Posts Tagged ‘no limit hold em’

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2020 LAPC Schedule

January 25, 2020

I’ll be headed to Los Angeles for the LAPC next week so here’s a look at the events I’ll be targeting:

Wednesday, 1/29 – $400 Limit Hold’em
Thursday, 1/30 – $400 H.O.R.S.E. (Hold’em, Omaha 8/B, Razz, Stud, Stud 8/B)
Friday, 1/31 – $400 T.O.E. (2-7 Triple Draw, Omaha 8/B, Stud 8/B)
Saturday, 2/1 – Cash Games (or $400 No Limit H.O.R.S.E.)
Sunday, 2/2 – Cash Games (or hunt down a Jojo Rabbit showing)
Monday, 2/3 – $600 Omaha 8/B
Tuesday, 2/4 – $600 Stud (or Cash Games)
Wednesday, 2/5 – $600 2-7 Triple Draw
Thursday, 2/6 – $600 H.O.R.S.E.
Friday, 2/7 – $600 Draw Mix (2-7 Triple Draw, A-5 Triple Draw, Badugi)

I’m really excited about this series because I feel like my mix game play has come a long way… even since I played this same series last year. I’ve never played a 2-7 Triple Draw tournament, or a Stud Hi tournament, and I’ve only played one tournament each of T.O.E. and Draw Mix. But I’ve played all these games a ton over the past year. The No Limit H.O.R.S.E. tourney is intriguing, but I think it’s important to prioritize a cash game day over a tournament I didn’t plan to play. Commerce does award bonus money to the Mix Game Player of the Series so if I happen to bink one of my first few events, I’ll have to consider playing as many as I can and that would also require return trips later in the month. Also, I’m not a lock to play the $600 Stud tourney. If I skip any event I have in ink right now, that’ll be the one. Matt Savage (the Tournament Director) didn’t schedule any events for Sunday because of the Super Bowl, so I’ll be playing cash games that day, but I kind of like the idea of starting a tradition of going to the movie theater during the Big Game I don’t give a shit about, so if Jojo Rabbit is playing anywhere nearby, that’s what I’ll be doing.

Joker, Radio Mike, and Ducky will be joining me for the first 4-5 days of this trip and I think all of them are planning to play the LHE event, so that will be a fun day to sweat. I’ll probably post some blogs with stack updates, but I won’t be doing any in-depth writing while I’m on the road.

My last trip to Commerce was just profitable enough to nudge it below Aria on my list of worst locations ever. It is still one of three locations I’ve lost over $2k at (Tulalip and Aria being the others) and the only casino in the world where I’ve played 200+ hours and have lost money overall.

So… let’s change that and get 2020 off to a nice start!

Click here for the full LAPC schedule.

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2019 Poker Results

January 23, 2020

2019 has been a rough year for me, professionally. I feel like I mostly coasted through my first 2+ years gambling for a living. Buoyed by a huge summer at the 2016 World Series of Poker, I had what is still easily my best year of poker in 2016 and that allowed me to quit my day job in October of that year. I followed that amazing year up by making just over 80% of my 2016 poker net profit in both 2017 and 2018 – numbers I’m extremely happy with considering the stakes I play regularly and a home state that isn’t really a prime poker location. Of course, in 2017 I had a $45k score at the WSOP and in 2018 I took 1st in a tournament at the Muckleshoot Spring Classic and then won Player of the Series – good for a combined ~$26k profit in just a few days. So in each of the previous three years, I’ve had huge tournament success (for the stakes I play and the volume I put in) that really gave my overall profits a huge boost at the end of the year.

I didn’t get that boost this year. I did make a nice run in the $2500 Omaha 8/Stud 8 tourney at the WSOP, finishing 12th for around $12.5k, but that was my only good score of the entire year and I ended up having the first losing year of tournament poker that I think I’ve ever had. I certainly haven’t had a losing year of tourney poker since I started keeping meticulous records in 2011. Even going back to my drinking days during the pre-Black Friday era, I don’t think I ever had a losing year in tournaments. My thing back then was I would always have really nice tournament scores online and then blow all my profits back playing cash games when I was drunk. I can’t even tell you how many times I woke up from a night of drinking with $0 in my online poker accounts. It was like clockwork.

I’m not a tournament player though so it’s not like I can rely on big tourney scores as part of my annual income. I play a decent amount of events during the LAPC and WSOP (plus a few others throughout the year), but even in the big series, I play very few events compared to people that probably consider themselves tournament regulars. Obviously these big scores are great when they happen – and I’ve proven I can find them with decent frequency considering my volume – but they aren’t reliable and when you factor tournament wins into my last four years, the results play a pretty significant factor in my overall numbers (positively the first three years and negatively this year). I’ll get more into my actual tournament results later.

So yeah… I didn’t get that extra boost and that’s fine. What’s unfortunate is that I also combined it with a subpar cash game year. This has been somewhat documented already, but I’ll get into it in more detail later.

Considering all this, the second half of 2019 was the first time in years that I really wondered about my sustainability of playing poker for a living. Sure, my results were pretty lukewarm and that’s part of it, but the biggest reason I started to feel this way is because of what has happened to the poker scene where I live. I talked about it a bit in my last post, but I’ll recap here: my game of preference is mid-stakes (15/30 – 40/80) Limit Hold’em and those games are really dying in the Puget Sound area. The Fortune 20/40 only goes a few times a week now and only gets one table these days and the Palace 15/30 has really dried up over the last month. The 8/16 games at Palace are as good as ever, but I’ve put in thousands of hours in that game and it seems like $22/hour is about what I can expect to make in the long run. That’s not the worst. I mean, how can you complain about making $20+/hour doing something you really enjoy (and yes, I really do enjoy Limit Hold’em!) I know I can beat bigger games though. I’ve played as high as 50/100 and I’ve always felt like I was a favorite to win money in the long run in any game I’ve played. I’ve encountered plenty of players I think are better than me, but I’ve never really felt outclassed in a game I was sitting in. Even if I was only a 0.5 BB/hr winner at the 40/80 level – and nothing in my history suggests I can’t do at least that well – that’s still $40 an hour! That’s certainly a lot more attractive than playing 8/16 most of the time.

So what’s the answer? Move? Not going to happen. We just bought a house we love a year ago and we both really enjoy living in the Pacific Northwest. Travel more? I guess I have to. I honestly don’t feel like I travel that much considering the job I have, but then I look at my Trip Report for 2019 and see that I spent almost 20% of the year in another state, away from my wife. Plus, we want to start a family eventually and it’s hard to imagine that my time travelling would increase if and when we bring kids into the picture.

I guess it is what it is. I don’t think I have an answer. I suppose I have to just hope that the local scene somehow builds back up to my liking, or I transition to other games (No Limit cash), or online poker comes back, or I win a big enough tournament that I don’t have to really worry about it for a while… or… I get a day job again? Or… I just have to find contentment living at my absolute floor as a poker player.

That’s the battle going forward, but let’s get into my results from last year.

Live Cash Games

I played just over 1400 hours in live cash games and finished with an overall hourly that I’m okay with, but not thrilled about. The main reason I’m lukewarm on my hourly is because of my well-documented meager results at Palace last year. I spent over 65% of my total live cash game hours at Palace and produced my worst hourly in five years of full-time play there. I played 117 hours in home games and booked a $29/hr win rate in those gatherings. And then there are my “road” stats. Basically, any casino not located within a 30 mile is radius is considered a “road” casino in my eyes. I consider places like Palace, Muckleshoot, Red Dragon, and Fortune as “home” casinos, but something like Last Frontier, which is a 2+ hour drive each way and will usually require an overnight stay, is considered a “road” casino and certainly any poker room in another state is. Anyways, my hourly on the road in 2019 was a whopping $100/hr. After filtering out the few hours of big bet poker I played on the road, I’m left with a 1.97 BB/hr win rate in the limit games. Insane… especially considering the fact that I’m almost always playing bigger stakes when I’m travelling. In fact, my winnings on the road accounted for 63% of my live cash game profit in just 20% of the total hours. At least I ran good when it mattered most. Shrug.

My win rates at various limits and games (50 hours minimum):

40/80 LHE: 1.98 BB/hr
20/40 LHE: 1.90 BB/hr
15/30 LHE: 0.33 BB/hr
8/16 LHE: 1.02 BB/hr
20/40 Mix: 1.36 BB/hr
15/30 Mix: 0.36 BB/hr
1/3 PLO: -$4.16/hr

20/40 or higher: 1.28 BB/hr
8/16 to 12/24: 1.34 BB/hr
5/10 and lower: 4.72 BB/hr (LOL – only 57 hours though)

All live limit games: 1.22 BB/hr (over ~87% of my total live hours)

Live limit Hold’em games: 1.1 BB/hr
Live limit Mix games: 1.32 BB/hr

All live big bet games: -1.68 big blinds per hour

5 Biggest Wins:

+$5515 in $40/$80 LHE @ Bellagio
+$5035 in $40/$80 LHE @ The Bike
+$3789 in $1/$3/$5 PLO @ Palace
+$3430 in $8/$16 LHE (!!!) @ Palace
+$3186 in $50/$100 Mix @ The Bike

5 Biggest Losses:

-$2177 in $40/$80 LHE @ Bellagio (in < 2 hours!)
-$2089 in $15/$30 LHE @ Palace
-$2060 in $40/$80 LHE @ The Bike
-$1875 in $15/$30 LHE @ Palace
-$1857 in $20/$40 LO8 @ Muckleshoot

Live Tournaments

As noted previously, I had my first losing year of tournament poker. I only played 43 live tournaments last year, cashed in 10 of them (23%) and produced a -43% ROI. I had an average buy in of $790, but if you remove the Main Event ($10k buy in) from those numbers, the ABI drops down to $571. Of course, whiffing in a $10k event when your ABI is < $600 can have a traumatic effect on overall results. The Main accounted for 68% of my tournament losses and removing it from my results bumps my ROI up to -20%.

Unfortunately, four of my ten cashes happened at All Star Lanes and Palace in small local tournaments. I won both tournaments I played at All Star last year and made the final table of the Palace monthly two of the three times I played it.

That means I had six cashes in the other 37 tournaments (16%) I played last year and this is what I would consider my tournament drop zone – buy ins ranging from $350 to $1500. Filtering out the small local tourneys, I started my year off by bricking in 19 straight tournaments, even though I did cash the first event I played (I was in two bullets and still booked a loss). I guess the bright side is that I had a decent year from that point on, cashing in 6 of the last 18 tourneys I played for a 29% ROI.

Here are those six cashes:

21st of 219 in $400 8-Game @ Orleans for $860
12th of 401 in $2500 Stud 8/Omaha 8 @ WSOP for $10,600
6th of 55 in $550 Triple Stud @ Binions for $1280
21st of 342 in $800 NL Main Event @ Chinook Winds for $2320
6th of 88 in $400 Omaha 8 @ LA Poker Open for $1435
9th of 89 in $400 NL @ Muckleshoot for $980

Basically, I did one cool thing all year in a poker tournament. On the bright side, I made my third legitimate run at a bracelet in four years and that really makes me feel like I’m going to snag one someday.

Online Cash Games

Disclaimer: Online poker is a pretty grey area in many states in the U.S. and a black area in the state of Washington. Global Poker found a loophole in the system to make it “legal,” but even they eventually stopped allowing Washington state residents to engage in their Sweeps Cash model. With that said, the results I’m about to post were real on Global Poker, but results for any other site are just for play money. However, if I’m going to practice playing poker, I’m going to practice by playing my A-Game as much as I can and I’ll continue to use dollar signs when talking about my results in order to stay consistent.

In all, I played a shade over 700 hours in online cash games, but it should be noted that the actual amount of time spent playing is probably considerably less since I frequently play multiple tables at the same time and one hour at three tables would be considered three hours of play in my records. My results in 2019 were bad, basically because I got absolutely annihilated on a site that specializes in mix games. I actually quit the site three different times last year and at multiple points I was convinced that something was amiss; like I was being cheated in some way. While I don’t think I’m an expert at mix games, it was hard for me to swallow that I could possibly be this bad. I’ve certainly never had any problems winning in live mix games. It seemed like insane things were happening to me on a constant basis. I just couldn’t believe it. But I also realized my mind sounded like every losing poker player that wants to blame what’s happening on anything but themselves. Ultimately, I think it was just a lot of noise: horrible bad luck over a short period, especially when I was “taking shots.” And yes, I wasn’t as good as I thought I was and the player pool seems to be much stronger than average, even at the lower stakes.

Since I’m on this topic, I’ll go ahead and break down my online mix game results. 70% of my online cash game volume were in these mix games and I really did get killed. It is almost all limit mix games, but I did sprinkle in a few big bet hours so I’ll go ahead and filter those out since they didn’t have much of an effect on my overall results here. In all, I played 480+ hours in limit mix games and lost at a whopping -1.27 BB/hr clip! That’s a large enough sample that it’s legitimately worrisome. I wasn’t thinking about quitting multiple times for no reason!

I was able to find a bright side though. I played 36 hours at the 15/30 level (“shot-taking” stakes for me online) and ran at -5.44 BB/hr over that extremely small sample. However, that small sample had a extraordinary effect on my overall results: 64% of my total losses came in 7% of my total hours. I was still losing at nearly 1 BB/hr in the smaller games, but over my last 200 hours at those levels, I was only losing at -0.54 BB/hr. That gives me reason for hope and makes me think that I’m getting better, or at least the games are getting better. I’ve definitely seen an influx of new players in January and the games have been as good as they’ve ever been. It’s not like this is my first time paying tuition in poker. It kind of sucks to get throttled while you learn, but I feel like it’s worth it in the long run. At least for me.

My results on the other sites were much better. I ran at 1.26 BB/hr in limit games and 11.46 big blinds per hour in big bet games. I continued to improve in online PLO games, bumping my win rate up to 7.32 big blinds per hour – much better than the -25 bb/hr I was logging a couple years ago. Still, it was a pretty small sample size so I’m not going to celebrate too much.

Overall, it was a pretty bad year for online cash games because I did so poorly in the mix games.

Online Tournaments

I liked playing tournaments on Global Poker because they were soft and I didn’t have to plan an entire day around them. If I happened to be home around 5 PM on a day off, I could get in 5-6 decent tournaments and have a chance to go deep in all of them without having to play past 10 PM. But Global iced Washington players in June and the tournaments on ACR are so long that I basically never play them – I played ten online tournaments total over the last five months of the entire year. This kind of sucks because while I rarely target live No Limit Hold’em tournaments, I was playing them regularly enough online that I didn’t feel like I was completely out of practice when I did play a live one. Now though… I’m just never playing any No Limit Hold’em. Oddly enough, I played the 5th Sunday tourney at Muckleshoot in December and made the final table, so I guess I haven’t completely lost it.

In all, I played 117 online tournaments with an ABI of $24 and cashed in 29 of them – good for an ROI of 23%. It looks like I won four MTTs on Global before I got locked out and I took 1st of 498 in a $5.50 NL tourney on ACR for $473.25 and that was my biggest online cash of the year.

Life Goals

In 2019, I wanted to start exercising regularly and meditate every day.

We moved in January and I signed up for the LA Fitness that’s just a few minutes from our house and I figured that would leave me with no excuse to not go to the gym. I did start going pretty regularly before completely falling off a cliff during the WSOP (I gymed twice in 5+ weeks while I was there) and had to start all over again when I got back. I feel like I want to lift weights a bare minimum of three times a week, but I think four is really my happy place. Over the last six months of the year, I lifted this many times a month:
July: 10x
August: 10x
September: 9x
October: 11x
November: 5x (I was sick for 2+ weeks)
December: 16x

It basically took me all year, but I feel like I’m in a really good groove now. Some of the progress I’ve made is mind-boggling to me. When I was in high school, I never weighed more than 140 pounds and I don’t think I’ve ever benched my body weight in my entire life. If I ever put up 160 lbs on bench press in my life, I don’t remember doing it. It seemed like I would always be really underweight but over the last few years it finally happened: I’m on a scale looking down at 195 pounds now. This extra weight has obviously helped my bench press numbers, but I was still pretty shocked when I put up 185 lbs in early December. And then yesterday I put up 225 lbs. Wut.

When I started lifting in January of last year, I had a day for shoulders and I couldn’t even get through my routine because I was in so much pain. I didn’t know if it was pain from soreness or if I was actually injured, but it sure felt like the latter. I started doing standing barbell shoulder press with just the barbell (45 lbs) and I couldn’t even finish my reps. My shoulders were unbelievably weak. Now my 12 rep max for that lift is 85 lbs – almost double what I couldn’t even do when I started! That’s just crazy to me and it makes me feel really good about the progress I’ve made and the effort I’ve put in.

I suck at meditating. I really want this to work for me, but it’s a struggle. I meditated a tad over 50% of the days in 2019, but I didn’t have much consistency. I hit a stretch of 27 straight days in July, but I rarely string 4+ days in a row together otherwise. I did finish 2019 strong and continued a stretch of 31 days well into January, but I finally missed a day and now I’ve meditated once in the last five days and it feels like I’m starting all over again. But but but. One of these days I want to be so consistent and routine with this that it’s just a habit and hopefully I can really start reaping the benefits of doing it every day.

And that’s my 2019. I’ve never been so excited to put a year behind me. I’m heading to the LAPC next week and I’ll post a schedule of the events I’m planning to play before I go. I’ll probably also post my movie reviews and music stuff for the month before I head down because I won’t have time to do it while I’m down there.

Here’s to 2020!

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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.

h1

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

October 16, 2019

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

Well, let’s get to the sessions.

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

That guy obviously doesn’t read my blog.

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

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

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

Especially if I’m playing bad?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There were a couple of brutal ones during this stretch.

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

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

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

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

Yes. This year has been depressing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stay the course.

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September 2019 Poker Results (and Felix Hernandez’s last game as a Mariner)

October 7, 2019

I’m going to keep this one pretty short and sweet because my last couple posts took so long for me to publish and it would be nice to get on a schedule that’s more current.

I got back from Lincoln City Sunday night and I knew I wasn’t going to be playing poker on Monday or Tuesday because we had this poor little guy scheduled for his neuter appointment early Monday and we wanted someone to be home with him for at least the first three days after his surgery to make sure he wasn’t too swollen or having a hard time recovering.

Hammy was a completely different dog after we had him neutered, much calmer and way more respectful of our house and possessions, and we thought the procedure would have a similar effect on Albus, who we affectionately refer to as The Monster because he’s such a wild animal, but… he was ready to run around and play the day after his surgery and seems to be the same crazy dog we’ve had this past year and that’s fine by me.

I signed up for PLO on Wednesday, but I was such a late sign up and the list was real enough that I didn’t start the game and by the time I would have had a seat, I didn’t really want to play anymore. I had a doctor appointment early in the AM on Thursday in Bremerton, so I wasn’t planning on putting in a power session anyway. I started out in the 4/8 Omaha 8 game and just stayed in 8/16 LHE when my PLO seat came open. I finished -$180 on the day and Scarecrow won over $3k in the PLO game, so I can’t say I feel too great about my decision-making here.

Thursday we played a home game at Scarecrow Station. Yep, that’s what I’m calling the game at Scarecrow’s house from now on. We started out playing 12/24 Mix with 15/30 Overs but bumped the game up to straight 15/30 when Radio Mike left after realizing that the learning curve in mix games you’ve never even heard of is actually quite steep and too expensive for his taste. I wouldn’t mind playing as low as 4/8 if there were more inexperienced players that wanted to learn, but when the majority of us want to play 15/30 or higher, that’s a pretty hard sell.

It’s really tough to find affordable stakes to learn mix games at. I just went over my all-time records and my first six times playing in what I labeled as “mix games” were in a home game at Wildcat Lake in Kitsap County at 2/4 stakes from 2016 to 2017. That’s a nice way to ease into things. The next time I played was in January 2018 and this time it was at 10/20 stakes and I remember thinking it was pretty massive at the time and after I lost $1100+, I was pretty pissed about it. I mean… I had about 50 hours of mix experience total before making the leap to red chip games. However, five months (and three more house/mix sessions) later, I was at the Rio during the WSOP playing my first live mix game session ever and it was at the 20/40 level. My fourth live session ever was at the 40/80 level. Not necessarily because I wanted to play that big, but because there weren’t any other options if I wanted to play mix. Basically what I’m saying is, unless you can gather a group of friends together that don’t mind playing small, you better be willing to lose some money (or hope you run good) if you want to learn how to play all these different games.

Anyways, it was a ho-hum session at Scarecrow Station for me and I finished -$50 in 7.5 hours of play. In fact, Scarecrow was the only person that really won, following up his huge PLO session with another $1000+ win in our home game.

On Friday, we did something different. Billy Dubz was getting sick of seeing us struggle to arrange our home games in the group chat I started (even though we’ve now played 12 sessions in just over three months since I’ve been back from Vegas) and told us the week prior that he was going to host a game on this Friday night, complete with valet parking, crab and lobster dinner, cocktail waitresses, a personal masseuse, and hottub access. Turns out, only some of that was true, but it was still pretty impressive as he got two full games (one mix and one O8) and had a nice food spread laid out. This is my only session of the week that I kept any notes for, so I’ll share a few hands (so much for short and sweet).

2-7 no limit Single Draw, Scarecrow opens to $30, I 3-bet a smooth one card draw to an 8 and Scarecrow caps it for $400. I snap call and we agree to run it twice after declaring that we are both drawing one. I have 8432 and he has 9832. My J8 wins the first draw and his A9 wins the second one when I pair the 2, so we split the pot.

Stud 8, I defend with KK-2 in a multi-way pot vs three low up-cards. The 3rd street opener bricks and so does Scarecrow, but Logan has 75 showing on 4th. Meanwhile, I caught a king, giving me hidden trips and the lead in the hand. My initial plan is to check-raise Logan and force the other two to call two bets cold if they want to continue, but before I can do anything, Logan checks out of turn, so I bet fourth street myself and everyone calls. I lead with 2K3 on 5th and I’m pretty shocked when the 3rd street opener raises me with her board showing 29T. Very nice. Scarecrow folds here (or on 4th) and Logan reluctantly folds his low draw after bricking on 5th, leaving me heads up with someone that almost certainly has three tens in her hand. I 3-bet and she calls. 6th street goes one bet and so does 7th when I river a fourth king and have the pleasure of announcing, “quads” without having a pair showing on my board.

Stud 8, I call a raise with 24-6 with two hearts and two sixes dead. I feel compelled to continue when I catch the queen of hearts on 4th and on 5th I catch a 5 vs boards of 6KK and 289. Scarecrow leads with the kings, Logan calls, and I decide raise it, even though I have seen one of the threes. They both call. I’m not too sure about that raise, but I’ll take a look at that in a bit. On 6th street, Logan catches an ace, giving him a possible low, so even though I pick up a flush draw with the 9 of hearts, betting seems bad when they both check to me and I know neither of them are folding, so I check back and take the free card. 7th street is a 3 for me, giving me a straight and a 65 low, and I’m pretty happy to see Logan lead after Scarecrow checks. I don’t expect Scarecrow to fold two pair and I’m not even sure he would fold naked kings here, suspecting I might be trying to steal half the pot, so I raise it anyway and both of them do call and my hand is good for the scoop.

Here’s a look at that 5th street spot, with some of the hole cards they could possibly have, but painting the situation in my favor a little by not putting any threes in their hands:

In a pretty favorable spot, I have an equity edge, even though I’m not an equity favorite, so raising looks like it is probably right most of the time. I have to give Scarecrow two pair and kill a three (or kill two more threes) to find a spot where raising looks suspect, and even then my equity is around 32%, which makes it a nearly neutral play.

2-7 no limit Single Draw, Billy Dubz opens to $30, Scarecrow calls, Logan calls from the small blind, and I defend with 753xx. The draw goes 1, 2, 1, and 1. I make a 97653, so after Logan checks, I bet $100, Billy Dubz folds, and Scarecrow makes it something like $300 and I snap call and he pretty much immediately turbos his hand into the muck.

I finished that session at +$900.

I started this post like two weeks ago and now it’s October 7th and I’m so far behind that I’m just going to post my results for the rest of the month.

9/21: -$30 in 3 hours of 1/1 NLHE @ Chor’s Chamber (home game)
9/25: +$882 in 7.5 hours of 1/3/5 PLO @ Palace
9/27: -$215 in 10.5 hours of 15/30 LHE @ Palace
9/28: -$300 in 9.5 hours of 15/30 Mix @ Billy Dubz Battlefield (home game)
9/29: +$1305 in 10 hours of 10/20 Limit Omaha 8/B @ Palace (new game on Sundays at 3 PM)

That was quite the final session, accounting for almost all my profit for the entire month, as I finished September with just over $1500 in winnings. It’s been a pretty rough year so far. I’m sitting at 40% of what I won in my worst year as a pro and I only have three full months to close the gap. I guess that’s what happens when you don’t win at least $26,000 in a single tournament like I’ve done in each of the past three years. There’s still a chance to do that though because the Muckleshoot Fall Classic starts in a couple days. I’m only planning to play the $400 event on Thursday and the $750 Main on Saturday/Sunday, so I’m going to have to make it count.

Since the first week of October has already passed and I don’t feel much like writing a separate post for that at this point, I’ll just post those results real quick also. My poor performance so far this year has kind of lit a fire under me and I went ahead in put in 55 hours of volume in the first week of October, but I am doing so knowing that poker won’t be a priority in November, so I have to get busy this month.

10/1: +$670 in 6.5 hours of 8/16 LHE @ Palace (also a Coast-to-Coast session, my fourth overall)
10/2: +$17 in 3 hours of 8/16 LHE @ Palace
10/2: +$276 in 3 hours of 1/3/5 PLO @ Palace
10/3: +$956 in 8 hours of 8/16 LHE @ Palace
10/4: +$800 in 8.25 hours of 15/30 LHE @ Palace
10/5: -$340 in 1.5 hours of 1/3/5 PLO @ Red Dragon
10/5: +$275 in 9 hours of 20/40 Mix @ Red Dragon
10/6: +$305 in 9 hours of 10/20 LO8 @ Palace

That’s a +$2948 start over 49.5 hours in the first six days of October. Here’s to hoping for a huge month!

September Poker Highlights:
*deep run in Chinook Winds Main Event
*month-saving 10/20 O8 session in brand new game at Palace

September Poker Lowlights:
*serious burnout in Lincoln City
*lost in mix games for the month, both online and live

On Deck in October:
*Logic with JID and YBN Cordae @ WaMu Theater on 10/8
*Muckleshoot Fall Classic Series 10/9 to 10/13
*Bunko! at my parents’ house… haven’t played since I was a kid… can’t wait!

Some highlights from Felix Hernandez’s last game as a Mariner:

These videos might be terrible and I certainly didn’t bother to edit them, so watch if you want, but don’t expect a professional cut here.

Felix coming out of the bullpen before the game:

Felix in a bases loaded jam and looking like he could be facing his last batter as a Mariner… but then something cool happens:

Felix comes back out for the top of the inning and the rest of the team stays in the dugout:

Felix’s last batter as a Mariner:

Me trying to give Seth Brown (a strikeout victim) a Felix K balloon in between innings:

Attempt #2:

Felix showing some love to the King’s Court section after the game:

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September 2019 Week 2: Fall Coast Classic @ Chinook Winds Casino

September 25, 2019

I headed for the Oregon Coast around 11 AM on Tuesday and arrived at my hotel in Lincoln City around 4:30 PM and sat down in the $240 H.O.R.S.E. tournament that started at 5 PM around 5:35.

My first hour was okay and I had chipped up from the 14k starting stack to around 18k by the first break, but I basically only won two decent sized pots the whole tournament and I was out by 8:30. Whoopee.

I’m not a big fan of the cash game options at Chinook Winds during this series. It is basically all big bet poker – Big O and no limit Hold’em only really. Those of you that read my blog regularly know that I almost never play either of those games. I probably have less than 200 hours of live NL cash experience and less than 10 hours of Big O cash under my belt. I saw 4/8 Omaha 8 on the board, but I don’t know if they actually had a game going or not because I had no interest in playing something that small. Not that I had any interest in playing 1/3 NL or 1/2 Big O either. I decided to sit down in a 1/3 game though and played for about 90 minutes before realizing I was bored out of my mind and couldn’t take it anymore. The pace of big bet cash games just drives me nuts and really tests my patience. I can’t stand watching people take forever to make what should be trivial decisions. Limit poker just moves along so much faster. I realize the decisions are much easier in limit games, but it’s the time being wasted in obvious spots that gets to me. Bro, you don’t need to balance your timing tells for every decision you make and you don’t have a difficult spot every time it’s your turn to act. Not everyone is guilty of being a primadonna, but there always seem to be a couple in any NL game I sit in. Can we just play, please?

I called it a night around 10 PM and booked a +$284 win; good enough to get me a little sugar on my first day of the trip. I spent the rest of my night playing online and watching Fleabag on Amazon Prime.

Wednesday was the $160 Omaha 8 or Better tournament. I got off to a rough start, doing cool stuff like getting scooped with AJhhQ9 on QQ4hh and AA42dd on T33d7dT in a heads up pot, plus AAJT on AJ6K5 because my opponent decided to limp along on the button with the mighty QT96. That left me with about half the starting stack after six levels of play.

On the hand that crippled me, I’m in the small blind with KQJJ on J976x against one limper and the big blind and both players have 85 somehow. The guy that limped in had 885 actually… and no ace obv… because who needs an ace when you have an 8 and a 5?

I busted shortly after that, sometime around 7:30 PM, and again found myself not wanting to play in any of the cash games. Here I was, out of the two tournaments I really wanted to play without making any sort of run in either of them and the Main Event wasn’t until Saturday. I didn’t want to play in any of the cash games, I didn’t want to play in the High Roller, and I wasn’t super excited about the Big Bounty NL tourney the next day either. I had two full days to kill and next to zero motivation to play poker on any of them. I really just wanted to go home. I’m not going to lie, I was feeling pretty depressed about the whole situation. Nothing like suffering from burnout when you’re 200+ miles away from home.

But I had paid for five nights at the hotel and it was non-refundable. Still, I didn’t play live that night. I just went back to my hotel and played online and watched more Fleabag.

The next day, I showed up for the $660 Big Bounty tournament right at the start of level 2 around 11:30 AM.

Early on, I was involved in a strange hand where middle position opens to 600 at 100/200, someone I know from Palace calls in position, I call with KQ from the small blind and the big blind defends. The flop is QJT and it checks to the PFR and he fires 1100 (we started with 27k in this one), the Lakewood player calls, I call, and then the big blind check-raises to 3500. The PFR gets out of the way, but the local guy makes the call, and the action is back to me. This is a pretty good flop for my hand, but this spot is looking dicey. It’s hard to imagine either of these guys having AK here, but K9 is certainly possible, and if either of them have a king in their hand, my draw is basically worthless. I decide to let it go. The turn card is a 2 and they both check. What? The river is a 4 and it goes bet 6000 and call. The big blind shows a set of queens and the local guy shows a set of jacks. Wow. Turns out AK is squarely in both of their ranges.

I chipped down when I opened with AK and checked back the T76 flop, before calling bets on an ace turn and jack river when the big blind had A7. He sized small on the river, giving me a very easy call, but that hand left me with a 17k stack.

I dwindled from about 30bb to 10bb before getting that stack in with AK only to get snap-called by A6o and watched in horror as that player collected my bounty.

The Big O tourney was about two hours deep, so I coughed up $160 and jumped in that. I had only played one Big O tournament in my life before, during the 2018 version of this same tournament, and, uh, that went okay.

I collected a mass of chips pretty early in this one, as multiple players were willing to punt entire stacks in horrible spots. On one hand, I saw a free flop from the big with Q7542 and potted into four players on Q22. The under the gun limper calls and calls another pot-sized bet on a ten turn. She has been playing super loose, so I’m not too concerned that she’s walking the dog here, but when the river is an ace, I expect that card to beat me almost all the time. It seems pretty obvious that she has a 2 and she almost certainly has an ace in her hand. But she has less that 25% pot let, so I put her all in, she calls, and… my hand scoops? Because she has 233Jx? Well, okay then.

After taking the add-on for $80 and an additional 10k in chips, I think I had around 48K when registration closed.

I call a raise in a multiway pot with AKJ52 double suited from the blinds and the board comes KQ3 with two spades (one of my suits). It checks around on the flop and when the king pairs on the turn, I pot it for 12k. A player that limped and called from early position is my only caller. I’m a little concerned, so when the river is a 2, I check it over to him even though I filled up. He fires 11k into 36k and I make the call. He shows KQxxx and scoops the pot.

I dwindled to 6bb from there and got that in with AQQ22 vs A6532 and got the QT8 flop, but still had to settle for a chop because two low cards – one of them an ace – hit the board. I didn’t chip up from there and busted a short while later, about 30 spots shy of cashing, sometime around 7:30 PM.

Again, I was in no mood to play cash games I didn’t really want to play. I’d already been playing poker for around 8 hours and while I had nothing planned on Friday, I decided to call it a night anyway. Online poker and Fleabag again!

I took my sweet time getting to the casino on Friday and I initially played in a 1/3 NL game for about 90 minutes and booked a small win before getting a seat in a 1/2 Big O game.

As I’ve mentioned, I have almost no experience playing this game, but it didn’t take me long to realize that almost the entire table was playing absurdly loose and that I should have an edge just by playing reasonably tight.

Naturally, I lost almost two full buy-ins getting my money in good and failing to realize my equity. I was willing to dust one more buy-in and I tried to do just that when I got involved in a massive 3-way pot with a pair and the nut low draw. I was pretty happy to call one player’s all in, but then a reasonable player check-raised the pot. There were two diamonds on the flop and I didn’t have a flush draw, so I was pretty sure this was probably a fold, but the longer I thought about it, the more I thought I wanted to go with it. I ended up going all in for slightly more and he called. I didn’t take a note on this hand and I wish I would have because I can’t remember what the cards were, but I’m pretty sure my opponent had the nut flush draw and the second nut low draw. What I do remember about this hand is that I somehow ended up scooping it and I think I was supposed to fold on the flop. I stuck around for a little while longer, but the game wasn’t as juicy as it was before and I had made all my money back and then some, so I booked the win and finished +$125 for the day.

My entire table taking a break at the same time

This is a 5-way Big O pot because, you know, no one actually needs aces in their hands

The Main Event was on Saturday and it’s one of the best tournaments in the Pacific Northwest all year. The initial buy-in is $600 for 40k starting stacks and 45 minute levels. I sat down about halfway through the second level and by the end of the third level I had a stack of 47k.

Someone makes it 1300 after a limper at 200/400 and the cutoff and button both call. I call with JT of hearts from the small blind and the big blind defends also. Six of us see a flop of T88 rainbow and it checks to the button and he fires 3000 into 7k+. I call. The big blind, limper and original raiser fold, but the cutoff also calls. The turn is a 3 and it checks around. The river pairs the 3 and I check, planning to call if someone bets and expecting to win most of the time. The cutoff fires 6000 and the button calls.

Well, that’s not what I was expecting. The cutoff is an aggressive younger guy that I had played NL cash with the night before. I think if he had an 8 or anything good, he would have bet the flop when the PFR checked, so I think he’s bluffing almost all of the time here. My dilemma is the button. He bet the flop and checked back the turn when a blank hit, so it’s hard to give him much of a hand here. I can see him stabbing the flop with pocket pairs and picking off river bluffs with those hands, so even though I don’t really beat any tens here, I think I have to make this call. I toss out the 6k, the cutoff snap folds and the button shows T9 and my hand is good.

It’s worth noting that I took my time on the river on this one, really thinking it over, and while I was doing so, the cutoff eventually expressed frustration and annoyance. Of course, this could be a reverse tell, but when he snap folds after I call, you really have to question his sense of decency.

This tournament has a $200 add-on for another 30k in chips that is pretty mandatory for just about anyone still in. For 33% of the original buy-in, you can get 75% of the starting stack. So even though I was sitting on just over 80k at the dinner break and close of registration, I did the add-on and went to dinner with a stack of 113k.

I was sitting on 132k after 8 levels when I doubled the same player up twice when he jammed on the button in consecutive orbits and I called from the small blind. The first time my KQ lost to his KJ and the second time my AT lost to another KJ. Those two pots left me with 93k after nine levels, the first time all tournament that I had chipped down during a level of play.

I then went the entire next two levels without winning a single pot, or really playing any hand of significance, and I dwindled down to 73k and was coming back to blinds of 1500/3000 with 500 antes (24 bigs).

And here’s my most insane hand of the entire series:

A good, solid player opens to 10k from early position at 4000bb and I defend in the big with KQ of spades and effective stacks of around 50 bigs.

The flop is KQ4 with two clubs and I check it over to him and he bets 14k. I decided to check-call here because I didn’t think he was going to have a ton of continues against a check-raise, although with the two clubs on board, I think there’s some merit to thinking I could get floats from clubs, Qx, AJ, AT type hands, so maybe that’s faulty logic.

Anyways, the turn is an ace and now my plan to check-raise has transformed into a plan of getting to showdown as cheaply as possible. An ace is literally the worst card in the deck for my hand, as I’m now losing to a bunch of hands I wanted him to have on the flop (AA, AK, AQ, JT). I check-call 18k.

The river pairs the queen and I now have a full house. Honestly, this doesn’t change many of the concerns I had on the turn other than I now beat AK and JT. It is worth noting that I don’t think this player would bet hands that had a pair and straight draw on the turn, so I don’t think he’s ever showing up with AJ, AT, QJ, or QT here. I think it is reasonable to lead out with a bet, but while I feel I have a pretty solid read on his range, I’m not sure I’m good enough to fold if he jams on me. Also, since I don’t think he double barrels the pair plus draw hands on the turn, I also don’t think he has a lot of hands to call with. So I check it over to him to see what he does. He thinks for a while and bets 18k again.

That’s actually a pretty small bet and my first instinct was to raise. The thing about raising is that it only makes sense if you think you are going to get called and I didn’t think this particular player would call, even with a hand as good as AK and, as previously mentioned, I didn’t think he could have a queen in his hand unless he now had a full house. So if I remove AK from his calling range, the next best hands he can call with are JT and KQ. Everything else has me beat. This didn’t seem like a range I wanted to target, so I said, “this is an insanely nitty call” and put out the 18k. He turned over 44 and I won the pot.

Obviously, I didn’t expect him to have 44 in his range here. I thought he was too tight to open small pairs from such an early position and didn’t even give it a thought. Still, I stand by my line here. My image was really nitty and solid at this point, so if I wake up with a raise on the river, I’m not even sure he calls with this hand. He might be good enough to lay it down. He’s better than I am. The only way I get called here is if he thinks I’m reckless enough to raise with naked trips in this spot (and obviously I am not). Interestingly, if I had check-raised the flop, I would have doubled up on this hand by getting it in bad.

That was a pretty key pot for me late in Day 1 and I ended up bagging 218.5k with around 120 players left and 45 of us cashing. Average stack at this point was around 175k, so I was in pretty good shape.

Actual tryouts for Wheel of Fortune taking place in the Bingo Hall of the casino

I was 3rd in chips at my Day 2 table and saw that I had the second most tournament success after researching my fellow players and I had direct position on the most seasoned vet.

I lost a big flip early on when I opened with JJ and a stack of 107k shoved from the small blind on me. This player was playing at the table behind me on Friday night in a cash game and was being super loud and obnoxious all night. I also noted that when he left his table, his entire table quit playing immediately. My takeaway? He’s a maniac. Which means I’m not folding here. I call and he shows AQ and makes a pair.

The very next hand I open with TT utg+1 and a 131k stack jams on me. The big blind is 6k so this is a 22bb shove and if I lose this one, I will have less than 10bb. I’m kind of reeling from the last hand and I can just picture how pissed I’ll be at myself if I call it off here and he shows JJ+. My read on this guy is that he’s pretty solid, so it’s not a snap call spot. Even if I give him a range of 88+, AJs+, AJo+, KQs, and KQo, my equity is barely 50%. I think that’s a pretty loose range for him though and when we start trimming the bottom of it off, the equity shifts in his favor. Just removing AJo and KQo, brings his equity up to 52%. Adding in the fact that I love my table draw, I think this is a fine spot to make a fold and move on. I muck it, but I don’t like it.

I made it to the 10k big blind level with around 223k and I had just over 20 bigs when I looked down at AK in late position and felt like this was going to be a tournament-defining spot. Sure enough, Ryan Stoker, a notable tourney grinder from the Spokane area opened to 25k and the dude that doubled through me with AQ jammed on him for more than I had. We were about 30-40 spots off the money at this point and I didn’t see much merit in folding here. I didn’t even really think about it. Let’s go. I called it off and Stoker folded. This time he had the JJ and this time I won the race and doubled up to an above average stack.

Of course, my opponent couldn’t take his loss in stride and had to try and ridicule me for making what I think is a pretty standard call.

Him: What, you just wanted to go home?

Me: Uh, yeah, since Wednesday night.

As we started to approach the bubble, I lost another flip, this time my AK < 99 for -100k, leaving me with 275k with the big blind at 12k, 8 spots off the money. 23 bigs is far from the danger zone, but it’s a stack size that could very well get in preflop in a coin flip situation.

I admittedly played extremely snug during this phase of the tournament, even finding myself doing embarrassing stuff like this:

It folds to the small blind and he makes it 32k at 12k big blind and I have A6o in the big. I had like 15 bigs at this point and I believe my opponent’s opening range is 100% here because of how tight I’ve been playing. So this is a slam dunk jam spot, but being a couple spots off the money, I just praised the Gods that I was not on a live stream so I could fold in peace (and blog about it publicly later). It feels gross, but with zero cashes on my ledger for the trip so far, I really didn’t want to go home without one when I was so close.

It’s worth noting that the small blind in the previous hand was playing extremely well this whole tournament and I was shocked at how adept he was considering my earlier research. Later on I discovered that Taylor Bleak with $0 in career cashes was actually Taylor Black with over $2.4 million in cashes. That made a lot more sense. Eh, just a little $2 million typo on the end of day reports!

Fortunately, I eeked into the money with about 12 bigs and doubled up in my first orbit by reshoving with A5 suited on the button against a cutoff open and had my opponent’s KQ dead by the turn.

I was peaking around 420k when I started getting moved around. I got moved into the big blind at my new table and after folding preflop on that hand, that table broke and I moved into another big blind at my third table in three hands. On that last hand, it folds to the cutoff who opens, gets called by the button, and I look down at 77 in the big blind. I have a great reshove stack here and should have some fold equity, so I jam it in and the cutoff folds but the button says he doesn’t think he can lay it down. He eventually calls with AJ and I hold for a huge double that puts me around 890k with 27 players left.

I open to 55k with blinds at 10k/20k from early position with TT and Tam Nguyen is next to act and makes it 300k, leaving himself with ~400k behind. It folds back to me. Tam is kind of an Oregon legend. He has over $1 million in lifetime cashes, ranks 9th on the all-time money list in Oregon and I believe he’s still #1 all-time in earnings at the Wildhorse Round Ups in Pendleton, Oregon. He’s basically a mid-stakes tourney crusher. My read on him is that he’s pretty nitty and straight-forward and this is a massive raise. It’s not a spot where I can call and see a flop and if I jam on him here, he’s never folding and much like the TT scenario earlier where I folded, I’m not in very good shape against what I perceive to be his range. Once again, I muck TT before the flop.

Action folds to the cutoff, the guy that stacked off with the AJ earlier, and he min-raises to 40k. Now that I have chips, I can do cool things like 3-bet the A9o on the button to 105k and punish these wide opens. What I don’t expect to happen is for my opponent to call, but he does.

The flop is QQT and he check-calls 65k quite fast and I’m not about to punt my newly acquired chips off, so I am going to give up here.

The turn is a blank and we both check.

The river pairs the ten and he leads out for 180k. Well, I don’t really see how I can fold here. All the draws missed and his medium and small pairs have all been counterfeit, although check-calling with those hands on the flop is pretty sick. He’s repping such a narrow range here and my hand doesn’t look like much, so I make the call. He shows T6 of hearts.

I don’t get it. I’ve played like two orbits at this table and this dude is calling my 3-bet with junk because… he thinks he can outplay me out of position? Perhaps I sized too small preflop? I need to be making it like 130k? I dunno. Maybe he’s just a maniac punter? Either way, it’s super gross and I can’t say I felt great about losing almost half my stack with ace high. I think my river call is fine on this runout, so maybe I’m just being results oriented here, but it sucks to lose these chips back right after I finally gave myself some breathing room.

I got moved yet again and was back in that 12-15bb region when I reshoved the button with KJdd over a hijack open and my opponent called with QQ to bust me in 21st place for $2320.

All in all, I was pretty bummed about my trip to Lincoln City. It was nice to cash in the Main, but it was also really disheartening to peak with three tables left only to be out a short while later, all because some dude couldn’t lay down the T6 suited before the flop. I think I may have made a bet-sizing mistake with my 3-bet before the flop, but still. That hurt. Also, I put in almost no volume in the cash games and was absolutely miserable for most of the week. It makes me wonder how eager I am to go back.

I’m not saying it’s a bad series… it’s actually quite good. I think the staff is top notch and I like that they do some different, non-Hold’em events, but cash games are my bread and butter and when I’m out of tournaments that’s what I want to be doing and they just don’t have games I want to play in. So when I’m out of a tournament, it’s like “now what?” I’ve been saying forever that I need to play more no limit Hold’em cash, so maybe I just need to embrace it and grind it out when I’m at Chinook Winds.

I ended up making about $630 for the trip overall, but my hotel room alone cost me $500+, so I can’t really say it was a good trip.

What I can say though… is that Fleabag is an amazing show. Holy shit. It’s definitely not going to be for everyone, but it blew my damn mind. Check it out on Amazon Prime.

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August 2019 Week 4: Palace Tourney, PLO, Mix Games!

August 28, 2019

Last Sunday I wasn’t in any shape to go hiking super early in the morning, but I did wake up in time to play the $110 bi-weekly no limit Hold’em tournament at Palace. I was a bit slow-moving, but I managed to take a seat at the start of the second level and I took notes on my key hands throughout the tournament so I might as well share my journey here.

Everyone starts with 10k in chips and levels are 30 minutes long.

Blinds are 50/100, a player limps, and I make it 400 with KJo and get three callers. The flop is QT6 with two hearts. I’m not sure what the best line is here against three opponents, but I ended up betting 500 and someone in position made it 1500 to go and one of the blinds cold called the raise. I have the jack of hearts in my hand so making a straight with a heart on the turn isn’t the worst. The weirdest thing about this spot are the remaining stack sizes of my opponents. The flop raiser has 5000 behind and the caller left himself with 2500 and the pot will have 5700 in the middle if I call. I decided to call though and the action checked around after a king fell on the turn. When the small blind checks to me on a blank river, it seems like my hand is good, so I bet 1400 and both players call! I wasn’t expecting that, but no matter, my hand is still good.

I’ve been super activer and min-raise with K8o on the button at 100/200 and the big blind defends. He check-calls 300 on Q75hh and then leads 700 when the queen pairs on the turn. He has 4600 behind and this stab feels weak to me, plus I feel like there might be some leveling going on, so I put him all in and… he snap calls with JJ but… the river is a king and my punt attempt is suddenly netting me an extra 6000 in chips instead and I send a player to the rail shaking his head in disbelief. Sorry, guy.

Blinds are 100/200 and I make it 450 with AA under the gun. The next player calls and so does the small blind. I bet 500 on 433 and the initial flatter calls. The turn is a 7 and this time I bet 1600. He calls again. I know I have him and I know he doesn’t want to fold, so I go for it all on the river and put him all in for about 1.3x pot. He doesn’t do much thinking before making the call and walking out the door a few seconds later.

I have raised four pots in a row and won all of them without showing a hand when this next situation arises. There are multiple limpers at 150/300 and the button makes it 1200 to go. He started the hand with 5500 total and I have TT in the big blind. This is probably a snap raise in a typical tournament when you consider the stack sizes, but at Palace the players are overly nitty, especially with their aggressive actions, and the $110 buy in size is big for most of the field. With that in mind, and the player in question fitting the profile, this spot is pretty weird. I mean… this is a guy that might limp with AQo in this spot. I have a nice stack brewing at this point, but losing 18bb isn’t inconsequential to me. I knew this player’s range was tight, but I couldn’t resist making the raise to put him all in, especially since I was completely bullying the table. Why stop now? I make it 5500 to go, everyone else folds, and he calls with JJ, but I flop a set to bust him.

My table was already pretty annoyed with how easily I was accumulating chips but after that one they really wanted to let me know how fortunate I was. I’m like, “guys, I’m watching the same tournament you are, but you’re not going to see me get excited because I’m running good in round 4.”

The button open-limps at 150/300 and I call with 43hh from the small blind. The big checks and we see a flop of A42 with two hearts. Not bad. No one showed strength pre, so I lead out for 350 and the button makes it 1000 with over 10k behind. I make the call. The turn is the jack of hearts and I check it over to her. She bets 5000 into 2900, but I can tell she’s a very new player so that sizing is not concerning at all. I put her all in and she snap calls it off with A6o. Amazingly, she’s not drawing dead here as she has the 6 of hearts in her hand and that is a live flush draw. I am still blessed in the early stages of this tournament and the river bricks off and I bust another player and have 60k after four levels of play (and I missed one of them!).

Of course, variance proves why you don’t get excited because you run good for a few levels as I go completely card dead over the next four rounds. I only played three hands of note over this stretch:

Cutoff opens to 2600 at 400/800 and I call on the button with T9ss and 25k effective stacks. I’m not sure about this play and I’m curious what Nick Petrangelo’s UpSwing tournament course and the solvers would suggest. I am happy to report that it is a pure call! Wonderful. I thought there might be some 3-betting mixed in, but it looks like we are always supposed to take a flop with this one. Anyways, I sort of expect my opponent to play pretty straight forward after the flop. The board comes QQ7 with mixed red cards, so not a good one for me, but when he c-bets 2000 I decide to float to see if he has another shell in him. The turn pairs the 7 and he checks it over to me. I bet 3500 and he folds. This is a purely exploitive play, as I don’t think many experienced players are going to be folding the turn at a high frequency, especially when they have ace high hands.

Someone limps for 1200 and I make it 3600 with JJ on the button. It folds back to the limper and he ships it for around 32k. I have enough experience with this player to know he’s not a punter, so the question is, does he do this with hands like TT or AK? It’s a 26 big blind shove and I started the hand with around 70k, so if I call and lose this pot, it’s going to cost me almost half my stack. I tanked on this one for quite a while but ultimately decided that he’s more likely to trap with big pairs than unpaired hands and that I didn’t need to flip a coin yet when I felt like my edge in this field was pretty substantial. I folded and he decided to show me his kings instead of make me writhe in agony over that fold for the next half decade.

The same player makes it 2600 when I’m in the big blind with J6 of diamonds. This is another pure calling spot according to Nicky P, so we head to the flop and see a board of AJ8 with two diamonds. I check-call 4000. No need to overplay my draw on this board texture that heavily favors his range when we are both deep. The turn is an offsuit ten and he decides to check back. The river is the king of diamonds, making my flush, and putting a four card straight on the board. I think I can discount sets here, but he has two pair and straights a lot here, so I want to make this as difficult as possible for him. I bet 15k into 13.8k and he goes deep into the tank, but eventually comes out with a call and my flush is good.

That hand chipped me back up right before the final table and I headed there with 84k and the blinds at 800/1600 with ten players left and five of us cashing this thing. There were about four of us sitting on similar stacks and battling for the chip lead.

With eight players remaining someone opens to 15k with blinds at 1k/2k – your standard, ridiculous 7.5x open – and I have the misfortune of looking down at AK. If you think I’m excited about this spot, you would be wrong. My opponent started with 33.5k and she’s obviously never folding, so that’s what we are really playing for and I think this sizing screams pair so I’m almost always starting on the wrong side of a flip here. But I have AK and she has 15bb, so I put her all in and her queens hold up and I lose over 40% of my stack on the bubble.

This final table is so nitty that when one of the players shoves his 2.5bb stack from early position with 66 and loses to my 99, he thinks it was a mistake. And it’s not like he was being results oriented. I could tell he was thinking about folding before the flop. After busting that player, I had 16bb with seven left.

Some time passes and a player with a similar stack open-jams in front of me and I have AK again, but this time I hold and that pot gives me 14bb on the stone bubble.

I make it into the money when someone else busts out and then it folds to me on the button with 55 and 11.5 bigs. I jam and the small blind goes into the tank. I’m a little bit surprised and annoyed when he comes out of it with a call and shows 77. I’m never expecting to be crushed when he thinks about calling for that long. I don’t spike a set and that pot cripples me down to 1.5 bigs.

I double with Q3o in my big blind and then double again with KJ suited in my small blind and find myself with a reasonable 9 bigs on the button. I get that stack in on the button with 99, but AT calls and turns a pair to bust me in 5th place for a massive cash of $425 and my fourth biggest live tournament profit of the year! (Note: that’s not good).

I spent all night on Wednesday card dead in the PLO game at Palace.

Some good hands:

I get two pot-sized bets from two different players with JT87 on J97xx and another $200 from one player on the river when the board texture doesn’t change. He plays pretty good and my image is nitty at this point, so I’m surprised to see him call three streets here and not have the same hand I have.

I call $65 pre with KQT9hh in a 6-way pot and Riddler leads out $200 on the QJ8 two heart flop. I have the nut straight with straight and flush redraws, plus an opponent that has been so eager to get all in against me the last few weeks when I had him in terrible shape. I make it $500 and I have another $600 behind or so and that is going in if it has to. Honestly, I’m not super excited about this spot because I can see Riddler getting it in with a naked ace high flush draw here and he has been running so pure against me, so when it folds back to him and he comes out of the tank with a fold, I’m happy to take this sizable pot without a fight even though I have a massive hand.

A bad hand:

I make it $30 with KK66 double suited and get four callers. We see a flop of 983 with two hearts and since that’s one of my suits, I bet the pot and a shorter stack gets all in for a little less than $300. We agree to run it twice and her QT98 is way too strong for me to beat even once with four additional cards.

I didn’t have many notable hands and spent most of the night wishing something cool would happen. All in all, I finished the night -$316.

On Thursday, we had another 15/30 mix game and I wrote down a couple hands during the session so I could share them here.

We are playing Drawmaha 49 and this one probably needs an explanation. Drawmaha combines Omaha with draw poker and in this case the goal of the draw hand is to have the most pips in your hand. To clarify, a pip is the graphic on the cards. So the ten of clubs has ten clubs on it and each club is considered a pip. A ten has ten pips, a nine has nine pips, an eight has eight pips, and so on. The best possible hand is TTT9, or 49 pips, hence the name of the game. In Drawmaha, you get one draw after the flop action, so the goal is to make the most pips in your hand while also making a good Omaha hand. In this hand, I open with KQ985 on the button and both blinds call. I’m starting with 22 pips here, which is bad, but maybe it’s an okay hand to steal with on the button? Who knows. I don’t. No one in our game does. The flop is T87 with two hearts and I bet and get check-raised. He draws two and I draw two. The turn is a blank, but I get a 9 and an 8 to improve my pips to 39 and give me a set in Omaha. That’s enough of a hand to raise his turn bet, which he calls, and then the river pairs the board to give me a full house. He check-calls and I scoop the pot.

2-7 Drawmaha… similar game, except you are trying to make the best 2-7 hand in your hand. I open with 8542x with a suit and both blinds call. The flop is 542, giving me three pair and a backdoor flush draw and Logan alls my bet and draws 3. Well, okay! I draw one and improve to 85432 and the turn card is the six of clubs. I have a monster! A smooth 8 in my hand plus a straight on the board with flush and full house redraws. I bet and he calls. The river is a 7 and he check-calls again and my powerhouse hand is good for everything. Not the most exciting action… just want to share some hands in different games.

A-5 Triple Draw… It’s a 4-way pot and Ducky is pat from the jump and firing away. Everyone else is still drawing and after the second draw I have a pat 86432 and when it’s my turn to draw I go into the tank and decide there’s just no way he’s playing his hand this strong against four opponents with worse than a made 86… so I draw one and so do the other two players. I brick and we all check to Ducky and he fires another bet. We all fold and he shows 777AA for a total suicide mission bluff that somehow gets through.

2-7 no limit single draw… blinds are stripped to 5 and 10 on this one with 25 dead in the middle and a $300 cap on the action. I make it $40 to go with a pat T9842, Logan calls from the small blind and Ducky defends the big. Logan pats, Ducky draws 2, and I pat. I’m bewildered by Logan’s flat with a pat hand and I know he doesn’t have much experience in this game, so I’m not positive that I have him beat, but it seems like I should. My plan is to make a bet on the smaller side, but when it checks to Ducky he leads out for $200 into a $145 pot. Yikes. I must have gone into the tank for 3-4 minutes here. I know Ducky is plenty capable of bluffing, even in horrible spots (did you read that last hand?), so I gave serious thought to this situation. Ultimately, I decided to fold because a) I thought he had to think it was pretty likely one of the two pat hands would call him and b) he said something earlier in the night about how he wouldn’t bluff in a similar 2-7 NL spot (and I didn’t think he was lying). I folded but Logan made the call and Ducky did make an 87643.

Big O, $300 cap, Logan raises to $20 and I call on the button with AAT98 double suited. Scarecrow defends in a blind. The flop is AKK and I bet $40 when it checks to me and only Scarecrow calls. Seems obvious he has the king so it’s not surprising when he leads out for $70 on the 7 turn. I pot to the cap and he calls. Someone asks how many times we want to run it and I tell them I only want to run it once. The river is a ten and I end up scooping the pot but sparking quite the debate.

Since I decided to only run it once, I ended up becoming quite the villain after this hand. The argument was that it was poor etiquette of me to only run it once if I have any history of running it twice. I argued that it made no sense for me to run it twice when there was no benefit for me to do so. I already had half the pot locked up, so running it more than once just gives Scarecrow multiple chances to realize his equity for the low half (assuming he had a low draw) and can only cost me money. I was told I shouldn’t make my decision based on how much equity I have in the hand and that I should be consistent in all situations. In the past, I let my opponent decide how many times to run it when we get all in in big Pot Limit Omaha hands, so for me to be vilified the first time I voiced a preference seems a bit unreasonable. On the other hand, I failed to realize that there is a benefit for me to run it twice: when he makes a low on the first run out, I have a chance to win 3/4 of the pot by scooping on the second board.

While I didn’t think I was a scumbag for running it once, I did at least agree that it was courteous to run it twice, especially in a home game with friends and especially because Scarecrow is doing all the dealing. Later in the night, I got a piece of paper and figured out what his equity in the second pot would have been and gave him $100 back (I looked it up on the computer later and it was actually closer to $90). I mean… I never even saw the guy’s hand. He said he had a king and three low cards and I believe him, but still. Maybe it wasn’t the coolest of me to only run it once, but I wonder how many of those guys would give someone a rebate like that after the fact.

I got off to hot start and was up $1200 early on, but cooled off considerably and had to settle for a +$535 night.

One of the players made this board in OFC before the game started and probably wants me to share it:

On Friday, I got off to a miserable start in 15/30 and was down $700 after about two hours, but I cracked Mr. Freeze’s aces twice and that got me close to even, which is about where I stayed most of the night, finishing at -$211 and wondering when the patented Dark Knight hot streak is going to kick in. I’ve now booked two small wins in my last six 15/30 sessions at Palace and have gone -$2766 over that stretch in a game that is usually my most consistent source of income.

On Saturday Scarecrow had hopes of hosting a mix game, but it looked really sketch to me, with lots of people saying maybe and one that was supposed to come but hasn’t played with us before. I was pretty skeptical about it, but The Leak was free to join us and since we were bringing 40% of a game ourselves, I chanced it that this would happen.

When we showed up around 6pm, Ducky and Scarecrow were there so we played some pineapple OFC and then some 4-handed 10/20 mix, but no one else showed up and Ducky had to leave after smacking us around for 30 minutes. All the maybes and the new player ended up flaking, but Joker and Riddler showed up and we started a 5/10 mix game around 8pm. Not exactly how I want to spend my Saturday night, but it ended up being a lot of fun and I know my wife enjoyed learning and playing all the different games and she ended up breaking exactly even, so it was a free lesson for her! After two different OFC sessions and three different mix game sessions, I finished the night +$194.

Also, I got this insane hand in 2-7 Triple Draw:

Last Monday Ducky, Joker and I went to visit Radio Mike at Cheney Stadium to see Felix Hernandez make a rehab start and to catch top 5 prospect Jo Adell in action. We also heckled Ty Kelly into retiring from baseball. Pics below:

Radio Mike trying to hide

Felix and Ichiro in the dugout

Jo Adell, Angels top prospect

Radio Mike working so hard his shoes flew off his feet

Crashing the booth

And this weekend we met up with Mexi Nugget and his wife in Kitsap County to hit up the local arcade bar and had a ton of fun.

I’m flying to L.A. tomorrow (today?) for the Legends of Poker $2100 HORSE tournament at The Bike on Friday. I’ll be playing some 40/80 Limit Hold’em too and I’m currently stuck for the month, so these next three days are going to be huge for my results.

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August 2019 Week Two: PLO, 15/30 Mix, 15/30 LHE, and the Oregon Coast

August 9, 2019

PLO game start on Wednesday featured Mr. Freeze, Charlie Hustle, Speed Racer, and some new faces.

I chipped up early, up about $500, when this hand came up:

There’s one limper, the button makes it $20, I make it $70 from the small blind with AAQJ double suited and the big blind and button both call. The flop is T75 with two spades and I lead out for $200 with aces and the nut flush draw. The small blind makes it $500 and we end up getting it in for a little over $800 total. We decide to run it twice. His hand is KJ96 with two spades and two clubs. He has a gutshot and a dead spade draw. The first board runs out Q-9 to give him a straight with KJ and the second board runs out 8-x to give him a straight with J9 and I find a way to get scooped in this $1800+ pot when I had 80% equity when all the chips went in.

A short while later, I limp in with QJ88dd and call a raise of $25. The flop is 983 rainbow with one diamond and I lead into four players for a pot-sized bet of $100ish. The same player from the last hand makes it $400 and we end up getting it all in again. It’s worth noting that this player tried to check out of turn on the flop, so I have his hand somewhat discounted here and expect my set to be the best hand here, hoping to fade draws, but he has 994x and this time I’m crushed. We run it twice again. The board runs out clean for him the first time, but on the second board I turn a flush draw and river a ten to make a straight and salvage half of this pot.

He says something about we are even now and I look at the $800 in his stack that used to be mine and I’m like “Yes… yes we are.”

I defend my big blind with JT74 double suited and decide to lead $20 on K62hh when I flop a jack high flush draw. This is a pure bluff and definitely not a standard play on my part. When I get called in two spots, I’m pretty sure I don’t want to make a flush, but when the turn is a queen and gives me some real equity in the hand, I decide to keep firing and make it $80 to go. They both call again. The river is an offsuit 8 and I’m not going to stop telling this story now that all the draws bricked. I bet $300 and they both fold.

I make a loose call in position in a limp fest with A542 single suited. This is a good multi-way Omaha 8 hand, but not so much in pot limit Omaha. But I get to see the flop for $5 and it checks to me on A63 rainbow with one of my nut suits – one of the better boards I could ask for. I bet the pot for $25 and then some weird things happen: the small blind min-raises to $50 and one of the limpers makes it $100. He has $175 behind and has a set here like 90% of the time, so learning from my mistake in a similar spot last week, this time I decide to just call and if the board pairs on the turn, I can fold and save $175. My hand is too good to fold, but it’s not like I have such a massive draw that I want to get stacks in here. I call and so does the small blind. The turn is a 5 and the limper puts the rest of his $175 in. I raised to isolate here (not sure if that’s correct though), the small blind folded, and we agreed to run it twice. He had AAxx and I was in pretty great shape with two board-pairing blockers in my hand. He bricked both board and I scooped the pot. The small blind said he had a set of 3s, so the big blind was missing 40% of his outs here.

Someone limps in, I make it $20 with KT87 double suited on the button. The big blind check-calls $40 on 977. The turn is a queen and this time he check-calls $100. The river bricks and I’m left with naked trips here. I’m pretty sure the big blind has at least a 7 and there’s no certainty that my hand is good here. I do think he would call with worse, but I think it’s too thin to bet for value here. I’m happy to see him check the river and I check back. He shows 97 for a flopped boat.

Down to 6-handed later in the night with The Riddler in the game now and we get it all in for a few hundred each on AQ8cc when I have AAxx and run it twice. He has A54x with two clubs and somehow manages to get his money back without making a flush as the first board runs out 7-6 to give him a straight.

So instead of Riddler being felted and moving on with his night, we get into another clash a short while later when I raise to $20 with AA93hh and Riddler and Charlie Hustle call. The flop is Q95hh, I bet the pot, Riddler raises and I put him all in for $381 total. We agree to run it twice and he shows K876 with three hearts, so he has an inside wrap and a dead flush draw. He makes a straight on both boards and the flush draw bricks and I get scooped again, this time with 68% equity when all the chips went in.

Riddler opens pre and I defend in the big blind with AKT3 single suited and maybe another player is involved as well. I check-call $40 on KJ2 with two spades. I have top pair, a gut shot and a ten high flush draw here, so I’m not super excited about it, but Riddler is notorious for over c-betting in this game, so I expect to be in pretty great shape against his overall range.

The turn pairs the king and now I really like my hand as a bluff catcher, especially when he bets a weak-looking $80. I was tempted to raise here, but I wanted him to keep betting his bluffs, so I just called.

The river was an offsuit 6 and this time when I checked it over to him, he bombed it for $250. I wasn’t planning to fold this river at all, but I also wasn’t expecting him to size up so much. I have to give him credit, this is a pretty good line no matter what he has. This sizing actually gave me something to think about and the more I thought about it, the more I thought it was probably a fold. The fact that I have the ten of spades in my hand is pretty bad, as it’s such a key drawing card and for me to be good here, I need Riddler to have draws that missed. Even so, I decided to stick with my initial plan and paid it off and he showed me KJxx.

The sick thing about that hand is I think I stack him if the situation is reversed, considering how willing he was to get it in on that AQ8cc flop when I had top set. Granted, he is deeper here, but still…

Riddler disappeared shortly after that hand and sent someone else to go rack up his chips and cash him out. He played for about 90 minutes total and won $800+ just from me. It was almost 2:30am at that point, so I can’t really fault him for wanting to quit, but I can’t say I was pleased about it either. Needless to say, when he quit the game, no one really wanted to continue on 5-handed so the game broke and I finished at -$385 in a session where variance really put my patience to the test.

I was aiming to put together a 15/30 Mix Game for Thursday night because my buddy was in town from Florida for the week, but it was looking grim with a couple of key players too busy to play. My buddy was really excited about it though, so I pushed the few that were on the fence over the ledge and it looked like I had a solid six ready to go. Most of the games we play are best suited for six or seven players anyway, so I had a perfectly sized lineup as long as everyone showed.

We did get six players including some familiar faces like Joker, Scarecrow, and Bulletproof, plus three I’ve never played in a mixed game with.

Here’s a pic of the group (look at those sexy $100 black plaques – way too cool):

I got off to a rough start in the game, losing the max ($300) in PLO when I got the 952d rainbow flop with AT95dd and Bulletproof check-raised the pot on the flop. We ran it once and I managed to get scooped by his J965 when he turned or rivered a jack for a bigger two pair.

I followed that hand up by getting $300 in with A9732 on the Q86 rainbow flop in Big O. I didn’t write any additional notes on that hand, but I think we ran it twice and I either got scooped or got quartered.

What I am sure about is that I was stuck $600 pretty much right from the jump and I was down $800 by 9pm.

Not the night I envisioned having when I realized that half the lineup would be pretty inexperienced in most of the games.

I rallied back though and found myself pushing past even into sugar territory right around midnight, just as the game went down to five players.

The key pot that pushed me into the green was a Stud 8 hand where I started with 2c9c-3c in a raised multi-way pot. I led out when I caught the best card in the deck for me – the ace of clubs – on the turn. No one raised and I kept betting on 5th when I picked up an offsuit 4. I made a perfect six low on 6th with an offsuit 6 and the queen of clubs gave me a massive scooper on the river and my first time having sugar for the session. Scarecrow started with rolled up tens on that one and there were at least four players still involved through 5th street, so it was quite the pot.

That hand also kick-started some momentum that propelled me to a strong finish and I somehow finished the night at 1:45am at +$1315, a pretty happy result considering where I was at 9pm.

15/30 started on Friday night with 28 players on the list. When the dust settled the reality was 9 seated players and no list. That means roughly 2/3 of the list was smoke and mirrors. That’s pretty gross. Palace’s system allows for anyone to walk up to the sign in computer and put their names on any lists they want. That means they can come in on a Sunday night and sign up for the 15/30 game that starts Fridays at 4 and whether they know that about the game or not is entirely up in the air. I also think some people just like to have their name up for the big game with no intention of actually ever playing in it. What’s not happening is players getting boarded by a floorman that can tell them the game is on Fridays only. It would be nice to find a way to weed out the pretenders and the uninformed, but I guess this is just the way it is.

The starting lineup featured the likes of FBI Guy, Mr. Freeze, Ducky, Huey, Master Splinter, a few non-regulars, and a ornery old man.

I introduced myself to a brand new player by defending my first big blind (with the Coast on the line) with the J3 offsuit, even though it was folded to me. Ah, the things we do for a challenge that doesn’t even really matter. The flop was pretty reasonable for me: T73 rainbow. I checked and raised. He called. The turn was an 8 and I decided to keep firing since I added a gutshot straight draw to go with my bottom pair, but my hand wasn’t looking hot when he called again. The river paired the ten and while that’s a good card for me, I don’t think he’s going to fold many better hands at this point, so I checked it over to him and he put out a bet. Gross. I feel like I’m not winning here very often, but I also have no history with this guy, so I put in the $30 to see what he played this way and all he can show me is a suited 65 high and I’m coasting.

I flopped top set with QQ in a 4-bet pot a short while later and it held up and I was coasting with around $500 sugar at one point.

Ah, to think I was imagining Coasting in this session. Those dreams were shattered when I played another 4-bet pot and got check-raised by Master Splinter on J98 rainbow. I had QQ here, but his line looked super strong, so I just called down from that point and he ended up showing me quad jacks and by the end of the hand, I was no longer coasting.

It only got worse from there. The game was playing absurdly tight and almost every pot was played 2- or 3-handed. Somehow, I managed to flop top pair or second pair in a bunch of heads up pots and never seemed to have the best hand on the river – either because I never had the best hand or because I got drawn out on. This seemed to go on for a few hours, where I flopped showdownable hands in heads up pots and never won. I even flopped a set of sixes heads up against a big blind defend and lost to T9 on 763.

By 7:30pm, just 3.5 hours after the game started, I was down $1350.

Even when things started to turn around, I couldn’t help but be tilted about the hand. I raised with 77 and four of us saw the 873 with one club flop. Master Splinter donked from one of the blinds, I raised, a new player cold called, and Splinter just calls. The turn card was the jack of clubs and Splinter leads right out again. I have a serious case of the MUBS at this point and his hand sure looked a lot like T9 to me, but even so, I was contemplating whether I should still raise. I decided not to and the other player folded. The river was a 5 of clubs and when Splinter still wants to lead that card, I don’t see how I can do anything but call, so I call and he shows me a set of threes. Set over set and I get a total of three big bets from my opponent after the flop. That hardly feels like a win but at least I didn’t lose the hand.

Then I had AJ in a 3-bet pot and got a runout of QJxJA, but I only got 1.5 big bets this time because I whiffed my turn check-raise. My annoyance at missing bets on these two pots was somewhat alleviated when this one surprisingly got put up for High Hand and then somehow managed to hold up.

The game was 5-handed by 9:15pm and I was only stuck $500 at that point.

I made a note of that because I thought it was going to be the start of me crushing faces short-handed, but instead I went on another absurdly cold stretch with good hands. I lost with TT+ four times in quick succession and I lost with KJ to T7 on JJ98x, possibly because I decided to donk out from the small blind in a raised pot instead of check-raise the preflop raiser on the button.

Possibly the sickest hand of the night was a straddle pot when I had AKcc in the big blind. I 3-bet and Ducky 4-bet from under the gun. The straddler tagged along and we saw a flop of K96 with two spades and one diamond. Since I decided not to cap pre, Ducky had the lead and I checked it over to him. He checked back and so did the straddler. The turn was the ace of diamonds. Obviously, I’m usually leading in this spot, but I have a feeling Ducky is going to bet this card too frequently, so I check, he does bet, the button calls, and they both call my check-raise. I know I don’t want to see spades or diamonds on the river, so when it comes the 7 of hearts, I’m a pretty big fan of that card. I bet and… Ducky raises? It folds back to me and I do some serious tanking. I’m running bad and my mind isn’t functioning at its highest level, so of course I come out of the tank with the wrong decision and decide to 3-bet it. Ducky caps and I put out the crying call, knowing I’m never, ever winning here. He turns over the T8 of diamonds for a rivered straight. I just rarely have the best hand here and there’s no reason for me to be 3-betting the river. He has to have A7 suited exactly for me to have any value here and that’s not even a hand he’s guaranteed to raise the river with.

My wife and I were headed to the Oregon Coast early in the morning so we decided to call it a night just after 1am and by that point I was -$1379 for the night, my second straight disastrous session of 15/30 at Palace.

We had a great time on the Coast and I’ll post pictures at the end of this post. We initially planned to head down to the Florence, Oregon area and rent some dune buggies to take on the sand dunes and possibly spend a day floating the Rogue River, but neither of those things happened. Instead, we spent the first night at the Three Rivers Casino and then we spent all day on Sunday floating around the area where the Yachats River meets the Pacific Ocean before driving south and checking out what is supposed to be the biggest sea lion cave in the world.

It’s always exciting to go to a new casino, especially one with a smaller poker room, and put in a session. Three Rivers poker room only had one game going when we arrived and that game was… 10-handed 3/6 limit Hold’em! Wow. If you think I turned around and left, looking for anything else to do, you would be wrong. Quite the opposite. I was practically giddy with excitement to get into this game and play like a maniac. My plan was to play anything reasonable for up to two bets before the flop and do a lot of the raising myself, plus I was going to defend my big blind with basically every hand. I expected my numbers to be something like 70% VPiP and 40% PFR.

I didn’t waste much time making my presence felt. I think I folded my first two hands before winning around six in a row, including four straight kill pots (put in the game right after I sat down). By the time my first orbit was complete, I was up over $200 and roughly half the table had felted or left the game in frustration. That was okay with me since it allowed the rest of our party to get in the game and battle with each other.

Someone gave me an Overs button in this game and I was startled to learn that Overs wasn’t 4/8 or 6/12, but NO LIMIT. If the pot was contested between only players with Overs buttons after the flop, betting was no limit. So sick. Well, after getting a button, I had to tighten up somewhat. I couldn’t play 70% of my hands and possibly find myself in an Overs pot after the flop. I was still playing pretty loose, but when all but one of the Overs players left, I gave my button back. I was more interested in playing every hand than in felting a local.

I didn’t take notes for this session because LOL, but there were still a couple of really funny hands.

On the first hand, my buddy… let’s call him Mexi Nugget… limped in and I said, “that must be a really big hand” and limped in on the button with J3 offsuit. I had already raised his blind up with 72o earlier, flopped trips, and got paid off by him, so I’m literally blasting off trying to play pots with him.

The flop comes down 743; he leads, I raise, and he calls. The turn is an ace and we both check. The river pairs the 3, giving me trips, and he bets out again. I raise him and this time he 3-bets me and I call. He shows AA and the whole table goes into a frenzy.

On another hand, I raise pre and bet twice with KT on JT33 before checking on the queen river and saying, “I don’t think you can call with worse here.” I table my hand and he flashes a ten, but doesn’t show his other card and even the dealer says, “ten… with a kicker that doesn’t beat a king” and that’s when my buddy says, “oh really?” and turns over an ace for a sick slow roll that sends the whole table into a frenzy again.

On the very next hand, the flop checks around on 764 and Mexi Nugget takes the betting lead when the turn is a 9. My wife and his wife both call. The river pairs the 9, he bets again and they both call. His wife immediately shows K7 and he flashes a 9. My wife waits for him to turn over both cards and he eventually shows Q9 (I think) and she just flashes a 4 and pauses for about five beats before turning over another 4 for the sickest snap-reversal slow roll I’ve ever seen. I’m not sure that hand history did justice to what she did here. It was so fucking savage. The fact that it happened one hand after he slow rolled me and that nobody saw it coming just made it the best slow roll I’ve ever seen in my life. Needless to say, the entire table went nuts and everybody had a hearty laugh. That was arguably the coolest moment of the weekend. Does my wife have my back or what?

I ended up winning +$184 in what was the longest 3/6 session I’ve played in at least five years.

All in all, it was a small losing week for me and I’ll be looking to get back on track this week.

Oregon Coast pics:

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August Week One Poker!

August 8, 2019

What an exciting start to August!

On the 1st of the month, I had a dentist appointment in Silverdale and whenever that happens I try to make it a point to visit my old stomping grounds at All Star Lanes Casino where I was initially hired as a 4/8 prop back in January 2012 before moving on to dealing and flooring about a year later. All Star has a daily $30 (with $10 add-on) tournament with a hyper-turbo structure where the blinds double every 15 minutes. Initially, this structure isn’t too offensive, but generally when you reach the final table the average stack is something like 2-3 big blinds!

Playing in this tournament is like playing in a world I haven’t existed in for years now. It’s always funny to me when I shove with a 10bb stack when we are down to two tables or so and everyone kind of looks at me like I’m a maniac because nobody is open-jamming when they have such a massive chip count. For instance, if the blinds are 400/800, it would be rare to see a 10k stack just open ship it.

I made it to the final table and with around eight left I made a call that probably looked insane to most of the other players. With the blinds at 3000/6000, I was in the big blind and had a total stack of about 20k, which meant I was probably 2nd or 3rd in chips. LOL. Someone jammed for 18k from early position and it folded to me holding Q3 of clubs. No deals had been struck and only four players make the money so it’s not like I was on the edge of cashing here. I have roughly 33% of my stack in the big blind and if I fold, I’ll have over 20% of my stack in from the small blind. If I fold that hand, I’ll have less than two big blinds on the button and while that should mean I no longer have any fold equity, that is not necessarily true with this crowd. Basically, folding in this spot doesn’t give me much of a chance to win the tournament, but calling and winning this pot might. I’m getting 2.25 to 1 on a call here, so I need about 30% equity. Even against an absurdly tight 3bb shoving range of ~11.3% of hands, Q3 of clubs has around 31% equity, so I made the call and ended up backdooring a flush against AJ.

That pot propelled me to a heads up matchup with this guy:

Once upon a time, circa 2011, before All Star hired me and before I knew my heads up opponent here, I was playing a nightly tournament at All Star and I open-jammed with JT of clubs. This same player snap called me with AA and my hand ended up winning and he must have lit me up for a good 5-10 minutes (even though my hand was a totally standard shove) in true Hellmuthian fashion. As fate would have it, we ended up being the last two players remaining in the tournament and I can still remember him saying that he would never, ever chop with me. That didn’t bother me because I was happy to play it out and I ended up beating him and winning the tournament.

Fast forward to 2019 and we have become pretty good friends over the years and have a working relationship as well. This guy has probably had a piece of me in every major tournament I’ve ever cashed. Who would have thought when I sucked out with that JT and he berated me all night long that some day he’d be rooting me on at final tables of the World Series of Poker!

Well, here we are in 2019, battling heads up again and this time we aren’t chopping it either because, well, it’s way too fun to gamble it up and play it out. It’s not like there’s a big skill edge here: I think we had about 5bb between us when we got it in, my K9 vs his 83. He outflopped me, but I rivered a pair for sweet victory and am now 2-0 in heads up matches vs a Kitsap legend.

Also, I made $240 for my efforts and… that is my fifth biggest live tournament cash of the entire year. Totally crushing it in tourneys in 2019. I’ve mentioned it before, but I’ve never had a losing year in tournament poker and here we are seven months deep and I’m probably going to need one or two sizable cashes to turn this thing around before January.

I sat in the live 4/8 game for a few hours and this wouldn’t be notable except this happened:

My opponent was all in for $11 before the flop and then flopped the nut full house… I had two straight flush outs to win though… and I hit both of them!

This was the third Royal Flush I’ve ever had in a live Hold’em cash game and it’s kind of odd to come back randomly and hit one when I never hit one when I was playing there 40+ hours a week for 4+ years.

My jackpot for the hand was only $300 and after taking care of the staff (and giving the other player his $11 back), I left with $580 more than I walked in with.

Not bad!

15/30 on Friday was not a fun session for me. In the first 2.5 hours, I lost with TT+ five times and I was down over $800 already. During that span, one player seemed to beat me in every hand and then cashed out.

I was in full tilt pile mode:

A few hours later, there was a different random dude that walked in and beat me in every pot for an hour… and then he left too.

I was stuck over $1400 and the game was 7-handed at 8:30pm and not looking all that juicy. I was annoyed that two different players clobbered me and ran off with my former chips, plus I felt like I was playing my B- game, at best.

I decided to call it an early night and not force things. A couple of our nieces were visiting, so I swallowed the loss and went home and played Scattergories and Yahtzee with my wife and nieces.

Saturday I got to Muckleshoot around 5:45pm and took a seat in the 20/40 Omaha 8 game. Tree Bark, ChowMein, a Huey/Dewey/Louie, and some other regulars and some randoms made up the lineup.

I got off to a better start this time, picking up a couple decent scoopers with AAxx hands early on.

A couple good hands:

It’s 3-bets cold to me in a kill pot and I look down at AKTT with a suited ace. I used to fold a hand like this in spots like this routinely, but now I wonder if it’s worth seeing a flop, even though it only has value one way. Still, this isn’t the best spot for it. My hand plays better multi-way and it’s been raised twice in front of me, so we are probably going 3-handed most of the time. I’m guessing folding is best here, but in the interest of playing a more loose and aggro style I put the $90 in.

Well, my speculative call seemed to pay off when the flop was JT5 rainbow with one of my flush cards. I raised it up and we went heads up to the queen of diamonds turn. That gave me the nut straight, a set, the nut low draw (i.e. no low draw possible), and a Royal Flush draw. Seems pretty decent. I bet and got called and then the board texture didn’t change on the river and I got paid off for the scoop.

This next hand might be even more questionable. It starts with me defending the JTT4 with a suit in a multi-way pot. Gross.

No worries… now I’m going to lead out on the KQ8 rainbow flop because… I SUCK. I get punished with a raise and three of us proceed to the turn.

It’s the ten of spades. So now I have a set and a flush draw and no low will be possible. I ended up getting trapped for four bets. I figure they both have AJ and I think one of my draws is probably covered, but who knows which one, and what am I going to do? Fold now? Hahahahaha. I put in all the bets and…

…the river pairs the 8! That seems like a good card to bet. They both fold and the last player turns over the AJ of spades just to show me what a dummy I am.

I mean… I guess it’s pretty obvious I have a full house here, but geez, might be worth looking for similar spots when I don’t have it if they are so willing to fold the nut straight here.

A couple bad hands:

Kill pot, ChowMein raises in front of me, I flat with the A223 with bad hearts, and four of us go to the flop.

It checks to me on A96 with two hearts. I bet, the player behind me calls, and the big blind check-raises. I should probably be raising since I have a good hand both ways, but I felt like my high potential was pretty weak and figured the big blind has the same low draw most of the time. I ended up calling and so did the other player.

The turn was the king of clubs and I strongly considered raising when the big blind kept betting. I jusr didnt think he had a made hand. Again, I just called and this time the other player folded.

The river paired the 6 and the big blind fired again. I wasn’t convinced and at this point it seemed weird to turn my hand into a bluff, so I called and he shook his head in defeat. He did end up having a busted low draw with 532 in his hand, but he also had an ace and that huge 5 kicker of his was big enough to scoop my garbage hand.

Kill pot, I call a raise with A653 suited ace and then raise on 662ss and get two callers.

The turn was a 4, giving me a straight, the nut low with backup, and a full house redraw. I remember getting called in two spots here and thinking, there is nothing that can go wrong here.

Of course, the Poker Gods didn’t wait long to punish that serious lack of foresight. The river brought a spade and the first player led out. I called, the other guy folded and suddenly I’m looking at AJ3x with two spades in his hand and find myself getting quartered in this large pot I thought I had no chance of losing.

Pretty cool.

Overall, it was a lot better than my last O8 session at Muck as I finished +$620 for the day.

Sunday we were supposed to go hiking but one of us woke up feeling lazy (let’s just say it was me) so I rushed to Palace to max late reg their biweekly $110 NL tournament.

I immediately bluffed off 35% of my stack when I raised a limper from 200 to 700 with 97ss and then c-bet 500 on AT6 and put him all in for 2200ish on the jack turn. I don’t think he’s calling off his stack with many hands he’s limping in with here, but he had the ol’ KQ gutterball and it came in for him and I was down to 30 bigs already.

I leaked off a few more chips trying to force things before open-jamming my last 10bb with A2cc on the button and getting a reluctant call from the small blind’s 55 and busted out after failing to improve.

Solid showing.

On Monday and Tuesday, I played a couple of impromptu sessions because I had friends that were itching to play some poker.

First, my buddy from Florida met up with me at Palace and we played some 8/16. I started my session off by seeing a free flop with 86o and getting the 862dd board. I led out, got raised, 3-bet, and got called in three spots. The turn was a super ugly 5 of diamonds, putting a three flush on board and straightening things out, but when I bet, no one raised and one player folded. The river put a one card straight on board with a 3 and this time we all checked and somehow, after four players put in three bets on the flop and every draw got there, my hand was still good. The Coast was on!

My buddy didn’t show up until after 9 PM and said he was only going to play a couple of hours and I didn’t plan to play deep into the night myself, so when he called it a night around 12:30 AM, I left also even though I was +$735 and 70 minutes shy of an official Bronze Coast. Ah well! These are the kinds of quits a 3x Coaster can afford to make!

I met my old roommate in Southcenter on Tuesday to see The Farewell starring Awkwafina and we played some 4/8 at Fortune after the movie. I was playing hyper-LAG, but also running extremely hot preflop, picking up lots of big pairs and big aces, but I lost some pretty insane hands. Fortunately, I did flop quad 9s once and that held up for a $250 High Hand and gave me a +$212 finish for the night.

All in all, I finished the first week of August +$740 (including online play) and I’m pretty happy about that considering I sprinkled in a -$1489 15/30 session and played down in 3 of my 5 live sessions.

Also, I made some updates to the following pages:

Blog Nicknames: Added Godzilla, Green River Gary, and Grumpy, His Royal Airness
Books I’ve Read
TV Show Ratings (By Season): Added Big Little Lies s1/s2, Barry s2, Santa Clarita Diet s2/s3

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WSOP 2019: Recap

July 9, 2019

It’s official. I will not be returning to Vegas to play the $3k H.O.R.S.E. event this coming Sunday. Even with a $600 H.O.R.S.E. the day before at Venetian, I’m having a hard time justifying the trip to myself.

First off, I’m going to be adding somewhere around $500-$800 in expenses to play one (maybe two) tournaments? That’s some serious rake. Secondly, how soft is that field really going to be? By this weekend, the Main Event will be down to the last day or two and I imagine Vegas will largely be cleared out and when the dust settles, only the most serious of WSOP grinders will be left behind. It would be a fun challenge to battle with that crowd, but I’m happy to be home and I’m eager to start gearing up for next year already.

So that means my 2019 WSOP is a wrap.

How was it?

I’ll grade it as okay. I’m sure some people would be ecstatic with the results I had. I did well in cash games, almost made another WSOP final table, and I got to play in the Main Event! But the goals I have for myself are a lot higher than what I achieved this summer. I’m not mad about it… but I would say I’m slightly disappointed. It does rank as my third best WSOP ever, but that’s not really saying much. I only played 1 or 2 tournaments in 2014 and 2015, had really good summers in 2016 and 2017, and got my ass kicked last year.

This year I played 72+ hours of cash games and won a total of $9400. I won basically all of that in 25 hours of 40/80 limit Hold’em at Bellagio and broke even in ~50 hours of everything else, mostly mix games. Makes you wonder why I didn’t play more 40/80, especially when mix games move at a snail’s pace compared to limit Hold’em. All I can really say is… I’m a wimp. I played my last 40/80 session on June 28th and with my Main Event starting on July 3rd, I wanted to make sure I locked up a solid profit for my trip rather than see if I could really run it up or have variance bring me back to ground zero.

As far as tournaments, I went 3 for 10 for -$6680 over 91+ hours, but I didn’t cash the Main, so that accounted for a $10,000 loss and I only had 20% of myself in that one. Removing the Main, I cashed 3 of 9 for +$3320 with my 12th place finish in the $2500 Stud 8/Omaha 8 accounting for basically all my tournament success this year.

Since I only had 20% of myself in the Main, I personally finished with a small loss in tournaments during the Series and my personal poker profit was somewhere north of $8000.

Here’s a look at some expenses for the trip:

Airfare/Luggage: $780 (two round trips)
Lodging: $1300 (22 nights at ~$59/night)
Ubers: $530 (~$23/day)

Not including food, my Vegas stay cost me around $2600 and my net profit was somewhere around +$5500 which is a pretty decent but slightly disappointing overall result. With games in the SeaTac area as dry as they get at any point in the year, it is highly unlikely I could have done better by staying home, so there’s that at least.

I went 1 for 6 in WSOP events this year, so I now have 1 cash in my last 16, which feels super gross to even type out. However, lifetime, I now have 8 cashes in 30 tournaments with two final tables and a top 12 finish, so even with two bricks in the Main Event my career ROI is still way above average at the Series. I guess I can’t complain, but the last two years have left me feeling extremely unsatisfied, especially since I’m a way better player now than I was in 2016 or 2017.

I have found balance difficult to achieve when I’m in Vegas for long periods of time. I went to the gym once while I was there; I ate like shit and I slept like shit, going to bed past 4 AM most nights and waking up past 1 PM most days. I didn’t meditate. Basically, the only productive thing I did besides play poker was study poker. I’ll give myself credit for at least doing a decent amount of studying. Also, even with getting a late start and coming back home for a week, I still found myself homesick by the end.

Ideally, at this stage of my poker career, I feel like I should at least be playing every $1500 buy in with a limit structure. This year that would have been nine tournaments. Plus I think the $2500 Mixed Triple Draw and Stud 8/Omaha 8 tournaments should be a focus and some day the $3000 limit Hold’em 6-max and H.O.R.S.E. tourneys should be must plays as well. And I should be playing at least some no limit Hold’em events. That means I want to be playing something like 12-15 events at the WSOP every year and this year I only played six?

So the question is, how do I reach that goal while keeping myself sane and productive in Las Vegas and my wife happy at home while I’m gone for weeks at a time? That is a mystery I’m going to try to solve by this time next year. My ultimate goal is to win a bracelet and that’s pretty hard to do if I’m not playing as much as I possibly can during June and July.

I never posted goals for 2019, so I’ll be thinking about that over the next few days as I assimilate to being back home and getting myself on the path for maximum success come this time next year.