Posts Tagged ‘no limit hold em’

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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.

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2019 WSOP: Main Event Day 2 Sweat Post

July 6, 2019

Here’s what my Day 2 table is looking like:

This looks way more favorable than my Day 1 table where it seemed like everyone could play pretty well. Of course, past results don’t indicate everything. I know some NLHE players that are better than me that have very few recorded live cashes.

Still, it looks promising. There are only three players with more in career cashes than me, but I actually rank second in the GPI at this table. Even 2016 Main Event champ Qui Nguyen is less seasoned and accomplished than I am since his big win.

The only bad news is that the likely best current player at this table is on my immediate left with twice as many chips as me.

Playing with Qui Nguyen should be interesting. I imagine there will be cameras on him today and maybe even a long shot chance that he gets us on a feature table. Qui is a loose cannon so I will be looking to play pots in position against him and let him bluff chips off to me. He is capable of pulling the trigger in insane spots that don’t even make sense, so I’m not planning to get into any leveling or raising wars with him. I doubt I will be attempting to squeeze light against him and I’m curious how the player behind me will react when he opens and gets callers. I expect everyone else at this table to be playing pretty straight forward.

I have the second smallest stack at my table, but it hardly matters – I’ll be starting the day with exactly 70 bigs. Plenty of stack to work with when we have two hour levels.

I think I made two avoidable mistakes on Day 1 and I would guess they cost me about 35k total in chips, so I’ll be looking to find clarity in similar murky spots today. I think I’m at a good table to chip up and put myself in position to contend for a cash on Day 3.

Let’s get it. Stack updates after every level here.

Dinner break is at 8 PM! That’s nine long hours from now. Gross.

Qui Nguyen doing the “shuffle up and deal” right now.

He sits down and I say, “that speech cost you a small blind.”

Seat one literally just punted his entire to stack to the champ.

Qui opens, he makes a small 3-bet from out of position, Qui calls.

Flop 543. He bets, Qui raises, he snap-calls.

Turn 10. He donks 25k, Qui makes it 60k, he snap-calls.

River 5. He donks all in, Qui snaps. s1 has AA, Qui has A2.

They each started that hand 140 bigs deep.

Unreal.

Two people already busted from this table.

Under the gun makes it 1800 at 400/800, one player flats, and I call with QJdd from the small blind and the big blind also calls.

Flop is A64 with two diamonds. It checks to the original flatter and he bets 3200, I call, the big folds and the PFR check-raises it to 9000. The flop bettor folds and I have no fold equity here, so I’m not jamming, but I want to see a turn card. I call, planning to fold if I miss the turn.

It’s the king of diamonds. This is a very good card. Not only do I make my hand, but his most likely ace high flushes are severely blocked. He can’t have AK, AQ, or AJ of diamonds. He can have ATdd or any small suited aces, but if that’s the case, I guess I’m just flying home today.

There’s around 29k in the pot already, my hand looks a lot like a flush draw, and I only have around 36k behind, so I’m not gonna give him a chance to check behind here, nor do I want to make any tough decisions if the board pairs on the river or another diamond comes.

I think when he check-raises the flop he probably has a set or an ace high flush draw. If he has the latter, there’s nothing I can do about it now.

I go all in.

He doesn’t snap, so that’s nice, but he also doesn’t think very long.

He turns over two red aces.

And now I’m packing my bags to fly back to Seattle.

GG, Vegas.

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2019 WSOP: THE MAIN EVENT – Day 1 Sweat Post

July 3, 2019

It’s pretty amazing that this is something I’m able to do. Play the World Series of Poker Main Event? It’s my second year playing it and I feel like I’m already taking the opportunity for granted. Today feels just like another day, but maybe that will change when I actually sit down at the table.

I’m playing Day 1A. I’m not sure what to make of that. I imagine that Day 1C is the best day to play. For one, July 4th is tomorrow and for two, Day 1C is a Friday. I imagine that people that have day jobs are far more likely to plan their trip around a Day 1 starting on a Friday than a Day 1 starting on a Wednesday. I think Day 1A is historically the smallest of the fields.

Oh well. My strategy with playing today is that if things go horribly I can book a flight home and be back in Washington instead of prolonging my trip for no good reason. If I make it to Day 2, I will be playing again on Saturday and will have the next two days off to do whatever I want.

Since busting the $1500 LHE event, I’ve played two cash game sessions with relatively breakeven results. Most notably, I finally got the Orleans out of the lifetime red, but I played my first ever session at Wynn and booked a $1k loser, which is amusingly big enough to put it in my bottom five locations of all-time!

Info on today’s structure:

We start with 60,000 in chips, or 300 big blinds, which is 10k more in chips than last year but actually smaller effective stacks. Not that it matters much. If you can maintain a starting stack all day, you’d start Day 2 with 75 big blinds.

I’ll be taking it super easy and abc for the first level or so, as I build profiles on my opponents and see what I’m dealing with, before moving on to a more exploitative approach as the day progresses.

I had really favorable table draws my first two days last year so hopefully I can continue that streak today.

Cards in the air at noon. I’ll post stack updates here on breaks and, as usual, maybe a key pot or two, but my focus is going to be on paying attention when I’m not in hands.

Jack Effel and John Cynn about to kick things off.

Names at my starting table I’ve sniped: Sergei Kislinskii, Dustin An (from Seattle!), Samuel Gagnon (I think), Austin Lewis, and Steve Gee (9th in the 2012 Main and 24th in the 2013 Main!), Jakub Wojtas

First Break

I don’t think I have a great table. Everyone seems competent and the two most active players are on my direct left.

Fortunately, I already put a dent in Steve Gee’s stack when I played a 3-bet pot in position with QJo and got the KT639 runout and he paid off a sizable river bet.

95,000

Dinner Break

75,400

Restart at 5 pm, or whenever I wake back up.

Three More Hours

Couple of dumb hands have prevented me from chipping up.

I had 33 vs 54 on 543 and he escaped with a 2-6 runout for a chop.

Then I had 86ss on 995hhs77 vs A7o. Obv he check-raised me on the flop with total air, I hit my gin card vs someone that had nothing and still can’t win at showdown.

Pretty cool.

75,000

One Hour Left

Other than the hands I noted earlier – and one I botched before that – I’ve been running pretty good today. I’ve had AA four times and I haven’t lost with them and I’ve gotten some form of action every time.

One hour left in the day before we bag for Day 2.

97,300

End of Day

Bagged up 56k. Lost a dumb one with two hands left. Probably leveled myself in a button vs blind with bags looming situation and overvalued my hand to lose the max.

Welp, I could have registered on Saturday and started with 60k. Oh well. Let’s hope my table draw on Day 2 is better because it sure sucked today.

Day 2 is not until Saturday at 11 AM.

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WSOP 2019: The Adrenaline Rush and Heartbreak of a Deep Run

June 25, 2019

When it comes to playing poker there is no greater feeling than making a deep run in a WSOP event. I’ve done it a couple of times before.

My third place finish in the Industry Event was a lot of fun, but the fact that it’s not an open bracelet event combined with the fact that it’s the luckiest I’ve ever been in a live tournament makes me feel like it will always come with an asterisk in my head. On the other hand, my big suck outs in critical spots felt like a lot of justice for all the brutal beats I’d taken super deep in all the tournaments before that one that had prevented me from making a real run at a major title.

In contrast, my fifth place finish in the $1500 H.O.R.S.E. in 2017 was just a surreal and amazing experience. By the time we got down to three tables, almost everyone left in the tournament was a known poker star.

This $2500 Omaha 8/Stud 8 felt pretty similar. Like, I know I’m capable of making runs like this and I think I can play most of the games at a high level, but another part of me is like wtf am I doing here with 15 left in a World Series of Poker tournament playing with the Shaun Deebs of the world?

It’s crazy.

I broke down a hand history with Phillip Hui on break and he was very happy to talk with me about it. I absolutely loved his table presence and I knew he would be approachable.

I spent all Day 2 locking horns with Andrey Zaichenko to the point where he finally lamented: “I can’t beat you.” He was on my direct right with an unfathomable amount of chips, looking destined for a final table appearance (he would take 4th), while I was on the bubble of this thing feeling the maximum amount of pressure about it.

Seriously.

After cashing 7 of 10 WSOP events with two top 5 finishes in 2016-2017, I was on an 0-11 WSOP stretch heading into this one and that’s overlooking the fact that I’ve been tossing up bricks all year everywhere else too. I really, really wanted to cash this tournament.

It was looking like I was going to sweat it out the entire bubble, but then I caught a little rush and suddenly found myself way above average, a lock to cash, and thoughts of having a real deep run.

Ironically enough, I ended up finishing Day 2 with more chips than Zaichenko. He was a total pain in the ass all day though. Every pot went through him. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say he played around 60% of his hands. Is that really possible? He was a beast. A borderline maniac. I was impressed though.

Here’s a sick hand with two tables left:

Thompson completed on 3rd with a ten up and got called in four spots!

I led out on 4th when I made open aces and Shaun Deeb, Danny Ratigan and Denis Stebkov all called.

On 5th, I honestly didn’t know what to do. This is where lack of experience can be costly. I’m not sure what my best line is here. My hand is 65-AA7. Deeb and Ratigan both had good looking low boards, so I ended up checking and it checked to Ratigan and he bet. I gave some thought to raising here to try and get heads up with Ratigan, but I didn’t think it was likely Deeb would fold to a raise, so I just called. Denis folded and Deeb called.

I checked again on 6th and it checked to Ratigan. He bet, I called, Deeb raised, and Ratigan 3-bet. I had a strong feeling I was getting squeezed here. Deeb looks like he can have a flush but if you look at the upcards reported above, it’s actually not likely at all, as the ace, 4 and 5 of diamonds are all accounted for on other boards. So he basically needs to have exactly some combo of the 2, 7, and 8 of diamonds in the hole to have a flush here. Also, how likely is he to check a made low with a four flush on 5th street? Not fucking likely.

Still, it seems like I’m drawing dead to the low half of the pot here, so calling off three more big bets to maybe win half seems precarious. I folded.

Ratigan ended up having 75 in the hole and caught an 8 on 7th to make a straight, so I would have got scooped on 7th anyway (I was in last position so the cards would be the same on 7th).

Deeb was making a play. He had a pair and a six low draw and got me to fold the high half of the pot. He would have looked like a genius if it worked and Ratigan bricked the river.

I hated letting him get away with it and I’m not going to lie… I was happy to see Danny scoop that pot and Deeb bust in 13th a short while later. I didn’t want to deal with Shaun at a final table, plus Danny Ratigan is from the Seattle area!

I’ll say this though. I don’t post much on Twitter but I’m pretty in tune with the poker Twitterverse and, well, Shaun is a controversial figure and can be extremely opinionated and pretty mean. I would not have been surprised to not like him. It was the opposite. I was impressed with everything about the guy. He was nice to everyone and the floors practically treated him like he was the Tournament Director. And his focus was unreal. He didn’t miss a thing at the table. I wish I had 20% of that focus level. I was blown away. That kind of thing is scary to play against.

One more hand from Day 2:

I think it would be pretty hard to report poker hands, especially when you start watching in the middle of a pot, and I think the PokerNews team generally does a really good job, but man, this one couldn’t be further from the truth.

Here’s what really happened:

Matt Vengrin is the bring in with the 2d and everyone folds to Phillip Long, in the effective cutoff position, and he completes with a ten up. I have the Qc up and two jacks in the hole and raise it. Vengrin defends the bring in and Long also calls.

On 4th street, Vengrin pairs his door card, Long catches an offsuit 6 and I catch an offsuit jack: a total gin card for me. It checks to me, I bet, and Vengrin raises to put himself all in. It’s enough of a raise that it allows me to re-raise if I choose to, so Phillip Long reluctantly folds and I call. Vengrin thinks he has me crushed because he has a deuce in the hole, but I show him the ultra bad news by turning up two jacks. Things had been going bad for me so I had a feeling he was going to fill up and I was going to lose this critical pot, but we both bricked through 6th street and I snap rolled my last card to give me jacks full and he only had the case deuce for a win. He squeezed the 9 of clubs and then crumpled it up, tossed it in the air, and hit the dealer in the head with it.

Compare the real hand to the hand reported above and it’s quite a different story.

Even Vengrin had his own version of events:

I mean… he was super unlucky to catch a 2 on 4th and be behind, but he definitely wasn’t rolled up here.

I finished Day 2 8th in chips with 12 players left and that was reason enough for my wife to wake up at 6am and book a flight to Vegas so she could be here if I somehow found my way to a bracelet. Blackjack even booked a flight to come sweat my Day 3 run.

When you get this far in a bracelet event it’s easy to start dreaming about what might happen. Based on chip distribution alone, my fair share of the bracelet heading into Day 3 was greater than 6%! A few pots going my way early while others bust out and that number starts to swing heavily in my favor.

What’s harder to imagine is the worst possible outcome happening.

I’ll let Blackjack tell his story:

It literally could not have gone worse for me. We started with about four hands of Stud 8 and I folded all of them, but I was super active in the Omaha round.

First, I flopped the nut low draw and a small pair on an all diamond flop. I checked back the flop but called down when the low came in and my A43x got quartered by A44x.

Then this happened:

I opened with AJ72 and no suits and Gerard 3-bet me on the button. With top top on the flop and the backdoor nut low draw, check-calling seemed best. While I’m blocking AA hands, it’s still something to be weary of when you get 3-bet in O8.

I loved the turn, as it gave me the nut low draw in addition to top pair. While I was happy to check-call the turn, I was going to lead the river if I made the nut low. If I get quartered with top pair and the nut low, then so be it. In fact, the only cards I don’t want to see on the river are a king, queen, ace or deuce. Ironically, I was still scooping if an ace came.

In fact, this is what my odds looked like heading to the river:

So I’m scooping this crucial pot 70% of the time and getting scooped 30%.

Obviously, I don’t know what he has exactly, so when the river comes a queen and he bets, all I know is this: I fucking hate it.

As noted earlier, a queen is one of the few cards where my hand feels like it gets destroyed. I have an easy showdown on pretty much every other card and now I have a super marginal one way hand. In fact, it’s so easy for me to get scooped here that I should probably just be folding when each big bet is so critical to my stack.

On the other hand, there are 7.75 big bets in the pot and if he’s bluffing as much as 11% of the time folding the best hand here would be an absolute catastrophe. Is he bluffing enough? It’s hard to say – not like I have a ton of history with the guy. What hands could he triple barrel with? A23x? Raggedy A2xx hands? A245? What if the river was a 9 or ten? Is he betting with AK53? The fact he double barreled the hand he did have leads me to believe if he missed the river, he would have to fire another bullet and that makes me feel better about my call.

Regardless, an absolutely sickening runout and, essentially, my knockout blow.

A hand or two later, I’m in the small blind and Phillip Long opens the button, I 3-bet all in with the AK53. He showed the QJ52 and the A87 rainbow flop meant we were going to chop 80% of the time and each of us had about 10% scoop equity. Somehow, he managed to realize his scoop equity when the board ran out 9-T to give him the nut high along with a better low and just like that… I was out.

I’m not going to lie… I was pretty shellshocked to be out in 20 minutes and sad that my wife flew out to sweat me and this is what happened. On the other hand, I got to spend a whole day with her on the weekend before her birthday so that was really nice. She gave me the go ahead to play the $1500 Razz – even urged me to play it – but I was feeling a bit demoralized and I wanted to spend time with her since she was here.

So we went and saw Ka at the MGM Grand.

Here is how Dina felt before the show:

And here is how she felt after the show:

In fact, she gave the show a 3 out of 10, which I thought was super harsh. I can’t say I really enjoyed the experience either though.

First, they wouldn’t let me bring my backpack in, even though I carry all my diabetic supplies and emergency items in it. I’ve never had anyone forcefully turn me away after I pull out the debilitating disease excuse, but they wouldn’t let me in. So we went to the bellhop to check our bags and that took 20 minutes to happen and in the process, I lost my Contigo water bottle because I’m not used to carrying it around as it is normally slotted on the side of my backpack. So that was cool.

Then, with 5 minutes before show time, our bags checked, all my items in my wife’s purse, we get our tickets scanned and they tell us her purse is too big to bring in. The same purse they saw earlier and didn’t say anything about. Well, I wasn’t having that and I didn’t get to throw much of a fit before they just waved us in.

I’ll give Ka a 6 out of 10. It is my least favorite show I’ve seen in Vegas. If it was the first one I saw, I would probably think more highly of it. I thought the music was really good and the stage was very impressive, but the show was the least interesting I’ve seen and while the stunts were pretty cool, they were also the least spectacular I’ve seen. Even Absinthe has better physical performances.

Updates Vegas Show Rankings

1. Absinthe

2. Michael Jackson: One

3. The Beatles: Love

4. O

5. Penn & Teller

6. Ka

I played the $600 No Limit Hold’em WSOP Deep Stack today and I had about 35k when this hand came up during the 300/600 level. An older white gentleman opened from MP to 1600 and I decided to flat with AQo. I think this is a fine hand to mix flats and 3-bets with against this player type. I think it’s an easy fold if he 4-bets and I don’t mind playing AQ in position in a single-raised pot either.

The small blind, a younger, capable-looking Asian guy 3-bet to 6200 and the opener folded. I’m not about to fold AQ in a squeeze spot against a player that seems capable of pulling the trigger, and I think there is serious merit to just stuffing it preflop at this point, but I elected to call.

The flop was QJ5 rainbow and he checked to me. I down bet 5500 into over 15k and he stuffed it on me. This sent me into the tank for a good three minutes. Obviously, I don’t love this spot, even with top top. On the other hand, I’m blocking queens and aces and I have ~20% equity if he has KK. I’m fucked if he has JJ, but I also think he can have some KQ, QT, KT, and maybe some spazzy Qx or Jx hands. I probably can’t have AA or KK here, so AQ is one of the best hands I would even think about folding here and that means I probably have to call with it.

I call. He tables KT, the turn bricks, but the river is an ace and I was busted.

Also, saw this guy in the Rio hallway yesterday and I have to wonder if I even have the right to be The Dark Knight when this guy is playing poker in this outfit:

That’s a level of commitment I will never reach.

Now I’m at the Bellagio playing some $40/$80 Limit Hold’em.

Spotted FanBoy doing work in the $80/$160 game:

Maybe I’ll post some hands here. Maybe I won’t.

Either way, I will post my end result after my session.

Result: +$3157

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WSOP 2019: Update

June 18, 2019

I always start off thinking this, but this is really going to be an abbreviated post. I feel like I should probably post a little update since I haven’t made a new post since June 9th.

Here’s what has happened since then.

On June 10th, I played Day 2 of the $1500 WSOP 8-Game Mix and busted out before the money bubble burst. I had another tough table draw and I never had more chips than I started the day with and felt like I was constantly put in brutal spots.

Here are a couple:

I was the bring in for Razz with a 9 up and Jameson Painter opened utg with an 8 up. Obviously, there were four other low cards out, but they all folded and I defended with A2-9. On 4th street Jameson caught a King and I caught a Jack. I bet and he called. On 5th street, He caught an ace and I paired my 2, but my board was still leading so I bet out and I was immediately punished with a raise. This is just a mistake on my part. Let’s say I didn’t pair the 2 and I had something like A3-9J2 and Jameson has a hand like 34-8KA, he’s still a 60% favorite even when the 2 helps me, so his raise here makes a lot of sense and my bet actually sucks… and it really sucks since the 2 actually hurt my hand. Clearly, my best play is just to check-fold here even though my board is “leading.”

Another hand that helped cripple me was in Stud Hi. The least established player at the table limped in with the ace of spades up, I completed with JJ-8 and Jameson Painter called with a 9 up. On 4th street, we all seemingly bricked, so I bet again and they both called. 5th street felt similarly bricky, so I bet again, Jameson called, and the ace up check-raised. By now, his board looked like xx-As5c2c. I was perplexed, but I also hadn’t improved. However, both Jameson and I had a three on our boards, so a straight didn’t seem likely. My board hadn’t improved at all, so this is probably just a fold here, but I convinced myself to take another card off and Jameson called as well. I bricked again and the As5c2c caught the 4s and I folded when he bet again and so did Jameson.

Neither of those hands are too catastrophic, but I should have saved at least two big bets between the two of them.

I ended up taking the rest of the day off on the 10th as I was tired and annoyed.

On the 11th, I played 10 hours of $20/$40 Mix and got off to another absolutely brutal start, almost immediately gifting them two racks and playing catch up the entire session, but I managed to settle for a modest -$345, which is ironic because…

…that’s exactly how much I won the next day in 5.5 hours of $40/$80 LHE at Bellagio.

On the 13th, the last full day in Vegas of my first trip this summer, I started by busting the $400 NL tournament at Aria in a timely fashion, laughed off thoughts of a re-entry, took a nap and watched the Raptors win the NBA title, then headed to Bellagio for a late night $40/$80 LHE session. I played from 9:30 PM to 5:30 AM and booked a rather sick +$5515 winner – my second biggest win in a cash game session (in terms of actual money won) ever and a total trip saver!

Sexy:

So overall my first trip looked like this:

+$4955 in 30 hours of cash games
One mincash in five tournaments for -$3410

Makes you wonder about priorities. Yes, tournaments can lead to life-changing scores, but cash games are how I make my living. I feel like I should make them more of a focus during WSOP time and I’ve adjusted the back half of my schedule a bit to give myself more time for cash game. Basically, I’ve just eliminated all the smaller NLHE tournaments from my schedule. I like them as a warmup for the Main Event, but I had four on my schedule and I’ll probably wind up just playing one of them now.

I’ve played one session since I’ve been back in Washington, but it was only 4.5 hours of $8/$16 for -$292 while my dogs were at the groomers. I may play another session tomorrow and maaaaaaaaaaybe PLO at Palace on Wednesday night and I land back in Vegas Thursday after midnight and my next event is the $1500 No Limit Hold’em Monster Stack at 10 AM on Friday.

Other WSOP Notes: Through 36 completed events, Washington state hasn’t shown up very much.

Rep Porter took 5th in the $1500 Stud Hi for almost $20k and his good friend Rick Fuller took 10th in the $1500 Omaha 8 or Better for $12.3k.

FanBoy got a mincash in the $1k Double Stack.

Sandman has been our MVP so far, following up his 5th place finish in the $2500 Mixed Triple Draw with a 5th place finish in the $1500 2-7 Triple Draw for a $26.8k score despite showing up over an hour late on Day 3 while sitting 6th in chips of 17 left.

Also, Noah Bronstein just busted 15th in the $1k Double Stack for $29.6k. He also took 13th in the 8-Game Mix for $7.5k and has six cashes total now.

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May 2019: Week 3 Poker Wrap-Up

May 19, 2019

Monday @ Palace

I think I want Mondays to be the day I play at Fortune, but this past week we had to be up early on Tuesday for an appointment and I’m basically never going to travel to a casino if I know I have to leave early-ish. Looks like the same thing is going on this week, so most likely I’ll be playing at Palace again tomorrow.

My 8/16 session was mostly ho hum. I played just over six hours and never really had any momentum in either direction. I can’t recall any horrific hands (but there are plenty of those to come) and my session basically boiled down to one critical pot.

Someone raises from early position, there are multiple callers, and the small blind makes it 3-bets. I have the 54 of clubs in the big blind and I don’t mind gambling here since the pot is going off multi-way. The early position player caps it.

The flop comes down 762 with one club and I’m going to be seeing the river most of the time here, even facing heavy action. The flop gets capped, with the small blind and early position player exchanging raises and two of us trapped in between these two obvious big pairs.

The turn is the jack of clubs and the small blind still leads out, I call, and the early position player still raises. This is where the other player in the pot suddenly wakes up with a cold 3-bet. Woah. This actually shocks everyone in the hand, myself included. The small blind can’t find a fold for two more big bets with whatever big pair he has and I’m obviously not folding now that I’ve added a flush draw to my straight draw. The other big pair also calls.

The river is the 2 of clubs, giving me a flush but pairing the board. I don’t see how this is anything other than a check-call spot. It’s pretty obvious that both the small blind and early position player have QQ+ and the other player said he wasn’t worried about all that when he 3-bet on the turn, so how much should I like my hand here? Dude called two bets cold pre, so the only (reasonable) hand I’m beating now is 76 suited? Maybe he lost his mind with AJ, but that doesn’t mean I should be leading out here. It seems like he’s showing up with full houses most of the time. So we all check it over to him and when he checks and is visibly frustrated, I snap-roll my hand and win the pot with a flush. The small blind had aces, the early player had kings, and the other guy had… J7o. Well okay then.

There was one other hand I played that I thought was notable, just because my hand-reading during it was pinpoint, allowing me to collect an extra big bet or two that I think almost everyone else would leave on the table.

I open with the T9 of hearts and a passive player that I had not seen 3-bet the entire session raises me. I call.

The flop is KJ9 with two clubs and this is a check-call for me.

The turn is the queen of clubs so I lead out and my opponent still raises me. Yes, I said this player is passive so this raise is kind of mind-boggling, but I also think he has zero tens in his range and there is no way he has a flush with the king and queen of clubs on board. It seems pretty obvious to me that he has aces or kings (or maybe QQ or JJ), so I go for a savage 3-bet and bet again when the river bricks off and, sure enough, my hand is somehow scooping here (he didn’t show).

Result: +$407

Wednesday on Global Poker

I knew I wasn’t going to play PLO at Palace on Wednesday. The game has gone from an A+ to a C-, at best, and it’s not really worth arranging my whole day around what usually amounts to a four hour session. I’m probably done with it until after I get back from the WSOP in mid-July.

Global has their Rattlesnake Open II series going on right now and I thought Wednesday was the night of their limit Hold’em events, but I was actually a day ahead of schedule. Unfortunately, that meant that I wasn’t going to play live poker on Thursday either and I have been enjoying playing the mix games at Red Dragon on Thursdays. But I have been studying no limit Hold’em tournaments the past week in preparation for the WSOP and I was eager to put some of the stuff I was learning into practice, so I played on Global anyway.

The first tournament I played was an $11 freezeout and I was immediately rewarded for my efforts by finishing 1st of 167 entrants for $358.22! That’s pretty inconsequential in the grand scheme of things, but it always feels good to win any reasonably sized tournament outright.

The second tournament I played was a $3 rebuy and I reached the final table on two bullets and an add-on, sitting third in chips. Unfortunately, on the very first hand at the final table, I played a 3-bet pot with KK vs TT and my opponent flopped a set, crippling me, and I did not recover, finishing 9th of 153 entrants.

Two tournaments, two final tables. Not bad.

I played three other tournaments and min-cashed one of them (for a small loss).

Result: +$314.33

Thursday on Global Poker

I don’t make playing on Global much of a priority these days, but I do always mark my calendars for the limit Hold’em events in their big series because on a site that never has LHE games running, my edge figures to be pretty massive considering that’s the variant I play primarily to make a living.

I ended up playing six tournaments on Thursday, three of them the LHE events in the Rattlesnake Open series, and managed only one cash, a 13th place finish (of 282 entrants) in the $11 LHE event. I had the displeasure of stone bubbling not one, but two tournaments on the day. Both of them paid 27 players and I found a way to finish 28th twice.

The craziest hand I played was in the $55 LHE tournament. We weren’t on the bubble quite yet, but we were getting down there and I opened with AJo from under the gun and it folded to the big blind and he defended.

The flop was 443 with two hearts and one club. I bet and the big blind check-raises me. Considering that I expect none of these people to play LHE regularly, I find this check-raise laughable because there is no way his range is balanced here. Is he check-raising with a 3 here? Pocket sixes? Are these people that never play LHE flatting with hands like QQ+ preflop? I don’t really expect it. So I expect his range to be very draw and bluff heavy here and an under the gun raiser is literally NEVER folding to a check-raise on this flop and this board is a bad start to get folds later on from ace highs. I call.

The turn is the king of clubs and when he leads out, I think this is spot where I should be raising instead of calling. If he does have a 3 or a medium pair, he might fold to a raise and if his range is full of draws and bluffs like I suspect then raising protects my equity and charges the draws. If the river is bricky, I can check back if he calls and hope to win showdowns vs draws. If he has a pair, he’s not going to fold on the river after calling the turn, so no sense turning my hand into a bluff there. I raise and he calls.

The river is the six of clubs. He leads out. There is no way I’m winning now and I should fold, especially since this is a tournament and every big bet is precious. But I can’t help myself. I want to see how I lost. I call and he shows… the 92 of clubs.

What a torch. Horrible defend. Horrible flop to bluff an under the gun raiser on. It could make sense against a late position open, but I’m never folding the flop here and I’m rarely folding ever. Horrible hand to bluff with. He has no real equity. At least a hand like 65 has some clear outs, in addition to possible pair outs. Then he gets spanked for two big bets on the turn. At least he got the river right. And this dude is one of the best tournament players on all of Global Poker and I’m not just saying that, I’ve looked up his results on Sharkscope. Uhm yes. More limit Hold’em tournaments please… where even the world beaters on the site have no clue. Unfortunately, in three weeks of daily tournaments during the series, only one day is devoted to limit Hold’em. Oh well.

Result: -$163.25

Friday @ Palace

I have decided to make someone an official Bat-Villain because, well, he deserves it at this point. I’ve noted many times now that Part-Time has been running magically against me for months, consistently getting the best of me in every big pot we play. It doesn’t matter how strong my hand is – he either has me coolered or gets there when he’s punting. There is just no justification for someone to be ownin me this badly and not get a nickname promotion.

I’ve had difficulty coming up with a proper new name for him. I considered Bane and Ra’s Al Ghul, two of Batman’s most formidable foes. But Ra’s has functioned as a mentor to a young Bruce Wayne and Bane broke The Bat’s back. I really don’t want to give Part-Time that much credit.

But since Part-Time has been coolering me in pot-after-pot for months now and I’ve been running ice cold against him, I think it is fair to change his name to MR. FREEZE.

So, of course, in what would be my worst 15/30 session of the year so far, Mr. Freeze was at the center of my destruction.

The first brutal hand to come up was a multi-way raised pot that I flatted on the button with QT of spades. The flop was 742 with two spades and Mr. Freeze led right out from one of the blinds, there were multiple callers before me, and I raised my draw for value. Mr. Freeze immediately 3-bets, there are some calls, and I cap it. The turn is the 3 of spades and before I can even jump out of my seat and celebrate, Mr. Freeze fires an insta-bet. This dude is no idiot. If he flopped a big made hand, he is not betting this card. Free Throw calls in between us and I just call. The river is a blank. Mr. Freeze bets $30, Free Throw calls, and I mention that we are in Overs now. Free Throw says something like, “Batman must really like his hand” and I reply, “no, I have a queen high flush and I don’t think it’s winning.” But that’s not going to stop me from calling and Mr. Freeze turns over the cooler: A5 of spades.

ICE COLD.

Later on, I open with AQ and get some callers that have position on me, including Mr. Freeze. The flop is Q53 rainbow and since I’ve been raising and whiffing a lot of flops, I think this is a great board texture to check-call on and raise the turn, especially since Mr. Freeze likes to bet when checked to. Plus, the flop size is normal, but when the other players fold we will be in Overs on the turn. The turn is a blank and I’m pleased to see my plan go so swimmingly, but of course he 3-bets me and winds up showing a set of fives.

ICE COLD.

There are some early limps, the button raises, and I 3-bet with KK from the small blind and everyone calls. The flop is A98 with two spades. I start with a check and it checks to the button and he fires out a bet. I debate whether or not I should be raising here and decide that no one is going to fold an ace or a good draw and I don’t really want to isolate myself out of position with two outs. I should be either way ahead or way behind. I just call and this allows the other two players, Mr. Freeze included, to call behind me. The turn is the six of hearts and I’m pretty happy to see it check around. I am quite certain I have the best hand now and I’ll probably go for value on the river… but it’s a queen. Nope, that’s not a card I’m going to bet since it improves the best straight draw. I check, Mr. Freeze bets, and the button calls. I’m not expecting to be winning often here, but I make the call and Mr. Freeze shows the 75 of diamonds because JT would make too much damn sense and I must be punished for not check-raising the flop.

ICE FUCKING COLD.

I am having a miserable session and the hands I posted are just the most extreme examples or maybe they just felt that way because Mr. Freeze is delivering the knockout blows, but I was steamed up enough that I felt the need to walk around the building, clear my head, and try to center myself. I was messaging Joker and Radio Mike, telling them that I was on (or approaching) level 9 tilt. I basically categorize it like this: level 7 tilt is visible tilt; level 8 is reactionary tilt (via gestures or verbal); and level 9 is when you can feel the tilt start to physically overwhelm you. I’m not exactly sure what level 10 tilt is, but it probably can get you kicked out of a casino. I suppose it could also be the straight up suicide missions I see some people go on after losing a particularly brutal pot. It’s something like, “well, if I’m going to lose like that, I might as well give the rest of these chips away too.” For instance, last night I saw a player that was playing reasonably well lose with 76 suited on a board of A767A to AJ and then limped in with 95o the next hand, called a raise, and donked on a flop of Q52. The next hand he called three bets cold from middle position and ended up showing J3 of clubs. He was felted with an orbit or two. Dude lost one sick hand and couldn’t bare to keep chips in front of him any longer. That’s level 10 Suicide Tilt.

Anyways, I take a walk around the building and by the time I’m done, I feel like I’ve calmed down. I’m not even on level 7 tilt anymore. So I sit back down and it’s my turn to post the big blind. Perfect. The pot gets raised and it’s going off at least six ways so I defend with the 65o. The flop is J74 rainbow and it checks to the PFR, they bet, Ducky check-raises from the small blind, I cold call, and so do three other players. The PFR also just calls. I drill the 8 on the turn and bet when Ducky checks to me. Two of the cold callers call and Ducky seems to sense danger and folds. The river is a queen and I’m pretty thrilled to have the nuts and I desperately need a big pot. I bet, the first guy calls and the second guy raises. No worries. He is totally clueless and fully capable of raising with two pair here. I 3-bet and this dude 4-bets me by splashing way more chips than is necessary to raise into the pot. No no no no NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO. He has the nuts. It’s always the nuts. One hand back and I’m already back on level 8 tilt. And of course this fucking guy is sitting in Mr. Freeze’s old seat.

“Cooler than a polar bear’s toenails.”

My night wouldn’t get any better. I didn’t really have more absolutely sickening hands, but I wasn’t winning any pots either. My big aces were whiffing and my big pairs weren’t winning. My draw were all bricking. You know… the standard run bad stuff that drains a stack.

I reached level 9 tilt. I could feel myself starting to leak. Once that happens, I give myself one orbit to get it together or I’m fucking out of there. I can run bad all day, but I’m not about to lose because I’m playing bad. I called it quits before 10:30 PM on a Friday night. Pathetic.

Result: -$2089

I actually had to look back and see where that ranked as far as one of my worst sessions ever. It’s up there, but I was surprised that it wasn’t my worst performance in a 15/30 game at Palace. I actually went down memory lane and found a blog post from that session. It was a fun re-read so I’ll post a link as it pretty much sums up how I was feeling throughout this session:

My Worst 15/30 Session Ever

Saturday @ Palace

15/30 never even came close to starting, so I ended up playing 8/16 for most of the day with a little 4/8 sprinkled in at the beginning and the end. I had another rocky session, losing in plenty of ridiculous ways that I don’t feel like recounting here, but when the feeder game started to get short, things started to turn my way for a bit and I was able to salvage the day a little.

Result: -$228

Yup. Another miserable week. After Friday’s session, my wife even had to ask if I’m just running bad at this point. I mean… I think so. I’ve said it before and I still believe it to be true: there is not a massive gap between my A-game and my C-game and I think my C-game is better than most people’s A-games (people that I play with regularly). I’ve played limit Hold’em at a successful level for so long that a lot of it is totally ingrained, learned to the level of Unconscious Competence and I don’t even need to think to play correctly most of the time. I just do it automatically. I play well on auto-pilot and even in emotional turmoil. Plus, I’m still adept at playing exploitively.

But I can see where she’s coming from. This is what my cash game graph looks like since I posted that huge $5k win on the 1st of February (note: the b/e line is at the very top of the graph!):

Yes. That is fucking ugly. I see three downswings and two of them are massive. And let’s not forget I bricked a bunch of tournaments during this time and they aren’t even represented here. It’s been a rough 3+ months. No doubt. The worst extended run I’ve ever been on. I hear the new mortgage curse is a real thing.

But I didn’t suddenly forget how to play and my opponents haven’t all magically turned into Hold’em wizards.

My cash game results for the year are still pretty good (thank you January!):

And when I look at my cash game results since summer of 2014, panicking because I’m stringing a few losing months together seems pretty silly:

Trust the process.

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May 2019 Week 2 Poker Wrap-Up

May 13, 2019

So in lieu of the live blogging, I took some notes during my sessions on the key pots I played so that I could possibly write about them later if I decided to do a review of my sessions.

Wednesday @ Palace

I went in a little early on Wednesday to get a few hours of 8/16 in before the PLO game started and only two hands really stuck out to me from the session, mostly because Part-Time continues to run insanely pure against me. I can’t even imagine what he thinks about it all, but I picture him going to sleep and having dreams about playing pots against me because he seems to cooler me or get there any time we lock horns. It must feel like free money to him.

On the first hand, there are some limpers, he raises from the small blind and I defend with 33 from the big blind. The flop comes down T83 with two clubs and three of us end up putting in a raise on the flop with Part-Time the one capping the betting. The turn card is an ugly six of clubs, completing the flush draw and a 97 straight, so I’m pretty happy to not get raised after it checks to me and I bet. I still have two opponents when the river is a 7. I have Part-Time squarely on an overpair at this point and I’m picking up vibes from the other guy in the hand that he doesn’t have a straight, so I go for some savage value here and only Part-Time calls. I table my set and then he tables a set of eights because obv.

The other hand of note, I raise with KT of spades under the gun and get 6-way action to a flop of QJJ with one spade. I decide to c-bet this flop and I get a call from the small blind before Part-Time check-raises from the big. He would play a jack this way, so I’m just looking to make the best hand now. I call and so does the small blind. The turn is the ace of spades, giving me the nut straight and a Royal Flush draw that will be worth over $10,000 if I can find a queen of spades on the river. Part-Time checks and I bet. I think the ace is a reasonable card to check-raise if you have a jack or better, so when he just calls it seems clear that I have the best hand. The other player folds. The river is a 4 and now Part-Time donks out.

What?

I basically always have the MUBS at this point when I play a pot with Part-Time and when I called on the flop, I was thinking about how I’m probably still going to lose if I make my hand and now here I am getting donked into on the river after being check-called on the turn. But since he called a raise from the big blind in a 6-way pot, he might have all the jacks in his range and that gives him way more combos of trip jacks than full houses and because of the board texture and the action, most of the hands that make boats are unlikely anyway. In fact, I think we can safely eliminate AA, QQ, JJ, and 44 from his range and when we do that, that leaves us with 72 combos of trip jacks and 18 combos of full houses. Even if we put some of the junkier offsuit jacks into his preflop folding range, he still clearly has trips here far more often than boats, especially considering how the turn action went. I didn’t need to do all this combo counting at the table – it’s pretty intuitive – to put in the raise, so I jacked it up and when he just calls I’m obviously never losing, but this is Part-Time vs Dark Knight so of course he turns over QJ here.

Result: -$18

PLO started at 6 PM and it was mostly uneventful for me. I gradually grinded to about +$400 before things started to sour. I managed to go on a four hour stretch without winning a single hand and bottomed out at -$600.

The first hand that started my downward trend I have K9xx in a limped pot from a blind, bet $20 on K92 rainbow, and my only caller is one of the McPoyle brothers from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia:

The turn is a 6 and when I lead $50, McPoyle makes it $165 and this spot sucks because I think he’s capable of doing this with hands like K6 and maybe as bad as 62. In other words, he doesn’t know what he’s doing and if he has me beat here, I probably just have to pay it off. I call. The river is a ten and when we both check I assume I’m probably winning the pot, but he ends up showing a set of 9s.

I’ve put $1100 on the table and I only have about $370 of it left when I double through McPoyle while holding A665 with a suited ace in clubs and get it all in on a board of J74cc8 and hold even when the board pairs on the river.

Shortly after that, I get a rather large bluff through with KT97 on a board of QJ54 and get my opponent to lay down AA76 face up so I’m back to over $800 in my stack when this hand comes up:

It’s a raised pot and I have 9766 with a suit on a board of T86 rainbow and wind up getting all $800 of it in against The Crypt Keeper on the flop. There’s a third player also all-in, but he only has about $200 of it, so the side pot is way more important here. I have the nuts and bottom set for a redraw, but I’m not loving the spot. Crypt Keeper obviously has the nuts also and probably has a redraw with it and the other guy wanting to get his stack in is concerning as well. We run it once… the turn is an ace and the river is a queen and Crypt Keeper winds up scooping it all with J97x and felting me. The other player had 88 in his hand, so my scooping outs were actually pretty minimal, even for the side pot. That left me dusted and since the game was short-handed, not great, and it was almost 1 AM, I just called it a night.

Result: -$1082

Thursday @ Red Dragon

Ducky and I headed to Red Dragon to play some 20/40 Mix and I did something I don’t think I’ve ever done before: I lost almost $1000 while waiting for the game I wanted to play in to start.

Let me preface this by saying that the PLO game at Red Dragon is borderline ridiculous. I’m not talking about the action in the game… I’m talking about the structure of it. It’s a 1/3 game, so the blinds are $1 and $3, but it’s $5 to come in just like at Palace, but in this game the maximum buy in is $300, so the most you can sit down with is effectively 60 big blinds. That’s already really shallow, but in the game I was playing, almost everyone (myself excluded) was straddling to $10 on the button. This effectively reduces the maximum buy in to 30 big blinds and if a pot gets raised preflop, stacks are going in on the flop if anyone has a piece. I’m sure the game is still plenty beatable, but this structure definitely increases the short-term luck factor and probably drastically decreases a good player’s edge overall.

First hand that cost me my stack, I have AKQT with a suit in a straddled pot and make it $40 to go. I get two callers and flop a king high flush draw on 972 with two spades. I pot the flop and get it in against both my opponents. That’s obviously not good. One of them probably has the nut flush draw, so I’m likely in bad shape here. The turn pairs the 2 and the river is a 6, so I miss everything. One guy had the nut flush draw and made trip twos but the third player had 985x with no spades and his hand and scoops everything with a straight.

Second hand that cost me my stack, I make it $40 again with KKT9 with a suit and get two callers. I pot and get it in on Q83 rainbow and both players call. The turn pairs the 3 and the river is a 9. I’m up against AKKT and JT9x and the same player that stacked me in the first hand does it again by rivering another straight, even though I chop with a jack and three of his tens are blocked. Sigh.

My third time (nearly) getting stacked, it is not straddled, but there are three limpers, and I pot it with AKKT with a suited ace in clubs, and two players call. I bet 2/3 pot on AQ3 with two clubs and get one caller. We are super shallow after the flop betting, so I put him all in even though the turn pairs the queen and he has KQ53. So after thinking I kind of smashed the flop, I suddenly have one out to win this pot. It doesn’t come.

I think I lose another smallish pot before deciding I’d rather sit around and wait for Mix to start than to keep felting buy ins in this PLO game.

Result: -$978

The players on the Mix Game list weren’t willing to start short-handed so that’s what led to my PLO debacle. I actually started playing PLO at 2:55 PM and we didn’t start the Mix Game until 6:05 PM so it was a brutal (and painful) wait. In fact, I spent nearly an hour just sitting at an empty table.

But we did end up playing Mix and, goodness, I did not have a fun time. I spent most of the night losing every key pot I played and I think I bottomed out at -$1400 which certainly had me contending for my biggest overall loss in a single day.

We are playing 2-7 Triple Draw and an early position player opens, gets two callers, and I 3-bet from the small blind with 7652x, a pretty smooth one card draw to a seven. My opponents all call and wind up drawing 3, 2, and 2. I don’t improve after the first draw and maybe that means I’m supposed to check here out of position against a field, but I bet and got raised by the 3-card draw and both other players called. I called also. The raiser patted behind me and the other guys drew two again. On the second draw, I spiked a 4, giving me the fourth best deuce hand you can make and I was able to check-raise the field. The other pat hand raised back, clearing the field, and I capped it. We both patted again and I bet the river and got raised. He’s definitely saying he has the nuts or close to it, so I just call and sure enough he drew three to a wheel on the first draw. Pretty sick. It seems like I might have lost some unnecessary big bets here, but I’m not sure. If he made an 85, would he just call my check-raise and let the other guys keep drawing for one more bet? Would he just call with an 86? I’m not sure. I don’t know the player at all. I wonder what I would do in his spot. It should be pretty intuitive that I had a good one card draw and when I check-raise the field after the second draw, I clearly made my hand… and he still raised me. Maybe I should just be calling down at that point, even with a seven?

I was running pretty unlucky in general by this point already, so that hand definitely left my ears ringing a bit, but it wouldn’t even be the most frustrating pot I lost that night.

We are playing 2-7 Razz, someone completes with an 8 up in early position, another player calls, I make it $40 to go with 82-3, and a super splashy player calls $40 cold with a ten up. The 8 up calls, the other guy oddly folds, and the three of us head to fourth street. I catch a 7, the ten catches a 6, and the 8 gets a 4. I have the betting lead and the best board showing, so I bet, but it’s worth noting that the 84 is usually drawing smoother than me at this point. They both call. On fifth, I pair the 7 and their boards are T66 and 84K. We all bricked, but the dude with the made king fires a bet and I’m tempted to raise here, but as I mentioned earlier, he probably has a better draw than me anyway, so I just call. So does the T66! I catch another 7 and the 84K catches an ace (the worst card in this game). The other guy must have caught another pair or a face card because the player with the made king fires another bet and we both call again. Yes, this hand is pure insanity. I can’t wait to see how the dude with the T66J showing beats me in this hand. I get a 4 on my last card and make an 87432 and expect to be winning this pot most of the time now, but it’s not such a monster that I’m going to raise when the 84KA fires another bet on 7th. I call and so does the other guy that I have board locked.

I have my earbuds in and the river bettor says something after we call. I thought he might have said he had an ace and that makes sense because he doesn’t seem to want to turn over his cards. I wait him out a little longer and he’s still not showing so when the other guy tables his hand, I show mine as well. Then, after successfully getting us both to show our hands out of turn, this dickbag reveals a made 86 and I couldn’t help but blurt out, “why are you just now turning over that hand?” He said that he said he had an 8. Okay. Who gives a fuck what you said. Turn that shit over. We were both obviously sitting there waiting for him to do something. And then I end up showing because I don’t want the other player to think I’m slow rolling him. Dude makes an 86 and just gets called in two spots and doesn’t know it’s basically the nuts?

Note: The only thing I actually said out loud was what I put in quotes, but I was definitely thinking all the rest and the fact that I was pissed about it wasn’t exactly a secret. I mean… I’m already getting smashed in the game and now I’m being slow rolled in a massive pot? Ducky actually tried to defend this prick later, saying that he didn’t think it was that bad of a slow roll and I’m like HUH? Okay, he said he had an 8? That’s nice. Prove it maybe? If I heard him I would have said “me too” but I didn’t, so after he says something and neither of us react, it’s time to show the cards. Anything after that is egregious IMO.

I was honestly mad enough that I was tempted to call it a night, but after getting some fresh air, doing some breathing, and reminding myself there was a guy in there calling raises and reraises with a ten up in Razz games and literally giving money away, I was able to collect myself and make a nice recovery for the night.

Another 2-7 Razz example with the maniac: I raise with 54-3 and he calls me down on these runouts:

Me: 54-3723-x
Him: xx-7KT9-x

Bless his heart.

And one more hand just to show how it felt like the Poker Gods were conspiring against me on this night:

We are playing A-5 Triple Draw and I defend a raise with 642. All three of us draw two. I improve to a one card draw and decide to lead out and they both call. I draw one and they draw two again. I make a 6, bet and they both call. I pat and they draw two again (!). I bet and get a call, so I table my hand and that’s when the dealer is like, “there’s another draw left.” During the third draw, the dealer had to shuffle the burns and the muck to complete the action. This leads to an extensive argument and literally not one person at the table is in agreement with me, so I’m sitting there replaying the action in my head, wondering if I’m the only person that can count to three. Even Ducky is chiming in saying he thinks there’s another draw when he wasn’t even paying attention to the damn hand. What a good friend! Finally the dealer asks me if I want him to call the floor over and I just say no and let this dude draw for a fourth time against me while my hand is face up, figuring that if he missed, we can just move on. Fortunately, he did miss, but if he didn’t… yeah, we’re going to take a look at those cameras.

Result: -$352

Friday @ Palace

First hand of the day I 3-bet with AK and get a K97 rainbow flop against Master Splinter and Part-Time. We are in Overs and they both call. The turn is a blank and I get check-raised by Splinter. I call him down and there will be no Coast-To-Coast for me because he has a set of sevens.

And that sets the tone for my whole session. I won some raise-and-take-its and some raise-and-c-bet pots, but they were few and far between and I didn’t win my first showdown for 3+ hours. And then I won three straight. I think I bottomed out at -$1200 but rallied all the way back to nearly even before shit hit the fan all over again and I found myself all the way back down to -$1400.

Fortunately, I heated up towards the end of the night when the game got short.

Result: -$360

Saturday @ Palace

I actually got off to a decent +$500 start on Saturday, but it was short-lived. I had a lot of medium and big pairs and I can only remember winning with one of them. I’m talking like 1 for 15 with TT+. I had some hand examples from this session, but they are basically just bad beat stories and I’m ready to wrap this post up.

Probably the most notable thing that happened in this session was that we had a full game with three on the list when a big pot happened where FanGirl lost with trips to a flush on the river. After losing that pot, she didn’t take her big blind and quit the game. FanBoy announced that he was out too. Then Huey says he doesn’t want the big blind either. The next player takes his stub of chips and leaves the table. I post the big blind, but the player in seat 7 is frustrated, shaking his head, and decides to quit too. Just like that, five players have vanished. The floors have no clue about the crisis happening on our table, so they are taking their sweet time trying to fill the one seat they think we have open and I watch in horror as the first two players on the list end up passing on the game. I was willing to keep playing, even as short as 3-handed, but needless to say, we never got dealt another hand. How does that happen? Full game with three on list to a broken game in the span of a single hand. Absolutely sick.

Result: -$458

One of my good friends walked into the casino and I decided to hang out for a few extra hours and play some 4/8 with him. I ended up hitting quad fours for a $152 jackpot. And then I committed a white chip sin and took my opponents to Value Town on the river because that extra $16 I win in a jackpot hand is $16 that can pay for my Apple Music membership this month. It all adds up and I’m not one that thinks it is okay to draw arbitrary lines of decency when it comes to betting or checking bonuses. I’ve actually seen people bark at someone for betting a potential high hand on the river against them. Like dude… that might not even hold up. Let’s all calm down and play poker.

Result: +$88

Yup. That was a miserable week. What went right? Anything? I got off to decent starts in PLO on Wednesday and 15/30 on Saturday, but I spent almost my entire week losing my ass in every session I played. I mounted some comebacks and limited the damage a little bit, but this was one of the most trying weeks of cash game poker I’ve ever played.

When I said I wanted to change things up on my blog, I’m not sure this is what I had in mind. This took way longer to write than I was hoping for. But then again, I guess I had some abnormal stories. On the bright side, I got my volume way up.

Final Results: -$2956 in 44.25 hours