Posts Tagged ‘poker’

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

December 21, 2019

It finally happened.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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November 2019 Poker Results and December Goals

December 1, 2019

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

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

Yessir.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My friends hated that fold also.

🤷🏻‍♂️

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

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

-spend serious time working on mental game strength

-book my trips to Cali for LAPC in February

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

-UW vs Gonzaga on Dec. 8th

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

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

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

On to December!

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

November 29, 2019

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

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

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

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

Let’s get it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

November 26, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

h1

2019 LA Poker Open: $400 H.O.R.S.E.

November 6, 2019

Stack updates here for today’s action.

Yesterday I played a full 40/80 session after busting the Stud 8 tourney and it was a little bit of a roller coaster.

First, I lost $415 in about an hour of 20/40.

I got off to a pretty mediocre start in 40/80 before going on a stretch of good starting hands that got annihilated in quick fashion.

Most notably, it folds to the small blind and he calls. I raise it up with KK and he calls. Flop is 722 and he check-raises me. I call so I can raise the turn but he responds there with a 3-bet. I think in our short history together we should view each other as solid players so I think this is bad news. He should know this is a typical big pair line from me and he’s like, “I don’t care.” Still, not about to fold kings here, blind vs blind, so I call down and he has A2hh. He had been playing very aggro, so I was surprised to see that hand in his preflop calling range and he’s folding a lot of 2x hands preflop, so it’s really hard to run into a better hand here.

I lost another sick one when I 3-bet TT on the button, a very loose player defended the big and the other player also called. The loose player and I capped the flop after he check-raised me on a board of 964 with two clubs.

I’m thinking a flush draw is a very big part of his range so when he checks to me on a 2x turn, I bet and he pops me again. I call.

The river is the jack of clubs and he bets. Pretty sick. Despite being raised on the turn, I still didn’t hate my hand, but now that the clubs got there, I feel like I’m beating nothing but spazz. Of course, this guy has spazz in his range, so I call, and he shows me A4 of clubs and I feel a little sick about it.

I lost a couple of other gross ones and just like that $1200 was gone in a matter of a few hands.

I was down about $1500 pretty early in my session and was already wondering if I was going to challenge my all-time worst session, but I reloaded and rebounded, going on a hot stretch for about an hour and fully recovering.

By the end of the night, I was in for $4500 and out with $5530 for a +$1030 cash game day.

I must take some time to talk about the absurdity of FanBoy. I’m staying with him at the Commerce during this trip and he started a 60/120 session around 3pm on Monday.

Here he is at noon on Tuesday, still playing from the day before with chips still on the table downstairs:

And here he is after about a 30 minute power nap heading back down for more action, almost 24 hours deep into his session:

When I quit playing last night around 2am, he was still going.

I think he popped into the room for good around 4am, which means he put in b something like a 37 hour session.

To recap, this is what I did during his session: played an 80+ tournament and final tabled it, got a full night of sleep, played and busted a second tournament, played a full cash game session, and went back to sleep for a second night.

What a sicko. What a psycho.

WHAT A FUCKING LEGEND.

Edit: Fanboy wants me to let everyone know he booked a +$7k session and wasn’t chasing a loss for 1.5 days.

Same tourney details as the other days.

Other notes:

-64 entrants in this event last year.

-Frankie O’Dell won it last year and he is on my immediate right. Cards have been in the air 15 minutes and he has already called himself a “world champ” once. Never fails.

-With yesterday’s tourney loss and cash game win, Commerce is still my worst casino since summer of 2014. But it’s getting close! With a decent day, I can make Aria my worst location. That’s the goal!

First Break

My best start yet! I have 18k after three levels, coming back to betting limits of 300/600.

BREAKING NEWS!

FanBoy is in the field!

Second Break

PokerSasha is at my table and is playing like a total psychopath. I’ve heard of her due to her connections to Barry Greenstein and/or Joey Ingram. I have lots of hands I could share that have blown my mind, but this is probably the best one:

It’s a 5-way limped pot in O8 and I have AT93 with nut clubs on a flop of K87 with two clubs. It checks to me in the cutoff, so I bet, Sasha raises on the button, both blinds cold call and so does the other limper. It seems like I should have an equity edge here, so I 3-bet and Sasha caps it! Everyone calls.

The turn is a 5 and everyone checks.

The river is a 4 and Sasha bets when it checks to her. One other player calls and I very reluctantly call with my second nut low, expecting to get scooped. Sasha shows T765 (with no clubs) and the other player has A2 for the low.

I can’t even comprehend her flop action in that hand.

It was not a good three levels for me and I am now sitting with 11.3k after six levels, coming back to betting limits of 600/1200.

FanBoy has 23k.

Third Break

Just kidding. We are busted. I lost most of my remaining chips in a 3-way Stud Hi pot where I have AA-Q against what looks like split 8s (or a bigger buried pair) and a drawing hand. I 3-bet on 3rd and keep the lead on 4th, but the 8 up makes open kings on 5th and takes the betting lead. I fail to improve on 6th or 7th and check back when it checks to me, and the 8 up has buried tens for kings and tens and a winner.

Basically dwindled from there until I got in for my last 1400 in Stud 8 with 86-4 and got isolated by PokerSasha’s 75-7.

My board ran out 86-4TK9-3 and she made two pair on 6th so I was dead to two outs on 7th.

Pretty cool.

I’m going to take a little break and then check out the cash games and will most likely play some 40/80 again tonight.

I guess I’ll just keep this blog going today with updates from my cash session. Check back every 90 minutes or so.

Update (6:38 PM)

Just now sitting down in the third 20/40 game. I think I’m 5th up for 40/80 right now.

Update (7:55 PM)

Won a decent pot with AQ and lost decent pots with AJ and QJ and finished 20/40 at -$189. Just now sitting in 40/80.

Update (9:07 PM)

Really slow start in 40/80. I flopped a jack with QJdd in a raised multi-way pot and backdoored a flush and then opened A8o when we were short and got action on a AJ58T runout.

Other than that, I have been folding and whiffing the other couple times I put money in the pot.

Currently sitting at +300 or so in the 40.

But look at this guy go:

He looks like he has over 200k with 17 left in the HORSE and average stack at 81k. 12 players cash and he’s looking in great shape to makes deep final table run.

Update (11 PM)

I rivered a straight with KT on QJ34A after defending my blind in a 3-way pot and got a check-raise in on the river and I 3-bet QThh in a heads up pot and flopped top pair and a flush draw and my pair held up.

That’s pretty much all that’s happened in the last two hours but it’s good for about +$1200 so far.

Checking in on FanBoy…

10 left. Wow. He has over 300k and next closest person has maaaaybe 200k. Average stack is 138k. Everyone is guaranteed at least $920 and there is $8860 up top for 1st.

Update (12:40 AM)

I am done playing poker for the day. I won exactly $1189 in 40/80 after losing $189 in 20/40 for a total cash game profit of +$1000.

That was a good enough overall week that Commerce inched past Aria and is no longer my worst location of all-time. Hoorah!

I am currently sweating Fanboy in the HORSE tourney. There are five players left and they are currently doing a chip count for a possible chop. Fanboy is currently in line to take 1st place in a chop.

I’ll update his finish if it doesn’t take forever. Otherwise I am going to sleep and flying back to Seattle early in the AM.

It’s official! Fanboy is the winner.

Good job buddy!

h1

2019 LA Poker Open: $400 Stud 8 or Better (Live Updates)

November 5, 2019

Stack updates here again for today’s action.

Some notes:

-Entries appear to be up compared to last year. Even with no re-entry, the O8 tourney saw about an 80% increase in number of entrants compared to 2018. Not sure what to make of that.

-I don’t see a Stud 8 tourney last year, but the Stud 8/Omaha 8 got 62 entrants.

-I broke the snide yesterday with a final table and my 0 for 16 streak at Commerce comes to an end.

-Even with my second final table appearance in a tournament here, Commerce is still my worst casino since 2014!

-I have only played three live Stud 8 tourneys and I am 0 for 3.

-Including Stud 8/Omaha 8 combo tourneys, I am 1 for 7 for a 84% ROI thanks to a near final table at the WSOP this year.

Tourney Notes: Same as yesterday… $400 buy in, no re-entry, 15k starting stacks, 30 minute levels, betting levels starting at 100/200, 8-handed tables, and 12.5% of the field gets paid.

First Break

Nothing exciting to report.

I missed a wheel draw and made two pair instead but it was obviously no good and I folded river in a big multi-way pot. Then I had a made 76 low with an ace high flush draw and a straight draw in a heads up pot but bricked river and got scooped by aces with a 75 low.

I won my first pot midway through level 3 when I missed my wheel draw but rivered an ace high flush and scooped in a heads up pot with bets going in on every street.

As such, I’m sitting on an unexciting 10.6k coming back to betting levels of 300/600.

Second Break

Not much time to update.

Lost a big 3-way pot where I had buried aces and couldn’t get a pair of 9s to fold on 3rd for two bets cold or 4th when it was capped and he ended up making two pair while I couldn’t improve.

Dipped down to 6k before making an ace high flush and six low to scoop a 3-way pot and then got half of a big pot with aces up right before the break.

I am currently peaking at 16.3k.

Third Break

First hand back, guy opens with an 8 up and I call with 65-4 with one 2 dead and everything else super live.

I catch a 3 on 4th and he gets a 6 and still leads into me. I raise and he calls.

I get a 9 and he gets an ace. I call.

I pair my 9 and he gets a king. I check-call.

I get a 10 and check-call but he has a pair of aces and scoops.

Down to 10.5k.

With betting limits at 800-1600, I open with QQ-Q, a 7 up raises, the bring in 3-bets with a 4 up, I call, and the 7 caps.

On 4th street I get four bets in with QQ-Q9 against 7s9c and 4x3x.

I get the rest of my stack in on 5th but the 795 has 86 under and already has a straight and I fail to improve.

We gone.

Off to the cash games.

h1

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

November 4, 2019

I’ll make stack updates in this post.

Some notes so far:

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

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

-last year this same event had 55 total entrants

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

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

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

-Commerce is my worst casino since July 2014

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

First Break

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

Alrighty…

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

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

Yikes.

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

Super yikes.

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

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

We are now up to 71 entrants.

Second Break

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

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

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

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

A little momentum would be appreciated.

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

Third Break

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

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

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

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

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

The flop is AQJ and everyone check-calls me.

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

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

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

Fourth Break

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

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

17 players are left and average stack is 74k.

Fifth Break

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

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

Prize pool info:

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

Update

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

Sigh.

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

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

Busted 6th for $1435

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

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

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

Not a bad start, but I want MORE.

$400 Stud 8 at 1 PM tomorrow.