Was your 9 live? That’s what matters.
TDK: Yeah.
Joker: That’s kind of why I hate limping along. I almost never do it. Raise or fold.

TDK: Here’s another cool hand.
TDK: MP opens $20, two calls, I call SB with 88. 822ss checks to button, he bets $25, I call, everyone else folds. Turn Ts, we both check. River 8, we both check. He shows KK. How do I run so bad?
Joker: Nice check-call. You definitely wouldn’t have won ALL the money on the flop.
TDK: Why would I raise? I want all the other ding dongs in and he just flatted pre.
Zinky: How do you not bet river?
TDK: I figure he has a 2 or nothing. Maybe a small pocket pair. I don’t think he’s checking a 2 on river. He might call a small bet with a small pair.
Joker: He’s checking a 2 on the turn?
TDK: Maybe?
Joker: Why would he want a 4th spade?
Joker and TDK simultaneously: I mean…
Joker: lol
TDK: The moral of the story is
Joker: You suck?
TDK: I run super bad
Joker: Oh.
TDK: I suck at hand reading
Joker: Yeah
TDK: And I’m terrible overall
Joker: lol getting warmer
Zinky: Mike’s mental game today is A+
TDK: I think I’m doing okay mentally. Just being honest. Like… I kinda suck. That’s why I stay in 1/3. Where everyone sucks way harder.
Joker: haha, it’s true
TDK: Bright side: I’m getting paid $499.
Joker: ayyy happy July
Zinky: Bonus!

TDK: and I lose $1k flip vs ***** (sorry, no nickname yet, but he needs one) before I even get paid. Hoping to tell some good beat stories tonight.
TDK: Imagine running decent at 3/5
Joker: Welcome to 3/5!
TDK: Make it 50 from BB with AK after like 30 limpers and he’s only caller. 542dd. Check, he bets $100, I jam $500. He tank-calls with 99 and holds.
Joker: obv
TDK: like the line at least?
Joker: well, in general yes, but you have to remember you have ZERO fold equity vs ***** and I get we don’t hate a call here so it’s a funny spot.
TDK: so you bet flop? Or just check-call? or check-fold lol?
Joker: Check-call. He might check back turn. I just check-call and jam if we get there because I know he won’t fold lol. Jam a king. I dunno lol.
TDK: Solid.
Joker: lol
TDK: my strat tonight
TDK: lose the max with the worst hand
TDK: win the min with the best hand
TDK: crushing it so far
TDK: I’m not sure if I’ve made a right decision since my first hand vs Thwomp.

TDK: Dude in s1 just said, “Man, I don’t know if I’m running bad or if I just suck at poker.”
TDK: I’m like, “wow, I’ve literally been sitting here for two hours wondering the same thing about myself.”
Joker: “well, for you it’s obvious.”
TDK: I burst out laughing when he said it. Because it’s 100% true. I really don’t know. I feel like I suck. But never having the best hand when chips go in the pot isn’t helping my confidence.
Joker: I hear that.
TDK: Every time I play this
TDK: dating back for years lol
Joker: Have you tried getting it in good?
TDK: Yeah.

TDK: Just resisted the urge to sqz ATo
TDK: DON’T FUCKING DO IT
Joker: Good choice lol. That was my final punt last night. Dude we were talking about straddles, I am SB with A5ss and make it 35, 3 calls and he makes it 235. I never do this but I make it 535. He jams with AK obv. ez hold. RIP Joker that’s how you finish -$2700. Seemed like a perfect spot. Maniac raising his own straddle. How could I be that far behind?
TDK. Lolz. I don’t know what a good spot looks like. Because I’m never right. ***** trying to tell everyone how much money i’ve taken off him. I’m like, “I’ve literally never won a single pot from you.”
Joker: Didn’t he just take 1k from you?
TDK: $500. 1k pot.
TDK: I’m serious though. I can only think of one time I’ve ever had the best hand at showdown vs him.

TDK: This is so brutal. I’m making the wrong play every single hand.
Joker: Bro. That’s variance still. Balance means being wrong sometimes.
TDK: TAG bets multiway as PRF on Q32r. I have 54 and check-call. It checks through on turn and river. He has 88.
Joker: I mean… maybe he doesn’t give up. You have to barrel turn and maybe he just heroes you off. Is that the right play?
TDK: He’s the biggest nit in the game. I don’t think he has it in him.
Joker: Getting to the river for one small flop bet isn’t the worst result. I suppose once the turn checks it’s probably pretty rare we shouldn’t be betting 5 high, but it depends on the runout I guess?
TDK: I turned a 5.
Joker: lol boooo.. i mean, free showdown isn’t bad there anyways so shrug
TDK: Sure. It’s prob cool to bomb river though. Like 1.5x.
Joker: Get there next time with an A so you can bet and have him fold
Joker: Bombing river is cool, I agree.

TDK: By God, we doubled through *****
TDK: For like $350 lololol
TDK: I had him dead on the flop and he turned ten outs. How does he miss?
Joker: That’s not what dead means?
TDK: Bro
TDK: AJ no heart vs K3hh on J64 all hearts
TDK: Stop your nonsense
Joker: You’re right. Turning a jack is impossible. Turning an A also impossible. Also turning a 4 or a 6. Totally impossible.
TDK: I see what’s happening here.
Joker: I’m on *****’s team?

TDK: We just flopped a set and doubled.
TDK: PRAISE THE FUCKIN POKER GODS
TDK: Dude flatted pre with AA and let me overcall with 44
Dano: He tried to tarp you bra
TDK: Now I’m deep and really don’t know what I’m doing
TDK: You thought I was playing bad before?
Dano: Kind of wish I was there right now. Good times seeing you out of your element. With your nlhe cash game ptsd prone to flair up at any moment.
TDK: It’s so real.
TDK (in reference to Joker saying “have you tried getting it in good?”: This worked surprisingly well.

TDK: Bros
TDK: We somehow won $504.
Joker: Congrats dude. You broke the curse. Here comes the 20k upswing.
Joker: Too bad you didn’t have more than 350 when ***** wanted to double you, but hey.
TDK: I’m always going to sit 500. Until I feel really good about what I’m doing. I had 1500 behind. Shrug.
Joker: Seems fine until you can handle the swings of 200bb buyins
TDK: lol 63 hours of 3/5 NL since 2014
TDK: We have bumped our liftime win rate up to -6 big blinds per hour
TDK: My lifetime NL live cash game win rate is 12 big blinds per hour over 300+ hours.
TDK: Maybe I don’t suck.