Posts Tagged ‘professional gambling’

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2020 LAPC Event #6: $600 H.O.R.S.E.

February 6, 2020

On Tuesday I showed up for this event only to discover that I had my days mixed up and the $600 Stud Hi tournament was that day. I was on the fence about that one when I headed down to LA, but I showed up that day to play a tournament so I hopped in.

I decided not to blog that one just to switch up my mojo and when I got off to such a blistering start that my tablemates couldn’t help but express their jealousy I thought maybe I was going to do a typical Dark Knight thing: crush a tournament I didn’t really plan to play.

Alas, it doesn’t matter much how you start, it’s all about how good you run/play when the limits are large. I ran pure for the first three levels but after that, not much good happened for me and I whimpered along to a 19th place finish – ten spots off the money and my second straight day of wasting 10+ hours to outlast nearly 80% of the field and still not really sniff a cash.

Yesterday, my wife and I decided to go to Universal Studios and it was amazingly empty so we didn’t have to wait in hardly any lines. Last time I was here, the Jurassic World ride had just opened and had a line with a three hour wait basically all day… so I didn’t bother going. Yesterday, we waited maybe two minutes after walking through the queue.

Some pics:

We capped our night with dinner at the Italian restaurant on the Universal City Walk and a viewing of Bad Boys For Life.

I dropped my wife off at the airport this morning and now it’s back to business. This is my last chance for redemption. I can’t play the Draw Mix tourney on Friday because it’s a 2-day event and I fly out early Saturday, so this is my last hurrah this trip.

20k starting stacks, 40 min levels

Let’s.

Go.

First Break

Card dead first three levels. I defended QJo in Hold’em and got the KT9 flop and a check-raise in on the turn during the first level and that’s the only cool thing that’s happened so far. I’ve played zero O8 hands, zero Razz hands, and zero Stud Hi hands so far.

18k coming back to 400/800 betting limits.

Second Break

Groan. I was up to about 28k before an ugly last couple of hands in Limit Hold’em before the break.

Hand #1: Guy opens, I 3-bet AQo, Frank Kassela caps from SB, BB calls it off, and four of us see a 952 flop. Frank bets and we all call. Turn is a jack and it checks around. River pairs the 9 and Frank gets called in one spot and his TT is good.

Hand #2: Very next hand, Ari Engel opens from lojack, I 3-bet AQo again, Frank caps button, and the three of us see KKx flop. It checks around. Turn is an ace, Ari leads, I call, and Frank overcalls. River is a blank and Ari still bets. I hate my hand. I think AQ is one of the worst hands Ari would value bet in this spot and I don’t think he’s ever bluffing here, so I figure I’m rarely scooping this pot. I think Frank is capable of checking back a king on the flop, but I’m guessing he’s usually betting, so I figure I have him beat. I’m getting almost 11 to 1 though, so I torch off the 1200, Frank folds AJ behind me and Ari tables the K8hh.

19k coming back to 800/1600 limits.

Third Break

I have crumbs. Tournaments are so weird. It’s pretty rare for me to string together multiple days in a row in cash games where I never have an extended upswing but in tournaments it can be like clockwork. I think I had a two hour period this whole series where I can say I ran well.

I’ve played almost 40 hours in tournaments the past 10 days.

The rest of the time I’ve lost most of the important hands I’ve played with a random pot that goes my way every few hours or so.

Blah.

More of the same these last three levels. I start with 74-3 in Razz and an opponent with a 9 up gets all her chips in. She makes a QT low. I can’t beat it.

I have 8bb in LHE when Ari raises from SB. I defend 64dd and we see a flop of 932dd. He bets, I raise, he calls. Turn is Ks and he check-calls. River is the Js and I have one big bet left. I decide to save it and check back. He’s never folding anything with showdown value. He tables… Q6o. I know he was calling but it’s still just sickening.

Then I have < two bigs left and call Ari’s raise with K9o. Three others tag along. Flop is A54 and it checks to a nit on the button and he bets. I text my friends that I’m out. Everyone else folds and he shows AJ but then the board runs out 9-9!

Quintuple!

Then I had a bad o8 orbit where I opened twice, bricked and folded.

3500 coming back to 300/1500/3000

Need things to go exceedingly well for me to get back in this thing and not have a BUSTED update in the next few minutes.

BUSTED

A fitting end to my series. I start with A5-4 in Razz with a 5 and 4 dead and all the deuces and treys live. Ari opens with his 5 up, I 3-bet and he calls. I catch a 3 on 4th and he gets a 7. I bet he calls. I pair the 3 on 5th and he gets a deuce. He leads and I’m all in.

His final hand is Q752x.

I can’t beat it.

My board runs out A5-433K-3.

And I’m out. And I’m done for this trip. I don’t fly out til Saturday so I’ll probably play cash tomorrow but I’m actually going to look into flights for tonight.

Get fucked, L.A.

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LAPC 2020 Event #4: $600 Omaha 8/B

February 3, 2020

And… we’re back. I played 40/80 cash all day on Saturday and bounced back from an early -$2k start to finish at +$2575 and get February off to a solid start.

Yesterday was the Super Bowl so I headed to the movie theater for entertainment and caught a couple of Best Picture nominees in Jojo Rabbit and Ford v Ferrari. I won’t post my thoughts on those movies before the Oscars so I’ll just say this: Jojo Rabbit is probably a top ten 2019 movie for me and Ford v Ferrari was better than I thought it was going to be – certainly in my top 20 and probably in my top 15.

This event started at noon and is actually a 2-day event, something I didn’t know before coming down here, and this info has thrown a wrench into my plans. I was going to play the $600 Draw Mix tourney on Friday but I fly out early Saturday so I can’t play that one now. I could change my flight to Sunday but I’d rather not travel on Oscar day.

20k starting stacks, 40m levels, blinds starting at 100/100.

Check back here for stack updates on breaks every couple hours or so.

First Break

Not a bad start considering some of the run outs I’ve had so far:

AQ63 vs A32 on Q6228

AJ42 vs A842 on AAK68

AA32 vs A73x on 86452

I did have one lucky one that went my way when I raised one limper with double suited A632 and then he donked into me on JT3ss. I had two players behind me and decided to raise to possibly clear out some duplicate backdoor lows and take a likely free card if I brick the turn against a passive player. And if everyone calls two bets, I’m fine wit that because I have the nut flush draw here – AND BOTTOM PAIR. The other two players do fold though and I check back the 5 turn. I think betting here could be fine since I’m not getting scooped on the river very often, but I know if I brick this guy isn’t folding so I might as well wait until I have the best hand to put more money in. I check back and the river is a 4 and he check-calls and I scoop.

25.4k

The most chips I’ve had in three tournaments so far is 133% of the starting stack so I have a chance at a peak series stack on the next pot I win. 😂

Pretty sad, but you gotta start somewhere.

Second Break

Card dead this stretch but I did reach a series peak stack of 145% (29k) but I’ve dwindled back down after getting scooped on the first hand back from break. I had a couple of interesting hands but I don’t have time to talk about them.

20.5k

Third Break

Well, I haven’t made it this far yet, so that’s something. But variance is not being kind to me and I can’t take advantage of the punts. Dude calls my 3-bet cold with KK93 and then calls down on T824J in a 3-way pot when I have AQT3 double suited. A different guy opens button when I have AA52 in the big and gets the KQ86T runout with QJ76 and scoops me. Blah.

I’m ready for my first rush of this series… right… now.

15.5k coming back to 1000/1500 blinds.

91 entrants. 12 cash. 56 left and I think we play to the money today.

Fourth Break

Momentum!

Found a nice scooper with AK64 on AK32Q and peaked at around 43k but lost a couple non-showdown hands before the break.

30.5k coming back to blinds of 1500/2500 with 38 players left.

Fifth Break

No justice in poker. I might still be in this thing but I haven’t run even remotely decent.

I got up over 45k when I had AK82hh on 962hhJTh board in a 5-way limped pot, but I was short so I wasn’t pushing the action and no one called my river bet.

And then pain.

First, I limp along with J542 double suited on the button and raise a bet from the cutoff on T65ss. I’m just trying to clean up outs by getting this heads up if I can. Everyone else folds and he just calls. Mission accomplished. Turn is a 3 and he donks into me. Kind of strange but it seems like he should have at least 42 here also, so I just call. River is a beautiful ace and he still leads. I go into a long enough tank that this dude probably thinks he’s getting the whole pot no matter what I have and I just think he has to have 42 here also so I just call to prevent myself from losing extra chips when I’m in a worst case scenario. He turns his cards over and emphasizes the 42 in his hand. I’m showing my 42 also and the dealer is trying to figure things out and my opponent does that thing where they get all annoyed and say, “it’s a chop,” so it’s up to me to mention that this fucking guy has a 7 in his hand and I end up getting quartered.

Then I get quartered again with AK72hh on 766hh59 against AQ92. 🤦🏻‍♂️

Then I get scooped when I have AT82 vs an all in opponent (4bb) holding AQ32 on AT8JK.

I went all the way down to 15.5k but I got some mercy folds with AAKTdd when two players called pre and I put my tourney life on the line on a 773dd flop. Definitely happy to win that one uncontested.

25k coming back to 2000/4000 blinds and 28 players remain.

BUSTED

Today couldn’t have been more agonizing. I would have rather busted out six hours ago. I ran like shit all day and won just enough pots to keep me alive but almost every hand I played had a comically horrible outcome.

On the hand that crippled me, the cut opens and I defend with AK74. Flop is AT3 and I check-call a bet. Turn is a king and I donk out and he calls. River pairs the ten and I bet and he raises. I go into about a two minute tank but I know I’m beat here because he’s never bluffing so I’m mostly just cursing my unending brutal bad luck. Part of me just wants to toss my last two bigs in and make the call but that’s just a give up, so I finally fold. He didn’t show but after we redrew for finally three tables, he told me he had AT which is exactly what I thought he had. So fucking sick.

I fold to my big blind and put my last chips in vs utg raise without looking. I turn over KQJ9 which isn’t bad and I even make trip jacks but he has AJ22 and I busted out in 21st, nine spots off a cash, despite running like dog shit all day long.

Sigh.

HORSE tomorrow.

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LAPC Event #3: $400 T.O.E. (Stack Updates)

January 31, 2020

What’s T.O.E.? Well, it’s 2-7 Triple Draw, Omaha Eight or Better and Stud Eight or Better.

The rest of the details are the same as the first two tourneys: 15k start, 30 min levels, no re-entry, etc.

I slept miserably last night and woke up later than usual so we have an ETA if roughy 2 PM right now so we are going to miss the first two levels. That’s pretty sad because I expect to have a pretty large edge in 2-7. If the field is reasonably sizable I’d imagine only a handful of people are playing 2-7 on any regular basis. I play it all the time and I’ve had to learn the hard way how easy (and costly) it is to make mistakes in this game. If you don’t play it regularly and never study it, chances are you are going to SUCK. Needless to say, it would be ideal to play as many hands of 2-7 when this event is at its softest and loosest.

But here we are.

Ducky has departed for SeaTac and Fanboy said something about “buying” Palm Springs, so this one is just going to be Joker and myself.

I feel like I should point out that my group is currently a combined 0-8 in tournaments so far this trip.

I went +$421 in the Mix at The Bike on Wednesday night and +$1617 in the Commerce Mix last night, so apparently I am actually capable of stringing some winning hands together. Check back here for stack updates every break and hopefully one of us can finally do something interesting today!

First Break

Well, I only got half an hour of play in before the first break and in typical tournament fashion I had almost zero playable spots. We actually started with 2-7 Triple Draw and I folded 6 of 6 hands, including giving the big blind a walk twice when I was in the small blind. That was kind of painful, but I’m not going to go out of my way to get involved with weak holdings. That’s what they do!

I won a small pot with KJ95 double suited when I opened from the button and flopped top two, but that’s all I have to report so far.

Dark Knight 14.6k

Joker 13k

Second Break

Holy hell. I have all the injustice tilt. I am not allowed to win pots in tournaments right now. I’ve won three hands today but only one of any significance and, honestly, it was basically a punt on my part. I’ll say this much: there were raises on two streets and my hand at showdown was J7643 in 2-7. Super gross.

Here’s another absolutely sick 2-7 hand: I open with 8652 and guy behind me 3-bets, and I 4-bet. I draw one and he says, “whoops” and draws two. I bet dark and he calls. I draw one and… he pats?! Wtf. I brick and check and… he checks back?! Good God, what kind of garbage am I about to lose to? I make a J8 on the third draw and part of me thinks maybe? He checks back and shows T98xx.

I can’t even fathom it. This is why I was excited about 2-7 today… but I am super crippled. I got all in on the last hand before break drawing to three scoop outs with a nut low draw. I made the low, so I survived but both of my opponents had A4 for the same low so I only got 1/6 of the pot.

Dark Knight 1800

Joker 18.8k

I have three big blinds now so this could be quick for me.

Dark Knight BUSTED

What a joke this is. I double up utg on the last hand of Omaha 8 and then we move on to Stud 8.

I’m bring in with A2-5 and some ding dong opens with K3-3 and we eventually get all my chips in on 5th and going into 7th I have A2-5456 vs K3-3K2x (edit: he had K3-3J2x on 6th and rivered a 2) and I brick 7th and he catches two pair. No double.

Then I lose a smallish pot where I give up on 5th and then former LAPC co-TD Justin Hammer opens with a 7 up in front of me. I have 95-A with two diamonds and only three big blinds so I decide to go with it and we get all in on 4th and he shows 97-79 and all I have at showdown is a pair of 5s.

So I’m out. And I’m pretty bitter about it. I haven’t even been close to being in one of these things yet.

Joker still in with a starting stack. I’ll keep his progress updated here. I’m going to bang my head against a wall for about an hour before I decide what cash games I’m going to play tonight.

My next tournament isn’t until Monday so I won’t have any new posts until then.

🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬

Update:

Joker BUSTED

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2020 LAPC Event #2: $400 H.O.R.S.E.(Stack Updates)

January 30, 2020

Same details as yesterday. Just Joker and me in this one. Radio Mike doesn’t play mix and, after showing up three hours late and busting in 15 minutes, Ducky claims that “tournaments are boring.” So… he’s sitting this one out. However, FanBoy has arrived in LA and says he’s “coming for [me].” So I guess we have three sweats today.

We took our time getting ready and our ETA is about 1:30, so we are looking to sit down sometime just after the start of level 2… which is actually the same structure as level 1.

First Break

A decent start so far. I’ve won some small pots and got half a big multi-way Stud 8 pot with a queen high flush.

Dark Knight 20k

FanBoy 18k

Joker 12k

Update

Ducky couldn’t handle my ribbing and has decided to torch another $400 by registering this tournament.

Second Break

Not a good stretch for me. I had some good Razz starters that turned to dust and basically played no other hands. I’m back to starting stack.

Dark Knight 14.2k

Ducky 17k

Joker 14k

Fanboy 15k

Third Break

Still card dead. I had a dumb Stud 8 hand where I’m drawing to a better low than my opponent and make 8s and 4s instead but get scooped by a very disguised three of a kind.

I also had KQdd in Limit Hold’em when I had nine bigs and UTG raised and UTG+1 3-bet… I was next to act and decided to pitch it. It ended up getting capped 3-ways and then this was the board on the turn:

One of the guys in the pot had TT with a diamond so I didn’t fold a Royal Flush but the 4d on the river would have more than tripled me up…. because if I go with the hand, I’m capping it and I’m never folding.

Instead, I’m taking less than 8 bigs to the next level.

Dark Knight 8k

Fanboy 22k

Ducky 8k

Joker 9k

BUSTED

Poker tournaments are so brutal sometimes. I get moved to a new table where I’m the shortest stack and they greet me with three straight bring ins when we are playing Razz and then I finally get a playable hand holding 65-7 but there are two 8s, two aces, and two deuces dead. One of the 8s opens and Barbara Enright raises with a deuce up. I’m next to act with an ace still behind me. Sigh. I’m starting rough and half the outs I have to the best hands I can make are already accounted for. I feel like that makes this a fold but I honestly don’t know. I had like 5-6 bigs at this point. I ended up mucking.

Then I anted all the way down to 3500 (2.33 bigs) and finally had half the table fold to me in Stud holding a AT-K. I decided to go with this one and someone with a 9 up put me all in after thinking about it for a while. He had K9-9 and I caught a bunch of totally worthless cards and busted out.

Ducky busted a little bit before me and Fanboy was on fumes when I left the room. No idea what Joker has but he’s probably not in great shape either.

We all suck.

I’ll post updates on how Joker and Fanboy are doing.

Update

Joker BUSTED

Update

Looks like Joker and I are starting a 20/40 Mix with James Woods, Ron Ware, and Miami John

Update

Fanboy BUSTED

Confirmed we all do suck. Fanboy in 60/120 LHE now, Radio Mike and Ducky in 20/40 LHE, and Joker and I still in 20/40 Mix.

$400 T.O.E. tomorrow.

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2020 LAPC: $400 Limit Hold’em Tournament

January 29, 2020

I started my trip off with a -$464 in some 20/40 LHE last night. It was one of those instances where I didn’t really want to play and then I go play anyway and book a loss and wonder why I do this to myself. The loss isn’t big, or even noteworthy, it’s the nit listening to myself that bothers me.

I woke up at 8am and spent the next 8+ hours in travel mode. We were talking about putting in a session around 5:30 PM and the 12 mile commute to The Bike was a solid 45 minutes or so and it wasn’t looking like I would get in a game until 6:30ish and I didn’t really want to play past midnight… so what was I doing? I thought they might get their 25/50 mix game off the ground and that’s what ultimately pushed me out the door. But that never happened. And for most of the time I spent playing 20, the games were pretty blah. Of course, it didn’t help much having my friends Radio Mike and Ducky at my tables most of the time.

But then I got moved to the third table – the main game – and suddenly the game looked pretty ripe. I saw six different players at the table employing limping into their strategy and some of them were showing up with some LOL hands.

My favorite hand of the night: two players limp in and I check my option with 98dd. The flop is A83 with two clubs. I bet and the second limper calls. The turn is a 6 and it goes bet-call again. The river is a 4 and I don’t see much value here, so I check it over to him and he checks back. I table my hand. The dealer pulls my cards in and shows my 5-card hand and my opponent stares at it for a solid 10+ seconds. I’m not sure what all the theatrics are for in this micro pot but it seems pretty obvious that my hand is good and then he confirms this by flipping over an 8 so I guess he’s just slow folding because he’s annoyed that I have him outkicked here? Another 5-8 seconds go by before he flips over a ten and wins the pot. I have no history with this player so I don’t know wtf is going on here but wow.

Unfortunately, I was too tired and it was approaching midnight so I didn’t get a chance to play much in what looked to be a juicy game. I didn’t want to push myself on my first day here and start my first tourney wishing I had gotten more sleep.

The Limit Hold’em tourney starts in about an hour. Ducky got buried last night and played until the early morning hours trying to get even (and booked a $500 win!) so he will not be joining Radio Mike, Joker, and myself for this $400 LHE event – at least not for the start of the tourney. I think he tumbled in around 9am and late reg closes around 4, so I’ll be pretty surprised to see him sign up today.

Check back here for stack updates for all three of us and maybe some notable hands if I feel like sharing and have the time.

Details: 8-handed play, 15k starting stacks, blinds starting at 100/100, 30 minute levels

My table is 6-handed right now and I don’t recognize anyone.

First Break: Rough start for me. I lost a third of my stack before winning a pot, whiffing a 3-bet pot with AQss on 962ss, whiffing a 4-bet 3-way pot with KTdd on JJ9dd, and the grossest one: QQ vs 77 in a 4-bet 4-way pot on T5347.

I finally got one when I defended K8o 3-ways and got the K84sss flop and got a check-raise in on the turn and my hand was still good on the 7-7 runout vs Kx. Then I defend 65o 3-ways, donked the 642 flop, bet the 9 turn and picked off a bluff on the King river vs 55.

I’m coming back to 13.4k and blinds of 200/300.

Joker 10k

Radio Mike 14.6k

Ducky 😴😴😴

Second Break: I just won my first pot… outside of a big blind defense. That means I’m losing with all my best hands… including, over the last 90 minutes, JJ vs 99 on 997 in a 4-bet 3-way pot (I got off the hook for 1.5 big bets post on that one though) and AT vs 65o on T5546.

I’m pretty frustrated and I think it has cost me some bets. For instance, on that AT vs 65 hand, I had opened preflop and my opponent called a raise from the small blind, so while he probably shouldn’t show up with trips or an overpair here very often, the fact that he is check-raising me means he has it. At least this guy does. He’s not bluffing here. So why do I call down then?

Currently collecting myself on break with a reminder to not waste bets when I’m obviously toast.

I’m coming back to 10k with blinds going up to 300/600. Time for some run good!

Dark Knight 10k

Radio Mike 24k

Joker 24k

Ducky… 15k! Yup he made it in.

BUSTED

First hand back, I open AT on the button and lose half my chips to the small blind’s KT when he makes two pair.

Then I get my last four bigs in 4-ways with A8dd and get a dreamy looking AK4dd flop, but the turn is a king and two of my opponents have one of those cards and show the unsurprising bad news when the river bricks me.

Not sure what I’m going to do now. I’ll probably wait to hop in a cash game until after my wife gets off work and we talk, but I will post stack updates for all three of my friends that outlasted me. 😂

Update:

Ducky BUSTED

Joker BUSTED

Radio Mike avg stack with 48 left

Ducky and I are playing some 20/40 Mix at Bike and I have lost every hand I’ve played so far.

Update: Radio Mike busted in 24th, nine spots of the money. We all suck.

$400 HORSE tomorrow.

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2020 LAPC Schedule

January 25, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

Click here for the full LAPC schedule.

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2019 Poker Results

January 23, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Live Cash Games

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5 Biggest Wins:

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

5 Biggest Losses:

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

Live Tournaments

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

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

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

Here are those six cashes:

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

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

Online Cash Games

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

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

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

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

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

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

Online Tournaments

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

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

Life Goals

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s to 2020!