Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Project Phaser - Phase Zero

I came up with a really bitchin' preparation plan for the 2018 WSOP last weekend. It has phases. Phase 8 is when it all comes together and I crush it at the WSOP. Technically, I haven't even gotten to Phase One yet, but Phase Zero went down Tuesday at Lucky Chances and that's the topic of today's post.

But even before I got to Phase Zero, I did play cash games on Monday at Bay 101 and if you were so inclined, you could call that Phase Negative One. I Love Phase Negative One. Phase Negative One involved me making every draw and generally running hot for 8 hours in a $2/$3/$5, $500 max buy in no limit game, eventually rolling out the door with $2,080 in profit. So any pressure I might have felt about my first in person tournament in a while was fully quelled by Phase Negative One.

Now Pictures! Here is what Lucky Chances looks like and what I looked like just before rolling in there.

I brought my lucky beard with me.

Asian motifs coming out the wazoo!

Pictured here - people playing various games of chance on a Tuesday morning.

This thing will bite off your finger if you don't pay your bookie.

I got there at 9:40 for a 9:30 start tournament and found only two tournament tables going. This was odd in the sense that the tournament had a $210 buy in and guaranteed $4,000 for 1st place.  They'd need some more players or this sucker was going to be winner take all! 

Of that $210, $175 goes to the prize pool, $25 to the house and $10 for "Staff Appreciation." The last $10 is technically optional, but you get 12,000 in chips if you pay it and 10,000 if you don't so it's actually mandatory. I think this is stupid. 

By 9:55 they started a third table which included yours truly. Eventually we got 45 buy ins and 8 re-entries for 53 total entries. If you look on the lower right here you can see the prizes for the top 6 places. 

You can also see that Lucky Chances in their infinite generosity has added $10 to the prize pool to meet the $4,000 1st place guarantee and has noted such on the fucking board. Wow Lucky Chances you guys are REALLY doing us a solid. I'm not great at math, but I can use a calculator to tell you that 53 people putting up $200 (neglecting our deepest $10 appreciation for the staff) is $10,600 and there seems to be $9,285 in the prize pool but that 19 cents per entry that you gave us deserves to be called out above the first place prize. 

On to actual poker and not me just blither blathering! Here is what my sad looking chip stack started out looking like. Green = 25, Blue = 100, Black and White = 500 and Brown and White = 1,000. 12,000 chips to start! Go time!

I played no hands in the first hour. Cancel go time and replace with sit and do nothing time!

The main highlight of this time was listening to the dude to my right who was a small 60ish Asian guy with a huge gap in his teeth. He was telling stories about his youth where I understood every 4th word, and laughing like a hyena every time he won a pot or when anything interesting happened. It was like he was on a cell phone with a really bad connection in terms of what I was getting. But on one hand he got his last 5,000 in the pot with A9, the board ran out 9 high, he beat KQ and the instant the river hit he said a perfectly clear, high pitched, but quiet "Oooooooh, thank you for the double up!" followed by a standing, loud as hell  "HE HE HE HA HA HA HA HA HA HE HE HE HE HA HA HA HA HE HA HE HA HE HA!" I wish I could make this my ring tone.

After the 4th level (they were 20 minute levels) we had a break and I came back to a stack of 9,475 with blinds of 200/400. A fairly wild player raised to 1.050 and I looked down at AA in the big blind. I made it 3,000 to go and he instantly shoved all in. I snap called, he rolled over AK of diamonds and the flop came down 9 7 5 with two diamonds.

At this point I thought "I guess it's good I took some pictures, because sitting here for an hour, playing no hands, and going broke with AA to AK isn't going to make for much of a blog post."

The turn was a K and I was even more sure of my impending doom, but amazingly the river was a black 3 and I was up to 18,350 chips.

After dribbling back some chips, about 45 minutes later in level 7, I got QQ in the small blind with 12,000 in my stack. Under the gun made it 2,500, I shipped it, he called with AJ, the board ran out garbage and I was up to about 25,000 with 28 players left.

I got moved to a new table and with blind of 500/1000 and 1000 in antes (they ran a new school structure where rather than have everyone put up antes, they have the big blind ante - I think this is smart) I made it 2,500 to go in the small blind with QJ off. The big blind called and the came down QQ2. Bingo! My plan was to bet the flop small and hope that he's take one off. Next I'd check the turn to make it look like I was giving up on a bluff and then check raise all in. I bet 2,500 and into the 6,000 pot and he called. So far so good. The turn was a 5, I checked and he checked behind. Ack! The river was a K and I considered betting, but felt like he probably had air and I should give him a chance to try to steal it. I checked again and he fired out 2,500 into the 11,000 pot which looked like either a K or a bluff. I had 13,000 left and decided to make it 8,000 to go hoping to get called by a K. He quickly called and I was good. Later he said he had Q9 so I may have missed some value there, but I'm fine with how I played it.

I had 37K with 20 players left rolling into level 10, and I shoved it all in with AK vs a raise to 4,500 and a call, but they both folded.

My next big hand was the key hand of the tournament. With blinds of 800/1600 and 1600 in antes I called a middle position raise to 4,000 with JT off in the big blind. This is a borderline call, but most tournament players are uncomfortable playing post flop while I am very comfortable with it these days so I'm making it a goal to see flops in close spots. The flop came down 983 rainbow giving me an open ended straight draw and two overs. I checked, my opponent bet 8,000 with about 60,000 behind and it was back to me.

 This was a great semi-bluff spot as I expected him to bet the flop with his entire range, this board hits a big blind calling range harder than a preflop raising range, I had good equity no matter what he had, and I had a good table image. 

I grabbed some chips to make it 22,000 but then realized that would leave me with 14,000 which really wasn't enough for a good push on the turn, so I just shoved all in. My opponent thought for about 5 seconds and made the call with K9 of clubs (there was one club on board). The turn was a Q and the river was a 7. Thank you for the double up. HE HE HA HA HE HA HA HE HA!

The villain in that hand would not shut up about this hand. It started with "I can't believe you called me with jack ten there." Then a couple of hands later the board came out with a J and a T and he said something else. Then 5 minutes later he showed me his phone where he'd checked the odds and showed that he was a 54/46 favorite when the money went in on the flop. 30 minutes later he was still talking about it. And another guy asked me about it later too like he just couldn't understand what I was thinking when I moved all in. To him it was a simple as I did not have a good hand, why would I put it all of my chips? 

Anyway, it put me up to 83K chips and in the chip lead when average was 37K. Here is my stack! OK it doesn't look all that impressive, but I was in first damn it!

A little later I raised Q9 of spades to 6,000 on the button with 1000/2000 blinds and the big blind shoved for 20,000. I was certain to be behind here, but risking 14,000 to win 29,000 I was getting the right price to call. He rolled over A3 off, I hit a Q, and I was up to 112K with 13 players left.

Oooh a pretty pink one on top!

For the next hour I mostly folded. People were playing pretty loose and I was getting no cards so I just waited. 

We quickly moved to the final table and seemed to quickly get to the money bubble as well. Everyone voted to take $400 off of first place to pay 7th. I was in the middle of the pack and opted to not object even though it was not really in my best interest.

I only played 2 hands of any note at the final table. On the first one I made it 11K to go with 2K/4K blinds from the button with KQ of hearts. The villain from the JT hand, who was still out for blood, called in the small blind and the flop came out 964 with one heart. He checked and I checked it back. The turn was a beauty - the T of hearts giving me a gut shot straight and a flush draw. My opponent bet out 20K with 30K behind. I figured he would probably call if I put him all in, but even if he folded one time in five, raising would be much better than calling or folding. I shoved and he quickly folded. Whoop Whoop!

In the second hand of note we were playing 5 handed and I made it 18K to go under the gun with Q9 of hearts with 3K/6K blinds. The big blind who had no clue and was seeing a ton of flops called and then checked in the dark. The flop came down 653, I shoved for about 60K and he quickly folded. 

I stole the blinds a few times made a three bet or two that no one called and before I knew it we were down to 3 players. The other players suggested a chop and I agreed to a chip count based chop. I had 136K and the other players had 72K and 428K and I agreed to take what amounted to about 2nd place money. Specifically I got $2,140 after tipping an additional $10 for my even deeper staff appreciation when the listed places were $1,110 for 3rd, $2,235 for 2nd and $3,600 for 1st. Not bad right? 

This isn't exactly a high drama finish, but I think I can say that I went Phase Negative Zero on those mother fuckers! That's what I call it these days when I make all my draws and win about $2,000. 

In fact this was an amazingly low drama tournament. I was only all in an at risk 3 times - with AA vs AK, with QQ vs AJ and with JT vs K9 on the 983 flop where plan A was really to win by bluffing - and I only busted one player but managed to effectively finish in 2nd. This is highly unusual, but totally optimal as far as the only being at risk when way ahead and really only needing to win one race. 

6 hours of play, $1,930 in profit, time for chicken and beer! HE HA HE HE HA HE HA HE HA!

My $10,000 bankroll for Project Phaser is now at $11,930. Next action is the start of the Battle of the Bay at Lucky Chances on Sunday with a $630 buy in (including even more staff appreciation) event that has a $40,000 first place guarantee.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Preparing for the 2018 World Series of Poker

About a month ago I started looking at the 2018 WSOP schedule. The first time I gave it a 3 minute scan to see how many events and what was new this year. The next time I spent 10 minutes thinking about when I'd want to go and what events I'd want to play if I could make it work. The next 20 times I stared at it endlessly wearing a comatose face while running through every conceivable scenario wistfully dreaming of some way I could make it happen.

Happily between having a great March playing cash games and a larger than average tax refund I feel ready to take my shot once again. I'm going back!

This will be my 8th year at the WSOP. I played at least 3 events every year from 2005-2010, but other than taking 2 shots at the $565 buy in Colossus in 2015 I have not been back since.

I've put together a $10,000 bankroll that includes selling off a piece of my action to the usual friends and family who backed me in the past. I have 3 WSOP events I'm absolutely going to play: $1,500 HORSE on June 6th, $565 PLO on June 8th, and the $1,500 Millionaire Maker on June 9th (I'll fire a second bullet on June 10th in the Millionaire Maker if needed so mentally I kind of have this as 4 separate events).

But I also have a multiphase preparation plan! Don't try to stop me at a single phase! I need more phases than that! One phase preparation plans are for losers!

Phase 0 - Prepare for Preparation

I'm going to play a tournament at Lucky Chances this week! They have a tournament every day at 9:30 am and I figured before I get into Phase 1 I should at least get over there and get reacquainted with how they do shit over there. I haven't been there for 5 years and it's been 8 or 9 years since I played a tournament there. A $200 buy in tournament with a $4,000 first place guarantee on Tuesday is the likely candidate. 

Phase 1 - Battle of the Bay

Lucky Chances is running their annual "Battle of the Bay" from April 21st to the 30th with six main tournaments and some satellites. I'll be playing a $550, two $380's and a $200. If I final table one of those or cash in two I might play the $1,100 main event as well.

Phase 2 - Battle of the Bitcoin

I recently jumped through the hoops to get myself some bitcoin and have been playing a little bit on which I think in the 2nd or 3rd largest online poker site that will take US players. I put $150 on there and have played maybe 30-40 $5-$20 multi-table tournaments with somewhere between 75-200 entrants. I've made 4 final tables and finished in 1st in 3 of those instances which is encouraging. I have about $600 on there now after my small victories, but I also just bought some more bitcoin and put $135 on America's Card Room which seems to have some larger field tournaments.

Playing online is risky these days in the sense that you never know when a site is going to shut down either because they just go out of business, pull the plug for fraudulent reasons or have the government seize their domain so I'm treading lightly. I'm not thinking about this as a source of long term significant profit, but rather a way to get a lot of reps. This is going to be like spending time on the driving range for me. It's also going to give me a chance to work on my PLO and Limit Omaha. Sadly, the stud variants are no where to be found so for the S, R and E in the HORSE I'm just going to have to rely on my past experience.

Phase 3 - Bay 101 Open

Bay 101 has a similar set of tournament to Lucky Chances running May 14-21. There are three $350 NL Hold'em events, a limit Omaha, and a $550 NL Hold'em to go along with the $1,100 2 day main event (that I will probably not play).

Phase 4 - Healthy Living

During the 6 years I hit the WSOP hard I was fat! Not really fat, but certainly overweight. I was 260-270 pounds during that stretch of my life which even at 6'5" is too heavy. I've been in the 215-230 range the past 4 years since I started running half marathons and Spartan Races and happen to be 215 right now. With that said I am far from my peak endurance level and will be putting in some time to make sure I have the energy to play from 11 am until 1 or 2 in the morning. I'm also hoping at 38 I'll have the discipline that I did not have at all at 25 and was limited at 30, to eat right, sleep right and not drink too much while in Vegas for a week.

Phase 5 - Long Sessions

I'm used to being at the Casino for 8-9 hours at a stretch and playing for 7-8. I need to put in a few sessions where I push it and play for 12 hours so I can get used to how that feels. I've tried and failed to do this once, but I think if I make a firm commitment on this blog and report back on success or failure that will be help me push through. I'm hoping to hit 12 hours at least twice before I head to Vegas.

Phase 6 - Early Arrival

I'm flying in the day before I play the HORSE. I flew in the day of my first event a few times and it's a mistake. Usually it was to save $100 on one night of hotel which is stupid. I'm sure getting into town the night before, registering the night before, and otherwise being settled so I'll be 100% fresh and all I have to do is walk from my room to the table on the day of will add way more than $100 to my expected value.

Phase 7 - HORSEing around

I've had some of my best success playing HORSE. I finished 4th in a $1,000 online Pokerstars HORSE event with about 450 entrants which paid $37,500 and I also finished 28th in a $3,000 HORSE WSOP event that had about 500 entrants and was maybe the toughest field I'd ever seen in terms of big name pros. But in this case I really wanted to play because I know during the first hour or two I'm going to be nervous and since it's limit I won't have to make any big decisions until I feel settled in. That's comfortable, settled in feeling should carryover to the other events or at least reduce the amount of time that I feel a little edgy at the start.

Phase 8 - Going Phase 8!

By this time I'll be fully prepared give it my best shot and win some money. I hope to be able to use the expression "I went Phase 8 on those mother fuckers" because that sounds really bad ass and most people will not know what it means, but will clearly be able to tell that it is bad ass, but we'll all know that it means that all of my preparation came together, which does not even sound the slightest bit bad ass, but the winning in major poker tournaments is without a doubt bad ass, so there you go.

I will report back on Phase 0 when it is complete.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

2016, 2017 and That Time I Owned the State of Arizona

I'm headed back to the WSOP this year and have an elaborate prep plan that I'll be executing and chronicling on this blog, but for the sake of continuity I figured I'd very briefly recap the past two years. 

Before I get to that I have to share an anecdote and an image that are two sources of confidence going in to the summer.

First, The Image! It's a line! Specifically it's a graph of my cumulative win/loss for the last 50 sessions of cash games which represents 335 hours of play. I would invite the people who think poker is a luck game to draw a best fit line through this mother fucker and have a look at the trend. 

Second, The Anecdote! In 2009 I started working with this guy who lives in Arizona as a poker coach. He's a doctor, an actor (he's done a few indie films, some commercials, and other such things), dates astonishingly beautiful women and is generally an awesome dude who is somehow extremely humble despite all of those things. He's also a poker fanatic and was an excellent student. After talking about once a month for at least 5 years we became friends and met up in person a few times in Vegas and Tahoe for poker related stuff.

At some point in the not too distant past I went to visit him in Arizona and we played a couple of poker tournaments at Talking Stick in the Phoenix area. The first one was a $200 buy in tournament where $100 went to the price pool and $100 went to bounties (i.e. if you knock someone out you get $100) with about 250 entrants. I made it to the final table collecting 7 bounties along the way and we chopped up the prize pool with 6 players left. It was awesome.

The next day we came back for a smaller tournament that had about 70 entrants and something like a $100 buy in. My doctor friend, his girlfriend (at the time) and I all made the final table which was excellent. I'd been at the same table as the girlfriend all tournament long and had been giving her the kid gloves to some extent, but there was one hand where I shoved with AK over her raise, she folded QQ and was pissed about it. So at the final table I was trying to win, but also to not piss her off. This was something I had never attempted! 

When we get down to 5, my friend has gone broke, but the girlfriend is the chip leader. I am in a close second and suggest we do a chip count chop so I don't have to tangle with her. We do the math and her share would have been something like $1,850 which was maybe a shade over second place money with 1st place being $2,300. Everyone else is ready to go for the deal and she says...wait for it..."I need to get at least two thousand." (Face palm)

I was shocked. She knew I was a former pro player, but clearly she did not know who she was dealing with. I was playing my A game against a table of total clowns and since my hand was forced I had to start fucking people up. If it was a kung fu movie I would have causally walked up, rolled my neck around, given my shoulders a little shake and then...BOOM, knee/elbow/fist combo to one bad guy sending him down a well and then CRACK roundhouse kick another in the face blasting him into a swiftly moving river.

Now I was the chip leader and I asked the girlfriend if she really wanted to keep playing against me. She reluctantly (RELUCTANTLY!) agreed to a 3 way chop. 

So I've played 2 poker tournaments in Arizona and have never been eliminated!

And now to a little life recap for those of you who may care.

My poker play has really been a function of my job status. Might need money? Better play poker!

In March of 2016 the company I'd worked for the past 5+ years got acquired by Uproxx Media. I wasn't sure if I was going to survive the acquisition with my job intact so I started playing cash games. That was the impetus for Project Manhattan which was the last series of posts (I ended up pulling the plug after Session 18 which was a small loser because I did end up working at Uproxx and I'd just had enough). I was at Uproxx for 6 months and then spent 3 months on semi vacation playing a couple of days a week. 

During all of those sessions I did not play all that great or with a ton of confidence. I still knew how to play and I won regularly, but I did not dominate and it was kind of a grind.

At the start of 2017 I had a really well paying job as VP of Business Development for I spent 7 months there and saved about 25% of my salary so when Joyus sold off all the assets of the company, but the team was not part of the deal I had my nuts stored away for winter. I played zero poker during this time. 

I interviewed for a few jobs, but nothing stuck and I decided to try to coast though the holidays cobbling together an income from my wife's new part time job, unemployment and poker. My unemployment benefits have since run out, we're paying for health insurance out of pocket for 4 people which sucks, but poker has gone well and I've basically been coasting for the past 10 months or so. 

And now I'm finding myself in a spot where my new dream is my old dream - crush it at the World Series of Poker!!

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Project Manhattan Session #17 - That's Not a Bad Beat, THIS Is a Bad Beat

Poker players love to tell you how unlucky they were after a loss. We've all told our share of bad beat stories. When I was cranking away full time playing online poker I'd usually play about 3,000 hands a day. That meant that 3 times a day I'd have some 1 in 1,000 bad shit happen to me. Most days that was OK. I always said that one of my big strengths was having good bounce back. And of course I had 1 in 1,000 good shit happen to me at the same rate.

I've been sitting here trying to think of my worst bad beat ever. I feel like there has to be a worse one somewhere, but one that sticks out was in a $2,500 event at the WSOP. This was in the days when you got $2 in tournament chips for every $1 in buy in. If I'm remembering this correctly (and I think I am) the blinds were 100/200 with a 25 ante and I was in the big blind. The under the gun player who I'd been playing with for close to 4 hours and seemed like a reasonable, fairly solid player, moved all in for 10,000. I looked down at AA and quickly called. He had K9 off suite, flopped a pair and rivered two pair. It wasn't the K9 beating AA. That happens about 14% of the time. It was that a guy just lost his mind for no reason and moved all in for 50 big blinds and I lost a pot that was worth over $10,000 in real dollars as a result.

Anyway, back to the present! Or the recent past rather!

I was in a fantastic game on a recent Friday night. There were no good players and a few players who were if not total novices, pretty close to it. I played for about 4 hours, but my session was really defined by two hands that happened back to back about 2 hours in.

On the first I got dealt JJ and made it $20 to go under the gun. I was losing about $200 at that point, but had around $700 in front of me and had been playing pretty tight in a loose game. The player just to my left was a guy I'd never seen before who was a total lunatic. There were a couple of hands where he got it in with weak top pair or middle pair by 3 or 4 betting when it could not have been more obvious he was crushed.  He looked like he was in his early 30's, had maybe Greek or Italian heritage and was wearing a gray sport coat with jeans. He had his headphones in, never said a word and barely reacted when he won or lost big pots.

So after my $20 raise Mr. Lunatic called as did 6 others (SIX others!) and we took the flop 8 way. It was about the best flop I could imagine that did not have a J in it - 8 5 2 rainbow. It's really uncomfortable betting into 7 people without the nuts (close to 1/3 of the unknown cards are in play), but betting was the only option. I slid $100 out there and only Mr. Lunatic called with $375 more left behind in his stack. At this point I knew if he made a better hand than me I was in deep shit. I just couldn't possibly fold against this guy given his play up to that point. As the turn came out, if it couldn't be a J, I was hoping it would be a 2. Sure enough the turn was a 2! Even though he had about one pot sized bet left in his stack I figured I'd have better luck getting it all in vs a 5 or an 8 or whatever else he had by getting him in two chunks. For chunk #1 I bet out $150. And he made it $300. Oh God. Facepalm. Seeing a minimum raise when a player only has a little bit left behind that is surely the sign certain doom...unless he's a total lunatic. I didn't love it, but I couldn't let it go. I put him all in for $375 total, he quickly called and the river came out a K. I showed my hand and he rolled over...wait for know it's going to be bad right...7 2 off. AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

The real majesty of this bad beat is that I was under the gun, was probably the tightest player in the game, he was right after me, and it is literally the worst possible starting hand. It wasn't even suited. You can't find any more questionable circumstances to play a hand. It wasn't like he was fully committed to seeing every flop either. He was folding maybe 30% of hands preflop in the field. He just figured he'd go with that one. Every time he folded preflop after that I wanted to ask him "Found one worse than 72 off that time huh?"

At that point I was committed to staying until he left.

On the very next hand I was in the big blind and got dealt 95 of diamonds. There was no raise and I got a free look. The flop came out 8 7 2 with two diamonds which looked pretty fantastic. I bet out $15 into the $20 pot and got 3 callers! That many callers had me thinking that my flush draw might not be good and I was hoping to see a 6 roll off. The turn came out the Q of diamonds and I wasn't sure what to do, but I figured checking was probably best. It checked around to the button who bet out $65. This was mildly promising. If one of the other players had a flush they'd very likely to bet out and the button could easily have a hand with a Q in it or even a hand like A7 or A8 with the A of diamonds. I called as did a fairly tight player. I was all but certain another diamond would be the end of me and a board pair might be bad as well. Happily the river was a black 4. If the button had a flush I didn't want to bet and if he had something else I wanted to give him a chance to bet again with whatever it might be. I checked, Mr Fairly Tight checked it along, and the button bet big putting $205 out there. Again I didn't love it, but couldn't fold. I called, and then to my shock and horror Mr. Fairly Tight moved all in for $550! NOOOOOOOOOOO! This had to be without a doubt the absolute nuts. The button surmised as much and folded and I mucked as well. Mr. Fairly Tight showed us both AK of diamonds as he scooped in the pot.

Eventually Mr. Lunatic got a phone call and within 30 seconds had his chips in racks and was walking away from the table. Astoundingly he walked off with $1,400. Another of the softies racked up $2,500 and left and I knew it was time for me to follow them out the door.

I lost $1,038 on the night. After 64.5 hours I'm ahead $1,263. I've pushed my target completion date back to July 4th, I should be in action Friday night and I'm hoping to get in at least one long session over Memorial Day weekend.

Monday, May 09, 2016

Project Manhattan Session #16 - The Siren Song Of $1/$1/$2

The Oaks has two stakes for no limit - $2/$3/$5 blinds with a max $500 buy in and $1/$1/$2 with a max $200 buy in. The way they house makes money in these games is to take $5 from every pot for the big game and $4 from the small game. They also take $1 for the jackpot which in theory you'll get back if they're honest about how much is being collected and you play long enough to hit a piece of the jackpot.

What you'll notice about the rake for the $1/$1/$2 is it's almost as big as the $2/$3/$5 rake in absolute terms, but in proportional terms, they're taking 2.5 big blinds every hand instead of 1.2, which makes it twice as impactful.

More importantly it makes the game totally unplayable under common circumstances. Let me explain with an example. Let's say 4 people call before the flop including both blinds. On the flop you make top pair and bet 2/3 of the pot and get one caller. On the turn you bet half the pot, get called again and on the river it goes check, check and you win.

In a $2/$3/$5 game  You're looking at $14 in the pot after the rake as you go to the flop. Headed to the turn there's $34 in there and headed to the river there's $68 in the pot. You've ended up with about 14 big blinds in the pot. Not a huge pot, but not nothing.

In a $1/$1/$2 when you go to the flop $5 goes to the rake and ONLY $3 goes to the pot! Your 2/3 pot bet is $2. There's $7 in the pot going to the turn and $15 going to the river. 7.5 big blinds in the pot at the end. Who the eff wants to play a game where there's $3 in the pot? Most people just say the hell with it and check it down and the lucky person who wins the pot nets $1 or someone bets $5 at it and wins.

One way to help mitigate this is to never just call before the flop. If your hand is good enough to play make it $4 or $6 if you would have just called.

In my last project where I crushed skulls for 100 hours mainly at $2/$3/$5 I was actually a healthy loser in the small number of hours I played at $1/$1/$2 all played while waiting for the bigger game. Not being a dummy I've been steering clear during this project...but I'm not just going to sit there and do nothing if there's a long $2/$3/$5 wait. Maybe I am a dummy!

So I sat down on Friday night with $200 in front of me hoping to not screw it up. On my third hand I was on the button with q7 of clubs and one player just called the $2 in front of me. I could either fold when I had a $1 in the pot already from the button small blind, call and likely be faced with a stupid $3 pot on the flop or put in a small raise. I made it $7 to go and the big blind re-raised it to $20. Ugh. This is the problem with the raising light with calling hands strategy. I thought about folding, but I had position, we were both $200 deep and I was getting better than 2 to 1 on my money. So I called. The flop came down J T 3 all clubs! Flush baby! My opponent came out with a big bet pushing $50 out there. I decided to just call and the turn came out a red 9. My opponent checked and I slid $45 out there. He just about beat me into the pot with his whole stack! I instantly called, the river paired the 9 (which had me a little worried) and he rolled over AJ of diamonds. OK? Thanks for the pot!

Over the next 45 minutes I made three top pairs and pretty much got two streets of value with them all. When they called my name for $2/$3/$5 I left with a $330 profit. Suck it low rollers!

Shortly after I made my way to the bigger game I got dealt 88 and raised to $20. I got one caller and then the big blind moved all in for $143. The caller looked like he was done with it. This is probably a spot to muck and I need to do some more analysis on it, but the quick at the table thinking I did was that I was risking $123 to win $203 and if my opponent has unpaired big cards I'm ahead. I think he has a pair there more often than big cards, but there's always a chance it's 77 or 66 getting out of line. Anyway I called, my opponent rolled over KK, I let out a quiet groan and then promptly flopped an 8! Ha ha!

A couple of hours passed and I was up about $600 with a nice stack in front of me when I got dealt 64 of diamonds on the button. I called $5 and then called a raise from the small blind to $25 along with 3 other players in the field. The flop came down 8 7 2 with two diamonds giving me 12 outs to a straight or a flush. Pretty sweet. The raiser bet out $55, two players called and after giving some brief consideration to dropping the all in bomb I decided to just call and hope for a a diamond or a 5, but really a 5 was what I wanted. The turn was a black 9 giving me 3 more straight outs that might or might not be good. Now the preflop raiser came out betting $200! And another player called all in for $140! This was a really sticky spot. If all of my outs were good, I had a huge overlay, but I could easily be up against a better flush draw or hands that negated some of my straight outs or both. My one remaining opponent with chips had about $150 and I figured he probably had a hand like a pair TT-AA and I thought it would be tough for him to fold for another $150 on the end if I got there with a huge pot in the middle. Speaking of huge pots, there was about $700 out there, it cost me $200 to call and I had a 1 in 3 shot at making a straight or better. So I called. The river was the 2 of diamonds making my flush and to my surprise my opponent bet out his last $150. I quickly called and he said "Flush?" and I said "Yep" ready to drag my pot. Then I realized he didn't say "Flush?" he said "Flush." as in "I have a flush with my T9 or diamonds that is bigger than yours and thus I will gobble up your pot." Shit!

Not too much else of note happened. I ended up winning $51 over 3 hours which puts me at $2,301 after 60.5 hours over the course of the project.

Monday, May 02, 2016

Project Manhattan Session #15 - I SAID SCREW YOU GUYS I'M GOING HOME!

I had reason to be in Emeryville last Monday night and decided to make a rare Monday appearance at the Oaks.

I started with $500 on the table at $2/$3/$5 no limit as per usual. I posted $5 to get a hand and looked down at AA! Aces on the first hand! WHAAAAAT!? Sadly I raised and all of those stupid jerks folded.

A little later I got dealt QT in the big blind and called a raise to $15. We took the flop 4 way and the board came down T 3 2 with two diamonds. The preflop raiser bet $30, the button called and I called along as well with my marginal two pair. I really was not sure where I stood at this point. The preflop raiser could just be continuation betting or could have me crushed. The button could be on a draw or have a better ten or even just overs. There were a lot of possible situations. The turn was the 8 of clubs which didn't change anything. I checked, the preflop raiser checked it along and now the button came out betting for $65. I was really close to just pitching it here, but at the last second I figured that T9 suited and JT suited were hands that made sense here and decided to call. The preflop raiser mucked and the river came out the 5 of spades. I checked planning to fold to any substantial bet as there was no way T9 or JT would fired a third barrel for value in this spot and that's really what I was hoping to see. Happily the button checked it back. I showed my hand, he flashed a T and mucked.

On the next big hand, the under the gun player made it $15 to go, 3 players called, I called with the AJ of diamonds and the big blind came along too. The flop came down 8 4 2 with two diamonds and the raiser bet out $50. Having the nut flush draw I was inclined to push it here, but only if I had some fold equity and I was a little worried about someone putting in a big raise in front of me and making it a complicated spot. But everyone folded to me, so I made it $150 to go. The big blind folded and the preflop raiser went all in for $190 total. I threw in another $40 knowing I'd need to hit. The turn was the 5 of diamonds! Zing! My opponent showed QQ as I dragged the pot.

I won a couple of other small pots and then about an hour after I sat down the game broke (i.e. there were only 5 of us left, and the other players wanted to draw cards for the 3 open seats in the other $2/$3/$5 game). Rather than draw for a seat I oped to split and hustle home to squeeze in a workout.

I won $530 in 1 hour which brings my total to +$2,250 for the project after 57.5 hours.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Project Manhattan Session #14 - Screw You Guys, I'm Going Home

Last Friday my older son had a baseball game that ended around 7:30 so instead of rolling in to the Oaks right after work as per usual, I got there around 8:00 planning to burn the midnight oil.

I slapped five C-notes on the table and took my first hand in the big blind. 4 people called $5 and I looked down at JJ. With what was almost certainly the best hand I made it $30 to go and got 2 callers - both of whom were not players I knew. The flop came down 6 6 7 with two hearts. One of my callers was in the small blind and he checked. I bet out $65 into the $100 pot and the lady across the table called. Then the small blind cut out $210 and pushed it into the pot!

This was a tricky situation. Did this guy have a 6? If so I was totally cooked. And what about the lady? What did I think she was calling with? Could she have a 6? Was she calling with a 7 or a draw or a hand like 88 or bare overs? Luckily she was obviously pissed about the raise and I figured she was done with the hand.

That just left the raiser. Was he the kind of player who would call $30 preflop with A6 or 56 or 67 out of position in the small blind - something probably only a losing player would do. If so I should fold. Or was he the kind of player that would check raise a draw - something probably only a strong player would do. If so I should move all in. I'd literally only played half a hand with this guy and I had to sort this out. But luckily, the way that physically he cut out $210 was indicative of a strong player and also the fact that it was $210 and not $200 (better players are more precise with their bets, weak player bet in round numbers) was a huge indicator.

It might sound like I was fairly sure here that he was a good player and that meant he could not have a 6 and was very likely to push a draw, but it's one thing to think this though and another to put $500 out there and potentially lose $500 on the first hand! Luckily I was right. I moved all in and they both quickly folded with the small blind saying he'd folded a draw.

For the next hour I dribbled away much of my profit from that hand and found myself feeling tired in a shitty game. I decided to bail.

I won $110 over 1 hour and that means I'm $1720 to the good after 56.5 hours of play.