Posts Tagged ‘limit hold em’

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The Death of the Palace Red Chip Games and My First 30/60 Trip to La Center

December 21, 2019

It finally happened.

Last night at 4 PM there were only five names on the list for 15/30 at Palace and we didn’t even bother trying to start it. Flea was one of the names and really was the only one pushing to start the game 5-handed but, as some of you may remember, once upon a time Radio Mike and myself started a 3-handed game with Flea and he quit us after winning about $800 in 20 minutes. I’ll never start a short-handed game with him again. I don’t think he’d be willing to lose more than a few hundred playing short and even when he was running good he decided to lock a win up rather than push his luck. I just don’t see any upside there.

I could see the writing on the wall for about a month now. The game has had rough starts for about six weeks and two of the last three sessions barely made it to four hours before breaking for the night. Even when it fills up and gets a big list, it seems like the vast majority of the people waiting never actually sit in the game. With the rough starts and little traffic later in the night to keep the game strong, this game just doesn’t have legs anymore.

When I look around the room at the 8/16 games, I usually can spot about 12-15 players that have played in the 15/30 – some of them regularly – and they just aren’t playing it anymore. I went through my Blog Nicknames and counted 53 players, including myself, that used to play 15/30 at least somewhat regularly – and these are just the people I gave nicknames to. I broke those 53 players into four categories when it comes to their current 15/30 status. Here’s what the results look like:

Regulars – 6 (11.3%, and this number includes Ducky who has basically said he’s done coming and Mighty Mouse who never starts the game)
Semi-Regulars – 7 (13.2%)
Rarely Play – 6 (11.3%)
Never Play – 34 (64.2%)

I mean, shit, 75% of the players I used to play with so often I gave them special names basically never play 15/30 anymore. Even guys like Taz and Cobra that used to be staples have completely disappeared. This is supposed to be the busiest time of the year for poker and this game is still crumbling. I’m in disbelief honestly. By March of 2020, 15/30 probably won’t even be offered anymore. Looking through my session history, this game was going 3-4 times a week from winter of 2017 to spring of 2018 and was still going twice a week as recently as spring of this year. It honestly boggles my mind how something can just dry up like that.

I suppose I’m a bit indifferent about the death of the game right now. I’ve mentioned it before, but I’m not exactly crushing 15/30 this year. My win rate currently sits at 0.35 BB/hr in 2019. For what it’s worth, since July 19th I’ve been running at -$23.28/hr and have lost about $3400 in 15/30 during that span. Prior to that extended downswing, I was at a respectable $31.80/hr for the year and 1.62 BB/hr lifetime. Even with the downswing factored in, my lifetime win rate in this game is still 1.28 BB/hr, so I guess I should be more upset that it’s dying, but it’s just not the same game it used to be.

15/30 isn’t the only red chip game that’s dead at Palace. I’m shocked they still put up a board for PLO on Wednesdays. I don’t think that game has started in over a month. I haven’t played in almost three months. That’s another game that really dried up and I couldn’t deny the fact that it just didn’t seem super profitable anymore. It also didn’t help when Global Poker decided to block Washington state players and I could no longer get regular PLO reps in online.

The 10/20 Omaha 8 or Better game is dead also. There was a chance for that to be a thing, but they alienated outside players by catering to their 4/8 regulars and not starting a second game when they had a bunch of new faces in the building. Two weeks of that and the new faces stopped showing up. I personally quit playing that game because they are dropping $3 a hand for promotions with garbage payouts (in addition to $3 for rake). Why play a split pot game for slightly larger stakes when I can play Hold’em where the drop is basically the same and the promo payouts are SUBSTANTIALLY larger? I really enjoy playing games other than Hold’em but Sunday has become the best day to play at Palace now and Omaha is not the game you want to be in.

So I guess I’m an 8/16 player again? Barf. Not like I have a ton of options without making a serious drive. Fortune’s 20/40 games are about as dead as the Palace games. I’m a fan of the 20/40 Mix at Red Dragon, but it’s such a brutal commute and the game seems to start way too late. I guess it’s time to bite the bullet and start playing some no limit or start traveling a lot more. Both of those things are going to be more of a focus in 2020.

In light of all this, I finally decided to make a trip to La Center, Washington to check out the 30/60 game I’ve heard about at Last Frontier. Sandman told me that he’s played in it and gave it an unfavorable review, saying the game isn’t great and that it seems to break around 5 or 6 PM (with a noon start) a lot of the time. Considering this is a four hour commute for me, that news is pretty alarming, but it’s not like I have options around here and I had to go check it out for myself.

I made the trip this past Wednesday and I think I was like 5th or 6th on the list when I called in, but I actually ended up starting the game. I wasn’t happy to immediately recognize rodeo, a Two Plus Two LHE crusher that plays reasonably high stakes. I also recognized at least two other faces, although I don’t know too much about them. Considering there looked to be three pros in the game, I didn’t think the game was too bad and watching rodeo absolutely demolish the rest of the table, I realized that a) I may not be playing the most profitable style of limit Hold’em and b) when you know how to exploit the regulars in your game at an elite level, the fact that the game is not “great” doesn’t matter too much.

It really was a sight to behold. Rodeo was doing things I wouldn’t even consider doing. I’m sure his style creates some pretty severe variance, but he’s someone that I have no doubt is better than me and when you see someone like that doing things you don’t do, it’s time to start reconsidering your approach. He wrecked the game for at least +$5k in six hours or so and was obviously running well, but I was still extremely impressed with how he was doing it.

Overall, I really enjoyed my experience at Last Frontier in La Center. First off, they let me walk right in with my backpack without hassling me. I ate my own snacks and drank from my own water bottle and no one said anything about it. I thought the players and staff were pretty friendly and even the more serious players at the table had easygoing table presences.

Also, there’s a nice park across the street to walk around during breaks:

When I’m playing on the road in a game that’s brand new to me, I start off playing extremely tight, but I also had rodeo on my immediate left and when I saw what he was doing and how well he navigated after the flop, I knew I was going to stay playing really tight all day long. When a really good player is on your left, playing a lot of hands, 3-betting with every suited connector, bluffing a lot and being really sticky, he will make your life hell if you want to widen your range. So for my first four hours, I played very few hands. I was card dead, in addition to having a horrible seat. I won a couple of nice pots with AK suited and AA and flopped a flush with QT suited. The only ugly hand I lost was a 3-bet 4-way pot with TT when one of my opponents showed up with KQ on 974K5 so I was up about $600 after four hours or so.

I came back from a break and posted in the cutoff and was happy to see two jacks when it folded to me. I raised it up and rodeo 3-bet on the button and I called. I got a J94 flop and K4 runout and rodeo called me down after I check-raised the flop and that was the only pot of significance that I won from him. I was definitely hoping for some more action in this spot considering this is a situation where my range should be far weaker than usual, but my image up to this point was super nitty and I suppose I should be happy to be even get to showdown.

Of course I was aware of this image and I found at least one spot to exploit it. I defended a cutoff open with KTo in a 3-way pot and check-called a bet on J33. The turn was a queen and when my opponent bet, I figured a check-raise from me would have a lot of credibility, plus this is likely a wide range spot for him, so I figured to have a high rate of success with a bluff here and he did end up folding.

I had a spot where I picked up AA folded to me on the button and the big blind defended against my open. The flop was K33 and I got check-raised, so I called and when he fired out again on the turn, I jacked him up and was a little perplexed when he responded with a 3-bet. The turn was a ten and I’m sure he’d be pretty happy holding KT here, but I didn’t really think this was the type of player that would 3-bet me with a hand like KQ, so I guess I’m just calling down at this point? The river is jack and I call his bet, hoping for some sort of spazz, but he has the 83 of clubs.

I think I peaked somewhere around +$1500 and later in the night, as the game got shorter, I found myself in an extremely profitable situation. Eventually, I was playing 4-handed with one solid player, a very loose-passive player, and an unhinged, spewy maniac. It was approaching 8 PM and I had a two hour drive home ahead of me, so I was ready to call it a day, but I couldn’t pass up this spot and unfortunately the maniac mostly got the best of me.

On one hand, before we were 4-handed, there were two limpers and the maniac raised from the small blind. I defended in the big with 66 and got the 876 flop. The maniac and I capped the flop and I was prepared to do more raising on the turn, but when it was a 5 and he still bet, I somehow talked myself out of putting in the raise. My hand is obviously doing extremely well against someone that can have any two cards and I’m certain he’d be punting bets here with overpairs, but I’d already seen enough to know that 9x and 4x hands were in his range here and ultimately decided to just call down. I didn’t fill up on the river and this guy did end up having the T9 offsuit and flopped the nuts.

The maniac was creating a high variance situation 4-handed and I wasn’t flopping well and was in danger of turning $1500 into a nearly breakeven session before rivering a one card flush with KQ to somewhat save things from going completely off the rails. The game broke a short while later and I finished at +$1051.

Overall, I was pretty happy with my experience and I’ll definitely be going back. The game broke just after 8 though, so I can see how it could break even earlier on some days and if I’m going to make this trip, it’s going to have to be at least a two day event. I’ve heard the 20/40 games on Tuesdays are really good, so in the future I’ll be driving there on Tuesdays, playing 20/40 all day, staying the night somewhere, playing 30/60 on Wednesdays, and then driving back. I expect this to be a pretty regular part of my routine going forward in 2020. I’ve also heard the 20/40 games are really good on Fridays, so I might stretch my stays to Saturday some of the time.

I also made an appearance at Fortune this month with the intention of playing some 20/40. I know they generally only get one game now and have had a hard time starting it lately, but I figured if I went there on a Thursday it would pop off pretty early. It was my first time going to Fortune to play 20/40 since May. The last two times I’d been there, I just popped in to play some 4/8 with a friend of mine that doesn’t play much poker.

I had to endure almost three hours of 1/3 NL before the 20/40 game finally started just after 5 PM. I knew I was leaving at 9 PM to see Queen & Slim, but I couldn’t wait to get out of that NL game so I took a seat even though I had a hard stop time and would only be able to play about 3.5 hours.

I only have one interesting note from this session: I got to pull off the extremely rare feat of check-raising every single street. I know I’ve done this before in my poker playing days, but it wouldn’t shock me if it’s been over a decade since it last happened. I didn’t even realize I did it until Bulletproof said something after the hand: “did you just check-raise every street?”

I can’t even really brag about it though. Here’s how it happened: it folds to the cutoff, he opens, and I defend in the big with the 54 of spades. The flop is Q73 with two hearts and a spade. This is a wide range spot for the cutoff and I have a weak draw, so I’m looking to bluff here by check-raising. When he responds with a 3-bet, I’m going to take one off and fold if I don’t improve most of the time, but the turn is the ace of spades and I feel like I’m in another good bluffing spot. If he has a queen, a flush draw, or a medium pocket pair and decides to bet the turn, he’s not going to love it when I raise and may fold a queen some of the time and will probably fold medium pairs a good amount of the time. If he calls, I’m going to have to bet most rivers and hope he missed a draw or might finally fold a queen or worse. In addition, I picked up a double gutter and a flush draw, so I have plenty of equity when he does stick around. He ends up tanking for such a long time that I think it’s going to get through and I’m extremely shocked when he comes out of it with another 3-bet. Ouch! Geez, I guess I’m just going to have to get there. My plan is to lead spades, but check-raise my straight cards and the river is the lovely 6 of diamonds, allowing me to do just that. I think if he’s at the top of his range here, I should get four big bets from him on the river, but he just calls and I win a very fun pot. I feel like pulling off the triple check-raise is a little less cool when you have seven high on two of those streets and get 3-bet both times, but what are you gonna do?

I’m having a decent December so far as I look towards the finish line of 2019. I had decent trips to La Center and Fortune that have actually had a huge impact on my overall results. In 86 hours at Palace this month, I’m running at a middling $9.70/hr and I’m having yet another shitty month in online mix games (more on that in my 2019 results post). I’m currently at +$1600 for the month and with holidays dominating the last ten days of December, I probably won’t get a ton of volume in before the new year. Sadly, this has been an above average month for me lately up to this point, so I guess I have to look on the bright side… but really 2020 can’t get here soon enough.

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November 2019 Poker Results and December Goals

December 1, 2019

My jam of the moment and my mantra for December and 2020 is Kids See Ghosts’ (Kanye and Kid Cudi) “Reborn.”

I’m so, I’m so, re-born… I’m moving forward… keep moving forward… keep moving forward… ain’t no stress on me, Lord… I’m moving forward… keep moving forward… keep moving forward…

Yessir.

Welp, I didn’t get it done yesterday, but no surprise there. I needed to make about $1400 and when I made the decision to play 8/16 at Palace instead of traveling to play in a bigger game, I basically gave up on any chance of getting out of the hole. Granted, I’ve won $1400+ in 8/16 on multiple occasions but those are special sessions.

Basically, my deciding factor was I was on the fringe of qualifying for $15 food comps for the month of December and putting in a big session would basically lock that up for me. That can be a savings of like $150 to $200 a month, if not more.

I finished -$591 and that left me about -$2k for the month of November, good for my 6th worst month ever.

I ran salty yesterday and I’m not going to go over all the hands I lost in depth, but I did make two insane folds that I feel are worth mentioning.

First, I raised with AA and got 5- or 6-way action to a flop of J96 with two diamonds. A straight-forward player that trends tight, especially with his aggressive actions, led out into the field, I raised, and three players cold called behind me before the initial bettor 3-bet and everyone called.

My plan at this point is to get to showdown unless things get ugly. I don’t think I can limit the field by capping the flop and raising the turn isn’t appealing anymore either. I have the ace of diamonds in my hand so it’s not the end of the world if the flush gets there on the turn.

The turn is an offsuit 8 and when the big blind leads again, I think for a bit, and just muck it. This is exactly the kind of fold I talked about not making in my last post, but this spot is a bit different, as there are four opponents still in the hand, and a tight-passive player just lead into the field when the board texture straightened out quite a bit. I wasn’t 100% convinced that the bettor had me beat but I was pretty sure I was extremely unlikely to win this pot. I’m getting 13.5 to 1 so folding seems pretty bad.

I ran this hand by a couple friends and they absolutely hated my fold. I don’t disagree with them, but sometimes you have to trust your instincts. This board sucks for my hand and I have way too many opponents. I only saved one big bet though. Everyone else called and the button ended up raising the turn (a raise I definitely would have folded to) and had QT at showdown.

The other hand, I raised a series of limpers with AQdd from the small blind. I got a flop of A43 with two hearts and I decided to check since the field was large and I was hoping I could raise a bet from late position and limit the field. Instead, a tight-solid player bet from utg, someone called, a middle position player raised, I cold called the raise, unsure of my plan, and the utg player 3-bet and everyone called… until I folded… for one more small bet… with two bets out there already.

I can’t really explain this one. I think it comes down to history with the utg player and picking up on extreme strength in the way he was putting his bets in. Physical tells aren’t a strength of mine by any means, so whatever I picked up on was subconscious, but again, I trusted my instincts and the utg player ended up showing a set of 4s.

My friends hated that fold also.

🤷🏻‍♂️

Oh well. I’m looking forward to a rebound in December.

Some goals and things I’m looking forward to in December:

-spend serious time working on mental game strength

-book my trips to Cali for LAPC in February

-get back on track with diet, meditating, and lifting

-UW vs Gonzaga on Dec. 8th

-Movies: Uncut Gems, Little Women, … Rise of Skywalker?

-Streaming: Marriage Story, Killing Eve s2, Marvelous Mrs. Maisel s3, The Witcher

Check out TV Show Ratings (By Season) for rating for Schitt’s Creek s2 and Killing Eve s1.

On to December!

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Let’s Get Even – 15/30 and 20/40 Mix “Live” Blog

November 29, 2019

Going to do a little throwback blog style for my last two sessions, although not quite as detailed as past live blogs have been.

You know what time it is. I’m stuck about $2500 for the month of November and I have two sessions to get out of the red.

I’ll post updates here every two hours or so when I take a break.

I spent some time at the kiddie tables this week so my confidence has gotten a boost.

Let’s get it.

4 PM: Rough start so far. Something like 13 names on the list and only 6 players taking seats so far. FanBoy and Billy Dubz are in the mix and Ducky is finally back from Korea. Hopefully more will be joining soon.

5:45 PM: The game filled out as we picked up Part-Time and a couple others. Last I checked there still wasn’t a list though.

My first few hours have been mostly uneventful. I think I’ve played four hands of consequence. I won a nice pot when I turned a set with 66 vs Billy Dubz’ TT on a 74468 board and got a raise in on the turn. I also had a pot with AA where Part-Time tried to check-raise bluff me on a board of J87J before power folding on the river when… the flush got there? Okay. Other than that, I missed a flush draw with QTcc in a sizable, multi-way single-raised pot.

I was very card dead but at least I won a couple of key pots.

I also decided to not play with an Overs button tonight and was subjected to much ridicule but I’ve been wanting to experiment with this for a while and while I’m getting clobbered seems like a reasonable time.

I’m currently +$290 on my first break. $2200 to go!

8:00 PM: Uh. Something weird just happened: this 15/30 game broke. Once the list cleared and we had an open seat, it seemed like half the table was unhappy about the remaining lineup and the game went from eight players to zero in not quite record time, but pretty close.

That was totally unexpected. I guess I’m going to play 8/16 now.

I was a bit more active over these last two hours.

I won a nice 3-bet pot with AJ when I flopped a jack and got all the streets of value.

I had an odd hand where I 3-bet QQ and c-bet A22 in a 3-way pot and got called in both spots… but when I turned a queen they both check-folded.

I may or may not have gotten lucky here: I have red kings and it gets capped heads up. We cap again on a Q32hh flop. The turn is the 9h and I decide to check-call this street as the hands I’m doing well against (AQ?) is starting to shrink. The river is the best card in the deck though – the ace of hearts – and my opponent folds when I lead out.

And a weird one vs Part-Time: he opens from hijack and I 3-bet A9ss on the button and we are heads up. He donks on a flop of AQ7, all diamonds, and I decide I’m just going to call him down as long as the flush bricks off. Unfortunately, the turn is another diamond and I fold to his bet and he shows me 43o with a diamond. 🤯

Hopefully this game breaking early isn’t going to be a new trend. Oh well. Finished +$529 for the 15/30 session and hopefully I can keep the momentum going in 8/16.

Not going to update every two hours anymore, so I’ll just post my results when I’m done tonight.

12:44 AM: Not the blog post I was envisioning tonight, but pretty happy with the overall results.

After the 15/30 broke, I sat down in the third 8/16 game and that got 3-handed pretty quickly and I had a huge rush, hitting almost every flop and missing zero bets, no matter how thin. I won about $600 in maybe 45 minutes or so and felt a little bad that my lifting partner was one of my victims.

I eventually moved to the second 8/16 game and things didn’t go as well there. I had one huge pot where I had AA against Radio Mike on a board of AJTJ and we went three bets in Overs on the turn and my hand ended up holding for High Hand for an extra $200.

All in all, I finished 8/16 at +$704 in three hours of play and adding my 15/30 results, I had a +$1233 night – my best day of the entire month – and cut my deficit for November in half with one session to go.

Also, The Leak started her day off -$800 and somehow finished +$1000, which is probably the most remarkable comeback she’s ever had and made for a good day on the felt for both of us, something we haven’t enjoyed in a while it seems.

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It’s Official: This is the Worst Run of My Poker Career

November 26, 2019

It’s Tuesday the 26th and my next several days will be spent preparing for and hosting a rather large Thanksgiving gathering at our house. I am currently down about $2500 for the month of November and it looks like I may or may not get a maximum of two more sessions in this month. I say may not because I’ve been taking extra days off and I think I’ve ragequit something like 4-5 times this month. Granted, the ragequit isn’t as severe when it comes 8+ hours deep into a session, as I’m basically just cutting off my last hour or two instead of powering through, but I had at least three sessions that didn’t even hit the five hour mark. For what it’s worth, I probably don’t ragequit 4-5 times in a typical year, so this development has been rather… disturbing. I thought I was past that point, but apparently this never-ending downswing/breakeven stretch has put my mental game strength to the ultimate test (and it’s failing). All in all, it’s not very good to ragequit because theoretically it costs money in the long run, but since my ragequits are all a product of a tremendous amount of accumulated tilt boiling over, I’m sure it’s better for me not to be at the tables. When I know my game is off and I can’t get it back immediately, I just quit playing.

But this is my fucking job. I have to play. I mean… it’s not like I’m generating any income – I really haven’t done much of that since July – so maybe not playing right now is better for our bottom line. I’m honestly not sure at this point. I think I’m mostly playing my normal solid game but I’ve definitely seen clear slippage into C-Game. The clarity that I usually play poker with has pretty much evaporated because I rarely connect with a flop and when I do have a hand, I feel like I’m going to get beat almost every time. The wins just seem so few and far between and momentum (i.e. stringing together some decent pots) is unheard of. For every step I take forward, I take four or five back. The vast majority of this month has pretty much been raise preflop, check-call the flop with whiffed overcards in a multi-way pot, and fold on the turn. I just feel so transparent because I never have anything after the flop and the rare times I do and can actually bet, it seems obvious that I actually have something. And it’s not like I can mix it up because if I start barrelling off with my whiffs in multi-way pots, I’m just burning chips and there’s usually too many players in the pot to check some of my good hands and it’s not like I can afford to miss any bets right now. Also, while there’s still a chance I can turn November into a winning month over my last two sessions, there’s also a somewhat similar chance that I could post my worst month of all-time instead… I’m definitely drawing live on that if I play red chip games this weekend and run bad enough.

Some that read this might think I’m over-exaggerating things – especially seasoned pros with huge bankrolls – because I haven’t had a losing month since April. However, my last three months have all been far below average and November is currently threatening to wipe out my last two months of “income” entirely. If I didn’t play for the rest of this month, I will have profited $2100 over the last four months combined, or roughly $500 a month. I’d say what our monthly expenses have been during that span, but I’m pretty sure my wife would feel like that’s an overshare, but uhhh… it’s not good… so yeah, when you play for a living, you don’t have to actually be losing to feel like you are getting CRUSHED. I’ve been roughly breakeven over the past four months but my bankroll has taken an absolute beating. I wouldn’t say I’m in the Danger Zone yet, but I’ve definitely started wondering what I would do if I had to get a job. That’s a scary thought – aside from playing poker, my interests don’t align very well with making good money. And honestly, one of the last things I’d want to do is start working in the industry again… but where else can you get an entry level job at age 37 and make $30+ an hour? Hopefully it doesn’t come to that. I’m still a ways off from having to pull the trigger on a day job again, but it’s not like I can’t see it from here.

Really though, I’m feeling this run bad in a very specific way: I can’t win at Palace to save my life. This is a place where I’ve won enough money to pay off a decent house. I’ve won more money at Palace than I have at the Rio, where I have three scores between $32k and $45k. This place is my home. Old Reliable. When I have a bad trip somewhere, I can always count on rebuilding when I get back to Lakewood. But not this year. Not really. I’m sure there are plenty of people out there that would be ecstatic making $12 an hour playing poker – especially people that play at Palace – but it has been a rather shocking experience for me. To illustrate, I first started playing regularly at Palace in 2015, almost entirely 8/16, and I made $15.50/hour there that year. Then in 2016, still playing mostly 8/16, my hourly jumped to $27.50. 15/30 and PLO first started getting spread in 2017 and my hourly at Palace that year was just over $33 and then in 2018 when most of my hours were in red chip games, my hourly skyrocketed to $47/hr… so yeah… $12/hr is startling. I’m making less than I was when I was getting my feet wet at the 8/16 level. Unreal.

I’m actually posting paltry (for me) win rates in all three of my main games (8/16, 15/30, and PLO) at Palace this year. As it stands now, November is my third month this year that I’ve lost over $3k just at Palace. In all, I’ve posted six losing months there in 2019. Since the beginning of June, I’ve lost $441 playing poker at Palace – good for a -$1.09/hr “win rate” – and since the beginning of August, I’m down almost $6700 – good for a much more savage -$22.08/hr. That’s four months straight of walking into my home court and losing violently. That’s the longest stretch of losing poker I’ve ever had at Palace and the last four months is by far my biggest and longest downswing I’ve ever had playing there.

I don’t really have an explanation for it. I think it’s just variance – variance like I’ve never experienced before – and some wear and tear on my overall play caused by these extreme conditions. I don’t think it’s unnatural to see some slippage in the quality of my play the longer this brutal stretch goes on. But man… people sure do love giving me their advice. People that don’t even play poker. My mom thinks everyone at Palace knows how I play… like they haven’t been playing with me for 4+ years and getting pummelled regularly… and now everyone has suddenly figured me out in 2019. Or maybe I’m giving away all my secrets on my blog… like people haven’t had access to good poker content for years and still play the same terrible poker they’ve always played. I’m not naive enough to think that no one has ever benefited from reading my posts and then used that information against me, but the number of people that read my blog and play against me regularly is pretty small and we all have so much history together that constantly adjusting is just part of our regular game flow. Most of the people I play with don’t even know this blog exists.

A friend of mine told me he thinks I’m paying off too much. I mean, damn, do you know how hard it is to fold really good hands when you never connect with the board? I finally get a hand that can win a showdown most of the time and I’m going to fold it? Here’s what happens when you start to overthink it: early in my 8/16 session last night, I raise it up with the A2dd, The Queen calls and is all in before the flop, the button calls, and some random dude that looks like he’s probably a fucking punter 3-bets it from the big blind and we call. Then I flop the nut flush on a Q53 board and the big blind and I cap it while the button clears out. The turn pairs the 5 and he just check-calls on this street, but when a third 5 comes on the river and he leads out, I’m just in disbelief. I have no history with this guy so I should just call it off – especially since he looks like a dingus – and curse my bad luck when he shows me a full house, but instead, I flashed my hand to the guy that told me I’m paying off too much and said “how is this my life now?” and basically let the whole table know that I had flush and then tossed it in the muck, only for the big blind to turn over KJ high… just a busted flush draw. And immediately, I was embarrassed and emotionally jarred. Then, in the next orbit, I saw this dude win a pot with J5o from middle position and cold call a raise on the turn with 32o (another hand he limped in with) on a 742K board only to get rocked for three big bets on the river when he made two pair against K7. If I saw those two hands first, I never would have folded that flush against him. Never. And I still shouldn’t have. The point is, limit Hold’em is a pay off game. You don’t win money by folding good hands in heads up pots just because you think you might be beat. That’s how you lose really big pots folding the best hand. I’ve done it many times in my career. I did it last night. And every time I do it, it’s a solid reminder that paying off “too much” is infinitely better than folding the best hand in big pots on any sort of regular basis. You have to be really, really sure to make those kinds of folds and unless you have tons of history, you will never be that sure.

Note: I didn’t fold that flush because of the above advice. I folded it because I thought he could have zero bluffs and I’m an idiot. The fact that guy happened to be sitting next to me is just… perfect?

Another friend of mine just messaged me and asked if dropping down in stakes is affecting me (i.e. playing more 8/16). Let’s examine. I’m having a terrible November in 8/16. No doubt about that. I’m down over $3300 and I’ve lost 7 of 9 sessions, for an average loss of $372 and my hourly during this span is -$56/hr. That’s some serious spewage. However, prior to this month, I had been crushing 8/16 at Palace in 2019, to the tune of $34/hr (over 2 Big Bets per hour). Granted, that’s not a huge sample size – it’s basically 1.25 months of full time poker – but I have a long history of annihilating the 8/16 game at Palace, so a 60 hour sample of getting destroyed isn’t going to make me think I suddenly forgot how to play at these limits. It would be a lot more alarming if all my other recent history wasn’t so in line with my career win rates. Also, I’ve had some downswings like this in my 8/16 career, once or twice, so it’s not like it’s totally unprecedented. So no, I don’t think I’m adjusting poorly to playing more lower stakes. I mean… my 4/8 win rate is $43/hour this year. Sample sizes that small are essentially worthless.

Basically, what I’m saying is… I definitely appreciate some of the concern I’m getting and I know anyone reaching out typically means well… but this is something I have to deal with myself. Unless you do this for a living, it’s really hard to grasp how much variance can affect your results. Sometimes it can be really extreme and I feel like I’m just going through a prolonged stretch of extremely bad variance. It doesn’t have to necessarily be anything technical in my game that is causing this and while I think I’ve made some mistakes (as any poker player does) during this period, I don’t think playing poorly is at the root of the problem here. I have a very small group of people that I look to for advice when it comes to poker and all of them are experienced players and most of them have a winning track record. They get it. It’s hard for me to respectfully take the advice of people that don’t get it. You think a professional baseball player that’s in a slump wants to hear hitting tips from some dude that plays on a company softball team? I imagine most people would be taken aback if I walked into their job and told them what I thought they could be doing more efficiently. I realize writing this blog makes my business public and probably makes people want to help, but I don’t need help… I just need to work through it and hope it turns around sooner rather than later. I have a long history of doing extremely well at this game and while I’ll admit I’m a bit concerned about my bankroll size and ability to play for a living long term, I’m not worried that my game has suddenly fallen off a cliff because I’ve had a rough few months.

I know this post has been pretty bleak, so let me share some good information. Outside of the Palace, my cash game win rate is $65.50/hour and I’ve been running at almost 2 Big Bets per hour on the road. I’ve made over $100/hour playing cash games in L.A. and Vegas this year. Is that because those people don’t know me? I doubt it. It’s not like I know them. Is it because the players in SoCal and Vegas are substantially worse than the Palace regulars? Hell no. You want to know what it is? Variance. Shining on me when I happen to be travelling. I can guarantee you that I’m not playing any better when I’m in a 40/80 game at The Bike than when I’m playing 8/16 at the Palace. I play my normal game, adjust to the game flow and the player profiles, and exploit accordingly. I’m trying to win the maximum no matter what stakes I’m playing. I don’t take a 45 minute warm up in a 4/8 game any less seriously than I did when I played 50/100 Mix earlier this year.

Even over the past four months, while my game has seemingly fallen apart at Palace, I’ve managed to post a $54/hr win rate in cash games anywhere else. Those numbers kept me afloat from August through October and speaks to the idea that my game is just fine and that variance is by far the most likely culprit for how things are going at Palace.

So what’s the answer? Start playing on the road more often? Stop playing most of my hours at Palace?

I guess a change of scenery would be nice, but it’s not really the answer. There is no answer. Just keep grinding and things will turn.

When I get really down about how things are going, I think it’s super important to remember it’s all about the long run.

Here’s what this four month stretch looks like in graph form:

And here’s what the long run looks like at Palace over nearly 5000 hours:

It’s been a rough year… but something tells me it will turn out just fine. I just need it to happen before I run out of money!

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November 2019 Poker: 1st through 13th

November 13, 2019

I posted about my trip to Commerce already, but the 1st of November happened to fall on a Friday and I never covered that 15/30 session. Well, I had been dealing with a cold (for the second time in two weeks) for about 3-4 days already and I was feeling extremely questionable for that Friday session. It was bad enough that as we started driving to Palace, before we left our general neighborhood, I turned to Dina and said, “I shouldn’t play today, should I?” Of course, she is going to be fine with whatever decision I make, and I ultimately decided that I was going to try to power through.

I don’t think it was my best decision. I got off to a really rough start and found myself down over $700 at my first break, about 90 minutes into the session. I had already paid off with top pair vs better top pair and ran QJ into 87 on J9655 in a hand where Taz check-calls flop and just leads turn – a line that is very hard to fold to on that runout.

These two hands were the killers though:

I open with 99 and Huey 3-bets me. We both check on a flop of 873 rainbow. I lead out on the 6 of spades turn and he raises. This is kind of weird, although I do think Huey is capable of checking back an overpair on rare occasions. I call and then call again on the jack of spades river and he shows me AK of spades for a running flush.

I open with AT and get a couple of calls. The flop is AT4 and only the small blind calls me. The turn is an 8 and he check-raises. I’m basically only losing to 44 here, so I 3-bet and he calls. The river is a queen and he check-calls, so my hand is obviously good here… but… after I show, he turns over 88 for a turned set. I have to admit that one stung quite a bit. We were playing Overs on the flop, so he’s almost paying a big bet to see the turn here and then when he just calls my 3-bet, I feel like I never have the worst hand and get to experience the feeling of being slowrolled at showdown. I guess it’s technically a nitroll, but it’s hard for me to call someone a nit when they check-call a big bet on an AT4 flop with 88.

It’s weird… I took a break after 90 minutes and got a massage when I came back. I only took notes on a couple hands after that point but I still managed to lose almost another $700 for the day. I guess I must have been raising a decent amount of AJ+, JTss+ hands and whiffing the board.

Anyways, I was feeling completely miserable and after playing a huge, multi-way raised pot vs. Huey where we capped on a J98 flop when I had QT and he had T7.. only for him to turn a queen for a chop… I knew I was done for the day. I was pushing it with my health, but it’s amazing what your body and mind can withstand if you’re running good. Running bad though? I wanted to die. I felt 1000 times worse than when I showed up. I felt guilty for even being there. I even told the masseuse that I was dying and she could refuse service if she wanted, but she gave me a massage anyway. I left when it was over and started my November with a somewhat shocking -$1378 in just over three hours.

I was supposed to hang out with my dad for his birthday the following day and watch The Breeder’s Cup and gamble with him, but I was still feeling miserable and couldn’t fathom spending nearly 3 hours driving a car. I stayed home and hoped that a full day of rest might be enough to make me feel confident about flying to L.A. the next day.

I felt quite sick all day Saturday and when I went to bed, I was leaning towards cancelling my trip. I woke up around 8 AM and I still thought I probably shouldn’t go. However, when my alarm went off at 10 AM and I stood up, I thought I could do it. And I did.

I’ve already blogged about my entire trip to Commerce and it was good enough that it more than erased the deficit I created for myself on the 1st. But I was moderately sick the whole time I was in Cali and as I type this on Tuesday, November 12th, I still have a lingering cough and some fatigue on at least my 14th day dealing with this same cold. But today is the best I’ve felt in the last two weeks, so I think it’s pretty much over now.

My first session back from Cali was another 15/30 at Palace and I got off to a pretty decent start. In my first 90 minutes or so, I had TT+ five times and won each of those pots, although none of them were too exciting. I did, however, manage to lose the biggest pot I got involved in when I raised with 88 and got multiway action on a flop of T84 with two hearts. I got four bets in multiple ways on the flop and another bet in on a king turn, but the river was the 5 of hearts and someone led into me and I paid off his J9 of hearts. But thanks to my big pairs holding up, I was still up around $300 by my first break.

Over my next 90 minutes, I had TT+ six times and won four of those pots. I also made a straight with 65ss in a sizable pot. My key pot during this stretch was with TT in a raised, multiway pot where three of us put in three bets on a 975 two diamond flop and I had some concern that I might be behind. However, I turned top set and charged both players two big bets to see the river. The 5 of diamonds paired the board and brought in the flush draw and one of my opponents donked into me and I had the rare opportunity to put in raises on every single street.

One of my JJ hands caught a 953 flop where one of my opponents really telegraphed their hand strength. I didn’t have the betting lead before the flop, so I checked it to the player in position, he bet the flop, the big blind flatted, I check-raised, the in position player called and the big blind suddenly woke up with a 3-bet. 953 rainbow? Yeah, I hate my hand. I just called down from there and he showed me a set of nines. Still, I was up around $750 after 3+ hours.

I stayed pretty hot over the next 3-4 hours and ended up peaking around +$1800. Goodness, it looked like I might not only book a decent win in the 15/30 at Palace for the first time in forever, but I might even be on my way to a great session.

Alas, I cooled off a bit, but I had some interesting hands over my next stretch of play. First off, I defended my blind against a Radio Mike raise while he was in the midst of a terrible session – so bad he was having visions of possibly booking his worse loss of all-time. He’s also a good friend of mine, so I didn’t feel too great about what happened next. I had the QJ off and I believe we saw the T33 flop 3-handed and I decided to check-call. The turn was a king and when Mike bet again, I decided to check-raise because I didn’t think he was going to call down without at least a king and I was certainly capable of having a 3 defending from the big blind. Plus, if he called or raised, I probably had up to 8 outs to improve. So I check-raised and he did end up folding and I cringed a little to myself and didn’t show the bluff, but I’ll let him read about it now that he’s fully recovered (and even came back this session to book a win!).

Next, I had a spot against Joker that I’ve been thinking about ever since it happened. It’s 3-bets to me preflop and I have KK in the small blind and put the cap on it. The flop is ten high and disconnected, so I bet and two players call. The turn is an ace and I’m pretty sure I just lost the pot. I check it and Joker bets and while the third player is in the tank, I start thinking about how sick it would be to turn my hand into a bluff here and check-raise. From Joker’s perspective, when I cap from the small blind, he knows my range is extremely strong. I think if I check-raise here, the worst hand he will put me on is AQ, plus I still have sets of tens and aces in my range, but probably not AT very often. I honestly think that if I executed the check-raise here, he would have given serious thought to folding anything worse than AQ, especially since we are playing 25/50 Overs. Unfortunately, I just check-called and he decided to give me a free showdown on a queen river and tabled AJ. I feel like it was a really good opportunity to do something cool and outside-the-box and I think it would have worked. We’ve talked about the hand a little bit and he thinks he may have laid it down and I believe him.

Note: the thoughts on the above hand are extremely opponent dependent and based on tons of history. This would be pure spew against almost anyone else.

I guess it was a bit of a slide because I ended up finishing the night with a rather disappointing +$1077. On the other hand, that’s my biggest 15/30 win in four months and it nearly doubled my win rate in the game for the entire year so… I guess that’s the bright side?

I returned to Palace on Saturday for some 8/16 in an effort to increase my volume and my session started off uneventfully, as I was only down $100 or so after 3+ hours. I was card dead and unable to find any good spots, but at least I wasn’t losing ferociously like you can when you get a run of good hands that never win.

My next 90 minutes were a lot worse. First, I had A5dd on a flop of 764 with two diamonds in a multiway pot. My wife led out from one of the blinds and I was in early position and while I want more money to go in the pot, I don’t want to knock people out behind me, so I just called. The turn was a jack and this time I was the only player that called her bet. The river brought in my flush but paired the board with a 6 and she still bet out. I’ve played a tremendous amount of hours with my wife and I know that if she was wary of a flush here that she would probably check. I suppose she could have a jack high flush here, but my read was that she could beat a flush, so I just called and she turned over the 76 for a full house. I wish I knew more people’s tendencies that well. I also found myself with AQ on a queen high board vs KK and an 8 high flush vs a 9 high flush during this stretch and suddenly I was down $500.

I maintained there for a while before the wheels really fell off. I lost huge pots with AK, KK, AA, and AQ in quick succession. The AA was particularly nasty, as I got it capped multiway preflop and got multiple bets in on a J93 rainbow flop and still found a way to lose to K2 of hearts (and the more reasonable Q9 of hearts). I mean… what the fuck. I think that one broke my spirit, but I gutted it out until about 2 AM and made a mini-comeback before calling it quits. I thought I had a chance to post a top 3 worse 8/16 loss, but my late rally of a couple pots put me at a final score of -$954, which is still the 8th worst 8/16 session I’ve ever had – I’m talking bottom 2% ever.

Nice way to follow up a bounce back session, eh?

Sunday we returned to Palace again for the 10/20 Omaha 8 or Better game and it was a sad sight. Only six of us showed up and after playing for about 20 minutes without anyone else sitting down, I noticed they were dropping $5 a hand – $2 for rake and $3 for the jackpot board. That’s insane for a 6-handed split pot game that is playing pretty tight. Even worse, the jackpots are all puny. All the quads are $70 or less and you have to make a Royal Flush or Bad Beat to win anything even remotely exciting. I couldn’t bear to play with the jackpot drop on and I asked the floor if he would text the manager to see if we could take the drop off and play for $2 rake a hand. The manager obliged, understanding that the game would probably break otherwise, but half the players wanted to keep it on! I couldn’t believe it! The main objector was Charlie Hustle, a self-proclaimed math teacher and a professor at UW-Tacoma, and I must’ve looked at him like he’s the stupidest person I’ve ever laid eyes on. He said he would be upset if he hit something big. I was just incredulous that these guys would want to sit around and pay $5 a hand playing this short and chopping pots they were mostly limping into.

I didn’t bother arguing. I racked up my chips and left the game, expecting my wife to also get up and knowing those bozos weren’t going to sit around and play 4-handed. Sure enough, the game broke. Good decision, dummies. Charlie Hustle couldn’t help but call me a “fucking wuss” multiple times after I left the table and mention that I “gamble with thousands of dollars all the time but cry about $3.” I don’t think he knew my wife was playing in that game and she lit him up pretty good, basically articulating everything I was thinking about the silliness of paying that drop and then when Charlie Hustle mentioned that he’s a math teacher – as in “you don’t need to school me on the academics of this” – she hit him back with: “not a very good one.” Gasp!

We ended up staying and played 4/8 and 8/16. I smacked them in my brief 4/8 session for +$219 in under two hours and had a decent +$475 in 8 hours of 8/16 with most of that profit coming from a $355 jackpot for a straight flush.

More importantly, this dude crushed it, having one of his all-time best 8/16 sessions right after making one of his all-time best comebacks in the 15/30 game on Friday. A weekend of accomplishments for Radio Mike and you can see just how pleased he is about it all.

But not as pleased about the photo op:

I also played a 6+ hour 8/16 session on Tuesday and booked a -$593. A good chunk of that can be attributed to running JJ and QQ into AA three different times and a critical pot where I had AK with a diamond on a board of QJT with two diamonds and got it capped multiple ways. The turn brought in the flush, but I bet since they checked to me and I can stand a raise, but two players just called. The river was a king and Curious George led out and showed me the 84 of diamonds. All in all though, I ran salty all night.

There was also a sequence of events that sent me outside to cool down. I had AK in a capped multiway pot and since I was out of position and without the betting lead, I checked the KQT flop, planning to check-raise the button. After I checked, the next player to act tried to power fold his hand but the dealer gave it back him (maybe) or The Leak told him not to muck (allegedly), but either way, he tried to fold and someone encouraged him to take his hand back. And then it checked around.

The turn was a 5 and I bet out. Now the player decided to call his remaining $12 (making his power fold attempt all the more ridiculous) and I ended up losing to his 54 on the river when he made two pair.

Okay… that was annoying… but wait! There’s more!

On the very next hand, Flea raises from the cutoff after a limper and I 3-bet A3 of clubs. The guy from the previous hand calls from a blind and we see a flop of A76 with two diamonds. The power folder donks the flop, Flea raises and both of these guys are way too loose and aggro for me to consider folding, so I put the 3-bet on with plans of checking back the turn and showing down unimproved if I can. They both call. The turn is a 3. Ding ding ding! The power folder donks again and now Flea decides to clear out the way (yeah, he flopped a monster), and I raise it again. He calls. The river pairs the 6 and brings in the flush and this dude leads out again. I’m pretty tilted about this runout, but I call, expecting to lose to A8+, but praying for spazz and he does show me spazz… only it’s the J4 of diamonds… Lets not forget that he is taking the max torch line with chips he shouldn’t even have (if he power folded the previous hand, he starts this one with $12 – he’s a felter)… so… yeah… this was a difficult sequence of hands to swallow.

Note: these last two hands actually happened in Sunday’s session

On the bright side though, I’m up about $1000 after the first two weeks of the month and that’s the best start I’ve had to a month in… forever. So maybe I can close November out strong and put together the kind of results I’m accustomed to.

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

November 4, 2019

I’ll make stack updates in this post.

Some notes so far:

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

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

-last year this same event had 55 total entrants

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

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

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

-Commerce is my worst casino since July 2014

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

First Break

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

Alrighty…

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

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

Yikes.

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

Super yikes.

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

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

We are now up to 71 entrants.

Second Break

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

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

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

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

A little momentum would be appreciated.

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

Third Break

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

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

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

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

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

The flop is AQJ and everyone check-calls me.

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

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

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

Fourth Break

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

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

17 players are left and average stack is 74k.

Fifth Break

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

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

Prize pool info:

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

Update

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

Sigh.

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

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

Busted 6th for $1435

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

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

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

Not a bad start, but I want MORE.

$400 Stud 8 at 1 PM tomorrow.

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October 2019 Poker Results

October 30, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

On Deck in November:

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

And that’s about it. See you then.