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2019 LA Poker Open: $400 Stud 8 or Better (Live Updates)

November 5, 2019

Stack updates here again for today’s action.

Some notes:

-Entries appear to be up compared to last year. Even with no re-entry, the O8 tourney saw about an 80% increase in number of entrants compared to 2018. Not sure what to make of that.

-I don’t see a Stud 8 tourney last year, but the Stud 8/Omaha 8 got 62 entrants.

-I broke the snide yesterday with a final table and my 0 for 16 streak at Commerce comes to an end.

-Even with my second final table appearance in a tournament here, Commerce is still my worst casino since 2014!

-I have only played three live Stud 8 tourneys and I am 0 for 3.

-Including Stud 8/Omaha 8 combo tourneys, I am 1 for 7 for a 84% ROI thanks to a near final table at the WSOP this year.

Tourney Notes: Same as yesterday… $400 buy in, no re-entry, 15k starting stacks, 30 minute levels, betting levels starting at 100/200, 8-handed tables, and 12.5% of the field gets paid.

First Break

Nothing exciting to report.

I missed a wheel draw and made two pair instead but it was obviously no good and I folded river in a big multi-way pot. Then I had a made 76 low with an ace high flush draw and a straight draw in a heads up pot but bricked river and got scooped by aces with a 75 low.

I won my first pot midway through level 3 when I missed my wheel draw but rivered an ace high flush and scooped in a heads up pot with bets going in on every street.

As such, I’m sitting on an unexciting 10.6k coming back to betting levels of 300/600.

Second Break

Not much time to update.

Lost a big 3-way pot where I had buried aces and couldn’t get a pair of 9s to fold on 3rd for two bets cold or 4th when it was capped and he ended up making two pair while I couldn’t improve.

Dipped down to 6k before making an ace high flush and six low to scoop a 3-way pot and then got half of a big pot with aces up right before the break.

I am currently peaking at 16.3k.

Third Break

First hand back, guy opens with an 8 up and I call with 65-4 with one 2 dead and everything else super live.

I catch a 3 on 4th and he gets a 6 and still leads into me. I raise and he calls.

I get a 9 and he gets an ace. I call.

I pair my 9 and he gets a king. I check-call.

I get a 10 and check-call but he has a pair of aces and scoops.

Down to 10.5k.

With betting limits at 800-1600, I open with QQ-Q, a 7 up raises, the bring in 3-bets with a 4 up, I call, and the 7 caps.

On 4th street I get four bets in with QQ-Q9 against 7s9c and 4x3x.

I get the rest of my stack in on 5th but the 795 has 86 under and already has a straight and I fail to improve.

We gone.

Off to the cash games.

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LA Poker Open: $400 Omaha 8 or Better (Live Updates)

November 4, 2019

I’ll make stack updates in this post.

Some notes so far:

-cards are almost in the air and there are currently 17 players registered

-there is no re-entry for any event in this series

-last year this same event had 55 total entrants

-I am 1 for 8 in tourneys at Commerce this year and my one cash was for a net loss because I was in two bullets

-I final tabled my first ever tourney at Commerce, finishing 4th of 188 for $5600 in a $350 O8 at the 2017 LAPC

-Since then, I am 0 for 16 (cashing for a profit)

-Commerce is my worst casino since July 2014

Tourney Notes: $400 Buy In, 15k starting stack, 8-handed tables, blinds starting at 50-100 and going up every 30 minutes, 12.5% of the field cash

First Break

Only one notable hand during this stretch as I’ve mostly been folding and bricking when I play. I open with AQT3 single suited in clubs at 100/200 blinds and four players call. I bet on T62hhc when they check to me, two players call in position, a super active player in the small blind check raises, and the big blind calls two bets cold.

Alrighty…

This would be an amazing board if I were heads up, but it’s hard to imagine I have a big equity edge in any direction with five players still in. I just call and so do the two other players.

The turn is a queen and the small blind still leads out, the big calls, and now I raise because top two and the nut low draw seems pretty good, and everyone still calls.

Yikes.

The river is a jack and the small blind bets out again.

Super yikes.

The big blind folds and the SB is playing every hand and has the least amount of credibility at the table, so I’m not folding to him, but I also don’t expect to be winning very often and I will definitely be folding if someone raises behind me. Fortunately, they both fold and he can only turn over tens and deuces and I scoop a big pot.

But I did a good job of whiffing every other pot and I am going to start level 5 (200/400 blinds) with 15.2k in chips.

We are now up to 71 entrants.

Second Break

Once again, I played almost no hands and folded my way down to about 9k before playing my only pot of note.

I open with A833 single suited and only the big blind calls. He check-calls a bet on T93dd and then check-raises me on Ax turn. I feel like I probably have the best hand here but there aren’t many river cards I’m in love with. I have no low draw and I’m vulnerable to straight and flush draws, plus any board pair (that doesn’t give me quads) could improve two pair hands I’m currently beating. Not to mention he can have a set. I just call.

The river is an offsuit jack and he checks to me. I feel like I could possibly be taking myself to Value Town here, but I fire a bet and he calls and can’t beat my set.

I have 16k after 8 levels, coming back to blinds of 500/1000.

A little momentum would be appreciated.

Registration is closed after this break and we are currently at 84 entrants and the board says 58 remain.

Third Break

Finally some momentum! I got my stack up over 40k and then this hand came up:

Someone raises and there are multiple callers. I call with AJ93 with hearts and six of us see a flop of 932 with two hearts. I have a sketchy two pair and the nut flush draw but with two low cards on board and no low draw myself, I’m playing defense with this hand. It still manages to go off for three bets five ways with one player all in.

The turn is a jack. Very nice! I decide to check and the loosest player at the table bets and everyone else calls. I definitely like my hand but there are going to be a lot of river cards I won’t like, so I just call, and it’s not like I can knock anyone out.

The river is a black ten. I check-call the super loose player when the other two guys fold and he shows me QJ98 for a rivered straight. The player that check-raised the flop and got all in has… Q877. Not sure wha that’s all about, but he’s getting half of the main pot and I’m getting none of any of it.

A short while later I open AA32 with one suit and the maniac calls on the button and both blinds defend.

The flop is AQJ and everyone check-calls me.

That makes me think my set is good plus I can stand a raise on the 7 turn so I fire anyway and they all just call again.

The river pairs the 7 and I get paid off by the big blind only and he shows two jacks.

Sitting on 62.5k coming back to blinds of 1500/2500. 30 players remain and 11 of us will cash. 11th is $790 and there is $8.6k up top for 1st place.

Fourth Break

Opened AAJ7 double suited hand before break and made a running flush on 966d5dJd vs the big blind’s A872.

Peaking at 91k with blinds now at 3000/5000.

17 players are left and average stack is 74k.

Fifth Break

The bubble was pretty excruciating. We played at least one full level with 12 players remaining.

I finally put the kibosh on that nonsense when I opened AK53 and barreled off on AJ324 and the big blind called me down, crippling himself and busting on the next hand.

Prize pool info:

I have 145k, so I am in decent shape.

Update

Folds to small blind and he raises. I defend with AKK7 suited king. I call a bet on 965 and then raise him when he bets 6 turn. I figure to be way ahead of his range and he’s been playing overly aggro. He calls. River pairs the 5 and he checks. I expect to be winning most of the time but I only have one big bet left, so I check back and he shows… T872.

Sigh.

That left me crippled but I doubled and managed to squeak my way to the final table with 2 bigs and then surprisingly tripled up with AKJ3 vs AAT8 and an unknown hand on a board of K92hh3hQ.

So I now have 7 bigs with the blinds going through me next hand.

Busted 6th for $1435

Had a couple of good chances to double. I got AQJ2 in against A642 and got the AQT flop but he backdoored a low for half.

My bust hand I had AAJJ and put my last bet in on T74. Hmmm opponent called with 9732 and rivered a 2 for two pair to bust me.

I guess I’ll take it? After that T872 debacle, I nursed a short stack from 11th all the way up to 6th and made an extra $600.

Not a bad start, but I want MORE.

$400 Stud 8 at 1 PM tomorrow.

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October 2019 New Music

November 1, 2019

I always hear people complaining about how bad music is nowadays and they couldn’t be more wrong. In fact, there is more quality music flooding the industry than ever before. It’s impossible to listen to it all, but… I try to. I give everything a chance and at the end of every month I’ll post everything I listened to and how much, what my favorite album was, what the other must have albums are, and what songs I added to my 2019 Bangers Playlist.

Stop complaining and take some guidance!

Because some albums come out later in the month and I don’t get much of a chance to listen to them before making my post, I’ve decided to make my new music posts containing all albums I’ve listened to over the last two months. New albums for the most recent month will be in bold.

Also, check out my 2019 Albums page to see where I have rated any albums I’ve formed a solid opinion on. Added this month: ratings for the new Skyzoo and Silas

October Notes: I only added six new albums from the past month (I’ll include the Halloween releases in my November post) and as you can see below, I gave very few of them strong rotation. I saw Logic, YBN Cordae and JiD in a concert last month and some dude named Silas opened the show and he was dope enough that I added his album to my rotation and enjoyed it quite a bit. Someone recommended Tuxedo and Emeli Sande to me, so I added those albums even though they dropped earlier in the year. I spent the last week of October watching the show Rhythm & Flow on Netflix, an American Idol style hip-hop contest, and D Smoke and Flawless Real Talk were my favorite contestants and they both have projects available on Apple Music that I added last month but haven’t had a chance to really listen to yet.

HEAVY ROTATION (heard whole album many times)

EARTHGANG – Mirrorland
Silas – 1998 (added in October, released in August)

SOLID ROTATION (heard whole album at least twice)

Danny Brown – uknowwhatimsayin?
Kanye West – JESUS IS KING
Skyzoo & Pete Rock – Retropolitan

COURTESY ROTATION (heard whole album)

G-Eazy – Scary Nights
Ras Kass – Soul on Ice 2
Summer Walker – Over It
Tobe Nwigwe – THREE ORIGINALS (added in October, released in March)
Wale – Wow… That’s Crazy

SKIM ROTATION (haven’t heard whole album)

Angel Olsen – All Mirrors
Emeli Sande – REAL LIFE (added in October, released in September)
Flawless Real Talk – 24Flaw7 (added in October, not sure when released)
Ghostface Killah – Ghostface Killahs
Kemba – Gilda
Kevin Gates – I’m Him
Post Malone – Hollywood’s Bleeding
Tuxedo – Tuxedo III (added in October, released in July)

Out of Rotation (removed from my current playlist)

TOO NEW (zero listens)

D Smoke – Inglewood High

ALBUM OF THE MONTH

Danny Brownuknowwhatimsayin? – This sort of wins by default. The only other new album that I listened to nearly as much was Kanye’s gospel album and I can’t even really say I liked that one. I’ve had difficulty listening to some of Danny Brown’s past work because his vocals and delivery can be… very odd and kind of grating… but on this album we get a mostly smooth and easy to understand performance. I haven’t listened to this album for at least two weeks so I find myself pretty unfamiliar with it still, but I did add “Savage Nomad” to my best tracks of 2019 playlist.

2019 Bangerz Playlist Additions

Danny Brown, “Savage Nomad”
Emeli Sande, “Free as a Bird”
Jamila Woods, “MUDDY”
Joell Ortiz ft. Big K.R.I.T., “Learn You”
Kemba, “Nobody I Can Trust”
Little Simz ft. Little Dragon, “Pressure”
Silas, “’98 Freestyle”
Silas, “Buddy (1998)”
Skyzoo & Pete Rock ft. Westside Gunn, Conway, BENNY THE BUTCHER, & Elzhi, “Eastern Conference All-Stars”

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October 2019 Poker Results

October 30, 2019

I only played two poker sessions during the week of the 14th through the 20th (so much for putting in huge volume this month) so I didn’t feel like it made a ton of sense to make a progress post last week.

Since things have been going pretty miserably for me, I’ve made more of an effort to focus on my mental game during my time off and find a system to help me keep things in a more logical perspective (i.e. noting my mistakes and how much variance is affecting my results) and hold myself emotionally accountable while making sure I take breaks at regular intervals to decompress.

I didn’t have too many interesting hands during my 15/30 session two Fridays ago, but it was notable because I peaked at +$1200 and it looked like I might actually book a good win but it wasn’t meant to be and I ended up finishing the day at -$369 somehow. The Buffet was in the game and on my immediate left, making life difficult for me. When you have a maniac right behind you playing every hand and you’re having a tough time connecting with the board, it can be really hard to navigate postflop. I found myself in a lot of heads up spots where I just had ace high against someone that is bluffing way too much. It feels pretty gross to just check-call down whenever I miss – especially since we are playing 25/50 Overs – so some of the time I would take aggressive lines and that didn’t work out well for me. For instance, I open AQ and we cap it preflop (which I usually never do out of position in heads up pots). I c-bet on K98 with two spades (none in my hand) and then bet-fold on a 5x turn only for him to show me A4 of spades. Fortunately, he did help bloat some pots that I did win, so it wasn’t all bad.

The biggest reason my session cratered is because of two sets I flopped from the big blind in raised pots.

The first hand was a multi-way raised pot that I defended from the big blind with 33. Master Splinter bet the flop, there was a call, and I check-raised on a board of T73 with two hearts. One of the original limpers cold-called my flop bet and I think four of us saw the turn. It was a 9 of hearts and that’s a pretty miserable card for me. I decided to lead into the field anyway and I was pretty happy when no one raised me. The river was a brick and since no one showed strength on the turn, I fired again and got called by the flop cold caller and Splinter. Before I turned my hand over, I said, “I’m not sure I can beat his hand” while referencing the flop cold caller and sure enough he had the 54 of hearts. That’s when Master Splinter showed a set of 7s and seemed to be criticizing me a little because he “knew” the other guy had a flush… like he was going to save a bet somehow if I checked at some point?

A short while later, I found myself defending the big blind in another raised pot, again with the 33. This time the flop was T73 with two clubs and a diamond and Taz decided to lead into the field after cold-calling from the small blind preflop. I deviated from my standard play in this spot and just called (a mistake) and I think only one player called behind me. The turn was a 6 and the three of us got four bets in. Taz is notorious for overplaying hands so I think 4-betting this turn makes sense and it seems like the other player probably has clubs. When the river is the jack of diamonds, bringing in a backdoor flush, and Taz still fires, I don’t see value in a raise, so I call and he ends up showing me the 98 for a straight.

Yeah, poker can be pretty hard when your sets don’t win.

Oh, we also played a 15/30 Mix session at Scarecrow Station the night before and I won $230 but it looks like I kept zero notes.

I went with Ducky to Red Dragon on Tuesday for some 20/40 Mix and started my session out with a pat T72A Badugi against three one card draws and everyone missed so I had about $250 of sugar for a potential coasting session.

A few hands later I opened from the cutoff with A444 and two diamonds in my hand and thoughts of using this as a bluffing candidate if nothing developed for me and I got 3-bet by the button. I drew a Q and a 7d so no improvement, but another relevant diamond blocker and check-called. I drew two again and caught an offsuit 7 and another small diamond so I went with my plan and check-raised and pat to snow after he called me. He drew one and then folded when I bet after the last draw. More sugar for coasting.

I had a weird Stud 8 hand where I had 88-4QAK against an opponent that started with a 9 up and looked like he had a modest two pair, at best. I called his bet on 6th street and he fired dark on 7th. I thought that was pretty strange since from his perspective I could still be drawing to a wheel, so when I made aces up on the river I figured to be scooping a lot of the time and it felt like an obvious raising spot. I’m not sure why, but my instincts were giving me pause and I ended up just calling and this guy showed me three tens. I wish I could look at the hand replayer for this one because I don’t recall a ten on his board, although he might have caught one on 6th street. I wish I could recall exactly because whether or not he smoked with it with a pair of tens or three tens makes a pretty big difference in how I should perceive this player. Unfortunately, this hand also ended my chances at coasting for the session.

During an A-5 Triple Draw round I managed to find losses with 6542A (#4) and 6532A (#3) in back-to-back hands and I have to admit that stung quite a bit.

Variance decided to make up for that little run of misfortune by giving me a dealt pat 6 in Badugi in a 5-way pot that was capped predraw and 3-bets 3-ways after the first draw and still good at showdown.

I went about two hours without really playing any hands before getting dealt 76532 (#3) in 2-7 Triple Draw and watching the action go raise, call, and 3-bets before the action got to me. I capped from the small blind and everybody called. Everyone else drew 1 or 2 cards and the button ended up raising me after drawing one. I 3-bet to charge the others or get them out and they folded but he capped it. We both stayed pat and I lead out again but when he still raised me on the big bet street, I could just immediately sense that I was beat and called down the rest of the way. I just feel that at this point I’ve told him that I have a really, really good hand at multiple points and he’s saying, “so what?” Does he play a smooth 8 this way? I’m not sure, but I’m guessing not. He probably plays #3 or #4 this way, but in the moment, I just knew I was beat by this point. I called down and, sure enough, he had a wheel. So I have now lost with #3 and #4 in A-5 and #3 in 2-7 and I have to admit I was pretty frustrated about it, but I also must note that these things don’t just happen in online mix games only! It’s possible to run horrible everywhere I play!

I can also steam everywhere! Double Board Omaha on the very next hand and I raise it up with AA87 with a suit and both blinds call. The flops are KJT and 543 and I bet when it checks to me (probably bad) and the small blind check-raises. The big blind cold calls and it says in my notes that I 3-bet hoping to get the pot heads up somehow (seems weird and optimistic) and the small blind did cap and the big blind did fold, so I guess it worked, but my logic here sucks as I don’t have a good hand on either board and people generally don’t fold after cold-calling two bets. I was probably dead on the KJT board and I had a gutshot and backdoor flush draw (and aces) on the 543 board. Fortunately, I drilled both turns and I raised his bet on boards of KJTA and 5436, so I had the nuts on the bottom and a big redraw on top. The river bricked though and I ended up chopping with AQ44. He flopped the nuts on top and a set on bottom and I somehow luckboxed my way to half of this pot and avoided getting scooped on the river.

I lost some funky Razz pots after that and had to settle for a -$551 day at the office.

Something else worth noting: when we left around 1:30 AM, Red Dragon had 9 games running. Meanwhile, Fortune had four games going and Palace had a single 4/8 table running. That’s pretty awesome for Red Dragon and depressing as hell for anyone that lives south of Renton… like I do. It seems like the good poker action in the Pacific Northwest is always gravitating further and further away from where we live.

On Thursday we put together a 15/30 Mix game at Billy Dubz’ Battlefield with some new faces, but those new faces didn’t seem interested in playing a long session as all three players new to me left before 10pm despite a 5pm game start. As such, we were all done playing by 11:30.

I only took a couple of notes for this entire session, but they are pretty interesting.

In a 2-7 NL Single Draw hand, with blinds of $10 and $15 (plus $15 dead from the button) and a $300 cap, it folds to Billy Dubz on the button and he opens for… $300. One of the blinds called him and the blind announced he was drawing one and Billy Dubz was obviously pa- uh… drawing two! They ran it once and Billy Dubz somehow managed to turn over a made 8 in what has to be the sickest NL 2-7 hand I’ve personally seen so far.

Another 2-7 NL Single Draw hand, one of the new guys opens for $60 and I cap it at $300 with K8652. He calls. He’s pat and I announce I’m drawing one and we agree to run it twice. He turns over a pat… ace? We’ve already played multiple hands of this game, so I’m perplexed at how this has happened, but here we are. As soon as we turn our hands up and everyone reacts to his holding, I can tell he genuinely forgot that aces are bad, so I’m preparing to give him $150 back if I happen to bink both draws. But what happens if I pair twice? Who knows. Perhaps I’m setting myself up to get freerolled with this mindset, but taking advantage of someone that doesn’t fully understand the rules of the game is not how I’m looking to make money… especially in a home game. Fortunately, I nail the first draw and don’t have to worry about it and then I pair on the second one and it’s a moot point anyway.

Last hand is a Big O hand played pot limit with the $10 and $15 blinds stripped to $5 and $5 with $15 dead in the middle and a $300 cap. I limp along with KQJT7 double suited and see a flop of AJ3 with two spades and a diamond. The first limper leads $30. I have the nut flush draw and an inside Broadway wrap, but the two low cards on board are not ideal. As such, I don’t think I want to bloat the pot here, but I do want to see a turn card for cheap if I can. I call and so does one other player. The turn is a king so I now have the nut straight, the nut flush draw, and two pair. The flop bettor leads for $105 and I cap it for $265 total. The third player clears out and the other guy calls. He has KQT32 for the same straight as me, as well as a worse flush draw and a worse two pair. He also has no low draw. The first board is a brick but the second board is a 3, one of the two outs he had to quarter me here. Because that’s just how I’ve been running lately.

I ended up finishing -$620 for that session, which is actually my biggest loss in our mixed home games since my first time we played with red chips all the way back in January 2018. So I guess I can’t complain about everything.

I was happy to see 15/30 on Friday start with Flea, FBI Guy, and Animal in the game as the starting lineups have been less than ideal lately. A reminder of my current cold stretch in this exact game: I’ve lost 8 of my last 10 sessions for just over $5k and I’ve been running at -1.9 BB/hr during this stretch. My biggest win is $622 and I’ve had three losses of at least $1379 since late July. It’s basically been pure misery for 2+ months now and I can feel the added pressure to break the snide with each passing week. There is a lot of accumulated emotion associated with the Palace 15/30 right now and I’ve taken steps to combat it, mostly in the form of breaks every 90 minutes to reflect on the session so far and recollect myself if necessary.

I’d start this session off with multiple mistakes. First, I opened with black queens and Fanboy was my only caller from the big blind. He check-called a bet on an A43 all club flop so when the turn was a king, I didn’t see much reason to continue betting. I don’t think he’s folding an ace and if he had the nut flush draw, he has me beat now. Also, the hands I’m beating don’t have much equity against me so my hand doesn’t really need any protecting and the last thing I want to do is put two big bets in on the turn. So I check back and he leads out when the river pairs the ace. Fanboy is a tight player and I can hardly remember a time when I saw him bet the river as a bluff and get called, so this is just a fold, but I called and he showed me the A5 and immediately I’m annoyed at myself for paying him off.

Next, there’s a raise and call in front of me and I call with the A6 of spades. I’m not really a fan of this call. I’d prefer to see more players involved before I call two bets cold with a hand like this. The pot does go off 5-ways and I end up having position, so that’s not too bad. The board comes AJ9 with one spade and I try to limit the field and possibly take a free card by raising the flop continuation bet, but it totally backfires and comes back to me capped and still 5-ways. I hate my hand so my plan is to fold on the turn unless it’s a spade or maybe an ace or six, depending on the action. Huey was the PFR, initial flop bettor and the capper and Ducky 3-bet the flop from the big blind. It’s pretty standard for Huey to cap the flop with hands that don’t warrant it and then take a free card on the turn, so when he checks on a blank turn, I’m able to check back as well. Unfortunately, this means that when Ducky bets on a blank river and everyone folds to me, I now only have to call $30 to get to showdown with top pair in this rather monstrous pot, so I pay it off knowing I’m never good and he shows a set of jacks.

I get to my first break and I’m already down $600 and super annoyed at the outcome of both of those hands. Not just with the runouts and the circumstances, but also with my decision-making. The second hand I should have just folded preflop and instead I lost $200+ with it.

My second round of action was a lot better. I played a 3-bet pot with 66 from the big blind and held on strong on a runout of 543ccT7 against 55 and what was probably an overpair. That pot got me close to even. Then I flopped flushes in back-to-back orbits in hands I raised from under the gun. Unfortunately, both times, I didn’t get a single call after the flop. Still, by the the time I went on my second break, I was back in the black.

Here’s a hand Ducky is probably wondering about, so I’ll include it. He opens under the gun + 1 and I think I’m the only caller with AK in the big blind. The flop is A55 and I check-raise him. The turn is a brick and he raises. I’m certain I have the best hand here and I’ve seen Ducky raise the turn and check back rivers enough that I don’t want to let that happen here, so I make it three bets and he tanks for a while and eventually folds.

Some people just want to make the blog. There is a limper or two and I raise the big blind with AK. The flop is T42 with one spade (uh, it’s relevant to say this) and I continuation bet. I check most of the time I whiff completely in multi-way pots, but there are certain board textures that are better to bet on than others and I think this spot qualifies. Joker is my only caller from the small blind. The turn is the queen of spades, a great card to continue barrelling, as it gives me more equity and improves a number of hands in my range. Joker calls again. The river is a 5 and I decided to give up and when he shows me the J5 of spades I immediately regret it. I think he check-raises most of his tens and it’s unlikely he has a queen (although if he can have J5 here, he can have anything really), but most of his straight draws have a 5 in them. It just doesn’t seem like I’m winning many showdowns if I check back and since I think his range is weak here I want to put pressure on all his weak pair hands as we have enough history that he knows I’m not triple barrel bluffing very often.

I ran AA into J9 on 873TK and AK into JT on K958Q (a hand that probably warrants more discussion) and my inability to find upward momentum in this game continues. I did manage to hold on for a +$77 finish so that’s something, but hardly the results I’m looking for.

On Saturday, I headed up to Red Dragon. I got locked out of the mix game on some bullshit and played PLO for a bit. I ran my $300 stack up to $600+ before getting moved to the main game in a must move situation and I strongly considered just cashing out and watching the World Series. The main table looked a lot tougher and all the stacks were quite deep. I just wasn’t feeling it. But of course I sat down. Then I made it $20 with AAT2 with spades and got give callers. Action was on me on a flop of K93 with two spades and Dewey was next to act behind me and bet the pot out of turn. It folded back to me and I decided to go with it and made it $420 and we got my whole stack in. He says he only runs it once and he had top set, but I turned a flush and then the board paired on the river and I got stacked. I had three black chips in my pocket, but I didn’t go there to play PLO so I just got up and watched the World Series game until my Mix seat came open.

I was in a pretty foul mood by the time I got in the mix game. Because of shenanigans with the group chat and wait list, I had to wait almost three hours to get into the game when I should have started it. Not only did they not tell me the game was starting when I let them know I was right down the street, but they also bumped two ahead of me after I got there because of, well, whatever bullshit they told me. Anyways, I didn’t keep any notes for the session, but I can tell you that after about 2.5 hours of little of note, I went on a tear right before we were planning to leave. I think I was up about $300 and after seven hands of 2-7 Triple Draw and seven hands of Stud 8, I cashed out +$1140 for a much needed overall day of +$840.

The reason I played a short session at Red Dragon is because my buddy and I were staying the night in Marysville to play the last (ever?) Sunday tournament at Tulalip before they close their poker room forever on November 1st. The $345 no limit Hold’em tourney started at 11 AM with 12k starting stacks and blinds of 25/50. I did a good job of chipping up during the first level and had about 16k when these two hands came up:

Three players limped in and I called on the button with 76o. Six of us saw a flop of Q65 and a player that I have already pegged as a horrible spewer leads out for 200 and it folds to me. I called and so did the big blind. The turn was a 7 and I was happy and then the spewer jammed his remaining 5700 into a pot of 1200 and I wasn’t nearly as thrilled about the situation. This guy has made it clear that he wants to punt and I’d hate to not oblige him by folding here, but that’s a substantial bet and I’ve seen enough to know that he can have hands like Q7 or Q5 suited here. But still, that’s an insane bet with a good hand, but you never really know how scared people are of being drawn out on. I don’t love it, but I don’t see how I can fold here against this particular player. I make the call… and then the small blind jams for around 12k and I immediately fold because I never have that hand beat. He turns up the 98 for a straight and the punter had 64 so my read was accurate there, but suddenly I am down to 10k in chips.

Very active player raises to 325 from the cutoff and I make it 1150 to go with AA from one of the blinds. He calls. Flop is K63 rainbow. I bet 800 and he calls. The turn is a 9 and he calls 2000. Pot size is now somewhere around 8000 and I have around 6000 left and my opponent looks like he has a king that he’s never folding, so I shove it in and he snap calls and turns over 66 before I can even table my hand… and I’m out.

SWEET. Glad I came all the way out to Tulalip to play for an hour. They had about 60 names on the alternate list so I wasn’t about to re-enter and made my way over to the outlet stores and my buddy showed me mercy by busting out around 3 PM and I was able to make it home before first pitch of Game 5 of the World Series.

I was going to wrap this post up here, but then I realized that I’m not going to play anymore poker for the rest of the month so I might as well make this my October wrap up post.

Well, after that tourney bust out, I was looking at a pathetic month of +$22 with four days to go. I clutched up a bit on Monday by heading into Palace to put in a final 8/16 session and managed to have a +$624 day and likely lock myself up a profitable month.

Tuesday and Wednesday my priorities were centered around making sure I hit the gym and making sure I was somewhere I could watch Games 6 and 7 of the World Series.

Speaking of the World Series, I’m set to make decent money on that too. I have a side bet league that I do annually with some friends and at the end of the season we draft playoff teams to pick a World Series winner and I found myself with the #1 pick and took the Houston Astros. I also have a lifetime World Series bet with two of my friends (we drafted ten teams each) and I only managed to get one team into the postseason and it was, again, the Houston Astros. These two bets are worth $900 if the Astros win the Series.

But wait! All year long I thought the Washington Nationals were way better than their performance so when they finally looked like they might sneak into the postseason, I bet them to win the World Series at 32-1 in early August. I only bet $30 on that, so if they pull this off that bet is going to pay $960.

Pretty cool that my two best teams managed to face off in the World Series and I let that Nats bet ride all postseason without hedging it. As it stood yesterday, I would net $870 if the Astros won and $660 if the Nationals won… but I didn’t want the fucking Astros to win. Not really. I was looking at series prices every day and when I saw that Scherzer was good to pitch a potential Game 7 and the series price didn’t change, I fired another $50 on the Nats at +500. I just thought they were going to get it done. Now I make $910 on a Nats win and $820 on an Astros win and I can root for the team I’d rather see ship it. And since I include all forms of gambling when I reference my totals for the month, I’ll be able to include that in my final tally for October as well and it looks like I’m going to finish the month somewhere around +$1550 (the Nats are three outs away from winning Game 7 right now). Sigh. I guess I’ll take it. It’s another lackluster month, but I woke up on the 26th having a losing October, so I guess I’m happy with yet another clutch finish to yet another difficult month. I guess that’s the 2019 theme for me.

On Deck in November:

*L.A. Poker Open: $400 Omaha 8, $400 Stud 8, $400 HORSE next week at Commerce

And that’s about it. See you then.

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Movie Reviews: Hustlers, The Addams Family, Aladdin, and more

October 22, 2019

Hustlers (2019) – I don’t get it. This movie is at 88% on Rotten Tomatoes and has a 79 score on MetaCritic, with one critic even calling it “era-defining”, but I could barely stomach the whole film. It’s not an atrocious movie, but the characters are so hollow and the story so boring, I thought about leaving at multiple points to do something else with my day. Yes… a movie starring Jennifer Lopez as a stripper is somehow nearly unwatchable.
4/10 (Forgettable)

The Addams Family (2019) – Sometimes I go to the movies just to go and this would be one of those times. I’m not necessarily a fan of the old show or the movies from the ’90s, but I appreciate the dark humor and horror themes of the franchise. This movie was mostly forgettable, with Wednesday played by Chloe Grace Moretz providing almost all the highlights. It’s a decent first installment, but I can see eventual sequels being a lot better.
5/10 (Decent)

Aladdin (2019) – I suppose it works. The 1992 original is a top 3 traditionally animated Disney movie for me and I think this remake works largely as a function of the source material being so good. However, much like every other Disney live action remake so far save The Jungle Book it lacks the magic that made the original so special. Yes, the songs are all here and they are still great – even with some slight changes – but they just don’t feel the same. Asking Will Smith to live up to the vocal performance of Robin Williams as The Genie is an impossible task, but he actually does a fine job and certainly isn’t a negative in the movie. Something that absolutely doesn’t work for me in this movie is the casting of Jafar. It’s astonishing that a big budget company like Disney and a capable director like Guy Ritchie could actually think this version of Jafar is even remotely acceptable.
5/10 (Decent)

Ready or Not (2019) – This is a lot of fun, with a star-making performance from Samara Weaving. I wish they didn’t spoil some of the best scenes in the trailer, but I still found the movie plenty enjoyable. Weaving is hilarious and this movie is certainly worth checking out.
6/10 (Recommended)

The Peanut Butter Falcon (2019) – One of the surprise films of the year and arguably Shia LaBeouf’s best performance of his career, The Peanut Butter Falcon is a heartwarming story of a man with Down syndrome that runs away from his nursing home to pursue a professional wrestling career and finds himself making some unlikely friendships along the way.
7/10 (Highly Enjoyable)

Booksmart (2019) – I was expecting more… like one of the better movies of the year more. Instead, I found the far less mature Good Boys to be the more enjoyable Superbadesque raunchy coming-of-age comedy this year. This is still worth watching though and I think Beanie Feldstein has a bright future.
6/10 (Recommended)

The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part (2019) – A fine, somewhat worthy sequel, but everything about the first one was waaaaay better.
5/10 (Decent)

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October 2019 Week 2: Poker is Hard… Really, Really Hard.

October 16, 2019

Spoiler alert in the post title. This has not been a good week. Maybe it’s a bit dramatic to say that it has been devastating, but I’m reaching a point in my year where I’ve realized I’ve had to fight tooth and nail for all my profit in 2019. Maybe I’ve been spoiled in the past. Maybe I’ve run way above expectation historically. I don’t know. But what I do know is that I’ve never struggled like this before. Not for this long. Not this consistently. It seems like every single month I’m digging myself a hole and spending the last week or two trying to get out of it. My overall results aren’t horrendous, but they have been quite middling. If I keep up the same pace for the rest of the year, my final result will be about half as good as any of my year end results for any of the past three years. I’m sure fluctuations in this business are super normal (especially when you don’t bink a tournament), but that’s still a pretty steep drop.

Well, let’s get to the sessions.

I showed up early to Palace on Wednesday to watch MLB playoffs and started my day off with an 8/16 Hold’em session. I folded to my big blind and got a free flop with the 63o for a potential Coast session. It looked really promising when the board fell Q637K and I bet all the way and just got called down by one of the limpers… but after I showed my hand he turned over the Q3 suited for a better two pair. The other people that saw the hand started razzing him about why he just called me all the way and he just said, “I’m scared of him.”

That guy obviously doesn’t read my blog.

It looked like I was going to have a pretty sizable loss for a short session, but I raised a bunch of limpers from the small blind with AQdd, got a free card on a flop of T9x with one diamond, check-called a jack turn and then got two callers when I drilled the king on the end.

That pot somewhat salvaged things and I moved to PLO only stuck -$108 for the day.

I’ve been having a lot of mixed feelings about PLO lately. I thought I was running above expectation the first two years of the game and it seems pretty clear now that I definitely was… plus the game has seen a dramatic shift. The complexion of the game is a lot worse than it used to be. It’s the same people in the starting lineup every week and instead of a bunch of loose players that have no idea what they are doing punting stacks left and right, it is mostly experienced regulars sitting down. I mean… how often is a situation going to come up where I’m going to stack a Lee Markholt?

Especially if I’m playing bad?

I call $15 on the button in a multiway pot with AK42 double suited. The flop is A84 with two clubs, giving me two pair and the nut flush draw. The PFR (who raised from UTG) leads out for a full pot-sized bet of $90, Part-Time (yeah, I’m going back to that… Mr. Freeze is a dumb name for him) calls, and action is to me. The PFR has like $400 behind to start the flop action and I have a little over $500 myself. I raised the pot, she jammed all in, and Part-Time got out of the way. We agreed to run it twice and her set of aces held up on both boards. I was pretty mad at myself for getting it in here, but I think that’s a bit results oriented because the turn card on the first board paired the 8 and I felt like I would have had to fold at that point and could have saved my stack. But I think an 8 is the only card that would make me want to fold, so the money is probably almost always going in on the turn.

I call $15 with AQQ3 single suited from the big blind and decide to lead out on the 532 two club board when I flop the nut flush draw. Part-Time is my only caller from the small blind. I bet $135 when the turn bricks off with a 9 and he calls again. And because I hate money and my game is super sharp in this session, I bet $200 on the jack river and he reluctantly calls me with his set of deuces. Boom. Another $400 punted.

Part-Time raises under the gun to $15 without looking at his hand and I’m next to act with TT22 double suited. Since the table is short-handed at this point, I decide to 3-bet it and hope to get it heads up. Mission accomplished. Part-Time calls $50 and we see a flop of Q87 with two spades. This gives me a ten high flush draw and four outs to a set – not much of a hand to speak of. I have some key blockers to the best straight draws though, so that’s something to keep in mind. I decide to check back and take a free turn card. It’s an offsuit 9 and when Part-Time makes it $80, I decide to use my blockers to represent the nuts and make a pot-sized raise to $305. It works out well, as he responds by stuffing it in my face. Now there’s over $900 in the pot and I only have about $200 behind and my flush draw is probably live. I’m getting 4.6 to 1 on a call here, so I need around 18% equity to call and a flush draw with one card to go is right around that number, so calling off seems pretty neutral… but it feels like a massive punt. Another massive punt. I make the call and Part-Time only wants to run it once. I bink a ten on the river, which gives me a brief glimpse of hope, but my set gives him a straight with the KJ in his hand and he had a set of queens before that anyway.

I took a break after basically felting for the third time in the session and I really had to wonder what was going on. It’s not like I was playing any hands. I was super card dead, but I still managed to punt off three buy-ins with three different flush draws. I decided to go play some Ultimate Hold’em in the pit because my boy Mexi Nugget was dealing at that table and the Nationals and Dodgers were tied in the 9th inning of Game 5 of the NLDS and Mexi Nugget is a die hard Dodgers fan and I had my Nats hat on because I bet them to win the World Series when they were 32-1. I don’t ever play in the pit unless I’m using a Match Play, but this was a social play so we could watch the end of the game together and I managed to win a little money while laughing at his misfortune as the Nats took a four run lead and eventually advanced to the NLCS.

I decided to sit back down in PLO after that and put myself at risk of having an all-time worst session. It seems like this should have happened already, but somehow a -$2300 I posted all the way back in June of 2016 is still the most money I’ve ever lost in a single play. That probably has more to do with my pain threshold than anything else though. It seems like when I’m down around $1500 or so in a live game, I start to unravel emotionally and find myself wanting to disappear instead of accepting the challenge before me and grind my way out of it. That’s something to work on, for sure.

Anyways, I sat back down and the game was really short-handed – five of us, I think. I made a little bit of a comeback, but only one hand during this span really sticks out in my mind. I decided to open with the 6532 single suited and Scarecrow was my only caller. Scarecrow was running insanely good in this session; I think he ended up winning over $5000, which is totally absurd. Anyways, he defends his blind here and then donks $35 on a Q42 rainbow flop. This board smacked me obviously, but it really shouldn’t be that good for my range, so I decide to just call. The turn is an offsuit 3, giving me the nuts, and Scarecrow bets $100. Again, I decide to just call because I want him to keep betting on the river and the hands he can have that can stand a raise aren’t numerous. I would be surprised if he called a pot-sized raise with two pair. Naturally, the river pairs the queen and when he bets $215, I make the call because I fucking hate money and he shows me the Q4 full house.

Unreal. The game broke shortly after that and I booked a cool -$1256 in the PLO streets and felt like I played some of my worst possible poker.

Here are my PLO win rates at Palace the last three years:
2017: $103.74/hr
2018: $85.98/hr
2019: $7.86/hr

Uhm yeah. I’ve reached a point where I’m wondering if I should even be targeting that game anymore. In addition to running quite salty this year, I’ve come to find myself feeling really bored when I play PLO. The pace of the game can be brutally slow and sometimes you go weeks in between hands where you find yourself in an amazing spot to stack someone. I’ve played entire sessions where I felt like I maybe shouldn’t have played even a single hand. Or maybe I just need to study and practice more. I didn’t put my name up for this week’s game and I think I’m going to take at least a few weeks off from PLO to get my mind right.

My plan on Thursday was to play the $400 NL event in the Muckleshoot Classic series, but then the Tampa Bay Rays went and shocked the world by forcing a Game 5 with the Houston Astros and I wasn’t about to miss that. MLB Playoffs > No Limit Hold’em tournaments. I feel like if I’m playing an NL tourney, I should be focusing on the action at the table as much as I can and I knew I wouldn’t be doing that during the baseball game, so skipping the tourney and playing 8/16 at Palace seemed like the right call. I could enjoy the game and give it my full attention while possibly auto-piloting my way to some income.

Alas, I was extremely card dead and managed to lose the few pots I did play and sometime around the 8th inning, my wife messaged me saying how much she missed me, so I went home after the Astros knocked off the Rays and booked a -$343 in less than three hours of play.

Friday night’s 15/30 session started with a lineup of Taz, FanBoy, Animal, Radio Mike, Mighty Mouse, Scrappy Doo and a new name I’m adding to the nickname section: Dreamcrusher. Head on over to Blog Nicknames to read the write up I did for this player today.

This session started off innocently enough. I made it to my first break with $20 of sugar after around 90 minutes of play. The most interesting spot during this stretch was finding myself with red aces on QJTccTc in a heads up pot versus the small blind. It feels super gross to bet the turn and fold here when I can check back and show down for the same price, but a) I don’t think my opponent in this hand will fold a queen or a jack in this spot and b) I don’t think he is capable of turning whatever he has into a bluff. Even check-raising a hand like AcQ is a pretty ambitious play on this board texture against an under the gun raiser. As such, I’m confident I can bet the turn and river for value and fold if he raises me with little concern that I’m laying down the best hand, so that’s what I did when he check-raised the turn. I’m not folding aces in heads up limit Hold’em pots… like ever… but this felt like an early moment of clarity for me and I still feel good about the fold.

Two hours later, I’d be taking my second break of the session and it’s safe to say things had unraveled. I was now stuck just over $1000. I mean… what in the FUCK? This 15/30 game is unbeatable for me all the sudden? Every Friday it’s the same shit.

There were a couple of brutal ones during this stretch.

In one pot, I had AJo in a 3-bet multiway pot and the flop was A53 rainbow. Scrappy Doo called 3-bets from the big blind and then donked into two raisers on the flop, but I felt compelled to raise because I don’t want anyone else to call for a single bet. That cleared the field out but then Scrappy 3-bet it and I called down without improving even though this is a line I never expect to be winning against. The 5 did pair on the river, so there was at least some chance I sucked out on A3. But I paid it off and Scrappy Doo turns over the 42 offsuit. In a 3-bet pot. I’m pretty sure that’s not a hand he’s defending with 100% of the time, but I’m sure glad he decided to gamble with it here.

In another hand, Dreamcrusher raises under the gun, I 3-bet TT next to act, and Taz calls 3 cold in the next spot. The three of us see a flop of 642 rainbow and I lead and 3-bet when Taz raises me. All three of us are still in for the turn. Perhaps I should be concerned when a 3 falls on 4th street after Dreamcrusher calls two bets cold on the flop, but I was very sure I had the best hand on the flop, and I didn’t think the turn should help her under the gun opening range (at a full table)… but I know Dreamcrusher is capable of playing almost any two cards from any position in almost any situation… so whether or not the turn should help an under the gun opening range is pretty fucking irrelevant here. In the moment, I bet the turn like a dummy and then paid her off after she check-raised and bet the river. She showed me the 75 offsuit.

I made it to one more break. I suppose I was already crumbling under the weight of another poor session on top of weeks of run bad in this particular game, but I was about to snap. I probably played another hour or two and during that span I ran super hot preflop and ultra bad after the flop. I lost with QQ to AK when my opponent called down and rivered a pair with no other draw in sight. I had JJ vs KQ on a QT973 run out in a massive pot. I had AK on a KT8cc79c runout and didn’t even bother calling a river bet. I had QTcc vs J9 on JT9cKQ in a massive pot I ended up having to chop. I had QQ again against a single big blind defender and got a disconnected king high board and of course he had K2 offsuit. And then I had TT vs 77 on K7447 in one of my final hands of the night. That last one was against FanBoy and I’m pretty sure he’s cognizant of the fact that I’m tilted out of my mind and making sharp folds is no longer on my agenda, but I decided to give him three streets of value anyway. That last one upset me so much that I decided to call it a night. Not because I lost another hand, but because I was clearly making very bad decisions and my emotions were out of control.

I ended up finishing -$1875 and I only played 6.5 hours. That ranks as my third worse session I’ve ever had in the 15/30 game at Palace and my performance in this game in 2019 has become alarming. Again, let’s take a look at my 15/30 win rates the last three years at Palace:
2017: $31.19/hr
2018: $58.05/hr
2019: $9.12/hr

Yes. This year has been depressing.

Even though I left the game early and my plan was always to play the Main Event of the Muckleshoot Classic on Saturday, I went home Friday night on the fence about it. I was really stewing and a good part of me knew that it would be a dumb idea to try to play a major tournament the next day. I decided to sleep on it and set my alarm for 8 AM to see how I felt in the morning. Well, my alarm went off at 8 and I gave getting up zero thought before turning it off and going back to sleep. I woke up a few hours later and didn’t even bother to look up how long late registration was open. I just took the day off and that means I missed an entire Muckleshoot Classic for the first time in 5.5 years. That means I’m going to have to grind my way to my annual standards of income the old fashioned way.

I played in the 10/20 Omaha 8 game at Palace on Sunday. After getting huge lists for the Sunday O8 game the first two weeks, this past week saw a massive dip in attendance. I can hardly blame the customers. The first two weeks we had a full game and a list that was 10+ deep all day of people that specifically came to play in the 10/20 game. However, both weeks the staff didn’t start a second red chip game because they didn’t want to break the 4/8 O8 game. Well, there’s a 4/8 O8 game every other day of the week… I don’t see why that needs to be a priority on the day they are trying to spread a bigger game and attract a different player pool. What happens when you lock out a full table worth of people that want to play 10/20 and force them to play 4/8? Not once, but two weeks in a row? They stop coming in. So there wasn’t much of a list to speak of in week 3 and the game started to fizzle around 7:30pm and was completely dead by 8pm (after going past midnight the first two weeks) and honestly, it makes me wonder about the future strength of the game. The players have already been conditioned to think that if they don’t have a seat to start the game, they might as well not even show up. Good job, Palace.

I got off to a terrible start in O8, reaching a low point of -$700 or so, but I rallied back before the game crumbled and ended up booking a $356 profit.

And then I was somewhat surprised when The Leak decided she wanted to play 8/16 and we ended up playing for another 6+ hours. I had some miserable moments in this session, taking the $611 I brought to the table and nearly turning it into $0. In fact, there was a hand where I would have been all in if I had bet the turn and river, but I checked back second pair and ended up winning the pot. I don’t ever get all in in a limit game, so that would have been a first. Like… the players at Palace have never seen in happen… in 5+ years. I just didn’t feel like reloading because I didn’t even really feel like playing. Fortunately, I rebounded and ended up booking a rather small loss, thanks to this pot:

The hijack opens, Radio Mike 3-bets from the cutoff and I cap with AK of spades on the button and it’s just the three of us. The flop is AJ9 with two spades and it checks to me. I bet, the HJ calls, and Mike check-raises. I think Radio Mike is overly passive after the flop, so AK is not in great shape against his check-raising range on this board texture, but since I have the nut flush draw as well and there’s a third player in the pot, I go ahead and 3-bet it anyway. They both call. I’m planning to check back a blank turn, but it’s a king and I feel like that gives me the best hand most of the time, so I bet and they both call again. The river is another ace and I’m a little surprised to see Radio Mike lead out. It’s a bit of a weird play. I actually thought he might have AJ on the flop or maybe a set, but the sets seemed highly unlikely when he just calls on the turn. Anyways, I have the nuts here, so I raise and he asks, “do you have quads,” and I respond, “you know I don’t have quads” (because it seems like he has to have AJ or A9 here). But then it is clear that he doesn’t have an ace and he asks if I have AK and I say, “yes,” but that doesn’t stop him from putting in the call and I’m somewhat shocked to see that he had pocket jacks.

That hand somewhat salvaged my session and I finished 8/16 -$78.

All in all, it was a -$3360 week of live poker for me – a devastating blow after finally getting off to a good start and, once again, I find myself stuck in the middle of a month. So what’s that, nine months in a row I’ve been stuck at the midway point? I’ve only had two losing months this year, so the final results aren’t terrible, but it’s not much fun fighting an uphill battle. Every. Single. Month. On the bright side, I had a rare very good week in online mix games to somewhat soften the blow.

On another bright side, this month marks three years since I last clocked in for a day job. That seems like an accomplishment worth celebrating. When I look at my bankroll when I quit working and compare it to now, it doesn’t feel like I’ve made much progress, but then I remember that we’ve bought two houses, I paid off my student loans, started an IRA, and cleared all our unnecessary debt and that seems pretty damn cool. That’s something to keep in mind during what has certainly been a down year for me. Poker has been good to us and I’ve made considerably more money playing poker than I ever did working a day job.

Stay the course.

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September/August 2019 Music

October 11, 2019

I always hear people complaining about how bad music is nowadays and they couldn’t be more wrong. In fact, there is more quality music flooding the industry than ever before. It’s impossible to listen to it all, but… I try to. I give everything a chance and at the end of every month I’ll post everything I listened to and how much, what my favorite album was, what the other must have albums are, and what songs I added to my 2019 Bangers Playlist.

Stop complaining and take some guidance!

Because some albums come out later in the month and I don’t get much of a chance to listen to them before making my post, I’ve decided to make my new music posts containing all albums I’ve listened to over the last two months. New albums for the most recent month will be in bold.

Also, check out my 2019 Albums page to see where I have rated any albums I’ve formed a solid opinion on.

September Note: I didn’t get to listen to much music this past month and nothing new really got much attention (and not a lot of interesting new music came out anyway) and none of last month’s albums got extra spins either. As such, there isn’t much movement in my rotations below.

HEAVY ROTATION (heard whole album many times)

EARTHGANG – Mirrorland
Little Brother – May the Lord Watch
Rapsody – Eve
SiR – Chasing Summer

SOLID ROTATION (heard whole album at least twice)

Rick Ross – Port of Miami 2

COURTESY ROTATION (heard whole album)

38 Spesh – A Bullet for Every Heathen
Black Milk – DiVE
BROCKHAMPTON – GINGER
Jidenna – 85 to Africa
Joell Ortiz – Monday
Missy Elliott – ICONOLOGY EP
Ras Kass – Soul on Ice 2
Snoop Dogg – I Wanna Thank Me

SKIM ROTATION (haven’t heard whole album)

Alchemist – Yacht Rock 2
Bon Iver – i,i
Bun B – Bun B Day – EP
Common – Let Love
Dame D.O.L.L.A. – Big D.O.L.L.A.
Ghostface Killah – Ghostface Killahs
Justine Skye – BARE WITH ME – EP
KXNG Crooked – The Weeklys, Vol. 3
Post Malone – Hollywood’s Bleeding
Raphael Saadiq – Jimmy Lee
Snoh Aalegra – Ugh, those feels again

Out of Rotation (removed from my current playlist)

A$AP Ferg – Floor Seats
Curren$y – Hot August Nights
Obie Trice – The Fifth
Slum Village – The Source
Taylor Swift – Lover
Tool – Fear Inoculum
Young Thug – So Much Fun

TOO NEW (zero listens)

Kemba – Gilda
Kevin Gates – I’m Him
Skyzoo & Pete Rock – Retropolitan

ALBUM OF THE MONTH

EARTHGANGMirrorland – This is really the only new album I gave more than a courtesy listen to in the past month, but it’s a good one. EARTHGANG is part of J.Cole’s Dreamville imprint, a hip-hop label that now rivals Kendrick Lamar’s T.D.E. as the best collective in rap music. I can see old school listeners wanting to dismiss EARTHGANG and loop them in with the influx of trap crap that is invading the airwaves these days, but that would be a huge mistake. I’ve seen more than a few people compare EARTHGANG to Outkast and while the comparison has some merit – mostly because both groups hail from Atlanta and the influence is obvious – comparing anyone to Andre 3000 probably isn’t fair. No one in EARTHGANG strikes me as an elite rapper. With that said, you don’t need to be an elite rapper to make really good music and EARTHGANG has a vibe to them that makes their entire album sound cohesive and highly enjoyable, maybe even addictive. As you can see below, I’ve already added five songs from their 14-track album to my Best of 2019 playlist and I don’t think they have a weak song on it. I’ve probably listened to Mirrorland 5-6 times through already and I feel pretty confident saying its firmly in my top 10 albums of 2019 already. J.Cole and co. stay winning.

2019 Bangerz Playlist Additions

Common ft. Daniel Caesar, “HER Love”
Dave, “Black”
EARTHGANG. “Top Down”
EARTHGANG ft. Young Thug, “Proud of U”
EARTHGANG, “This Side”
EARTHGANG, “Avenue”
EARTHGANG ft. Malik, “Fields”
Joell Ortiz, “Captain”
Raphael Saadiq, “Kings Fall”
Scarlet Parke, “What We’ve Become”