Posts Tagged ‘gambling’


2023 WSOP Schedule

May 5, 2023
Team Torch is READY

We are officially less than a month away from the next World Series of Poker. This is going to be by far the most important WSOP of my poker career. I’m planning on playing my biggest schedule ever and there is really no reason for me not to be in Vegas for seven weeks straight. My girlfriend is moving to New York City for 3-4 months this summer for her own work and she’s taking Kirby with her. I’ll have no one to telling me to come home and no one and no dogs at home I’m excited to get back to. No excuses. I’m really excited, but I’m going to spend this next month making sure I’m mentally prepared for what’s ahead.

That’s a daunting schedule I have down there. The thought of whiffing everything is pretty scary, but I’m here for it. Unlike in previous years, I will be trying to play a lot more no limit hold’em tournaments. I love playing mix game tourneys, but I’ve put in FAR more work on my NL hold’em game over the past few years than anything else and it’s no surprise that four of my top five all-time cashes are NL hold’em as it’s by far the most popular variant of poker and thus creates the biggest fields and prize pools. So why I’ve mostly been avoiding those events at the WSOP the past half decade is a mystery to everyone, including myself. I guess I’m just more comfortable playing limit games, but if Covid did anything positive for me, it certainly forced me to start focusing on NL hold’em and I feel like I have exponentially improved at it since 2020.

I will also be playing very few non-WSOP events. I want to give myself the best chance to win a bracelet so I’m thinking at least 80% of my volume will be in bracelet events. I only I have a handful of tourneys that aren’t at WSOP down there and almost all of them are bigger mix events. Maybe it will work out that I end up playing a bigger off site NL tourney, but what I really want to avoid is committing myself to multiple day events that aren’t WSOP.

It would be an absolute disaster if I played every event on this schedule below. I should be making deep runs in some events and missing others, but this is just every event I’m legitimately interested in while I’m down there. Events in purple are my must plays on those days if I’m not advancing in something else already. I’ll also noted some BIs in yellow highlighter because they are my biggest events of the series and I’m selling more action than normal for those particular ones. I’m sold out of the majority of my WSOP package but I may sell more of the bigger BIs if I am doing poorly. I will reach out to people I’m pretty sure want action if that ends up being the case.

Hopefully it’s a huge summer! Leggo.


2022 Poker Results

January 3, 2023

Crazy. I was looking for my 2021 results post for reference and I couldn’t find it. Did I never post one? Sheesh. Just my 2021 WSOP results? I’ll be damned. I could spend some time talking about how 2022 was a transition year for me, but ya’ll already know that by now. Let’s just get into the numbers.

Live Cash Games

I played 1101.5 hours of live cash in 2022. My primary game was 3/5 no limit Hold’em, with roughly 55% of my live hours coming in that exact game. I played 15.6% of my hours in 1/3 NL games and 9.5% in 20/40 limit Hold’em. No other specific game accounted for even 4% of my live cash hours. Pre-pandemic – and for as long as I’ve been playing poker pretty much – I probably played 95% of my live hours in limit Hold’em games. In 2022, limit Hold’em accounted for 15% of my total cash game hours and no limit Hold’em took up 74% of my volume. It has been quite the shift. I’ve enjoyed the transition – especially financially – but I actually want to play more limit Hold’em in 2023.

Win Rates

3/5 NL: 16 big blinds per hour (7.52 bb/hr in 2021)
1/3 NL: -5.33 big blinds per hour (18.7 bb/hr in 2021)
20/40 LHE: 2.97 big bets per hour (1.45 BB/hr in 2021)

All no limit Hold’em: 9.86 big blinds per hour (14.81 bb/hr in 2021)
All limit Hold’em: 2.89 big bets per hour (1.3 BB/hr in 2021)
Non-Hold’em cash games: -$21.21 per hour** ($11.19/hr in 2021)

**Mixed games made up only 10% of my live cash hours and I’m not sure how to best express how well or bad I did. Overall, I lost money – and a decent amount. Some of the games had no limit or pot limit mixed in, so expressing my win rate in big bets isn’t super accurate. Basically, my year in live mix games can be summed up like this: I did well in home games; I did well in the 10/20 HORSE game when Little Creek was running that; I did poorly the few times I played 10/20 O8 at Palace; I got crushed over two sessions in a 30/60 mix game in Houston.

Top 5 Sessions

+$5808 at Fortune in 20/40 LHE
+$4390 at Bellagio in 40/80 LHE
+$2921 at Palace in 3/5 NL
+$2870 at Palace in 3/5 NL
+$2742 at Palace in 3/5 NL

Bottom 5 Sessions

-$3900 at private game in 5/10 NL
-$3329 at Palace in 3/5 NL
-$2675 at private game in 5/10 NL
-$2400 at Prime Social in 30/60 Mix
-$2324 at Palace in 3/5 NL
-$2215 at private game in 5/10 NL
-$2084 at Palace in 3/5 NL


-That 20/40 session at Fortune was not only my best session of the year, but it was also my second best cash game session of all-time.
-My pain threshold found new levels this year. I’d never lost more than $2300 in a single session before 2022 and then I went it did it five times just last year.
-I included more than 5 sessions for my bottom because three of those results were in private cash games that I’m staked in. While they technically count when looking at my overall performance, they don’t affect my bottom line nearly as much as sessions where I have 100% of myself.
-Ignoring the private game results, the -$2400 in the 30/60 Mix was a record worst loss for me at the time – and then I demolished that mark with the -$3329 in 3/5 @ Palace. Good times!

Live Tournaments

I played 330+ hours across 47 entries in live tournaments in 2022. I managed a mere 7 cashes for a paltry 14% rate of finishing in the money. I made trips to Houston, Vegas, Lincoln City, Sacramento, and Pendleton – and I only had one winning trip the whole year. But it was a big one. I took 1st of 388 entrants in the Lincoln City Main Event for around $52,000 – a career high tournament score. Thanks to that win I finished the year with over $66k in cashes versus $46k in entry fees and a 44% ROI for 2022. After never having a losing year of tournament poker in my life, I booked losses for 2019, 2020, and 2021, but managed to snap that cold streak this year. Sort of. Without my big win, I would have had BY FAR my worst year of tournament poker ever. Tournament poker is funny that way – one score can change EVERYTHING. Also, even though I ended up regretting it, not playing the $10K Main Event helped my end of year numbers, as bricking a tournament that is over 10x my average buy-in has a huge effect on my final numbers and is largely why I had a losing 2019 and 2021 in poker tournaments.

Top 5 Cashes

$50,174 1st of 388 at Chinook Winds in $600+$200 NLH Main Event
$4440 19th of 471 at WSOP in $1500 Stud 8 or Better
$3900 28th of 522 at WSOP in $1500 Limit Hold’em
$3700 8th of 269 at Wynn in $600 Omaha 8 or Better
$1525 30th of 407 at Wynn in $600 PLO Turbo

Career Numbers (since summer of 2013)

ROI: 55%
ROI (excluding WSOP Main Event): 83%
ROI at WSOP: 57%
ROI at WSOP (excluding Main Event): 122%
ROI in NLH: 100%
ROI in HORSE: 93%
ROI in O8: 38%
ROI in all other games: -33%
ROI in entries of $2500+: -63% (2 cashes/9 entries)

WSOP cashes: 20
Current GPI Ranking: 3526th
Washington All-Time Money List Ranking: 72nd

The Hand That Won Me $50k

It’s been over three months since I won the Main Event in Lincoln City, so this hand history might be a little fuzzy. But it was something like this: we were already pretty deep in the tournament – in the money already with maybe 3 to 5 tables left. I had heaps. Both my opponents in this hand had heaps. I think I started with something like 900k and they both had me covered. We were all well above average chip stacks. I think the blinds were 5k/10k with a 10k big blind ante and I was in the big blind with 77. Under the gun opened to 20k, the very next player called, and it folded to me and I defended the big blind.

The flop was 987 with two diamonds. Pretty nice. I check, the preflop raiser checks, and I believe the next guy bet 40k. This is obviously an extremely wet board. Our first instinct is to raise and be willing to put all the money in the pot. However, this board also absolutely smacks this player’s range as well. 99, 88, and JT suited are all hands I can see him flatting an under the gun open with from early position. He can also have some overpairs – like TT-QQ – some big diamond draws, and some straight draws. I end up deciding to check-call to keep things under control and see what develops on the turn. The preflop opener folds.

The turn card is perfect for our hand. It’s an offsuit four. None of the draws get there, but it also doesn’t really change the dynamic we had on the flop. I check and he bets 100k. I think about raising here also, but again elect to go with check-call.

The river pairs the four. What else could we want? Quads? I strongly consider leading out, but after giving it a lot of thought, I end up checking again. He bets 200k. It seems like I have an automatic jam here but the more I thought about it, the more I couldn’t come up with hands that he was likely to call with that I could beat. JT was about the only one. I thought my opponent was a sharp dude, so I didn’t think he would call a jam with hands like TT+. If he was blasting off with a busted draw he obviously wasn’t calling with those hands (and he probably wouldn’t bet this sizing on the river either). So if he’s only calling with JT suited, 99 and 88, that’s six combos of full houses and four combos of straights. I shouldn’t have to do that math for anyone to know that jamming would be bad in this scenario. I didn’t see the merit in going all in and finally said, “this is probably a mega nit roll but…” and put out the calling chips. He turned over 99 for the nut full house and I continued on with a stack that was still well above average.

I’ve talked about this hand a lot with my friends and I still can’t explain exactly why I played it the way I did. Sometimes your instincts are going off for a reason. I’ve learned that not trusting my instincts is usually to my own detriment and trusting them in this exact spot absolutely saved my tournament life and allowed me to go on to make the biggest tourney score of my life.

From 8-1 Underdog to Champion

Sometimes when I go really deep in tournaments, I start fantasizing about winning the whole thing, particularly in bracelet events, but during this Chinook Winds Main Event run, the thought never really crossed my mind until the first big pot I won during heads up (although I did have a brief moment after that 77 vs 99 hand where I wondered if destiny was calling). The guy I was playing against was applying tons of pressure at the final table and doing most of the heavy lifting. I was basically just sitting there watching everyone else get bullied and knocked out by him, so when I did make it to heads up play, he had a MASSIVE chip lead and I was rather content that I was probably going to finish 2nd.

And then he opened his button and I defended with the 98 offsuit. The flop was 822 and I checked it to him. I can’t remember blinds or stack sizes but he made a c-bet and I decided to jam on him since a pair of 8s wasn’t exactly the kind of hand I was looking to check-call down with on the majority of runouts. He snap-called and I figured I was drawing to two outs. I rolled my hand and he was immediately disappointed because he thought I had him outkicked. But then he turned over his hand and was even more disappointed: he had 75 offsuit. In a stunning development, he turned zero equity and I quickly had a full double with a mediocre pair with a mediocre kicker and absolutely no sweat.

A few hands later, he raised his button and I defended with the 86 offsuit. The flop was pretty solid: T97. I checked, he bet 200k, and I raised it to 650k, he called. The turn was an unfortunate 6 and I decided to check it over to my guy since he had shown a tendency to attack weakness and overbluff. He obliged with a bet and I merely called. The river was a blank and I again checked it over to him and he didn’t disappoint by jamming for several times the size of the pot. I didn’t play my hand this way to fold to this kind of player, so I snap called and all he could produce was K3. We were pretty close in chip count at his point, but when the dust settled, we realized I had him covered and that was it. My biggest tournament win of all-time.

A Note About Volume

Altogether I played 1432 hours of live poker in 2022. That number is up from 1206 hours in 2021, but I only played 13 hours outside home games during the first three months of 2021. The rest of that year, I played an average of 123 hours a month. In 2022, I only averaged 119 hours a month. Somehow I went from being married to not being married and played less poker. Huh.

I addressed this problem of mine in a previous blog and I made a bet with a couple friends that I could play 320 hours of live poker over the last two months of 2022. It was a lock. I had trips to Pendleton and Vegas planned. And I still fell almost 30 hours short. Amazing. Granted, we didn’t bet enough for me to care about losing, but damn! That’s embarrassing! I think a reasonable goal for 2023 is to play 1600+ hours. That’s about 30 hours a week and since I plan on studying WAY more in 2023 and that number still represents a 15% increase in volume, it feels like a fair challenge.

2023 Goals

-Play more limit Hold’em at 20/40+ stakes

-Maintain my win rate at 3/5 locally

-Get out of makeup with my cash game backer

-Show a profit at 5/10+ NL

-Travel somewhere I’ve never been before

-Play more live mix games

-Play more live NLH tournaments

-Play WSOP Main Event

-Play 1600+ hours on the live felt

-Study at least 2 hours a week

-Teach my girlfriend how to play and get her in 4/8 games by spring

-Have my best year ever in poker

Overall, I’m pretty happy with my results in 2022. I wish I would have played more. I wish I played the Main Event. My cash game results were great and my tourney win added some nice cushion to my bankroll. After three mediocre years, I’m back to the level of success I enjoyed from 2016 to 2018. I fully expect 2023 to be my best year yet.


Hands of the Week: November 2022 Week 1

November 5, 2022

I’m not sure if this is going to be a thing, but I like the idea of it and I thought my blog was more fun when I was creating characters via nicknames and posting humorous hand histories. Plus, I think it’s good for me to write on a near daily basis and typing out my critical hands from each session is a good way to keep that muscle strong. Will I do it though? Who knows. I generally have 2-3 hours from the time I get home from the gym in the morning until the time I start getting ready to play poker for the day. I have other things I like to do during those hours, but fitting in 30-45 minutes of writing should be doable. We’ll see, I guess.

Before I delve into my most notable pots of the week, I need to announce an important milestone I achieved last month. For years, I had a pain threshold of about -$2000 for any given session. I’ve been playing 15/30+ and 3/5 PLO regularly since at least 2017 and until this year the biggest loss I’d ever taken in a single session was -$2300. That is absurd. Actually, it’s embarrassing. For whatever reason, my brain would start to malfunction around -$2k and if I couldn’t immediately right the ship, I basically always decided to quit. I’ve mentioned this before, but this year things have changed. I had a 40/80 session in Vegas where I was stuck over $4k before making a big enough comeback to not set a new loss record. I’ve been stuck more than $2300 on multiple occasions in 2022, but pretty much always worked my way out of it. Back in March when I was in Houston playing a 30/60 Mix game, I finally set a new career bottom of -$2400. So I’ve been pushing myself further and further this year and not losing my composure when I find myself stuck heaps. And it finally happened. I annihilated my previous worst loss with a -$3329 3/5 NL session at Palace last month. And it felt kind of good. Well, not really. I was having a losing month all of October and finally booked a huge win on the 22nd to get me in the green for the first time in October, but I followed that up with this massive loss in my very next session and ended up having my second losing month of 2022. I lost $235 playing 1/3 NL on that same day so in total my single-day cash game loss record is now -$3564. Good times.

I have one more amusing anecdote before I get to the hands. I have a sickness. I absolutely love torturing 4/8 limit players while I wait for a seat in whatever game I’m planning to play for the day. I play hyper-aggressive and for some reason the testosterone and emotional levels are heightened at the 4/8 level – a lot of people at these stakes get their feelings hurt when they lose, especially to someone playing in a manner they don’t approve of. I’m probably a bully for feeling this way, but I enjoy being the person getting them riled up. And it’s not like I’m in there giving my chips away. I play super laggro preflop, but after the flop, I’m cutting throats. I know what’s going on. I generally always know what they have and they never know what I have. I know who is playing with their emotions and who is basically never bluffing no matter how much of a maniac they think I am. I find it incredibly fun and I’m always a tad disappointed when I get called for my real game. People love to say that 4/8 is unbeatable – especially in this day and age where $8 to $9 out of every pot goes to rake, PSJ and tips – but a seasoned mid-to-high stakes limit vet should have a massive skill edge and it should be enough to overcome those immense odds. I started playing for a living in October 2016 and since then I’ve logged 265 hours in 4/8 LHE while waiting for something else and I’ve won over 2 big bets an hour in those games. Yes, I know that’s a very small sample size – less than two months of full-time play spread out over 6+ years – but I think it’s harder to win over a bunch of micro sessions than it would be to win while playing long sessions. I dunno… I just find a lot of joy in mauling small stakes players for 30 minutes or so and then being like, “see ya later!” I think what I’m trying to say is… I HAVE PROBLEMS.

I am a white chip master

Tuesday, November 1st – 3/5 @ Palace

This is what 1/3 NL games are like at Palace. Someone limps, someone else makes it $15, a third player calls and I make it $70 on the button with AQo. The first limper and the original raiser both call. The first limper has nearly half his stack in the pot now. The flop is JJ4 and the limper jams for $125 or so and the other player snap calls. I snap fold. They show KK and… KK. So to recap, the preflop action was uncapped. I put in the last raise with AQ and two players with KK decided to just call instead of jamming on me. What could go wrong?

Apparently there’s a new player in town flexing his bankroll on anyone that cares to listen. He’s rich. He has all the money. He gives no fucks. Etc, etc. Legend has it he played so aggressive and ran so pure that he built up a 7k stack in 1/3 one night. Hard to believe, but it’s what I heard. Well not before I saw this dude for the first time. He sat down in my 1/3 game and immediately started throwing chips around and making absurd bets. He came over to 3/5 when the second game started and the first hand he got dealt he made it $100 under the gun and showed KQ suited when no one called his raise. I was obviously looking to play a big one with this dude and I wasn’t planning on folding a good hand, so when I looked down at QQ during the second orbit, I made it $25 on his big blind (a little extra to make sure all future bets were bigger) and he didn’t let me down by making it $100. QQ might as well be AA against this guy, so I made it $400 which capped the preflop betting and of course he tried to put his whole stack in. I told him the betting was capped preflop but he could bet another $300 dark for the flop, so he did that and I raised that and we ended up getting it all in. The board ran out a bunch of middle cards that ended up making a one card straight so I figured I was going to end up losing this pot a lot, but the Poker Gods gave this maniac AA anyway and I shipped him over $1000 on the first hand I played. As he was raking in my entire stack he asked me if I tipped the dealer and I somehow hit him with a playful “you didn’t see me do it?” as I was having visions of the building collapsing down on him. Then this dude proceeded to play almost zero hands over the next hour and eventually moved down to 1/3. Da fuq?

The hi-jack opens to $20, someone calls on the button, and I make it $130 from the small blind with two kings. Only the button calls and we see a flop of AKT with two clubs. This is the kind of board I’m trying to get stacks in on so I bet $200, he obliges by making it $500 and we end up getting it in for his whole stack of $650 or so. He snap rolls QJ and before I can even digest my terrible luck, the dealer burns and turns a ten and I end up winning a big pot.

How to play AK 101: some dude raises to $25 after a limper, I make it $120 from the small blind with JJ and this dude folds AK face up. I give him some shit for being such a wimp.

Literally two hands later, two players limp in, I make it $30 with AK, the second limper re-pops it to $230, I make it $530 and we get the $150 he has left in on the flop and he ends up winning with 99 unimproved. I look at the dude from the previous hand and say, “THAT’S HOW YOU PLAY ACE KING.”

I open $20 under the gun with AsQx and the whole table calls. That means eight of us see the Q86 two spade flop and while that is certainly an above average flop for me, I send it around to see what seven other players have to say about it first. It checks to a later position we have nicknamed Lambo on account of the fact that he drives a Lamborghini to play poker and he goes all in for $130. Part-Time was in the big blind and he makes it $330. I’m not in love with this development but I think my hand is too good to even think about folding and Part-Time has a pretty clear isolation raise here with any above average showdown hand. I call his raise and everyone else folds. The turn is the jack of spades and when Part-Time checks to me, I put the pressure on with a max bet of $300. I don’t necessarily think I have the best hand here but I do have the nut spade blocker and the nut flush draw – not to mention top pair top kicker – and Part-Time is capable of folding two pair here. He does fold and I make aces up on the river and that’s a better hand than Lambo is able to produce.

Session Results: -$126 in 1/3; +$1389 in 3/5

Wednesday, November 2nd – 1/3, 3/5, and 10/20 O8 @ Palace

This felt like a waste of a day. A day after having two full 3/5 games with a list, the lone 3/5 game on Wednesday was dead by 6 PM. I had a mediocre 3/5 session before transferring to 10/20 O8 which seemed like a reasonable idea since I’m playing an O8 tourney this week in Pendleton. I played bad and ran bad and then the game got short and I was still incapable of showing down a piece of any pot. I like to experiment with a loose-aggressive style as I’m sure it’s the best way to accumulate chips in this variant but I find that my O8 hand reading skills aren’t good enough yet to get away with it. I’ve also discovered that limit O8 might be the least stimulating game for me these days. The pace is mega slow, the pots are almost always split, and I feel like I have to be a nut-peddler to win in it. That shit is BORING and I’m not good enough yet to play a more exciting style. I decided to play 1/3 when the feeder game broke rather than move to the main game. I was pretty tuned out for the night and didn’t note any hands there either and ended up calling it at the very early time of 10:30 PM.

Session Results: +$268 in 3/5; -$499 in O8; -$238 in 1/3

Thursday, November 3rd – 20/40 @ Fortune

Because I spend the vast majority of my live cash game hours playing no limit these days, I basically always play 20/40 limit Hold’em when I go to Fortune. My hourly in that game is less than it is in 3/5 and Fortune almost always has amazing game selection with 3+ tables of 3/5 going on a regular basis, but I ENJOY playing limit. I find the pace of play refreshing and I feel almost zero stress playing it, plus I think it’s important that I keep those skills sharp since I play so many limit mixed tournaments.

I only noted a few hands from this session. In the first one, Patton (fka FanBoy) – as in this brow looks so much like Patton Oswalt that someone stopped him at the WSOP last year and said, “Patton?” – opens from the cutoff and I 3-bet the ATcc from the small blind. Patton flats and we see a flop of A96. I bet and Patton calls. My alarm bells are going off. I know he has a stronger hand than me. I’m not sure how, but I know he’s raising me on the turn. We see a 5 and I check-call. The river is a beautiful offsuit ten and now I feel confident putting in a check-raise… that is, until he says, “if you got it you got it,” and 3-bets me. I can fold here. He’s not 3-betting A9 and he’s not bluffing. But I didn’t think about any of that in the moment and snap called to see a set of aces. SHOCK.

Let’s try that again: Patton opens from the cutoff and I 3-bet AQ from the small blind and he flats. The flop is AQx and he calls my flop bet. The turn is an ace, giving me the nuts and he calls again. The river is a 7 and he finally springs to life with a raise. God bless him. I 3-bet and Patton calls with what he says was AK. My hand ends up holding for the second high hand.

I open with AK and see a 3-way flop of A96 with two hearts. It checks to me, I bet, and Bulletproof check-raises me from the big blind. I re-raise and he calls. The turn pairs the ace and he check-raises me again. I feel like this would be an overplay from anything worse than AQ, so I give him credit for maybe having a boat and just call. The river is the 3 of hearts and I call his bet and he shocks my face off by showing me K8 of hearts for a rivered flush. Patton is sitting next to me and I show him my hand and say, “what is going on here?” Bulletproof sees my hand and asks why I didn’t re-raise the turn and I’m like, “Brow, I didn’t know I was in a leveling war.”

This was a frustrating session. The games were mega juiced and I was immediately stuck over $1000. I bottomed out at -$1500 and clawed back all the way to a little bit of sugar before going on another big downswing as my night was nearing its close and I felt nauseous having to leave such a good game.

Session Results: -$178 in 3/5/; -$975 in 20/40

Thursday, November 4th – 3/5 @ Palace

My first key pot of this session I decided to 3-bet an under the gun raiser with the QJ offsuit on the button because he looked like someone I could bully. He called and we saw a flop of 953 rainbow. He checks and the dealer immediately tries to burn and turn even though I haven’t done anything yet. I stop her, but the burn is already off and she leaves it there. Shock. What could go wrong with that? I end up betting $60 and get called. Of course she tries to burn and turn again. I stop her and tell her the burn is already off and save the hand for the second time. She turns over the correct card, a ten, and now my opponent donks $125 into me. The turn did open up a heart draw, but I’m not sure what’s going on here. This is a weird line no matter what he has, and I’m starting to think this isn’t a player I want to be bluffing, so I just call and try to realize my equity. 8x on the river. BINK. He disappoints me with a check and I figure I’m not going to get called here, but I max bet anyways and he pays it off relatively quickly. I give the dealer a little bit of shit about needing that board to come out exactly the way it was supposed to.

I’m struggling to get anything going for a while after that and I’ve been doing a ton of check folding on the flop after being the preflight aggressor. A couple players limp in and I jack it up to $30 with T8 of spades and two players call, including the big blind. The flop is K86 with two spades and I decide this is a good board to check-raise since everyone has been so bet happy when I check after raising preflop. The big blind obliges with a $50 bet and the limper calls. I make it $175 to go and they both call. Welp, I guess I’m gonna need to make something. The turn is helpful, but not great: an offsuit 9. I could certainly bomb it here and maybe I should. I don’t expect to get raised on that card very often and my hand can stand a raise anyway. I decide to check though and the big blind bets $200. We both call. The river is an offsuit ace and I check-fold to a $300 bet and the big blind ends up showing AK.

I raise to $30 with KTo and get some callers. The flop is Q9x and I c-bet $30 and one player calls out of position. I turn pure with an offsuit jack and my opponent continues with the pleasant surprises by leading into me for $100. I make it $400 and he calls. The river is an action-killing ten, but that doesn’t stop him from giving me another $300 even though it looked like he knew he had no business calling. At this point, I’ve gone from being down $800 or so in this session to being up about $1000.

I raise some limpers with two red tens and get two callers. The flop comes K82 with two diamonds and this is a spot that I’ll check back a decent amount of time, but I decide to go with a small sizing of $30 and Hit&Run (a nickname that has aged somewhat poorly IMO) makes it $125 from the big blind. I give some thought to folding here, but I know he’s capable of raising with diamonds and possibly even middle pair, so I take a card off to see what happens on the turn. I do have the ten of diamonds and that blocks some of his bluffs, but it also gives me some equity against his kings when the turn card is a diamond. Instead, I turn a set and we know that’s the absolute nuts. He bets $200 and I make it $500. He says something about how good my kicker is and this makes me rather convinced that he has a king. He ends up calling and then bets $300 with like $75 behind when the river comes the jack of clubs. I snap-raise the rest of his stack and he puts the call in and rolls over Q9 of diamonds for one of the more shocking showdown losses I’ve seen in quite some time. I just never, ever thought I’m losing on this run out.

I’m playing later than usual and I’m pretty shell shocked from that last hand. I thought I was going to be up several thousand and here I am nearing the end of my session close to even again. Someone opens to $20, there’s a call or two, and I call on the button with J9 of clubs. The flop is K92 with two diamonds and one club. It checks to the guy on my right and he makes a small bet of $20. I decide to take charge of this hand and make it $80. That clears everyone else and he calls. The turn is the deuce of clubs, so I pick up a flush draw. He checks to me and I make a blocker size bet of $50 rather than checking behind. I don’t think I’m getting raised very often and I want to put a little more money in vs diamond draws, plus I feel like I’m setting a cheap showdown price if I ended up bricking the river rather than checking back and letting him decide how much to bet on the river. The river is a glorious 6 of clubs and I go for a chunky $250 and he ends up calling it off. I roll my hand like it’s the nuts and on in horror after I table the J9 of fucking spades. Unfortunately, his bluff-catcher is the K3 of hearts and I end up losing another pot that I thought I’m never ever losing. Can’t remember the last time I forgot what I had like that.

Session Results: +$150 in 1/3; +$429 in 3/5

Sigh. That’s a lot of writing. The only way this continues being a thing is if I’m able to write about each session after it happens and not try to do it all at once like I just did. Hope y’all enjoy!


The Biggest Leak In My Poker Game (and other “fun” stats)

October 21, 2022
Team Torch adds a famous member

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately – not about what my biggest leak is but about the thing I’ve come to realize is my biggest leak. It’s something that has come up over and over and over again throughout my poker career. I keep trying to come up with ways to fix it and it just never happens. And the funny thing about this massive leak? It wasn’t a problem when I had a day job. And it makes zero sense why that is the case.

I have a feeling this might come across a tad arrogant, but it’s the truth. Nothing else I do costs me more money than this one particular leak. I know I don’t play perfect poker. I have other issues that need to be addressed and would certainly improve my win rate. Paying attention and staying focused while I’m playing is a huge one. I’m legit terrible at that. But it’s not as damaging to my bottom line as what I’m about to share. Neither are any consistent technical mistakes I make while playing. Without a doubt, the number one biggest leak in my game, that unquestionably costs me more money than anything else… is… DRUMROLL… not playing enough poker.

I’ve been using the session tracker on my phone since July of 2014, which means I have over 8 years of poker data to filter through. I created a spreadsheet that has every month since then and how many hours I’ve played in each month. That’s 98 months since I started tracking, but I only played two full months in 2020 because of Covid and I missed the first three months of 2021 for the same reason. So that’s 85 months of potentially full-time play since I started using this particular session tracker. As a full-time poker player, there is no reason for me not to be playing 40 hours a week or 160 hours a month. Sure, things will come up here and there, but at the end of the month, I should typically be very close to that 160 number if I’m doing my job as often as I should be. So in those 85 months, how many times have I actually hit that 160 hour threshold? Answer: 14. That means that 83% of the time, I fail to hit my 160 hours. It’s also worth noting that 5 of the 14 times I did reach 160 hours, it was because I was playing in The World Series of Poker. So in the 79 non-WSOP non-Covid months, I’ve hit 160+ hours less than 11% of the time. Absolutely pathetic.

Here’s a breakdown of my average monthly volume by year:

2014: 71 hours/month
2015: 124
2016: 132 (went pro in October)
2017: 144
2018: 152
2019: 142
2020: 114 (January and February only)
2021: 124 (April through December)
2022: 115 (through September)

As you can see, that’s a considerable number of hours I’m missing out on. Even in the year I played the most poker (2018), I was coming up an average of 8 hours short each month – or basically taking an extra day off a month. In 2018, I was making $62.54 an hour in cash games. So in the year I played the most poker since I’ve gone pro, I still left over $6000 on the table. On the other end of the spectrum, I’ve shorted myself an average of 45 hours a month in 2022. I’m making $79/hour at 3/5 NL this year, so if I put in all those extra hours at 3/5 and ran at my 2022 hourly over that span, I’ve cost myself ***wait for it*** $32,000!!! Just this year. Absolutely sickening stuff. I’m not going to do the math on all those other years, but I’m sure it’s plenty disturbing. It wouldn’t surprise me if I’ve cost myself around $100,000 since 2016 just by not playing as much as I should be.

I don’t know why this is so hard for me. But it’s extremely hard. It’s not like I hit 50 hours here and there but then come up short in some other week. I never hit 40 hours in a week. Ever. Unless I’m out of town. If I go somewhere for a tournament series, I am definitely capable of hitting my goal. But otherwise? Naw. Never happens. If you look at my numbers for the last three years, I might not even be averaging 30 hours a week over that span. Pathetic.

I’m not sure what the best solution is. I probably have to force myself to work five days a week. Most of my sessions are 8+ hours. I’m consistent with that at least. If I play five days, hitting 40 hours should be easy. If I take three days off, I have to average 10 hours a session and that’s pretty dicey. I basically never step foot in a casino to play cash games before 4 PM and I generally like to quit by 1 AM so I can stay motivated to hit the gym in the mornings. So most days I’m gonna play less than 9 hours. In all likelihood, if I’m going to consistently hit 40 hours a week, I need to be playing at least five sessions.

Ideally, I’d like to try my hardest to hit 320 hours over the last two months of this year. That might be a tall ask with Thanksgiving, my girl’s birthday, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve all occurring during that span, but I’m gonna do it, dammit. It’s already too late for October, unless I just go marathon monster mode and I know that’s not going to happen. Next year, I’d like to get my volume back up to at least 150 hours a month. Those are my goals.

But yeah, not playing enough poker has to be my biggest leak as a player. I don’t play mistake-free poker. There’s plenty still to learn. I don’t pay nearly enough attention. But I doubt there’s anything one thing I consistently do that has cost me tens of thousands of dollars like not putting my volume in has.

Since I’m in the mood for digging into stats and looking at my tracker, I might as well post some other interesting numbers.

Lifetime Tournament Numbers:

ROI in live No Limit Hold’em Tournaments: 112% (180 tourneys)

ROI in live NLH Tourneys (excluding Main Event): 224% (177)

ROI in live Omaha 8 or Better Tournaments: 34% (30)

ROI in live HORSE Tournaments: 111% (36)

ROI in live non-NLH, non-O8, non-HORSE Tournaments: -31% (51)

ROI on ACR: -3% (1617)

ROI on Bovada: -46% (98)

ROI on Ignition: -12% (332)

ROI on Global Poker: 41% (628)

ROI on 110% (14)

2022 Cash Game Numbers:

2022 3/5 hourly: $78.27

2022 1/3 hourly: -$21.84

2022 20/40 hourly: $70.77


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

June 20, 2022

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Spoiler alert

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Doubled lol
Bust 28th

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


2022 WSOP: $1500 Dealer’s Choice Blog

June 4, 2022

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I had 32k after twelve levels.

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

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

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


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

May 24, 2022

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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:

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:


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.


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. ✌🏻


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.


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