Posts Tagged ‘hold em’

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2015 Poker Goals: April through June update

July 6, 2015

I have to say I’m a bit disappointed with my dedication to elite poker play the past three months. My focus level has fallen off tremendously and the fact that I never even posted wrap-ups for April or May is pretty telling. Granted, it’s been a busy few months. Since my March wrap-up I’ve gotten married, been to Vegas for the World Series of Poker, spent a week traveling down the coast to San Francisco, celebrated my wife’s birthday, and moved to Tacoma. And today I finally got my internet up and running. For the first time in months, I have nothing on my plate in the foreseeable future. I can once again turn my attention to crushing at the poker table. This post will focus on how I did the past three months and how I’m doing on my 2015 poker goals.

log 1200 live hours

Over the past three months I played 314 hours of live poker – just over 100 hours a month – putting my YTD total at 764 hours, well on pace to reach my goal but a noticeable dip in play compared to the first three months of the year. I now live about 10 minutes away from the Palace in Lakewood though and seeing as how parenthood is probably in my near future I should be granted the freedom to go on the super grind for the next year or so.

focus on how well I played, how well I controlled tilt, and how well I paid attention to the game flow instead of on how well I ran.
Continue taking notes throughout all my sessions and combing through them later.

And here is where my lack of focus comes in. I literally kept notes for ZERO sessions over the past three months which means I’ve basically been playing on autopilot and spending very little time thinking about my game off the table. My mindset has remained strong during this time, so it’s nice to see the mental muscle is actually building, but it’s important not to get lazy and I will be turning on the laser focus again starting… now.

spend less than 20% of my total hours in 4/8 games

One of my bigger goals for 2015 was to quit spending so much time in a game both my ability and my bankroll have outgrown. The past three months I played 112.5 hours at the 4/8 level with 82 of those hours coming on the clock. That means I played 30.5 hours of 4/8 off duty out of 156 personal, non-tournament hours – or just under 20%. That’s a happy ratio and meets my goal, but it also means I only averaged just over 50 live, off duty cash game hours a month, which is a pretty poor output.

log 100 hours of spread limit

I did get some no limit hours in while I was in Vegas, but not very much. I am now at 30 hours YTD halfway through the year. There’s a chance my output will increase over the second half of 2015 as my bankroll (hopefully) increases and I dabble in the Muckleshoot 3/5 game a bit more. I now have Sundays off permanently and live 20-30 minutes away from Muck, so Super Sundays will be a must for me going forward. I should reach 100 hours just playing the next six Super Sundays.

continue reading about mental game, develop mental game profiles, and improve my c-game

focus my learning – don’t study multiple variants at the same time or games I’m not playing frequently.

This has been another area of my game that has fallen off tremendously the past few months. I did spend some time reading up on and developing my mental game, but it’s nowhere near as developed as I would expect it to be by now. While I haven’t had any notable mental game problems the past few months, I basically just treaded water. I should have a lot more free time for poker study in the future as my wife is switching to week days and it will be easy to schedule a designated time solely for working on my game away from the tables.

treat poker like a job with set hours and not like a hobby.

I did a poor job in this area the past few months as well. Poker felt more like a hobby than something I was putting my heart and soul into. The most telling point: I spent 54 hours in my bread and butter game – the 8/16 at the Palace – or just 18 hours a month. Considering I’ve been averaging over 1.5 big bets per hour in that game my lack of output is pretty inexcusable. Obviously I have been busy with other stuff, but still… Now that I live ten minutes away, there is really no reason I shouldn’t be able to play 90+ hours of 8/16 a month going forward.

watch opponents closely in tournaments and develop exploitative styles for each of them.

take my time in critical pots and really think things through before acting.

set a new career high tournament score.

I played 21 tournaments over the past three months and cashed three times (15%). Two cashes and nine tournaments were at my job with entry fees of $40 or less. Yawn. The other 12 tournaments had an average BI of $266 and I only managed to cash once, which fortunately was a first place finish.

In mid-April I went 0 for 3 at Wildhorse Casino during the Spring Round Up series. I finished 3rd at my table during the Shootout tournament and I remember feeling pretty unlucky about that. I don’t remember getting any momentum in the Omaha 8 or HORSE tournaments. I am planning to play a full slate at the Fall Round Up this year and I have a pretty good feeling about a breakout.

During the 2015 World Series Of Poker, I continued my drought at the Rio by going 0 for 4 in World Series and daily deep stack events, bringing my lifetime showing there to a sad 0 for 9. Whiffing nine tournaments in a row is a pretty standard stretch, but it’s not how I was hoping to start my World Series career. I was extremely disappointed with my showing in WSOP Event #1, the Casino Employee Event. I can’t remember any particular hands but I do remember feeling like I was not super happy with my play and that I didn’t set myself up for success very well.

In the $565 Colossus I fired one bullet and received an absolutely brutal table draw. On my direct left, I had notable pro Maurice Hawkins (top 130 in the world according to the GPI Rankings); on my right I had WPT champion Jordan Cristos. In fact, of the eight other players at my table, I knew for certain that I was better than one of them and he wasn’t much of a drooler either. In a tournament with a record-breaking 22,000+ entrants (and a sea of fish) I couldn’t believe how tough my starting table was. Maurice was playing every hand – seriously, I saw him call off over half his stack pre with 92dd once – and I quickly learned that I wasn’t going to be able to open lightly and he was going to make me “prove it” every time I took the lead in a pot. He was playing the Colossus like it was a $10 tournament and I was playing like it was $1500 and I wasn’t about to bluff off my stack trying to outlevel him. Being one of the top players in the world, I was shocked at how unprofessional and rude Maurice Hawkins was. He was a total ass. Possibly the least pleasant person I’ve ever played with and that’s really saying something. I had the pleasure of watching Jordan Cristos check-raise jam the turn, getting Maurice to fold an overpair, and then showing a total airball bluff when Maurice caused a MASSIVE scene after folding his hand face up and throwing his cards at Jordan. “Let’s move on to the next hand, cause this one is no good. So let’s just play the next hand.” All said with such aggressive, negative energy and repeated ad nauseum. It was a pretty cool moment for the whole table when Jordan flipped over the king high and shut his arrogant ass up. After that hand, Maurice decided to focus on someone else and picked on him relentlessly. That player handled it like a champ though and I think the whole table breathed a sigh of relief when Maurice busted… of course, he guaranteed to all of us as he was walking away that he would win the Colossus. The dude is the epitome of how a professional should NOT act at the table. A total disgrace to the game if that’s his constant MO.

Unfortunately, Jordan Cristos was also playing this tournament like $565 is nothing to him. One of his standard plays was to isolate a limper by making a huge raise in late position – something like 10+ bigs, which is a bigger bet than most three bets would be. One time he did this, I flatted him with two black aces and got it in on the KQJ all heart flop, expecting to hit the rail most of the time, but somehow holding against his QTo with a royal draw. Later in the tournament, he made a similar move and I looked down at AQ sitting on about 16 big blinds. Jordan had shown down so many trashy hands – and almost never passed on an opportunity to try to steal – that I didn’t think for a second about folding, but I also realized that I had no fold equity and that I would be playing for my tournament life. I jammed it, he was priced in, and I ended up losing to his Q9, a pretty depressing end to my day, but quite a huge improvement on my one hand exit in the Millionairemaker last year!

I decided to play the $100 weekly HORSE tournament at The Orleans and I took the majority of the money in a four-way ICM chop as the substantial chip leader. Even though I had a hefty chip lead, the blinds were large enough that one hand could change the scope of the tournament and I couldn’t say no to better than second place money without having to play it out. I played good overall and ran really hot at the final table to earn the victory. It was bittersweet. Obviously, when you enter a tournament the ultimate goal is to win it, so I was happy to take it down. On the other hand, it’s a bit frustrating to run red hot in the tournament with the smallest buy in and field size of my trip. Even with the first place victory, I still lost money on my tournament entries in Vegas. I don’t mean to sound ungrateful, but if there’s a time to run amazing, this is not the tournament I would have picked.

Two days later I played the $240 HORSE event at the Golden Nugget, got an amazing table draw with some of the worst play I’ve ever seen, and had absolutely no luck. I peaked in the first ten minutes of the tournament and I was barely above the starting stack at any point. I missed most of my draws and lost with most of my made hands and could never take advantage of the horrendous play that was rampant at my table. I’ve never wanted a mulligan so bad in my poker career.

I’m reaching a point where I’m getting pretty fed up with tournament poker. Excluding smaller tournaments (< $100), I have cashed 2 of 19 times this year for an ROI of -34%. In the past twelve months, I’ve cashed 3 of 29 times for an ROI of -56%. As someone with so much cash game success, I have to ask myself why I continue to punish myself with tournament variance. Or is it variance? 29 tournaments is an absurdly small sample size so it’s certainly possible. Prior to this past year, I had been a tournament crusher, so I have good reason to think things will turn around eventually. I am fully confident I am capable of a life-changing score. On the other hand, in comparison to cash games, I play tournaments so infrequently that it is much harder to develop my game plan. With cash games, I can study off the table and apply what I’m working on immediately, multiple times a week. With tournaments, I might go weeks in between events and even when I play I might not be able to apply the concepts I’m currently learning in a given tournament. Still, I’m not quite ready to give up just yet. I feel like my time is coming and I’d hate to deny myself the opportunity. I’m planning a full slate for the Fall Round Up in Pendleton and I’m going to start planning for next year’s WSOP immediately. Hopefully I will be in a position where I can sell action for and play up to five events or more. Also, now that I'm residing in Tacoma and my availability is changing, I think I will start playing Muckleshoot's Tuesday deep stack regularly. With that event and some of the weekend tournaments, I should be able play somewhere between 5-7 tournaments a month and hopefully turn my ROI around.

double my current bankroll size

maintain a 1 BB/HR win rate at 8/16

I posted a small loss in April and followed that up with two mediocre winning months in May and June. I had to use my bankroll for all the extra traveling we’ve been doing and various other expenses, so despite making a modest profit the past three months, I actually have less in my bankroll now than I did when April started. I loathe the feeling of running in place and getting complacent, but that’s how these past few months have felt. I’m ready to start grinding and really focus again.

Over 648.5 hours, these are my current YTD win rates:

1.67 big bets per hour at 8/16 (1.81 past three months)
0.77 big bets per hour at 4/8 (0.2 past three months)
0.42 big bets per hour at 10/20 and higher (all in the past three months)

I’m looking forward to doing some serious grinding and bankroll building over the rest of the summer and hopefully I can put together a hot stretch of tournament runs!

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Freddie’s Club In Fife $110 Deep Stack Tournament: Play-By-Play

January 16, 2012

Yesterday, I decided to take notes during the deep stack tournament @ Freddie’s Club in Fife so I could talk about some of the critical hands on my blog. I didn’t jot down every hand I played, but this is a pretty thorough play-by-play from my tournament game yesterday:

During the first blind level (25-50) I only played two hands. In one hand, I called a raise to 250 with 87o on the button. Might sound illogical, but my hand was slightly irrelevant and not nearly as important as my position or my current super nitty image. The flop comes down T8x and the preflop raiser bets out 600. I decide to float for one street and re-evaluate all my options on the turn. It’s a brick for me and dude bets out a strong 1600. Okay, Kumar, I believe you. Muck. He shows me JJ like he knows what I’m up to and doesn’t want me fucking with him all day. Same dude opens for 250 again and I call with 44, several people come in behind me and I check-fold to a bet behind me after missing the flop.

For nearly a half hour those are the only two pots I’m involved in, so at the 50-100 level, I can’t stand it any longer and with two limpers in front of me holding Q7o on the button I make it 600 to go expecting a bunch of folds. Everyone obliges.

Blinds are 100-200 and I have KTo in my BB and 4-5 players see a AQJcc flop. I check and watch as one of the players disappointingly bets 200, one other calls, and everyone else mucks. I tank for a bit thinking of the best way to play the hand. 200 was way less than I was hoping someone would bet, so it’s time to start getting more money in the pot. The board is kind of coordinated. I definitely don’t want to see another club roll off and a K or T could be an action killer for me. I make it 1175 to go. The initial bettor calls and the other dude folds. T on the turn. Fuck! I consider making a substantial bet since a flush draw is the only thing I’m expecting to call me now, but I reconsider and settle on a slightly less than pot-sized 2500 bet. He calls again. The river is a complete brick, like the 6s or something. It looks to me like this dude was drawing and missed and should have a pretty good idea of where I’m at. I decide to throw him for a loop with a 1000 bet into a nearly 8000 pot. It’d be tough to muck an ace or any pair+flush draw that missed for that price and I don’t think he’s calling a big bet here. Slim chance, but he might also mistake my weak beat for a missed draw and raise me. He just calls and I show him the flopped nut straight.

My buddy Kumar has been in a lot of pots lately and just took a bad one with top two pair and lost to a flush on the river. He was crippled for a second and made a slight comeback but still appears to be steaming. With blinds at 150-300 it folds to him in the cutoff and he makes it 800 to go. Folds to me and I look down at AA in the BB and take my time thinking of the best way to get Kumar to stack off to me. He has about 6000 total chips. The fact that he showed me that JJ earlier makes me think he thinks I’m capable of making moves. I took that as a way of him saying “I’m not fucking around, bro; don’t mess with me.” Sorry, Kumar, wish denied. Knowing that my opponent is still on T and thinks that I’m capable of making moves, I study him for a while and really ponder whether or not I want to raise him. It’s tempting to smooth call his raise and let him hang himself after the flop, but I’m feeling like he’s even more suicidal than that right now. I want his whole stack. I finally settle on a raise to 2800, which is large enough to make it look like I could be re-stealing and still be able to get away from it. Shockingly, Kumar merely calls and takes a flop with me for almost half his stack size. The board comes out J43 and I check it to him hoping he’ll think I’m giving up on my re-steal play. He shoves and I quickly call. He shows Js9s and whiffs his 5-outer. Good day and thank you.

Blinds are still at 150-300, a couple people limp in and a tight player to my right makes it 1300 to go. I look down at TT on the button. My opponent has 5200 left behind. I just got a bunch of chips and I’m not looking to put them at risk in a coin flip (or worse) situation. I decide to flat the raise and see what happens after the flop. I’m not exactly set-mining here, but I don’t think my opponent is folding to a re-raise, so I wanna see what the flop brings before I decide how much I like my hand. Plus, someone behind me could wake up with a monster. I just call and only one limper sticks around. The flop comes down T44. Somebody’s running good all the sudden! First action checks and my dude ships it all-in for 5200. I call hoping the lady can stick around, but she mucks. Dude turns over AK and is basically drawing dead. AK high? Uh, nh.

Very next hand, almost identical situation: I have 99 and the lady from the previous hand makes it 1000 to go with blinds at 150-300. Again, I feel like she’s going with her hand if I re-raise preflop, so I decide to flat. One player calls behind me and we see a KQJ flop 3-ways. She bets I muck and I forget what the end result was.

Blinds are still 150-300 and I open to 1150 with TT. Homie from the hand where I flopped the nut straight shoves it all-in for 4500. Folds back to me. Dude has been playing pretty snug, but this is a pretty simple call, all things considered. He shows AJ and outflops me on a QJ8 board. A blank hits the turn, but I spike a 9 on the river to make a straight and knock out my third opponent of the level. I’m now up to over $32K in chips and feeling really good about my chances.

My table breaks and I’m moved to a new one with a bunch of new faces. Ugh. Blinds are 200-400, 4 people limp in, and someone pops it to 2600, it folds to me in the BB and I look down at 99. The raiser has about 9000 behind and I go into the tank wondering what the right play is. Being new to the table, the only data I have is that this guy decided to make a large preflop raise after four people limped into the pot. I know I’d be tempted to make the same play regardless of my cards and that thought is definitely crossing my mind. I obviously can’t call in this spot, out of position, and see a flop, so it’s either re-raise or fold. If I re-raise and he actually has a hand, I’m going to be pot-committed against his shove and I’m really not looking to play a 25K pot with 99 at this stage of the tournament. Since I have no idea how to play the hand or any real read on my opponent, I decide to just muck it. Everyone else quickly folds and because I was making him sweat it out so bad, dude makes a comment about how it’s the first hand he’s played in half an hour.

With blinds at 300-600 I open to 1600 UTG with QQ. Some chick calls me in position and so does the big blind. The board comes down J94 rainbow and it checks to me. I start eying their stacks, but I’m kind of annoyed because the lady has her chips all mixed together and I have no idea how much she’s really working with. I look at the dealer and say “WTF?” with my hands, which she takes as a check and and tries to check behind me. LOL. No, honey, back it up. How many fucking chips do you have? She has about 5K left and the BB has about the same. I’m obviously down to play for stacks and bet 3500 which is basically the same thing as announcing “I’m all-in.” They both muck. She doesn’t fix her stack and the dealer doesn’t ask her to. Wow.

With blinds at 400-800, I open to 2200 with 55. My supposedly tight friend that hasn’t played a hand in half an hour calls from the BB. The flop comes down T98cc and he checks to me. That’s a terrible flop for me, but my hand still might be good; however, the last thing I want to do is bet and get raised by a draw. I check behind. Turn card is a Queen. Okay, I’m done with it. He checks to me again. I still might have the best hand, but it’s incredibly weak and I’m just trying to get to showdown as cheaply as possible at this point. River is a small club and he checks to me again. If my hand is good here, there’s no need to put any more money in the pot. I check behind and he shows AJ and tells me I have really good discipline and complains that the third club on the river probably cost him some action. LOL, okay buddy.

Very next hand, I open to 2200 with AhJh and it folds all the way around to the BB who ships it for about a billion more. Easy muck, but I’m starting to get annoyed. Since I switched tables, I’ve watched as every pot gets opened in front of me and it folds around the vast majority of the time. But since I sat down at the table, I’ve opened the pot seven times and have been called or raised EVERY time. People complain about not getting action when they have AA or KK, but stealing the blinds is critical in the middle stages of tournaments and I’ve been contested in every pot I’ve played. It’s starting to eat at me.

I have Tc6c in the SB and complete after two limpers. BB checks his option and we see a J74cc flop 4-ways. With 3200 in the pot, I lead out for 1300. It folds to Mr. Discipline and he makes it 2800 to go. I don’t really know what to make of that raise, but my Spidey senses are telling me he’s not very strong. Almost like he put in a small raise to take control of the pot and see how I reacted to it, but he’s not giving off a lot of strength. Now that I’m away from the table, it seems like he was taking advantage of my weak lead and that a 3-bet on my part probably would’ve taken the pot down. I decided to just call since I was getting profitable drawing odds, but it was a play that kind of telegraphed what I had. I brick the turn and he fires 3500. My confidence has been taking a blow and I feel kind of readable in this spot, so I decide to just let it go. He asks if I had a club draw. Fuck you.

Don, an old man taxi driver that used to play around Bremerton, opens to 2600 UTG+1 with blinds @ 400-800 and has about 10K behind. I look down at 99 two spots to his left. I know Don well enough to know that he’s not opening light in this spot and that he’s never folding to a re-raise. In fact, with his stack size, I’d expect him to open-shove with the hands I’m actually slightly ahead of. Easy fold. Some lady behind me ships it for 9500 and Don calls and his JJ holds against her 77. Knowing is half the battle.

Blinds are still 400-800 when someone in MP makes a min-raise to 1600. Don calls on the button and the small blind calls, so I come along for the ride getting 7 to 1 on a call with J9o. The flop comes J83hh and having great relative position, I check and get to see what everyone does after the preflop aggressor acts. He checks and Don says “let them see another one,” which reliably translates to “I have absolutely nothing right now.” The turn pairs the Jack and it checks to me again. For some dumb reason, I check instead of firing out a bet. The preflop raiser obviously missed the flop and if he was slowplaying a big hand, a second jack showing up is not going to be a welcome sight. Don clearly has nothing behind him, so missing this value bet is a pretty big mistake. I don’t think anyone has anything, but I can’t make anymore money if I don’t put any chips in the pot. I bet 3K when a 5 shows up on the river and everyone quickly mucks. Ugh. Poorly played, Dark Knight!

Blinds are still @ 400-800 and I open UTG to 2000 with AsTs, a questionable play in retrospect. I don’t hate a limp here and my preflop raises weren’t getting any respect, so opening in terrible position with such a weak hand seems a little spewy. I’m really just hoping to take the blinds down and I’m in horrible steal position, so what value does my hand really have? Some poker theorists hate the open-limp, but I think this is a good spot for one. If you disagree, we can debate it later, but I think the play has plenty of merit. Anyways, I raise it up and a somewhat loose player calls me in position. The flop comes down J63 and I fire out 3500. He shoves all-in, I muck, and he shows me a set of sixes. NH sir.

My frustration level is quickly rising and my stack has dwindled down to about 22K, or the tournament average. It folds around to me in the SB and with blinds at 600-1200, I put the BB all-in for his remaining 5K or so. He mucks. Oh, I had KJ.

I open-raise in middle position with AT and everyone folds. I let the table know how grateful I am that they finally let me take a pot down uncontested and ask if they can continue to be so courteous in the future. No one seems amused.

HAND OF THE TOURNAMENT: With the blinds at 600-1200, the player UTG makes it 4K to go. It folds around to me and I look down at AK in the BB and have about 22K left behind. Seems like an easy play, but I’m sensing strength from my UTG friend and he definitely hasn’t been splashing around. I realize I’ve been put to the test for my entire stack. I consider calling and seeing a flop first, but if I miss the flop I’m basically handing him the pot when I might have the best hand and, more importantly, when I DO spike, I might not double up. Fuck it, time to gamble. I ship it and he quickly calls and shows QQ and we’re off to the races. It’s a quick one though as I immediately spike an ace on the flop and hold up through the river. Doubled up to 45K+ and right back in this thing!

A few hands later, UTG makes it 4400 to go and I look down at KK on the button. He has 7K or so left behind, so I’m expecting him to stack off with most of his range. No need to be coy, I’m all-in. He calls and whiffs his 3-outer with AK. We’re up to over 50K now and have a big stack. I think there are two tables left at this point.

Blinds must be 1000-2000 now cause I make it 5500 to go with AT this hand. A really loose, obnoxious Asian kid calls me from the BB. He’s been taking a lot of flops, limping in a lot, and generally acting a pest. He hasn’t stopped running his mouth since he sat down at our table. The flop comes down KQ7. He plays with his chips and does a ton of acting before finally checking it over to me an hour later. That kind of shit is usually a tell for a weak hand, and I contemplate a bet, but the kid has been playing so recklessly that I decide to keep the pot small and give myself a chance to improve on the turn. I check behind and he instantly fires 3K in the dark. LOL! I’m probably raising that bet no matter what, but it becomes a lot easier to pull the trigger when I make the nut straight on the turn. After doing some Hollywooding of my own, I settle on a raise to 15K. It’s a pretty hefty raise, but if this kid wants to fuck around, I want it to be as costly as possible. Plus, a larger raise size might make it seem like I’m bluffing and just want to take the pot down right now. He tanks for a while, finally flashes me a 7, and then tries to riddle me with questions. I don’t give up anything and just stare the punk down. I ain’t answering shit, bruh.

Folds to me in the cutoff and for the third orbit in a row, I open on a tight player’s big blind. Blinds are 1500-3000 and I’ve made it 7500 to go with AQ. I have my headphones on, but my music isn’t playing and I can hear everything. The Loudmouth Asian Kid is telling the big blind how I’ve been raising his BB every orbit and how I’m just going to keep pounding him until he makes a stand… and there’s still three players left to act in the hand! I have been picking on dude a little, but I have AQ this hand so it’s not like I’m on a pure steal attempt here. The button folds, but the SB ships it for 32K more. The BB makes a very painful looking laydown (says later it was QQ) and it folds back to me. Normally, I wouldn’t think much about calling with AQ here and it would be an easy fold, but everyone heard what the Loudmouth said and I can’t help but wonder if his comments encouraged this guy to grow some balls and ship it all-in on me. I really go into the tank contemplating it and I’m looking at the small blind and he just doesn’t look that strong to me. Even if he’s on a pure bluff, I’m only a 60/40 favorite and losing this pot would be devastating. The only hands he could have where a fold from me is a clear mistake is when he has a weak ace. I decide to pass and wait for a better spot, but I rip into the Asian kid, basically telling him to shut the fuck up when he’s not in a hand and that he probably cost his buddy in the big blind the pot–if he really had QQ, that is.

I stopped writing notes at this point because as we were getting closer to the final table, I didn’t have much free time since we were playing short-handed and it was crucial to pay attention to the action. However, I can remember a few hands.

Loudmouth open raises in EP and I look down at AK. I ship it on him. He does his usual acting before finally mucking and telling me he’ll gamble with me eventually.

A short while later, he opens again and I have AK again. I know dude is just trying to pick up some blinds and I’m ready to play for stacks against his range. No need to see flops. Come and get it. Nope, he mucks again. So much for gambling with me.

Finally, he open-pushes for like 12K with blinds at 1500-3000 and I have JJ in the BB and stack him when his A2 misses. Stackety, stack stack, don’t come back. Seriously though… good riddance, douchebag.

After stacking my annoying friend, I now have around 105K in chips and am headed to the final table. We immediately make a deal so that everyone gets $125 back and at least makes a little money. I’m not involved in any big pots as four people get eliminated and the chip leader proposes a deal: we chop six ways, but everyone gives him an extra $20. Since 6th only pays about $280, the chop nets me an extra $600 guaranteed and even though I’d usually rather play it out, my stack size has dwindled to about 75K and I’m not really in any position to negotiate. I swallow my pride and take the pay day for a +$760ish score.

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Poker 2011 & The Royal Flush Of Destiny & 2012 Poker Goals

January 11, 2012

My biggest goal for 2011 was to make money gambling. After several years of talking about how good of a poker player I am, it was time to prove it. I’d been treading water in mediocrity for quite some time and didn’t have anything to show for all my self-proclaimed “knowledge.” I’d make a few scores here and there that suggested I was better than the average player, but I had way too many leaks in my game to be an actual long term winner. Last year, I exceeded whatever goal I had in mind. I just wanted to turn a little profit from my hobby and wound up making several thousand dollars and for a moment, I could see a career as a professional gambler in my near future.

Unfortunately, nothing comes easy. Full Tilt shut down and took about 33% of my bankroll with it; I spent a month in jail not making any money; I moved into my own place and through an unfortunate chain of events that were beyond my control, found a friend of mine indebted to me for $1500 (a debt that has since been paid off–good looking out Tiny T!); I lost any and all interest in working at my day job at Silver City and found myself filing for unemployment in November; and finally, my new job at Arena Sports Bar & Grille has gotten off to a slow start and I’m not making nearly as much money there as I thought I would be. Basically, instead of building a bankroll last year, I had to survive off my gambling winnings because actual work wasn’t paying my bills anymore.

I spent most of last year playing $4-$8 limit hold em and small stakes tournaments locally. Over roughly 750 hours of $4-$8, however, all I could really say was I’m a roughly break even player. I’m not crushing the game by any means and certainly haven’t proven I can make a living from it. Between the rake, tipping the dealers, variance, some terrible luck, and a game that is still not free of leaks, beating the game in the long run has been a formidable challenge. I still think I can do it and I plan to prove it, but if I’m really looking to make money playing limit hold em, it’s time to step my regular game up to the $8-$16 level.

I did get some experience in the $8-$16 games in Tacoma and Seattle last year. I sold half my action in all but one session, but over 81 hours I beat the game for 1.47 big bets an hour. Hardly a large enough sample size to be considered reliable, but still somewhat promising. If I’m not playing $8-$16 regularly, with 100% of my own action, by the end of the year, 2012 will be a long year for me. This is where I need to be at.

In 2011, I played 123 live tournaments, mostly at Chips Casino in Bremerton. Considering the size of the buy-ins, I absolutely crushed the game. I cashed in 33% of the tournaments I played, finished in the top three 18.5% of the time (!!), and at least chopped for first place in 12.2%. Those numbers are INSANE. For the year, I made roughly $2000 in live tournaments, or profited roughly 80 buy-ins (assuming an average BI of $25). All of these numbers include the fact that I didn’t cash in a single event with a buy-in of more than $50. I completely whiffed at Pendleton’s Fall Poker Round-Up and had one of the worst showings of my life in the first event of Muckleshoot’s Fall Poker Classic. Fortunately, I sold most of my action in those events, but the trip to Oregon was still a soul-crushing experience. Above anything else, it made me realize that despite my pedigree in local small stakes tournaments, my game still has a lot of work to do and I vow to return to Pendleton with something to prove in 2012. I refuse to come out of this year without a 5-figure tournament score. It’s my time.

I played a minimal amount of spread limit and no limit hold em in 2011, but found success in the few hours I put in. I profited roughly $1000 in about 40 total hours and that includes a brutal hand where I get stacked for $250 with AA after getting it all-in preflop vs KK. Along with trying to play more $8-$16 in this upcoming year, I absolutely need to get in more no limit cash games against weak players because differences in skill level is a much larger factor than it is in fixed limit games.

I opened 2012 by getting a job at All-Star Lanes. I’m not going to state many details on exactly what it is I’m going to be doing, but I’ve been hired to help out in the poker room: possibly dealing, possibly chip-running, but definitely playing a lot of poker. It sounds like my dream job and right now I’m being told everything I want to hear. How it works out remains to be seen, but I’m excited about the prospects, although not being able to play at Chips as much is going to sting. I love that place and I thank them dearly for treating me like royalty the last seven months. Carla, A.J., Dan, James: you guys are like family. I spent more time with you than anyone else last year and I know that all of you root me on wholeheartedly. I will miss you and try to visit often. I’m going to miss the regulars too. Somehow… a young, cocky, aspiring professional that never gives anyone air and plays cutthroat poker 100% of the time has mostly gained the respect and support of the local gambling community. Many of these players are friends of mine on Facebook now and follow my blog, so I thank you all for tolerating my unforgiving play and being willing to lock horns with me all year. Today, someone that won a seat to the World Series Of Poker 2012 Main Event seriously considered letting me play the event for him. I would hate to deprive someone of that experience, but I’d also love to bring a main event cash back home to Bremerton. What you say, Simi?

As I stated earlier, despite having such a successful year gambling in 2011 and showing a profit in 10 of 11 months (I was in jail all of May), multiple shenanigans lead to me having a very depleted bankroll to start 2012. I was basically operating on fumes. Off of unemployment and not being able to bank on my current job for more than $200 or so a week, I was starting to wonder if I’d even survive January without resorting to drastic measures. Fortunately, my gig at All-Star Lanes looks like a go, but still: if I was going to be playing a ton of poker there, how was I going to fund it? Start with a short roll and pray that I run good for a couple months? I certainly didn’t have the stake to absorb any significant downswings and if 800+ hours of live play last year proved anything, it’s that no matter how good you are, large downswings are still very common. I needed a miracle.

To make matters worse, I met a remarkable woman the last couple weeks of 2011, but what I thought was the beginning of an amazing relationship instead fizzled out rather quickly. It was incredibly disappointing and it was messing with my head. On Saturday, January 7th, whatever hope I had remaining for it to work out evaporated. But it’s funny, because as we were talking over lunch about how painful things were in that moment, we both recognized the fact that it would all make sense some day and that everything happens for a reason. Little did I know, it’d make sense to me within hours.

After my dismal lunch, I tried to go home and sleep it off… get a little rest in before my poker session that night. But sleep proved beyond my reach and instead I hit my boy MC up and told him I needed a guy’s night out. He said he needed to be home by 6 PM, but I showed up at Chips anyways, kidnapped him out of their live game, and we drove to All-Star Lanes to play their 7 PM tournament. After busting out in 7th place at the final table, it didn’t look like their live game was going to be too cracking that night, so I talked MC into going back to Chips since they had two jackpots that were over $2000. We get back to Chips and I toss $300 on the table, but the floor is gone and I can’t get all my chips yet, so I say “fuck it” and start walking around the casino bullshitting with various people.

Finally, after about 15 minutes or so, I sit down in the live game with $100 in white chips and $200 in cash and Carla asks if I wanna post my big blind. Sure I do. 3-4 people limp in, the small blind completes and I look down at AdJd in my big blind. Raise it up! Everyone calls and we see a flop of KdQdx.

I’ve been playing poker for 8 years and have logged TONS of live hours, but I’ve never hit a Royal Flush in a casino. I know someone that has hit three in a calendar year. Another friend of mine has been playing half the time I have and has four under his belt. I know a regular that recently hit a $11K Royal and followed it up with $2K one just a few months later. I’ve personally hit 11 royal flushes online, but I’ve never received jackpot money for one and I’ve never done it in live play. For whatever reason, I could feel this one coming in from the jump. Carla, the dealer, has said to me numerous times recently: “something great is going to happen to you soon, Mac.” I believed her.

I go ahead and lead the flop, betting my monster draw for value, not worried about losing customers (and a chance to draw out for a Royal) since that flop hits so many hands. Two players do call. A blank falls on the turn and I decide to bet again anyways to keep building a pot with my big draw, not really concerned about getting raised. Both players call again and one of them says, “bring a ten on the river.” I think in my head, “oh really? Be careful what you wish for, sir.”

With my life in shambles, my head in disarray, and my future in question, I can’t say anything has ever looked prettier than that Ten of Diamonds on the river. Red Royal Flush. Jackpot. $2389. Ship it.

I’m not saying that jackpot is going to solve all my problems, but it couldn’t have come at a more critical time. I am now right back where I was several months ago: with a reliable source of income that I can pay my bills with and a large enough bankroll that I can gamble with regularly and build over time. And rather than dwell in self-pity and wonder why things didn’t work out with ole girl, I know that everything that happened with her led up to that exact moment. I don’t hit that Royal Flush if we are still dating. Plain and simple. And I need that money way more than I need a woman in my life right now.

The Royal Flush Of Destiny… I’ve never been a religious person, but I do think there is some merit to concepts like fate and destiny. Like… everything that has happened in my past, good or bad, was meant to be and has shaped me into the person I am today. Well, I feel like this Royal Flush is a sign that my poker career should be my top priority right now. Fuck all the doubters; this is what I was meant to do. Instead of having to start from scratch all over again–through no little fault of my own–it’s like I’ve been given a reprieve and can continue doing exactly what it is that I want to do: work my way towards becoming a professional gambler.

I expect another successful year in 2012 and I have a list of goals that should be more than achievable: become an $8-$16 regular, play significantly more no limit cash games, log my biggest tournament cash of all-time, and, for crying out loud, have a profitable trip to Pendleton, Oregon.

2011 was a promising year. I proved that I have what it takes to beat the game of poker in the long run. It’s no longer a question. I feel I have answered it and that my calling is apparent. I experienced some growing pains and some struggles last year, but have learned from all of that. The struggles are over. I feel like Eminem on ‘Say Goodbye To Hollywood:’ “but no one ever puts a grasp/ on the fact I’ve sacrificed everything I have.” I really have; I’ve bet it all on this poker shit and I don’t plan on failing now. 2012 is my year.

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Check-Raise: The Road To Professional Gambling – June 2011

June 29, 2011

Poker is a cruel game. Even for the educated player, it can play tricks on your mind. For the uninitiated… good luck staying sane.

As many of you know, my goal this year was to make money gambling and through the first three months of the year, I had managed to eke out a profit, but it was almost entirely due to the rakeback I was receiving from Full Tilt Poker. You can read my update for the first three months here.

April changed everything for aspiring poker players when the FBI shutdown the three major online sites: Full Tilt Poker, Poker Stars, and Absolute Poker, making it impossible for players to gamble online in the United States. Of course, that happened just as I was realizing some of the major leaks in my game and starting to turn things around. I was already killing tournaments, but my cash game play was starting to come along as well. I had turned a profit in online cash games for the first time in many, many months. To make matters worse, I made my biggest tournament score of the year the day before Black Friday. So when the sites shut down and access to your funds became restricted, I happened to have significantly more money online than I usually do; and it’s still there.

With online play no longer an option, I turned to the local casinos, a bold move for someone trying to build a bankroll with limited money. I went from playing $0.50-$1 limit online to playing $4-$8 live, a significant jump in stakes even though the latter game is almost certainly much softer.

I had already identified cash games as a leak in my gambling. I previously noted how bad I was doing online, but my live stats weren’t much better. For the year, through April, I was down roughly $400 playing live cash games… plus in April alone, I was down $625 playing live period, whether it was tournaments or cash games. With online play no longer an option, my poker future was looking grim.

Then I went to jail for most of May. In jail, I read several poker books and came out on May 20th thinking I might have a shot at making money playing live poker. I only played for one week in May and 15 hours total and promptly managed to lose $298, logging my first losing month of the year. Also, on May 24th and May 25th, I managed to lose $450 in 3.5 hours of total play, such an absurdly bad run that I strongly considered quitting playing altogether. I was completely demoralized.

Being the gambler I am though, that notion didn’t last very long and I was quickly back in action in June. I got off to a hot start and by June 10th I was up $549 in the live game. Then, June 10th changed everything. I hit the Lightning Strikes Twice jackpot at Chips Casino for $1562 and had my best session of the year on top of that. By the end of the night, I was up $1809 total (after tipping the dealer $200 for the jackpot) and suddenly had a legitimate bankroll. By June 20th, including the jackpot hit, I had beat the live game for $3038 in profit. I felt unstoppable. I had a losing session here and there, but I was on a serious upswing, and my confidence was soaring. Unfortunately, the last week wasn’t so kind and is the reason I opened this post by saying how cruel poker can be. I’m down $715 in the live game over the past week and have felt completely defeated at times. Fortunately, I have the bankroll now to withstand this kind of big downswing, and at -89 Big Bets of my current limit, this isn’t even close to how bad it will be some other future time.

That’s the thing about poker that most people don’t understand. Even the best players are going to go through terrible streaks due to bad luck. It can be incredibly painful when it happens–which is not uncommon–but even a 200 Big Bet (-$1600 @ $4-$8) downswing is almost inevitable. But if you’re a good, winning player, luck always evens out in the end, and you have to win in the long run.

In total, I made $2406 gambling in June (more than at my day job). I got lucky with the big jackpot, but it was a great month besides that and now my goal to play for a living by 2013 seems plausible. Grinding it out at $4-$8 is going to be a long road, but now I have the bankroll to gamble with comfortably and never have to touch any of the money I actually work for. Also, if Full Tilt ever gets their shit together and cashes out their players, I’ll have a large enough bankroll to move up in stakes to $8-$16 and potentially double my hourly rate.

June Stats

Live play:
$3-$6: -$372 over 11.92 hours (-5 BB/HR) <— potential leak?
$4-$8: +$1342 over 85.67 hours (1.96 BB/HR)
+$1362 Lightning Strikes Twice Jackpot
+$164 in Tournament play
+$2496 total

Additional Gambling:
BlackJack Match Plays: +$15
Sports Betting: +$10
House Games: +$38
Side Bets: +$20

Overall Gambling since December 1st, 2010: +$3287.80