Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Run Good? Run Bad? It's all the same

League nights were this weekend, and on Friday, I stuck with a hand (KK on J high board) to long and paid off a 1/3 of my lean stack to a flopped two pair. I never really recovered and eventually A8 on the button ran into QQ in the BB. old story... But on Saturday...

Worked up my stack and caught a player with an Ace on an Ace high flop in a terrible spot against my two pair. I made the proper bets to get him committed by the river, where he paired his second card. I could see the Ace if it came, but not the Ten. I work my punished stack up large enough that I could raise 5s6s from MP because the table was playing too passive. Two callers and the flop is 3 spades. I check, player bets, BB flats and I shove (because I think one of them must call with As). Turns out to be the BB who does call and the turn is a spade! I am not out, just disappointed until I make the two out straight flush on the river. Wow.

30 minutes later, I get a spot to call a raise with QdJd and FLOP my second straight flush. AND a player moves all in on the flop! Two in one night! Lots of chips now!

But in the end, I catch the remaining player on a draw with his overs no good and the run out gives him the flush to knock me out second.

After this night, I am not sure I can ever say that I run either Good or Bad on any given night. You can make two straight flushes and still lose as a 2:1 favorite at any time.

Moral of the story: "That's Poker"

Friday, August 01, 2014

Summer Winding down

So as summer winds down I have some updates to post. I have decided to get serious about poker again. Not too serious, but more serious. I am participating at TPE, I am hiring a poker coach for 10 hours or so of instruction to help me identify trouble spots. I am putting $ on sites where I can practice (yeah for bitcoins), and I am enjoying my spring/summer past-time of enjoying cigars out on the deck.

One of the guys at CigarsCity sent me over some Rocky Patel Connecticut cigars which I liked. I tend to like the lighter smokes. I also like those Boveda humidity pack they ship in, these things work well. The site has Macanudo and Arturo Fuente too, so quite a discovery for me.

I've really been trying to concentrate on playing my hand against ranges and not over-reacting to bad turn cards. The latter being a long time leak I am trying to get under control. The first of the 2015 leagues start Saturday, and I intend to crush this year. Concentrate, play well, run good. The latter only being controlled by positive energy not track record.

As I ramp up for the perhaps final push into becoming the poker player I want to be, I think I'll try to sneak some exercise and mind/body maintenance in there too. Every little bit helps. I cut 200 calories a day out of my daily consumption (a mere 10%) and I have lost nearly 20 lbs. The weird side effect is loss of muscle strength in may arms, which I now have to over compensate to correct. Still, if I plan to live forever, better get started.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Monster Stack Trip Report

The Monster Stack event was the 3rd largest field ever and played like a $1500 main event. Expect this event yearly now...
$15k starting stack, 25/25/0 start level.

Hand 1:where I like to keep up a tradition of playing my first hand poorly...
LP in seat 8 players raises to 75 and I call from the BB with 6c9c. Flops is AdTc3c. He bets $150 and I check raise to 300. He calls.
My "logic" here was that players often will fold to any raise post flop after c-betting if they hit nothing. So, ok. I tried this and failed.
The turn is a blank (non-club) and I fire a second barrel. This I dont like at all and I think it was just not thinking. LP calls. Check-check river to see AQ.
Very dumb turn bet as I dont see him folding any hand that calls the raise.

BUT, it is important that I dont waste this information and I replay the hand in my head and store the info.

Hand 2:
Raise with KJs from button, blinds both call. Flop is KT9 and the BB leads out for 1/2 pot. I call, SB folds. turn is an Ace and he leads again. I fold. Way to early to look him up here, as everything got there on turn.

Hand 3: Where I get lucky
Call an open from 7 seat with 66. The flop is K high is he is physically interested in the hand. I am beat. I am ready to fold when he bets just 1/3 pot? very strange and I call. Turn is a J and this time he bets 1/4 pot?! So I call. The river is a 6 and when he checks, I value bet 1/2 pot and get called. He is angry and starts talking about how lucky I am. I simple stack the chips, no reply necessary.

Hand 4: punish a poor kicker
An MP (seat 6?) opens and I decide to call from the button with KQo. I want KQo in my calling and raising range, but this deep I go the conservative route. The rest of the notes are missing, but my KQ took a pot from his KT.

Hand 5: so fold
Few notes, but a took a flop 3 way with AJ and flopped TPTK. (I think I raised and got calls from blind and limper.) Flop is JT9 and its lead and raised prior to getting to me. FOLD.

I stop here to make a note that seat 8 is playing very tight. He had the AQ vs. me and has since only showdown AK and KK...

Hand 6: Where I utilize the escape pod
Seat 7 limps and seat 8 raises. I flat with AKo. Since we are so deep, I briefly debated raise vs. call and went the call route. I have notes on both players now and button position, so I feel confident. Flop is AcJc7d. Seat 7 checks, Seat 8 leads out for 1/2 pot. I suspect AQ or clubs and because of seat 7 still hanging around, decide to raise here. (In retrospect, I am folding out the weak player and narrowing the range of the tight player, sort of the opposite of perhaps what I should be doing here.)
Seat 7 folds and seat 8 3 bets me without much thought. I think about this for a while and realize that there is not way I am good here and FOLD. After I fold, I start to think about what my image was (looser to seats 7 & 8) and that he could put me on clubs there and be raising with an Ace. But as I continue to think about it, AJ seemed very likely. [NOTE: Later our table will break and we briefly talk about this hand. He had JJ]

Table Break

Hand 7: where I shoot first
I briefly put KQo in my UtG range and open for 2.5x (antes now). I get two callers and as I debate the wisdom of KQo UtG the flop comes QQx. Since I want to build a pot, I make a standard C-bet and both players fold. I immediately start thinking I am being over anxious. I could easily check here first to act. This feeling will exacerbate itself as I am about to go card dead...

Hand 8: Where I really want to play a hand. By the times it gets to me with 66, I am already facing a 3 bet and fold.

Hand 8 redux: Same idea only 99 facing 3 bet in BB with original raiser left to act and looking very interested. FOLD and watch the fireworks and QQ gets it in with AK.

I have 29k

Spots go by where I am still too deep to get out of line with steals or garbage cards. Plus, there are two Euro players to my right with bigger stacks that keep calling raisers and paying off better hands. "My kingdom for some playable cards" cries go unnoticed by the gods and I grind down...

End of Day 1 (26k)

Day 2 and now blinds are 400/800/100 which is 2200 a round. (32 1/2 Bigs, M just under 12). I go into the day prepared to open my 3 bet range, but the level starts poorly with terrible cards. Even in the BB I have T2o and pass on calling a min raise at one point with 62o.
Stacks: 14k, me now at 24k, 10k, 69k, 21k (pro who I recognize but cant place the name), 80k, Kara Scott folding every hand with 17k, 17.5k, and a shorty on my right with 8k.

The Shorty to my right wakes up in a hand with KK and doubles up. He plays sloppy and will call or open and fold to any 3-bet. Important note.

Hand 10: Easy Call, but hard result.
A short stack who started the day at 10k, then after a couple of pots, doubles up to about 15k, shoves from MP. Folds to me in the BB with AKo and I just call and turn them over. He has TT and I get 5 bricks. Just like that, 25k becomes 9k.

Hands 11:
I make a couple of well times steals and get up to a 12k. I had targeted certain blinds as folding too much, which paid off here.

Hand 12: falling on my sword
Close to the end of the level and its 500/1000/200 next. with 12k, I am antsy.
Folds to the button on my right, and the player looks at his cards, starts to fold, realizes he is the button and min-raises. I kept my eye on the BB and know he did not look at his cards yet (so no interest read). Both are playing very tight despite being in shove territory and this looks like a perfect spot to just pick up the pot. I look at my cards (really just for effect) and shove. With the raise to 1600 and the player on my left with about 11k, anything else may open the door for him to see what I see and shove over me so I rip it. BB wakes up with KK. (turns out I had 54o)

I am now left to contemplate the wisdom of shoving 12+ bigs (15 since its technically still 400/800/100) with 54o based solely on the read that I had a good spot to steal. I have played this over and over again in my head, and I still think I should be doing this here with nearly ANY stack size. correct? (Those 3400 chips represented another 25% to my stack.)

- Same Time Next Year?

Thursday, June 05, 2014

Stupid suck-out 1-2 Blues

I lost another bullet when the board ran out bad
couldn't figure out what the other guy had
when the secrets revealed I start to get mad
I am lost in the dots
fading bloated pots
I gots the 1-2 blues

why wont they just go away
you think they all had to stay
is there nothing to do but pray?
no matter how much I raise
they're like moths to the flame
I gots the 1-2 blues

Friday, May 30, 2014

Checking Top Pair

I've been reading and studying alot of player strategy and I saw an interesting trend that MTT PROs are checking TP on the FLOP so that the pot doesnt get big enough that they might have to release the best hand. I think its very interesting and a huge counter to what how everyone played a decade ago. This also means that when someone DOES bet the flop, they are often getting called and big draws still try for a check raise. As I think about this, and I think about how betting on turn/river are often value targeting, it seems that this all adds up to something. The current "wisdom" is that the flop bet is now based on Equity in the hand, vs. protection... I believe this stems from online play, where players could take advantage of small edges over a large number of tables and hands. Just exploiting the math.

But if this is all true, and at the WSOP tables I'll see a majority of regs playing this way, then shouldn't I also have some "against the grain" plays in my playbook?

I am spending time playing trying to get a feel for how I am viewed as I play hands. I was at the local charity room playing deep cash and despite not having showed down a bluff and not being spewy, when I did try to pretend my JT was TT and bet flop and turn, I could not get players off of TP (which was 8) or MP! On the river I made a gutshot and increased my 3rd barrel size so that if I got called and had to show how I got there bluffing, at least it paid off. And I did get called...

So now I have to spend time watching myself so to speak... trying to get on line on how my bets look and how they are being digested.

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

deep stack practice

Here is a note to self. When you put someone on Top pair vs. your overpair and that card pairs on the river, DONT CALL. Especially when the bet size tell is that he is trying to get paid off. Gez Columbo, stop making hero calls when you know you are beat. It's a WISH call. I WISH I was still ahead.

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Here we go again

I went to my league night knowing the bad news. I played too poorly at the start of the season to have wrapped up a top 6 spot. I was way down in the "yellow" band, not eliminated, but not favored to finish FTW. I dont know how many readers have read Elements of Poker , but the discussion about bringing your A game was particularly relevant. If there was one thing I could put my finger on that I did well that evening, it was focus. I tried not to be distracted and as the cliche' goes, "Keep my eye on the prize". That was good enough for 3rd place, which is where I needed to finish. With 3 left, I did call a pre-flop 3bet shove with JQs only to see KQ. A Jack on the flop sealed the improbable run, and I continued to hoover chips until the end, finishing in first. Despite all the work I did in the last 2 weeks on hand reading, that skill doesn't always play when you are not very deep. Most of my decisions were either simplified by stack or position, or were basic in nature.

I did make one HUGE mistake 3 handed though. I raised my button with air and the SB called. The flop was K63 and I have Q4o. He checks, and I c-bet which he calls. The turn is a 9 I think, and he checks, I barrel and he calls. Its at this point I am pretty sure he has a 6. So when the river is another 9, I feel like I can push him off this hand with a 3rd barrel. But I RUSH the river bet, which in my mind made it look very week. Despite a good sized bet, I was called down thin for the only time of the night. I was kicking myself not for the bluff, because I think that was a good spot for the 3rd barrel, but for giving off a pretty bad timing tell.

Still, incorporate your mistakes into future plays... What I mean by that is remember what everyone perceives just happened so you can use it should the opportunity present itself.

With the victory, can a seat the in WSOP Event #51, the new "poor man's main event" $1500 Monster stack 4 day event. It's going to be a BRUTAL grind that favors cash game players on day 1 where stacks are very deep. My plan for the next month is to get some cash game practice in while concentrating on post flop hand reading and line recognition skills.

League #2 wraps up this coming Friday and once again I enter the last event in the "yellow zone". I do think I have played well enough to win in league #2, but in 3 of the 8 weeks, suffered severe blows (beats yo) when I got a hand/player EXACTLY where I wanted and some 4-6 outer sent me to the dealer pit. Perhaps I have variance on my side then as I enter the final week, looking to get my money in ahead and have my hands hold up.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

a quick review of paid nitcast

Over at thinkingpoker.net, Andrew and Nate put up a solid 5 part WSOP primer/strategic review podcast and charged $19. So to add some color commentary to that statement, let me just say that part 4 is worth the $19 by itself. 5 hours of content for 4 sawbucks is a pretty good return, especially because the content is geared towards the modern day and the modern era poker player.

I sorta don't like the podcast, as I don't care about poker player's lives and ancillary activities. But their strategy discussion are second to none and the way they look at a poker scenario is the way one should learn to look at situations in the modern poker era.

so to spend $19 bucks for 5 hours of only the strategic parts of the podcast, and to have it based on modern day MTT strategy, well its just too good to pass up.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

A statement so basic yet so complete, I had to record it

Your primary goal in a poker hand is not find out where you are at, it’s to VP$IP when you’re ahead and avoid money VP$IP when you’re behind.

Maybe stating it a funnier way, its more important to statistically use your money wisely, especially if that means not creating a scenario that gives you more information, but only when you are wrong.

Monday, March 03, 2014

League Night monkee off my back

Finally won a 3 table league night. Played very well and very straight forward until the final 5... Bill the LAG was on my right, which was a bad place to be on Saturday as he became my personal ATM And I his nemesis. We went back and forth all night. Then, finally with 4 left, I got lucky 3 times. The first time was when the flop was AQT with two hearts and all the money went in A8 vs. my A6 and we chopped. Then, Bill and I had to watch a board spill out when his A7s was all in Blind vs. Blind with my KQ calling it off. Flop was AxK, but the river brought a Q and then I was sitting pretty well. Not a few hands later, 3 handed I raise 2.5x with 65 from the button. Both blinds call and the flop is 668. The SM (short stack) shoves and the BB CALLS. Great for me as I shove over the top. Board runs out and I am way ahead in chips. So why is that 3rd hand lucky? Well, the BB held and 8 and the river would have been an 8. Now results and that run-out aside, I am not thrilled with my over-shove. Sure it worked out, but I let an opponent off the hook with 2 outs vs. my trips. I normally would call behind and try and get more chips out of the side pot. But here, probably because I liked my chances heads up with a chip lead, I got lucky. And I won 3 hands later in an anti-climactic hand where I had an overpair.

Sunday, February 09, 2014


Played cash for the first time in a long time and dropped over 2 buy-ins over a 4 hour period. Sure I ran KK into AA and a straight flush draw into top pair and lost, but still. I cant focus on that part of the variance. Even with 60 left, I raised with KJ and got a caller, flop is QTx and due to stack size the money gets in. He had a set of Tens. Bad luck? maybe...

But its days like these you have to force yourself to look inwards and realize you are not playing enough to not play the A game. Because your B game is now a D game. And I went specifically to relax and play B game. So I sort of get what I deserve. If you want to play B level poker, then go play on the xbox.

Consider this my poker "confession bear" of the week.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Lots of poker this week

A trip to Atlantic city yielded a $65NL at Bally's and a $120NL at Borgata. The Borgata was the superior structure, and I had >20 big blinds all the way down. At Bally's, I was playing "situational" poker, just knowing when to play a hand and when not to. When you are not deep, this is a big skill. But alas, I only could finish at about the 20% mark. I dont think there was a single memorable hand.

The $120NL at Borgata was a different story. 150 runners + rebuys through level 6 put total buy-ins at 210 or so. I was at table 4, so I got to study opponents. most were simply OK locals. But the guy 2 to my left was a weird duck. I couldn't put my finger on it at first, but later it hit me. He was playing the Kill Phil strategy. He would call from OOP and if the flop had no card Jack or Higher, he would shove and each time take down the pot. Later in the tournament with about 34 left (so we are 8 handed), I raise from the button with KdTdand he calls from the BB. Flop is 8d9d3s and he shoves with little hesitation. I look again at my hand of two overs and a flush draw and figure I am in ok shape if he actually hit anything here. I have $50k behind (avg is about that) and he had about $45k, but was playing as if he had about half that. I figure its not that often I am going to catch a guy shoveling in that many chips as we get close to the point where I want to make a final run. If I take down this pot, I'll have $110k when the avg is half that. I call. He shows Js6s for a Stone Cold NADA. Turn is a black seven and the river is a black Ten and he one-card-straights me to short-stacks ville. Interestingly enough, I refused to die and made the money! With 26 left, I shoves my AdQd into what turned out to be 33 and that sent me packing. Winning that had would have restored me to avg.

Happy with my play, I came home to play in the Monthly Foley league and felt good going into an event that historically I just cant concentrate at. But today I did. Entire night, I got my money in behind just twice: 6 handed I ran AQ in AA and because of that and a short stack, I had a steal go GOOD, where Any Two came from behind to beat a solid BB calling hand. Even after the AA crippling, I refused to die (as it should be) and in the end it took an AJ to come from behind to knock me out holding AQ. The difference in this game, was timing. I choose the 2 or 3 spots that I ran scary bluffs very well, and got away with the ones I needed to get away with. Sometimes you can put you opponent on a hand. Good for you. I really want to get better at that part of the game more than any other. But I am a savant at situational awareness, understanding how a bet size in relation to the table and your stack tells a story, as does your timing and other ancillary information.

Ok, having patted myself on the back, here is the silliest blunder ever. I am concentrating so hard, I completely flam-boozle myself. I raise with QcJc and guy on my right calls. The flop is AcKcXc, so I flop the nuts. wow. I bet and then watch him carefully as he thinks. I am starting at his hands and thinking about his decision time. Its longer than I expect and what does this mean? Probably if he calls, I can make a value bet on the turn, but how much. He folds. Ok. I am in the 9 seat and move my cards towards the dealer and go to rake the pot. The dealer stops me and I look over to the left and a player had RAISED me after I bet on the flop! I did not know we were even 3 handed! (I hate the 9 hole). So I take my cards back and he protests that they were mucked. Now they had not touched other cards in the muck, nor had the dealer touched them, so I felt I was good in picking them up. We saw FAR WORSE in the WSOP last year. Director agreed and I call.
But something happens in my brain and I BLANK OUT for a moment. He bets and I call and sit there waiting for the last street. Then I look again and there is a full board out there! He turns over 44 for a bluff and I turn over the nuts! No raise (penalty in the WSOP) and no explanation to give. Players tell me when I turned over the QJ, my face was so sullen that assumed I had lost. But then why would I call with Q high? More hilarity ensued, well after I racked the pot. How I got so lost is unknown, but later because I mishear a "call", I'll slow roll someone with KK. He had actually shoved and I had not looked at my cards yet. So I had to look (but everyone assumed I already had looked). Thus, the perceived slow-roll. More fun.

In the end, I finished 4th and even then it took AQ making the dreaded counterfit 2 pair with Ace kicker on my 44 to knock me out.

I am going to take some time to reflect on why I was so in the zone this week and concentrate on that in all upcoming events. Including a 90 field $200NL MTT next weekend.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

What has happened to poker?

Its really a shame to watch the interest in poker wane, but I see it everywhere but in Vegas. And even there, how much of the recent excitement is around the new online rooms and the poor players giving free money to the decent grinders?

I started the WSOP DVR shows and I still subscribe to the relevant podcasts, but my play has disintegrated over the last few months with a dismal showing in my recent two efforts.

If I were to introspectively venture a guess, I would say its related to not pulling the rip cord in a live game because I feel like I need to accumulate chips. So I value bet on a turn and the river (both just called) and get Top Pair 3rd kicker beat by top pair second kicker. Just not tournament level poker from me. In the past, I would work through the issues online. but now, I suffer in silence.

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

catching up

Continuing to work on Level 3 of my game. I feel more out of place at the low stakes cash tables now, and dropped a bullet in Omaha last Wednesday.

This past weekend was the first league night of the season and it started out with a bang. Lots of players dropped early, and I doubled up when I got JJ in vs. QQ and AT. EP all-in short stack, MP all-in from a stack about 60% of my size. I push with JJ to shut anyone else out. Marginal play, but I did not expect to see QQ based on what I knew.

With maybe 16 left, I find myself grinding. but with 12 left, I find myself with 2 giant stacks on my left and no cards. I would try to open pots with KJs or A8 and just get 3 bet smacked in the face. One hand I had like KJ and the flop is 9 high. I am pretty sure he has A-high. Shove? well, now consider its 10% of his stack to call me shove and he puts me on air. Still shoving? Tough spots I just could not avoid. Finished 10th.

Better run next month.