Posts Tagged ‘2021 poker’

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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.