2011 Seattle Trip Diary

Day 1: Today started pretty rough, but got better as it went on. I went to sleep about 2:00 AM and had to be back up at 4:00 AM. My plane left Gainesville at 5:20 AM and I arrived in Seattle at 9:30 AM local time. The Muckleshoot Casino, where we’re playing three tournaments this weekend, is pretty close to the airport, so Luckbox Larry and I swung by to register for Friday’s $300 tournament (we heard it was likely to sell out). Wow, that sentence was awful. So, once that was out of the way, we headed up to Seattle so I could get settled.

Once I dropped off my stuff at Luckbox Larry’s place, I met Jimmy Trent for lunch at the Green Lake Bar & Grill. It was good to catch up on Jimmy’s life since he and his family relocated from Gainesville to Seattle. After lunch, we met up with the rest of his clan at Seattle’s version of Mochï (I can’t remember what it’s called).

On my way back to Luckbox Larry’s place, I stopped off at Herkimer Coffee (recommended by Jimmy) to pick up a couple lattes (one for me and one for Luckbox’s wifey). I figure I’m basically in the coffee capital of America (the world?), so I might as well sample the goods while I’m in town, right?

By then, my head was more or less spinning because I hadn’t had much sleep. The entire afternoon is pretty hazy, actually. I did some work on the super-long post about the big hand between Vanessa and David and then managed to get a nap on the “Futon Bed”, which is the odd combination of a futon with a giant full-size mattress on top of it. It sleeps normal-er than it sounds, so I was out for an hour or so.

Next up, we all headed off to a Team Huge (Luckbox Larry’s poker-playing crew who often visits Vegas for the 4th of July festivities) dinner party, where we had some chicken stuff, some bread, salad and corn. (Did I mention my memory gets a little fuzzy from the afternoon through the rest of the day?) Then we played a quick little poker tournament (I busted first), and finally left to head back to Luckbox’s place around 11:00 PM. By now, I’d more or less been awake for 24 hours except for a nap on the plane and another nap on the Futon Bed. I guess we drove back home and I went to sleep or something.

Day 2: I originally scheduled this to be an off day so that I could adjust to the new timezone and see a bit of Seattle. That’s more or less how the day turned out. I managed to sleep till about 8:00 AM. I considered this a coup since I was afraid my body would be stuck on East Coast time. I wandered out to find a coffee shop and landed at Lighthouse Roasters. They didn’t have WiFi, but that’s no biggie since I have MyWi on my iPhone. I spent a few hours there (more editing on the Vanessa v. David piece) and then headed back up to Luckbox’s place.

I spent a few more hours getting some work done (including some work for the next phase for this site) and then we went and got takeout at Paseo, which is a kind of Cuban-Caribbean fusion and Freemont institution. In a word: superdelicious. I had the Cuban Roast sandwich and it basically blew my socks off. Then I took a nap.

For the evening festivities, Luckbox and I decided to go play a tune-up $130 tourney at the Tulalip Casino, where they HATE, HATE, HATE bags. All bags. Do not bring a bag to our casino! Uh, so neither of us cashed in that tournament and then we left WITH OUR BAGS. Hopefully my 0/2 start isn’t a harbinger of things to come this weekend.

On the way back to the abode, we stopped in for dinner (?) at Molly Moon’s. I got a 2-scoop waffle cone with Salted Caramel and Maple Walnut. It was incredible, and quite a bit more than I was prepared to eat since Luckbox’s wife was supposed to help out, but ended up bailing because she wanted to sleep instead of eating ice cream at midnight or whatever.

Then I did some reading and went to sleep.

Day 3: We had to be up pretty early today because the $300 tourney started at 10:00 AM and we were about 45 minutes away. We dropped off Alfie and then drove down to the Muckleshoot (with a Starbucks stop on the way). We walked in just as the tournament was getting under way and it was more or less like playing poker in an igloo. I felt I played pretty well, but just ran kind of bad. I took a couple nasty beats (for example, one gentleman check-called my bet with KhQh on a J52 flop and then hit runner-runner hearts to make a flush on the river) and just had trouble getting traction. My final hand, I moved in with JJ to isolate against a late-position short-stack who had already moved all-in. Of course, another dude called my all-in with AK and he hit an ace on the flop. To add insult to injury the short stack also turned a set of sevens (although it didn’t matter for me). So, my streak of sucking at coinlfips continues and I was out somewhere around 175 of 250.

I headed over to Starbucks to kill time and ended up spending about seven hours there. I got some work done, caught up on Big Brother (yeah, I watch that show, Big whoop, wannafightaboutit?), did some reading, and wrote up this here diary.

Once Luckbox Larry busted from the tournament (narrowly missing the final table), we headed back into Seattle to meet his wife and another friend for dinner. We went to May, I great Thai place that was even greater thanks to a Restaurant.com coupon. Dinner wrapped up pretty late, so we promptly headed back to the house and called it a night.

Day 4: Today was the $500 tournament at the Muckleshoot. I’ve been running pretty badly since before I went to Vegas earlier this summer, and I was hoping my luck would finally change today. As it turned out, I was in for more of the same. I ran into a few sets (once with top pair, top kicker in a spot where I could have played for stacks but managed to lose the minimum) and ended up busting on another coinflip (QQ < AK). I think I went out with about 100 left and we started with 230 or so. This coin flip thing is getting kind of ridiculous: I'm pretty sure I've busted in about half of the last 10 tournaments on a coinflip where I was ahead and where I was the one who moved all-in. I keep getting called by overcards and they keep hitting. This isn’t a situation where I’m all-in every other hand. I’m usually all-in and called maybe two or three times per tournament. Today, I was all-in once (the hand I busted). Yesterday, I think I was all-in once (when I busted with JJ < AK) or maybe twice (I don’t remember for sure). In the WSOP Main Event, I was all-in and called twice (once when I actually won a coinflip with 99 > AQ, then on my bust-out hand with AA < KK). I'm just not all-in very often, so to be constantly busting on coin flips (especially where I'm ahead every time) is just really bad luck. Anyway, I feel that I'm playing good poker, and I'm just not getting any breaks. Tomorrow is the $1k main event, so hopefully things will turn around then. The good news is that my bad run isn't affecting my play as far as I can tell. If I keep playing good poker, I should eventually have a nice score. This afternoon I watched the Gator game online, then we went to dinner at Ray’s Cafe. We sat out on the deck, which overlooks Puget Sound. I’m not really one to talk about sunsets, but we got to see a pretty spectacular sunset:

Afterwards, we all went back to the Huge Mansion and sat around talking for a while. I got a salted caramel milkshake from Molly Moon’s and Luckbox made some kind of crazy drink concoction thing complete with rosemary and a bunch of berries–it was pretty darn good.

Time to sleep. I’m going to keep playing good poker, and hopefully I’ll have a nice score in the $1k tomorrow.

Day 5: Today was the $1k Main Event at the Muckleshoot. We were expecting a smallish field, but ended up getting about 155 entrants. This tournament turned out to be a great deal because the casino added $25k to the prize pool. That worked out to $165 or so for each player, which means we essentially played rake-free and had an overlay. Pretty good deal.

WARNING: Things are about to get poker-y here. If you don’t care about poker stuff, scroll down to where you see “BACK TO OUR REGULAR PROGRAMMING”.

The field also turned out to be a little softer than we expected. It wasn’t a crazy donkfest or anything, but there weren’t too many good, experienced players to be seen. My table was a good table (pretty soft) as I saw some players playing really big pots with relatively weak hands like top pair or even second pair. I figured if I could just catch some hands, I’d have not trouble chipping up.

Well, I did catch some hands and they were either second best or got outdrawn on the river. I had a couple funky AJ hands where I was in the blinds against a middle- or late-positionr raiser. Once, I flopped second pair (KJx board) and check-called to the river. The other guy had something like 96s and rivered trip sixes. So, my play was good – I had him betting at me as a big underdog – he just happened to get there. Another time, I flopped top pair, top kicker and check-called a bet on the flop. A king hit the turn, I checked, the guy made a very big bet and I folded. This seems a little tight, but he had already seen me pay off a few times in other hands in similar spots, AND I suspected his big bet meant business. I saw him say something to the guy next to him, and I’m pretty sure the king improved his hand. I also flopped several big draws that didn’t get there. I flopped a gutshot straight flush draw (I had AdTd on a KdQd9x board) and just called bets on the flop and turn because my opponent had raised UTG and was likely very strong. Of course I didn’t improve and had to fold to his bet on the river.

In another hand, that same dude check-called my flop bet when he had Ah8h on a Th9s2s board. I had 8s2s and had flopped a flush draw and he had flopped… ace high. Anyway, he check-called my flop bet with nothing, then he led the turn when another heart hit. I called because I had a gutshot straight draw and a flush draw. My plan was to bet the river if I missed and he checked to me. Then a heart hit the river and he led out again, so I folded and he turned over his flush. What he was doing on the flop, I don’t know. So anyway, that’s how my day was going.

I went into the first break with about 13,000 chips. This was kind of short because we started with 20,000. Obviously, I was short because I’d just been slowly losing chips in the pots I described above. The first level after the break, we would have our first ante level, and I planned to step up my aggression to start chipping up. I had seen some good spots to 3-bet light (or squeeze) and I was going to exploit the next spot I saw. The second hand after the break, I had the button and the player to my right raised to 500 (the blinds were 100/200 with a 25 ante). I 3-bet him to 1,500, the SB cold-called the raise and the original raiser also called. First of all, I should say this was my first 3-bet all day, and my image was pretty tight by this level. So, it’s a little unlucky that both of those players called this 3-bet. The flop was JcJs9c and both players checked to me. I c-bet 2,400 and both players called. The turn was a Ks, the SB checked, the guy to my right bet 11,000, I folded and the SB check-raised all-in. The SB had KK (he turned kings full) and the guy to my right had QcTc (he turned a straight plus a straight flush redraw against the other guy’s full house). The kings full held up. I like my 3-bet (it was a good time to try it), but my c-bet was a mistake: The SB was a tight player and his cold-call pre-flop should have been a red flag for me. After the hand, I knew I’d screwed up with the c-bet because the SB’s range is really small when he cold-calls my 3-bet pre-flop. I had thought maybe he cold-called with something like AK or AQs, thinking he didn’t want to 4-bet, but he also didn’t want to fold. The guy to my right could have had a pretty wide range because he was getting such good pot-odds to call my 3-bet (he had to call 1,000 to win 4,000), and a lot of his range is stuff like AK/AQ/KQ and medium pairs. So I c-bet because I thought there was a good chance they both had either big cards or medium pairs that missed the flop. But, in hindsight, the SB was obviously stronger than that here. It’s a small mistake, but it cost me 2,400 chips and I don’t like that. Also, I know it’s bugging you that I haven’t mentioned my hand – that’s because my hand didn’t matter since I had planned to 3-bet light. But if you must know, I had 8d3d (it was soooooted!).

Ok, so we fast forward two hands. I start the hand with about 8,500. The guy two seats to my right open limps (he’s done this before and I’ve raised his limp before), and I raise it to 700 (blinds still at 100/200/25) with AKo. It folds back to him and he calls. The flop is AT5, he checks, I bet 1,000 and he calls. The turn is a king, so I’ve got top two pair. He checks. There’s about 4,000 in the pot and I have about 6,500 left, so I decide to just move all-in both to protect my hand (there was a flush draw out, and possible funky straight draws) and for value (he might have a weaker ace or funky two pair, and I don’t want him getting scared off if he does have one of those hands and another big card hits the river putting a four-card straight on the board). He thinks for a while and then calls with AJo. So he needs one of four queens to knock me out, and I’m a 92% favorite to double up. If you’ve ever met me, you know that a queen hit the turn and I was out.

So, I played three tournaments at the Muckleshoot ($300, $500 and $1,000). I was all-in and called three times: JJ < AK; QQ < AK; AK < AJ on a AKT5 board. Or, in numbers: 55% favorite; 55% favorite; 92% favorite. I lost all three all-ins. It’s important to note that in all three cases, I was the one who moved all-in and my bet or raise was big enough that my opponent could legitimately fold. Yesterday, I mentioned there may have been another all-in, but I can’t remember it. You may recall that I busted from the WSOP ME with AA < KK (80% favorite) a few tournaments ago, and before that I min-cashed and had three final table bubbles at the Wynn. So I’m on a little bit of a cold streak right now.


After the pokerz, we headed back into Seattle and took a detour so I could finally meet The Freemont Troll. I’d been hearing about this guy since I arrived in Seattle, so it was nice to finally put the name with a face:

Yeah, that’s a VW Bug he’s crushing with his hand. A real VW Bug.

Then, Luckbox Larry and I stopped off at Theo Chocolate to get his wife a birthday present (she was kind enough to let him play the $1k main event on her birthday). Can I just say that Theo Chocolate is an amazing place where they literally just have piles of chocolate sitting around, waiting to be eaten for FREE?! It was a good thing that Luckbox Larry already basically knew what he was getting because I could’ve put away three or four pounds of chocolate with no problem if we’d stuck around long enough. It was awesome. Here’s a pic of a couple of their caramel selections:

Uh, so anyway, then we headed back to the palace and I took a nap while they went for a stroll to the market.

Some time in the evening, we all headed over to Dan (AKA, Fat Yeti of Fat Yeti Photography) and Maya’s place for a birthday dinner for Rachel (Luckbox Larry’s heretofore unnamed wife). I’d say the two highlights were the salmon that Dan cooked on his Big Green Egg (see below) and the S’mores Cake that Maya made (I’m kicking myself that I didn’t get a picture of it).

After dinner and dessert, we all went to Dan’s studio so he could show us some pretty awesome pics of him and some friends shooting giant guns. While we were browsing the gun pics, I scanned the walls and noticed some random-looking pics of people wearing a chicken head mask, but otherwise looking pretty normal. I asked Dan what was up with the mask and he said something like, “Yeah, we like to take pics of people wearing the chicken head. Do you want to take a pic wearing the chicken head?”

“Sure I do.”

That’s just one of two that we did. I’ll post the other one in its own blog post because it’s JUST THAT AWESOME.

Day 6: Today was pretty laid-back since we didn’t have any poker to play. I spent the morning over at Caffe Vita doing some writing and reading. I started “The Big Short” last week, and I’m starting to get into that.

We went for pho for lunch, but I didn’t catch the name of the place. It was good pho. Afterward, we went for gelato at another place whose name I didn’t catch. I had white chocolate and orange (one flavor) gelato and it was really good.

Then we ran some errands on foot, and ended up cruising around for about an hour, going store to store to get stuff done. It turned out to be a pretty good workout, so hopefully I burned off some of the calories I ate for lunch.

For dinner, we went for burgers at Uneeda Burger, and it was really good. We took Alfie with us, and he was just relaxing on the deck while we ate… until Bentley the local cat came along and started making trouble. Eventually, we ran Bentley off and Alfie stood his ground next time Bentley came around.

We just spent the rest of the evening chatting and I finished up re-packing my stuff for the second leg of my trip. I’m off to Vancouver at 7:40 AM!

Good weekend of poker

I had a pretty good weekend at the poker tables. Nothing incredible, but I had decent results.

I played a total of 12 tournaments–11 online and one live. I cashed in four of them and made one final table (the live tourney was a one-table tournament, so no final table points for that one). My online ROI was 140% and my live ROI was 243% for a total weekend ROI of 171%. It was nice to have a good weekend online since it had been over three weeks since I cashed in any tournaments.

All in all, I played very well this weekend and I think the results don’t reflect my performance. I made some very good plays and those plays allowed me to accumulate chips to weather some pretty bad beats. My instincts were good and I played solid, patient poker. I’m also playing very well on the bubble, and not playing to eke into the money (I busted 245 in one tournament where 243 paid when I made a good situational play and just got unlucky; I could’ve easily folded into the money).

In 12 tournaments, I lost 10 all-ins where I was at least a 75% favorite when the money went in. That’s just a rough run of luck and I was pretty fortunate to survive as many times as I did.

This was a pretty interesting hand from one of my online tournaments: We were down to 245 (of 1405) players and 243 spots paid. I had about 5K chips and the blinds were at 200/400-25 (or something like that). It was folded around to two off the button who raised it to 1200 and the CO smooth-called. Both players had stacks about like mine, but maybe a little bit deeper. Since we were on the bubble, and it was folded around to the hijack, he could have a very wide range of hands. Even a tight player will be raising a reasonable range of hands there (I’d say at least ATs+, KJ+, 77+) and a good player will be raising with a lot more hands. The smooth-call by the button smelled like AK to me, but there are a few lesser hands he could have (AQ, KQs, maybe a medium pair). It’s easy to restrict his range so much because of his stack-size. If he had a really big hand (JJ+) he would almost have to re-raise given the stack-sizes and the fact that there are still three players to act behind him. If he had a mediocre hand (AT, AJ, 55, KT, QJ), he’d almost have to fold for the same reasons. I had 99 on the button and moved in. The blinds folded, the original raiser moved in (uh oh) and the CO called (double uh oh). The original raiser had JJ and CO had AK. JJ held up and I was out.

I was pretty upset with my play after this hand but, the more I think it, the more I think it was the right play. Hijack’s JJ was a much better hand than he needed to raise there, and my read that the CO had AK was accurate. Most of the time, my all-in will isolate me against the CO getting 7-to-5 on my money as a 55% favorite.

I think the AK really misplayed his hand here. He ended up calling off his whole stack with AK, sandwiched between a raiser and a re-raiser. AK is a good hand, but it’s the kind of hand that I want to make the last move with. If he’s going to play AK in that spot (and he should), then he needs to move in to isolate against the initial raiser. If I had folded, the SB would’ve been getting about 3.4-to-1 to call. If the SB had folded, the BB would’ve been getting about 4.25-to-1 to call. Those are tempting odds for the blinds to call and get lucky. The bottom line is that he should be playing this hand for all his chips (his M is only about 8 before the hand starts) and AK is a hand best played heads-up.

EDIT: I played again tonight (Monday) and had a pretty decent night. I played three tourneys and made one final table (took third). Of course, I busted from one tourney when I got the money in as better than a 70% favorite, but that seems to be standard. My overall ROI for the night was almost exactly 100%.

Break-out night

A few months ago, I decided to start playing tourneys with smaller fields and low buy-ins to lower my variance. One of the best options out there are the PokerStars $4 + .40 180-person SNGs. They’re good because they’re cheap, limited to 180 people and they run all the time. I decided to start playing two at a time to keep from getting bored.

Well, it wasn’t long before I took 3rd place in one. Then I got stupid and took some shots at bigger tournaments and re-depleted my bankroll (I’m apparently not a very fast learner). So, last week as my bankroll neared “rock bottom”, I started buckling down and playing the small tourneys and multi-tabling SNGs again. I played 10 or 15 1-table SNGs, then I played a 1500-person, $10 tournament and cashed. Then I took a couple days off. Then last night, I played two $4.40 180-person SNGs on Stars.

About 45 minutes into the tournaments, I was doing really well. I’d gotten up to around 9K chips in one and about 4300 chips in the other (we started with 1500 chips). I was making moves, winning big pots, getting out of the way when I didn’t have the best of it, and generally playing great poker. I sent my friend the following e-mail:

“I don’t know if you’re around, but if you are and you’re bored, you may want to tune in. I’m in a serious zone right now…”

I could just tell it was going to be my night. A little more than four hours later, both tournaments had ended and my results were as follows:

You finished in 2nd place and $144 has been credited to your PokerStars account:

351 hands played and saw flop:
– 23 times out of 66 while in small blind (34%)
– 20 times out of 63 while in big blind (31%)
– 44 times out of 222 in other positions (19%)
– a total of 87 times out of 351 (24%)
Pots won at showdown – 16 out of 30 (53%)
Pots won without showdown – 79

You finished in 2nd place and $144 has been credited to your PokerStars account:

288 hands played and saw flop:
– 15 times out of 49 while in small blind (30%)
– 19 times out of 49 while in big blind (38%)
– 25 times out of 190 in other positions (13%)
– a total of 59 times out of 288 (20%)
Pots won at showdown – 15 out of 19 (78%)
Pots won without showdown – 48

No, that’s not a whole lot of money, but it is a huge ROI and that’s all I was really concerned about. I turned $8.80 into over $280 in four hours. More importantly, I played very, very good poker. I think the most important part of the tournament was when we were on the bubble. When there were about 45 people left (18 spots paid), I noticed that people were tightening up. I decided it was time to start raising and continuing to build my chip stack. Sure enough, when we made the money, I was chip leader in one tournament and 2nd in chips in the other.

In general, I was card dead at both final tables. On one table, I never had a pair and I had AK one time. On the other, I had a few big hands, but most of them were outdrawn (QQ lost to AJ, JJ lost to AJ, AK lost to K9, etc.). In spite of my crummy cards, I played good poker and made it down to heads-up in both tournaments. I played well heads-up (I felt I had a pretty good edge in both matches), but the blinds were so high that we were basically just gambling to see who won. In one match, my opponent started with a 2-to-1 chip lead and I managed to close the gap a bit although I never had any cards. I ended up busting with two over-cards and a gutshot straight draw when I semi-bluff check-raised all-in and ran into his top-pair, top-kicker (it was an 8-high board). After the tournament ended, I re-read the hand history to see if I could’ve done anything differently. The eventual winner had KK three times at the final table (that he showed) and AK a few times also (again, that he showed). He was simply catching cards and I really don’t think there was much I could have done better. In the other match, we were both very short-stacked and we got all the chips in with my AJ vs. his 77. I made trip Jacks, but he made Sevens full.

I think this was a break-out night for me. For more than four hours, I felt like I was completely in control of both tournaments. I was playing my cards well, but I was playing my opponents better. I was able to make good reads and had the courage to follow through with them in several key situations. I was raising without fear on the bubble, but also exercising good judgment when someone played back at me (which didn’t happen often). I made very good mathematical decisions and pulled the trigger on some difficult but timely bluffs.

I think a big contributor to my ability to control the tournaments was my new strategy of making 2.5 BB my standard opening raise. Ultimately, I was able to open more pots than usual, control the pot-size better and, most importantly, manipulate my opponents with minimal risk. The 2.5 BB raise seemed most effective on the bubble, where people aren’t as concerned with bet-size as they are with surviving.

I have a live $55 tournament tonight and I’m feeling very confident that I’ll do well. I’m playing to win, and I’m confident I can.


$60 tourney re-cap

This tourney actually happened on April 15 and I just never got around to posting the re-cap because I’m lazy.

I finally made the money… sort of. We played for about six hours before I busted, so this is going to be long, but might be more vague because I’ll skip over large clumps of hands because they weren’t very interesting.. We started with 15K chips and blinds of 25/50 with 30-minute levels. The structure was basically really slow early and ramped up very quickly near the end. Also, we started off with 12 people (seven people cancelled), so we were 6-handed on two tables. Six-handed with deep stacks is pretty unusual, but it gave me some really good opportunities to get reliable reads on my opponents.

I can skip a lot of the early hands because the ones I played for in very small pots and I was doing a lot of ducking and dodging. I wasn’t so interested in winning pots as I was figuring out my opponents. I did some unorthodox things specifically to see how my opponents would react. The first time it was folded to me in the SB, I limped to see how the BB would respond. He raised and I threw m J3o away. Next time it was folded to me in the SB, I raised and the BB folded. Now I knew he probably wasn’t going to let me limp in behind him (without protection), but I could raise and take it from time to time.

I’d played with the guy two to my left before and I was glad he was on my left. He’s the type of player who’s annoying to have in late position when you’re in the blinds. He does a lot of min-raising with weak cards. But, he doesn’t like to enter pots unless he’s the first one in. He will very rarely come in behind a raiser. This was good for me because I didn’t have to worry too much about him coming back over the top without a really big hand. Three to my left was very aggressive and was constantly over-betting pots. He would sometimes check-raise for twice the pot and I knew he was overvaluing pairs and such. Early on, I decided he was a guy I wanted to get big hand against. Four to my left was basically just a rock. He only played with great cards and he always played them for a raise. Immediately to my right was a guy I’d played with several times and he’s also very, very tight. I think he also might give me a little more credit than he should because we played a big pot in a cash game last week and I got him to put all his money in the pot as an 88% underdog… he hit a 3-outter on the river to win it, but he didn’t forget that pot. He even apologized when I first saw him today.

So, those are the reads, now on to the hands. Blinds are 50/100, I’m second to act and I limp with 77. The aggressive guy three to my left min-raises to 200. Everyone else folds and I call. I put him on a big hand. He’s been overbetting a lot and I suspected he didn’t have much when he overbet (he hadn’t shown cards, but I had a hunch). His min-raise felt like a “tricky” play to me, so I was wary that he might have a monster. The flop came down 78x with two spades. Basically, I know he’s not going away on the flop and we’ll be doing some betting on the turn. I decided to start trying to build a pot to justify some big bets on later streets. I also thought if I bet right out, he might make one of his huge overbets (although since I put him on a big hand, I suspected he might continue to play it tricky). I bet out 100, he raised to 200, I re-raised to 700, he called. This was the perfect result for me. I knew he had a big hand and I had already managed to build the pot to around 2000 chips and he still has to make it through two more streets. The turn was an 8, pairing the board and giving me sevens full. This is good news and bad news. It’s good because I’ve got a mortal lock on the hand, it’s bad because that could be an action killer for me. He might put me on top pair and slow down because he thinks I made trips. I decided to throw him some rope with a check. He bet 1000, I raised to 2500, he called. The river was a T, which I considered a great card. By now, I’ve got him on a big pair, AA-QQ, and that card couldn’t have helped. I decided to go for a small value bet hoping to get paid off, or maybe he’d try to blow me off the hand with a big all-in or something. He just called and showed AA. In retrospect, I probably could’ve gotten at least 1000 more chips out of him on the river, but I was happy with the result. In fact, I think if I’d played the hand differently, I could’ve made a lot more money, but I guess that’s just something I need to work on. I don’t get big hands that often (this was my first full house in my last eight live tourneys or something like that).

A bit later, I got 22 on the button. Everyone folded to me and I limped. I didn’t feel there was much danger that the blinds would raise and I had position if they did. The SB completed, the BB checked and the flop came down 447. I considered that a good flop and was planning on betting or raising. The SB checked, the BB made a little bet that I felt was weak, I tripled his bet and both blinds quickly folded.

Everyone folded to me in the SB and I thought I might try to steal the BB. I looked down at J5o and, out of the corner of my eye, I saw the BB do something he hadn’t done yet. I won’t go into it, but I felt it was a reliable tell that he had a big hand. I decided to abort the steal attempt and fold. He immediately let out a “shoot! I had good cards that time!” groan and raked in my small blind.

This was sort of a theme today. I had reliable tells on a few of my opponents and I felt I exploited them well. There were several pots that I won because of weakness tells and I was able to avoid throwing away chips because of some strength tells. I caught the “glance at your chips” tell a couple times, and I was able to use that tell both to get out of the way against strong hands and to steal pots with weak hands. There were a few guys who would check their hole cards before it was their turn to act (usually when they were in the blinds) and they would virtually announce when they had weak hands.

I basically just maintained my 25K stack until we combined for the “final table” (quotes because we started with 12, so making the final table didn’t actually mean anything). First big hand I played at the final table was an interesting one. A short-stack (the ultra-tight guy from my previous table) moved in when I was in the BB. At the time, the blinds were 300/600 and short-stack’s all-in was only 800 total. A big stack called, another player called, the SB folded and I looked down to see QTs. There’s no way I fold here because it only costs me 200 to call. But, I took a look around and realized there were 3300 chips out there and nobody seemed to want them too badly. So, I bumped it up to 4000 total. Everyone folded, I pulled back my raise (less the 200 to call the all-in) and he showed AKo. He flopped and Ace, but I made a flush on the river to knock him out. There were still nine or 10 people left, so we weren’t on the bubble and I liked getting 16:1 on my money, heads-up. An interesting side note is that I’m not sure I should’ve been allowed to raise in that situation. Short-stack’s raise wasn’t actually a full, legitimate raise and I’m not sure the betting should’ve been re-opened. I wasn’t angle-shooting, but I think I got away with one there.

Even at the final table, I didn’t play much after the flop. Most of my chips came from “raising the limpers” pre-flop and the occasional continuation bet in position. There was a big stack who I’d played before. He would constantly limp with weak hands and would fold to a raise. Last time we played, he was directly to my left, so even though I noticed his tendencies, it was tough to take his chips. This time, I had position and made the best of it. He would also get tied onto hands like top pair with a weak kicker. He basically replaced the overbetter from my previous table as the “guy whose chips I’m after”. Here are a few of the interesting hands where we at least saw a flop:

First hand involves the big-stack constant limper. The blinds were 700/1400, and everyone folded to the big stack who raised it to 3000 (basically a min-raise) when I was in the BB. He was three to my right at this point, so he was raising from the Cut-off. His min-raise told me he had a big hand and wanted action. Everyone folded to me and I looked down at 57s. This is the perfect hand to play against a guy who will overvalue single-pair hands after the flop. I called and we took a flop. The flop came down 689 w/ two clubs. Fireworks started going off in my head and I decided to slowplay. The blinds were creeping up and I figured it was worth the risk of him catching up to maybe double up and have a shot at winning. Also, the only hand I was really scared of was AK of clubs and I figured he would’ve raised more with that hand. I basically figured he was drawing dead, or close to it. I checked, he made a smallish bet and I called. The turn was a Nine, pairing the board, but not really scaring me, and I check-raised him for about half my chips. He thought for a while and called. The river was a Ten and I moved in for the rest of my chips. He thought for a while and called. “Straight”, I said, and he showed me AA as I raked in the pot. Second time I cracked Aces in the same tournament, and both times the guy with Aces basically min-raised before the flop.

This hand put me in the chip lead and I felt I had a good shot at winning. I had about 45K chips and I was playing great poker. What I didn’t anticipate was that the blinds would start going crazy. The next four levels were 1000/2000, 1500/3000, 2000/4000, 3000/6000. At the 1000/2000 level, I misplayed back-to-back hands and cost myself a bunch of chips. Here’s how they went:

The first hand, I was UTG with TT. I made a standard raise to 6000 and everyone folded to the BB, who looked at his cards, agonized for a minute, then announced he was raising all-in. His raise was about 26K more on top of my 6000, so I was looking at calling 26K to win 39K, exactly 1.5:1. I put his range of hands on JJ or AK and tried hard to stretch the range, but I just couldn’t. He sees me as a very tight, solid player and I knew he wouldn’t make a move like that with junk after I raised UTG. I knew he probably wouldn’t make that big a re-raise with AA or KK because I wouldn’t give him action. I also didn’t think he’d go all-in with QQ, but I guess that was a possibility. The odds of him having TT were terrible and I didn’t think he’d make an all-in move with 99 against my likely range of hands. I knew I needed 40% equity to make the call and I wasn’t sure what the numbers were, but I knew it was close. It turns out I was 45% to win (against a range of AK or JJ), so even if I didn’t give him any credit for a bluff, I should’ve made the call. He showed AK, the dealer ran the cards for kicks and I would’ve won. If I won that pot, I would’ve had 65K chips and there were only 180K chips in play. I think there would’ve been five people left and I would’ve had about 35% of the chips. I would’ve run over the table. This is the second consecutive live tourney where I’ve laid down a medium pocket pair to an all-in raise from a player holding AK. I’ve got to stop doing that, or I won’t be winning any tournaments any time soon. This hand cost me the tournament, plain and simple.

Next hand, I was in the BB and I picked up KK. The table just had a big discussion about the previous hand where I said, “I didn’t think he’d move all-in with AA, KK or QQ. I figured him for AK or JJ there.” The player UTG+1 made a min-raise and everyone folded to me. I had him covered and I decided that, based on our recent discussion, an all-in from me would look weaker than it should. I figured I might get a call with AQ, AK, JJ or something like that. He had about 25K chips left and he folded pretty quickly to my all-in. In retrospect, I was tilting a little from my bad fold on the previous hand. My all-in was a huge overbet that wasn’t getting called by anything but QQ, which would’ve gone to war with me anyway. All I did was chase out hands I had totally dominated and that was stupid. At this point, I was pretty upset with myself for basically blowing a chance to bust two players on consecutive hands. The bad news was we could’ve been 4-handed and I could’ve been sitting on about 80K chips. The good news was I still had about 45K chips and I was playing well other than those two hands.

Unfortunately, I went totally card dead from there on out. There were only two more significant hands and I lost both of them. First, I got A8 in the BB, there was one limper, who was the big stack. I checked because I didn’t have a read on the guy and I didn’t know if he was limping to trap or not. Also, I felt like I could outplay him after the flop. The flop came down 789, so I flopped middle pair, top kicker. I felt like it was good, so I bet out 2000 (about half the pot). He called. The turn was a rag, I bet out 3000 (1/3 the pot) and he called again. River was a K, which was a card I didn’t like at all. I checked, he bet 4500, I thought for a while and folded. He showed me a KT for an open-ended straight draw and two overs. I showed my A8 and he said, “Well, I figured I’d take one off on the flop and fold if you bet big on the turn.” I definitely under-bet the pot on the turn, especially considering I thought I was ahead.

Later, against the same guy, I made a standard raise on a bluff. He called. The flop came down 8-high and he bet out. I put him on a pair, thought for a long time and folded. I didn’t see any reason to make a move because I was confident he had me and would probably call an all-in because of his stack size.

That’s it. I ended up busting in 4th place and getting my money back. It was bitter-sweet because I played very well, but ultimately messed up on two hands that took me out of it. After this tournament, I realized that I needed to take more calculated risks with medium-to-big pairs. This was two tourneys in a row that I’d folded JJ and TT to all-in raisers who held AK. This is a serious leak and I need to make sure I plug it. I have to take a 10% advantage whenever it’s offered to me, especially if it won’t bust me if I lose.


April $50 tourney re-cap

I usually try to write my re-cap within 24 hours of the event, but I just didn’t feel like it on Saturday, and I was pretty busy playing online Sunday (more on that later). This will probably be a pretty long post, although it’ll be shorter than in would’ve if I’d written it Saturday because I’m sure I’ve forgotten a hand or two. Here we go:

After re-reading previous re-caps (that is why I write them, after all), I saw a common theme was that I was “card dead”. While I think that was true, I think I was also probably playing a little weak-tight. Over the past few weeks, I’ve begun rethinking my pre-flop strategy and I basically concluded that I simply wasn’t opening enough pots. This was either because I wasn’t getting cards or because I was playing rocky-tight. I think it was a combination of both. I decided to increase my range for opening hands to include some medium suited connectors and a few other “speculative” hands. My reasons for doing this were three-fold: 1) I simply needed to be in more pots to win more pots. I also needed to make SURE I got action when I picked up a big hand; 2) I feel very comfortable playing with these opponents after the flop, and I needed to give myself more chances to do that; 3) if I hit a hand with one of these “speculative” hands, I’d be sure to get paid off because many of these guys overvalue hands like top-pair and even big overcards.

So, I basically started out raising more pots that I normally would. I was playing in position and even playing well out of position. The first pot I won was from the BB when everyone folded to the button, who limped. I had 92o and the flop came 2Jx rainbow. I bet out about half the pot and the button called. I’ve played with this guy enough to know that he’d raise if he hit top pair, so I immediately put him on a draw of some kind (keeping in mind that a draw could be just two overcards). The next card off was a rag and I bet out again. He called. The river was a Q, which wasn’t a good card for me. I decided to check and see what he wanted to do. He checked behind and showed AKo and my deuces took the pot.

Two hands later, I was on the button with TT. Normally, I’d raise this hand, but there were threee or four limpers and I saw a chance to win a big fat pot if I flopped a set. I called, the SB completed and the BB checked. The flop came 98x rainbow, everyone checked to me and I bet the pot. Everyone folded. No set, but I’ll take it.

I stole the blinds a few times before I made a standard raise from late-middle position with AQo. Only the BB called. I’d played with him before and knew him to play according to his cards in the BB. He would call with decent cards (QJo, JK, KQ, pairs, medium aces) and give up on the flop if he didn’t connect. The flop came down K-high and he checked. I bet half the pot and he called. I immediately decided I was done with the hand unless I hit an Ace. Turn was a blank and we went check, check. River was a blank, he bet out and I folded.

We had started with 4000 chips and I’d worked up to about 4500, mostly by stealing blinds (my best hand so far was my pair of deuces). Blinds are 75/150 (this is the fourth level, but we only play 20-minute levels) and we’d been playing for just over an hour. Everyone folded to a pretty weak player in the CO (I’ve played with him before and he makes a lot of dinky 2x BB raises and does a lot of limping; usually his bet directly correlates to the strength of his hand) who limped. The button folded and the SB called. I was in the BB and looked down at two black Jacks. I popped it up to 600 total. The limper in the CO thought for quite a while before he called, and the SB folded. I immediately put him on a medium pocket pair. The only hand I could see limp/calling with (for this guy) was AK, and I was sure he would’ve raised with it to begin with. I don’t think he would’ve called the raise with hands like KQ, KJ, QJ, or medium suited-connectors (he might’ve limped with them, but I could tell he had a tough decision on whether to call and I felt if he was going to call with these mediocre hands, he would’ve just thrown the chips in quickly). I figured him for TT-66 or 55 (also allowing for a very unlikely AK or KQ). The flop came down K79 with two hearts. I felt that was good and bad. As much as I hated to see it, I didn’t think the K had hit his hand and I was more afraid of the 7 and 9. I put out a continuation bet of 600 (just under half the pot) and he quickly raised it to 1600. I put on a “thinking” act for about 20 seconds and then mucked the JJ face-up. He showed 77 (flopped a set) and took it down). I was ticked, but I played it perfectly and he just got lucky. I was down to 3300 after playing great poker for the first hour.

A few hands later, I made a steal-raise from the CO with 54o. The BB is calling station, but he’ll give up his BB if he has a weak hand. Unfortunately, he called and the flop came down Ace high. Normally, I’d represent the Ace, but he bet right out at me and I knew he had an Ace. I just let it go.

About five hands later, we were about to go on break when I got dealt JJ in early-middle position. UTG folded, UTG+1 called and I raised to 600 (we’re still at the 75/150 level). Everyone folded to UTG+1 who quickly moved in for the rest of his chips, which was about 1300 more. There was about 2700 in the pot and it cost me 1300 to call. I put his range on exactly AK, AA, KK. This guy was a tight player and I’m sure he would’ve raised with QQ. I had a tough decision to make and I took a couple minutes to think about it (this was for about half my remaining stack, thanks to JJ busting me up earlier). This was a pot-odds problem and a tournament equity problem. I was getting about 2:1 pot odds to call with JJ against a hand-range of AA, KK, AK. I didn’t do the exact math, but I knew he was about 60% likely to have AA or KK, which would have me as a 80% underdog. The other 40% of the time, he’d have AK and I’d be a 55% favorite. If I had a lot of chips to work with (say, if I was sitting on 6000 instead of 2500), this would be an easy call. But if I called this and lost (which I would, most of the time–about 66%, I found out later), I’d be crippled: I’d have about 1300 chips left and the blinds were going to 100/200 on the next hand, so I’d have 6.5 BB. If I folded, I’d have about 2600 chips left, or about 13 BB. I decided I’d rather fold and keep out of short-stack range. I also kind of felt it was a little more likely than normal that he tried this with AA or KK than AK. I mucked the JJ face up and he showed AK. The deal (even though we didn’t request it) ran the board and my JJ would’ve been cracked on the river. As it turned out, I was getting almost EXACTLY the pot odds required to call based on the range of hands I gave my opponent. I think this is one of the situations that David Sklansky talks about when he says to avoid very close decisions for a large portion of your chips early in a tournament. In this case, I was getting odds to make a marginal call that would’ve crippled me about 66% of the time (I would’ve been down to 5 BB in the next 4 hands).

From here on out, I didn’t catch any cards for a very long time. I was literally catching T7o, 62o and trash like that for about 15 hands. I did manage to get a walk (everyone folded to my BB) and steal the blinds twice in three consecutive hands, but that did little to stop the bleeding. Finally, with the blinds at 150/300 and with about 2200 chips in front of me, I moved in from early-middle position with QTo. The player to my left immediately called all-in (he had about half the chips I did) and everyone folded to the button called all-in (also for about half my chips). Obviously, I knew I was in bad shape. The player to my left had JJ and the button had QQ, which held up.

I was down to something like 1100 chips and I picked up K9o on the next hand (UTG+1). I moved in, the guy to my left (previously two spots to my left) looked at his cards and practically said, “Oh boy! I have to call!” (I’m not making that up) He called, everyone folded and he showed AKo. The board made a straight and we chopped it.

Next hand, I got AKo UTG and moved in. Mr. “Oh boy!” looked at his cards, thought for a second and said he had to call because, “I’m just getting cards.” Everyone else folded and he turned over QJo (!!). This call was for about half his chips, he was UTG+1 (with about 6 people to act behind him) and he called with QJo. I was pretty shocked. Even if he puts my range at something that QJo might be a favorite against, he still has six people behind him and we’re early in a tournament, so he can’t count on any kind of “cooperation play”. But I digress… The flop brought an Ace and two rags (making me about a 95% favorite to win the hand), the turn brought a Jack and I began shaking my head even though people were congratulating me. The river brought another Jack and I was out 21st of 32 players.

Although I busted earlier than I had in any tournament this year, I felt I had played my best tournament poker in a long time. I made good reads and simply didn’t get lucky.


Vegas: Day 3 report

There’s bad and good to report from today. I’ll get right to it. I played two sessions of $2/$4 Limit Hold ‘Em at Aladdin. I lost 73 bucks in about 4 hours or -4.5 BB/hour. I just seemed to get crap cards and any time I got a good hand, someone drew out on me. Good example: I had AKs, raise before the flop and get 2 callers. Flop comes AKx, giving me top two pair. I bet and one player calls. Next card is a J. I bet, get raised, call. Next card is a blank. I check, he checks. He turns over JJ for a set of Jacks to beat my two pair. Normally, I wouldn’t mind “the best hand winning” if he’d ever shown it was the best hand. More importantly, I was better than 10-to-1 to win the hand after the flop. That was the worst one, but that stuff happened a few times and I got terrible cards (I literally won 5 pots in 4 hours. And I’m not talking big pots with showdown. I’m talking any pot at all.)

Now the good: I played another session of $2/$4 tonight and made $50 bucks in 2.25 hours or +5.55 BB/hour. It’s not a very long session, but I played very well and seemed to be making good decision. My table image was key as they saw me as very tight/very aggressive. Ironically, the hand I remember most was one where I folded. I had AA in early position and raised with 2 callers. The flop is 885. I bet, get raised, then re-raised and I fold. Obviously, I was beat, but I knew I had to be beat by some crappy cards. I was glad my ego didn’t take over and get me married to the hand. I laid it down and eventually saw both other players turn over an 8 (89 and 8J). I was 75% to win the hand before the flop.

So, I lost 73 this morning, won 50 tonight for a 23 dollar loss today. Overall, that puts me at 194 down, overall.

I doubt I’ll gamble any more tomorrow, but if I do, it’ll be something like throwing a 25 dollar chip on the BlackJack table and letting it ride till I either lose it or break even for my trip. That sounds like a fun way to end things.


Vegas: Day 1 report

As far as gambling goes, there isn’t too much to report. I played a $55 NL Hold ‘Em tournament at the Luxor and busted out 8th of 33. Here are the highlights:

  • Short stack moves in immediately to my right, I have QQ and move in for about 3 times what he has. Everyone folds, he turns over AJo and catches JJ (flop and river) to double up.
  • I have AJo in middle position, minimum raise by UTG, I move in, he calls with K7s. Sure enough, he makes a flush on the flop.
  • I move in with K7o and am called by K2o. 2-pair hits the board and we split.
  • I move in with ATo and it holds up against Ax and Q6o.
  • I play the waiting game and finally have to move in with KTo. Next player to act moves in for about triple my stack with KK.

All in all, I feel I played nearly perfectly. I was shocked how obvious some physical tells are when playing live. I’ve been playing online exclusively for several months, so I’ve had to learn more about the mathematics, betting pattern tells and other nuances. I was able to steal with absolutely nothing several times after the flop and that kept me in the game.

The tournament structure was a complete crapshoot. We started with 250 in chips, were allowed a 50-chip add-on immediately for 3 dollars (initial buy-in was 55), so we had 300 chips. Blinds started at 10/15 and moved up every 15 minutes (15/25, 25/50…). Also, we started with 11 people per table, so we didn’t even get around once before the first level of blinds was done.

Anyway, I lost, but I played well so I’m ok with it.

Then I played some 5-dollar blackjack. Ultimately, I broke even. I was up to about double my buy-in of 40 bucks, then dropped to 10 bucks, then doubled-up twice and left even. So I’m down 58 bucks for the day.


Not much happening

I need to start posting more. Anyway, I finally started working out again and, although I’m taking it pretty easy so far, I feel a lot better than I did most of the time I was traveling over Christmas.

I’ll probably be going to L.A. in a couple weeks for some more training for work. In the meantime, I’ll be sending out another round of mailers to agents here in Dallas. Apparently, I didn’t send them to the right group before. I guess this is good because I haven’t heard anything from anyone I sent to in the first round. That’s not entirely true… I got one mailer back because the place I sent it to doesn’t exist anymore.

Yeah, I’m still playing a lot of poker and it’s going really well. I’ve been upping the stakes for the Sit N Gos (SNGs) and playing some Multi-Table Tournaments (MTTs). The SNGs is where I’m makin’ all the cheddar, but I’m steadily improving in the MTTs. I would’ve made the money yesterday if I didn’t bust out to AT with AK (all-in before the flop). I might’ve made the money today if I hadn’t busted out to AT with JJ. Both of those were pretty late in the tournament (yesterday’s was 73/722 or 9 out of the money), so I pretty much had to go with those hands.

Anyway, as soon as I get one of those to hold up (it’s not like they’re big favorites or anything), I should start making the money in the MTTs. Eventually, I hope to win one of those things.

Other than that, I’ve just been watching movies and hangin’ out. I’m still co-writing a short film, but that’s slow goin’. I’m considering taking voice over lessons because I hear it can be pretty lucrative in Dallas. I guess that’s about it.