Posts Tagged ‘texas hold em’

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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. πŸ˜‚

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. πŸ€¦πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ

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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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. πŸ˜‚

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!

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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.

πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ

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 β€œLive” 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!