Posts Tagged ‘poker goals’

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2018 Poker Goals

March 8, 2018

Sorry, this is way overdue, but better late than never! My playing schedule is going to be very tournament heavy over the next couple weeks. I will be playing $15/$30 today and tomorrow at Palace, but I’ll be heading to Little Creek Casino for their $340 No Limit Hold’em Main Event on Saturday. I have an online fantasy baseball draft on Sunday night, so I’ll probably just take the day off or play on Global that day, then back to Palace for a $15/$30 Marathon Monday session. Tuesday will be an off day and then Wednesday is the first day of the Muckleshoot Spring Classic series. They have events every day, Wednesday through Sunday, and I sold action to all of them, so that’s my tentative plan for next week. I typically skip the $500 on Saturday if I’m not in the running for Player of the Series (which I never am) so that I can be rested up for the $750 Main Event the next day instead. I have multiple cashes in the Main Event of this series over the last several years, but I have zero final tables and I think only one or two cashes in preliminary events. My phone data goes back to August of 2014 and Muckleshoot has been my worst location during that stretch. I have 0 cashes in the last 11 Classic events I’ve played, so I’m looking to break a cold stretch and finally do something big in this series. I’m way overdue! I will take notes and try to make posts at the end of the day, but that’s something that is much easier to do when I’m on the road by myself than when I’m at home with my wife.

Now onto the goals!

Volume Goals

-play 1800 live hours
-play less than 33% of live cash game hours at $8/$16 or lower
-play 500 hours of PLO (online and live)
-play one mixed game session a month (house games)
-take more shots
-play at least one online tournament a week
-play a bigger WSOP schedule
-play 100 hours of NLHE cash (online and live)

Comments:

1800 total live hours is 150 hours a month which should be easily attainable and if you’ve been following my blog, you know I’m on pace to crush that number.

Playing 67% of my cash game volume at $10/$20 or higher seemed problematic a few short weeks ago, but $15/$30 has been going basically every day at Palace and this should be another goal I will demolish. I was mostly an $8/$16 player for the last three years, but this year I will be playing almost entirely red chip games.

With online play, 500 hours of PLO should be a number I will hit, but my real goal here is to play more in live PLO cash games, particularly when I’m traveling out of state. Even locally, I wouldn’t say I’ve been committed to playing PLO. I average about two sessions a month and I went three months in a row without playing at all last year. I would like to add an Omaha 8 or Better goal but really the only place I go specifically to play O8 is The Orleans in Las Vegas, so it’s not something that comes up much and I only play it when I’m in Vegas if it wasn’t my priority for the day… meaning, I busted out of tournament and it’s 9 PM and I still want to play some poker, but with like zero pressure.

I want to play more mixed game poker this year, so that I’m fresh and ready come WSOP time. Ideally, I’d like to play a mixed game a couple times a month, but even 12 sessions in a year would be a big improvement over my past volume. I seem to play most of the games pretty well using mostly natural instincts and card sense, but I’d like to gain more actual experience.

When I say take more shots I mean in games I might not exactly be bankrolled for. For instance, I shouldn’t be such a nit when I’m in L.A. and Vegas and I should sit down in the $40/$80 games some of the time. A bad session isn’t going to crush me, but a great one could be huge. The concept of having a bankroll for a particular game assumes that you are playing that game regularly. Taking shots seems fine if I’m smart and careful about it. Also, I have some interest in playing the $100/$200 mix game at Muckleshoot, but I wouldn’t do so without taking on a partner or two. Hit me up if you’re interested!

On average, playing one tournament online a week is a piece of cake. When I do play online, I typically play 5-8 tournaments in a single night. This is to help keep me sharp for NLHE tournaments, which I very rarely play live.

My WSOP schedule has been increasing every year, but I’m ready to kick it up a few notches. I already have a room booked for May 30th through June 12th and that could cover up to seven WSOP events and I may wind up staying through – and playing – the Main Event. Certainly I will not be done with Vegas after June 12th. There are at least two more must play events on my schedule after that first trip. The most events I’ve played in a year was five in 2017 and it would be cool to at least double that number for 2018. In all likelihood, if I play the Main Event, I will be selling up to 90% of my action and I will probably need more assistance than my usual backing arrangement.

My weekly goal is 30 minutes of NL cash games online. This seems like the bare minimum practice I need. When I’m playing online though, I drastically prefer PLO and when I play live, it is incredibly rare for me to actually sit in a no limit cash game. 100 hours is way more than my actual weekly goal would add up to, but this is a skill set that I really need to start developing. I feel like I’m a fine NL cash game player, but I’m far from being an expert and I wouldn’t feel comfortable playing anything bigger than $3/$5.

Win Rate Goals

-$15/$30 LHE: 1.25 BB/HR
-$20/$40 LHE (and higher): 1 BB/HR
-$8/$16 LHE (and lower): 1.25 BB/HR
-$1/$3/$5 PLO: $50/HR
-Live PLO: 10 bb/HR
-$0.25/$0.50 6-max PLO: 1 bb/HR
-Online PLO: 5 bb/HR
-No Limit Hold Em: 10 bb/HR
-Live Tournaments: 50% ROI
-Online Tournaments: 30% ROI

*note: limit games are expressed as big bets per hour and no limit and plo are expressed as big blinds per hour

Comments:

First off, it’s not going to break my heart if I don’t meet some of these goal. My real goal is to play amazing poker all the time and hopefully the money comes my way. These numbers just seem like reasonable bench marks. For the non-LHE games, I probably won’t play enough hours for short-term variance not to have a dramatic affect on my final results. But still, I feel like this is where I would like to be at.

I imagine I will play more $15/$30 LHE than any other game this year. When I was sitting at $7/hour after 200 hours in the Palace $15/$30 (thanks mostly to High Hands and Jackpots), I thought a final goal of even 1 BB/HR might be a reach after such a rough start. But after making $11k in four days, my numbers look more like what I’m accustomed to and I think continuing to beat Palace LHE games for somewhere between 1.25 and 1.75 big bets per hour is plenty doable.

Bigger games are tougher, but last year I smashed my goal of 0.75 BB/HR at $20/$40 or higher. No reason I can’t do that again, but since $30/$60 happens at Palace a few times a month now, and I plan to take some shots in even bigger games, I’m going to temper my expectations for the time being.

As I noted earlier, I don’t expect to be playing much $8/$16 this year, so this could be a number that could see a lot of variance.

I won $100 an hour in the PLO game at Palace last year, but I’m positive that’s unsustainable. If I won even half that much an hour in 2018, that’s probably still smashing. I may have set this goal too high, but whatever. Shoot for the moon!

I listed the Palace game separately since it has a 1/3/5 structure. For all other games where you can limp for the price of the big blind, I think a 10 bb/hour goal is solid. Same can be said for no limit hold cash games.

My goal of 1 bb/hr for $0.25/$0.50 6-max PLO online is a joke. Considering I lost 26 bb/hr at this exact game last year, anything in the positive is a huge turnaround and I’ll take it. My results in full ring PLO games are basically the opposite. I don’t really know what I should be making at PLO online, but anything positive seems like a good start and somewhere between 5 and 10 bb/hr is probably a solid target.

I will come back to earth eventually with live tournaments and when I do, it will probably be to the tune of my first losing year of tournament poker ever. Even when I was an idiot alcoholic I never had a losing year in tournaments. But with my average buy-in increasing every year and a rather small sample size, posting a final score in the red is bound to happen.

My ROI in tournaments on Global Poker is currently 13%. My ROI in 755 online tournaments over the past 3+ years is -1%. Setting a goal of 30% here is actually kind of a big deal. But there are so many different players absolutely smashing the Global Poker tournaments that I refuse to believe I can’t drastically improve on my past performance. I can’t speak to my performance on sites before Global, but I do know my biggest reason for lack of success on Global is an abysmal performance in anything with a buy-in of $20 or higher. My average ROI is 83%, which is on par with the beasts on the site, but basically all my good fortune has happened in the smallest buy-ins.

Life Goals

-Reach a new bankroll peak
-clear credit card debt
-pay off final student loan
-visit a new MLB stadium
-play poker in a new part of the U.S.
-meditate every day
-do yoga twice a week
-run/jog more
-lift twice a week
-drink more water, drink less soda
-eat better and smarter, less fast food
-bring my average blood sugar below 150
-bring my A1C below 7
-less distractions
-no toxic chatting/arguing/debating
-keep blogging about poker
-read Jared Tendler’s books
-study mix games
-watch at least two vlogs a week
-read about mindfulness/meditation

Comments:

I had a very successful first year as a professional poker player, but my bankroll at the end of 2017 was actually smaller than it was when I quit my job. To be fair to myself, we did buy a house and I put more money down than I ever planned to and then we spent the first several months fixing up our new home and the costs piled. We also aggressively paid down our debt. I paid off two student loans and one credit card and now we have one of each to go. Then I sent a very painful bundle of money to the IRS for taxes and did so all throughout 2017 as well. I also dropped a chunk of change into an IRA account and invested in some digital currencies. Plus, I like to spend money on experiences. We go to multiple MLB games a year, see plays like “Hamilton”, travel a lot, and I’ve been to Universal Studios and Disneyland twice each since October 2016. I make a budget every month, but we aren’t exactly pinching pennies. I enjoy living and experiencing life. With that said, there have been multiple moments where I look at my total bankroll number and think “WTF?” I had a massive year for an $8/$16 player and I had less money than I started with? I’ve been working on this post for a while now and I’ve gotten healthy over the past few weeks and saw considerable growth for the first time in a while. Being able to play $15/$30 on a daily basis five minutes from home should be like giving myself a raise that is nearly double my previous cash game hourly. That’s obviously extremely helpful. With that said, I feel comfortable playing $30/$60 regularly. I want to say I felt comfortable playing $40/$80 – I didn’t have any nerves – but I also quit the game after dropping a couple racks in about an hour. That’s not giving myself a chance to overcome a poor start. I do that all the time at my normal limits. I want to end 2018 with at least a $40/$80 bankroll, even if I won’t be playing it regularly.

I mentioned we still have a little credit card debt and I have one student loan left. Even though I want to grow my bankroll, clearing unnecessary debt is and has been a bigger priority for us.

My wife and I travel once a year to visit a new MLB stadium. We’ve been doing this since 2014 when we went to Anaheim to watch watch the Angels play the Dodgers. In 2015, we went to San Francisco; 2016 we went to Denver, Colorado to watch the Rockies; and last year we went to Dodger Stadium and the Mariners spring training complex in Peoria, Arizona; I also happened to be driving into L.A. during Game 2 of the NLCS and made a spur of the moment decision to buy tickets to watch some playoff baseball and make my third visit to Dodger Stadium of the year (I did a park tour in January 2017). This year our current plan seems to be to visit New Orleans then drive to Houston for an Astros game and then drive to Arlington for a Rangers game before flying back home out of Dallas.

I would also like to go to somewhere I’ve never been for a poker trip. I played at Thunder Valley last year and some new casinos in L.A. earlier this year, but the only place I’ve played poker outside of Washington, Oregon, California, and Nevada is at Ameristar in Blackhawk, Colorado. One of the best things about my profession is that I can travel and work at the same time and seeing new places is one of my favorite things to do.

Lots of health goals. I was doing really well with meditation and yoga for a while there and I’ve fallen off the cliff since $15/$30 started getting spread every day. I’ve mentioned this before, but my balance has been struggling, and on the days that I plan to play, I want to be there as soon as the game starts and I typically don’t leave before 1 AM, which leaves very little room for production on my work days. I plan to play today and I haven’t looked at Bravo yet, so I just need to accept the fact that I need to get some things done before I go play and I might have to wait a bit to get into the game. Meditation, yoga, lifting, and jogging are all things I can incorporate back into my life when I normalize my sleep schedule and accept that I don’t need to be playing poker every waking hour of my work days.

My diet is absolute shit. I’ve never been huge on preparing my own meals, but I am at an all-time worst right now. I’ve always been skinny and gaining weight has been near impossible for me throughout my life. Well, I’m finally average weight for my height and I have some actual flab going on. I’m sort of happy about that, but I’m not happy about how I got there. I eat at the casino probably 10+ times a week and I eat fast food now more than I ever have because I feel I don’t have time for anything else. I used to have a goal of making one meal a week, but that’s fallen off to like once a month, if that. It’s all quite pathetic and I’d like to focus on eating better and healthier, starting with making my own meals more often. I also would like to make water my drink of choice. I do pretty good about that when I’m playing poker, but I tend to gravitate towards diet soda when I’m at home.

I have some goals for my diabetes as well. I think I do a decent job overall with my blood sugar, but I can definitely manage it better and I’m certainly not helping myself with a lot of my meal choices. My numbers still trend higher than they should and I want to work on lowering them. Exercising regularly and eating healthier will go hand in hand with that.

Less distractions. I just want to use my time more efficiently. My days can start off really poorly. I might spend the first two hours drinking coffee and doing pointless stuff online and before I started live blogging my sessions (which I think is productive), I would spend my time out of hands doing stupid stuff on my phone and not paying attention. I am a pillar of strength at the poker table, but when I play online, that chat box gets me sometimes. It’s so much easier to tell someone what you think or respond to their stupid comments when you’re sitting at home behind your computer screen. I admit I can be a bit toxic in that regard and I need to work on channeling my live table presence into the online arena. I also have a tendency to get into stupid and pointless arguments and debates on Facebook, online forums, and the like. I suppose I enjoy debating and witty banter, but it’s a bad use of time that I could spend doing something else way more productive and healthier.

I plan to keep blogging about my poker experiences. It’s amazing how much my audience has grown since I decided to start posting regular poker content. I appreciate everyone that has been reading and rooting me on!

Finally, some study goals. By goodness, I’m going to read through both of Jared Tendler’s books and do all the damn work he asks me to do. My rough stretch through January and into February proved that I still have a lot of work to do on my mental game. I also want to study and play mix games more often, keep watching poker vlogs, and continue reading about meditation and mindfulness – and making the time to do all that.

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2017 Poker Results

February 6, 2018

Volume Goals:

-Play 1800 live hours
-Play 600 hours of 20/40 or higher
-Play 100 hours of Omaha 8 or Better

Comments: My final live hours tally was 1729.5 hours, so I came up just short of that goal. However, I did add another 1100+ hours in online play, which sounds massive, but can actually be reduced somewhat because each table I play at is accumulating time in my app tracker. So one hour while 4-tabling is actually four total hours. Still, if you include the online volume, I easily played 160+ hours a month in 2017. In addition, 85% of my live hours were in cash games and 15% were in tournaments. Online, my volume is closer to 50/50 between cash and tournaments.

I only played 239 hours of $20/$40 LHE, but I did add 74 hours of $15/$30, 98 hours of 1/3/5 PLO, 11 hours of $30/$60, and 15 hours in bigger mix games. Add all that up and that’s 437 hours in bigger games, which is still short of my goal – and this would have been much worse if Palace didn’t start spreading bigger games in the last couple of months of 2017. When it came down to it, I just preferred to commute 5 minutes to play poker rather than 30+, even if it sort of hurt our bottom line.

I played 35 hours of live Omaha 8 or Better, far below my goal – and only an additional 21 hours online. I did play 90 hours of O8 tournaments though, so I guess this goal is somewhat of a wash. On the bright side, I didn’t plan to become a Pot Limit Omaha player in 2017, so that was a fun development. I played 96 hours of live PLO and 234 hours of online PLO, plus another 111 hours in PLO tournaments. So all in all, I played 587 hours in four card games, which seems like a check mark for this goal. I imagine I will be playing even more PLO in 2018, but Global Poker currently doesn’t offer O8 games and the only live casinos with O8 are either too far away or spread it too small for me to want to play consistently. I did hear Muckleshoot brought back a $20/$40 O8 game on Saturdays, but I’m yet to play it.

Win Rate Goals:

-1.5 BB/HR @ $8/$16
-0.75 BB/HR @ $20/$40 or higher
-1 BB/HR @ Omaha 8 or Better
-50% ROI in live tournaments

Comments: I came up just short on my $8/$16 goal. After posting a win rate of 1.12 BB/HR in 2015 and 1.8 BB/HR in 2016, I thought somewhere in the middle for 2017 would be reasonable, and I was right. I didn’t quite hit 1.5 BB/HR, but I did finish at 1.41 BB/HR for 2017.

My goal for bigger games went much better. After finishing 2016 with a disappointing 0.5 BB/HR in $20/$40 LHE games, I wasn’t sure if I was really capable of putting up the numbers I’ve become accustomed to in smaller games, but I’m happy to report that I finished 2017 with a 1.19 BB/HR win rate in $20/$40 (and 1.47 BB/HR in the Fortune $20/$40) and 1.23 BB/HR in LHE games of $15/$30 or bigger.

As I mentioned earlier, my Omaha 8 or Better volume was really small for 2017, so individual sessions had a really big impact on my final results. I won $29/hour playing O8 in 2017 while posting a win rate of -0.05 BB/HR! How did this happen? I played a seven hour $30/$60 O8 session and won $1300 and that accounted for more than 100% of my profit for the year.

I didn’t set a Pot Limit Omaha goal for 2017, but since I played so much of it, I figure I should share my results. As I’ve mentioned many times on my blog, I don’t think I’m a particularly good PLO player, but the game that’s spread on Wednesdays at Palace is so incredibly soft that I’ve managed to put up some monster results. I won over $100/hour in a 1/3/5 structured game. I don’t really know how to express that as a win rate since big bet games are usually expressed as big blinds per hour and this game has a $3 big blind but it’s $5 to call. Shrug. $100/hour is pretty much all you need to know – and it’s totally unsustainable. I actually lost money in PLO cash games online, to the tune of -$12/hour in over twice as many hours as my live volume and this is why I’m pretty sure I’m not that great. In fact, I lost $14/hour in $0.25/$0.50 6-max PLO, which is 28 big blinds/hour. That’s BAD. I seem to do better in full ring games than I do in short-handed PLO. I know I have run bad in online PLO, but I also know I’m not that good. On the other hand, I did really well in online PLO tournaments. I cashed in 23 of 65 events (35%) for an ROI of 119% with six wins and three seconds in fields that typically had 50-120 players, which means I finished in the top two of nearly 14% of the PLO tournaments I played. That’s either dominant or super lucky… or both.

I once again crushed my ROI goal for live tournaments, thanks to another WSOP final table and a new career high score for my 5th place finish in the $1500 H.O.R.S.E. event.

I ended up playing 37 events with a buy in of $100+ and an average buy in of $476 and finished with an ROI of 256% which smashed my goal of 50% I set for the year. As I noted in my 2017 Goals, I guessed I would play about 3 live tournaments a month and that was a spot on estimate. All my success basically came in the WSOP where I cashed 4 of 5 tournaments and found myself in the WSOP Player of the Year running before deciding not to play any more events.

It’s worth noting that I whiffed completely in the Muckleshoot Classic series, posting an overall 0-9 effort. I still have zero final tables in that series to date and it remains a location that I am yet to have a breakout in.

I only had two notable cashes outside of the WSOP – I took 4th of 188 in my first tournament of the year back in January at the LAPC at Commerce in the $350 Omaha 8 or Better for $5600 and then I took 1st of 75 in the $125 All In Or Fold tournament at Run It Up Reno in October for $3900.

I played many, many more tournaments online. This is basically what I did on my “days off.” I played in 500 total tournaments with an average buy in of $21.50 and I cashed in 106 (21%). Despite a decent cashing percentage, I actually finished with a -8% ROI and lost $1.25/hour overall. LOL. To be fair, I did punt the majority of my bankroll on Ignition when the future of that site went into question. In July, I switched over to Global Poker and cashed in 82 of 303 tournaments (27%) with I think about ten wins, an overall ROI of 11%, and a sexy hourly of $1.56!

Training/Study Goals:

-read through MG1&2 and do all the work
-do APT weekly challenge every week
-memorize all the typical LHE drawing odds
-watch at least one WSOP FT a month
-play at least four hours of PLO and four hours of NLHE every month
-play at least ten tournaments a month

Comments: Most of my studying is in the form of playing micro stakes cash games and tournaments online. Basically my goal is to stay sharp or gain experience in no limit hold’em tournaments and pot limit Omaha cash games. With that said, I crushed the bottom two goals listed above. The rest of my study goals didn’t go nearly as well. I never finished Jared Tendler‘s books and as you can tell from some of my recent blog posts and my mind state at the end of my last LAPC trip this is an area that I could still use considerable work on. I subscribed to PokerGo and there’s tons of content on there – and I’m even watching the $25K Mixed Games Championship in the U.S. Poker Open as I type this (Go DeathDonkey!) – but most of my poker watching has been on the streams and vlogs of Lex Veldhuis, Andrew Neeme, Brad Owen, Tonkaaa, and JNandez. There is so much good poker content out there right now that it’s overwhelming at times. I also read Tommy Angelo‘s Painless Poker and while I prefer his older work, it did spark some lifestyle changes.

Top 5 $8/$16 Sessions:
1. +$1867 @ Palace
2. +$1808 @ Palace
3. +$1550 @ Palace
4. +$1530 @ Palace
5. +$1465 @ Palace

Worst 5 $8/$16 Sessions:
1. -$905 @ Palace
2. -$887 @ Palace
3. -$873 @ Palace
4. -$857 @ Palace
5. -$758 (x2) @ Palace

Top 5 non-$8/$16 Sessions:
1. +$4010 in $1/$3/$5 PLO @ Palace
2. +$3535 in $1/$3/$5 PLO @ Palace
3. +$2907 in $20/$40 LHE @ Fortune
4. +$2725 in $15/$30 LHE @ Palace
5. +$2540 in $15/$30 LHE @ Palace *$2352 Royal Flush
6. +$2348 in $30/$60 LHE @ Palace

Worst 5 non-$8/$16 Sessions:
1. -$2265 in $15/$30 LHE @ Palace
2. -$2100 in $1/$3/$5 PLO @ Palace
3. -$1442 in $20/$40 LHE @ Commerce
4. -$1242 in $20/$40 LHE @ Fortune
5. -$1191 in $20/$40 LHE @ Fortune

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2017 Poker Goals

January 8, 2017

Volume Goals:

-Play 1800 live hours
-Play 600 hours of 20/40 or higher
-Play 100 hours of Omaha 8 or Better

Comments: 1800 hours comes out to 150 hours a month which is actually less than full time volume, so I will likely beat this goal by a few hundred, but I undershot it because things happen and I don’t know how much I will be playing online. 600 hours of 20/40 could be tougher. That comes out to 50 hours a month, which means I’d have to play at least 5-6 sessions a month – far more volume than I’m currently doing. It’s all a matter of forcing myself to make the long drive to play in a game that is typically worse than the one that’s five minutes from my house. But it’s hard to get better if you don’t challenge yourself, so that I must do. Omaha is also at least 45 minutes away, but between random $15/$30 sessions at Fortune, some trips to Clearwater when I have dental/medical appointments in Kitsap, and cash games while I’m in Vegas, 100 hours seems doable.

Win Rate Goals:

-1.5 BB/HR @ $8/$16
-0.75 BB/HR @ $20/$40 or higher
-1 BB/HR @ Omaha 8 or Better
-50% ROI in live tournaments

Comments: After posting 1.12 BB/HR in 2015 and 1.8 BB/HR in 2016, I’ll shoot for somewhere in the middle in 2017. I was hoping I could do better than 1 BB/HR in the bigger games, but popular opinion seems to be that 0.5 to 0.8 BB/HR is more reasonable. I have consistently bested the higher end of what experts say you can win in low stakes limit hold em, so maybe I can continue to do that at the higher stakes, but I’m not going to count on it – I’m still feeling the games out right now and paying for my education. My Omaha 8/B cash game results have been pretty disappointing to me the last few years, but I just find it hard to swallow that I can’t win a big bet an hour in them. I think most of the games I play in are pretty soft and you should be able to win long term simply playing an ABC style. I obviously can’t expect to run at 400%+ ROI every year, but I do think cashing for twice as much as I buy in for is a decent goal. I played $15k worth of tournaments last year, so that number should increase by at least 25% which means I’d have to cash for at least $40k in 2017 to meet this goal and that is actually pretty lofty.

Training/Study Goals:

-read through MG1&2 and do all the work
-do APT weekly challenge every week
-memorize all the typical LHE drawing odds
-watch at least one WSOP FT a month
-play at least four hours of PLO and four hours of NLHE every month
-play at least ten tournaments a month

Comments: I failed to read through the two books like I planned. I have already read the first three chapters of vol. 1 in 2017 so I’m off to a strong start. Just have to stick with it. I hope to be more consistent with the APT challenges this year and hopefully they add some other interesting content. As someone so proficient in LHE, it’s embarrassing to admit that I don’t know exactly what odds you need to call with 3-outs, 5-outs, and 8-outs. I’m confident I frequently make the right decisions, but there’s really no excuse for not having all this stuff memorized. I find watching the WSOP FTs to be a good source of learning – you get to watch some of the best players in the world playing all the different variants. The last two parts of this section of goal references how much volume I want to put in on Ignition on a monthly basis sharpening underdeveloped skills. It would be highly unlikely for me to play even 3 live tournaments a month.

Possible Tournament Trips:

LAPC @ Commerce (January)

    $350 Omaha 8 or Better
    $350 Triple Stud (Razz/Stud/Stud 8)
    $350 Stud 8 or Better
    $350 Omaha 8/Stud 8

WSOPc @ The Rio (February)

    $365 HORSE
    $365 Monster Stack
    $365 NLHE

WSOPc @ The Bike (March)

Run It Up Reno @ Peppermill (April)

Spring Round Up @ Wildhorse (April)

WSOP @ The Rio (June/July)

    $565 Colossus
    $1500 Millionaire Maker
    $1500 Monster Stack
    $1500 Summer Solstice
    $1500 Razz
    $1500 HORSE
    $1500 Omaha 8
    $1500 Limit Hold Em
    $3000 Limit Hold Em (6-max)
    $3000 HORSE

Comments: Those LAPC events are set in stone, though I may miss some of them if I make deep runs as they are all two days events that intersect with each other. I’m fully intending to play those three events at the Rio WSOPc, but I have yet to book any flights for it, so there’s some flake potential there. I would say I’m over 90% to be going though. The WSOPc @ The Bike is on my radar, but in all likelihood I probably won’t be going. I will attend at least one of the Run It Up Reno or Spring Round Up, but I’m undecided at the moment. I would love to get back in that $20/$40 game at the Peppermill, but the tournament series in Reno was a little underwhelming. As for the 2017 WSOP, the schedule has not been released yet, but I’m guessing these are the events I’d be interested in playing. It’s highly unlikely my wife will let me stay in Vegas for three weeks straight again – unless I absolutely murder it – so I’ll likely have to trim that list down to 5 or 6 events. In that case, I’m more focused on playing limit events over the NLHE ones, as I feel my edge is bigger in fixed structures and mixed games. I likely won’t be selling action for anything except the WSOP, but I’ll definitely be selling for that, so contact me at maccent17@gmail.com with any interest.

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2016 World Series Of Poker Trip Report – WSOP #1: $565 Casino Employee Event

July 7, 2016

Live Stream Link: WSOP Event #1 (Part 1)

I’m not going to go into details again about how disappointing my trips to the World Series Of Poker have been prior to 2016, but I can sum up by saying that I was 0-4 lifetime in WSOP events and I think 0-9 total in tournaments at the Rio, including a pretty big choke ten spots off the money in my first ever bracelet event. Every time I looked at the Rio while passing by, I just shake my head in disbelief – it was my worst casino of all-time.

My goal for 2016 was pretty simple: I just wanted to cash one gosh damn time and get the monkey off my back.

My third try in the $565 Casino Industry event that kicks off the WSOP every year got off to a pretty poor start. I chipped down quickly and soon found myself on the rail, but when the Tournament Director was doing his original announcements I discovered that we could actually re-enter if we busted in the first six levels. This was good news and as far as I can recall, this is new for Event #1. Obviously, I promptly re-entered and then the Boom Switch activated.

With my standard stack size of ten big blinds I found a double up with AQ when I turned an Ace to run down my opponent’s pocket kings. Shortly after, I ran QQ into KK all in pre and flopped a set, building my stack up to 30k. I almost found another cooler reversal after a button vs. small blind raising war resulted in my opponent getting all in pre with QQ vs my TT, when the flop came AJT, but the K on the turn gave him broadway and I bricked the river. This unfortunate run out left me just above average chip stack about 100 off the money.

When the money bubble approached, I was where I always seem to be in these situations: sitting on a ten big blind stack. As I’ve noted in previous blog posts, one of the biggest changes I’ve made in my game in the past year or so, is recognizing that hands that are +EV to push in typical small stack situations need to be reconsidered on the bubble and this adjustment has not only increased my rate of cashing, it has also helped me ladder up deeper in tournaments. I managed to nit my way into my first WSOP cash, but as fast as I patted myself on the back for cashing, I just as quickly realized that it wasn’t going to be much of an accomplishment until I actually made a profit – which, with two bullets fired, still required me to outlast 25% of the remaining field.

And then I kept on luck boxing my way into a playable stack. Being in the money, my ICM considerations weren’t really factoring in and I found myself jamming my remaining 6 bigs with the QJ offsuit from UTG1. It folded around to the big blind who had slightly more chips than I did and he went into the tank for quite some time before finding a call with A9 – which is a pretty trivial call IMO. Anyways, after a standard shove followed by a standard call, I found myself on the bad side of a 40/60 match-up that turned into a 20/80 after we saw the T86 all heart flop, with him holding a heart and me not – or as my favorite poker player and Run It Up ringleader Jason Somerville would say: “Fuck City.” I bricked the turn, dropping my winning chances down to 15% and boom, Q of clubs on the river for a double up. Wow.

Immediately following this hand, I looked down at the AJ offsuit from under the gun. I now had about around 13 or 14 big blinds and found myself in a pretty awkward spot. I feel like raise-folding with my stack size is pretty spewy and plenty exploitable and I strongly considered just open-folding, but after some consideration, I determined that was too weak and decided to open-jam. In hind sight, I think it’s pretty close, but I’m leaning towards thinking it’s a fold. I’m not exactly desperate with 14 bigs and I’m sure I can find some better spots to get my stack in. While I’m going to win the blinds and antes quite frequently, when I do get called, I don’t think I ever have the best hand and from first position, I have to get that jam through the whole table. Anyways, I did run into a monster as someone called with pocket kings, but I wind up making a one card flush on the river with the jack of spades. Unreal! At this point, my stack is significantly above average at 76k and I’ve reached the point where I’ve actually made money on my first WSOP cash! I can now feel good about achieving my goal!

Not too long after my AJ miracle, I open to 9k at 2000/4000 with QQ and it folds around to the player I doubled through and he winds up jamming his 35k stack in and there’s nothing to think about here with two queens, but I did have a feeling he was having a blow up. He was, showing the A8 offsuit after I snap called. Unfortunately, the board ran out 94288 and he steamed his way to a significant double up through me. Still, I could hardly complain as I felt like I was freerolling this tournament many times over by now.

After that speed bump, I started to rush again, doubling up with AJ against AT and then finding JJ vs TT to bust a player. By the end of Day 1, I bagged up a slightly below average 117k with 23 players left. TEN BIG BLINDS.

For Day 2, the tournament moved into the Amazon to the Thunder Dome for the final three tables. I was well prepared on how I was going to play my ten big blind stack, but it all became moot when I found myself all in with QQ vs KK 15 minutes into the new day. Honestly, at that moment, I was sure it was over. I felt like I had used up all the run good I could possibly have. I had already been all in for my tournament life with less than 45% equity four times and doubled up on all four hands. This is just what happens to me deep into major tournaments: I get coolered or unlucky and find myself hitting the rail, feeling disappointed and wondering when I’m finally going to have a breakthrough. I couldn’t possibly pull of another miracle… and when the board read 3236 after four cards, I was already mentally busted from the tournament, but then the dealer brought a Q on the river and all I could say was “wow” in total disbelief. No. Fucking. Way. And that was it. I just said “wow” and shook my head. No celebration. Not even a smile. I’ve been on the other side of that devastating loss plenty of times. There’s no skill in spiking a two outer on the river when all the chips are in preflop, just as there is no skill involved in coolering someone’s pocket queens with pocket kings. It’s just variance – and in this tournament, variance happened to be looking very fondly on me. I’m just never going to rub that in my opponent’s face by celebrating after sucking out in brutal fashion in an extremely critical spot. I guess it happens in sports all the time, but something about doing it at the poker table feels really tacky to me.

However, after that hand, I really started to think that I just might be destined to win this bracelet. I can’t ever remember getting so lucky that many times in a single poker tournament, particularly in the deep stages. I wasn’t just winning flips, I was winning when I was CRUSHED.

With two tables left, I won a huge flip with TT vs AK and found myself sitting around 350k, which had me primed for a final table visit. I played a rare flop in a relatively large pot with KK where I c-bet the flop, checked back in position when the turn brought a 4-card straight in the 789TJ range and then decided to fold when my opponent led out on the ace river. It’s a hand that I’d love to know what he had, but I just couldn’t come up with many hands that I could beat on the river and even some of his bluffing range was good (the smaller two pair hands might think they had to bluff to win a showdown). That hand brought me down to 200k, but with 12 left, I won another flip with 44 vs KQ and not too long after that I found myself holding the chip lead at the final table of a World Series Of Poker bracelet event. Is this real life? I mean, I’ve always felt like I could eventually contend for bracelets but I just never expected it to happen this soon, even though I have started to final table some bigger events recently. What a totally surreal experience.

The official final table bubble lasted an incredibly brutal two hours. Two full levels passed without losing the next player, with everyone playing tight and trying to ladder up and the short stacks doubling up every time there was an all in confrontation. During this time, I lost a big flip and some other smaller pots and found myself with less than half the chips I had at my peak by the time the bubble bursted and we all moved center stage in the Thunder Dome to play for the bracelet and $75,000 up top.

Next thing I know we are being instructed on how to position our hole cards and avoid blocking the overhead cameras for the live stream and my buddy Vince is posting links to the stream on my Facebook post and I can feel the panic start to creep in. I’ve had stage fright issues my whole life – I never gave a speech in class without feeling like I’d rather die and my rap “career” never blossomed because I simply could not perform in front of people. I even had anxiety when I was recording most of the time, despite the fact that my writing ability was honestly ELITE. I have also battled confidence issues that I rather recently realize stem from being wrongfully cut from an all star baseball roster when I was in my early teens. I was always one of the best players on my teams growing up and never had a problem performing on a baseball diamond until that moment, but from then on, I felt an almost unbearable pressure when a ball was hit my way or I was standing at the plate to hit. I choked countless times and performed FAR below my level of ability all the way through high school baseball. I suspect almost no one that knows me even realized how much this affected me and it seems to have carried on with me as an adult in many ways. It’s kind of baffling to me how no one that coached me recognized my problem or knew how to correct it. Anyways, as if the pressure of being center stage, knowing I was being filmed wasn’t enough, when I saw Vince post that streaming link for all my friends to follow, well, I could feel an overwhelming sense of anxiety come over me. I told him to take the link down. If I made a huge mistake, I really didn’t want it to be on full display for all my friends to see. Now, I’m not going to suggest that I have resolved my confidence problems entirely, but somewhere along the way, I realized that I was at a WSOP final table and pretty much no one I know personally can say they’ve done the same thing and I realized that no matter what happened, I had to be proud of my accomplishment and likely, so would everyone else. While I got absurdly lucky in this tournament, I know for a fact that I belong at that table and that it won’t be the last time I get there either. With all this in mind, I was able to find my comfort zone and be at peace with the situation. It’s tough for me to admit some of that, but I’ve never been one to hold back in my writing.

At the official FT, we weren’t allowed to use phones at the table, so I mostly stopped posting updates on Facebook that I can easily reiterate here, but I know there were three massive all in confrontations in a short period and when all the dust cleared, I was the player that ultimately suffered the most. Two short stacks got lucky on back to back hands and instead of laddering up two spots, I found myself doubling up one of them when my AQ lost a race to 66 and put me back in short stack territory. I managed to ladder up a couple spots anyway and then I doubled with 77 vs 22 and busted a player in a blind vs blind confrontation when I picked up 44 vs 33. With 5 players left, while sitting on the shortest stack, my most critical hand came up and I wasn’t even in it. One of the big stacks raised under the gun and it folded to the chip leader in the big blind, who defended. After a flop check and call, they got it all in on the turn with the board reading TdJd8d9x and the big blind holding a straight flush and the other player holding a king high flush (and not drawing dead!). Absolutely sick. So with 5 left, the player in second position and a massive stack, winds up busting, and I ladder up with my very short stack. It was quite the coup.

With four players left, I realized I had to pee. I had to pee BAD. There was about an hour until the next break and I asked the TD if we could take an impromptu break so I could go and he refused my request. The next 45 minutes or so have to be some of the most agonizing moments of my entire life. Can you imagine playing on a WSOP final table, with four players left, and pay jumps approaching tens of thousands of dollars, and having to pee worse than you ever have? I had a short stack and it’s not like the bathrooms were nearby. I really couldn’t afford to miss any hands. If you ever happen to watch the live stream, you’ll notice that with about four players left, I am basically never in my seat when I’m not in a hand. I’m walking around the table in total agony. Needless to say, there is no way I could have been on my A-game while this was happening and it honestly baffles me that the WSOP staff would force me to suffer under such conditions. It’s the Casino Industry event – we all work for a living and are likely playing for life-changing money. It’s inexcusable IMO. I doubt they would make Daniel Negreanu jump around the Thunder Dome holding his crotch like an idiot. Well, I outlasted another player during this and managed to make it to the break, but I imagine I made some mistakes in the duration and it’s kind of hard for me to forgive them of the offense. I even asked the remaining players if it was okay and they agreed. Ugh.

I didn’t last long after the break, eventually shoving my short stack in with J8 offsuit on the button. I think I had like 4-6 big blinds, but having that sized stack playing 3-handed is MUCH different than having it at a full table. I could have maybe waited another orbit, but I was close to having no fold equity and it’s critical to have enough chips that you can win the pot without a showdown. The big blind woke up with the K9 and called and I was not able to produce another miracle.

I finished 3rd for just over $32,000. It was an incredible experience and despite my early discomforts, it was a total blast playing on the final table. And just like that, I crossed off most of my major goals for 2016 and the Rio went from being my all-time worst casino to being my all-time BEST.

I initially meant to post a whole trip report, but this was much longer than I anticipated, so I’ll post the rest later. I will also add some pictures and the live stream link when I get a chance.