Archive for the ‘poker’ Category

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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

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$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.

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Post-Pandemic Poker

June 21, 2021

I mean… that’s where we are now, right? I started playing again back in late March two weeks after I got my second Pfizer shot and now it’s almost July and things are basically back to normal. They certainly were in Vegas this month. Poker was 9-handed, barricades were gone, and maybe 10-15% of the players were wearing masks. Hell, the whole city was flooded with tourists and maybe 10-15% of all people were wearing masks. Palace made masks optional in mid-June and I hear the plexiglass is coming down on July 1st (it’s June 20th as I’m writing this). Perhaps that means we will be going back to 9-handed poker locally as well. I’d much rather play 7-handed myself, especially since the rake is the same, but it is what it is.

I’ve been back playing for 3 months or so now and haven’t really made any blog posts so I guess I’ll start with my two Vegas trips last month.

I made the trips because they had some mix game tourneys going on but my first live tournament since early February 2020 was a $600 no limit Hold’em at Venetian. I did a good job chipping up early on in this event but my stack was dwindling late and I eventually got back to some old bad habits and started playing absurdly tight the closer we got to the money. I guess I really didn’t want to bubble my first live tourney in 16 months and I put myself in an absolutely laughable position. I basically folded my way to a 2.5 big blind stack three spots off the money. Somehow I cashed it but I busted shortly after the bubble burst. It was nice to book a cash in my first tourney back but it was borderline embarrassing and I gave myself no chance to actually win this event.

$600 NL starting stack

I max late regged a $150 O8 tourney at the Orleans and ended up final tabling it, but I was the first player gone and it ended up being another mincash. I played five other tourneys but never got any momentum going in anything and ended up with two small cashes in seven tourneys which ultimately resulted in a net loss of about four average buy ins.

I played about 32 hours of cash and my overall results were pretty mediocre (but slightly profitable) thanks to an absolutely disastrous 20/40 mix session that saw me dump $1500 in just over two hours, which ranks as one of my all-time worst (maybe even #1) limit sessions in terms of big bets spewed per hour.

20/40 Mix @ Wynn

All in all, not a great couple of trips to Vegas, but I enjoyed myself. I didn’t miss the plexiglass and I didn’t miss having a mask on my face 100% of the time. We went to Hawaii in the last week of June and had to take Covid tests to fly there. I was nervous about it, even though I’m vaxxed. If the vaccines aren’t super effective, Vegas is a great place to pick up the virus. I tested negative and that makes me feel like the vaccine is doing its job. I’m fine living life like it’s business as usual at this point – although I think overall sanitization awareness and excessive hand washing will be normalized going forward and that’s obviously a good thing.

I have about three months of live cash game stats since I’ve been back to playing. All my non-Vegas hours have been at Palace. I haven’t made a return to Fortune yet. Palace is much closer and my win rate in the 1/3 NL games at Palace is still far greater than I could expect to do in a 20/40 game. I don’t think this level of success is sustainable, but I don’t really see much point in driving 40+ minutes to play somewhere else until it actually starts to level out. Plus, all my studying lately has been focused on NL games. Still, it’s important to keep that limit Hold’em muscle strong, so I’ll venture out to Renton soon enough. Rumor has it the 20/40 players there think I would get killed in that game, so I have extra interest in smacking them around a little bit. (Note: my lifetime win rate in the 20/40 at Fortune is 0.83 big bets per hour over a smallish but not insignificant sample size).

I’m averaging just over 30 hours of live play a week. My volume could definitely be higher. I don’t always get to the casino as early as I want to. I have a tendency to drag ass in the morning and take way too much time getting through my routine. Ideally, I want to be in the gym by 11 AM on my playing days and sometimes I don’t even start lifting until 1:30 PM. I should be in a game by 2 PM if I want to put in a ten hour session, but it usually ends up being closer to 4 PM most days.

I’ve played 306 live cash game hours so far in 2021 and 118 of them (38.6%) have been in 1/3 NL games, which is by far the most of any single level of any variant I’ve played. As anyone that has followed my blogs knows, this is a transition for me. I’ve always played in limit cash games. I’m surprised by the early results. I’m running at +24 big blinds per hour so far. I’m sure that’s unsustainable and my sample size is still really small, but damn, even if that win rate were to get cut in half over time, it is still a clear step up from grinding 8/16 and would rival a good 20/40 hourly. I have had a couple of miserable 3/5 NL sessions and that has caused me to mostly avoid the bigger game when it goes. I’m still getting my feet wet so why play with the few competent players in the building when the money is so easy to get at the 1/3 level? If you add in my 3/5 sessions, my overall NL cash game win rate drops to a much more reasonable, but still very sexy +16 big blinds per hour. I’m definitely happy with the outcome so far and I’ll be looking to dip my toes in the 3/5 waters again soon after spending a good amount of time studying NL cash game strategies on the beaches of Oahu.

I’ve played 128 hours across three different levels of limit Hold’em and my 1.37 Big Bets per hour is pretty in line with my career win rates. I’ve played 35 hours in live mixed games and I’ve somehow run at 1.48 Big Bets per hour despite that total blast off in the 20/40 mix at Wynn.

20/40 limit Hold’em

Overall, it has been great to be back playing and my results so far have been really good. My top goal for July is to increase my volume. I’ve kind of struggled to fall into a routine or schedule that works for both myself and my family, but I think I’m on the verge of figuring it out. Ideally, I’d like to play 40 hours over four sessions in a week with another 5+ hours set aside for studying. That would give me two days completely off from poker and another half day (after Dina gets off work) to focus on family time. Speaking of studying, I also want to be more willing to invest in my poker education. I’ve always been eager to pony up for books, but I’m yet to fully embrace the perks of studying online and with expensive software. I’m mostly going to spend July focusing on implementing all the new NL cash game concepts I’ve been learning, but I’d also like to pop into Fortune at least once for a 20/40 session. I’d also like to travel somewhere I’ve never been, either this month or next month, for a poker series, but I haven’t talked to my wife about it yet or settled on a destination. I’m currently considering Choctaw in Oklahoma, Seminole Hard Rock in Hollywood, Florida, or bestbet in Jacksonville, Florida. Stay tuned!

Meanwhile, here are some pics from Hawaii!

Luau in Waikiki
happy wife, happy life
what a beauty
View from parents’ hotel room
I’m sure she’ll be pleased I posted this
View from a house in the valley of Honolulu
Look at dad’s final table hat tho
Iggy destroying Jokers just like Uncle
Coming for you fools
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The Dark Knight Returns: a 2021 Poker Blog!

March 31, 2021

My poker blog was kind of on its way out anyways, but the Covid pandemic officially killed it. I was still playing regularly during the first two weeks of March, but the day that the NBA decided to suspend their season indefinitely is the same day that I decided it was time for me to take this thing seriously as well. I quit my session early and I didn’t go back again until late August. I did make a two day trip to La Center in southern Washington in late January where I had a couple of dream sessions and booked a +$9k trip and that was pretty much the extent of my poker success in 2020. Even when I was back to playing in the fall, we were in a tent, I was wearing gloves 100% of the time, and it just never felt like I was really back. I couldn’t get into it. When Covid started spreading around the local casinos in late October, I decided that I wasn’t going to play again until I got vaccinated.

I have to say this whole thing could have been a lot worse for my poker career. Just because I can’t work anymore doesn’t mean that I don’t have to pay bills and when you can’t pad your bankroll, well, it can only disappear. I was probably two months into the pandemic before it dawned on me that I should look into filing for unemployment. As a professional poker player, it just didn’t occur to me that that could be a thing for me. On the other hand, I pay my taxes and these were unusual circumstances. I was surprised how easy it was for me to get paid after hearing so many horror stories of people having trouble and how impossible it was to talk to anybody about it. Within a week, they paid me, and not just for that week, but all the weeks dating back to the middle of March. I stopped filing when I started playing again, but after deciding it wasn’t worth the risk, I got a doctor’s note (because I’m a Type I Diabetic) and started collecting unemployment again. Needless to say, there’s no way I would have been able to continue playing for a living if I wasn’t able to file for unemployment so that was an extremely pleasant surprise. I’d like to say it wasn’t as good as playing would have been, but uh, not like I was really crushing in 2019 or last year when I did play.

There is a bright side to this whole thing for me. I got way better at studying poker. I started using solvers, looking at GTO charts, and going over hand histories with accomplished online players. It’s not like I could do much of anything else. Also, I’ve been so reluctant to make the transition from limit games to spread and no limit games, but almost all of my studying during the past year has been focused on no limit strategies so there’s no excuse for me to hold off on it any longer. I will be playing plenty of no limit cash going forward and my tournament schedules will include a lot more no limit Hold’em events. I’ve always felt like I’ve been able to mostly hold my own in NLHE, but I think I’ve leveled up big time and I’m excited to see what kind of results I can produce.

It’s good timing because since I’ve been away, Palace has started spreading no limit cash games. On any given day, there are probably two 1/3 NL games going and I’ve even seen 3/5 games going a few times on the weekend. This was not a thing a year ago and that only contributed to me not really feeling like I needed to focus on strengthening that muscle. I’m still not entirely sure that I can make a better hourly playing 1/3 than 8/16 limit, but I do know that my skill edge comes into play more and I can utilize exploits way more effectively. I won’t go as far as to say that limit Hold’em is Bingo, but you’re usually going to have to show down the best hand and my biggest edges in those games are patience and not tilting because I’ve lost a couple pots. If I can make ten big blinds per hour in 1/3 though, I should definitely be playing that over 8/16. I don’t know if that’s a reasonable win rate, but it seems like it could be doable.

I started my first day back in 4/8 limit and finished a small loser in about an hour before heading to a 1/3 game around 6 PM. I was pretty disappointed with the game when I sat down in it. Everyone was playing pretty tight and passive and the average pot was really small. I was definitely thinking I’d be better off in 8/16. But there was only one game and the list was super long and the floor didn’t seem keen on starting a second one. So I stuck it out.

In my first couple hour or so, I was startled by the passivity in my game. Here’s a list of things that shocked me:

-My first big pot I straddled the button with 73o, some players called and we saw a J43 flop. It checked to me and I decided to bet on the larger side and got one caller from middle position. The turn gave me two pair and he check-called another chunky bet. The river was a king and I was thinking I was going to put him all-in, but he donked into for about half his stack and I just didn’t see any value in raising so I called and he showed me… JJ? Imagine seeing a $6 button straddle, followed by both blinds calling, looking down at JJ and being like, “I guess I’ll just call.”

-A different player ended up showing AQo in a pot I straddled on the button with no other preflop raising.

-A different player open-limped the cutoff and called my button raise and ended up showing… QQ.

-The same player that had AQ earlier called my MP open to $10 with AQ again, despite only having $40 behind.

-A different player flatted my MP open of $10 with less than $100 and ended up showing AK.

All of those hands are insane to me. It reminds me of when I used to prop 3/6 games where no one raises anything preflop. It’s just weird. It can be really easy to value town yourself when people are playing huge hands so passively.

Fortunately the game got really good as the night progressed. By midnight I saw someone opening to $30 and probably not even looking at his hand. I saw that same player open huge and then call off a $200 shove with 43o.

Which brings me to an interesting hand. I already know this guy is a certifiable maniac. Not a maniac with any rhyme or reason, but a total punter. So he opens to $20 and it folds to me in the big blind and I defend with 66. The flop is T32 rainbow. I check to him and he bets $50 into $33. I actually hate all of my options. This is a dude that I am not entirely sure wouldn’t punt-shove it all in here with KJ and it’s not like I want to get $280 in on the flop, so raising seems extremely high variance. Calling seems like a good play, but I don’t expect this dude to slow down and I think he’s usually going to be triple barrel all-in on the river, so if I call flop, I think I have to know I’m calling down for stacks and I can’t imagine many runouts where I’d talk myself into a fold vs. this player. So fold now? Seems absurd, but I just think I can find a better spot to stack this guy. The only issue is that he might punt to someone else first. I decided to wait and find a better spot and, sure enough, he blasted off $500 to me over the next 30 minutes.

I had some good connections that probably never should have happened. The guy that had a set of jacks against my 73 earlier straddled to $9 on his button and I made it $32 from the big blind with my own pair of jacks. He was my only caller and we saw a J83 flop. I down bet $15 and he called. The turn paired the 8 and I down bet again to $30. I figured he might attack that sizing if he had a draw or air, but he wasn’t going to fold anything good and he was going to raise trips anyway. He did make it $90 and I just called. The river was a blank and I check-jammed on him and got called by 87o, a hand that should have clearly folded pre.

Later, there were a couple limpers and the cutoff made it $13 and I had KQo on the button. I’d 3-bet here a lot of the time, but I hadn’t seen this guy do much raising, so I just took a flop in position and four of us saw a JT3 flop. One of the blinds led out for $10, a limper called, and the PFR made it $30. I’m not going anywhere against this action so I call and so do the other two players. The turn is a blank and the PFR bets $60 when it checks to him. Another simple just call and one other calls. The river is an ace and the PFR bets almost half his stack. As soon as I start thinking, he tells me how much he has behind like he can’t wait to put the rest of it in. So I oblige him. The other player folds and he says, “aces are good, ” before calling and flipping over his set of jacks. KQ wasn’t even on his radar and when he saw it, he pretty much blew a gasket. “How could you call with that? I guess I should have just gone all-in preflop.” I confirmed I would have folded if he did that. His reaction to my hand is hilarious and makes me really excited to be playing no limit with the local player pool.

I started off my night kind of rough. I was $800 within the first couple hours, but by the end of the night I had $2000 in front of me and ended up booking a $1200 win on my first day back.

I’ve now played three 1/3 sessions at Palace (I played twice in the fall) and I’ve won over $1000 all three times. Obviously, that’s not a realistic expectation going forward, but it’s certainly a nice start in my transition to big bet games.

I haven’t really ironed out my poker goals for 2021, but my current schedule has me playing about 34 hours a week and I’ll probably be playing mostly 1/3 with some 8/16 and 20/40 sprinkled in.

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A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge (1985)

August 18, 2020

Director: Jack Sholder (The Hidden, Alone in the Dark, Supernova)

Starring: Mark Patton, Kim Myers, Robert Englund, Robert Rusler

Anticipation Level: Low

How Was It?

This review may contain spoilers.

It’s kind of odd that Scream, Queen! inspired me to start re-watching the Nightmare series, but didn’t make me particularly want to revisit the movie the documentary is about. That’s because I’ve always hated it and have long thought of it as my least favorite in the franchise. I guess that makes sense. I fell in love with these movies when I was a kid and not only does Freddy’s Revenge feel completely out of place in the context of the whole series, but it’s not surprising that the wise-cracking pop culture icon of the later installments is what appealed to me as a child. This Freddy is still pretty dark and scary (I mean, he claws his way out of Jessie’s body) and what is now largely recognized as a running homsexual subtext weirded me out when I was younger. I just have never enjoyed this movie and it’s probably the film in the series I’ve seen the least.

Having watched it again though… it’s not terrible. Like… it’s certainly better than Nightmare 4. Freddy is still pretty dark and menacing in this installment. His first scene has him mostly in the shadows as he drags his glove blades along the seats of the bus walking towards Jessie. Later, he pulls back his scalp to show Jessie his brain. Plus, when he does talk, Englund’s voice and cadence is still scary sounding. He’s not a cartoon character in this movie.

But this movie is pretty damn silly in a lot of parts. I’m sure I don’t need to mention Jessie’s dancing scene as he’s putting things away in his room. The scene with the bird? I have no clue what that was. Is Freddy a dream demon or can he possess things in the house when everyone’s awake? Or how about when Jessie goes to the gay bar in the middle of the night and runs into his gym teacher? That’s strange enough, but then the teacher makes him run laps at the school and take a shower afterwards? This whole thing feels like it should be a dream sequence, but it doesn’t seem to be.

Imagine being the police and finding a high school kid wandering around a highway butt naked in the middle of the night and then discovering his gym teacher dead at the school the next day. I’m not saying that kid is obviously the killer, but you MIGHT want to have a chat with him.

This movie has some good visual effects. The scene when Jessie is at Grady’s house and Freddy steps out of Jessie’s body is pretty spectacular. It’s gnarly and I love when you can see Freddy’s eye looking around at the back of Jessie’s throat. This movie is pretty light on death scenes though because when Grady dies, we are about an hour into the movie and he’s only the second death. I also like the melting effects in Freddy’s death scene.

On the other hand, the Freddy makeup looks atrocious in some of the shots in this movie. It looks fine overall, but there’s a couple of takes where it’s obvious they got really lazy with it.

The pool scene used to be the saving grace of this movie for me, but it’s not as cool as I remember it. I thought he slashed up a whole party full of teenagers, but there’s only a few deaths directly caused by Freddy. I’ve always envisioned a lot more carnage in my head. There’s a great shot of Freddy with the fire blazing behind him as he stands tall with his arms up in the air and says, “you are all my children now.”

This movie has another shitty ending. Freddy is basically defeated by “I love you”s and a kiss. That’s about as lame as turning your back on him to end a movie, but at least we get the cool melting visual effects here. I mean… is Jessie even into this chick? I’m not sure how this even works. The big controversy of this movie is all the homosexual subtext and the writer of the movie is now on record as admitting that he wrote that all in there on purpose… so what is this? Jessie’s character appears to be at war with his sexuality, so it’s just strange that a woman saying “I love you” is what gets rid of the Freddy demon inside him.

My only comment on the acting is that it’s mostly fine. Mark Patton (who is gay himself) is on record saying that his performance was based on how the script was written, so it’s pretty sad that the backlash from this movie drove him out of Hollywood and out of America. He was just doing his job and the writer painted him as a scapegoat for all the criticism. Nothing cool about that.

Overall, this movie is better than I remembered. Definitely not the worst in the series. It’s also not a good movie. As of now, I think this is probably better than Nightmares 4, 5, and 6, but at least those movies were bad and didn’t take themselves seriously. Freddy’s Revenge is definitely still trying to be scary and serious, so the fact that it’s not good is less forgivable.

Replay Value: Historically, this movie has had the least replay value in the series for me, but I think that is subject to change. Still, it’s not a Nightmare movie I’m excited to watch.

Sequel Potential: Evil never dies.

Oscar Potential: None.

4/10 (Lackluster)

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J. Cole – Friday Night Lights (2010) – A Classic?

June 30, 2020

I’ve decided to scrap the idea of making a single post the review albums for an entire month. I finally finished my February reviews last week and I just sit on these things for too long. Going forward, I’m going to post one album review at a time. Each month, I’ll post a review for two older albums, representing two different time periods: modern and old school. I consider the old school time period to roughly stretch from the early 1980s to the mid 1990s. There is so much old school rap that I’m unfamiliar with that I really want to focus on listening to some of the more iconic albums and artists I have overlooked. Those are the projects I’ll be highlighting for the foreseeable future. So I’ll be going into those reviews with basically zero exposure to those albums. I consider the modern hip-hop period to stretch from the mid-1990s all the way up until now. I will mostly be highlighting albums that I really enjoyed during this time period and could post reviews from albums that dropped as recently as last year or as early as the late 90s. The rest of my reviews will be focused on 2020 albums, alternating between very recent drops and the ones I’m still trying to catch up on. I think my review system is locked in enough that I feel comfortable posting reviews after listening to an album 2-3 times.

MODERN ALBUM OF THE MONTH: J. COLE – FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS (2010, RAP)

1. “Friday Night Lights (Intro)” – N/A
2. “Too Deep For the Intro” – 3.5
3. “Before I’m Gone” – 4
4. “Back to the Topic (Freestyle)” – 3.5
5. “You Got It” ft. Wale – 3.5
6. “Villematic” – 4
7. “Enchanted” ft. Omen – 3.5
8. “Blow Up” – 4.5
9. “Higher” – 4
10. “In the Morning” ft. Drake – 4
11. “2Face” – 3.5
12. “The Autograph” – 4
13. “Best Friend” – 3
14. “Cost Me A Lot” – 3.5
15. “Premeditated Murder” – 4
16. “Home For the Holidays” – 3.5
17. “Love Me Not” – 3
18. “See World” – 4
19. “Farewell” – 4
20. “Looking For Trouble” ft. Kanye West, Big Sean, Pusha T, & CyHi the Prince – 3.5

Spin Rate: 4.89
Most Played Track: “Blow Up” (9x)
Average Song Rating: 3.89/5
3.5+ Percentage: 89.5%
Cuts: 0
Bangers: 9

Thoughts: This mixtape is largely considered a classic among modern hip-hop heads and I can’t really disagree. I thought almost every song on this album was good and it has the most bangers of any project I’ve reviewed so far. I believe this is Cole’s third mixtape and dropped before his debut major label album to hold the fans over. Mixtapes are hard to get your hands on, so good luck finding it somewhere other than YouTube. This is the only Cole tape I’ve listened to and I’m unfamiliar with his debut album, so I’m still trying to get up to speed on Cole’s earliest stuff as I assess his overall placement in the all-time lists. He’s certainly earned a spot in my top 5 rap artists of the past decade at this point and this tape only cements his legendary status among current hip-hop artists. Cole’s delivery sounds incredibly hungry and the production on this project is extremely strong. A massive win and an album that people still giddily mention today.

Verdict: 8/10 (Must Listen)